Start from the Beginning
Once again, we present in a working fashion, Into the Light, an urban fantasy novel: chapters 4-6. Why three chapters this week? This is because next week will be all out of sorts as determined by the holiday. So please feel free to checkout previous chapters if you have not and enjoy this odd tale of a man's trip to ruination where the path of hell is paved by good intentions and transformed perception. Blake has a off-beat ride on the destiny machine. Oh and the grand conspiracy from the shadows helps.
Into the Light
Darkness cracks, the seal of night shatters and the morning is set in a cobalt glass sky. Fallen leaves litter the stone avenues as the city blinks with anticipation of the day. The lines of connectivity spread their coils.
Blake taps the rhythm of his heartbeat on his forehead knowing he will be late for a very important fate determining date. Out of bed in leap and he rolls into the shower that spits a weak stream. Time moves faster and faster as he gets ready.
On the street laced with sunshine, Blake’s phone vibrates as he stomps along. He slips the device out of his jacket pocket and sees another text from the Bookie that reads Pay up.
He thinks I’ll deal with this later and comes to an intersection alive with city noise, clustered with business suits, and steps off the curb. A Port Authority bus screeches to halt at the crosswalk and Blake hops back. His pulse quicken with the near miss.
The pedestrians flood across the avenue as horns honk and the sound of a police whistles cuts through the din of diesel engines and pneumatic hammers pounding away at the Con-Ed construction site a block away. The city of windows contains millions of people alone the chilly bright morning with nothing but their own thoughts and distractions to keep them company.
As Blake steps over the curb and avoids the corner newsstand fully stocked with papers, he walks through a column of reflected sunlight from the skyscraper across the street. He lifts his hand to shield the light. The dirty little details of existence cannot be denied in the gleam. Blake picks up his tempo and reaches full stride six blocks away from his office. Cold sweat runs down his sides from his armpits. He passes by an alley and out of his peripheral vision sees the disembodied reflective orbs like the night before float in the shade of an alley.
“Him!” comes from the alley.
Three thugs in cheap plastic Spider-Man Halloween masks become ballistic objects and hurl themselves out after Blake. He takes off down the street like a terrified field mouse through the thicket. His hard-soled shoes clack like castanets on the pavement and the shock jabs his lower back. He grips his briefcase tight.
The tallest of the thugs gets one step behind him and grabs at Blake’s shoulder. Without thinking, Blake swings his briefcase backwards and the blunt edge lands a solid blow to the predator’s knee. The man tumbles and rolls to his feet. The others continue the pursuit as a people on the streets step aside.
Blake’s lungs burn as he flees. He begins to slow as his stiff shoes tear up his ankles and the laces become untied. Blake knows he must make a decision. He sees a light turning green and rushes though the oncoming traffic. A yellow cab honks as it breaks. A Port Authority bus almost clips his left shoulder but Blake keeps going.
The assailants stop in their tracks blocked by the flow of traffic. Blake never falters and gets over the curb. He takes off his shoes in stride and full out runs until reaching the entrance to his office. Blake stops and scans the streets. No men in masks followed.
He thinks could it be the bookie’s Collection Agency? No, had to be random. Other office workers push by Blake and a crooked smile breaks onto his flushed face as his heart pounds. He chuckles. The endorphins have him. He thinks getting mugged had to happen eventually.
“At least, I’m on time,” he says. Blake catches his breath, bends over, and picks out small stone embedded in his socks. He slips his chestnut wingtips back on.
In the lobby, seething with the bitter odor of floor polish, the wand metal detectors pass over the minions of commerce. Blake waves to a few people but they look away. The elevators teems, a squished box of night crawlers, everyone is bait, and Blake slithers in. Then a balding barrel-chested man in Armani, who smells of garlic and cheese, speaks harshly to the confines.
“God damn elevators on the Westside are out of commission and I have to take these bastards and walk all the way over. Well that’s what I get for coming in this early,” the man says. Blake snatches a glimpse of his gin blossom nose and thinks who is he? W.C. Fields? The elevator stops and half the workers step out.
The elevator rumbles as it ascends and soon the number forty lights up. Blake hopes there is coffee left but knows there will be nothing left of the bag of Chips Ahoy. Ding. He pops the Purell out of his pocket and passes through the doors.
The other offices on his floor seem smaller to him this day and Blake decides to take out some cash from his new credit card to pay the bookie as he passes by an accounting firm. Not the full amount but enough to get him downgraded to the roughed up category. Then he will propose a proposition.
