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[9 | Vestibule- 12:03 am] Download or Read PDF
J.F. found his new place earlier, after getting the keys from Elevyn, and fell right asleep on the premade bed she had done up for him. He was exhausted from his travels and was in desperate need of a good rest. When he lay down, it was daylight, and the blinds were pulled up, but it is dark when he wakes.
After taking a quick trip to the bathroom, he decides to tour his tiny little condo. He takes eight steps across the layout and says out loud, “And that’s it, folks. I hope you enjoyed the tour. We’ll be here all week!”
Another step forward, and he makes it to the kitchen area.
Once in the small workspace, he searches about to see if there is anything in it. He opens all the cabinets and drawers to find they are empty, except when he makes it to the cabinet above the fridge. At first glance, it appears vacant, but when he pushes himself up higher on his toes, he finds a bottle of 18-year-old scotch rolled off to the back. (The previous tenant must have missed this when packing. My lucky day! Or night, I should say. Hooray!)
Scotch had been his preferred drink in the past, but he had switched to Gin for the botanicals’ healing properties. Also, any time he ingests dark spirits, his brain tends to go haywire and bad things happen. Normally, he wouldn’t risk a brown liquor, but considering the liquor stores are now closed, he takes the risk.
When he sees the rocking chair next to the window, he says, “Now only if I had a glass.” and looks to the counter to see a tall tumbler sitting in the sink. “If you ask, you shall receive.”
He pours a finger’s worth, grabs the neck of the bottle, and shifts to the rocking chair.
Within a few hours, he drank half the bottle of scotch, launching him into a blackout state. The potent alcohol soaks his brain like a sponge and wipes the day clean. Before forgetting who and where he is, his last thoughts are of Ella and the two of them making eye contact for the first time.
J.F. is no longer present, and he now refers to himself as James—his pristine Scotch drinking name. He even carries himself differently, as if he has a fine suit on and is heading to the country club. His ethanol-soaked brain has taken over. One second he was rocking in the chair, planning to head back to bed, and the next, he is heading to the lobby in search of deliberation. In his highly energetic state of inebriation, he thinks, for some reason, he will find people to talk to in the lobby at 2:00 am in the morning.
[9.1 | Lobby]
J.F. walks about exploring the place. He paces around the lobby going in and out of the mailroom halls, inspecting the mirrors and the empty clubroom. He goes back into the center of the lobby and looks out the front doors into the vestibule.
In the vestibule, a man sits on the ground with his legs stretched out like scissors. In between his legs is a mound of city-street grown mushrooms. The man is eating something, taking twisted, deranged bites while trying to keep his hands straight as he holds what looks like a hamburger. He moves his hand upward to his mouth, but it seems limp, like he has no bones in it, and almost drops it when he uses half of his mouth to barely bight off a piece of lettuce. The lettuce then dangles off his lip and cheek. He attempts to pull it back with his tongue, while moving his head, as if the tilt of his neck will help give him better reach.
(I know that limp aimless hand. He is in the midst of a hallucinogenic trip. Probably why he collected all of them mushrooms. The pile of mushrooms has become a center of worship for him. Good Times.)
J.F. takes a step back and stands still, wondering if what he is witnessing is actually happening. Then, without notice, the man jumps straight up from his plopped position as if being electrocuted. He then moves circularly around the fungus pile, the same as tribal people dancing about fire. He jumps in an upward motion shaking his head fervently at an odd angle and flails his arms about like angry noodles in the wind, and then screams strange gibberish. Then, he stops dead in his track – arms to his side – head tilted at an angle and looks right at J.F. through the glass door. After a moment of nothingness, he throws the half-eaten hamburger at the door, leaving ketchup and mustard smears with little onions stuck to it dripping down the glass. The man then beats his chest like King Kong and rips open his buttoned-up shirt. A couple of the buttons fly outward, clinking on the door. He then turns and runs out the front door screaming in tongue, leaving his mess behind.
After he is gone, J.F. walks back to the vestibule and examines it. He can see more food stuck on the walls. It looks like blood splatters with chunks of meat stuck in it. “Must be ketchup.”
The man jumps back to the entrance outside of the building, pressing his fat belly and hairy chest against the door, and starts laughing hysterically while slapping his hands against the glass, “ahhhhhh haha haha hahahahahaha” He then stops in complete stillness, and says, “You cannot see it, but you’ll never leave it. You better believe it because I can see it. Yes, I can see it.” He then goes back to screaming madly—fused with crying and laughing—then he disappears into the night.
J.F. is freaked out a little yet enthused by the comedic aspect of the drunk or hallucinating man. It sparks a memory of his past, and he thinks, (I had many nights of similarity in my drug days.)
After he was sure the man had left, he slowly says out loud to himself, “What – in – the – fuck – was – that!” “That there was a glimpse of your past. Don’t you think?”
J.F. just about has a heart attack when he hears that and turns to see the strange man with the dogs back sitting in the chair again. He then says to the man, “You scared the shite out of me, mon!” “Please, call me JIM. That’s J – I – M. Don’t be shy, have a seat, young man.”
