Thursday, December 24, 2009

For me, it's in the doing now


He wakes to the knocking of the door but he does not get up until the footsteps disappear down the hall. There is a tray on the floor, a plate underneath a dish-cover and a set of utensils. He takes the tray and sets it down on the table. His breakfast is scrambled eggs and bacon with toasted wheat bread and bottled water on the side. He eats quickly, hungrily and retires to the bathroom. He washes his face in the sink, rinsing his hand under the faucet until he could no longer feel the cold water. He is running a fever that never ends. Heat radiates off him like a stench. He lays his cold hands on his face and looks into his deep set eyes. His reflection is gaunt and pay but unchanged from last he looked upon it. He is no more harrowed than a man who lacks a good night sleep. No more dead than a tired man. He undresses and enters the shower. He runs the water cold and washes until he the last of the sleep falls away from him. He turns off the water and takes towel from the rack, drying himself when he looks up and sees a figure at the door. The pale man, now in profile, is a stranger to him. He walks across the room to the mirror behind the door and he traces his hand against the smooth glass. A full length mirror hung from the back of the bathroom door, reflecting a man carved with black runes from foot to face. He put his finger across the skin of his chest and felt the unmistakable bump of ink, but when he looks down at his hands or at his arms he sees nothing but the same pallid flesh that he recognized. He looks back at the mirror, closer at the marks that adorn his body. They are crude pictograms. Jagged, abstract lines form a vague, incomprehensible language. He feels the outline on his shoulder. Five line segments united at a central junction, sharp angled lines spearing in towards it. He looks at the reflection casted in the mirror and to his eyes it looks to be a man being struck by lightning. For whatever reason, this makes him laugh and he shakes his head.

His clothes are on the chair, pressed and folded. He takes the shirt and opens it. It is crisp and white, like new. He gets dressed and finds his coat hanging neatly in the closet, dirty but dry. He throws it on and leaves. Downstairs, light comes from doors and open window. The room is empty save for the fine quality of dust that floats up to the beams of natural light and, of course, the girl behind the counter.
" Morning " He says
She looks up, smiles, nods her head and returns her eyes to the folded newspaper. A silence falls, occasionally broken by the scratching of the pen on the newsprint. He leans over and inspects the lower left-hand corner of the dim-gray page. The crossword is filled in jay-blue pen. She is quickly filling out the Sudoku grid in a festive green ink, the color of lime skins.
" Heading out? " She asks from the page.
" Yeah " He says
She slides the ledger over to him
" Sign the ledger before you do. "
He picks up the pen and he hovers over the page.
" You know, I've notice that there's doesn't seem to be any other guest. The ledger's empty. "
She gives him the same lazy stare from the night before, but she shifts uncomfortably in her chair and this betrays her apathy.
" Yeah. We're not really busy this season. "
He looks around at the dust motes and empty seats and he regards her with a quiet smile.
" Alright " He says and signs his name in blocky print.
As he reaches to the door, she calls to him. He turns and she says " My boss wants to talk to you before you go. She says it's important. "
"What about? "
" Dunno. But you should really go. "
" I'll take a rain check " He says. " Got things I need to take care. Things I need to do. "
" I really think you should go. " She says with a lazy stare.
He shrugs his shoulder. " Goodbye. " He says and leaves.


She takes a breath and opens the door. She steps into the short corridor, but it is dark and there are vague shapes in the darkness. They are stationary articles of furniture that she has seen a dozen time before in the light. The darkness sets her on edge. Her nerves twang like taut guitar strings. Every sound becomes an omen. Every creak of the floor with every steps she takes on a dreadful quality. She walks carefully, hands in front of her to find the turn and once her fingers strokes the frame she carries her self over to the side room. And the darkness stretches out before her and she feels her heart thumping in her chest. She breathes and steels her face and her skin is a brave hard-shell that nothing can penetrates. But she is scared for no reason and this rattles her. She nearly forgets to breath.
" He blew me off. He said he had things he needed to care of. " She says.
And the darkness produces a flicker of a flame.
And the voice that holds that flame says " He will learn "

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