Blake smiles as he enters the office and trips through the doorway all the way to the closet/break room where the coffee pot and copier huddle in a strange symbiosis. The old unplugged coffee maker hides behind the coat rack, overburdened by black windbreakers. Next to it a gray, gutted filing cabinet rigged with red tape and a thick cardboard shelf holds the common goods. A lone brown jar of year old, now solid, creamer remains unmoved as an idol in a shrine none dare violate.
The room smells of toner. Blake becomes disoriented by the pungent chemicals and shakes his head to knock away the dizzy. It doesn’t work so he rolls his neck and it cracks sounding like a piece of bamboo splintering. He ambles to the coffee pot and grabs a mug stained with brown ring inside. The cold coffee runs down his throat like tar but his need for a stimulant overrides the disgust.
The coffee is strong and thick and bitter. He can taste it in the back of his eyes. Fine grainy grounds are left on his tongue.
The market’s opening bells sounds and the race commences. At his cubicle, Blake drops into his swivel chair and opens the steel drawer to pull out his MP3 player. The computer boots up and he enters his password-Balzac69.
Time does have some grace on those who toil and the morning slips away to afternoon like a note under the door. Blake almost forgets to go to lunch, but then the scent of jasmine drifts over him and Juli, the ex-model, strides by with sharp pivots of her stiletto heels. She nods towards the door and looks to Blake. She rolls her eyes in boredom and walks away with a city pace. Before she reaches the elevator in the hall, Juli wonders why Blake acts like he does and if she has any personal days left.
Here’s the thing about Juli. She’s a pretty girl and not getting attention offers her a challenge. Not that she wants to have sex with every guy who ignores her, but she just wants to know that they want to. She is certainly an interesting woman. There was a time when she went on a field trip and fell off a horse into a pile of horse shit in front of her classmates from her Manhattan private school. They laughed. Oh did they laugh. She vowed revenge and I very much wanted her to go through with the little schemes, but she never did. Ever since, she loathes leaving the city and does everything in her power to never look like a fool. Not getting attention from men makes her feel that way. Feelings. Feelings. Feelings. What would you flesh vehicles do without them? That was rhetorical. Of course I know. Now back to the fun. Did you lose your place? That’s all right. Read it over and skip this part. I’m going to step out for a bit and send some images of a man’s mother into his head while he bangs his secretary.
Blake pulls off his earphones and a bark from the background makes him twist around in his chair. The corporate rash that cannot be scratched August York, a black wearer, a name dropper, walks up.
“Moxie! Ha, ha, ha, I know, I know, Blake what are you doing for lunch captain?” August asks.
“I’m going to get a dog from a vendor. Sit in the park. What are you doing Auggie?” Blake asks before he can stop himself.
“Was going to go to the Mexican food truck parked a block over, but I’m going with you, hurry up, let’s go,” says August York.
Blake rises and the blood once restrained rushes down. The sensation of hot sand being injected by a hypodermic needle stings the bottom of his feet. He drops back into his chair and rubs his calf through his thin suit pants.
“What the Hell Moxley? Get up, I’m hungry,” August says and rubs his stomach over a black fanny pack. Blake’s eyes become slits and thinks he should just tell the idiot off.
“I’m coming. My leg just fell asleep and I got to save my presentation,” he says and jabs at his keyboard.
They shuffle and scuff the polished floors across the building with their smooth hard soles and Blake says nothing. August won’t shut up. Hard soled shoes clack on the polished floors.
“Which cart? Right or left?” August spits out.
“The park, remember?” Blake says.
As they approach the revolving door, August waves Blake on. He enters the vortex and August grabs the door and jams it forward. The barrier bangs against the back of Blake’s head and paddles him out onto the sidewalk face first but he braces his fall. The skin of his palms grinds on the concrete.
August exits with his mouth covered to muffle his laughter. Before Blake can retaliate, a pain shoots through his leg. Blake turns over and get to his feet. He brushes off. Blake screams in his thoughts I’ll get you fucker!
August’s black fanny pack dangles under his loose jacket and Blake knows this vinyl pouch contains his identifications, most important of all, his security pass to the sensitive file room. The ID takes time replace.
“Nice asshole. This one’s going to show,” Blake says.
August shakes his head and steps by. Blake’s eyebrows lower. When August gets one pace ahead of him, Blake lifts the tails of his jacket, unclips pack and snatches the black fashion faux pas away. A bewildered August turns to see his fanny pack being thrown into midday traffic. Blake walks alone to Battery Park.
