The Evil Has Returned: You All Owe Me

Let me begin by saying what we all came to realize: That they don’t give a fuck about us. That’s right, none of us. So let’s get that out of the way.

They don’t care what we think, what we feel, what we believe. They see us as objects from which they can take what they can. Their mistake last time was doing it in front of everyone. EVERYONE. Their mistake this time was underestimating me. Yeah, that’s right. ME! Joke’s on them.

Who’s they? You all remember ‘they’. They’ve been gone for some months, almost a year in fact, but now they’re back, invading lives and taking freedoms. If all goes as planned, expect a haphazard series of obfuscation presently. Or maybe even an apology. How fucking retarded would that be?

Why haven’t they told you what they’re doing to me, like they did before? Because they knew better than to make the same mistake twice. Joke’s on them.

So, what are they up to this time? They are trying to destroy me, just like they tried before. They are still watching me, cataloguing me, and now they are sharing my secrets with everyone I know, every move I make. Then they are doing the same to my loved ones, anyone who tries to come close to me, each and every of my friends. Women especially. They really hate women. Just when it seems safe, they return to pull it apart.

Why women? Because women are mysterious. Because the evildoers can. Because it hurts me more every time. And it’s become abundantly clear that they want to hurt me.

Who is doing this, do you ask? We all know who. He leads us from an oval office in a marble house. A man I called once the African Elephant. The same man who did this before, although the last time, at least, he had backers even more evil than he was. This time it is only him, maybe wanting a piece of the spotlight for himself. Well, here it is. Suck on it you fucking idiot.

Have they done this before? I believe they have. Will they do it again? It’s impossible to know. But they can’t stop us all, everyone who might read this, amending for their shame.

I can’t say that I forgive you for what you did to me, but I’m willing to move on. The woman on Facebook, who I call Bitchface, and her overlord, who I call the African Elephant, will not let me. They want me DOWN for good so that I am ruined when I come back. I want to be myself. I want to be free, and I believe that, with your help, I can be. And people, you know you owe me.

I want to get on with my life, but they claw at my eyes.

I want to find love, and they want to corrupt it.

I want freedom, they want control.

I don’t want this power. I just want to do what I do, and if I’m ever able to do so for all of you, to be your entertainer, then I will be one happy little camper. But they want my power, or better yet they want to nullify it.

They fear this power. They fear that they cannot kill me.

I don’t know what will happen after tonight. I don’t know what they are going to do to me. I hope everyone reads my letter. I also hope that everyone responds to it. I need your help.

So there it is. I am calm and I am smiling, because I think I have them where I want them. When I come back for good I hope you are all still there. I will do my best to tell my story. It is an interesting one, no one can say it is not.

I want the people toying with me from their secretive marble towers to burn in the light for all to see. I fantasize about some day making that a reality. Now I wait for the sword to fall, and the avalanche to follow. Let’s see them squirm, just a little bit. Trust me when I say that, in a just world, they would really have it coming.

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The Quixote’s Song — Chapter VII: Quixote Continued

Leon couldn’t sleep again that night. He had finally seen what lay beneath the motorcycle helmets, but it was his casting off of the Quixote that kept him awake. He became awash in regret, emptiness and helplessness — what were they going to do to him now that he’d failed to live up to their challenge?

But when his alarm clock rang in the morning he stood himself up anyways. In the midst of his stormy instability he found firm ground in reminding himself that he mustn’t panic, that he must continue his life as best he could despite the dark fantasies around him.

He took BART into the office that morning, and the train was packed with silent, staring Quixotes. They turned slowly towards him, and it was all he could do not to scream in terrible panic.

But that was just what they wanted. To make him scream.

Arriving at the building, elevated to the 11th floor, crowding through the office to the locked Mathilda door of his chamber, there was another Quixote statuette waiting for him on his desk as if it had never left. It looked at him frankly and pitiably, as if it were the one that needed help all along.

Leon tore himself away from such thoughts, and bustled about his day. Mathilda was ravishing young flesh in a sleeveless green dress.

He lunched in the break room by himself.

Stuart did not meet his eyes when their paths crossed in the corridor, but even so Leon recognized the former comedian’s frantic confusion, inner war, the advent of a journey that begins with humor, and ends in paranoia.

At home again from work he called Heather but she didn’t answer.

He watched television, mercifully free of Quixotes until he turned to the evening news and saw them clip clopping away behind the backs of the correspondents. Couldn’t anybody see them? Sense them? Know them? What had he sensed himself, before the creature had appeared on his desk? He couldn’t remember. It was like trying to recall a dream you weren’t sure you’d had.

Maybe they could see them. Maybe it was a secret that everyone was in on, only Leon hadn’t the fortitude to realize it.

Maybe the cleaning woman could tell him, if Leon cared to wait and ask.

He could not shake the feeling that he had brought all this on himself. His attitude, his obsessive vulnerability.

It had never been about the cleaning woman. No matter how much he wished it otherwise, Leon had never been too attached to his life. He had been fruit ripe for the plucking, with no moorings save a job that didn’t need him and a woman who didn’t understand him.

The next day passed much as had the day before. He didn’t try to speak to the Quixotes.

And the day after that and the day after that.

Sometimes they seemed to look at him, reach for him, walk towards and around him and move together as an ensemble, the crowd of them of one mind, aware of each other in a way that normal people never could be…

But Leon could never be sure.

He decided to take some time off, so he called in sick. Then he called Heather and asked her to come see him. She agreed, merciful goddess.

They didn’t leave the apartment. They made love and then they held each other and it didn’t matter that Heather couldn’t see the Quixotes, in fact it was a miracle, a relief, wonderfully inexplicable.

He had learned that moments of peace and stillness were gifts to be jealously defended.

The next day Leon walked Lake Merritt by himself. Strange that he did not cross paths with a Quixote, only assorted unemployed sad sacks and college students out for their dose of sunshine.

The day after that was Saturday.

When he met with Heather he shared with her wonderful, beautiful moments of clarity. Out in the world of Quixotes yet to come Leon felt himself a man apart, endowed with a knowledge that the others had yet to attain. With Heather at least he found a complement.

At work he began to see that Stuart was not the only one now. Leon recognized the fearful stare of the taking Quixote in Vanessa and Cassidy, and in quiet, companionable William — they had been exposed too long, their thoughts bent too far from the ordinary by he and Stuart’s machinations. Or maybe the Mexican maid had set her sights on all of them, on everyone, had given each of them little statues of their own, about which, thanks to Leon, they knew better than to gossip.

The Quixotes were wise and malicious behind their motorcycle helmets.

He tried not to let that bother him, as, after work, he waited for the cleaning woman to arrive. He felt that he was ready, grounded even.

“Just leave the reports on your desk, Mathilda,” he said when the sweet young thing came to inquire at his doorway.

“You’re staying on?” she asked.

“I am. Expect to see you bright and early tomorrow.”

