I found myself at a retail warehouse – some strange mix of Bed, Bath & Beyond and Best Buy. At first, I could not distinguish myself from some of the shoppers I saw: the newly-wed couple, the lone intellectual, the overly enthusiastic child, the exhausted mother, the care-free bachelor, and the malcontent teenagers. They were all there, and I grappled to figure out who I was this time around. Or was I the disembodied Watcher again?
No. The Salesman could see me. As I found my body and my orientation, I felt his eyes already on me, as if he had been watching since the second I entered this dreamscape. He was an attractive man of somewhere around 30 years. His skin tone and hair color hinted at a lineage descended from desert-faring people. Immobile he stood, with his hands held behind his back while his eyes interrogated my presence. Eyes just like a gun, with all the world in his cross-hairs; he was not of this world common to the shoppers. But, then again, neither was I so it seemed.
As shoppers approached him with questions, he morphed into a dozen different people. Each one was tailored to the customer’s tastes, and he always got the sale. I watched through the newly-wed couples’ eyes as he saw an attractive young woman addressing the novelty and fun found in the item while she saw a warm, mild-mannered man appealing to her sensibility and frugality. He herded them from one aisle to another and finally, to the checkout. In my examination of the Salesman, I ignored the customers as much as they seemed not to see me.
Outside the warehouse was an unremarkable desert that felt like a hole in the world. I could hear and feel the wind, but strangely, it seemed not to move anywhere: no origin and no destination. The Salesman appeared behind me, and assumed the same stance as before. His eyes spun through several colors and shapes. We stood in silence, glaring at each other. Neither of us were looking for answers or explanations; we seemed beyond the point of interrogation, now into the phase of silent accusations. Was I the Accused or the Accuser? Did (does) it, would (will) it, should (who cares about “shoulding” anyway) it really matter?
Nothing happened in the desert. We eventually walked off in the same direction, not together, but not completely apart from one another.
We entered the old house turned base. Those we knew were inside doing whatever it is they do. It was something important to them, some political activist activity or some kind of “rebellion.” It was of little importance to both the Salesman and myself, though, everyone else seemed unaware of our disinterest. They spoke to us as if we were thick as thieves and blood brothers. Perhaps that is how they saw us. Truth be told, the Salesman and I were far “closer” in those ways than either of us with any of them. They were of the world of shoppers; that very great fact immediately places galaxies between us. Whereas the Salesman and I- we were two of a Kind.
The activists continued on with their activities, speaking nonsense words to us. We sat in opposing chairs and communicated via eyes. I knew my eyes were much like his own. The flickers of information and subtle changes went unrecognized by those of this world; our eye changes were above (or below) and beyond their perception range. The activists probably were consciously unaware of the effects of our exchange, but within minutes, the base became silent and still. No one asked aloud if anything was wrong, but they gradually gathered close to us. Some sat behind the Salesman and some sat behind me.
Stories were told through the movement of gas molecules, but no one spoke a word. Images of the desert were transmitted and imprinted in the air. There was a boy that looked very much like the Salesman, only he was about fifteen years his junior and of the world of shoppers. He was not as quick, clever or confident as the Salesman (his idol and role model), but he would never admit these things to anyone except in prostration to the Salesman.
This boy set out into the desert on a mission. My side did not know his mission, but we had hints about his mindset. He carried a messenger bag full of unknowns. It felt like weapons that lacked conviction, and I knew the boy lacked expertise. Perhaps a gun with blanks or perhaps a knife he would wield unconvincingly. Images were choppy, like a reel that has been edited or spliced. In the desert he found some men and he found some women. He passed by the men, making eye contact but no threats. With the women, he would attempt flirtation. The ones that returned the flirtation made him sweat. If they giggled, he would sweat some more. If he construed the giggling for ridicule, out came the gun. He would command them to kneel and place their hands behind their head. Many would cry and beg for mercy, which would empty out his eyes while searchlights flooded his mind. He prayed for the Salesman to guide him, constructing His image in his mind. Then the Salesman slipped into his body. During this time, the boy had no recollection of the actions taken. He would return to himself as the women walked away, unharmed, without a care and sometimes even in high spirits. He would torture himself with attempts to remember the details, but the Salesman requested that he be content without the memories.