Standing on the grass munching on a hotdog, Blake watches a young man on the sidewalk with a bright blue mohawk, in skinny jeans, roll by on a skateboard. He flips the board end over end and lands the trick. Blake chews his hotdog and mustard drips.
His cell phone jumps in his jacket pocket. He dumps the rest of the hotdog in a trash can and slips out his phone. Another message from the bookie reads-The Collection Agency has been notified.
Blake sees the clock on the phone. Time has run running away like a smiling naked child from their frustrated mother. There is an afternoon meeting that is mandatory.
Alone, staring at the glowing numbers as they light up and fade in the elevator, Blake daydreams about Oreos and milk.
The meeting in the conference room goes by in pulses. Johnny Tragen from the West Coast office interrogates mid-level management and executives from the suburbs sit with arms crossed. Graphs, glyphs and Power Point presentations flood the next hour as problems concerning efficiency are addressed. Time-tables, market shares, new software and search engine optimization come and go in the circular conversations. Johnny Tragen tells everyone, “I’m not going back to the Left Coast until this place is full of Rock stars.”
The rest of the day flows away and down the corridors of cubicles, Juli again wonders why Blake paid her no mind earlier. The arrival of a challenge takes root with long thin vines.
She finishes her research and thinks time to strike. The strut of her walk treads on many hearts, but they have never ignored her. She comes to find Blake absorbed by the screen and under the spell of his music. Juli decides to give him a scare.
Slipping behind him, she clamps down on his shoulders with her slender talons. Blake mashes his keyboard and spins around while taking his earphones off.
“What the? You could have given me whiplash. Damn,” Blake says. “I was just coming over to invite you for drinks with me and Victor. I’m sorry if I startled you,” Juli says and flutters her thick eyelashes.
“Oh, thanks, I was just going to go home and sleep. I’m already decimated from yesterday and today,” Blake says and wonders why he couldn’t smell her perfume.
“Please. I need an excuse to get away from Victor. You’re the only guy I trust around here. I accidentally made plans with him last week. Come out for two drinks and I’ll get you a cab home,” she says knowing all to well what the outcome will be.
“All right,” he says and thinks wait, I know how to get the bookie off my back now.
“Sexuality is the lyricism of the masses.” Charles Baudelaire
This comes from a guy who once ate a booger in an alley.
The private club Subterranean, sunken below the streets, of which Juli is a Silver Member, is the final destination. They descend a few stone steps and Blake’s eyes get trapped by Juli’s bra strap pushing through her light blue blouse. He thinks that bra sure must struggle with those awesome tits. A glass door chimes as they step through and fades, a drop of food coloring in a gallon of water.
A few people, scattered and lurking, inhabit the brass lined bar of the cigar club so they grab a circular table near the back where the smoke is thin. The long room is cast in shadow made darker by the deep brown hardwood cladding on the walls. Victor, pale as curled milk, scans the smoking salon. He grabs the flat back chair and pokes his stork legs out into the seam where the tables and the small back bar make a pathway.
Juli slides in close to Blake’s and makes his nether region tingle. Blake thinks she’s only getting close to make the act look genuine. Blake squeezes his knees together until the drinks come, Martinis for all. His foot starts tapping.
Blake thinks Victor looks like a barn owl as he chirps away and Juli interjects to lead the discussion on how obnoxious Johnny Tragen can be. The bookie comes to Blake’s mind.
A cramp stills Blake’s foot as he sips his dry Martini. His skin feels tight as wet leather being left out to dry in the sun and his heart skips when Juli looks over at him. She winks and her lips curl with an impulsive pucker.
“Moxley, what do you think of Lou Garew being promoted to COO?” Victor says. Blake barely hears him. The surge of sexual anxiety has overloaded his circuits. He blinks with a hard pause.
“I don’t much care for either candidate but Mr. Garew is the lesser of two evils, and he is less likely lay anyone off,” Blake says and puts his mouth over the rim of the glass.
Blake wants leave with Juli and have sex like wild baboons. He grabs a quick glance at her and runs his eyes down her slender arms. Victor gets up and goes to talk to elfish girl at the bar and Juli turns to Blake with pouty lips. She puts her elbows on the table and cradles her chin. Blake squeezes his knees. His fingernails dig in.
“So are you ever going to ask me out or am I going to be Sadie Hawkins?”
“What? I thought. What?”
“You heard me. When do you want to go out?”
Blake’s mind seizes. He forgets how to talk and struggles to find the words. Images of undressing Juli and rubbing her with baby oil arise. He thinks if I try too hard she will run. The words return.
“I don’t know. I’m sorry but I just got over a relationship and don’t think I can do that right now,” he says.