Without thinking, he sits in one of the Victorian chairs across from JIM, relieved to see another person after the recent event. When he sits, he suddenly hears ballroom-style music playing softly from speakers he cannot see.
J.F. is happy to see another human being. He yearns for conversation when drinking. Most people hate to be around him when he is drinking, and he loves to be around people when he is. He has a problem of not liking social gatherings when sober and people not liking him when drunk—an odd dilemma. So, any drunken encounters with willing participants are always welcome.
“I never caught your name.” “James, good sir. James.” “Excellent. I was wondering when you may show up. You having a midnight drinking stroll?” “Why yes, I am. Indeed. I am. Did you just see the man in the vestibule?” “He is nothing more than a reflection, my dear boy.” “He left a great mess of what appears to be a collection of the cities local street mushrooms.” “Ha. Sounds like a good night.”
The dog by his side wags its tail with excitement while watching J.F. across the room. JIM asks J.F., “Would you like a drink?” as he pulls a flask out of his thick black jacket. “It is a fine scotch.”
J.F. is not one to turn down a cocktail while in a blackout state. He gets up, walks over to the man and his dogs, grabs the flask, and takes a good swig. He hands it back to JIM, and JIM’s lapdog takes a quick sniff of J.F.’s hand. J.F. returns to the chair, feeling the whiskey reinvigorate his dimming buzz. The strangeness of the night blended with the old-style music soothes him.
“Can you hear that music?” “They are having a party in the other room.” “They are? Well, what the hell are we doing out here then?” “Got to be on the right frequency to get in.” J.F. squints his eyes at the man with a look of confusion and says, “The right frequency?” The man stands up while gripping his dogs’ leashes and says, “You’ll find out soon enough.” He then makes clicking sounds with his mouth that the dogs respond to and walks into the vestibule, disappearing from sight. J.F. gets up to go look to where he went, but the man vanished.
[9.2 | Morning]
Upon waking, J.F. has little to no recollection of the night. What seemed like minutes to him was actually hours. He had been in the lobby all night conversing with JIM, and then he passed out in the chair after JIM left with his dogs.
When he comes to, the clock on the wall reads a quarter past seven, and he can hear the staff moving about in the office. He won’t remember the full conversation he and JIM had until years from now. JIM and J.F. had sat in that lobby discussing the optics of the mirrors and how refraction was the cause for the illusions—kind of like those circus mirrors. They debated how light hits a convex, concave, or flat mirror and at what distance and angles each mirror is from the other. They did the math in their heads about the measurements from the light being emitted to the light hitting the eye.
J.F.’s journal rests in his hand, still open. He looks at it and sees he has notes and equations about distorted light refractions from quantum mirrors that enter a convex surface and then reflect into the fabric of space. He doesn’t know what to make of it. Just another drunken blackout to him, but it reminds him that everything he sees is actually upside down. His brain goes on an uncontrollable rant: (In fact, a human actually interprets everything upside down, and the brain signals it as vertically flipped. So, suppose one were to wear glasses that produce an inverted image. In that case, the brain will recalibrate within a short time, and the person will start interpreting everything as right side up. Then, when the glasses are removed, said person will see everything upside down, for some time, until the brain recalibrates.)
As his brain becomes more active, he remembers bits of the night. He recalls he and JIM suspected that physicists did some math to construct the building’s mirrors and architecture. Perhaps they were just accidental. They were both too drunk to do any proper calculations. He had only written a couple of slurred sentences down.
[9.3 | 7:30 am]
While sitting in the chair recollecting the night, two ladies enter the lobby to find J.F. coming to.
One of them asks, “Rough night?”
He looks at her and doesn’t say anything. He is more intoxicated than he knows. He can’t even open his mouth without drooling. There is likely enough alcohol in his blood to kill the average person. He gets up and makes his way towards the elevators but ends up walking into the mailroom hallway’s left entrance—unaware that the girl is still asking him questions. “Sir. Are you alright? Do you need us to call someone?”
With complete disregard, whether intentional or not, he does not respond. He just continues in a sort of sleepwalking-drunken-state through the mailroom hall. He thinks he is at the elevators, but he does not see the buttons, so he tries to make out where he is. He stands up stiff and opens his eyes wide to get a good look at his surroundings, quickly understanding he is stuck at the center of the mailroom’s hall.
From the main room of the lobby, the mailroom entries create a rectangular appearance. However, when walking into them, they extend into a pentagon shape.
J.F. is right at the tip of the pentagon and has become disoriented from the symmetry, not knowing which direction he came from.
He stops and braces himself, on the counter’s ledge, at the base of the mailboxes to recalibrate. While holding himself up, he looks to his side and sees a mirror reflecting off another mirror and another. He can see his head being replicated for what seems like an infinite number of times until it shrinks into nothingness.
He courageously tries to compute how small his head will get at the splitting point of the mirror’s molecular structure. He recalls the formula for calculating the tiniest doll’s final size of a set of Russian Nesting Dolls. But his brain breaks down when he tries to think. He then closes one eye like an eye-patched pirate and squints to focus in on the tiniest version of his head.
