A weak knock

A weak knock that nevertheless tosses the burglar chain in a jingle awakens the door to his room. The day manager identifies himself with a strangled voice that was able to thread the weak point of the peephole. He falls silent following his salutation. Through the peep Jack combines his odd glow and darkness into the form of a white face with vertical lines of invaginated grizzle that lead all the way to the maroon watchcap that forces white eyebrows out of plumb where they comb into still black lashes. Jack sees these because they glow. Below his chin he strangely diminishes, which is to say, all told, he looks precisely like the night manager.

Jack pulls the door to chain length and stands in his own darkness. The day manager is ensorcelled by green iridescent insects standing centered before the door and says “When you came last night you left no deposit with me.” “You said you were the day manager.” “I am. I’m also the night manager. You said you’d pay in the morning. I need the payment at this time.” “It is still night.” “It is not, it is morning. I need the payment at this time.” Bugs enter his mouth. He spits out papery wings like tobacco specks. “I don’t have it.” “You were going to leave before dawn without paying. If you believe I haven’t seen that before you’re mistaken. I see it all.” “Maybe I can work to pay the payment? I can be your night manager.” “No you cannot. I am the night manager,” says the day manager, “you can straighten rooms. Can you straighten?” “I suppose.” “Of course it would take you more than a day to recoup this payment. There is so little to do here. You may stay here at a reduced rate until you are even with the accrued payments.” “I guess I don’t have a choice.” “Not if you want to stay above ground.” “Fair enough.” “Very well, come to my office in the morning.” He slides back out of the arcade into the darkness.

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