Oh my God. Oh Fuck. My head is killing me. Ugh. The sheets smell musty again. Must be in the same damn room. My eyes bolt open and I sit upright. Where the hell is my arm?! From my left elbow down is nothing. NOTHING. Ok. Breathe. Settle down. If I don’t settle, I’ll end up with a damn heart attack.
That typewriter. I pad over in my bare feet to the old beast and on the yellowy page it says, “Page One”. We already did page one!! Wait… I look over to the door under the spiral stairs to nowhere and remember. I remember the family playing the hippo game in the jungle. I remember that child monster clawing into my now missing arm. I remember…I remember… UGH.
“My name is Jack and I am now a one armed bandit,” I type trying not to laugh or cry.
Sitting here looking around the room I recognize nothing. Guess I better drain the lizard and see if there is anything to eat in this shit hole. The bathroom is small, but has everything I could want. Shitter, stand up shower with two heads behind glass doors, brown and tan marble sink with a cool ass faucet, and toiletries. Good. Guess I can brush my teeth. There doesn’t seem to be a mirror in here, not that I particularly want to see my stump from another view but a bathroom without a mirror is a bit odd.
As I walk out towards the kitchen, I can’t help but look at the door under the stairs. I’m not ready to deal with it but I head that way. I don’t hear anything coming from it and the door feels cool to the touch. Against my better judgment, I try the door handle. Locked. Hmmm. Fine, I’m hungry anyway.
The kitchen is decent size for this little loft style apartment. The fridge is to the left followed by cabinets, the range top, and more cabinets. The sink is on the island counter and all of the counters are the same marble as the bathroom sink in tan and brown. I open the fridge to see only four eggs, a glass of orange juice, a small dollop of butter, and a couple pieces of bread. Ok. Well, I guess eggs it is! In the cabinets I find one set of plates, one skillet, a spatula flipper thing, a fork and a butter knife. Guess there is nothing like making things easy which is probably a good thing since I have never cooked one handed…at least not that I know of.
Breakfast wasn’t too bad. I can’t complain about my full belly, but man does my arm, my missing arm, itch. I wave my stump around to find I have full use of my shoulder. Guess that’s good. Sitting here, I realize now that there are no windows. There are frosted sky lights which explain the brightness of the room, but no windows. There is one wall that has what looks to be a picture window frame that is almost the length of the living area, however it has been long since walled off with bricks. Seriously? What is this?
Standing up makes me a little dizzy but I slowly head over to the spiral stairs and sit down there. It seems to be a good place to soak in the whole loft apartment. The stairs feel cooler than they did before. Was that yesterday? I have no sense of time. It could have been hours or days ago.
I feel a breeze that seems to be coming from under the door. That door. I look down at it for a while. Last time I went in there, I lost an arm. Maybe I should just sit this one out and try to figure out who and where I am other than “Jack, the one armed bandit stuck in a windowless apartment”.
The breeze blows again. Damn it. Curiosity killed the cat, it can’t kill Jack…can it? Fine. Fuck it. What do I have to lose except maybe another arm, right? Maybe I’ll find may way out of here. Wherever here is.
I open the door and feel the breeze on my face. The crispness of it does nothing to relieve the smell of exhaust fumes and greasy food. This could be my out! At least it’s not the damn jungle!
I walk out and am on a street corner. The only street sign says, “7th Avenue”. Ok. That’s a start. I start down the avenue and see flocks of people but none of them seem to be looking my way. I wave at a couple of them, but they don’t seem to see me. Great. Am I invisible? The street is so busy with cars and people that I can barely hear myself think. I’m surrounded by skyscrapers. Am I in Chicago? New York? Los Angeles? It doesn’t feel very west coast though.