After attempting to see an almost infinitely small version of himself, he starts to snap out of his blackout state, realizing he has been in the lobby all night.
His random pointless drunken thoughts have fleeted. He becomes fully aware of his whereabouts and that it is early in the morning. He then walks out the other end of the mailroom and sees he left his notebook on the Victorian chair. Exhausted, he decides to sit down for a minute before heading to his condo. Only a few moments go by before he falls back asleep while holding the notebook in his lap.
[9.4 | Waking up]
J.F. wakes up while sitting in the lobby holding his notebook. A thin brunette girl walks out of the office and says, “You must be James Francis.” “Yes. That is me?” “Are you here to get your keys and sign the paperwork?” “Didn’t we do that last week? Wait, who are you?” “My name is Lina.” “Yea. But—I, didn’t I get my keys last week?” (Wasn’t she someone else? I remember her being heavier or someone else.) “No, I don’t think so. You said you would be arriving on Monday, May 14th, which is today, sir.”
Her tone is that of a lawyer scrutinizing a witness. J.F. turns around with a dizzy head in a state of confusion. He is wondering if this is some kind of a joke being played on him. He checks his pocket, and the keys he had with him yesterday are not in his pocket. He just feels his iPhone. He pulls it out to see that the date is indeed Monday, May 14th, 2018. He wonders if the keys are wedged in the chair or if he had left them in the condo. (But then the date. I thought I moved here in August of 2016?)
J.F. sees JIM sitting in the chair with the dogs again, and JIM says to Lina, “Don’t worry about him. I let him in last night when he arrived from out of town. He didn’t know he wasn’t going to be able to get his keys until Monday. We had some drinks, and he dozed off.” J.F. is startled by him. He jumps out of the chair and says, “Christ! Where did you come from?!” to which JIM replies, with a friendly smile tucked under the mustache of his beard, “I have that effect on people.”
“Follow me, James. I’ll get you set up.”
Lina escorts J.F. into the office and again goes over the paperwork with him, and gives him the keys. She explains how the electrical components for the magnetic access only work outside the building.
“When entering the garage, you can use this magnetic key and also when entering the vestibule. They don’t work anywhere else due to some anomaly affecting the building’s electricity, except in the service elevator. You’ll need the key to get in and out in the service elevator unless you need to get to the trash room. So, don’t go into the elevator without the key unless you want to be trapped.”
J.F. thinks to himself, while she is trying to explain the mechanics of electricity, (She doesn’t know what the fuck she is talking about.)
“Come with me now; I will show you around.”
Confused as can be. J.F. goes along with what is happening and follows Lina for a tour of the Lobby. While doing so, he is desperately trying to remember what Elevyn’s face looked like and where she had gone. (Was I dreaming everything?)
He walks to the elevators taking an interest in the shape of the girl’s butt, and thinks, (Man, her ass is nice. I bet she bloats up like a blimp after a week of sitting on the couch, doing nothing. She kind of looks like a witch with her long black hair twisted and that snaggle tooth. Not unattractive, though. When the light hits her just right, the imperfections disappear. She looks very sexy. She probably hits the gym daily to keep herself in shape. She’ll do it just long enough to trick a guy into knocking her up or marrying her. Note to self: stay away from this one.)
J.F. recalls when being given the tour by Elevyn that she wouldn’t go past the line dividing the elevator area and the lobby and wonders if this girl will do the same. He stays behind her slightly so that she must lead the way. She passes the line into the elevator area and hits the button for the service elevator without caution.
They wait for the elevator to hit the ground floor.
DING, “Lobby,” says the provocative sounding elevator voice. A man walks out of the elevator, smiles, and says, “What is the stock market doing today?” just as he says that, the female elevator voice says, “Going up.”, and the girl giggles laughing at the man’s joke.
She walks into the elevator, and J.F. follows. She takes him through it, out the second—back door—and into the loading dock area where the trash room is. (This seems familiar.)
“People leave their stuff here to be taken by other tenants or thrown out. If you see something you like, feel free to take it or if you need to get rid of a large item, simply leave it here. Through these doors to the right are the recycling bins and trash compactor. You can throw your trash in from the 6th floor, but you have to bring the recycling down.”
J.F. has a moment of déjà vu, recalling waking up on the mattress as well as throwing a bag of empty Tanqueray bottles in the recycling bin. Still, he can’t quite put his finger on when, or even if it actually happened. He also sees a rocking chair resting by the mattress. He looks at it and thinks, (That is my rocking chair. And that is my mattress. What is going on here?)
“Hey, can I take these up to my unit room?” “Feel free to take anything you like when you see it down here. That entrance over there is the back entrance to the recreational center for senior citizens.” He looks over at the entrance and reads a poster in an A-frame stand, sitting by the door. It lists the day’s activities:
10:00 am – Room 3 – Table Tennis
11:00 am – Room 3 – Philosophy of Life
Midnight – Game Room – A.A.
