Friday, September 21, 2012

Sunlight pours into one corner of the room through an aperture where, at some point, there must have been a window, or the equivalent of a window, but where now birds make their nests and enormous blue spiders patrol when the birds are not present. In the other corner lies Immanuel, mostly bones now, huddled up in a blanket and narrating adventures that no one will ever be able to decipher, though Eulalie has spent hours and days taking down his babbling in shorthand, and then trying to coax out and unravel any thread of coherence afterward when he has lost all consciousness again and grows silent. For my part, I understand the urge, sympathize with it more than I let on and gather bits and pieces of what I’ve heard to keep me occupied later. To serve as a kind of seed, I suppose, as a means of getting started. We listen to the utterance of others with barely concealed disdain, speak to them as if they had never yet said a word to anyone, and when similar treatment is given us we have the nerve to act mortified! We say the sky is falling in. Or we imply it by the way we look at the sky, the way we arch our necks backward and point our chins in the general direction we’d like those we are standing before to look. Another possibility, something else to be communicated in that moment because something must be communicated, is that the floodwaters are on the move and they will swallow us up within the hour, but the pantomime necessary to convey such information is so complicated, is rife with undulations of both hands, fingers together, and a strange cackling sound originating in the back of the throat, we give up before we have even started. Eulalie says this would be a bad thing, catastrophic even, if what we had predicted indeed came true. But nothing comes true. Everything lingers in the background, half-formed and poorly realized, just so many abstract patterns sketched with the non-primary hand. The one you hold at your side mostly when the other one is accomplishing what needs to get accomplished. Brushing the hair. Saluting those who you imagine outrank you on a scale of your own devising. That they are not familiar with this scale, that they can’t even conceive of someone’s inventing a scale when one is not necessary, goes without saying, though once you do say it, everyone looks at you as if you were in the habit of walking octopi on a leash. There can be little doubt that this scale and the lack of knowledge by others of its existence is responsible for the bewildered reactions on the part of those who have been saluted. Best just to explain yourself later, in the bathroom mirror, when no one is looking. When you have gone there by yourself and left the conversation at the bar behind, and the songs in the speakers overhead -- made louder now by the new proximity of these overhead speakers and the sudden diminishment of the sounds of the conversation at the bar created by the swinging shut of the bathroom door behind you -- are reminiscent of a time and place you’ve read about previously, and most certainly seen in the movies or on tv, but which for all that remains as alien to you finally as does the inside of someone else’s luggage.

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