I come to another street corner and there are policemen dressed in clear plastic rain gear directing traffic. Their movements seem too calculated like they are programmed. The drivers obey the mechanical cops, perhaps they are being controlled too. Further down the avenue, I can see a couple sitting at a table that has been placed on the sidewalk seemingly in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle. They don’t seem to mind. She is in a blue cocktail dress and he in a tux with a blue flower of some sort in his lapel. They are toasting each other with glasses of red wine and smiling though it looks so fake. Maybe they can see me. As I get nearer to them, I feel more and more like I’m choking on the air. It’s so thick with pollution. I think my lungs just aren’t used to it.
When I get to the table, I greet them, “Hi, I’m Jack. Can you help me find the nearest payphone?” Neither of them looks at me. I wave a hand in front of the man’s face. Nothing. Great. I look past them into the window of the store they are in front of and I can see myself but I seem hazy like smoke. My sandy blonde hair is a mess like I just got out of bed and it looks longer than it should be. I’m wearing the same striped pajama pants that I wore to the jungle however they are no longer bloody, only tattered and torn most likely from the claws of the bitch bird that stole my arm. I’m wearing a tan suit jacket with patches on the elbows and my hazy reflection shows that I still have my left arm! I feel for it to make sure I’m not crazy and my hand goes right through where it should be and makes the reflection waver. Great. Now if only I had a top hat to complete my look I would be the classiest street bum around!
The more I look at this city, the more it looks like it’s just a mess. There are rats running down every side street, the people are chattering about crime and work though I wonder if they know what they are saying since it all seems so robotic. I have to take a break, all these voices, all this hustle bustle is making me dizzy.
I sit on the steps that lead from the busy city streets down to what seems like a central park. To the right there are children playing with a big, striped blow up ball. It’s a boy and a girl dressed in plastic rain gear just like the cops were only the kids are wearing bright yellow. They’re outfitted in not only the rain jackets but also little hats and galoshes too. They look very old timey even though the rest of the city seems to be modern. Why the rain gear? Not that I think about it, a lot of the city people had rain gear with them or on them. Do they know something I don’t know?
I hear a sound and look to my left to see an oriental couple having sex. His pants are down to his ankles and her yellow dress is hiked up around her hips exposing her ass to him. I have no idea what to do. Do I watch? Do I walk away and try to lead the kids away from the debauchery? Will anyone even see me? The little man is repeating over and over again, “sex, sex, sex, sex, sex!” as he pounds into the little woman. I say “little” because all oriental people seem small compared to my 6’4″ frame. I hear the chatter from the streets getting louder for some reason and turn to see that the sex couple has gained a little audience. They clap along with his chants, “sex, sex, sex, sex, sex!” Seriously? Is public sex ok in this city? I look to the right and see that the kids have joined in and are also rooting the little man on in his conquest. Finally as he nears his climax, he raises both hands in the air, screams at the top of his lungs the only word he seems to know, “SEX!” and thrusts so hard into the little woman that I’m afraid he might break her. Her body shakes, almost convulses. He pulls away, pulls up his pants as she pulls down her dress bottom, and they both walk separate ways to the sounds of the audience applause.
I stand up and walk back up the steps to the street. A street vendor is walking my way with his cart, yet again, he doesn’t see me just like the rest of the city. Damn. It’s lonely when no one sees you! I only see fruit on his cart as he walks slowly by so I grab an apple. It’s the biggest red apple I have ever seen and it should do just nicely. Just as the skin touches my lips, I hear what sounds like a church bell toll. BONG! BONG! BONG! as it rings, I watch as people on the streets scramble. Some of them, the ones with the rain gear don’t seem to mind the sound. BONG! BONG! BONG! Then a loud clap of thunder. Loud enough to make me jump just as my teeth sink into the apple.
It begins to sprinkle which feels kind of nice at first but then it starts to rain, really rain, and it burns! I look down at my apple as I shield my eyes from the raindrops to see the apple filled with maggots. I can’t help but let out a scream as I spit maggots from my mouth and run for cover from the burning downpour. I am literally getting blisters from each drop. It feels like someone had poured acid on me by the time the rain comes at full force and I have yet to find shelter. Just as I feel I am beginning to burn beyond recognition, I feel a hand grab my one good arm and pull me in through a doorway. Everything goes black.