1:00 pm – Movie – Main Event Room
5:00 pm – Dance and dinner – Main Event Room
(A.A.? I wonder if that is just a coincidence or a sign from above. Maybe I will check it out. It has been years since I have gone to A.A. It kind of helped. Maybe it will work better for me this time around. I do need to settle down before the semester starts. I wouldn’t want to make a bad impression by showing up hungover or getting drunk with the students.)
“Here are your keys. The small one is for the mailroom, the gold one is for your storage unit, and the big one is for your condo. If you need anything, I am in my office Monday through Friday 9 to 5.” She hands J.F. the keys and then walks around the elevator to a set of doors that takes her back into the lobby. But before she exits, she says, “Oops, I almost forgot. And here is your fob to get in and out of the building.”, and hands him the fob.
After she leaves, J.F. Props up the foam mattress and slides it into the elevator. He uses half of it to keep the door from shutting while he picks up the rocking chair and carries it in. He then pulls in the mattress and lets the doors close. After the doors close, he sets down the chair and looks at the buttons, and has another moment of déjà vu. When he sees the basement button, he thinks, “The thirteenth floor.”
J.F. makes it off the elevator and slides his findings down the hall to his place. When he looks at the door, he sees the door knocker nameplate reads, “Doctor J.F.” (Weird, They must have put that up for me.)
When he enters, he sees the place is empty. He swears he spent the past week here, but the date on his phone does not lie. He convinces himself that he must have had some sort of a premonition type dream fueled by excessive ethanol consumption. He checks his breath by putting his hand close to his mouth to see if the smell is unmistakable. (Lina must have smelt the booze on my breath and thinks I am some sort of a bum—probably living on daddy’s money or something.)
Before J.F. puts the rocking chair in the condo, he envisions it resting next to the windowsill. (Now, how the hell do I know that? Shit, I guess I saw the pictures, and those were in my dreams. I have a pretty powerful brain to create such a realistic fantasy.)
He then walks into the small kitchen, goes right to the cupboard above the refrigerator, and opens it. Not to his surprise, there is an unopened bottle of 18-year-old scotch standing next to a Collins glass. (Alright. Now, this is getting weird. Where did this come from, and how the fuck could I have dreamt this? I am not sure; I guess the previous tenant forgot it or left it as a surprise? Coincidence?) J.F. cannot help himself but compute the odds of predicting this in a dream and the odds of it actually happening.
(Where was I before today? How did I know this was going to be here? Is the phone broken? Is someone playing a joke on me? I don’t understand this. What happened when I went into the mailroom of warped misplaced mirrors!)
[9.5 | Hallways and Elevators]
J.F. thinks to himself, (What the hell.), and says, “When in Rhome!” while yanking the cork out. He then pours a few fingers worth into the Collins glass and carries it to the windowsill. Then, he positions the rocking chair by the window and begins sipping the scotch. There is a mirror on the wall across from him that he didn’t notice until he took a sip of the scotch and looked up. After bringing the glass down from his lips, he raises it to his reflection and says, “Here’s look-in at you, kid.”
While he is rocking in the chair, he has conversations with himself—in his head: “What happened the other night at that Tornado bar?” “I am not sure. Maybe martinis.” “Oh, yea. It started with a dirty martini. I remember the barkeep making it correctly.” “Yes, he poured the Gin and the olive juice on ice and stirred it slowly and then poured it into a tumbler with a couple of blue cheese stuffed olives.” “Yes, that’s right. Those olives sound good right about now.” “Do you think we can go back tonight?” “Sure. I don’t see why not.” “Great. Let’s take it easy on this scotch then.” “I don’t know; it tastes pretty damn good. I feel that euphoric sensation coming upon me. Putting down the drink now would be a mistake.” “Don’t fool yourself, man. You are going to be shitfaced within an hour if you keep drinking that straight and don’t get some food in you.” “This ain’t my first rodeo boy. You know this never ends well. But it has to happen. It always must happen.” “I know. Just don’t touch the keys to your car.” “What car?” “Do I have a car?” “I don’t remember how I got here.” “The booze is kicking in.” “Yes. I feel fantastic.” “I wonder if that broad downstairs would wanna come up for a bit. I bet she is as tight as a Jew pinching a penny.” “We should go talk to her.” “Yea. We should. We can invite her up for a drink.” “Yea. A couple sips of this drink, and she’ll be as loose as a goose—ready to take it up the caboose.”
J.F. sat rocking in the chair for hours, letting the committee in his head debate random topics that he won’t recall. His mind can go to sick places amidst a bottle of highly potent scotch. Not his usual drink. Things always go wrong when dark liquors are introduced into his bloodstream.
By the time the sun starts going down, he had consumed half the bottle of scotch. He examines the angle of the light rays coming through the window and guesses, “It must be about 5:30 pm.” He pulls his phone out of his pocket to see that the clock reads 5:29 pm. “Bingo! So close. If only I were on the Price is Right.”
He wobbly pushes himself up and off of the chair and stands up to look out the windows. He ponders the outdoor layout. (A sea of bricks—the brick forest. How lovely to be surrounded by a prison of stone. Hardly any plant life anywhere. I don’t know how I feel about this.)
