On his way up the escalator, Jim looked down over the handrail and vertigo immediately seized him. Below was an endless-seeming corkscrew of steps twisting down and away from wherever he was heading. A cool wind blew by nipping at his ears and knuckles. It was so quiet he could hear his heart beat soft and slow like a distant drum.
He was in the sky somewhere above the clouds. It was so blue that it was like he was inside a blue-walled silo. There was no depth to his surroundings. No clouds and no birds.
He rode the escalator up. It was the quietest escalator he had ever ridden. At the top of every flight it would twist around on itself and continue carrying him up slow and steady.
Jim looked down at himself. He was wearing a red plaid dress and combat boots. This was not his usual vibe. He was a hip-hop DJ and preferred a uniform of baggy pants, oversized t-shirts hoodies, and Adidas shell-toes. The getup was comfortable, though, despite the slight draft.
As he ascended he tried to remember how he got there. His last memory was of walking his little terrier, Bobbito. They were on their way back from a friend’s birthday picnic. Sarah turned 40 and blew out four little candles in a circle of five good friends. They ate cheese and crackers and fruit and drank mimosas and listened to 2Pac. They talked about their jobs and the new hot TV shows, music, and new places to eat and drink that had recently opened up.
It was a good way to spend a Sunday, and a ritual they repeated often whether there were birthdays to celebrate or not. None of them loved their jobs. They were just getting by and content to have some form of income with which to pay rent, but food, and party. Their weekends were a sacred spoke in the wheels of their lives. When the sun plopped out of the clouds and slid past the horizon, Jim and Bobbito made their way out of the park.
Later that night, they would all convene in a small back room of a dive bar where Jim would spin vinyl 12″ records and craft a night of slamming jams for his crowd of friends and the folks who appreciated his selects. He was looking forward to spinning a new dig he had copped recently–a rare vinyl of the Jonesun Crew blowing peoples’ minds with their vocoder synthesis.
He passed a lemonade stand. A little Asian girl and a brown-skinned boy sold him the best lemonade he had ever tasted. They also had a fine selection of baked goods from which he chose a coriander blueberry scone that couldn’t have possibly been crafted by human hands. The children must have been angels or Gods or sociopaths.
He was taking a bite of that scone when the city bus came careening around the corner. Bobbito was three hairs from becoming roadkill. In an effort to save his sweet pup, he leapt down and flung the little guy into an adjacent lawn. Bobbito looked back at Jim as he bounced three times in slow motion.
Jim felt the bus hit him like he was a fly being swatted by a giant steel hand, and he just let go.
He blinked and when he opened his eyes, he was on the escalator spinning up the corkscrew to Heaven or somewhere.
Jim realized then that nothing in life really spins upward. If something is moving in a circle, it tends to be either succumbing to gravity or being pulled down by something sinister or at least mysterious. He thought of whirlpools sucking down ships and helicopter seeds floating down from trees.
He thought of people driving busses in circles for large chunks of their lives. They weren’t actively being pulled down, but were instead victims of their passivity. Each day of one’s life spun off into the void of history meant another day closer to dust.
In fact, any job that was repetitive by nature was such a deadly corkscrew. You spun until you were dizzy, until direction lost meaning, until you were wearing your mother’s clothes and your sister’s boots. As you spun the world turned into a blur, all detail and meaning dissolved into the spinning. You became hypnotized by the spin and lost grip of your free will.
So it was ironic that this corkscrew escalator was spinning him up through this blue tunnel of sky. And it was ironic that he was someone who spun black discs to elevate people’s moods and allow them to escape the stresses of the circles they were caught in.
And as he rose steadily, slowly forgetting who he was and everything he had left behind, he wondered if maybe he was about to begin yet another type of circle, and would this circle carry him upward or was everything just a bus crash spinning down the Universe’s drain?