Missing link


The tenants were all gone now, the last of their abandoned possessions on the curb. I watched the countdown for the same reason I used to watch the Indy 500. 250 laps round and round intersperesed with alcohol and chewing tobacco commercials, enduring that repetitive spectacle only in the hopes of seeing a spectacular crash, the skid, the smash, the tumbling tires crashing into the screaming spectators who scatter like water leaping away from a stone.

I used to dream of going to the moon. It seemed increasingly unlikely, especially now that men were being replaced by Vegetables as the astronauts of choice, and ever since the experimental treatment that cured me of skin cancer I was neither. Part shitter (man), part tuber (vegetable), I drank in bitterness the more I pondered the injustice of my predicament. I felt more like Gus Grissom than my namesake Buzz Aldrin. Grissom was a laughingstock after the Mercury 7 capsule sank, no one believed that it had been an accident. And then he died on the launchpad during a mock countdown, a routine drill, he soared on a pillar of fire, he saw the earth spin under him at the envelope of the atmosphere, he lived in all the elements, almost drowned in one, was consumed by another.

I was like a test pilot in so many ways--I took a risk and opened a new frontier, but no one would ever know that I was the missing link, recipient of the first skin graft that would solve so many social ills on earth and lead to the colonization of space.

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