But Not This One...

 Short Stories

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hommage d'literature ##
  An ode to literature, to reading, to what is has given me, to how it has made me - now, trying to contribute to it with a sincere effort borne of that love. This is my love letter to it all, to this strange entity that many great masters have given themselves to. May I be amongst them, with time.-Albert Chang (!ELLA//OHARU)saturday november 13 2010 *  He woke up in an especially frightful mood that day. It had been on his mind all night long - the task he had finally, after many years overdue,come upon. When he did wake up that day, he laid in his bed for a while - clad only in his blue, striped pajamas - and stayed rather still, enjoyingthe warmth of his blankets; moved one leg around, then perhaps the other, to bask in the pockets of cool and dry cotton sheets in contrast with thenuzzling warmth where his leg had been.Finally he sat up.He stretched.He gave a very deliberate and prolonged yawn.But he could tarry no longer; he swung his legs over the left side of the bed, and felt around with his left hand for his cane. It automatically,smoothly, out of habit extended to where he almost always - every night, since he had needed the cane - left it before going to bed. And, indeed,his gnarled hand settled, as usual, on the familiar, worn knob of wood carved into the rest of the long, thin stick of polished wood. He stood up; feltabout for and put on his slippers without thinking, out of habit, as with the cane; and he inched forward to the doorway of his bedroom. He took alittle longer than usual - he was in no hurry to get through breakfast and set upon his task.He shuffled across the brown carpeted floor. The morning sun had just begun to rise - everything was tinged a soft, peaceful blue; there was thatcrepuscular silhouette of emptiness, hanging in the air like spiderweb threads. As he made his way across the floor, into the kitchen, and began togo about turning the stove on, setting out the pot and stirring spoon, found his bowl and eating spoon - busied himself with his habitual morningtasks, in short - the sun rose and set about its own day. The modest, clean apartment filled with softer hues of golden light from its corner windows.He had already drawn the drapes once he set the pot boiling. He now prepared the table for his meal, moving quickly, efficiently, with practicedease and knowledge of self. His bowl and spoon - always placed precisely on that exact spot; his chair - as he had left it, as he always left it; thetable - unmoved for years now; and the flowers!, the flowers!For many years now a vase - gleaming, carefully dusted - has sitten on that table. It has barely moved but a time or two; it has always had afresh flower in the morning. There was no pattern to the flower chosen for each morning - for a while, he had thought of going by the days of theweek, then by the phases of the moon, then the sun...and had finally given up on ever committing to any one routine, and chose whatever flowerfancied him on that particular day. He would go out in the evening to buy his flower - out to the corner, the same corner he'd gone to for years, andbuy something from the flower man, the same flower man who'd worked that corner for years; the two would kindly and politely nod a greeting toone another, and the flower man would patiently wait until the other made up his mind and pointed at the flower he wanted. No words wereexchanged - neither one spoke the other's language. The flower would be sold, money would be paid, and each of the two curtly returned to hisown path in life. It was a relationship of the finest kind, the sort cultivated over years and years of tireless dedication toward the fulfillment of thewordlessly understood stipulations of that relationship, where both parties fully understood one another, what to expect from one another, andexactly what the relationship was made up of.The evening last, he had chosen a white sunflower. It was a special breed he had not seen in quite some time, and he had chosen itimmediately, in the vespertine shadows of yesterday, out on the flower man's corner. Gratefully, he had carried it home; carefully, in his left hand;his right hand, poking his walking cane along the sidewalk with the greatest dexterity. He had placed it in the vase after deliberately and seriouslytaking out the previous night flower to place it into its mass grave.Today - the white sunflower seemed to stir and chin up a bit as the morning rays tumbled down upon it. It seemed to observe its human idol ashe wordlessly turned gas off on the stove and carefully, with a measured, practiced pace, sluiced his breakfast of oatmeal into his bowl. With crispmovements, he picked up his bowl and strode quietly and confidently over to the table with the flower. He took a draught of his orange juice andbegan breakfast with his flower.He took his time. There was no rush. The task ahead would only have to be performed once.The