Bushy, gray hair swimming with the flow, the stomach is big and it pushes the table away from the large blob. The hair curls in endless spirals and it hangs inelegantly from the large head. This man appears to be that freaky clown who always scared me so much when I was young. I inherit that fear more powerfully now, feeling fragile as an even smaller child without any person here to protect me. A purple scarf is draped perfectly in the middle of the back of the adjacent chair, perpendicular to the floor, and on top of an unblemished, bright white down parka which seems to be an intimidating hospital coat. She would be head of surgery, but she is too old and her hands shake violently while her head shakes in a contrary rhythm. Catsup appears in beautifully arranged blobs, a scene from the modern art museum with some of the catsup on a thin, sad-looking hamburger.
Across from the doctor and the clown sits a professor with perfectly manicured gray hair and sculpted beard, with slick, brown coat that looks as though it could be a door mat – It is strong with thick threads so it would be capable, but it is handsome, nonetheless. He acts as though he is possessing the attractive, middle-aged woman who stops to feed him fries before she sits next to him. Though not at all likely, she appears to be pregnant. The swollen tire overwhelms her large breasts in a way that brings on a tinge of sorrow. As soon as she sits, as if she is continuing a conversation, she begins to explain the temperature thresholds which determine whether or not the children go outside during recess. She draws out the fact that these temperatures are variable depending upon where the school is situated, Kansas being 20, Iowa being 10, and South Dakota being minus-20, and one jumps to the fact that these must be union rules which are made to deal with the unfit American parents who believe children cannot withstand the world. Perhaps parents do not buy hats and gloves in today’s age, and one wonders what this might be doing to the imperceptible progress of evolution, thinking of the challenge if the power went out tonight for several days in a row and whether or not the adults could survive the ordeal without Holiday Inn.
The conversation is louder and louder, and the clown’s hair bounces while the doctor’s coat seems to be dancing with the hair in time. Catsup gets wiped in a way that ruins the modern art and makes the table look to be a catastrophe made by preschoolers. Professor glances in furtive ways, as if teasing, as if showing that his wit is far superior. No one understands him, and he is so brilliant, so handsome, so perfect. The clown cackles hard, really hard, and the elementary school teacher seems to bark and she stares at the doctor’s coat in a way that appears to demonstrate fear of some sort of impending violence. The room is getting colder and the telephone is going and going. There are other noises that are persistent. The cacophony is rising in my head. It seems that these sounds, persistent and unrelenting are intent on driving me to a place from where I cannot return.
Hundreds seem to be working here but the phone keeps ringing and ringing, and there is something that makes it seem that it is targeting me, intended to drive me over the edge into a semi-conscious state which allows my mind to go to gray with rusty belts and molded cheese. I keep going back to my book, one of my favorite books of all time. It is a short book. I am a third of the way through with this particular reading, and I love the book so much that I want to memorize all of the key words and the magical phrases, but I cannot even concentrate long enough to understand the words much less enjoy the magic. I read one paragraph five times, and the words become so foreign, they are more disjointed than the catsup on the table. I try to look out the window to the fucked-up city outside to allow all of the cars and the crazy people to lull me into a peace that would allow concentration, but the window is blocked with these posters with food dishes that are thousands of times their actual size. I cannot choose any angle to get a view that helps me to be calm and the colors of the posters are obnoxiously intrusive. The posters might force me to hide under the table if it were not for the fact that I am worried about what other people think.
I have eaten my lunch and my hour is ending so quickly. I have made no progress on my book. I want to drive West for a long time, find a quiet place with blowing snow and sit on my hood and read my book until I feel as though I am fulfilling my mission, until I feel as though there is some reason that I woke up today. Instead, I go back to my dreaded workplace, as a loser, with no sense of purpose, feeling the anger of all of the sounds and all of the drivers to be encountered, having only remembered one line from that favorite book of mine, “…the laughter oozed from their mouths like pus from open wounds.” The pus from the clown, the doctor, the professor and the teacher hangs on my mind and rots my soul.