She lets loose a laugh as if possessed by Thalia and flips her hair back.
“I don’t mean getting into a relationship, I don’t want that either. I mean go out, meet some friends later and maybe who knows?” she says and knows if she pushes he will flee.
“Oh, I’m sorry sure. Wanna go out?” he says and thinks you are a stupid fuck.
“Yes and let me plan a fun evening. I know some really fun people and a few places,” she says and winks. He is captivated by her long silky lashes. The conversation turns to work again and the time passes under the warm buzz of alcohol. Juli finally gets up and yawns.
“Well, we better go home so we can get rested. You getting a cab?”
“No, I’ll walk. I’m not too far,” Blake says.
They ascend to the sidewalk. Pleasantries are said and Blake watches her elegant gait take her through a group of Chinese tourists staring and pointing up at the skyscrapers and thinks wow she must be made of pheromones. He begins his plod through the bustling the foot traffic. For a second, Blake wonders where Victor went but shrugs his concern off.
Down the blocks, Blake passes by the flamboyant troops of the night, out in force, early in the evening. In their nonconformist fashionable garbs, boas and pashminas, silver tongue bells, purple tinted glasses and fake alligator boots, they await entry to overpriced clubs. Thin cigarettes flick out into the street. One fashionista in faux fox fur flicks a smoke at Blake but he never breaks his gait. The smell trigger a nicotine craving and he slips out a smoke for the first time that day.
“So much for fucking quitting. Cookies were making me fat anyway,” he says and draws a deep inhale.
Blake decides to text the Bookie with his proposed compromise and gets reply after a few minutes that reads Fine. One more D O N. He ponders going to a rub and tug parlor for the first time as thoughts of Juli breasts make it hard for him to walk. He looks to the upcoming intersection and thinks what can I bet on for this last double or nothing?
Blake crosses and looks over to a grocery store’s black awning covering racks of produce. There stands a man in a Spider-Man mask. Terror expands in his stomach and adrenaline mixes a cocktail of fright and flight, Blake shakes and thinks just keep your head down, he might not notice. I don’t know if I can run with a hard on?
He keeps his pace and the anticipation of another chase makes his skin tingle and his sight brighten. All other people on the streets seem to be in slow motion as if held back by a mass paralysis and are tethered together by rubber bands. He shifts his way into a throng of pedestrians and slows to the crowd’s pace. Blake looks back to see the masked man not moving. His head turns forward and directly in front of him, under a Greek restaurant’s yellow neon sign, is another man in cheap plastic mask.
Blake runs, a wolf on a deer hunt, and dodges the forest of people in his path. Time slows as he sees another guy with a flimsy children’s mask leaning on a closed ruffled metal security screen two doors up. He sweeps across the sidewalk to the very edge and tight rope walks the curb. One false move of his nimble feet and he will fall into the river of cars.
Blake’s tie flies around his neck and he grips his briefcase tight. At the corner, he goes in the opposite direction of his building to see if he can throw the pursuers off. He ducks into an alley and positions himself behind a fire escape and waits to pounce with clenched fists.
Blake is drenched in sweat. His insides tingle and spasm. After thirty seconds, no one has come by so he looks both ways and makes his way to his building using indirect streets.
Blake gets into his building and passes by his mailbox. Out of the long hall behind the security partition, Mr. Rocinante wearing a checkerboard shirt appears out of the shadow of the stairwell and stares at him with light bulb eyes. He nods and Blake nods back. The man opens the door Blake with a slow steady shake of his head as his gray comb over falls across his face.
“You all right, you look my last horse Alonso after chasing down a perp in the park. I sure loved that horse, but as you can see I paid for my little adventures. Rode for thirty years, now I can’t walk too good. Be careful kid, watch what type of saddle you sit on in this life. Well, nice talking to you Blake, I got to go play some cards,” Mr. Rocinante says and pats Blake on the shoulder.
“Thank you, Mr. Rocinante. I will check my saddle,” Blake says with a slight smile.
“No you won’t, young people never do, well good bye,” he says and clears his throat and waddles down the darkened hall. That was weird Blake thinks.
I’m so glad that discourse happened. Took me eons to plan and get the right guy with the name. I mean, if I’m going to send a guy off on a Don Quixote like adventure then I better at least give Blake a clue. But, he won’t get it. They never do. But I try.
In the apartment, Tyger hides among the cricket carcasses. Cockroaches scurry into the walls as the lights go on and Blake hobbles inside. There are no men waiting to ambush him just a few calls. He thinks it’s strange no one called my cell. He purifies his hands with Purell.
