Leona, 2.C.2, 900 words

Across midday hours the lobby alternately throbs and releases, less a heart than some fibrous sponge fed by many weak hearts. Groups coagulate around flotsam eddies of furniture several deep battling for small command. The chartreuseurs have shed their tennis shirts for blouses in all verdant shades, men and women, and those subdued blur somewhat into the scarf and blazer set whose evening attire is only slightly more cosmopolitan. Only the lanyards give plumage. Jack physicality by ordering an espresso from the café. However open his posture, however realistic his smile, without lanyard, without history, without contingent, without coterie, he remains as visibly invisible as a piece of dry food on a stranger’s cheek. Equidistant from multiple huddles of talkers and ambiguous in orientation to any one in particular, other, more spidery and capillary, men nod for their nods to gather up into a huddle like a suicidal fish. Jack shuffles amongst these tethered characters. He has a beard that, catching in cylindrical reflections, he notices, as if realizing of a sudden that he has a beard, is the unkempt and wiry fringe of a mad desert wanderer. Arched surfaces show the gradation of dust’s gravity. The swirl of cautious murmuring, unseen clattering and whirring, the seamless shadows of healed soles on loud carpet, as if hovering just above the floor, above holes they are doomed to fall through, a wavering metallic howl of high vibrations threads through all and all thread through his veins and arterioles entranced benevolence toward the chattering klatches. The conventioneer shoulders shimmer with raindrop quick rosy stars. The huddles seem to flower with warmth. The stomata widen betwixt the voices and arms until Jack is delirious amidst friendly debate. “Why don’t you believe that repetition is convincing? You keep repeating the same patterns. Take, for example, the celestial body that has worry and concern in its wake. Not just for hunger – but for fear, loneliness, uncomfortable temperatures, the simple chore of having to outrace light for a few moments, of waking up every single day to nothing.” “They never knew the pleasure of waking up every morning to find a hot, crisp loaf of Italian bread waiting behind the screen door.” “There are many things they didn’t know, like the destiny of men after death. Yet all things must die. By the simple process of repetition all things are conquered; it does not ask, yet all things answer to it; it does not call, yet all things meet it.” “That striking perceptual transformation, which I later found occurs as a gift when the individual has come into harmony that unites the whole into a grand foyer filled with all the doors to be entered, people to be put in closets, people to hide in closets. People to take their clothes off, people to…” “Indeed, all people, from all times and places.” The words clutter. Jack is entwined. The faces in the huddle all loom, seeming to close in with each twist of their thesis. Jack, at first shoulder to shoulder, now has his chest against the girl from the table who studies the scansion of these orations for a probable gap to cast with her position. As she smoothes down her scarf to speak Jack interjects, “But don’t you all believe that through this repetition you speak of, that we all are liberated, in each day, from the guilt of causality, from the burden of return? That our transgressions in those days past only return if we choose to repeat them?” “You must be mad,” the girl interjects, “those filthy things repeat as well, and they build, like sediment, into a formation that blots out the sun. You surely have not seen it in some time.” She flips about her badge on its fabric cord. The small chromed clip attempts to glimmer as Jack is ejected from the group in a conveyer of shoulders. He idles toward a small café table and sits. While resolving to have another go with a lesser klatch the last man in the hotel still in chartreuse tennis shirt approaches, the waist of his dungarees bowing outward and sagging under the moist duress of his apron, fixes his eyes on Jack’s, quickly darting to the empty chair across the table and then back, and sits. Jack pulls the pole of the small table between his knees until the edge jams his ribs so that something not of him becomes part of him to separate him from this man. The chartreuseur beams. Jack sees through the man’s teeth. Then a high pitched and a guttural voice at once together begins, “Do you…” but is quickly lost as Jack strains to maintain the composure of a man listening to another man but not hearing a single word he is saying. Jack is conscious only of the man’s tongue, growing larger, growing covered with linty swirls over buds like conflagratory boils waved beyond the outlined shades of his teeth and up through his false head to flop behind his eyes. Jack flees. The man still is beaming and, catching his face in the window of the café, Jack is inexplicably beaming. Through hallways bracing the emptiness of the voided tower his footfalls on carpet and hand on the ribbed wall-covering trace all the way to the top floor. The voices dwindle to murmurs and to a fog of sound turning into languid afternoon.

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