Now that he is primed and ready, flooded with scotch, he decides to go back down to the lobby and try to flirt with the young girl before she leaves. He then recalls that she said she is only in the office from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Still, he feels optimistic. (What the hell. Maybe she stayed late.)
J.F. leaves his unit and enters into the hallway. He notices more oddly placed mirrors down the walls leading to the very end. (These fucking halls are the lengths of football fields. Just the thought of walking down it is exhausting me. I better have another drink. God. These carpets.) He examines the carpets again, feeling as though he saw them before. They are the same vomit green carpets with odd geometrical shapes placed at each turning point. “I must have seen these in the virtual tour, but when was that?”
The elevator or the entrance corridor trapezoid shape touches from each corner of the door and the base against the hallway wall. (There is something strangely familiar about the shapes and the mirrors and these designs. Oh, yea. I remember reading in some old book by Jack Parsons about the real relationship between shapes and mirrors and how quantum mechanics is the key to connecting to the spiritual world. He had a crazy idea about using physics to channel devil worship or something. I wonder if he had influenced the design of this building.)
The shapes and mirrors went unnoticed earlier as his eyes were fixated on Lina’s backend. For a man who is usually too drunk to perform, he still has a great infatuation for the female figure.
He gets into the elevator, and before he can hit a button, DING – “Going up.” The elevator started moving, making its way past the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th. (We could go all the way.” 11th, PH. “Ding-ding-ding, and the winner is.) DING – “Penthouse.” said the provocative elevator voice. J.F. looks around and doesn’t see anyone. “Must be a ghost.” He hits the lobby button, and the doors close, “Going down.” On his way back down, as he passes the 6th floor, he contemplates the thirteenth-floor theory. (If the 12th floor is the first floor.) He counts backward on his fingers
12 (1st) – 11 (2nd) – 10 (3rd) – 9 (4th) – 8 (5th) – 7 (6th) – 6 (7th)
(Yes, the 6th floor is the 7th floor and the basement-)
5 (8th) – 4 (9th) – 3 (10th) – 2 (11th) – 1 (12th) – basement (13th)
(The basement is then the 13th floor. I wonder if that thing is haunted.)
J.F. chuckles to himself, thinking about how smart he is to have figured this out. It is something only a drunken buffoon would consider to be meaningful. He is overly proud of his ability to count these simple numbers. He will later think back to his profound discovery about the real thirteenth floor, in a sober state, and think of how stupid he was for being so impressed with himself.
The elevator doors open, and J.F. walks out, not realizing he is not in the Lobby nor recalling that is where he was trying to go. He had forgotten what he was doing and thinks he has just landed back on his floor. In his semi-drunken state, he tiptoes on the carpet and carefully positions himself in the center of the trapezoid, making sure not to step on the line that draws it. He gages with his eyes whether or not the shape is symmetrical. He then walks to his unit and tries to open the door. He twists at the handle to find it locked. (I never locked this door. Oh shit. I am on the wrong floor.)
Once realizing he is on the wrong floor, he bolts down the hall back to the elevators hoping, if someone is inside, that they didn’t see him and think he was trying to break in their place. When he gets back to the elevators, he plans to hit the buttons for all three elevators to speed up the process.
Just as he turns the corner while lifting his hand to push one of the buttons, the door starts opening. It opens as if it were anticipating him. He jumps in and hits the close door button multiple times, purposely acting overly dramatic as if his life is on the line. He then moves to push the lobby but hears the DING, followed by, “Going down.” He sees the lobby button already lit up. It doesn’t seem all that odd that the door was ready for him as well as the destination. He just wants to get off the floor as quickly as possible.
(Likely, someone hit the 4th floor and lobby by accident. The laws of probability at work here. ‘Stop doing math for a minute, man. You are driving me crazy with that.’)
He hadn’t been in this elevator before and notices the elevator buttons are different from the other one he was in. There are only options for L through 12 and no basement button. (‘Weird. Where is the basement button?’ ‘Have we been mistaken that there is not even a basement for this building?’ ‘Cannot be, sir. It must only be in the other elevator.’ ‘We should probably get another drink soon. Time is running out.’)
The elevator stops at the 3rd floor, and a whiff of cigarette smoke floods in. An older gentleman with grey hair and goatee standing in the corridor with a cigarette in his hand. He is wearing a medium-length black jacket and carrying a fancy camera strapped around his neck. (This man looks familiar and is not supposed to smoke in here.”)
The man walks into the elevator and puts the cigarette out in an ashtray bolted to the wall under the up/down buttons.
J.F. asks the man with a confused tone, “You can smoke in here?”, and the man flat-out ignores him and pushes the PH elevator button. DING “Going up.” J.F. stands there wondering why this guy is ignoring him, not noticing that the lobby button is no longer lit.
(I thought there is no smoking in this building.) DING “Penthouse.” The man walks out of the elevator and puts another cigarette in his mouth. He turns around and looks at J.F. right in the eyes and lights it right as the elevator doors close.