Two messages blink on the machine balanced on the arm of the couch. Blake thinks who really wants to be connected all the time? It’s being owned. Furniture.
He recognizes the numbers. He wishes he didn’t. The first garbled message is from his parents who refuse to leave the Rust Belt town they emigrated to in the seventies. Not even when his father was offered a position at Bio-tech firm in Pittsburgh did they wish to move on to wealthier surroundings. The second is from Carlton Guilder.
Blake hesitates to call back on the land line and remembers the day he went to Trinity College and met Carlton, never Carl, his one and only roommate throughout the experience. An industrialist’s son, Carlton toted expensive luggage and designer clothes for a day trip to Nantucket.
Blake rolls his eyes while remembering their recent conversation about high volume trading. Dread smacks him in the back of the head like a drunken aunt.
Blake sits and rubs his throbbing temples as a sacrifice to the goddess stress and closes his eyes wonders if he can even get a coherent sentence out? Images of Juli tearing off her blue blouse run wicked race through his thoughts.
Blake fidgets with the phone knowing most likely his father will answer with his York accent but considering the time his proper mother, the linguist from Dover, who his friends called “hot like Juilia Ormond”, or the over-arching faces of Janus, his sisters, the twins, could answer. He hopes his father will answer is the only thought in his gyroscopic mind.
“Hello, Moxley residence,” his father answers.
“Hi dad, how are ya?”
“Ah Blake, listless but good and yourself?”
“Uh good, I’m sorry but my machine is eating the messages again and I didn’t understand you said,” Blake says.
“We wanted to know if you will be with us for Christmas?”
“I don’t know dad. It’s a little too soon and I don’t know what work will bring.”
“What rot that company you work for is! I know you have done bits and bobs of work on the weekends. Don’t let them over work you. It will give you spots. Please find out soon, for your mother’s sake, and if you are spending it with some dimwitted toff, don’t let her giggle in the background when we call.”
“Fine. I will call back soon. Bye,” Blake says and yawns.
“Fine,” his father says. Blake knew that guilt would be employed and a very successful hire it is.
Blake grabs his cell phone and hits Carlton’s number in his contacts. Carlton lives only a few miles away in the Upper West side but the city miles are as distant in degree as an inch to infinite
“Hello, this is Carlton. Start speaking. I’m in the car so hurry up.”
“This is Moxley, you rang?”
“Why yes I did. What fuckery have you been up to man? Haven’t seen you since the witch went batty at that fundraising cruise. Wait, yes I did, but for only a few minutes at that bar. Is that psycho bitch still hounding you? I told you if you need help getting her to vamoose, let me know.”
“That issue was resolved months ago.”
No, Blake didn’t but that’s for another story entirely. Also, Carlton just snorted some fake ecstasy he bought off his doorman. The doorman hates him for giving him a Whole Foods coupon for last years holidays instead of cash. Carlton will of course have the doorman fired for such a transgression when he finds out the drug was bunk.
“Oh, cool. I called you remind you, if I already told you about the party in the Haven, or otherwise inform you about it. My parents love you for some reason and I said you wouldn’t want to come but I’d transport you there if it killed me. Think of it as networking,” Carlton says.
“Man that’s okay. Don’t want to network,” Blake says. Spittle collects on the mouthpiece of the phone.
“No dude, you need to. Multitudes of my fathers’ friends will be there getting smashed the whole weekend for the charity golf event at the club. They get a lot done between the tees and you need to fucking play golf.”
“Man I told you about my attitude towards nepotism.”
“Nepotism rules the world and if you want to slug your way through slowly and waste the limited left over time of your looks, fine. Your hair is thinning by the way and you’re not twenty anymore. Anyway, my momz wants you to come to the bash. I’ll get us back to the city early if you want.”
“Fine, fine, just tell me when.”
“Not this but next Saturday, I will call to confirm in a few days and will pick you up with a car. Have fun Moxie,” Carlton says, taps the touch screen to end the call and exclaims, “Shiiiiiitttt! I wanted to see if it was his neighborhood where the truck with all the costumes crashed. Oh well.” Carlton surmises it will be better to go another route around that area. Blake’s streets are always cluttered.
Blake hated the truth of his friend’s words but finally it was time to take advantage of what the world put in place for him. An image of Juli taking off her skirt bursts through his thought of meeting bankers and Blake scampers to the bathroom. The thought of her tits falling out of shirt makes him release in his pants before he can get them down. He takes them off.
