A flash in my mind’s eye focuses on the guitar case secured to Joel’s back. In my moment of blind, panicked emotion I was bamboozled as he escaped with my true prize still safe on his person.
With adrenaline perfectly pumping through all the right things, I so powerfully swing my body in the opposite direction, primed for pursuit, that I wince in determined pain as certain structures within my body are torn…along with the fabric of some of this reality.
I quickly set upon the subway entrance I imagined the thief entering. He is at once lost – along with my vision – and when my eyelids next part I find my environment to be an overly and unnecessarily industrial subway platform, a great cavern cluttered with muddied red wrought iron beams, as though the structures of Donkey Kong were made very real in a world that doesn’t understand the game.
Turning my head in all directions, and seeing clearly, I find that my quarry is nowhere to be seen.
Not a sausage.
I run through the crowd searching for him nonetheless, initiating more violent contact than I should with the innocent bystanders…
However, fearing that time is very much of the essence and it is very much wasted here, I take to the next set of stairs to search further platforms and corridors.
The flights blur and I find myself at a level that is all about forgetting. It is a great grand series of open rooms, like a sunken Grand Central Station combining ticket booths with court rooms, left to the bastard survivors of a cataclysm that never happened, but that some legend has perpetuated a belief in.
Like copper tarnished, rusted, and then burned, the high, blackened green walls of the room constructively crumble into a downpour of noxious powder that falls onto and into the people and objects below, making these poor things the same quality and material as the walls themselves.
Continuing in compositions and quantities beyond comprehension, are spiraling yet orderly lines of permanently depressed men and women that appear on first glance to be statues crudely and unflatteringly carved out of the floor.
The purpose of their inactions is a mystery shared, reaffirmed, and perpetuated by every man, woman and child without any answer forthcoming or desired. Looking closely, there does indeed seem to be some small, slight, physical progress being made, but no one seems too helpful or helped by this process.
Informed by their clothing and sheer number, it may be that this is some abstraction of an Ellis Island, a checking in of new arrivals. However, the unspoken impression forever out of reach on the tip of everyone’s mind is that there is nothing on the other side of that line, but another line…and another line…and eventually one finds themselves, though without the ability to determine their predicament, waiting once more in the original line. The collective depression that blows through these domino caverns like one final, voiding, defeatist sigh leads one to believe everyone recognizes and accepts this fact and that they have not come for any other reason than to wait around to die.
There is this moment…
The sound of human shuffling pauses as everyone takes the same deep breath and gives up, letting it fall from their body, the orphaned air hitting the floor and rolling away, picking up dirt and debris like a wet sock dragged across the linoleum. A second later, nothing. And a second more, a rustle comes from the darkened connecting hallways, as the air has returned with a message, a sudden, short, deafening blast of air that covers these beings in even more filth.
Under such a pile of struggling humanity I spy Groucho Marx…or perhaps it is more accurately Julius…completely humorless and out of character. Dressed plainly…disheveled…unshaven…a green-grey ghost the same as the rest, he yet attempts to comfort those around him with simple, pedestrian, empty words of hope. Even in this state, this predicament, stripped of all his character, he stands out…and though all his attempts are both his means and ends, it is truly good to see him try…