Flowers on Friday
Walking into the law offices of Nolan, Goldfine & Grumbach LLC, one was always met by an excessive flower arrangement, and behind it, a rather non-excessive Raymond.
He disliked the flowers; their botanic sexuality seemed cloying, their ostensible beauty one dimensional. He looked at their sexual organs and thought of drunk people flirting at a bar—it was all so obvious: people were going to fuck. The human race would make it through this century.
He lived alone in a rooming house on a monthly lease. Years passed. He prided himself on having only a bed, nightstand, and one chair—taking his cue from Van Gogh's yellow room at Arles. There was a crack in the wall. Mold from the shared bathroom had grown like cancer into his room.
At night, he coughed.
The phone rings. "Nolan, Goldfine, and Grumbach," he says.
It rings again. "Yes," he says.
Again. "No," he says.
Ring. "He's not in the office at this moment. May I take a message?"
Ring. "No," he says.
Click. "I'm taking my fifteen."
Then. "I'm shit," he says inside the bathroom stall, contemplating drowning himself in the toilet.
He gets out and washes his face in the sink. His eyes are red and puffy like two small baboon asses.
"Assface," he says to the mirror.
Sarah is a paralegal, which sounds like parallel to Raymond. He imagines the arc of her career, of anyone's career, as a flattened straight line which only runs alongside where one wanted to be. She sits at her desk staring at the Nimobu account. A gust of wind brings some dried leaves up to the window, some scraping against the pane.
The flowers are replaced every Monday. During the weekend they wilt. Seeing them like that every Monday morning made Raymond happy, the idea that things would never make love again.
Sarah comes around to the reception desk. "Your eyes are red," she says.
"Allergies, the flowers," he says.
Sarah knows he's lying, but sometimes it sounds better.
"What did you do this weekend?" she asks.
Days happen, then again. The phone rings. "Nolan, Goldfine, and Grumbach," he says.
It rings again. "No," he says.
Again. "Yes," he says.
Ring. "He's off to a meeting. May I take a message?"
Ring. "No," he says.
Click. "Fuck," to himself.
Raymond wishes he had Tourette's.
At night, he coughs. The trucks hauling redwoods down from Oregon shake down the freeway, travelling in the peak of darkness, jiggling the stars, driven by men high on methamphetamine. Van Gogh's world has changed; no more glorious dabs of paint applied like toothpaste in childlike glory, just the thin wash of daytime pouncing the brain into another migraine.
Raymond is a rotisserie chicken, turning around in his bed again and again until his elbows are sore. He lies there imagining he's looking down at the ceiling, falling slowly like bad guys at the end of a movies. The streetlamp outside throws a glint of orange light across the black television screen. It looks like channel 5 is showing the Big Bang.
Raymond dreams with eyes open. The ceiling is a dusty ice-skating rink. Some figure glides by, sequins falling off her dress in a heep of real-life pixels, and though there are enough dots in this universe to make up every face, Raymond only sees one.
Sarah does a fancy move Raymond does not know the name for. He calls it a 'triple twist,' seeing it in slow motion, the way people are said to experience their death.
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