Sunday, April 10, 2011

Das Brick - You Could Just as Well be Him!

I awoke from dreams of flight, to a rush of cold and fragrant air outflapping the hotel sheets at my face. I moved unhappily to close the window, but of course it was sealed and warm rain rolled down the glass. The hotel's parking lot was lit, the air conditioning humming. I shut the AC off. There came another gasp of cold air, carrying the hay scent of pine needles, and muffled voices from far off. The sheets parachuted out a third time and my heart tripped with the sound of a tree ripping apart. A spray of cold wet earth and leaves freckled the warm bed and pillow where I had just lay. I reasoned that I should pull my corduroys back on, and grabbed my wallet and keys from the top of the hotel's TV.

"KNOCK IT OFF!" I shouted at the wordless voices in the bed. The voices stopped, yet there was a burrowing up through the mattress - a prison escape, most likely. I found my shoes with my toes and hurled myself out into the rain-polished parking lot.

There was no one in the hotel office - it must have been 10:30 or 11 at night. I passed several hotel windows before stopping in front of a room flickering with blue TV. I rapped my shaking, wet knuckles against the door. The TV went out. I rapped again, and the door pulled away from my hand. A short guy with olive skin was as scared as I was. "Help? I need the..." I coughed, hoping I was still asleep. "Stay outside! I call police!" the guy shouted, too loud, with an Indian accent. I realized if he called the cops on me, instead of for me, it would do just as well. I heard another crash of splintering wood, and two bellowing voices laughing. I ran back to the hotel room, feeling braver with some sense of reason and shared reality beneath my flapping shoes. The open door to the hotel room wasn't damaged or mud-streaked in any way. My heart pounding, I looked into the room - and saw the same hotel room I remembered checking into the afternoon before. The TV was off, the sheets askew but uninteresting. The cops would haul me off if the figured I was hallucinating. Then an angry girl in a college sweatshirt stepped to the door.

"What the hell are you doing in here?" The girl ran off.

I was in the wrong room.

I heard the two incoherent voices again, coming from the room next door. The fluorescent light on the terrace outside the room was reflecting off thousands of diamonds in piles. There were gusts of frigid wind blowing the curtain out where the front window had been. The mirror hung by a single screw, and it seemed to have snowed in the room. Twisted knurls of shattered wood left traces in the snow on the surfaces of the furniture.

An older guy was running from the terrace and throwing himself on me. DON'T MOVE he grunted. A cop, but in a football jersey. He came down on me, pinning me in the snow at the foot of the bed and knocking the wind out. He weighed as much as a piano and smelled like gin.

The bed frame jerked into the air and the metal frame came down on both of us. His jersey ripped and began to sponge up his blood. I wrenched his limp dresser-sized form from on top of my crushed unbreathing lungs, and everything stopped.

I woke up standing over the man's body, and arctic lungful of air drowning me. I blacked out again.

I came to. I had fallen on the mattress, and into an icy bog.

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