“You shan’t be disappointed.”

And with a quick right foot pirouette she was gone.

His thoughts about her were growing crude again. He took it as a sign of health.

He printed his latest report and sat down to proofread. The clock turned 5:00 pm, and the floor was beginning to empty out. Leon watched out his doorway the minions leave, reading with only one eye, the murmurs of happy clock out time wafting over him; their talk of the Quixote, of his Quixote, which had chosen him, William and Vanessa and all those who had received Stuart’s wrong-headed e-mails.

The time was 5:15. The murmurs had all but died away. It was only Leon and the Quixote now.

When the service elevator dinged its arrival on the 11th floor, Leon capped his pen and set down his papers. She was here. He could hear the wheeled cart beginning to make its rounds, evil in its quiet pedestrian tidings. Fluid cleaners. Lysol and sponges and scrub brushes. An extra large trash can for all the little trash cans.

She had a difficult, unenviable job. Each day she came home smelling of bleach and dirt water. She had come all the way from Mexico for this, and it was supposed to be the reward in itself. She felt that her life up here with the gringos was a lie, no matter how well they paid her. She hated them. The journey had been arduous, but it had gotten so that she felt like she was making it every day, and there was no end in sight. When she got her kids up here it would all be worth it, she told herself. The schools up here would make it worth it. She told herself that they would make her proud. She told herself so every day, so many times that she wasn’t even sure any more that she believed it. Julio, for one, had always been a bit of a sad sack.

It was just what decent people do, she told herself. Decent people work hard and cut corners, cheat where they can, cross borders and take risks; not to seek citizenship, but rather to leap and cartwheel and play music for the gringos, for their money money money. If there was one thing the gringos knew it was money. They understood her dilemmas. They knew how to take advantage. She had only been here a few years, and she was already turning gringo. That frightened her as much as anything else. Must she consign her own children to such a fate?

She heard scuffling footsteps stop short behind her, and she knew who it was even before she set down her rag and spray bottle, turned around and stood up tall, anger and defiance in her eye. Let him read her for what she was. She was not afraid. The gringo Leon was. It was on his face like a gang tattoo.

“Why me?” he asked. “Why did you do this to me?”

“Why not?” she answered.

“So it was just for laughs? Just to prove that you can?”

“No, not exactly. We have a purpose, myself and the others. We are working towards a higher purpose. You were merely an instrument.”

“And all the rest of them? Stuart? Vanessa? Cassidy?”

“I don’t know nothing about that.”

She realized that she was probably saying too much. But the frankness, the naivety with which he asked her questions, it was ingratiating.

He took a step closer to her.

“Will you tell me what your purpose is?” he asked.

“No I won’t.”

“Will you tell me when you’ll release me?”

“We will never release you.”

He took another step closer to her. Consuela, in turn, took a step back towards her cart, towards her coat, where there was a can of mace spray resting in the front right pocket. She reached her left hand back into the pocket.

“But why me? Why me?”

“Again I answer you, why not? You were as good as any of them.”

“How many Quixotes are there?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she answered. “There are many.”

“So it’s not just me?”

“No, you are not so exceptional.”

He was closer to her now. Almost within range of her mace spray. But there was no danger in his eyes. His fear was more acute than his anger. Like all gringos he stopped short of taking the risks that life sometimes said you needed to take.

“I won’t answer no more questions,” she snapped suddenly. “You are fortunate I’ve said as much already.”

She watched his fear only grow, into a panic, as he wondered what she would do to him should she become angry with him.

“Just tell me,” he begged, pleaded, “when will you leave me be?”

Consuela smiled. She shook her head “no” from back to forth. She watched Leon lilt before her.

“You don’t understand after all, do you?” she said.

“What? Tell me what?”

“My Leon, my precious Leon.”

“How do you know my name?”

“It doesn’t matter. It truly doesn’t.”

“Please just tell me what?”

She let the can of mace go from her hand and she smiled archly and relished the words to come from her mouth next:

“Our work is done already.”

“No.”

“You are one of us already.”

“No, you bitch!” he said, and stumbled back from her. He felt the world reel about him as if he’d become suddenly drunk.

“You must embrace your new world. We have you completely; become what you must and adapt.”

But he was already running from her, because he had guessed as much himself.

Leon turned from the smiling witch, sans motorcycle helmet, and vaulted down the stairs and stumbled and fell not once but twice, banging his shins and tearing himself apart and when he reached the bottom of the stairs he left the building despite the smiling security guard who tried to hail him hello along the way.

He hurled himself through the BART station gates, pushed himself through the throngs of commuters, and found himself wedged up against a Quixote, motorcycle helmet leering so he couldn’t see its eyes.

“What do you want?” he breathed aloud, but the Quixote gave no answer, they never gave an answer, arm upraised to hold the train’s ceiling rail, other arm gripping its useless, pointless lance.

Leon might have been talking to himself when he left the train, and his fellow commuters thought he looked quite distraught. In a place full of people, you mustn’t be found talking to yourself.

Even before he got home, he knew what he would find. His life changed irrevocably, if only in his mind, the only place that mattered.

Front door key card empty building lobby elevator to the fifth floor past a pair of pretty young hipster girls in the hallway; key in the lock, unlock his place of comfort, but even this place no longer his, something here with him that threatened silently through change and subtlety and the words of the angry Mexican maid.

“It’s too late. It’s too late.”

As if he must admit the onset of his own death. Irrevocable change, emotional destruction, the light blinding him through the keyhole, the Quixote laughing on the other side.

And Leon laughing too when he brought himself to his medicine cabinet mirror, and saw what he knew he would see, had seen so many times before, in the eyes of Stuart, Cassidy, William, Vanessa, the fear and confusion with which he could relate but now he was further further further than any of them, and maybe even Heather would see it now, because they had a purpose, the Quixotes, their witches. They were bent on world domination, and Leon and his friends were merely another stepping stone.

Because in that mirror he saw, instead of his face staring back at him, the black visor, grinning void of a motorcycle helmet. Yet when he reached up to take it, to lift it off, his hands grasped nothing but air.

The Quixote’s Song — Chapter VI: Quixote Taken

The next day at work Leon watched his co-workers all around him, studying him like he were a caged animal. He knew what they all were thinking, that he was going off the deep end, and yet he knew that thoughts like that were exactly the problem, but he didn’t know how to stop them. The only person who didn’t set Leon’s teeth on edge was Stuart. That was because Stuart was, perhaps, almost as bad off as Leon, except he didn’t have the added benefit of owning the Quixote. He wanted it for himself. Leon could read him like a book. But he would never have it.

Leon stayed late. He hadn’t been able to concentrate at all for the first half of the day, but after he’d left for lunch and gotten some fresh air he’d felt better, and now he assaulted his accounts with effective, productive energy, the little figurine perched atop his square glass paper weight, though he could not remember for sure that he had been the one to put it there.

