(an ambient fiction)
See the man.
Officers Reed and Malloy are driving through a diorama of some Los Angeles apartments, inside a windowed box in your living room. Their police interceptor is a 1:35 scale model of a 1965 Ford LTD that was painted and assembled by one of the guys that works at Hobby Haven in the Sherwood Forest shopping center in Clive. His name is Kent, you think. He has thick glasses, a big smile, and a huge Adam's apple.
At the east end of the faux Tudor complex, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlett are frozen in stone. You have a picnic there, watching them from the table.
On the other side of Hickman Boulevard, in the gigantic mall named after the dead farmboy of WWI, they have a sculpture of a man with a handlebar mustache riding a tricycle naked. His brass anatomical counterpoint to B. Dalton is a source of constant fascination among the shoppers.
Officer Pete Malloy enters the subterranean bowling alley beneath the mall. Revolver drawn, flashlight in the other, he steps into the dark behind the pins.
The bowling alley is also a fallout shelter, marked with the crypto-military sigil of the Civil Defense Board, an organization of run-down Presbyterian Freemasons who receive their coded instructions in the arrhythmic sonograms of Paul Harvey's midday broadcast on AM radio 910.
Pete Malloy does not smile, even though his face is dusted with boyish freckles. He is an ethical nihilist, believing in nothing but the cryptic instructions that come into his car from the dispatcher, their enforcement a minimalist theatrical pronouncement for an absent god.
"See the man."
Malloy remembers when the diorama was new, and the trees and water it contained were real. Now the only clean things within its limitless confines are his uniform and his police interceptor.
If you touch Officer Reed's hair, it will cut your fingers off. Reed is an amateur pornographer. He mails his high key black-and-white tapes to a man in Boca Raton who resells them through hard-to-find mail order catalogs.
The Iowans are everywhere, in your cities, known to each other by their otherwise undetectable sarcasms, masquerading as ordinary people. They like to hang out in watch repair shops, where time can be slowed, interrupted, restored.
Malloy is their enforcer, and he knows what you have done.
After work, after the news of the War and before the banal prime time comedies, your father walks the diorama with Malloy, basking in the cathode rays of the California sun, maintaining internal order while the diorama is disassembled around him by the people who killed the King.
Life in the terrarium is so fucking beautiful.
(See also: Rambo Dreaming)