Viviana sat on the rocking chair in the living room, holding a Vogue from 1978, Farrah Fawcett beaming aggressively angelical blondness from the cover. That had been the year of Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy and the Vampire of Sacramento, but also there had been “Dallas” and “Grease” and “The Love Boat,” so Viviana though of 1978 fondly. Later, she planned to think of 1985 fondly, and 1982 and 1973 and 1996. There were lots and lots of Vogues blossoming around the rocking chair, a whole garden of Vogues.
But then there were a series of loud knocks at the door so Viviana leapt out of the chair excitedly and dropped the Vogue to the floor. She had some idea who it would be. He’d been gone so long, she could hardly wait for him to come back.
She was wrong, though. It was Rodney Crucero and his wife Celia on the porch. Their badly-parked Mini-Cooper bulged with their few possessions. They had no kids or sex, so the Mini-Cooper was enough.
“I TOLD YOU,” Rodney screamed at Viviana. “THE 144,000 WERE FOR REAL!”
Celia added, “YOU OLD ATHEIST BITCH!”
Viviana sighed, “Oh, no, I’m not an atheist. I always believed a little.”
“BUT YOU THREW THE WATCHTOWERS AWAY!!! YOU ALWAYS THREW THE WATCHTOWERS AWAY!!! WE SAW IT!!! DON’T THINK WE DIDN’T SEE IT!!!”
“I just didn’t like the illustrations. They looked so cheesy to me. I like Vogue, though, and I like People too. The magazine, I mean. Not the people. The people are alright, of course.”
A helicopter buzzed by above them, sputtering, erratic and terrified, farting smoky clouds.
Rodney and Celia looked at each other, ran back into their Mini-Cooper. They’d had their say, and sped away.
Viviana closed the door. It was very quiet in the house. She’d had the little TV turned off because the news were so graphic these last few days, and who wanted to look at all the riots and the looting, and folks being rude to each other with all the punching and the expletives? She didn’t remember these many expletives on TV ever before. Why did people have to forget their manners just because things changed a little? Never even mind all the red-faced politicians blaming it all on the global warming.
Warming. Oh, yes, the stir fry, and the rice cooker was steaming along, and she had to finish that, and fry the egg too and have it all ready! Wherever was her head? It was like Jacob always said: “Viviana, if your head wasn’t tied to your neck, then you would have left it back at the hotel during our honeymoon!”
When had that been? It would be back in 76, because she remembered all those Orville Redenbacher commercials started popping up. Oh, hah, well the pun was unintended but also sort of inevitable. It reminded Viviana of what the President had said last night in the “Pop-Corn” speech. Which made sense. Corpses were like corn kernels, he’d said (trying to look not at all agitated) and something wacky had sort of heated up their souls and made them POP back to life, nice and ready, right out of their graves. Of course, it was only speculation, didn’t sound very scientific. Was Albert Einstein one of the risen? Maybe he could sort out the whole big mess. It was a silly speech, all said and done. Politicians! What do they know? But it was the only show on TV last night. TV Land and Hallmark and QVC just could not be found anywhere! Not even Antenna TV. That channel was so delightful, they even had “The Patty Duke Show.” Was Patty one of the risen? That was just one of those things one had to think about.
It seemed like it was a lot more than 144,000 anyway, no matter what Rodney Crucero had to say, because even though nobody could count it anymore, it was happening everywhere, even in all those countries with the names that were very hard to pronounce. Why couldn’t countries have simple names, like people names? A country called Viviana. That would be a beautiful country, wouldn’t it? What could possibly go wrong in a country called Viviana?
She looked at the Kit-Cat clock. It was near 5 o’clock. What was taking so long? She knew she had to be patient. Once they rise, they are very slow about it. And it was a good two miles from the cemetery plot. It could take a day or two of walking if one didn’t remember how to walk. Or maybe the bones and muscles weren’t really up to the exercise. Patience!
She hadn’t minded the wait not a bit. She was so excited about it all. And wasn’t the table looking fantastic? The stir-fried was all set, and the rice was ready, and she was going to put a cute little egg yolk on top of the mound of rice, just the way they always had it.
There was a knock at the door. Now she knew exactly who it would be.
She opened the door. It was Jacob, absolutely. In his burial suit, even! Very recognizable, once you brushed off the dirt and maggots.
“Jacob! Jacob! You’re back! I knew you would be back! Oh my dear. Aren’t you a sight?!”
“Aarrgghh,” it said.
“Yes. Of course. You must be famished. You’re all bones now. Oh I’m being so critical! I made you stir-fried, the one you like, with the black rice and the broccoli that’s just a little burnt, and the cute little egg yolk on top,” Viviana said.
“Aaarrrggghhh,” it said and stumbled into the house.
“But of course I realize your eating habits have probably changed quite a bit! I’m so thoughtless! Didn’t you always say, ‘Viviana, if your head wasn’t tied to your neck, you would have left it back at the hotel during our honeymoon!’ And how it made me laugh because what can I say, that’s just who I am!”
“Aaaarrrrgggghhhh,” it said, and reached for her throat.
“Oh, honey! Oh, Jacob! You get right down to business!” She squealed with delight.
“AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH,” it said.
She didn’t say anything after that.