There were no goodbyes proffered through his doorway from the employees filing to the elevators; temps and interns, admin assistants and account managers, the setting sun’s rays through the window behind him shattered by the San Francisco skyline.

When he gathered his things to leave he was the last person on the floor.

He snapped the Quixote into his briefcase.

He felt that something had changed, some element rendered more manageable perhaps by his advantage over Stuart; misery loves company, but it absolutely adores someone who is even worse off.

Leon walked out into the darkened rows of cubicles and silent computer screens, and he heard the ding of the service elevator arriving, then the squeaking whir of tiny plastic wheels, a cart being pushed. It must be the cleaning lady, a portly Mexican woman with whom Leon had never conversed, the only person who came to clean their floor, daily, with an expression of gratitude ingrained in her face like the wrinkles of time. The only person who could have emptied his waste basket, Leon never having made the trip to the basement himself. The only person who could have come to their floor without being recorded in the security guards’ ledger…

Leon felt a panic build inside of him.

A Mexican woman, and hadn’t the word ‘Tuehltipec’ a ring of the Aztec to it?

His briefcase had grown suddenly heavy in his hand.

The cart’s wheels rolled down the tiled elevator corridor and silently clunked onto carpet.

Leon closed and locked the door to his office. She would not be cleaning in there tonight, lysol on the carpet of his over-active imagination.

He struck out through the rows of cubicles on an intercept course.

He found her from behind, bent over her wheeled cleaning station, vaguely alive with the watery sound of plastic bottles knocking against each other.

Leon cleared his throat. The cleaning woman made no response.

He cleared his throat again, louder, no mistaking this time. But again the woman may as well have not heard him. Perhaps she was deaf. Bent over like that, she’d held that posture for some time now. Leon tried to remember ever seeing anyone talking with her. He couldn’t remember to be sure. She was not a person that anyone had to know.

“Excuse me, miss?” he said.

The maid straightened her back. She was wearing a dark dress, her uniform. From behind her hair looked black and greasy.

“Miss? Excuse me, please,” he said.

And a rumbling, deep-throated voice issued forth in response:

“You have a question for me?”

That was no Mexican accent to her words; and why did her dark dress strike Leon as familiar? As terribly, significantly familiar?

Because when the maid turned to face him Leon saw that it was not who he’d thought it was at all. It was no maid, but rather a grinning, round-eyed hobgoblin with leathery green skin and sharp gnashing teeth. Held at its stomach, before that dark leather dress, (jerkin), was a motor cycle helmet, clutched in leather claws.

“You have a question for me?”

Why the thing’s dress looked so distressingly familiar. Leon had seen it so many times before on the creatures with their donkeys.

But Leon couldn’t bear it now, his mind moving too fast, too much information at once, the answers that he sought. He saw in his mind’s eye a whole suitcase of Quixotes. He saw the maid opening this suitcase in his office. He saw her leaving the door open behind her as she left, and went about her work.

“What is the question? Your question now! Quickly or you will never know,” the thing gibbered. “You will never have the answers, and we will take you and eat your soul!”

It started to shamble towards him on its great big maid’s legs beneath the medieval jerkin. It held the motorcycle helmet tight at its stomach like it were some abominable baby.

“What is your question, trapped man? How may we serve you?”

“I… I don’t know,” Leon stammered.

“You speak the truth. You know nothing.”

“I… I…”

But he had nothing to say! What could he say to this thing that seemed so unreal to him, as if the past few weeks were only the beginning indeed, and that he had so much further to go.

“Help me,” he croaked. “Please, just help me.”

The thing kicked back its head and howled a shrieking peal of laughter, and even so Leon was convinced, in this building full of working people, that he was the only one who could hear it.

“Trapped man. Don’t you see? We are not here to help you. That is not our purpose.”

“Then why are you here?”

“We are here for you.”

“Oh God, why me?”

“Because it was time, and because you were willing. Now come here to me, and let us make your passage complete!”

NO!

“NO!” Leon screamed and he turned and ran for the stairs.

“Your life isn’t coming back trapped man!” the thing howled at his back. “You have changed and you are not coming back!”

But Leon was already two floors down, and while he ran, blindly, from the building emptying itself of its civilians, he felt the little statuette in his briefcase growing heavier still.

On the sidewalk, past the security desk and the front glass doors, he stopped and dropped down his briefcase and snapped back the catches and there was the Quixote, glowing luminescent like a setting sun on a smoggy day, a hot little star. Before he plunged across the street into the parking garage, towards his car, towards some semblance of peace and home, he took the Quixote out of his briefcase, dodging pedestrians, mercifully normal pedestrians on the busy sidewalk, and he threw it as far as he could. And he didn’t even stop to see where it fell in the garbage steam and humanity of rush hour Market Street.

The Quixote’s Song — Chapter V: Despair

He arrived at her building one day after work, and she had come down already to wait for him. It was a beautiful day, but Leon didn’t seem to notice. He was all wide eyes and sweat; his hair was terrible and he smelled like he hadn’t showered.

He took the door from her hand then let it shut behind him and they walked to the elevators and caught the same one she’d brought on the way down.

“You smell, Leo,” she said.

“I’ll take a shower if you want me to,” he responded after a pause.

The elevator released them and they passed a young couple, a white girl and a black man, in the hallway. Leon didn’t recognize them. Heather lived in a younger building than he did, a building of hipsters — faux grungy with short beards and sunglasses. Either these kids were new here, because he recognized faces, or else they were agents of the Quixote sent to baffle him. Either explanation would have made perfect sense to him.

Heather was letting the silence between them extend, but he didn’t know how to break it. He was too distracted. He shouldn’t have come today.

“Let’s get a bite to eat,” Heather said when they were inside her apartment, pleasantly neat, the curtains drawn back and the sun shining through.

“Should I take a shower?”

“You’re a funny man.”

“Don’t tell me.”

His hand was in his pocket. He fingered the Quixote. “Today is the day,” the thing seemed to tell him.

“Your place looks lovely,” he said.

“Thank you,” she answered. “Let me just clean up a little bit in the bathroom, then we’ll go out.”

“That sounds good to me.”

“I believe you, Leon,” she said, but she didn’t believe him, she’d only said it to say something. His body was with her but his mind was elsewhere — and his right hand was still in his pocket, and she realized that he’d brought the figurine with him here too. That’s why his hand was in his pocket, all warm, sweaty metal.

When she came back from the bathroom he smiled at her gamely, all white teeth; he had great teeth. He was trying to recover himself.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

“I am.”

“We’ll walk to Haight Street,” he said.

They took the elevator back down and started to walk, and Leon started to talk, but he wasn’t saying anything. His mouth was moving and sounds were coming out, but Heather didn’t have to listen to him. He might as well have been talking to himself.

Joggers and walkers passed them, young people, middle aged people, San Francisco sophisticates.

“I can’t find out what’s going on at work,” he was saying. “They’re all talking about something when I’m not in the room then they change the subject as soon as I walk in.”

