Straightening, 1.C.1, 900 words

Room TWO, next to his, mirrors its arrangement of furniture and anterooms. This assists his vision of an ordered shade beneath the room. Straightening is simple. He empties out the artifacts of passed time, human imperfections, shuffles linens about, stows appointments for rediscovery, or discards them altogether after the fashion of a mosaic in which he is replacing banal tesserae. The proper form and texture arises out of the familiar, yet damaged, impression of the room’s origin. It is quick. He returns to his room after less than an hour but is idle then for the day spent avoiding the night manager whose transaction window surveys what seems the full axis of the valley. Twine is laced about the doorlatch on room TWO. Twill hesitantly taps with his palm and opens the door. The sheer curtains pack the room with cotton sun. The embalmed juxtapositions he finds linger at the near-ends of acts halted before festering into consummation: a bed swirled in the vortex of failed sleep aid insomnia; rafts of hair across the vanity counter into the sink from solitary dreams of woolen forest men; the smell of yellow skin and greasy cardboard; a bundle of furniture tracks to a toxoplasmotic bunker amassed against the immovable bedstead; the small turned back coverlet sheathing a sick child; and in the daylight and after the days all manners of a man’s black stains, perfectly beneath rutted furniture, still, flat and deep in an ashtray, and a sticky lamination awash across a bathroom floor in which Twill can see his face as he strigils it into a bucket. It is pure and even and impossibly undisturbed, any footsteps in haemophiliac blood flooded and lost in the thin uncollectedness of it. Black bloodletting promises space in the body to feel it move within itself, for solid thoughts to float between his skin and flesh. That much blackness poured out of one man would leave no man, but a shell that could receive any man. The scant ways to occupy his time beyond the sorcery of housekeeping leaves Twill lingering long in the repeatedly disheveled room leisurely piecing it back together. He inhabits the phases often for longer than they might have played in time. The conscious inhabitation of a disappeared man’s haphazard moraine is silently compulsive. He can sit in each frozen moment, because time backwards is built of frozen algebra, and in that tableau live a full narrative as though contemplating empty sets on a stage. He refuses to collect all refuse and washables at once in a pass through the room and often disinfects surfaces many times to maintain continuity within a stage. In each frozen stage the rebus of posed objects remains ghostly with only him as a viewer. He arrives to the point of perceiving the base state of the room as preexisting, almost ghostly, completely emptied of life and movement that upon returning to his room each evening he sits on the floor to avoid being included in its recipe. The curtains are parted just with the glimpse beyond of a casually unbuttoned tunic. Nothing other than the bats swirling like blown sea foam around sprays of photoluminescent insects survive in the mercury light. In his room’s daze that green galaxy is fine enough to slip through his eyelids. Long as the lights burn and are befogged with arboreal dust clouds he sleeps to the tonic of the bats circling and their verdant needling is irrevocably tethered to his unconsciousness as the click to the closing door. So entwined is his sleep to the only emergence of life in the desert that he is comforted by asserting that the night manager is a phantom, so entwined that the entropic guttering of the lamps and the snuffing out of the bats and the sea smoke curtains of prey still far from the coast of morning wakes him. The murk over the chalk court is little different than the whiteout scorch of day. With all the lamps then doubted in his room he draws open the oilcloth proscenium to yawning and parks the table and a chair in syzygy with the air conditioner then nothing changes. A shallow daze creeps out of the valley. Two men shuffle, one low to the ground, dragging, out toward the chalk road. In the morning Twill surveys room TWO, empty, tossed in a usual fashion. Though having glimpsed the tenants leaving that morning before dawn he recognizes in the components of the mosaic not an image but the braces of a habitual series of actions. A code shared between the men. This code is supported solely as on a plinth, by the single reality of the two men dragging across the chalk court in the brief night after the lights and prior to dawn. As he straightens room TWO, the shades of the men faintly materialize through his movements that occupy and replay their stores as if caught in the fan of the desert’s end they became its medium and formed now some irreducible motivation of his body, like heat or thirst, or loneliness. He works to define that code, to solve for that equation. Yet, the variables, in light of the secrets the men had shared with the room, were only his insipid manias lent to those shadowy fleeing ciphers. He spends the entire day and finishes after dark, before the lights arise.

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