A Metaphor

 He stared at the phone in his left hand. Cradled it, imagined it as sand flowing through his fingers. Cradled it like a downed kite on a blustery day at some beach in the Hamptons or Cape Cod.

The sound of elevator music drifting through its earpiece. The vacuous space between his bones. He could feel himself disappearing. Or fantasizing about it. His body spreading away from its ligaments. His somewhat brown skin stretching like pizza dough. The tissues unraveling, the DNA strands uncoiling—“Sir? Excuse me sir.”


From his left hand came the voice of a mid-western lady.

“Sir? Are you there? Sir.”

“…YYes. I’m here.”

“Good. We were unable to process your order sir. There seems to be no record of you in our system.”

“But I got a call from this number. Saying my account had missing information.”

“You might have gotten a call from our sister company. Shall I transfer you?”

“mmm.” He whispered. Softly.


“Yes. Sure. Why not.”

“Just a moment please.”

His hand returned to the sound of elevator music.


He dreamt of sleep. Blue and endless. Like an airplane following the sun an hour after its bedtime. He followed too. 


His body ached for no reason in particular. He was a healthy man. Right now he had a cold, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was the fact that he could barely get up in the mornings.


He wanted to sleep all day. All day every day.


He went inside. Placed the phone gently beside the sink. Looked in the mirror. Wet his hands. Rubbed them against his face. Splashing water on his neck. Look back in the mirror. Watch the water cling to his mustache and beard. The tiny scab below his eye that always made him look hung-over.  He went over to the towel rack, dried his face. His phone on speaker phone. He did this multiple times throughout the day.


He worked from home. Making calls. Doesn’t matter what or why or when or who he made the calls to. Suffice it to say that it was boring, mindless, abstract work, and it made him think often of Marx’s concept of the abstraction of labor and it also made him think often of modern, electrical, mechanical man, and it washed over him for hours on end these thoughts, about why or how life became this way and was it the best way to be and were we better of with bows and arrows and so on, indefinitely, repeatedly until he went home and took some Nyquil and fell asleep in front of the moving picture box writing a short story about a man very much like himself who was tired and depressed and addicted to cold medicine (at least today), and who couldn’t think of much else to write about besides a man on hold with a telephone operator as a metaphor for sterile modern living.





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