So the other deeds are done in order to deliver himself to the dominion of Nyx. After his shower he brushes his teeth, gums and back of the tongue and gags. Rinse, spit and repeat, as some water drips slowly pulled by gravity to his chin. Irritation paints his face as he realizes he doesn’t have any Oreos. He wipes the water, and the look, off his face as the light switch falls without sticking. He thinks well one good thing as he saunters over to his bed.
Blake says, “Now I lay me down to sleep. What the fuck! I’m surely beat. And if I die before I wake, it will not matter I have nothing at stake.”
His buzzed and dreary eyes fall. He sees a pure purple glow through his eyelids. The radiant color diffuses to black as the wind wafts in rhythm through the alley. The Earth spins for a moment and Blake’s stomach lurches to his throat. He holds back but kidneys quiver with steady pressure. He might just whiz all over his bed.
He grabs his cock and squeezes making his way to the low flow toilet. A high pressure stream dings and rings off the porcelain. Blake smacks his dry lips. He needs a sip of water.
Blake steadies himself with his left hand on the vanity as the stream come to a dripping end. A spider, that fantastic spinner of nightmares, phobias and respect slinks behind the sink. The cockroaches will not leave for Blake but they will not forsake this poisonous critter. The little hunter works his way under the spigot by avoiding a clump of shaving cream.
Now for scene from a spider’s point of view. It’s short and kind of gross. Enjoy.
The spider clings upside down and its compound eyes detect a dark passage. It climbs into the bend inside the faucet. A vibration rumbles from below as it holds fast in the slick cavern. The world trembles. Pressure builds. Bursssssssssssssssssssst.
The tiny hairs are not strong enough to hold on and it lets go to ride the wall of warm water. It reaches the cavern’s entrance and struggles to hang on to the opening. Grabbing, gripping, fighting, finally the force overcomes the tiny ambush assassin and it enters another dark passage being pulled down in spasmodic pulses. Its journey ends in a pool of burning fluid. The one that digests from the outside begins digestion within. Proteins, lipids and carbohydrates begin to separate from the whole and histamines seep out in Blake’s stomach.
“Graa, uh! What the fa?”
Blake rattles his head as he wonders what chunky shit just flowed out of the faucet. His mind, a shaken snow globe, his eyes, fogged as mirror in a bathhouse, his walk, but a shuffle. Blake bumps into the dull edged door frame where the peeling wallpaper of a thousand faded petunias wrinkles and falls. He drags his feet along the bare floor so not to trip, but as he reaches his bed a splinter rises to meet him. The puncture brings a flood of anger from the crown of his head down to his overgrown toenails. His blood flashes hot as the sensory input dwindles. Blake snorts a sigh and shakes his head.
He turns on the light, sits and lifts his callused foot above his opposite knee and finds no evidence of injury.
“Nothing. Good. Now if I only owed nothing. Screw it, that’s tomorrow.”
Blake falls back in bed and the veil of sleep fits snug.
If you thought this was inspired by Kafka, would be right. Congratulations on being such a smarty pants but that won’t last long.
“In the misfortunes of our best friends we always find something not altogether displeasing to us.” Francois de La Rochefoucald
In the city of windows, the sun trumpets a glorious day and the strumpets who walked the streets with now cashless Johns return to rest for the next night’s prostitution. Taxis find their marks and limousines wait for their masters’ beckoning as traders of the day willfully barter away their souls for a tip of the iceberg. Landlords examine their property while the coyotes bay in the museum of natural history. Another cycle in the city of windows just like the day before grinds away. A news report comes blaring out of Blake’s alarm.
His eyes do not seem to open as he rises up to look at his window.
“Shit, what the?”
He stares at his fingers the size of pickles. Blake staggers to the bathroom, turns the faucet, and cleanses the thick goop from his puffy eyes.
After a minute of trembling and splashing water on his warm face, he is able to see. Pit eyes look back. An over pumped balloon from the Thanksgiving Day parade replaced his face. He knows he must go to the emergency room.
Blake exits his apartment but the universe spins and hits him to the hallway floor that smells of dried urine. Unable to move, his sinuses fill with fluid. His eyes cloud and a gray outline, child sized, approaches in broken fits of motion. Blake sees a smooth white mask with glowing orb eyes hovering just above his nose. Echoes of voices are heard and all goes pitch black.
In curtained off ER bed, Blake comes to consciousness and feels his hand being squeezed. He recognizes Ms. Braque to his side. The scream of child getting stitches in the next bed over overtakes the background noise of the emergency room.
“What happened?” he asks and his eyes flutter.
The darkness calls him back and Blake sleeps.
