I finally make it to work. I have missed several days. Weeks? Months? I don’t know how long I have been gone. I have been gone so long I have even forgotten what the business I work for does. I have forgotten where the time clock is. I have even forgotten how to read the time clock, how to operate it, and what language the time cards are written in. It took so long to find and to operate the arcane contraption that I am several hours late clocking in. I think to myself “I will be blamed for this.”
The office is decorated in glass and chrome like an 80’s bar. It has swag lamps on chains like someplace straight out of the 70’s. The chairs are overstuffed and upholstered in cream-colored plush leather. The entire room is so bright that I feel like I’m being blinded. Like I’m having vertigo and a visual migraine at the same time. “Is this really an office?” I ask myself as I squint through the glare.
I park myself at a table in an empty chair next to the son of a friend. I hadn’t realized we worked at the same place. I remembered him being in high school. The snooty bastard won’t talk to me in anything more than clipped sentences. I remember that I asked him about clocking in, and he had seemed mad even then. I thought he had been mad because I was late and couldn’t make the simple machine work properly.
He’s probably mad because I stole his mother’s purse. I decide to go visit her to take her back the purloined purse, and so I get on the bus that is in front of me. The bus takes me to a familiar place that is not my friend’s house, but rather to a mall I know that isn’t in the city I think I am in. Thought I was in.
I think to myself “this is weird” as I push through the crowded street making my way to the mall. As I am walking in this bustling crowd of people I look down and realize that I am walking in my stocking feet. There is glass and other debris in the road. I need to put on some shoes if I am going to keep walking.
I stop at a convenience store in the mall to buy some shoes. The aisles are long and narrow and snake everywhere in the mall for no apparent reason. I have to go down several dark hallways to find the only pair of sandals in the place. When I get back to the register to pay they charge me $24 for the retread sandals that I had owned as child. Just as weirdly as finding my own sandals in a mall that shouldn’t be where it is, and then having to pay to keep them, my childhood sandals still fit my adult feet perfectly, even with my socks on.
I am now broke from being overcharged for the sandals that I already owned, but I figure I can make it to my friend’s house on foot now that I am wearing shoes, so I start walking again.
As I am walking I notice that the stolen purse I am carrying is turning inside out. I have to change the way I am carrying it so that it still looks like a giant brown pleather purse and not an animal that has somehow turned inside out at the end of my arm. As I am making the purse look right I stumble across my friend stabbing garbage in her yard with a spiked stick. The spike is a sewing needle on the end of a wooden broom handle. I notice that she is bent and wizened like a cartoonish old woman and when she speaks the voice comes out of her cracked old lips in Natasha’s fake Russian accent.
I ask her “what have you been up to? I haven’t seen you in awhile,” and she replies “I’m being quiet after my honeymoon.” and then cackles at me. I wake up in a sweat. What time is it?
Editor’ note. I recorded some bad audio of me reading this article. It should be visible directly above this note. I will probably replace the bad audio with some other bad audio, but I also might not. I might just make it and most of this editor’s note disappear. Which one of these event will happen is a coin toss away. Audio is harder for me these days than it was when I owned those sandals. I notice that I slur and mutter. I don’t know if I can correct that or not.
I probably owe a hat/tip to this episode of Radiolab,
In which Jad Abumrad and Brooke Gladstone muse about the passing of Joe Frank and what his life meant to the two of them. Meant to all of us. I had never heard of Joe Frank before that episode, and I probably would not have listened to his radio program. The inside of my head is weird enough all on its own. I need my distractions to be more pedestrian than the inside of my own head. Am I as good at creating as Joe Frank was? No. Not on my best day. He had to do what he did every week like clockwork for decades. I’m nowhere near as imaginative as that.