J.F. stands in the elevator debating whether the man is deaf or just an asshole. DING – “Going Down.” (Wait a second. How long have I been in this elevator?) He checks his pockets for his phone, but both pockets are empty. No keys – no phone – no nothing. The elevator stops on the 9th floor and opens. DING. “9th floor.” No one is outside, and the doors won’t shut. J.F. presses the close door button multiple times, but they won’t shut. (Guess I will have to take the stairs.)
He steps out of the elevator, and the doors close. He quickly tries to stick his hand in the narrowing separation of the doors but is too slow to stop them from coming together. He then says to himself, with a fine-tuned greeting voice, “Welcome to the elevators. How may I direct your vertical descent?” Just as he says that, a man walks into the corridor. He thought he would get a chuckle out of the fellow. Without even a twitch of recognition, the man walks to the up/down button, stands lifeless, and says nothing. J.F. thought the man would have at least asked him if he was going up or down. (These people are getting either stranger or more stuck up. Is this guy deaf? No, he would have seen my lips move. Gosh, is he just a jerk? What is his deal? ‘Don’t read into it, man; he probably has a social disorder or something.’)
He debates on going to the stairs or trying the elevator. DING. “9th floor”. The single elevator opens without him pressing any buttons. He looks into it, and it is empty. He is hesitant to get into it thinking he may get stuck and have to use the bathroom. The doors stay open for what seems to be longer than they should. Almost as if the elevator is alive and waiting for J.F. to make his decision. The doors finally begin to close. J.F. then decides he is too drunk to take the stairs. When he thought that, the doors that were almost shut stopped and opened back up as if the elevator read his mind; he says to himself, “Must be my lucky day.” while walking into the elevator.
[9.6 | Lobby]
The elevator opens, and the lobby exposes itself. J.F. sees Clancy cleaning up the place, dusting the tables. He asks him, “What is the deal with the guy carrying the camera?” to which Clancy replies, “Sometimes a picture’s worth a thousand words.” (Gee, thanks.)
J.F. walks towards the office to see if the girl is still working, but the door is shut, and the lights are turned off.
“I think the man is a robot sent from outer space to capture the local scenery. Was the man smoking?” “Yes. He was. Right in the middle of the hall. What is up with that? And where the hell did you come from?” “What floor was that on?” “I think it was on the third floor. Why?” “Fascinating,” “Why is that fascinating?” “You’ll find out soon enough.” “What do you mean I will find out soon enough? Who are you anyway?” J.F. asks, but the man just sits in the chair flipping through a notebook, the notebook that James brought with him from Texas. J.F. asks with a stern look on his face, “Where did you get that?” “You left it here this morning. I was just admiring your work. It doesn’t look like you have been working on your theories much lately.” “I have been preoccupied.” “No worries. Here you go.” He hands J.F. the notebook while remaining in the Victorian chair, forcing J.F. to walk to him and grab it.
He flips open the notebook, and about a third of the way in, he sees a sketch of Elevyn. (When did I draw this?) J.F. looks up from the book to see JIM has disappeared again. J.F. says, “Ok then. Nice to meet you again. Weirdo.”
“How was your first night here?” asks Lina. (Where did she come from?) “Huh? I just got here this morning.” “You did? We must be in two different time zones because I checked you in yesterday.”
J.F. looks at her, confused. He pats down his pockets to look for his keys and phone, but they are empty. Lina says, “Is that your phone over there?” and J.F. looks on the chair to see his cellphone wedged halfway in the crack between the cushion and armrest. He pulls it out and unlocks it to know that it is indeed the next day. But he had only been in the building for a few hours, he thought. (What the hell is going on?)
He stands in the lobby questioning what has happened to the missing time he seems to have lived and not lived. He sees the reflection of JIM in the mirror. He turns and says, “Now, how the fuck did you get back here.” The little white dog sits erect in JIM’S lap, looking at J.F. while wagging its tail. JIM says to J.F., with a sly smirk, “I see you are confused. Didn’t you get the memo?” “Memo?”
(What memo. Does he know something about what is happening? Wait, he gave me some scotch from his flask, and that is when everything went awry. Is that what is going on? Did he slip me something?)
J.F. recalls the incident in the vestibule and asks Lina about it. She replies to him, “Don’t worry about that. Sometimes people come in there in the cold night and mess it up. Unfortunately, we cannot lock it for fire code reasons, so there is frequently an odd event that takes place in the vestibule.” JIM says, “Try not ever to enter it.” Interrupting Lina. “Wait, what. Do not ever enter it? How am I supposed to leave?” “Who says you can?”
J.F. sits down in one of the chairs across from JIM and says to him, “What’s up, man. What happened to you last night and what the fuck is going on here. I know you know something, man.”
“Nothing happened to me. You just drink too much, fella. You walked through the never-ending land of mirrors, smashing right into one. I think you confused the mirror with the continuation of the hall. It is placed floor to ceiling with no frame giving it that illusion. You are not the first to walk face-first into it. I think you hurt yourself because you passed out right after and just laid on the floor. You missed another crazy person. He went into the vestibule thinking that them mushrooms were a pile of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He tried to eat one and realized they weren’t edible and spit them out. He started screaming madly and then just ran away. Good times. Anyways, you got up and came back after a while and sat up in the chair. You mumbled some stuff in your sleep, and here you are now.” “But when I woke up, Lina said I was never here, and I had to go through the whole introduction process again.” “Well, my dear boy. You probably were dreaming, or maybe you are caught in a vortex of time-displacement, which is twisting you all about. Maybe it is time to get back to those equations and fix this.” (Fix this? Is he messing with me?)
