by J.R.

People always try to fall asleep when a story starts, and I am not any different. I don’t think details such as “the middle of the week” and “the middle of the day” repudiate my being so much like everyone else—I was simply not ready from the moment I digested breakfast to do anything other than lay down and try to dissolve myself between the sheets, the mattress, and a few images I’d’ve sold off in a few mid-grade novels if just to get them “away from here”. I say story and what I mean is time, or whatever bakes us together into specific directional coordination; you think I’m joking, but what else would a dissolute consciousness be as it extends into the sheet than the opposite of a ‘stack’, where one by one by one instead of leaving I, you, we grow up to be something.

I must say I had the perfect opportunity to do all this nothing I wanted to do. I had a new plant aside my window, and it was freshly potted and really reaching each of its pinnate stems into all the sunshine, which, diffused throughout my bedroom, stretched the plant in so many directions that it almost resembled a sphere. Moreover, I was invested in this curry leaf plant because I had nearly suffocated it to death earlier that week when I turned the air conditioner on high, so that now I made sure to place it outside each morning. Since it was brittle and the wind on the sixth floor could be rather blustery, I would lay in bed and watch over it and sometimes move it back inside which required I lift it gingerly back over the cable wire that ran a diagonal at the base of my window down through the center of my fire escape. What really lulled me in was the blue sky, the bricks across the street, the one cloud that brought all the wind and that if I just stayed in bed I could cloak myself in all this, and especially this plant, whose growth also meant I could season my eggs rather esoterically for the next girl I brought home.

So, I am in bed, I slept all night and I am in bed at noon. My shades are not drawn. My bed is not too crumby or cummy, and I am trying to go right back to being away. And the only thing that could stop me, the ‘bad conscience’ that grows like bacteria in a bowl of rotten meat around unproductive behavior was utterly missing in that here and now where they all fucking tell us to find and fasten to short shadows.  I digress only to emphasize the heroism of my laziness, that it took a heroic nonchalance to be so inert and useless. But I didn’t see it like that. I had to make up a less abstract lie: I am caring for my plant. The less I existed, the fuller would stretch my plant’s withered leaves.

When the first jarring clank came through the wall followed by the next one, I immediately knew it would not stop because some squirrely long-haired Dominicans were renovating the apartment next door. Still, that it would not stop did not stop me from imagining I could still stop everything by dissolving. I was angry and had no reason to be. It’s just that the banging was basically coming from inside my apartment. It was such an intimate series of bangs, and even when it seemed the Dominicans were being gentle, just hammering a nail into damp wood, it was far too loud to not be irritating. And it kept coming toward me until its proximity started to make me feel like it was rattling deep inside my organs; no “I was not making the sound myself” though its repeated permanence combined with my refusal to move certainly made me complicit.

I don’t know how to explain what door of reality opened up and ushered in all that transpired; stupidly, though this was the third day in a row, and though I had left my apartment each of those days at this time, I refused to move, and I blame the plant, whose full leaves did not hear one of those bangs, still enjoying the gentle breeze and its riven grip on the fresh soil. Really though the plant was not unique, I could have found any reason to sit around wishing to sleep. Could’ve watched a Television show.

I am not sure when the power saw turned on, though it did not prevent someone else from continuing to hammer. For one moment, I only heard the power saw, and its variegated consistent texture without any sudden pops or shrill pitches made me thankful for a second that this uninvited orchestra had come to me now, and I was optimistic that I could turn it all in my favor.  But there can never be too many nails in a board, and the saw was probably just multiplying the prospective targets. And I started to dislike both sounds as soon as it was clear they were ensemble. I had a window and a plant and a bed and all I could think about was the hellish noise, and it was made worse by the fact that I couldn’t even concentrate on it entirely, so much so that I continually imagined, between the gap of each blow, that time had extended beyond the few second interval it took for another hammering and that  the construction crew had already departed. I imagined this every couple seconds.

They never departed. The last thing I remember before they took my ears and severed all my bones was that awful silence when their tools finally broke all the way through the beams and plaster into the space of my room. What made it worse was that I had wanted this. I had thought: “If I can’t reach nothingness peacefully, well let all the clatter break down my walls and devour me, whichever way I get there, I don’t care.” I said it filled with the sass of an old gay dialectician. But in your dreams your dreams come true. And I refused to account for the noise.

The buzz chain saw hammer null that came over me then with its constituent blood and bone dust did not worry my plant, deaf and sun-soaked where I belong.

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