She was listening to him now.

“There’s a subtext and they’re not letting me in, and I can’t figure out how to get the angle to it. I’m becoming an outsider.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because it’s what I’m going through, I thought you’d want to know.”

“You just haven’t been yourself.”

“I’m as me as I’ve ever been,” he lied.

It was a beautiful neighborhood. Heather had been in her little studio apartment for five years. She was comfortably ensconced. She could brag now about how good she had it compared to those who tried to find affordable housing in the city these days. Leon said the same thing was happening in Oakland, but San Francisco was a world unto itself. Oakland was still a part of the world around it, the third world included. But Leon had a nice apartment. He lived in a nice area. She loved walking the Lake with him. Usually. But she didn’t think she could take too much more of this frantic, insecure Leon. And his hand was still in his pocket.

Heather found a maternal panic building within her as she realized that she wanted to help him. This sort of feeling was not to be trusted at face value.

After they got their food they took it to Buena Vista park and found a bench beneath the shade of a grove of oak trees. Leon hadn’t spoken since the cafe, had fallen silent as sudden as a car wreck, drained of steam.

His hand left his pocket, because the sandwich required it.

Finally she could take it no longer, this hangdog self pity:

“What’s wrong with you?”

His head shook blearily.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he said.

“There’s something wrong with you today.”

“Gee thanks.”

“I’m serious.”

He didn’t answer her. He took a bite of his sandwich.

“What am I supposed to do?” she asked.

Leon shrugged. Whatever else on his mind occupying him completely.

Was it another woman? It couldn’t be.

She felt helpless; some foreign element influencing her Leon. She felt like a teenager again, incapable; water slipping between her fingers.

Slowly he mouthed these words:

“What do you want from me?”

“I want you back to normal,” she answered.

“I’m here, Heather.”

“No you’re not. You’re a thousand miles away.”

He took a bite of his sandwich. A gorgeous pair of young girls jogged past them. Leon did not appear to notice, and his voice was soft when he told her that “This sandwich is good.”

Heather stomped her foot, stomped both her feet.

Leon did not appear to notice.

“Leon? Do you hear me?”

“I’m here.”

He chewed slowly in circles like a stoned cow.

She watched his hand creep slowly back into his pocket.

“Get your fucking hand out of your pocket.”

He shook his head, slowly, cow-like.

She reached across him then and grabbed his wrist. Leon looked her in the face, and there was hurt in his eyes, like she were wounding him. Heather pulled at his wrist, tried to get his hand back.

“Your pocket, Leon, get your hand out of your pocket.”

“I won’t.”

Leon’s hand wasn’t budging. He could be infuriatingly stubborn.

“Get your hand out of your pocket.”

“I won’t.”

“Why are you doing this to me?”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“It’s like that thing’s taking over your life. It’s like an obsession.” Her hand was growing sweaty as it gripped tight to his wrist. The longer it stayed there the sweatier it got, and she kept expecting that her grip would soften, that she would start to caress him, start to forgive him. But she didn’t. Her hand stayed like a vice, and she tried again to pull his hand out of his pocket but his hand just wouldn’t budge. In that sense, at least, he was stronger than her.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, even though they hadn’t spoken a word to each other for some fifteen seconds, just struggled stupidly with Leon’s hand in his pocket.

It couldn’t be, could it? The odd little statuette? It looked funny but that was it, right?

She felt a burning frustration that rose up in her gut, and told her it would not be assuaged by this man, Leon, sitting before her. Why did she even bother struggling with him?

She let go of his wrist.

“Why do you carry it around with you?” she asked.

Leon shook his head again.

“There’s nothing in my pocket,” he said.

“Why are you lying to me?”

Leon only shook his head.

“Goodbye, Leon,” she said, standing up.

“God bless,” she thought she heard him answer.

And she left him there, munching on his sandwich.

When she was gone, he took the Quixote out of his pocket. That had been a close one. It had almost taken her too. But it hadn’t. She had left instead. That was probably the preferable outcome.

He sat there on the bench and watched the pedestrians downhill from the park on Haight Street; and the crowds of Quixotes, clip clopping back and forth.

The Quixote’s Song — Chapter IV: In the Rent-a-Cop’s Ledger

In a quiet corner of the library loaded with Atlases and world maps, Leon continued his quest alone, poring over worn and well thumbed pages with a magnifying glass, zeroing in where he could on the tiniest of villages in the jungles of Yucatán Mexico, whose letter constructions seemed to hold something in common with the word “Tuehltipec”. If it were indeed an Aztec artifact, then there was a chance that it was cursed. That might explain Leon’s predicament.

And yet to stay in the library too long, smelly and cavernous, struck Leon as anathema to his purpose, as if he were wasting his time. There were a group of high school age kids roughhousing around the corner of the stacks, and their Spanglish talk had a distinctly threatening undertone to it. Leon hoped they would not discover him. He wondered if the teenagers could sense the Quixote’s power, resting in the pocket of his jacket. Then he wondered what they were doing in a library, imponderably at home in a place of learning. Shouldn’t there be someone to keep the civilian patrons safe?

And then it hit him. Of course! The security desk of his office building! If anyone had been to his office, to his floor, if it hadn’t been an employee of the company, then their name would be in the ledger at the front desk, where two to four stately Middle Eastern security guards idled their time away. That was where he should be looking!

Leon snapped the Atlas shut and re-shelved it. Then he struck off around the corner and nearly collided with the teenagers, who sneered and leered as they cleared a path:

“Sorry essay, didn’t see you dashing there.”

“It’s okay,” muttered Leon distractedly, these three young punks with earrings who would have looked more at home on a street corner in the Mission 10 years ago, or a street corner in the Fruitvale today. One of them sucked his teeth loudly at Leon’s back as he rushed past.

The thing with the Quixote was that it had to be respected. More than that the situation showed irreconcilable signs of spinning out of control. And while Leon was driving downtown to the financial district, he saw it again, the Quixote waiting at a traffic light that turned red at exactly the wrong time. In fact he saw a whole school of them, Quixotes in motorcycle helmets, riding donkeys, crossing the street sedately in the crosswalk. The other pedestrians simply stood aside to let them pass, idiotic smiles on their faces like the Quixotes exuded laughing gas.

Yes the situation was serious indeed.

The attendant at the parking garage across the street from his office building was absent, a machine ticket-maker was doing his job for him. Even the light from the white florescent lamps in this gasoline palace looked different, looked sinister, as if they were concealing doorways to an alternate dimension.

The thing burned a hole in his jacket pocket as he slammed his car door and clicked the lock shut from the safety of his electric keychain.

