A cool draft of air from the outside park trailed down from the broken window glass through to slide betwixt the plumber’s crack of his naked buttocks as he squatted like an animal upon the diadems of ancient once inch tiles. Drub, drub drub, his head bent forward in impotent concentration counting the hollow echoes within the vacant men’s room of the slap of his hand upon his own flesh. His neck was dutifully haltered by a leash extending above his bloated form expertly kept taught to choke him to the requisite amount to produce a constant sense of discomfort. The great amorphous lump of his frame that once had resembled a man occasionally dipping the overstretched pendulum of his scrotum to the sharp bite of a cold subterranean floor. Drub, drub, drub, he continued to tug at that all but hidden flaccid bud that his tight grip could not induce any growth within. The occasional sting of a crop from behind threatening life but somehow still not able to deliver a single drop. His face was tight eyes closed like wet leather fire dried upon the orbs within. Drub, drub, drub, this great concentration like a Medieval ‘head crusher’ squeezing hard both brain and bowels to force out the hint of any feeling within that had to often so freely flowed in youth. His physical entity naught but a hard marble mausoleum housing stacks of bundled memories recalling endless disappointments and wrong paths too often taken. Somewhere, perhaps were a few more remaining strokes of life to spurt forth to remind him now of what being human once was?
The time was passing too slowly for her this morning as she gripped hard on the leather loop that kept that tottering greasy white rib roast of a creature from tumbling forth face first into the detritus clogged drain of one of the age old porcelain convex altars that lined this side of this forlorn shadowy room. The sharp invasive odor of urea invading her nostrils creeping ever slowly up the mucous membrane of her nasal passages like a freshly broken ammonia capsule. She goaded her client skillfully snapping the areas with her riding crop that had generally brought a reliable result to most. But this one was getting exceptionally difficult and the grocery clerk that she sometimes employed for a less reasonable share of the thousand dollar fee that she accrued to perform these less than pleasant but ever lucrative rituals. Though the ankle length black leather overcoat brought some relief from the predawn chill of the dissipating night, the tight grip of the taut under structure of her bustier was beginning to pinch upon the soft fleshy twins that it supported. She didn’t ask for them given all the trouble they seemed to stir up with the opposite sex not to mention everyday life. But their presence seemed to open up doors in terms of jobs like these where one got paid for little effort and a lot of tolerance. Her thighs were feeling icy and the ankles wrenched forth by spiked heels felt as if they soon might give way. She felt the desire to give him one good swift kick to accompany a earnestly spoken, “Hurry up, goddamn it!”. Something that the person at her feet pretending to be merely a thing would not doubt appreciate as part of the act. But, if misapplied at the wrong time might kill the possibility of continued repeat business. Unfortunately for her, business was too good. She stood there occasionally slipping back into character counting out the instants within the seconds of the increment of minutes that had nearly totaled the hour’s half. All that she could do is remind herself that the money was indeed very good?
The little man stood by the side of the car in the drift of dark night to dawn. The streets around the small park had taken on a wet sheen suggesting a brief rain shower but was in fact encouraged by the dissipating coolness of fog. He leaned against a delivery vehicle that like himself was three- quarter the size of its peers. His face being tears and abrasions improperly healed supported from within by a tangle of chaotic life events that like cartilage and bone had congealed awkwardly inside. To see him from afar, one might have thought this ragged Harlequin was a refugee from a long forgotten king’s court. She would pay him to wear this battered costume with its floppy jingle bell studded hat to accompany her ‘guests’ to these unusually abandoned locations. The C-note in cash for a few late night hours once or twice a week worked nicely with his job at the grocer who really didn’t mind his use of the truck. As long, of course, as it was returned by the break of dawn. His ferret-like glance was glued to the dark entrance of the public facility at the end of the broken concrete of the sidewalk. The image of the recurring dream of him as twelve-year-old once again, wandering about in a room of slowly staggering corpses, each transfixed by a horrific injury of war. His older brother’s restless body, the one who had ended up being disemboweled by a gear shift on the Autobahn in Germany conspicuously absent from this dark Valhalla. And he ever relentless to the task of handing out cans of beer from a seemingly inexhaustible six-pack in an effort to gain useful information as to his brother’s whereabouts from these mute lifeless staggering zombies. He could still feel the rough woolen blanket that he had pulled aside in his room when he had awakened to the news that his brother was no longer with them. The sight of the burnished bronze color steel of his brother’s closed military casket before the snap of the bolts of the honor guard a clear counterpoint to his waking existence. He could sense the clock’s rotation with the immanence of the rise of the sun soon once again to dispel this lingering twilight. He didn’t want to end up showing up late once again.
The woman rose from bed her half of the empty more out of habit than the obvious necessity of guaranteeing another meager paycheck. It was long past that point in her long abandoned relationship with an errant husband that she even bothered to glance at the slight depression next to her in the empty bed to fathom his whereabouts. She bundled his laundry into the top loader at the end of every week foregoing the necessity of looking for unfamiliar shades of lipstick or semen stains. At his age and lack of status as someone who might have importance, guaranteed an eventual return that would find him slumped lifeless on the couch catatonic before the frequent fanfares and commercial breaks. Work with it’s gauntlet of shower to makeup to dress before the unforgiving presence of a mirror whose reflection could only promise an all too cogent picture of what once was instantly despoiling what was now left. She still followed the tight protocols of dress with appropriate jewelry and scent that had been her regimen since her boyish chest had finally begun to swell. The transit in-between the poles of banal existence known as office work and cleaning up of a home in the foreign territory of public transportation the only opportunity to gaze into the varied inhabitants of the outside world. Though mostly populated by other age marooned examples of futility like herself there were occasions when an extraordinary young men or women in the flower of their youth world appear like genies to enchant those brief but heartfelt moments of happiness that she had shared once upon a time long ago at a similar age. The accidental brush of a hand upon her knee sending a chill up her spine beneath the accretion of scar tissue that left her outward self seemingly ever unmoved. She lived with her attic trunk bound hopes swearing to herself to one day bring them down to ground level to dust them off and ponder how she might renew some? The threat of the lateness of the hour and the indifferent phantom of a bus trundling by before she could reach the stop egging her on to get cracking with a quick and final click of the lipstick cap.