clock rang out. He paused in his thoughts and noted that he had only three hours left in which to perform his task. Three hours before theycame to collect. A feeling of great horror and dread came over him, but he quickly pushed them off. No, no - there would be much time, much,much time, for that later  , he thought to himself, sternly.His breakfast finished, he began to clear up his plates with great dignity and solemnity. The white sunflower looked proud in the increasingmorning light - its leaves shone a brilliant and healthy green, and its white petals gleamed like snow upon white feather. He quickly washed hisdishes and then paused. He put his hands on the counter; his head sank down a little. He suddenly felt old, dreadfully old. He almost wanted to cry.But he shook himself free of those notions and, standing straighter than usual, marched into the next room - the library.It may behoove the reader to now consider the living space of such a man whose morning I am describing. He lived in, as I have said, a modestapartment home - modest, but very comfortable and very neat. It was a spacious apartment, and had the cozy feeling of being lived in and trulymade a home of. Tall windows made up the corner walls of the living room, which abutted and shared a space with the small but useful kitchen,and with the open dining room with its small and orderly table fashioned from wood. The door was a secure one, with heavy padlocks whosetumblers turned easily with the key. The entire apartment complex was a very modern and fashionable one, to be perfectly frank. Its residents allhad very good manners and, in general, kept to themselves. Everybody did knew one another quite well - the complex often had galas and balls,all of which were well attended, and all the residents were on politely intimate terms with one another. It was a very tight-knit community - any oneof the residents would give his or her last penny if another needed it, without hesitation or question. But this is not a story about them.He, as I have said, went into the library. It was the only other room in the house, save for the bedroom with its attached bathroom, and the livingroom/kitchen/dining room previously described. But what a truly marvelous room it was.Since he was a youth, he had avariciously and passionately consumed books. When he entered his later years, he began to seriously collectthem, and made it a hobby to duck into as many local and second-hand bookstores as he could find on his travels - as a way of having a goodtime, you understand. As such, he began to acquire quite the palate for fine literature, and began to sniff out rare editions and publications for hiscollection. He often struck a good bargain, and became fast and - eventually - longtime friends with many of the bookstore owners he came across.Because of his travels, he had often had to ship his finds back home - another great pleasure, for he could always expect an enjoyable day ofunpacking these packages from the past whence he returned, and each book would be a personal memento, a physical bookmark of someadventure he had, at that  particular place, during that  particular time.They all wound up here in his library. He had made it a rule of his to never ship back a book unless or until he had read it - as a way of restrictinghis overspending, you understand. It was a wonderful system of self-discipline, and he was proudest of having kept to it for many years. Theturning of the pages seemed to mirror the turning of the years, and so he had found himself growing older and yet more child-like as they did so.But there could not have been a happier human creature in all the world during those years, for in his books, he had loosened the mastery of timeover mortals - if only for a moment, a moment of years!  And so it was he found himself an old man. He looked up in the mirror and was astounded to see lines along his face, lined with hair that hadturned a brilliant white. For what seemed to be the first time, the man looked into the mirror and found himself pleased with what he saw - a faceused to concentration in thought, expressing a stillness of spirit based upon the sanctity of extended contemplation. It was the face of, shall I say, areader? Perhaps it would be much too predictable to describe him as such, but it remains the most accurate and concise manner of doing so.It was during these last years, on his last travels, that he began to notice something. At first he could not fully sense what it was exactly. Hesimply found himself enjoying his reading less and less so, and felt his contentment of self slip away as well. He became irritable in his business,and would sometimes even border upon rudeness with his neighbors. It was not until that one particular day, the day of the incident  , did he realizewhat it was.He was overseas at the time. He remembered it clearly - he had been reading Soseki's 'I Am A Cat.' The book was well-written, and he enjoyedthe wealth of details Soseki expressed in his