Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....
In this installment of Page 69,
We put Jason Arias’ Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion to the test.
OK, Jason, set up page 69 for us.
Page 69 lands us on the second to last page of the story “The Uncomfortable Augmentations of Earl Sneed Sinclair.” The story starts with Franklin talking his roommates, Rasheed and Jay, into purchasing a theme park quality costume of the father dinosaur character from the 90s TV series Dinosaurs as a means of making extra money. At this point in the story the three roommates have just gotten back from a trial run downtown. They didn’t make any money. Franklin is still inside the Earl Sneed Sinclair costume and Jay is starting to question Franklin’s motives for buying it in the first place. The last three words on page 68 are: Is a costume…
What is Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion about:
Sometimes I answer that question by saying that the collection is a lens to explore the bigger issues: Life and Death, Identity and Race, Change and Resistance to Change (that’s also on the back cover of the book). Other times I say that the collection is a way to scrutinize the differences and similarities between youth and middle age and old age—a meditation on how we can be the same person in different situations, or a different person in the same situation, but should start worrying when we’re the same person in the same situation. Mostly I think the collection was a way to experiment with holding uncomfortable things closely.
Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the story collection is about? Does it align itself with the collection’s theme?
Well, one of the characters is envious of the double-paned windows that are tied to the insides of outbound trailers, and the other character is trying to find a way to never take off a giant dinosaur costume while cooking scrambles eggs so, yeah, I guess that’s a pretty accurate vibe for the collection.
In the scene on page 69 both Jay and Franklin are dealing with feelings of alienation, unresolved pasts, and uncertain futures; they’re just not fully aware that’s what’s happening. They’re unclear on where (or even who) they should be. These underlying themes tend to play throughout the collection in many forms. Some of the characters include a paramedic confronting burnout, three politically incorrect magicians stealing Rap tapes, a man trying to convince a jury that humankinds’ ultimate destiny is to return to the sea, and a pellet-gun-incited showdown in a mall food court.
MOMENTARY ILLUMIATION OF OBJECTS IN MOTION
even a thing? I’m pretty sure he was just making sure Earl wasn’t some kind of terrorist bomb.
Once we got back home, Rasheed and I worked at getting some of the stuck gum out of Earl’s flannel.
“That was some fall!” Franklin said, recalling his descent down the square’s stairs, as I picked at a particularly stubborn pink wad.
“Might be easier to clean if you just took the thing off, Franklin,” I said.
“I’m good, man. It kind of takes a while to come out of character, you know?”
“No. I don’t know,” I said.
I went to bed.
I got up late the next day. I didn’t see Franklin or the Earl costume at all before leaving for my nightshift at the windows factory.
All night, I placed windows against other windows, frame to frame, like rows of tightly packed translucent dominoes. I tied them in place to the slats on the trailer walls with trucker knots. I worked with mostly illegal immigrants. They worked harder than me. I drank cups of coffee during my lunch break. I thought about how this job was going nowhere. I thought about how the windows I tied down saw other parts of the country while I stayed put. I wondered if it was healthy for me to be working nights and thinking so much.
When I got home the next morning, Earl looked like he was trying to set himself on fire at the stove again.
“Dude, careful!” I said.
“No, it’s cool,” Franklin’s voice said from inside Earl’s head. He turned around and held his palms out to me.
I could see he’d made cuts below the costume hands so that he could use his real hands while still wearing the thing. When Franklin turned back to the stove, I noticed a row of safety pins holding closed a homemade flap on Earl’s butt region that wasn’t there the last time I saw him. A tube exited Earl’s crotch to what looked like a partially filled urine bag taped around his thigh.
Franklin took the pan off the stove and dumped some of the scrambled eggs into a bowl. They were the same color as the pee in the bag that was taped around his leg. I wondered if Franklin
Jason Arias’ writing has appeared in NAILED Magazine, The Nashville Review, Oregon Humanities Magazine, Perceptions Magazine, and Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Misfit’s Manifesto as well as other literary publications. Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion is his debut short story collection published in late 2018 by Black Bomb Books. To find more of Jason’s writing and readings visit JasonAriasAuthor.com.