Thursday, May 28, 2009
There were no clocks in the hotel. Anywhere. In the States, every hotel room, no matter how crappy, has at least a clock radio. He was glad to have packed the old Timex. It was the wind up kind. No batteries and it ticked something awful. When he woke up confused and wet with sweat from deep sleep, somewhere between very late and God-forsaken early, the only sound to be heard was the watch. It sounded like the tip of a pencil being tapped against linoleum. A six hour time difference can really screw around with a person’s inner clock.
No matter what country, no matter what time zone, he always had the same dream. His eyes and mouth are sealed shut and he is trekking his way across a chasm filled landscape that resembled a mass desert grave. Naked and scared shitless, he stumbles across a cobra or whatever type of snake he’d last seen that crazy Australian man poke with a sick on the television. The snake slithers up him and sinks its fangs into his palm and wrist. The snake does not release its hold until he’s fallen into one of the holes which could be vertical graves. As he was loses the use of his hand, his breath, his life, he wakes up. The last two nights he had woken up alone and lost. Thank God for the ancient Timex.
The room was smaller than certain walk-in closets. Standing on one leg, using the wall for support, he could lift the other leg up to form a human letter K and reach clear across the width of the entire room. He'd caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, contorted like he was caught in an invisible spider web and laughed at the ridiculousness of everything. The room was like a walk-in closet with sink, shitter, and a shower enclosed as well. Still he was able to room by himself. His room back in the states was unidentifiable as a livable habitat. Clothes, papers, books and Cd's littered the floor, covered furniture, and engulfed the lighting fixtures, as though the clutter itself was its own new breed of foliage. The undergrowth spreading and returning things to their natural state. The only way to determine if a specific article of clothing was wearable or not was by smell.
His nose was still full of her smell. In the last 48 hours, like a virus, she had invaded his being but more intensely so, she had invaded his nostrils, the left one being a slightly different shape than the right one.
It flattened out. Family Defect. She still smelled like- He sat on the window sill, looking at the view. Not entirely true. The window sill was only about a foot and a half by three inches, so he just sort of leaned up against it, face pressed against the cool glass. Using his tired mouth and slightly deformed nostril he made foggy amoebas of condensation appear and disappear with sighs. This breathtaking view was of a brick wall less than a foot away. If he gazed up and a little to the right, he could peer into the hallway of the floor above. If he really strained his vision and kept his face mashed against the cold glass at the most extreme angle, the river was visible. If his ear was pressed to the glass he heard the thumping subwoofers from Sinners, the nightclub next door. He had come expecting an authentic inn or European Bed and Breakfast type of establishment. They put him and the rest of the group up in the Best Western Eden.
He’d spent many nights crashing on floors and couches back in the States. Most memorable was the time when he was unable to leave an unusually nice house he was staying at without setting off the alarm. Neither could he figure out how to turn on the television, which never would have fit in the hotel room he was in now. So try as he might to turn on the tube and kill his brain till someone woke up, there were just too many remotes. So he sat, waiting for some to wake up and let him out after so kindly letting him in. The situation he’s in now isn’t quite the same, here, in Amsterdam, he had a bed.
A bed, no matter how small, beat the floor. He knew how to use this television, although it was of no use to him. Everything was dubbed. Watching West Side Story or Catdog in Dutch was like being stuck in the nightmare of a Salvador Dali. He could also leave anytime he wanted to. Except now--
He wanted to escape. The door: it had no alarm. He wanted to sleep. The bed: small, occupied. The single, but more accurately described as half, bed was inhabited by a female. The girl: Blondie, short. She had some distinct but not striking features. She was opinionated to the point of ignorance. Her views were so far to the right, they had to be wrong. That was what bothered him the most.
That was second on the list.
Second place was reserved for the phone calls she had made to his room. He should have unplugged the phone but the Timex had no alarm and the wake up call was his only way of ensuring that he had enough time to drink enough coffee in order to make it to the theater coherent. We now return to the best walk in closet in the west.
The phone was still plugged in. He forgot to wind the Timex. His body was telling him it was time to sleep. ANYWHERE. SOMEWHERE. His mind, however, would not allow him to look at the bed. Brick wall it was.
She was a nice girl, the sleeping suburbanite was, but she was without a discernible smell. She was without a discernible laugh. Thoughts of the virus flooded him like a relapsing fever. Like shingles had made his skin burn, she had created a spot for herself inside him. Under his skin, inside his torso, under the muscles, behind the ribs, she nestled between two lungs, right next to his heart. Most importantly, the olfactory memory still burned in his nostrils. She should be in the bed now, not Blondie.
He should be in the bed. Alone. Asleep. That wasn’t the case. All the women were asleep. He was sure the men were too, but the thought never entered his mind. He looked at the unwound Timex. 3:48 AM. He strained to see a silver sliver of the river. Then he looked at the brick wall and wondered what had caused those stains, one of which could have been Abraham Lincoln. It could have been the self-educated President had it been as early as it was and the observer of the stain was as tired as he was. It was that early and he was that tired so it was as it was. He looked down and saw the 50 Euros on the nightstand, the corners being weighed down by the static Timex. That money had topped the night’s list of grievances. Like an unwound watch in a strange time zone. He could find no plausible use for it. Maybe- He’d buy the virus a present before he left, never to see her again.
Maybe He’d buy his girlfriend something nice to take back home to her in the States.
His mom? Maybe-
It was women who started all of this; a woman who had started him. Women kicked HIM out of Eden. But it was man who had to give in: If not to the phone calls, if not to the lust, then to the money. Anything bought with those Euros, however, would be stained. It would be a reminder of the temptation.
He doubted if Adam was ever able to enjoy apple pie again.
That money was a waste, Maybe-- He should buy drinks and try to forget it all.
He should buy coffee to make up for the night lost.
First he should put pants on. He was sitting, well, leaning against the window sill, in gray boxer briefs, bought by a woman and probably made by a woman, a woman living in Taiwan. He should have been wearing something with cartoon characters on them or at least bright colors.
When he met the group for the first time in the lobby of the Best Western Eden, they thought he was a European man. He sat writing postcards, as though it was what he did every morning at that time. That day he had merely been a boy in costume, a boy, posing as someone who belonged where he sat. He fooled everyone.
Morning came, night floated down the river. He finished breakfast and walked into the lobby. It was full of people fresh off the plane. An Eden full of Adams. They’d find out soon enough. He walked out into the street and as he walked along the river he knew.
He would get over the virus; build an immunity.
He would spend the money.
He would return to the States.
He would go forth, be fruitful, and multiply.