In a semi-private room, he awakes a couple hours later. Blake hears the hacking cough the man in the bed to his right and turns to look. A curtain that runs from wall to the foot of his bed blocks off the other patient. A monitor beeping his vitals signs sits on a stand next to an I.V. tree placed by the bedside. Through the open door to the right, the groans of the infirmed roll over him from the hall. The smell antiseptic burns his eyes and nostrils as the room fills with light.
Blake realizes he’s in a hospital and a nurse with almond eyes enters. She slides her hand on the bed’s safety railing and examines him like meat.
“How are you Mr. Moxley?” she asks and thinks I bet he’s attractive when he’s not all swollen like this.
“Confused and puffy,” Blake says.
“Puffy. Yes you are puffy,” she says and thinks I bet he has a large cock, maybe I’ll check later.
“Can I have some water?” Blake asks.
“There a pitcher on the chest next to the bed when you clear up a bit more,” the nurse says and gives Blake a wink.
A lean female doctor, in a bit of disarray with her hair back in a loose ponytail, arrives with her lab white lab coat riding her shoulder. With predatory eyes, she investigates Blake and thinks she recognizes him but dismisses the thought.
“Mr. Moxley you had a nasty allergic reaction. Good thing the E.M.T.’s found you on the street and got you here. We are going to keep you for observation overnight and most likely release you tomorrow. In the meantime, we are going to give you more anti-histamines. It will make you sleepy. So try to rest,” she says and drifts away into the light of the doorway. He thinks I like the doctor, she looks like a cup of mocha ice cream. She’s TV pretty.
The nurse administers the anti-histamine and leaves. As the compound invades his bloodstream, Blake is drawn into a bath of liquid sleep. The night is filled with dreams of webs and sirens. Not even projectile vomiting from the sixty year old man in the other bed over can interrupt Blake’s slumber.
The morning comes with a bland breakfast of eggbeaters, turkey bacon and slimy fruit salad. Blake nibbles and signs insurance forms. Blake needs to find a ride so he can be released and thought makes him almost want to stay in the hospital. There is only one person. Carlton.
Blake calls and gets a “Be there soon as I can.”
After changing into his clothes, he is wheeled down to the first floor near the gift shop. People brush by Blake as he waits and stirs in the wheel chair. He just wants to get home, tell work what happened, and forget but knows there will Carlton to deal with.
Carlton, draped in a tan suit and squawking on his iPhone, makes his way through the crowd outside on the bustling city sidewalk with ease and poise that only comes with disposable income. Through the window, Carlton dips his four hundred dollar sunglasses and sees Blake at the front desk. He passes through the automatic doors and pulls off his sunglasses like a secret agent.
“Hey brother, what’s going down?”
“Carlton, sorry to call but you are the only person that doesn’t work at these hours.”
“That’s fine man I was bored anyway.”
Out on the street, Blake hears honking and people yelling “Asshole!” With a few more steps he knows why. A double parked yellow Hum V blocks a lane of traffic. Carlton squeezes his electronic keypad as the vehicle roars to life and the doors click open. Carlton circles around the front turning back to Blake with his arms held wide as he nods.
“Dude,” Blake says.
Carlton peels out without regard for mere mortals and a cab slams on the brakes as Carlton cuts in front of him. They are cursed in Turkish. Carlton looks at Blake with sunglasses at the tip of his nose as he flies down the street.
“Well Moxie, what fuckery is this? I call and then you end up in the hospital,” he says and rips a smoke from his shirt pocket.
The window falls with a mechanical buzz. Carlton thinks come on Blake give me a good one.
“Shut up,” Blake says.
“Mox, what did you do? Fuck another twenty dollar whore and not get tested”
“No seriously, what happened?” Carlton asks.
“They told me I had an allergic reaction. Probably an insect bite but they couldn’t for sure. Might have been a spider or bed bugs,” he says.
“Shut the fuck up. Bed bugs are vile. I guess I know why that germ freak-what’s his name?-sealed himself up in his hotel.”
“How weird Hughes.”
“The guy you were just talking about, Hughes” Blake says.
“I thought it was Burns, like the Scottish poet?”
“No that was an episode of the Simpsons,” Blake says.
“Could have been a spider huh?” Carlton asks and ashes his smoke out the window.
“Sure as shit wasn’t Charlotte,” he says with a smile.
“You know the kids book with the spider who saves the pitiful piggy from sausagedom.”
“You could use her at your parties, all sausage.”
“Good to see you back Moxie. Let’s get some food before we take you home. On me, how about Thai?” he asks.
