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I have come to believe, in my time on Earth, that all major changes in one's life are mental, not physical. This is to say that they are mental above and beyond all else. The physical aspect comes after. I have also come to believe that these turning points are often readily identifiable. That is, the affected person can sense the coming metamorphosis. These dire personal schisms are often preceded by periods of depression, angst, disassociation, confusion, insomnia, waking dreams, a desire to read books by W.S. Burroughs, random word association, dark circles under the eyes...



My heart rate sped up. My brain waves began to zig-zag. My breathing became shorter, erratic. My nerve-endings began to speak.


I awoke. My eyes opened, then narrowed down to slits. The sunlight was shining strong and bright through the slanted panels of the venetian blinds, which, instead of stopping the assault of light, merely sliced it into neat little sections. These sections then fell through the window and onto my bed, where they recoiled in horror at the drift of crushed-out cigarette butts and gray-black ash. Some time in the night I had apparently kicked my ashtray over onto my quilt. My feet had been spared, but the quilt was going to need a washing.


I slid carefully out from below the soiled sheets and stood up, grimacing as my back popped with a machine-gun sound. I stretched my arms up above my head and placed my palms flat on the low ceiling for a moment or two. That done, I padded into the bathroom in my socks and boxers, and relieved myself.


I turned on the tap. The water sprayed out, clear and cold, a blessing. I cupped a double-palmful and splashed it across my face. The cold was a welcome sensation. During the night and morning a thin, sticky sheen of sweat had coated my skin, and it felt good to wash it away. I plastered my unruly hair back against my scalp and looked at myself in the mirror.


Face too pale. Cheekbones too prominent. Eyes too blue, too stary. Dark circles. An old friend had once described me as looking like 'an angry young rat', and I was never quite certain whether it was a compliment or not. Small bruise under my left eye. Had I been in a fight? I couldn't remember. I turned off the tap and dried my face while the water drip-drip-dripped from the end of the spout. From somewhere far away, a car horn sounded.


Back into the bedroom. My bedroom was small, and had twice been described (once by my landlord) as dingy. I disliked this. It wasn't romantic enough. Decadent was better, but too upbeat. My personal favorite term was retrograde. I live in a retrograde apartment. It sounded snazzy and intelligent, while at the same time belying the fact that my apartment was slowly falling to pieces. It could have been a fashion statement: Today, Hans is wearing a spiffy powder-blue suitjacket and a white button-up shirt that highlights the patches on his Retrograde jeans. Boy does he look hot!


I sat down on the cigarette-free side of my bed and considered for a moment, before putting last night's jeans back on. They could go another day without washing. They could always go another day.
Clean white socks: A wonderful thing. There's nothing in the world quite like clean white cotton socks, fresh-bought, right out of the package and onto the foot. I made note that I was down to my last pair again. Socks deteriorate very quickly when you wear them with boots. Not hiking boots, although they likely do the same, but black leather boots that go up over the calf and subsequently under the jeans. City boots, as a friend of mine once quipped. Boots for walking along miles and miles of cracked and broken sidewalk strewn with glass and grown through with weeds. Boots to live and die in. City boots.
The kitchen leered at me from behind a pile of dirty dishes. The overhead flourescent had gone out over a month ago. I never bothered to replace it. My eyes had begun to adjust to the dimness at some point. I ate my breakfast in the dark: Captain Crunch with milk. I sniffed at the milk, but couldn't smell anything, including milk. Two percent milk is unnerving, when poured over cereal. It looks too thick, as though I had somehow made a mistake, or some flatmate has snuck in and played a practical joke, and it was white paint what splashed across my wheat puffs. This comes from being raised on skim milk, I think.
I did not like Captain Crunch, but the powerful narcotics inserted into each separate puff- you'll notice they're shaped like pillows- were highly addictive, and Collie had got me hooked on the stuff months earlier. It was all he ever seemed to eat. The narcotics damp out the gag reflex, which is the natural reaction to Captain Crunch, and eventually mask the taste by burning away the top layer of the tongue. Heavy Crunch addicts end up with tiny little tongues, like those of lizards: All dark meat, shrivelled up and covered by a clear shell of skin. I made a mental note to keep track of Collie's tongue.
I dumped the latter half of the bowl into my sink, and watched it splash among the unwashed pots and pans. It was time to kick the stuff anyway. Find something less demanding to get hooked on. Wheatabix, maybe.
The phone rang once, then stopped. It had been doing this all week, and I was beginning to suspect electrical fault rather than a crank caller with premature ejaculation problems. Who the hell calls, lets the phone ring once, then hangs up?


Back into the bedroom. Everything that proved I was me lay on the narrow bedside table: keys, wallet, sunglasses, inkpen. The sunglasses and the pen were useless by way of standard identification, but it was bright outside, and you never knew when you might need to write something down. They proved to me that I was me.


Back through the kitchen, down the hall, and up to the elevator doors. I pressed Down and waited. And waited. Halfway through my third wait, the doors creaked open. I stepped inside. In days gone by, the elevator had been one of those attendant-operative jobs, complete with a chair and a man in a silly red outfit. In these same bygone days, a full elevator and all of its' occupants plummeted four floors to their respective deaths when a cable 'accidentally' snapped under their weight. The fact that someone had climbed down the shaft with a steel file and filed the cable two-thirds of the way into oblivion never entered the formal report. The police were too busy to be bothered. In the aftermath of the disaster...people took the stairs, but a number of years later, pressure from disabled rights groups prompted the rebuilding of the elevator, sans operator. What most people didn't know was that the same car that had served as a mass grave for eleven homo sapiens and a man in a funny red suit was later used as scrap when the new and improved death-box was built. Every little bit helps, said the old woman as she pissed into the sea.


I liked to believe that the ghosts of those unfortunate elevator-riders (and operator) are still there, in one form or another, and that when the elevator is empty, they chatter pleasantly with each other and make small talk with the operator as he presses the spectral buttons that take them to whichever floor need.


Which would explain why the elevator is so fucking slow.

------
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.


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Comments

The following comments are for "The Royal Theater - 1"
by Beckett Grey

Whoa!
That was amazing.

I love your descriptions! If this was made itno a movie ever, I thnik Eward Norton would be perfect for the part. It had that 'Fight Club' style cynicism, that he just ~owns~.

It really hard to pick ou just ~one~ thing that I liked about this. Prolly the pen part, as it reminds me so much of myself, I never go anywhere, without a rucksack which has a pad, pen, and reading book in it. Anything else is just in there by accident!

Great job, I'll catch chapter 2, later, k?

--Jasmine

( Posted by: Jasmine [Member] On: July 2, 2002 )

re: Jasmine
Many thanks for your comments! I'll admit, this particular story was influenced by -among a LOT of other things- Fight Club, and yeah, the main character has something of Norton's deadpan humor. It wasn't intentional...but I'm not complaining.

cheers,

-Beckett

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: July 2, 2002 )

thumbs up
I liked that. It was very intresting. Off to read the next chapter.

( Posted by: goldensummer [Member] On: July 9, 2002 )

Freaking great
Wow that was truly awesome. I really love what you did. It was so wonderfully descriptive. It flowed so perfectly.

-Kine

( Posted by: Kine [Member] On: July 11, 2002 )

.
I could identify with the first paragraph quite a bit, I've often felt that way myself.

( Posted by: lucidish [Member] On: July 19, 2002 )


nice

( Posted by: ochimusha [Member] On: December 30, 2003 )





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