Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two Men

A man enters another man’s room and sits down. He has not been invited, but he does not appear to be unwelcome. The man whose room it is even nods at the guest, but he does not smile. He is seated in a cushioned brown chair, and his eyes are only barely open. The other man, the guest, points at an empty chair next to the seated man. The seated man nods again, but his face remains impassive. Once the guest has seated himself, he reaches into his pocket. After a few moments, he withdraws a single unbent, pristine flower. He holds the flower perpendicularly to the ground. He shakes it slightly, and then stops so that it is again perpendicular to the floor. After this short ritual he retires the flower, stuffing it back into his pocket. He turns his head so that he is now looking at the man whose room it is. Both his eyes close, and as they do his grayish tongue begins to poke slowly out of his mouth. The other man, the man whose room it is, turns his head towards the man. He is offended, but only slightly. He closes his nearly shut eyes, but he does not stick out his tongue. He turns away from his guest and sinks more deeply into his seat. The other man, feeling rebuffed, recoils his tongue and turns away from the man. He too sinks into his chair. Neither has their eyes open, but neither is asleep. Some time passes. Then the guest stands up. He walks over to the host and grabs him by the chin. He shakes the seated man’s head jerkily from side to side. He stares hard down at him. The host’s face is unflinching; it is totally unresponsive. The guest lets go of the man. He stands above him, shaking slightly. He lets out a faint grown, and then turns towards the door.

Standing at the door, the guest turns and once more looks at the seated man. “And tomorrow,” he whispers. The host, without opening his eyes, whispers, “Of course.” The other man turns the door’s handle and disappears from the room.

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