This cycle repeated many times on many days of many months to years. Before grabbing the gun and turning it on a woman, the boy told himself that he would go through the motions himself. Whatever it was he was doing, he would be the one to do it. He would remember. The Salesman would take pity on his condition and allow him. Or else he would rebel against the Salesman and reclaim his body and mind. But time and time again, the Salesman would appear in his mind, calm the boy and disarm him. The boy would retreat and feel safe and warm as he drifted to sleep.
There was one time when the boy awoke while he was still holding a gun to a woman. He had recollection of him/the Salesman ordering the woman to praise aloud Ha-Li (THE Godform). This particular woman refused; she was the first to do so. The boy panicked. He consciousness fled in and out. The name of Ha-Li was used in vain and blasphemed. Were there gunshots? It was difficult to know. Suddenly, the woman disappeared from the images. The boy walked back to the base like a zombie in sweat-soaked clothes and an empty messenger bag.
His body tumbled into the room, startling those immersed in the mind-movie-story. Both the Salesman and I watched him; neither of us moved from our chairs. He shouted at both of us- words of hatred, pain, remorse, renunciation, and accusation that bled from disillusionment and delusions. He waved a key in the air in a triumphant defiance that neither of us quite understood. He said he would enter The Room of God, and that neither of us could stop him or dissuade him. We could not go with him, he stated; he proclaimed that he knew we were of the Damned. If we were of his world, perhaps we would fear for him or attempt to stop him from opening that door with the silly key he waved around.
The door was a plain one with chipped white paint and an old handle that rusted over a bit. It was on one wall of the house/base. Nothing else was kept on this wall; the wall had a way of rejecting wall hangings. It broke mirrors and absorbed any ink or paint so it was always a bare, plain, old, white wall. From the outside of the house, there looked to be a sun room on the other side of the door. It was constructed of white boards and columns that held the unbreakable glass in place. We could see the other side of the door through the glass from the outside. Nothing was in the room, which was all the better considering anything under glass in hot dessert sun would bake.
The boy took off his shirt and went into one of the bedrooms to change into a new pair of pants and a gray, zip-up hoodie that he left open. The Salesman and I saw him in white robes in flashes as he moved from the bedroom to the door. He shouted some more nonsense and then grandly unlocked the door. The activists were shocked that they key worked. They backed away. It seemed that even the boy was shocked that he had found the one, magical, working key. He was awestruck and regarded the inside of the room with much trepidation. We smelled the fear wick off him and heard his heart beat like a jackhammer. He molded his face to something he thought to be impressive and victorious as he turned to the activists in his sorry facade.
He lifted his foot to step inside and no sooner than he made the motion did the room respond by sucking him in as if he had opened a vacuum. The activists did not see this, though. To them, he had merely stepped inside as light spilled at his feet, and the door clicked shut behind him.
The Salesman and I met him inside, as one merged entity, through projection, as the flesh remained outside the door, and half of our minds entertained the activists’ questions. We questioned him on how it felt to be in The Room of God. He was unregulated. His sense of time and self kept fragmenting and reconstituting in what may be considered fractions of seconds. His articulation fell away from him as symbols and words ceased to make sense. He paced and bounced around the room while simultaneously melting or solidifying into what might be described as “the floor.” His spirit was in agony as he struggled against dissolution. Two simultaneous visions: one of the bare, white room and one of Space, phased in and out for him. They collided and melted into each other. He could not make sense or hold onto to either.
The activists had ran outside to find out whether they could see him in the room or not. Some were shocked to see that he wasn’t there at all, while others were saddened or terrified to see him in such a degraded, raging or self-mutilating state. They fought over the reality.
“He’s dead in the corner!”
“What?! No, he isn’t. He’s inside beating his hands to a pulp against the wall.”
“What are you talking about? I don’t see him.”
“You don’t see him because he’s not there in the room at all.”
“What are you, blind? He’s catatonic and drooling on himself.”
“Oh, I thought he was just asleep.”
“Where? I still don’t see him.”
“Maybe he’s hiding?”
“He’ll be cooked to death in there…”
In any vision, they all agreed on one thing: It must have been the wrong key.