Roseland, 2.D.4, 1100 words

Curtains around a hotel sky lounge are drawn. Strange rays of sun refract through clouds baking the glass wall of a remote water closet. Jack sweats, cups water to his face, and sweats through the warming water. Paper hand towels disintegrating against his beard leave pulpy blooms. Falling fast cold air in the main hall dries him save a greasy film that grumbles against his cinched collar. For his loitering he is given a free paper cup of tepid but scorched and opaque coffee by girls at the catering table who smile at the ill-fitting blazer he has conjured, and the water-stained boots. Within earshot of the a where news films are shown on a large projection wall Jack doffs the blazer across the seat of a club chair and sits upon it. Many, in blazers, congregate around him standing. On the carpet just in front of Jack, where he fixes his attention on the origin of radiating golden textillery hoops, one of the many takes up standing. After a time the blazerier alights on the right arm of an adjacent club chair. His palms rest on the arm behind, his shoulders in irreverent recline. “Are you waiting for some inspired wisdom as well?” he sneers nodding over Jack then nodding across the open doors of a smaller ballroom labeled JETA BALLROOM with floating bronze letters. The Os are circles. “Yes of course; it is the keynote.” He shifts from the buckram blazer seat cover to his hip. “The offnight keynote.” “Yes. Well I am quite interested in this notion of the futility of form, the illusion of the individual.” “That’s odd. I thought Dr. Trefery was speaking on creation as godliness, and the individual as god?” “Certainly not! You are mistaken. Is that in fact a subject that interests you?” “Look here. The proceedings show…” “Never mind those.” “And, yes, it is of interest to me.” “Very well, let me ask you something: If a man creates, brings into the world many things that heretofore had not been of a form in this world, as many things as there are rooms in this hotel, as numerous as the particles of dust in these rooms, and as each particle of dust is again a hotel with dust-filled rooms, as many particles of dust as are deep within the nested cells of those places, does that make him godly?” “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t heard the keynote yet.” “It won’t matter what Dr. Trefery says in the address. That isn’t the topic regardless. Though the words you are hoping to hear would only sink under the weight of all the detritus they produce. Those words are just words.” The blazerier now is sitting forward, his cohort drifts in globs and streaks away. “But, to what I was just saying, if dust blown on the wind erodes away the landscape of artifacts wrought by that individual, back down to the flat emptiness that had inspired him to fill it, wouldn’t those whose skins, hair, footsteps, and night thrashings had sent that dust aloft be more meritorious, more virtuous? Wait. Wouldn’t one bit of skin be of greater virtue?” The blazerier floats, seeming not to step, as if pulled by the others on a trundle, and disappearing somehow into his scarf. “I can see you, you know. I have eyes.” The lobby carpet creeps to the doors and gives over to a dust-buffed mosaic filling the ballroom with a rugs lapped together under rows of chairs facing one direction. Jack watches the empty room, listens to the buzz. Into a disparate, distracted conversation he offers, with poor timing, that “perhaps one of the ushers should ask that people should remove their shoes.” Desperate people go into empty rooms. They expand to fill space. They sit far apart from one another. It would be inappropriate for Jack to lean eagerly among the chairs, toward the front, before his address. The drone of voices around him in the hall dwindles and warbles then through the throats of the many ballroom doors. People turn in their seats. Between the rugs glossed tesserae sparkle from chandelier lights before all their crystal echoes dim. Jack follows a runner carpet through the dark to an end seat of the mostly empty front row. His feet edge to lit carpet and steps. The dais to his side of the lectern is lit. Beyond where chandelier filament searches two men talk quietly, gray faces smiling. The shorter of the two takes the stage, the other sits in the dark, and lowers the lectern. He begins an introduction that continues interminably as if magnetizing himself to the approbation of the insights to come. “As we spoke today we noticed from a window a lighting flash in the clouds that seemed to be caught, glowing across the entire city for some time.” A growing rhythm transmits through the moldings and spangles of the room against his amplified introspective monotone. “He has already given so much shape to those few of us fortunate enough to already meet him in this fleeting world.” Just as, in preablutionary silence, he begins to make the formal introduction, the sound of the stars in a dawn sky, through the earth, beneath the feet of all seated where an antipodal ocean clings over a gauzy room in an adrift sailboat. Just as he begins to make the formal introduction Jack rises into the light and from within the glare, beneath a shielding hand, the man at the far end of the row rises also in the dark. Just as the silence of star sounds subdues all a roar erupts through all flung open doors with a wall of chartreuse and waving arms. In the brown dim people begin to scramble. Jack halts in the light unable to see into the crowd. The other two men in the dim move back from the lectern. Shouting is audible among the seats where chartreusers chanting begin toppling over seats and rushing over a fallen landscape of tweed fabric shoulders and raw silk necks. The black, enormous lectern with wings and arms and antennae quivers. The short man narrows his eyes over a huddle of the trampled from above like a bird mechanically looking down from the nest to a fallen chick. All eyes rushing are pale. Gentle blood flows in the gentle unhurried passage of water over a weir. The rear of the room clears quickly. The short man on the dais grabs both others and behind a curtain stuffs them through a door. A long concrete block passage winds and winds.

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