The shape of the man was curious until it became apparent that he wasn’t. He walked past our position without so much as a nod or glance and came to rest at the opposite wall. There would be opportunities to determine the nature of his shape later, but despite our best efforts we were currently somewhat more concerned with our own. His looking at everyone but us drew attention to the fact that he had likely seen us entering unaware and had made some arbitrary spiteful decision to pay no mind. It was not that concerning other than his shape, which was expanding due to his repeated mechanical withdrawing of food from a plastic bag in his hand. There were rules about such things. He may have had a hat, but it was getting dark so it was hard to tell. Everyone else seemed fine.
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He had looked at her lips for the duration of their encounter. She moved them towards him in a manner that suggested his mouth was establishing eye contact with hers, although the idea of mouths having eyes disturbed him to some degree. In hindsight he thought he should have said something like, “I’m sorry, but if I kiss your lips, I don’t know that I’ll be able to stop.” which would probably come off as excessively weird and forward unless he explained the whole mouth-eye piece, which would seem just as strange.
There are courses of events or something like them that determine little more than less. Of course these courses are not always clear to those determining them much less to those traversing. At the thought of being bound by some such externally determined predisposed path there is shaking as no apparent exit is apparent. Absence of motion in the stead of every fiber urging motion yields an occasional view from a gap far too small to use, but eat me, drink me, or something or the other might be in play here or there as panic falls to sleep across a bridge.
Are these star-crossed lovers organ thieves or grinders. Robbers of banks or people. Escaping some destiny laid before one of them who only finds shelter from his or her fate in the arms of the other. A road trip, an odyssey of Ulyssiad proportions. Lost in a forest, in a cabin, near a lake, on a mountain or burial mound as it may happen to be. A cave, an abyss or maybe just a cat, a date, a follower of sorts through rain-slicked nightscapes, down alleys and sewers alike to escape the unknown who may or may not be herding them to some destination of malcontent on the edge of a pier with no escape other than the cold dark sea. More to the one for the other to understand; the decision of course is which would be which and why. Scars in one cerebral in the other. Scars to the cerebral as the cerebral tends to madness and scars, generally anyway, seek quietude. A quest of sorts or not, perhaps some meandering, but that probably won’t be the case as some fantastic has already been introduced. So fantastic quest into a perilous nightscape with one to the other, eventually better, or not, maybe dead, eventually, but with illumination.
A few days had passed with no word from his parents. It was supposed to be a simple skiing trip. He assumed that they were simply out of cell phone range, because anything else would require some measure of action, the nature of which would not be unlike carrying the burden of Atlas. His sister shared his relative ambivalence regarding parent status; she stated what he would not, which was, “They don’t go out of their way to check on us, so why would we check on them?” He was quite relieved at his sibling’s validation, so much so that he didn’t give it another thought until the police called several weeks later.
His father was the adventurous type and had taken his mother rock climbing instead of skiing. They had become stranded on a ledge and based on journal entries had lost their minds and jumped into the gorge below. He was hoping for a more interesting story; something like, “Your father was found to have developed a bear/shark hybrid and it escaped its cage and consumed your parents. We need the keys to your father’s lab immediately to contain this biological threat.” His sister concurred with how unremarkably their parents had perished and jokingly offered to help him with any bear/shark experiments he might be working on.
He tends to roll his sleeves. A long time ago he realized that his arms were a bit longer than average. Even so, he generally lets one roll down and doesn’t bother correcting it until it becomes an impairment. As to what an unbuttoned sleeve could impair is debatable, however he generally allows this asymmetry to occur in times of pleasant dishevelry, and as tasks arise, the act of correcting his shirt mnemonically triggers his work persona.
Most days he was fairly confident of who he was, but about once a month he considered the idea that his head and neck had at one point been replaced with those of someone else. He was still him, but something less or more as well. There wasn’t any good explanation for his imagined transplantation so he simply counted it, along with some other nonsense, as a minor victory against insanity.
There was the dog of course, but that came later. She had big white teeth and translucent skin taut with what I assume was persistent meth use and growing up in Alaska. No last name comes to mind, and I would be loathe to use her first because her smile was large and pained. The invitation was an interview of sorts, one at which I failed miserably due to some degree of madness at the time that I’m unable to quantify as anything other than scattered. I was to take her to the grocery store where she complimented my new watch and uncoincidentally ran into her roommate who was twice as skinny, methed or coked up, and also had large shiny teeth. I don’t remember all that much after that until the dog, although I’m fairly certain that I was simply drunk during their frenzied sprinting around their apartment after scoring something from a guy down the hall. Tacos were involved and some bad television that in retrospect I probably wasn’t consuming the proper substances to appreciate.
I was asleep when her friend dropped off the dog. The barking woke us and she was shocked to find me in her bed, so awkwardness persisted for a few minutes while the dog continued barking in the background. It was probably 4am or so when she went to her roommate’s room and did not return. The room was hot and the dog continued to bark. They were not asleep when I left, but on passing me in the hall they seemed altered and somewhat uninterested. A large guy followed them to their apartment. The roommate ran up and down the hall while the girl struggled with her keys. Eventually the big guy walked in and shut the door behind them.
I ran into her later that week and she had little to no recollection of the evening. The dog had been lost at some point and her friend was irate about it. Her roommate hadn’t come home in a few days either, but that was apparently normal when she was having boyfriend problems. She kept calling me Robert even though that isn’t mine name, and punctuated every sentence by craning her neck down, and then spiraling it up at me with a gape-mouthed astounded smile. I would like to think that she was mocking me in some way that I was unable to understand at the time, but due probably in no small part to my own issues at the time I never really had much contact with her again so can’t say for certain. Sadly, the dog was fished out of the harbor later that week with injuries I will not describe here.
He did not do well outdoors. It wasn’t that elements or allergens had some negative effect on his biology; moreso it was the sound, or lack thereof. Most of the time all he really wanted to hear was the low hum of central air or the high-pitched drone of a computer monitor. He took some solace in the rumble of nearby highways, but on the occasions when there was nothing for him to find, he more often than not ended up bumping into walls and passersby as a way to assert his existence. It was during a particularly unpleasant episode that he stumbled down a somewhat concealed stairwell and into the mouth of a waiting giant squid.