Possum Kingdom Lake, 2.C.4, 900 words

An empty glass elevator wafts to the lobby floor. At a bar on the second level opposite the elevators a group of silent men stand around one woman in a leather jacket who is seated. Her breathing is audible from a distance and sounds like a voice. All watch a cerulean projection on the large blank wall over Jacky’s banquette altar. Music for piano and voice flit as if playing far down a street followed on sterile breeze by dry autumn leaves. Jacky is lulled with high airs settling in the hall. The empty night hotel is a talisman. It is close to the vision of his own innards, a mysterious solid machine behind a drape of people. He recalls a past convention. Faces are distilled into a single face. He recalls the empty hotel. He is in the empty night hotel retreating into the dark humors of his viscera, or the expanding peace across the hotel, then across the landscape. The landscape will grow vast and mostly absent of people, though, as they gather again the towns and banded travelers tend to draw together, landscape features tend to coalesce oddly as if in a whirlpool. A trio jostles him from trance. The hotel is filled with millers and aches, chartreuse and tweed. One of one pulls a low table in front of the banquette and sits. The others sit to one side. They breathe loudly through their nostrils. Their nose hairs crackle. The uniform sheen on the painted concrete pillar across the hall glistens and seems to rotate like a loosened sheath. The murmuring voices crackle and skip. He slips from the banquette, unheeded by the flanking chartreuseurs, out beneath the yawning atrium and toward the pillar. Indistinct men stride between he and it, their transit blurring further the nearer he draws. Blemishes in the concrete telegraph geomantic constellations through their forms, the paint drips, the discolored touch-ups, shadows of fingernail rakes, shimmers of the moon languish through their bodies to lost time when the column stood in the dirt and clear night. Like a ruin that has diverted its decrepitude into tumbledown closets and subterranean cave-ins the hotel allows the past to abide in the present. Like the center pin of a clock it creeps through time, still a pensive youth when the frenzied senescence of the conventioneers tears them down into dust. Though, as it lies still in time its permanence also hurtles it instantly forward to beyond where another silent gap spreads out. Jacky does not as much become unstuck from the time and space he is in than he connects more intrinsically with its pace and pose. As it stands mute and indistinguishable from the present Jacky recedes with it, silent and bland, overlooked, into its unburdened reveries and deep breathing. All that must be done to find the ritual in the prosaic is to slow to the anaesthetized pace of concrete weathered by silken, pampered hands and by air conditioning. The conventioneers flicker all. They pass in a state of distraction and flicker away in the periphery. Forms flicker into being before the pillar, checking wristwatches, slyly untucking bosom wedgies, nodding, and absently rifling through folders or attaches. All the conventioneers flicker because they hardly are, because after falsely awakening for morning coffee they awoke nude in bed groggy, because passivity is their essential condition, because they will fall asleep with lit cigars, will be caught up in a strong current and borne away with great velocity, because they are engraved on air, because the air is debatable, the mundane is not fantastic enough for them, because they are non-coincident, because they chase the circles that float in their eyes, because of lassitude, of childish magic, of a dream in which men empty sacks of coal into mounting black columns, of the possibility for cerebral haemorrhage with intense concentration, of potential obsession for physical contact, because they exist only if they are not touched, because they exist only if they are seen, because a numbness starting at the feet has traveled up the legs until eventually spreading throughout the body, because the call of the body is not strong enough, because though known to be in the dim of the hotel they know not for how long, because the stars flicker above the cloud-masked glass roof, because day to day they forget on which side to part their hair, because a state of matter must accompany the clicking. The opacity of the conventioneers grows arrhythmic and intermittent. Jacky marvels at the surface of the pillar. He fingers the fingertip-sized holes, flicks flakes out toward his eyes. Without twinkle or sigh the people cease to reappear. The entirety of the chartreuse convention vanishes. The scarf and blazer convention vanishes. Though a vague streak of the desiccated housekeeper wends beyond the pillar, the carpet erosion rights, the light swells, and the air conditioning roars. For a span of possibly several minutes, if time governs an existence lacking interpersonal relationships, he is paralyzed with disbelief. What seems only a tuning of his vision is, by his panting and pacing across the carpet without obstruction, carried from yearning to a fearsome reality. The people are vanished; the great atrium hums. The great exhaust fan high in the atrium moans hoarsely to life. From within its grind the throng reemerges not as if from freezing but in blotchy fragments.

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