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Discovery of the Pipe Square

by Shane Jones

           Here we are, said Peter.

           He lit six lanterns that hung by ropes from the cave ceiling. Writing covered the cave walls in bright colors, mostly pictures of animals, a few words in bubbled letters Daniel couldn’t make out. In the center of the opening where they stood, was a huge square built of blue pipes. The outside of the square was comprised of pipe ladders, which Peter used to climb to the top of the massive structure.

           All of this, he said from the top where he stood, is made from very expensive pipes. And it’s here, in this cave. His voice reached a needle-pricked pitch. I told you it was special.

           Peter stayed on top of the pipe square for a few minutes before climbing back down. Iamso wrote furiously. Peter told Daniel to climb to the top of the pipe square so he could show him something.

           The pipes were warm and had rust-scabs that Daniel picked off during his ascent. Bats flew over and disappeared into a black ledge.

           Once atop the square, Peter asked if he was ready, and Daniel said he was although he had no idea what that meant. He felt ready for anything. His wife was missing.

           A faucet, a little wagon wheel shape attached to the cave wall, Peter squeaked to the left. A hose ran from the little wagon wheel, down the cave wall, and across the floor, until it reached the pipe square Daniel sat atop.

           Daniel felt each pipe below him fill with water. Under his thighs, warm water rushed through the vintage metals. The entire shape, this mad-contraption constructed who-knows-when-and-who-knows-why, woke up, shook with rivers. Pipes as pumping veins pressed into Daniel’s skeleton. His hands wrapped around pipes as limbs. His arms vibrated as the shape vibrated and Daniel smiled.

           What’s the point of this, he shouted to Peter who kept a hand on the leaking faucet.

           I don’t know, he yelled back. I just think it’s beautiful.

           Maybe it has no point, said Iamso.

           That’s what I just said, yelled Peter. It’s beautiful and that’s all there is to it.

Author's Note

This is a small section from a book I wrote last summer. Here the group building a pipeline to the ocean is introduced to Peter who brings them to the pipe square. What I realized while writing this book is that I'm always trying to set-up structures where I can basically fuck-around with imagination and still have it feel somewhat real or grounded. The lack of definition on what the pipe square is used for, its function, is unknown and defined by Peter as "just something beautiful" and I'm going to sound pretentious and maybe like a bit of a dick here, but I think that answer partially functions as a metaphor for the book in whole. Yup, I said it. Blah.

Shane Jones lives in upstate New York. He's the author of three books, including the novel Light Boxes. In 2012 Penguin Books will publish his novel Daniel Fights a Hurricane.

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