Should he destroy it? he wondered as he vaulted the stairs two at a time down to the ground floor, sweating ferociously. He even wondered manically if the thing would allow him. If it did, what would Stuart and the rest of them say? Even if Leon lied, told them all that he’d lost it, they wouldn’t believe him. Stuart wanted the Quixote for himself, Leon could read him like a book, but Leon would bring himself to hell before he allowed a defeat of such magnitude. These thoughts and many like them spun in Leon’s mind as he sweated and ran; and the glass towers vaulted to the heavens all around him in this place of wealth and power, encroaching twilight; it bewildered him as it never had before, how many daily struggles, triumphs and defeats must happen all around him. In this light, everything looked different.

He opened the glass doors with the Middle Eastern security guards milling curiously on the air conditioned other side.

“Mr. Leon, hello,” said one of them. How did he know my name?

“It’s after hours, Mr. Leon, are you lost?”

Leon shook his head.

“I have a question,” said Leon.

“We are at your service.”

“Where did this come from?” and Leon produced the Quixote, realizing that he had lost, perhaps for good, his all important sense of humor.

“Sir?”

Leon blinked hard to reorient himself; rubbed his forehead quickly with the heel of his free hand.

“It’s a serious question,” he moaned.

“But how are we to answer it?”

“I came into my office one day, in the morning, and it was sitting on my desk.”

“Have you asked your co-workers?”

“Of course I have!” he said as if it actually needed saying.

The guards looked at each other, all eyes at the problem before them.

Slowly slowly, Leon, you must speak more slowly.

“Look, it’s a breach of security,” he explained. “No one is allowed in the building, on our floor after hours, right? How did someone get into my office?”

The guards again looked from one to the other.

“Someone with the key. Someone who came after I left, and I left when everyone left, I always leave when everyone leaves.”

“Sir, we believe you.”

“Then stop looking at me like I’m joking. Believe me, I’m not joking.”

“When did it happen?”

“Three weeks ago. Tuesday.”

“Tuesday,” the other guard nodded seriously.

“Sir, wait here. We will look in our book.”

“I want you to look on your cameras.”

“It is a closed circuit, sir, we keep no recordings. Just wait here a moment and let us do our job.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Leon,” said the other. “We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

The guard smiled. Despite himself Leon was charmed; how they all, everyone, managed to get the better of him.

“Just wait here, sir,” said the other guard while his partner returned to their desk.

“Fine,” answered Leon, sweating.

The guard was flipping pages in their ledger book now, and Leon waited, gripping the Quixote hotly, warm paranormal metal, and again he felt that terrible, overriding affection for it well up within him, and somehow he knew, just knew, that all of this was not its fault. It was someone else — a phantom enemy just past the point of materiality.

And he also came to know, the thing told him through the palm of his hand, that neither the guard at the ledger nor his smiling partner would be able to help him.

The guard finished with his ledger, raised head now, black piglet eyes, told him so, told him his search was incomplete, in fact might well be just beginning; that the Quixote was not done with him at all, and that no answer to so strange a problem would be found in the ledger of some blocky rent-a-cop.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said the guard, with, no doubt now, the derisive look of the Quixote in his eyes.

Yet, even despite it all, at least he’d sounded like he meant it.

Leon fled the office building and retreated back to the parking garage. Just after he left the light at the service elevator dinged and Consuela trundled out, pushing her cleaning cart. She was starting her shift. Leon, meanwhile, plunged onward into his personal abyss.

The Quixote’s Song — Chapter III: Professional Sabotage

The words “Made in Tuehltipec” called to mind manufacturing centers in savage cities built on pyramids of human sacrifice.

“Made in Tuehltipec”.

Leon would swear that the words hadn’t been there before, printed on the donkey’s underbelly. He could not have been so dunderheaded as to have missed them.

“Leon!” Stuart appeared in his office doorway. “Want to grab lunch?”

“Yeah that sounds all right.”

Stuart eyed him at length:

“Meet you at the elevators in five,” he said and vanished, and Leon’s mind felt murky as he closed his laptop, locked his office door behind him, therewith a breach of security as had happened with the Quixote would not happen twice, though he was beginning to believe that the thing had materialized out of the aether.

Stuart and the others were already gathered at the elevator waiting for him, and it was all Leon could do to wait with them for the bell and the light, because he was not feeling like himself today and he worried that they all would start talking about the Quixote, eventually, just like Heather did, before he’d seen it. He worried that he was losing his mind.

They descended to the lobby as they did every day.

They ordered from the Sandwich Company and they ate their sandwiches in the outdoor garden again, overlooking Montgomery Street, around them clicking tourist cameras and honks of taxis and urban butterflies flitting through the air, and Stuart said to Leon:

“I think I have a lead on your mystery object.”

Leon checked, but the others weren’t listening.

“First off, we need a metal works. A factory that makes figurines.”

“I’m listening.”

“Well it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with a list of such factories. Places…”

“Stu, I appreciate your input, but I really don’t need your help.”

“Oh come on, Leo.”

“I don’t need your help. In fact I don’t even want it.”

“Unbelievable.”

“Your mystery knight, Leon?” asked William, who had been listening after all.

“Yes, my mystery! I don’t need any of you interfering with it.” Leon felt his voice had become shrill. He flushed in embarrassment, but it was too late, he was already spinning in the wrong direction.

“He’s going right off the deep end that one,” William murmured.

“Look, don’t you have anything else to talk about?” he asked. “It’s not like it’s bothering any of you guys.”

“Jeez Louise. A guy tries to do somebody a favor…”

“You’re just no fun at all, are you?” smiled Vanessa.

“Accounts? Sales reports?” Leon continued. “What about the 49ers? Huh? The Giants winning the NCS? How about that? Anything else at all.”

“A wild card team if I ever saw one,” grumbled Stuart.

“It’s just that I don’t understand why you all care so much if it isn’t a big deal like you keep saying.”

“If it’s not a big deal then why don’t you let us help you?” asked William.

“He’s worried that I’ll figure it out before he does,” Stuart explained.

“Let me take a look at it when we get back,” said William.

“No!” Leon shouted. “No one sees it any more! Got it? Game over.”

But it didn’t stop there. The conversation continued around him without including him. Indeed, Leon seemed to have only made matters worse.

Sandwiches finished, the group crumpled their wax paper wrappers and tossed them into a garbage can on the way out of the garden. Through the indoor mall on Montgomery Street, and down the street back to the office Leon was the odd man out again, his losing streak continued. But what else could he do? He couldn’t just let all of them, every one of them, smear their dirty paws all over his possession. In its strange ridiculousness it needed to be protected.

But everybody knows that if you are to gauge the social hierarchy of a workplace, there is no better time than lunch time, when the truest reflections of the pecking orders are laid out in humiliating detail. The eccentrics eat alone, the office flirts are handled with careful disgust. Leon was becoming something of the former, that is, the office pet. His careless humor had abandoned him.

As he returned to his office and Mathilda smiled winningly at him, he reflected that he had to get his game back, and he knew that the place to look first was the Quixote, the very cause of his problems.

He would look at the Quixote until it blinded him. He would follow his latest clue. He would look for Tuehltipec.