clear, simple diction. He would have, in fact, enjoyed the novel immensely were it not for that strangemental - or perhaps spiritual, maybe emotional, he was not sure - ailment that had been niggling away in the heartworm of his soul for some time. Astrange dissatisfaction, a feeling that - in hindsight - he now identified as foreboding: it crawled its black way up his heart, its tendrils curling nastilyand seductively about his ears. He was often able to shake the feeling off with his precious reading - but it became increasingly difficult of late; itwas as if he were forced to dip his hand through some sludge coating the golden recesses of his one love.On this particular day, he had just had an unpleasant meeting with a client. He had been rude to the client - he admitted this readily and openlyto himself - and had come away from the meeting worried about his future prospects with the client. Despite his private passion, he was veryconscientious and serious about his work in the community aboard this planet, and had managed, even, to have both this mistress and this wifework in tandem with one another, supporting and strengthening the other when it faltered. But the growing disquiet inside himself had encroachedupon even his work now, as I have said. It may also be of some use to know that he was rather hard on himself in his work, and that the client, infact, had not come away with any great negative impression, had in fact been impressed by what he interpreted as the mark of a superior andwillful individual - for the client equated the two in his own perception of human life.After the meeting, Soseki provided anodyne. Yet again, he had to reach through the noxious vapors of that dissatisfaction, had to will anddiscipline his mind to concentrate only on the golden point of the reading. His head began to swim from the effort. He stubbornly persisted - hisgaze intent upon the page that began to sway and shiver in his vision. He blinked; put the book down; rubbed his eyes, then his temples. Helooked around him. The cafe buzzed with the usual murmur that arose from the populated space. It was warm, and the thick smell of Italian syrup,milk, and alkaloid grinds comforted his stomach. It was intermittedly lit by lamps that hung upon spindly wires that hung down the high ceilings.Each table had a lamp above it. He sat alone, his coffee one-thirds of the way done but growing quickly cold. After this brief break, he turned backto Soseki.The words marched across the page and into his memory. He had just begun the book and was really beginning to lose himself in theimaginatives that sprang up in reaction to the words. Swirls of colors - images of a cat scampering along the neighborhood, mourning its love,eating mochi, dancing, disliking the fat rickshaw man's fat cat...The pleasure of reading gripped him now as it had not for so long - perhaps, even,since the days when he had been carefree, in the prime of his literary matriculation. He became lost and saw a lost cat, a man with a lost cat,shadowy underworlds filled with sharp black and red expressionist contrasts. A soldier trapped at the bottom of a well in the desert - the sunlightcasting stark streaking shadows through this soldier's head and over his body, searing the horrible dream into his immortal memory. A missingwoman - her cigarette, daintily stained with lipstick, crumpled and still smoldering in a foggy glass ashtray - her red dress and red heels - her blackpatent leather bag...A shiver ran through it; passed itself along his spine and nerves. He sprang back to the cafe with a snap. The hum of chattering leapt into theforefront of his concentration. He looked about in mild and private confusion, then returned to his book. The words undulated incomprehensiblybefore him. He blinked and rubbed his eyes. The words remained blurred.He brought the book up to his face, touching his nose.He could not read.Panick began its leering way forward, lurching toward him on its off-beat, sinister gait - the nasty black tendrils twitched convulsively, as if grippedwith fever, before tightening up about his heart, pulsating along with it in horrific symbiosis. He gripped the book tightly, with his knuckles protrudinggrotesquely.By the time he left the cafe, all the other patrons had left. The baristas had begun sweeping and putting the chairs up, passively-aggressivelyhinting that the stubborn patron, with his ice-cold coffee still two-thirds full, leave so that they may do the same. He got up mechanically, stiffly, andfound himself outside in the chilly air - without fully realizing how he got there. It was a brisk night. The lamps along the cobblestoned roads shonea devilish red, and there were few passerbyers. What few they were trundled by, anonymous bundles of coats and scarves with leather jacketshanging, isolated in his or her private warmth. He stared out blankly at the canal that whispered sibilantly over the lip of the pebbled embankmentacross the street. The cafe shutter rattled close behind him. After