A squeaky wheel becomes present in J.F.’s ears. He turns to see an Asian man coming out of the clubhouse area, pushing his cart filled with cleaning supplies. JIM says with enthusiasm, “Lijun! Man of the hour! How are you doing this fine day?” JIM says to the dog that is always on the floor, “Look, it is Mr. Lijun.”, and the little dog starts wagging its tail, excited to see the man. JIM lets go of the leash and let the dog run up to him, and the dog pushes its side up against his legs. Lijun reaches down to give him a little pat on the head and says, “Hey there, little guy.”
J.F. introduces himself to Lijun, and Lijun says, “We’ve met. A few times now. I am just wiping down the mirror you had a relationship with last night.”
J.F. didn’t want to come off rude in any sense; he hated that other people cleaned up after other people. He wasn’t one to ask someone else to do such a thing, especially if they are getting paid to do it. It just seemed wrong that someone would have to be put into such a position in society. He thinks to himself, as he looks at broken pieces of mirror on the cart, (This building seems like it hosts a party of world-class douchebags. They probably look at this man with the eyes of slavers. The Madison slave traders. The modern-day ‘legal slave’ of sorts. Sick minded privileged fucks.)
Lijun rolls the squeaking cart over to the vestibule and begins cleaning it up. J.F. looks at a can of WD-40 sitting in his carriage and wonders why he doesn’t spray the wheel that squeaks endlessly.
J.F. walks up to the vestibule to take a walk outside when Lina stops him. She says firmly, “Please let Lijun finish cleaning. Please use the other doors if possible. Sorry, it is just kind of frustrating for people to leave finger-prints on the doors while he is cleaning them.”
“Oh. Yea. Sure. No problem, I completely understand. I will go out the back.” (What the fuck would that matter. Like people aren’t going to be pushing those doors open five minutes from now? Do they care if they get a fingerprint within these five minutes of him cleaning? Besides, he could wipe them off right away since he is already there—that is if I actually touched the glass. I am not a damn child, for god sakes.)
“Thank you. By the way, you have a box in the package room.” “Okay, thanks.”
J.F. walks to the entrance of the package room. He feels nervousness overcome him and is afraid to enter it, wondering what time or place he may land after coming out. He opens the door and sees a lady frantically sorting through all the packages. (It looks like she is freaking out about where her package is.)
The sight of the lady comforts him, so he walks in and lets the door shut behind him.
She speaks loudly under her breath, “Someone took my package. The slip was on my mailbox that said there is a package in here. Where is it? Who took my package? Jesus! Don’t these people have any respect? What kind of person takes another person freaking package! This is absurd. The amount of money I pay each month for that pathetic staff out there, and they cannot even keep a package room proper. Ridiculous. You know, it is a felony to mess with someone else’s mail. This is a call for the law.” J.F. says, “Sorry to hear this. I just moved in last, wait, no last week—yesterday. I think.” “You don’t even know what day you moved in. Great, better not let you near these packages’ either. We wouldn’t want you to forget what unit you are in – accidentally, would we now. Jesus – kids these days.”
(Holy crap, this chick is a fucking bitch. I have half a mind to grab her hair and slap that stern face of hers. The half hunched skinny cunt bitch ass. Talking to me like that. Take a deep breath, man. She is just a crazy old lady that has probably never worked a day in her life.)
J.F. responds courteously, “I understand, mam. I know how frustrating it is when you can’t find something. Maybe it was fragile or expensive, and they left it with the front lady or meant to check that it needs a signature?” “What do you know, kid. You don’t even know what day it is!” She then storms agitatedly out of the room, letting the door shut behind her.
(Ok then, welcome to the building, friend.)
J.F. locates his package and wonders what it is and who sent it. He sees that this is not a package for him but for the previous tenant. The front desk girl must have just looked at the unit number and not the name. He grabs a marker on the return ledge and scribbles on it, “R.T.S. new tenant here.”, and places it on the shelf to be sent back. He then heads out of the package room, hoping not to see the crazy lady again.
When J.F. comes out of the package room, his skin crawls with the eeriest of all goosebumps. He is shocked to see it is nearly pitch-black outside and snowing. He sees JIM still sitting in the chair with his flask, but without his dogs. He again hears music playing, but this time it is Christmas music from the ’60s and ’70s. J.F. looks to the entertainment room to see it filled with people dressed up in holiday clothes, dancing and enjoying hors d’oeuvres. The inner workings of the room look completely different. Everything in it is new, but it is the décor of over half a century ago.
(Jesus, that is creepy. Wait, what is going on here? Why am I back here? have I been in that room all day and night, or is it the night before again. Why is it snowing? It is May, isn’t it? Am I losing my mind or just sobering up!)