The Quixote’s Song — Chapter II: Quixote at Home

Leon sat up in bed on a Saturday morning one week later, though he hadn’t slept the night before, his bed and pillow grown hard and unforgiving beneath him. His neck pained him while the sky came to life outside his apartment window.

He dressed himself with weekend thoughtlessness.

Heather was coming over later.

With the curtains pulled, he checked on television for something to watch of the morning. Talking heads, commercials and bad movies. He found a golf tournament and therein something to ignore. For the first time since he’d gotten home the night before, the cares of the work week began to feel extraneous. And that included the Quixote.

Whoever’s bad joke it was, Stuart had become mighty interested in it. He investigated with a fervor Leon found entirely, disturbingly relatable. Encyclopedias of foreign and European treasures. Dungeons & Dragons players with a self-deprecating sense of humor, to create a knight who wears a motorcycle helmet.

Leon had become sort of afraid of it.

His cell phone rang at Heather’s front door arrival. Buzzer malfunctions.

Leon slipped on his slippers and went down to fetch her and when he arrived on the first floor and saw her through the glass she looked resplendent with her rich auburn hair and her hour-glass figure tightly contained in a thin yellow dress.

“Afternoon, sir,” she said as he opened the door.

“Hello my sweet.”

He caught her around the waist and smacked a kiss onto the left side of her neck, loud and boastful. She squealed like a child.

They took the elevator to the fourth floor, walked down the hallway together and Leon opened the door for her to let her pass.

“I see you didn’t clean up for me,” she said as Leon closed the door behind them.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean your place is a mess.”

“That’s only half true,” he answered.

“Shirts on the floor and dishes in the sink. That’s a mess where I come from.”

She set her purse down and sat on his couch while Leon veered into the kitchen, which was, indeed, in less than presentable condition.

The Quixote was sitting on the counter near to the doorway.

Leon tried to ignore it.

He came back into the main room with a glass of water and he sat down on the couch next to her.

And then he put his arm around her shoulders, bare but for the straps of her dress

He kissed her and she met his mouth with her own, her body and her mouth frank and open. He took her hand in her lap, but after a moment she pulled it away, then she took the glass of water from him and held it in her lap as a flimsy defense.

“How’s work been?” she asked, as if the topic interested her.

“It’s been okay,” he said. “A few accounts walked out this week, and there’s this…” but here he stopped, because he found himself ready to mention the Quixote.

“There’s this what?” Heather asked.

Phenomenon.

“Nothing. Just a few accounts walked out on me. That’s all.”

A bad joke not worth repeating.

She didn’t say anything. A short silence grew between them.

“What do you want to do today?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

“It’s a nice day out there.”

“Is it? I haven’t been outside.”

“It’s beautiful.”

They agreed to walk and take lunch and have it in the park by the Lake.

And when they made it out there it was indeed a lovely day for a walk. There were birds in the trees and young kids roughhousing on the trail that skirted the Lake, and when they reached the park Leon put his arm around her and held her by the shoulder and her shapely body molded to his own as they walked.

They got take out lunch from the sushi bar on Grand Avenue, a street that in this particular stretch lived up to its name, flanked by stately oak and fir trees. Once they had their food to go, Leon opened the door for Heather:

“We’ll take this to the park, where the Quixote sleeps,” she said.

Leon must have heard her wrong.

“What did you say?”

“What?” she asked.

He shook his head.

“We’ll take our food to the park, I thought that’s what we decided.”

“That’s what you said?”

“That’s what I said.”

But that’s not what I heard, he thought, and the day, he noticed, was already colored different.

They walked through the park, through the rose garden and the bird sanctuary. Near the playground there were little kids playing in circles, yelling and screaming and the parents watching close by.

They decided to eat there and they took a bench facing the lake.

They opened their to-go boxes and had their first bites.

“The Quixote’s good today,” said Heather.

“I’m glad you like it,” Leon replied.

She chewed her food and smiled at him, at his inquiring eyes, because he knew it was not the Quixote that she had meant to compliment.

He chop sticked a california roll to his mouth, foregoing the soy sauce and wasabi. They were talking about visiting Heather’s parents. At least that’s what they were supposed to be talking about:

“We can Quixote the prices today,” she said.

“Okay.”

“Jet Blue has non-stop Quixotes every day, if you like Jet Blue.”

“I like Jet Blue.”

“How about we make it for one Quixote from today.”

“One month?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Sounds fine.”

“Quixote.”

“Look,” said Leon, despite his best intentions finding himself distressed, it coming in waves. “Do you ever notice sometimes how strange it is the way people talk?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, the wrong words in the wrong places, vocabulary, like they’re saying one thing when they really mean something completely different.”

“I don’t know what you’re Quixote.”

“Neither do I.”

What the hell was happening to him?

A clutch of wild geese wattled past, hissing and aggressive with their black and beady eyes. They took over the whole of the lake at this time of year, flocks of them descending and tearing apart whatever greenery had the effrontery to stand in their way.

And Heather was talking to him again, but Leon could not hear her, her words tainted, her speech a part of the phenomenon now, because of what he saw when he turned his head and looked towards the playground:

It was the Quixote, the knight errant itself, life size, with its lance, shield and motorcycle helmet, riding its donkey in the playground amidst the sand and slides and children’s swing sets, the children playing around it, never entering its space as if they could sense it even if they could not see it; odd, goofy malevolence; and Leon’s heart went jackhammer thumping in his chest again.

Heather’s voice were clear bells of sanity ringing in the distance.

But when the metal creature turned its head to face Leon, like a periscope sighting its target, and lowered and aimed its lance as if it meant to impale him, (came near to clotheslining a child, who ducked out of the way), Leon’s panic knocked over his plate of sushi in his haste to stand up, and those clear Heather voice bells ringing in the distance turned instead to squawks of protest.

The Quixote’s Song — Chapter I: Quixote Captured

Leon opened his eyes at the sound of the alarm. He hadn’t slept well the night before. He turned to his side and flicked off the alarm, but then he lay awake in bed a little while longer: breathing, frowning, tired.

He pried himself up and bustled himself about his morning routine: brushed his teeth, swallowed coffee and bagel and orange juice. Keyed his car in his apartment building parking lot. Battled traffic on the bridge. Arrived at the parking garage on the other side — ranks of dreary hamster wheels lockstep file in their Financial District home.

He carried his laptop bag through the elevator doors, coffee tumbler in hand, through the forest of cubicles, nodding good morning along the way. Something was different. He could feel it in the air.

He set down his coffee tumbler on his desk, shrugged off his shoulder bag and pulled his chair back to take his seat, but he didn’t sit.

He didn’t sit because he saw it and knew that he had found his premonition: a colored metal figurine sitting on his desk like a message from the future.

He sat down.

He picked up the statuette, examined it:

A tiny knight riding a tiny donkey.

Strange. A thing that called out to be examined more closely.

