Friday, February 17, 2012

Panic sets in right before resignation and the two begin an intricate dance that puts anything else you have seen (on the island of Bali, for instance) to shame. Later, the same groups of people who first set eyes on one another at the airport are asked a series of questions, the object of which is to suggest they have been trusting their eyes far too much and ought, at some point soon, to switch allegiance to one of the other senses. Of course no one is going to admit this up front, and, when confronted, the authors of the experiment refuse to act as if they can even write. They stumble about with their hands swinging aimlessly at their sides like broken scaffolding, and as the setting sun gets in their eyes they begin a wailing and a caterwauling more appropriately associated with common apes. There is no point in judging, though, unless judgment will make us feel better about ourselves. This occurs frequently enough, I suppose, to encourage some people to comment on it and others to act as if they have been aware of it since they were very small children. They were in the habit of observing everything that went on around them. The lighting of the oil lamps come sunset. The whispers growing to a crescendo over time. You can determine for yourself whether or not these whispers had anything to do with talcum powder, but, for my part, my mind is made up. It’s made up before I ever even step into a room and see all those who might be arrayed against me. Each sitting bare-chested at a desk with an open bottle of ink on it and a handful of old-fashioned goose quills yet to be sharpened. Imagine my horror when I realize what is going to take place. How I have been tricked into showing up through promises of wealth. Ingots stacked up in crates. Pieces of paper with my name on them and the insignia of what I can only imagine were, at one time, venerable financial institutions or government agencies long since passed now into the mists of non-existence. Someone at my elbow (there always seems to be someone at my elbow these days, as if I have grown so notorious complete strangers can make a living now just by promising to keep a close eye on me around the clock, from morning until night when really they ought to be in their beds sleeping and dreaming about what it’s like to make love to someone you have only ever seen at a distance) says something I can’t quite make out, but I know it is intended to warn me of the approach of danger on my other side, on the side where my other elbow is located and, at least for the moment, unencumbered by someone’s being “at” it. I just have time to duck my head when something weighty, and no doubt very sharp, passes over it, something that makes a terrific hissing sound as it does so, its bulk and momentum sufficient, I suppose, to separate the oxygen molecules in the air from their companions and therefore threaten to make everything around me blow up. At least that’s how I imagine things happening at precisely the same time as they are happening. Perhaps then I have merely to imagine my way out of this predicament as effortlessly as I have imagined my way into it. I have merely to furrow my brow and suddenly, just like that, everything will be back to the way it was last Tuesday.

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