a good few minutes, the floating black woolen islands gamboling clumsily acrossthe night, along that embankment, would see an empty grating - its shadows criss-crossing in through the darkened windows - at the doorstep ofthe cafe.xxxFor the next some odd months or so, he made various attempts to read. The frequency of these attempts dropped off exponentially after the firstweek or so - he could not read. However, human behavior can be said to be fueled on hope, is it not? It must at least be partially so. He continuedhis efforts; went to specialists and soothsayers; rested his eyes; ...It was all for naught. No one knew what to make of his strange condition. There were surgeries and concocted potions taken. His sight was good- improved, in fact, from the various surgeries he'd subjected himself into. One surgery allowed him to now see colors outside of the natural humanspectrum of vision. (It had been his hope that the frequencies now hidden from him - that of words - could be attained by expanding both his eyeand brain's ability to process the visual spectrum). Another left him with telescopic vision. But, to no avail, to his great spiritual demise and abjectbitterness, he remained unable to read. The words still blurred and danced before his eyes, twisting and turning into strange symbols he could notdecipher. He had only his memory to rely on for the hallowed honeyed lacuna that had been poured so lovingly and carefully - he thought ofmilkmaids in the country morning - through the sandy sieves inside himself. An increasingly lengthy amount of time was spent each day in thisreverie, recalling passages, matching them with colors and feelings, sensations once lived and now remembered. He was not for want in money,and allowed his business to slowly close up. His clients began to peter off as he wrapped up his various projects without taking on new ones. A fewoccasionally visited his office for a social call, and he began to treasure these visits, too, as a fine wine that aged so subtly and tenderly. Thedraught he took from each aspect of his life, now, became more precious and all the more lovely to feel coursing through his capillary veins. Thedreaming enriched that now.His library had not grown since Soseki's 'I Am the Cat.' He had gone home from that trip to find one of his own self-addressed packages. Pullingit out, he recognized - by the feel and smell of the edition, by the overturn ratio of the pages as he flipped through them - Dostoyevsky's 'TheBrother's Karamazov.' It was an edition he had found right before that fateful day in the cafe; in fact, he had mailed out the book to himself rightbefore the unpleasant meeting.  Karamazov held a special place in his heart. The entire output of Dostoyevsky, in fact, was an irreplacable slice of himself that he had turned toat many junctures in his life. In the span of his travels throughout the starry expanse of written avatars, Dostoyevsky was a monstrous sun thatgave life to many smaller - but no less masterly nor important - planets that spun in its orbit. The particular edition of Karamazov he had found theday before, in a shabby curio shop that was little else than three adobe walls, a roof, and a heavy cotton canopy - colored dirty white with dust andsoot - propped up along worn wooden posts in the entrance. Various cheap and tawdry items spilled out into the sunny street, puked out by wornwoven bins spotted with holes. His eye had caught a few bookshelves, standing in the back, as he passed by the curio shop - that day before. Hisfeet instinctively made a swift, smooth turn into the curio shop and he soon found himself lost in the suspended, timeless pleasure of browsingthrough the titles. The Karamazov immediately caught his eye. It was bound in red leather and inlaid with 16-carat gold embossing. Spirals,spinning out like fractals, had been stiched in; the embossing, as a whole, took on a troupe of saints with stylized beards and halos. Their robeshung off their abstracted bodies in symmetric patterns. The cover was tastefully plain and read simply:DOSTOYEVSKY*THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOVHe flipped through the pages, savoring the thick, high-grain paper the publisher had chosen with such charm. On the publisher's page, there wasprinted only the year of the edition, addresses to both the pressing plant and publisher's office, as well as a special seal certifying the edition as atrue and honest one put out by these entities. There were no illustrations; the book was very large, and had four columns of text running across theexpanse of two open pages. The design of the text was also very tastefully chosen, and he noticed that every chapter heading had, too, anembossed numeric to denote it. The price was high, but fair, and he purchased the volume without an iota of regret. He hurried out of the curioshop that day - he was en route to a business meeting - and had no time to savor the edition that night. The next morning found him with even lesstime in which