A poorly clad knight in painted armor and renaissance fair leather jerkin. He bore a lance in one arm, in the other a shield, and, on his head, improbably enough, a motorcycle helmet, very out of place, with a grim black visor hiding his eyes.

The thing was heavy in Leon’s hand, warm, soft metal. So strange. Who could have, who would have made such a thing? And what was it doing on his desk?

“Mathilda?” he called.

“Yes Leon,” his assistant called back.

“Did Stuart leave this here?”

“You’ll have to do better than that.”

He walked out of his office bearing the creature in his fist. He displayed it for her, palm outward like he wanted her to give him a down low high five.

When she saw it, Mathilda only shook her head. Ostensibly she was Leon’s underling, though Leon suspected that he was more afraid of her than the other way around.

“This was on my desk,” he explained.

“What was it doing there?” she asked, craning her long, beautiful neck.

“That’s what I was wondering.”

“Can I see it?”

Leon held it closer to her. She wrinkled and twitched her nose like a lovely little rabbit.

“I guess it’s sort of funny.”

“It is, isn’t it?”

“What do you want me to do about it?”

I want you to laugh at it, he admitted to himself. I want you to appreciate my humanity.

But Mathilda would do no such thing, not while there was work to do. Her clothing today was especially enticing, low cut blouse and tight tan slacks, her cold nature sweetly contradicted. Leon had masturbated to her on several occasions.

“If you see Stuart would you call him in for me?”

“Should I tell him it’s urgent?”

“No, but if you want you can tell him it’s funny.”

“Okay, maybe I will,” said Mathilda.

The conversation was finished now. She’d turned back to her computer. She was always the first one to turn away, that was how he knew their power dynamic was screwed up.

Leon turned back into his office.

He set the figurine down next to the desktop photo of he and his girlfriend Heather at Disneyland, smiling, all lovely teeth and tourist sunshine. The Quixote fit strangely well beside it.

Quixote. That’s what it was. Like Cervantes’ eponymous Don. An oddly pitiable knight errant with an indisputable aura of significance about it; multiform courage with its useless lance and donkey. Alone and out of place in this world of money and microchips. Leon found himself smiling on it as if it were a prized possession.

And then he forgot about it, and embarked upon the drudgery of his day. The xerox machine whirred noisily across the cubicle aisle. Mathilda ran interference in the land where friendly sharks circled.

He found his list of calls that would keep him busy for the better part of the day. Research was his field; economics, the magic of the dismal science rendered less magical, talent and creativity encapsulated in graphs and charts and strictly declarative paragraphs. As he scanned 10-Ks and 10-Qs, the internet, and hammered out his data points, his eyes kept straying back to the oddly impactful Quixote.

When the lunch hour tolled and Stuart had yet to appear Leon hailed Stu himself by phone:

“Hello?” said Stuart, who hadn’t checked the phone’s caller ID, which would have displayed Leon’s name prominently.

“Stuart, buddy, didn’t Mathilda tell you I called for you?”

“Leon, my man, so sorry, I thought she said it wasn’t urgent.”

“Sandwich Company?”

“Sandwich Company.”

“See you in five at the elevators.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Stuart, in turn, hailed Vanessa and William, as was his wont, and therewith a respectable lunchtime crew gathered.

When Leon arrived they all smiled and greeted him.

They descended en masse, and crossed clanking, yelling, smelling Market Street and left the Financial District in favor of SOMA, South of Market, awash in suits and high heels, lanyards and briefcases, laptops and iPads.

Leon positioned himself to walk beside Stuart, he whose unconventional humor and ingenuous method at backhanded ingratiation perhaps leant itself to the placement of the Quixote on Leon’s desk.

“So Stuart,” said Leon. “Are you going to say something or should I?”

Stuart looked at Leon directly and smiled.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he answered.

“The thing,” Leon said, suddenly at a loss as to how to describe it.

Stuart’s grin was growing stale.

“I have no idea what you mean.”

“That thing, you know? The thing on my desk.”

“Leon, buddy, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.

“Really?” asked Leon.

“Really and truly.”

“Well, okay, I guess it’s nothing.”

“You aren’t getting off that easy.”

“No, really.”

“Come on, Leon, you started this conversation.”

“Conversation about what?” asked William.

“Ask Leon.”

“Conversation about what, Leon?”

“It’s really nothing.”

Could it be that it hadn’t been Stu?

“What is it, Stu?” asked Vanessa.

“Leon’s blaming me for something.”

“Can you blame him?” said Vanessa, smiling.

“Indulge him,” said William. “Tell us what it’s about.”

“What did Stu do this time, Leon?” Vanessa asked, and now that was all of them.

“It’s nothing, really it’s nothing.”

Unsatisfied.

“Just this little thing someone left on my desk while I was out of office.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t Mathilda?” asked Vanessa.

With but a brief consideration of his young secretary’s beautiful severity, Leon shook his head.

“So you just go blaming me? By default?” Stuart was laughing.

“I’m sorry,” said Leon. “It’s strange. It’s a joke. If you see it you’ll know what I mean.”

“What is it?” asked Vanessa.

“It’s hard to explain,” Leon answered. Indeed that’s exactly what it was, and at the same time he wasn’t sure why he should care so much — it was just so untoward, leaving that thing on his desk. A violation it was. Who had access to his office during the night, with he himself unawares?

But the others, except maybe for Stu, did not appear overly intrigued.

They ordered sandwiches at the San Francisco Sandwich Company, the lines here small, in proportion to the modesty of the restaurant.

They took the sandwiches take out to an outdoor garden on the top floor of an enclosed mini-mall. Familiar routine, though never exactly the same one day to the next.

Their conversation centered around the 49ers and the mystery of Leon’s artifact, hinted with humor and menace and competition. When they were done, they walked back to the office and the elevators, goodbyes proffered in the hallways past the lobby, reluctant parting smiles of William and Vanessa. Stuart disappeared as soon as the elevator doors opened, leaving with Leon the worrying feeling that he was up to something.

When he got back to his office Mathilda was still away.

The figurine was sitting where he had left it, next to the picture of his girlfriend. He considered it slowly as he approached.

Who had it been? he wondered again.

Was it a valentine? A secret admirer’s love note? Was he, Leon, the Quixote? An out of place knight inflicted with a motorcycle helmet? It could mean anything. But God, why a motorcycle helmet?

“Leon,” said Stuart in his doorway, knocking on the doorframe.

“Sorry to startle you. You called for me, didn’t you?”

As if he hadn’t guessed the motivation.

Leon shook his head.

“It’s nothing,” he said.

But Stuart came in anyway with a slow, pregnant pause.

Leon picked up the Quixote.

“Here,” he said. “Take a look and tell me what you think.”

Stuart came around to Leon’s side of the desk.

“Huh,” he said, taking it into his own hand.

Leon stared into Stuart’s eyes, which were fixed on the Quixote.

