March 13, 2008

Anvil of the Majesties

There was only so much work one could do these days. Weeks upon weeks of built up stress just suddenly came loose one day. I was working in lab when I decided to walk out, right in the middle. Professor Hartmann stopped me at the door.

"Where are you going? You have to finish your problem set."
"Out. I dont care."
"Then I wont hold you back."

He moved aside and I strode out. The let the wood door close itself and I went down the clean hall. It was one of those sorts of days. Where you'd much rather just sit about and do nothing. It was 11:43 in the morning. Fuck. It was too early to feel like this. I knew there were two more classes that I had work to turn in. I figured, I might as well just hand them to my buddy Sherman who would go to class and turn it in for me. He was really diligent about working through hours and hours without stirring or turning towards facebook.

I caught Sherman sitting in the north reading room. On both sides sat his usual piles of reference books. One lay sprawled in front of him. I caught a glance at it. It was the US Census of Okanawah County, OK in 1912. Seriously...

"hey Sherm."
"Oh hey there Adam. What can I do for you?"
"D'you mind if you turn in these for me? I dont feel like going to class."
"One of those days hm?"
"No... yes."
"Sure. You know the price."
"It'll be on your Bureau in the morning."

Sherman was 20. I was 21. We were roommates since freshman year. I just guess it worked out. Sherman, Earl and I moved into a place sophomore year and we've been there since. But Sherman, as brilliant as he was, was a heavy drinker and smoker. He went through a pack of camels a day. It was gross. But, his usual cost was a third of a fifth of whatever. Usually, I just poured tequila into a large flask and left it for him. He didn't give a care what I put in there. Just as long as it was drinkable and he would be asleep by the time he finished it. So I was free now. What do I do? I could have gone bar hopping. But no respectable place serves anything hard before six, let alone noon time. The park was out of the question. At all hours of the day, I couldn't find myself not being at the other end of a cup being shaken at me. So the park was out. I suppose I could find some solace in the library. Nah, Sherm was there. I guess to the bar it is.

The Charleston Pub is my usual watering hole, its decent, not the best. It wasn't one of those nasty grimy places you see in the tenderloin with men in studded leather standing at the door, nor was it a place where the bouncer a 5 foot 3 inch man wearing a turtleneck. It was the kinda bar where you'd sidle in, find a table, and drink and chat. I suppose you could call it the coffee house of pubs. It certainly felt like one for sure. They know me by now. Since my twenty first birthday, I was becoming a regular down at Charleston. But it seemed empty to me. Devoid of its usual cheeriness. The dining hall was dim and there were only a few couples scattered here and there. Lunch wasn't the same anymore. The pork chop looked less appealing, the beer tasted flat, the potato a mere pebble of starch. The world was certainly a much blander place now. I suppose going home would help. Then again, it would always be the same drab old place you went home to and ate dinner at and etc. Ah what the hell. Why not?

I had the waiter put the rest of my stake cube and marble sized ball of starch in a to go box and I left for home. For some reason, I only was ever comfortable sitting in my easy chair, by my favorite window, with my little table by the side and the smell my cigar humidor nearby. I found myself at a friend's place once. It was filthy and there certainly were fantastical things about the place. One of which was mold growing on ever flat face in the bathroom. To that, I gave my applause by running out of the apartment and never going back. But back to my place. Sherm, Earl and I had turned it into our own little club. The walls were white, we covered them with prints of famous photographs and paintings. There used to be a big stain in the middle of the lounge, we covered it with an navajo rug. The kitchen wall has a hole in it, well, its still there. But we covered it up with a decorative object none the less. That just goes to show how much we cared about house beautiful. Each of our rooms had a special quality to it. They were intended as our special private kingdoms. Sherman decked his out with a small laboratory, with a cabinet of all the safer elements and all sorts of cool things. Earl was the big sports fan of us three. He had pennants from every college covering every square inch of wall. In the corner sat the ColorKing television set. He had been watching football in front of that since he was born. Heck, his father was watching the same sport on it since he bought the television in '69. Of course, there was no color left and the image came out blurry, but the sound was amazing. Watching a UCLA game, we could hear individual hate calls from the USC side. Or when we would watch a Cal game, we could tell when the announcer was sick or had a frog in his throat. My room, I didn't go all out like the other two guys had. I only went as far as to have a few bookshelves put in, and several of my rare books brought out from home. I was the only lucky one to have a window that faced the street. Nay, it overlooked the street, the rooftops and the shops, plazas, markets, trees, parks and the bay. The bay. I had a view of the beautiful San Francisco bay. At least here, in my room, there had better be some feeling of solace and calm. Otherwise, it wouldn't be my room. I bought the most monumental looking chair to have by the window. I didn't go with the e-z boy recliner, those were tacky and Earl had two in his room. Nor did I go with the standard leather arm chair that typically found its way into every man office. No, I had been down to Urban or Ore and picked up this beauty of a chair. It had the curved legs of an egyptianesque chair, the hand sewn leather sling between the legs, the way I draped a sheep skin over the back. This was truly a chair for Zeus. Or Mars at least.

I eased my way into the chair, taking note of the crunching sounds, each sigh of stress as it sagged under my weight. Everything the chair did, it was both physically and psychologically. At least now, the world seemed to mean more than the small chop and tiny red potato. The weight of the world seemed to swell up into the cloud in the distance. I sat for several hours, just staring at the sky. Everything else moved, except for that one cloud. It only got larger and larger and at one point, it looked like an anvil.

It bore the brunt of the world's misery and boredom. It contained all our problems and gripes. Every gripe, every remorse, every to-do we had. Collected into a single mass of droplets and feelings. It consolidated over the other apartments, it stayed in place. Hours passed, the light went from bright to orange, orange to red, red to purple, then the light went out. The anvil was gone. The stars began to shine through the anvil cloud. Then it was totally gone.

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