to properly enjoy the book. He did manage to spend a few exultant, elated moments turning the pages of high grain in line at the postoffice before sending the book back to his home address - but it was enough to whet his appetite and expectation to placate his journey home.This was the one book that waited for him when he returned from that fateful trip. He had planned to finish the Soseki before returning, and hadbeen looking forward to re-reading Karamazov in that particular edition. He nearly tripped over the package at he, in a daze, stepped in over thethreshhold. He had been a stick of plastic lipstick since the horrific discovery - at that time, a week ago - and was not entirely aware or cognizant ofwhat the strange box was doing in his apartment. He automatically bent over to examine it, and still did not realize the package's contents until hepulled out the book - and immediately burst into tears. He sank down into the nearest chair, clutching the Karamazov and weeping silently, withgreat dignity. The room was silent save for the occasional sniffle and soft, broken sob.The night fell on the empty, neat little room. Moonlit beams skated through the windows and touched gently upon the newest - and ultimately final- addition to his library. He slept that night - perhaps not peacefully, and perhaps not altogether well, but restfully. Very much so.And so it was - he got used to things. He derived pleasures from various habitual routines he religiously followed. His morning flower. His visits.He began to enjoy sleep; enjoyed dreaming, for he often dreamt of that  feeling he had once had and so dearly loved, now lost to him, of readingand being whisked away upon swans spun from his own imagination. He grew tired of the surgeries, grew tired of so much external sensorystimulation. One final surgery left him legally blind - he had, upon much deliberation, decided to take on the challenge of learning to sense theworld without his sight. Sight no longer had any use for him.He bought his walking cane. Built up a routine and discipline of getting around the newly veiled world around him. It was strange for about a day- but he was soon comforted by the rightness of his decision, as he found himself already used to avoiding sight. It really had had no use for himsince that particular day, the day he lost the reading, and he found it merely a minor inconvenience to lose the rest of his seeing as well. Therewere occasional flashes of regret over losing the expanded color spectrum he had once seen - but that, too, even, sublimated into the whirringwavves of dream.His library remained dust free and well-maintained, lovingly cared for. He spent most of his days, as he grew older and older, running his handsover the titles in the library, having memorized each edition, having loved all of his neatly bound paper companions throughout his years as oneloves those of flesh and blood that eventually become relation. This was part of his dream - his living dream - as he walked amongst the deadliving in memories and thoughts. For some years this was his life as he crept his way closer to death and further from birth.And, gradually, his old acquaintances began to peter off. His visits grew less frequent, if more precious. And, one day, they stopped altogether.He attended the funeral of an old friend of his - one of his first and longest clients, during his professional life. It rained that day. This particular manhad been well-loved, had had many friends and family members who counted themselves as in intimate relations with this particular client. And yetthe client had always found time to regularly visit his old friend. They would talk about the time they had been most intimate - when they were bothyoung, working hard at their profession, learning quite a lot, and eagerly so. It's always that way with old friends. It's hard to find new things to talkabout when two such friends peel off into their own lives - an invariable occurence in the new modern world. But this particular client, too, lovedbooks, and loved to talk about books, read voraciously, and prized the collection of physical literature just as highly as the reader. So theirfriendship had, in fact, blossomed and grown with age, had stimulated both men immensely - until the client's death.He felt sadly over this passing, and found the smell of rain to be particularly suitable for the moments before his client's ashes were sunk into theground. He leaned on his cane. Thoughts turned toward the many wonderful conversations the two had shared, and he could not help but smile ashis heart welled up with happiness over those reminisces. The funeral adjourned, and the client's family - who were, too, on intimate and friendlyterms with him - helped him into the long, black funeral hearse as the procession solemnly disappeared into the heavy, dirty droplets of rain thatran in with the brackish gray sky. Inside the car, no one spoke. It was warm, and it was rather nice that there was no sound save for the mutedscoff