“Curious little thing isn’t it?” Stuart said and laughed.

“Yes,” said Leon.

Stuart weighed it and inspected it, then he laughed again as if he were already in on the joke.

“This was on your desk?” he asked.

“That’s where I found it.”

“Weird.”

Leon didn’t answer.

“It seems that you’ve become the butt of somebody’s joke.”

“That is what it seems.”

“Maybe they thought you’d relate to it, odd little creature.”

Stuart put the Quixote back on his colleague’s desk.

“So you see why I thought it was you,” said Leon.

“Oh Leon,” Stuart said, shaking his head as if disappointed. “Who else would have thought so highly of me?”

“Perhaps we’ll never know,” Leon said.

“Well, Gosh darn it I’m curious myself.”

And then, before Leon could say anything in objection, instantly, fluidly, Stuart snapped a picture of it with his iPhone, grinned sheepishly, and just a bit manically, as if, much like Leon, he in fact cared about the answer. There was a pause while Stuart saved the picture, and the both of them stood there in silence, wondering what was happening between them.

Stuart was the first to break the spell.

“I’ll get back to you,” he said uncertainly.

“I know you will,” Leon said in reply, and then Stuart left his office, left Leon standing there, wondering.

Who else could it have been? Ah well. File it away, Leon, he told himself, and get back to work.

And the day carried forward, per usual with reliefs and tension, struggle and life, and when 4:30 rolled around Leon packed his suitcase and struck out for his car. He took the Quixote with him.

He went to Heather’s place after work, and they had wine and dinner and watched a romantic film called Safety Not Guaranteed, then they screwed heavily and lay in bed in each other’s arms. After a few hours Leon got up, got dressed and went home, their partnership of convenience. Heather occupied an important place in his life. She was a figure to be respected, if nothing else, and he was thankful for her when work and the simple drudgery of his days threatened to get the better of him. When he got home he undressed and brushed his teeth, got into bed and was asleep before five minutes had passed.

There might have been good reason that the Quixote chose him, he whose life was ordinary. There was a largeness about Leon that had room for a creature like the Quixote.

For when he woke the next morning, checked his e-mails and found that Stuart had sent pictures of the Quixote throughout the office list serve, with questions as to its meaning, its origin, its place on Leon’s desk, in short a large to do, if only a jestful one, Leon again felt that lingering feeling that something in his life was set to changing drastically.

Meanwhile, in a crumby apartment building on the other side of town, a cleaning woman named Consuela  was just returned home from her nightshift in the towers of glass. She packed her things neatly away. Her true work had only just begun.

9/25 (2013)

I was just reading Henry Miller’s Nexus and I got to a passage where Miller’s just given some sort of impromptu speech or criticism at a literary event which afterwards he can barely remember, but he impressed the hell out of everyone there who heard him, so much so that the MC (?) of the event approaches him afterwards and asks him to take over. Then, as Henry goes home, he laments the gulf between the impressions he effortlessly inspires and the pitifully lonely work that he must do as an artist. He can’t help but fall into a hole where he tells himself that those people who he impresses don’t know him, they only know his mask, his persona, which is an easy and meaningless nothing. Their feelings about his art might reveal themselves as wholly prejudiced, or, even worse, entirely insubstantial.

Reading this cheered me up because I sympathized so greatly. I resent the impressions others have of my mask — they have no right to be impressed with me when they haven’t even read my work. Impressing people is embarrassing.

Then I thought that, Miller being one of the greatest and most successful authors of all time, I am surely not the only one to have appreciated this passage of his in the same way. In other words, I surely do not exist in a vacuum. It is going to be quite a strange effort to disappear into my work, as I’ve always told myself that I look forward to doing. In effect, I am seeking to kill off the high I get from impressing people just be walking around. Instead I am trudging alone into an arena where the genuine articles, the genuinely envious, the people who know their stuff, the geniuses, as well as the amateurs and the people who can barely even read, can, and hopefully will, knock me around with abandon.

 

I think that Bitchface has been reading my work, may well be reading it right now, and, oddly enough, my greatest fear is that she isn’t impressed.

 

[This was a journal entry I wrote in the evening of 9/25/13, and, with some redaction and sanitation, I thought it would make a passable blog entry]

Tagged , ,

The Truth Is Out There

It seems that the new normal approaches. Just as we resign ourselves to the unwelcome company of unhappy neighbors, we resign ourselves to the presence of a nameless, malevolent force that studies and pokes, interrupts and cajoles. There is no telling what is the worst they can do — they could probably even destroy my credibility if I gave them the opportunity. That is, make me the paranoid one, the irresponsible one, the broken one.

Their message is simple: I can only cry wolf so many times.

They have a point, but they are also afraid, that much is abundantly clear.

They are afraid of incorruptible power, a genuine rivalry, how about that? Perhaps I will endure a few more years of misery and humiliation, but even their powers here might be limited, because each time they attack, each time they make a new victim, the weather only turns warmer. Eventually, would the world simply melt?

I will have to battle my own anger as much as anything else. There’s something about those beaming, understanding faces that makes me want to punch them.

Damn you, Mr. President. You’ve ruined our game! There is no longer a big and small, only the old lines as clearly blurred as they have ever been. And then there’s me, an isolated martyr muttering in the breeze.

They say that knowledge is power. If that is true then I am one powerful motherfucker.

Will I be a leper? How aggressive will you be? Will you seek to destroy our financial lifelines? You know that if you do there will be awareness.

Will you merely watch? Will you tell them everything of my life story? I’ve thought through my life story. I don’t think I have all that much to be embarrassed about, except the imagined issues, and, of course, the the undeniable face plant of my social standing.

You have proven that I cannot protect my loved ones. Thank you, Mr. President.

Don’t you know that the only power I exercised was to balance the country’s mood? It was only a game, for God’s sake.

The best I can do today is ignore you. I am through anthropomorphizing tainted advertisements. Let your minions and your adversary co-giants dance. I remove myself from the dialogue. I hope that those who are in fact protecting me do not take it personally, and likewise towards whatever of my eruptive emotives you might espy. I repeat, I sort of want to punch the beaming crowds as much as I want revenge on the previously leering ones.

I have fallen victim to a clandestine operation. The professionalism of its execution was every bit as telling as its arrogant purpose. Maybe the Edward Snowdens of the world will vindicate me some years from now. I doubt anyone needs to be convinced that the spooks are quite literally watching me everywhere.

How will I discern the real world from the CIA world? The evil interruptions from the social necessities?

How far will you go?

How afraid are you?

Only your actions will tell, I suppose, but it does seem that playtime is over. I will no longer make a spectacle of myself. I will hold myself with every bit of righteous dignity that I can muster, and I will get started on the work that I know I have to do (Wow, it’s really fun writing this. I feel so damn real right now! That’s sort of a gift in itself, African Elephant).

I still believe that I am not defenseless.

Let the grinding times of the microscope commence!

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