He & The Old Man
begin at the beginning, and you’ll end up here
The waiting room serves the dual purpose of a holding area for both incoming sufferers and visitors who wish to visit those sufferers already inhabiting the facility. Decorated in what can only be described as gauche and obscene consistency, every surface — couches, tables, countertops, etc. — except the floor is colored a sky blue with painted, fluffy white clouds. Of an unusual rounded shape; there are no corners or creases where typically, corners and creases would exist in a three-dimensional room, which ends up giving the, at first striking but then, soothing sensation of being among the clouds. It is not entirely true that the entire space is colored a sky blue, for the reality is that the floors are colored a sort of evening blue with speck-like stars, and slightly before the floors begin to curve upward, the evening blue gradually lightens into a cobalt through the floor and wall curvature with half the wall being a cerulean, and then, perhaps at the typical head height of an average-sized human, the blue begins to turn a full, light sky onward up and across the ceiling. Even the windows are rounded but not circular. No one knows why or how this particular decorum was decided upon and became the decorum of choice. Some find the peculiarity nice for small talk among strangers who wait. Some find the peculiarity daunting for small talk among strangers who wait. All, nevertheless, talk about it.
The entrance to the facility reveals the large windows of the administrative offices to the left, and the outside wall of the rounded waiting room to the right. Decorated and furnished typically, in that lack-of-color or any oddity of interest, the foyer leads directly toward the registration counter, forces each entrant to veer slightly toward the right. There, the clouds begin to form. If, however, a left turn is made, the administrative offices and other such more technical and pragmatic areas of the facility will be found. On a sharp right, the waiting area in all its cloud-filled glory is easily accessible. If perusing coolly by the registration counter on the left and the waiting room on the right, the comfortable visitation area falls directly in front, and the clouds cease. If perusing fully around the rounded registration counter on the left, the common room, which houses all of the sufferers together in lofted cubbies, sits, and there too, the clouds cease. When entering the facility and that sharp left is taken, there are no clouds to be found within that banality. It is within this cloud-filled waiting room that his visitor sits … and waits.
As he makes his way down the gradient of green tints, he looks at the analyst, “Hello.” “Let’s go,” she responds. They walk together through the common area basically unnoticed. As they reach the double doors on the right side of the fourth wall of large windows, the analyst reaches for the left door handle and holds it open for him. He bows sardonically and is about to make a comment matched in attitude, but just as he begins to make his way through the doorway, he feels … a feeling … the feeling and stops. With the door now shut behind him, the analyst asks, “What now?” He slowly closes his eyes. Silent. He waits. He can just barely make out something, but it can’t be. He looks at the analyst, “What are you doing? Who put you up to this?” “Oh come on. What is this?” the analyst responds with an impatient huff. He believes her. “I really don’t want to do this today. You already agreed to a very quick, probably meaningless chat,” she continues. No, he thinks to himself, but what?
They continue together down the short hallway toward the waiting room. Curving now, the walls begin to brighten from essentially white to a light blue while the floors simultaneously darken from essentially white to a starry evening sky. “The grotesquery,” he spits as he intakes the change in decorum. “I like it,” the analyst admits. Just as they round the rounded corner that hides the inhabitants of the waiting room, he sees but just the tip of a shoe he knows all too well. Immediately upon this recognition he hears the voice of the old man speak, “Don’t.” He sees the old man fully now, seated upon one of the blue chairs painted over in clouds. The old man sees him fully now, standing in the typical clothing of civilian life. The old man slowly comes to a stand. The analyst suggests, “Perhaps we should move this to the visitor’s area?” Ignoring her, each stares the other down for an eternity. But only a second later, the analyst attempts to move them into the visitor’s area. He refuses to give the old man anything and remains blank. The old man concedes with raised arms as if being arrested and speaks again, “I promise.” The old man begins to make a move toward the visitor’s area. “It is the one thing you cannot ever know,” he responds without any movement toward the visitor’s area. “Yes, I suppose,” the old man states with slow steps continued toward the visitor’s area.
He bolts around over his shoulder and makes a run for it back into the common area. Stop, the old man speaks into his mind. You fucker, he thinks back at the old man just as he reaches the double doors of the sufferers’ living space. It’s just a message, the old man attempts. A set of doors between them now, he in the common area of the sufferers’ living space, the old man in the visitor’s area. The sufferers make their way to the dining area for lunch. He stands silent, quiet of mind behind the doors. The sufferers make their way back into the common area and disperse throughout the facility for various, prescribed activities, now that lunch has wrapped up. Who sent you? He finally asks. I am here because I want to be, the old man responds.
He bolts away from the door and runs toward the left doors of the fourth wall of large windows and exits the facility. He runs through the outdoor patio, onto a grassy courtyard. The old man leaves the facility and calmly walks around the building to the back where the sufferers may enjoy some fresh air in the courtyard. Let’s not make a scene, the old man suggests. That analyst seems smarter than average, the old man observes. You would know, he spits.” What … the fuck … do you want!” he screams, face ablaze. The old man reconsiders his decision to visit. He feels the shift within the old man, aloud now, “Don’t you fucking dare.” “Then promise me something,” the old man bribes. Fuck you! “Okay then, tell me something,” the old man counters. He turns his back on the old man wishing desperately he could mull this over. The old man hears his wish and offers, “I promise. I won’t listen.” “Impossible,” he winces. He doesn’t know what to do, and he is frozen within the blankness of his mind. The analyst appears at the door that leads back into the common area, “Is everything alright? You missed lunch, but the cooks saved you a few plates in case your visitor wants to eat with you.” “That sounds like a good idea,” the old man courteously states. “We should share a meal together, don’t you think?” the old man continues in suggestion. He can’t stand this. “I’m not hungry, thank you.” “But your visitor,” she begins. He turns to look at her and interrupts, “I don’t care.” You’re right. You never care, the old man whispers. Goddammit! “Let’s eat,” the old man states flatly with the semblance of as much excitement as is available to him. The three make their way back inside; the analyst holds the door open, while his head hangs low, and the old man follows.
Continued on Fridays, until The End.