I had heard that to the stone men sand was as gruesome as spilled blood would be to us, so when I needed a respite from their endless questions and their smug philosophizing I would rest beneath the palms on the beach below the Malibu bluffs.
That was the vantage from which I saw the chiselers arrive. Through a rift in the sky like an open wound they came in their trains of huge, red gondolas. The stone men had arrived a decade before in dark capsules of utter, smooth blankness, but the gondolas of the chiselers were open-topped and elaborately ornamented, with squeaking and banging sounds of otherworldly revelry spilling from them as they descended.
I hid among overgrown shrubs as they passed. That night the slaughter began, and for four days the streets of Los Angeles flowed with blood and gravel. When it was done the stone men ruled us no more.
On the fifth day the chiselers vanished as though they had never come, and we began to rebuild what the stone men had chosen to take from us.
Now, like isolated islanders wondering when the next plane will pass overhead, we wait, but no one seems to know for what. The sky is a space of pure and radiant anxiety, and the very stones beneath our feet are the mutely accusing bones of the visitors that irrecoverably took away our innocence. The concrete from which the new Sepulveda Hospital is taking shape has an indeterminate admixture of fossilized tyranny within it. But it will stand.