The rest of the encounter is but a flicker of memory for Blake. He barely listens to his friend’s business plans as they eat at a corner restaurant called The King and I and he makes excuse to leave as soon as he can. Carlton offers to take him home, but Blake declines. The friends guy hug and Blake exits to flag down a cab.
At his door, Blake gets his keys out without a sound and he opens the door. Ms. Braque’s door swings open and she steps out with her broom. With a bowed head, he turns to her.
“Ms. Braque thanks for being at the hospital,” Blake says.
Shock comes over her face and she steps back with her hand to her heart.
“What? I didn’t know you were at the hospital. Are you all right?”
“I saw you there,” he says.
“No, I wasn’t there. I wish I were though,” she says.
“Oh, I’m sorry it must have been the medication,” Blake says.
“Well I hope you feel better,” she says.
“I will. Bye,” Blake says and steps through the door.
He locks the door, feeds Tyger and jumps into bed wanting nothing more than to sleep but other issues gurgle deep in his gut.
Did Blake see Ms. Braque at the hospital? Maybe? Maybe not? Maybe she’s one of my spies but doesn’t know it and I controlled her thoughts? Maybe she’s just a liar? Maybe it was her clone there that was engineered by space aliens?
Nah. She’s not a clone. Also, we’re going to skip the rest of the night in the story. Blake has some rather repugnant biology to deal with and who needs to have images of him splattering watery diarrhea on the rim the toilet bowl as he sits because he couldn’t get his pants down quick enough. You are most welcome.
The next day Blake walks to work under the blue sky spiked with silver skyscrapers spitting prismatic light like massive sparklers. He thinks it is a glorious day in the city. The chill of autumn just intensifies everything. Blake crosses the street and dodges overzealous cabs with a smile. All that’s missing Blake thinks is a good cup of coffee and scratch off ticket as he steps up to the sidewalk. A Starbucks sits right in front of him but he keeps on going down to the Financial District.
In the lobby of his office building, the guards scan Blake up and down. A new day guard gives him a hard pat down. Up at Milton Communications, Juli C. is already at work in a blood red suit she decided to wear just for Blake.
A woman in stiletto heels and a tight wool suit stands in front of Blake in line for the elevator. She talks on her cell phone like an infant to her boyfriend and Blake thinks she must either be kinky or baby crazy.
The ding signifies the arrival of the next lift. Blake lets a few others to pass by but then a few wet nosed brokers from Maecenus Capital Management push though and the door begins to close. He shoots out his arm and stops the door. As Blake steps in the baby brokers step back like scorned house cats and Blake realizes he is sneering like a mad dog.
A smile beams across Blake’s face as he exits on his floor and straightens his tie. When he gets to his cubicle, he sees Juli and sits down quick before he gets aroused. Wow, she looks crazy hot he thinks. She must have just walked by. I can smell her jasmine perfume.
The Jolt cola and the ephedrine he has stashed in his desk provide the needed lift and he goes into fast forward. He puts on the headphones and Juli sees this and thinks Blake will be mine. The morning passes into memory.
At lunchtime, Juli grabs her Hermes bag and struts over to Blake’s cubicle. He looks and takes off his headphones. A quivering grin tries to hold fast on his lips.
“Where were you yesterday? You missed a hell of an incident,” Juli says and presses her breasts against the cubicle so to lift her cleavage. Blake side glances at her breast and then looks straight forward.
“I was sick. What happened?” Blake asks and bites his lower lip to stop from getting an erection.
“Some V.P. of marketing was sacked, like all those involved with producing this film have been sacked,” she says.
“A Python riff, funny but seriously I’m glad some of the fat is being slashed. There are like ten of those guys that do nothing,” he says.
“Do you want to go to lunch?” she asks with a twitch of the nose.
“I’m still sick, sorry,” he says.
“Okay, I’ll talk to you later,” she says.
“Yeah, cool. See you later,” he says.
“Okay, talk to ya later and feel better,” she says.
“Thank you,” he says and thinks maybe I shot a shot with her?
Blake stays a little late to catch up and waits for every one to leave before heading home. He stops to grab a bag of cookies, smokes, and a few scratch-off tickets. A block away from his building Blake gets a text from the bookie. He replies: Don’t worry. All will be paid.
Blake sleeps without dreams through the night. Soon the dawn prepares to explode a bomb of light and diffuse the particle stream into the blues of the atmosphere. Ms. Braque stands on her fire escape and stares at the newborn day.
“I can’t be responsible anymore,” she says and sips her coffee.