Imagine these human lampreys who sucked the bloody froth from the economy. They swim in vast pools filled not with chlorinated water but with diamond dust. Under penthouse skylights they wear old-fashioned swimming trunks that loop over the shoulders. Goggles protect their eyes as they tread the sparkling powder. Now imagine sweatshops not on the Chinese mainland but in Lower Manhattan. All the workers speak Cantonese. Eighteen hours a day they pulverize diamonds purchased in pawn shops. At the end of their shifts these women are inspected. The foremen thrust cold specula between their legs and beat them if even a milligram of diamond dust turns up under a fingernail. Those thieves should have been wearing their cheap plastic gloves.
Drought drives the solitary locust toward scarce water sources. Crowding into oases on parched, desolate land sparks a collective frenzy, flicks on the serotonin. Within hours the locusts crave company, swarm. Like a cloud of toxic exhaust, the amoebic fury settles over fields. Light enters ommatidia, air the bloodstream. Electricity pulses through abdomen, thorax, and head, setting the swarm’s million mandibles to devour the crops to their dead stems.
Epinephrine causes people to panic, which explains why no witness remains for this scene. Empty cars speckle the weed-wrapped highway. Every drop of gasoline has erupted in their rusting combustion engines. The doors to most cars hang open. No marauders have returned. Tires remain on axles, CDs in changers, corn chips in foil packages. A BMW owner, reluctant to let his investment depreciate even in the face of such catastrophe, must have shut and locked the doors before fleeing. The windshield collects condensation. The paint job has solarized. Heat rises. Ripples rupture the asphalt like waves in a hypoxic dead zone.
Her satin glove grips a dessert spoon. With it she cracks crème brûlée, to nibble when the conversation frays. Agony adores company. Their portfolios have lost an average of twenty per cent since September. At Hermès she had asked for a plain white bag. The streets have turned savage, she remarks. She gets anxious even crossing the sidewalk and hailing a cab. Those scoundrels could not know she planned to wear the cashmere shawl to a fundraiser for homeless youth.