J.F. slowly says, “Jim. Hey, Man.”, and JIM responds, “It’s J – I – M, bud.” J.F. then asks, “What you up to?” JIM responds by raising the flask while saying with a slurred voice, “Midnight fucking of the brain. Would you like to join the orgy?” He then asks JIM, “What day is it?” “Today or tonight, should I say, either way, it is not a day to shy away from the drinking coming to you—I say.” (This dude sounds drunk off his ass.)
The drunken demeanor comforts J.F. To know that someone else is as deep into the drink as he is, is almost like falling in love or finding one’s soulmate.
Out of Place
J.F. has been binge drunk for some time now and is not entirely sure if he is even awake. Everything happening to him in the lobby is too much to take in on a sober breath. He gladly takes the flask from JIM and tokes a healthy slug. (Scotch- no, not scotch but gin this time. It must be Bombay Sapphire. It has that higher-quality smoothness to it without the overpowering pine tree flavor of Tanqueray.)
The swig hits him hard, chasing the leftover drunkenness. It tires him. He is feeling the desperate need for sleep now. He is, however, beginning to get anxious about his work. He needs to sober up and get ready for the class he will be instructing over Hypothetical Physics. He is starting a new course designed to help students create theorems and equations from scratch. The idea is for students to invent their own universe with original and unique physics laws and then develop the math for it. After the math language is formed, the student creates and solves physics problems using the language. Teaching this course and allowing him to focus on his research in tranoquartian space was the condition of his relocation. He is becoming worried that he will not be prepared for it while simultaneously perturbing when or where he really is.
He checks his mobile device and sees it is almost midnight August 23rd, 2016, over two weeks since he moved in. He thinks to himself, (I must have blacked out. Oh God, what did I do? The people here probably already think I am nuts and only a few days in. ‘I wouldn’t sweat it, man. You know people generally only waste time thinking about themselves. You are not that important.’)
J.F. heads over to the elevators and sees a mirror placed at just the right angle so that a 4th elevator appears next to the single one when looking at it. He doesn’t recall seeing that during the day. He examines the mirror a bit and looks at the lobby’s lighting to see how the refractions would change this, or if he just did not notice it earlier. He then turns around to say goodbye to JIM, but he is no longer there.
(Who designed this building? It is quite strange with these randomly placed mirrors; at least, it seems random, but maybe it is purposely done. I recall reading somewhere about voodoo or spiritual seances or experiments having a lot to do with mirrors. I always thought that these ancient witchcraft things were just a form of physics still misunderstood today. Looking into quantum mechanics and string theory and other theories, we see now that much of those old wives’ tales could have some great truth to them.)
J.F. is now thinking again of the former NASA employee Jack Parson and his book about quantum mechanics. (He used it to conduct seances and perform magic to predict the future and control the weather. He claimed to have been successful and then shortly after was found blown to pieces in his home when an experiment went wrong. Many thought it was a cover-up to hide what he had discovered.)
He makes it up to the 6th floor and walks into his condo. He sits in his rocking chair and finishes the remaining scotch. He tries to differentiate between reality and dreams. He recollects what happened during the past few days, but at this point, he is not concerned. He has been through many stranger incidents after drinking for days on end. He reminds himself of the drunk night where he decided to throw out all of his furniture and turn his living room into a dojo. He remembers waking up to an empty apartment with a set of nunchucks lying on the floor. In his drunken state, he convinced himself that he would become an expert martial artist.
He finishes the last drop of scotch and goes to lay down on the mattress. It is a body forming memory foam mattress. (When did I get this? It must have been the package in the mailroom. That’s where it must have come from. Wait, didn’t I order one before I moved in?) His head hits the pillow, and he fades into sleep within a few seconds.
[9.7 | First waking]
(The gun. I need a gun. Oh God, please give me the gun. For if I had the gun, I could have some fun. I’d put the gun against my head, pull the trigger, and then I’d be dead. Please, God – the gun. I need the gun. It is the only solution to my problems, for if I had the gun, it would be fun to put the gun against my head, pull the trigger and make me dead, I said. I need it. Please. Oh, Jesus. Please help me. Why am I here again? I just want to be loved. Why am I in this perpetual hell—please God. Please, Jesus. Please help me break this horrible cycle. Please. Old oak tree – the old oak tree put that fucking ribbon around the old oak tree – the old oak tree.)
The inevitable days of the withdrawal are upon J.F. He will spend the next three days vomiting and visiting the restroom until there is nothing left in his intestines. This goes on every half hour or so. His piss is thick like orange juice, using whatever water that remains in his dehydrated body. His naturally lush skin has become dry and flaky, and his head feels like bugs are crawling around at the roots of his hair.
He has reached the point of his binge that he must stop. Even if he wants to try and drink, his body will just revolt it. He has been here before. If he tries to force Gin down his throat or beer or even something sweet like prosecco, his body rejects it, and it becomes painful for him. J.F. needs this pain so he can sober up and be prepared for his lectures. The suffering is usually significant enough to keep him sober until the end of the semester.