of the rubber tires against the grainy concrete. Everybody felt safe and happy. Shy looks darted all around. Memory hung suspended in theair - memories infused with the deceased, memories that were dry and dusty now, like the pages on a book.xxxOn this particular morning - the one I began, so long ago, this story with - he went into the library. The funeral had been some months before.There were visitations to the deceased's family, but even that dwindled down to naught. He was left alone, brooding with his flower and his books.He found himself sleeping more often as he decreased his time spent in the library. The pleasure of running his hands over the books, pulling out aparticular edition and fingering the pages while he listened to the private sililoquoy of half-forgotten feeling that arose in him - they began toattenuate with the fading of the years. And so it was that, one day last week, he woke up one morning, calmly ate his breakfast with his flower, andcleared the plates; then he placed a call in through Donations & Recycling, made an appointment for the following week, hung up, and went backto bed. He laid there for some hours. The evening arrived, and found him still reclined there, unthinking, undreaming and empty. When the nightbegan to weave its velvet curtain, he burst out into tears, curled up on his side, and clutched his pillow, sobbing. He did not sleep that night - onlycried and cried and cried until he felt like he had died and died and died.There were no more nights outside of the ordinary after that. Inside the library, now, he walked slowly about the circumference of the room. Hewas careful not to touch anything, and savored each step and slight change of atmosphere in the air as he came closer and further away fromcertain books. After making a few rounds, he stood in the middle, took a breath, and stepped forward to the first shelf. He pulled out the first bookand began to pore through it seriously.  He did this for some hours. He went thorugh every single book in his library, running his hands over the spines, savoring the embossed titles inthose that had one, smelling the crackling pages that stimulated, in him, a kingdom of thought and love. He recalled how each one of these titlescame into his possession, could live the day that he found this book in that little shop while he had been to some town on a trip - most likely forbusiness. The sensation of eyeing the spine of the book on the shelf of the store, pulling it out, deliberating over the purchase, and making thepurchase - all of it came rushing back at him now. He pulled out book after book, losing sense of the time, drunk as he was with the memories, withthe pure and utter language that he played in now.There was 'The Castle', by Kafka. He recalled the 5th St. bookstore with its rare and uppity titles, overpriced editions and fucking geographybooks. (He hated geography). It was a battered edition of little note, but it had been his favorite translation, and the price was very reasonable - herecalled, now, the rapture in which he had pored over his favorite passages on the train ride back to the hotel.'The Complete Borges' - a hot day, filled with dust. Much of it blew into the store, though a high-vacuum aero system kept the dust limited to thedoorstop of the shop. It also kept the store at a cool, comfortable temperature, and it had felt good to get in out of the heat.One black, leather-bound book - its pages very hard and stiff, pleasant to turn - brought back memories of a certain trip taken in his youth. On theshelf - Leonard Bernstein's 'Lectures at Harvard'....Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet.Eisner - The Haunted Screen.Gray's Anatomy.A History of Mathematics, 2nd Ed.Apostol's Calculus, I and II.His hands ran over a large edition of the Bible, its stark embossed cross leering out with sinister intent out of its solemn black cover.The Memoirs of Albert Speer.Rimbaud - Complete Poems and Letters.Kobo Abe - The Ruined Map.Bulgakov - The White Guard. Black Snow. Heart of a Dog and Other Stories.Akutagawa...Each book that passed through his hands found a temporary place in a large box that he had dragged into the library the night before - toprepare for this task. And so the box filled up, slowly, surely, inexorably and painfully. In a sort of calm frenzy now, he went through the books withthe steady pleasure and pace of a well-oiled automaton, and filed away all of these final feelings to savor on a later date, as if he were piling up hiswine cellar. His entire lifetime passed before his eyes. All of the truest, most sincere and human parts of himself, he had given to these books, toliterature, to a love for literature. He had never had a desire to contribute to it outside of the role a lover takes on. It was the most selfless and puresort of love - one that asked for nothing in return, for the love itself sustained his dedication for it.Finally he came to the last book. It was the Karamazov - the only book other than 'I Am A Cat' that he had not read. And yet even with the Soseki,he had had some memory of poring over the print on the page. With the Karamazov, he had almost nothing - only the day at the curio shop, andthe hurried inspection of the edition before the purchase. He ran his hands over the binding; could SEE the deep, dark blood red that stained theleather surface. His other editions had already been packed into the box. Before the task, he had promised himself that he would donate all hisbooks to public auction - if he spared a single one, he would find some excuse for another, and another...and he would be unable to separatehimself from any single book in the library.One final memory came to him with that particular Karamazov in his hands. He recalled that first night, coming home from the blindness of that  day, after weeping throughout the day - he recalled waking up from his weary dozing in the middle of the night. He did not remember climbing intobed; had only remembered the sudden gash that had torn his heart asunder when he collapsed upon returning. In the darkness, invisible demonswaited for him now. He heard an eerie ringing in his ears - tried stopping them up, but heard the ringing still - and turned onto his side, halfexpecting spectral faces to rise out of the wavvy darkness. He closed his eyes and opened them again.Wordless thoughts crammed their way through the heaving blood vessels along his temples. He was beset by a nameless basilisk that slitheredalong the corner wallpapers of his insides, turning it all into slate grey stone. All that had once laughed and live with joy now distinguished frozeand closed in upon themselves, slumbering away in the hidden hallow recesses of some spiritual cavern carved up deep inside of himself. Greatgrey boulders fell heavily, floated down as if made of virulent cotton, and they crashed down upon his head now - so suddenly and swiftly, so utterlystrangely and incomprehensibly that he still, now, could not fully believe what had happened. It all seemed like some great big embarassing joke;he felt like a fool, and went mad trying to understand why - why? - why did the joke persist, why did no one hint that the joke was over, that therewas really nothing left to laugh at - and wasn't it apparent how deep to the bone this farce had cut? The horror he felt, thinking onwards, that night,toward the endless stretch of daze ahead, when this joke would continue onwards, long after it had stopped being funny. Before him laid a thick jungle of white noise and static snowstorm; he felt afraid to take the first step toward this unknown jumble, but the inexorable encroachment of thecliffs behind him forced his hand forward.He blinked in the darkness that heaved over and around him now. Something inside the pit of his stomach clenched fiercely. Along his body, a joltof determined electricity ran through heavy knots and dendrite lakes. His body turned to stone, matching a will inside that passed now through theheaviest gallows, white with heat, tumbling through roughshod steppes. He felt, now, alone - there was no one outside of himself, supine uponthose cold gallows where naught even a crow flew. A brilliant demonic windfall gushed out unseen ventricles, stoned grey, and fed back uponhimself - over and over and over. They passed over those memories, those facts he knew had once existed and visited him, that had melted andcarved their ways into this - his self. Outside the wrinkled blackened shell, they howled. They - he closed his eyes now, in the dark, and felt a redglow dawn over the nacreous rim sandwiched between eyelash and cornea. They - the light rippled and whispered wordlessly, overturning colorswith the vespertine folds of the dawn....A knock.Snap back.With no uncertain knowledge, he knows who comes knocking - rapping, at his chamber door. He shuffles out, the Karamazov clutched in hisarms crossed across his breast. With sure footsteps, eyes turned inward, he makes his way to the front door and opens it without hesitating. Auniformed man clad in faded brown stands at attention, clipboard jauntily angled up precisely and stiffly. His hat is on straight forward, and his eyespierce into the chest of this frail old man clutching a strange red square of leather. The D&R rep shoots the clipboard forward. Sign here. Initial where indicated. One lean sausage-like finger jabbed down at preprogrammed spots on the magnetic keypad.The decrepit reader signed off the forms with a sure hand and strong signature. He presses finish with the dull tip of the magneto penciller; themachine beeps red (two times) then yellow (another two times) and finally green (a steady blinking that lasts two full seconds). A receipt isgenerated - which the reader folds and places neatly into his breast pocket. That one of 'em? The rep stars hungrily at the Karamazov.He looks down at it for a moment - considers - and shakes his head. He unfolds his arms, and dangles the book in his left hand.
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