Saturday, March 21, 2009

A House and Three Couples

The house is tall and white with yawning arches and Spanish trim. With its triangular roof composed of orange tile it resembles an elegant giant milk carton. The driveway is long and steep, leading deep beyond the front porch. This porch is accessible where a concrete walk splits away from the main current of the drive forming little pools of its own with three stairs of the same followed by another open expanse of concrete that flows under the two grand archways and meets, at last, with the main stair. There are fifteen of these that lead up to the front door, each one carpeted in sparkling green artificial grass. It glitters magically, winking back at the sparkle emitted by mounds of petite glistening ice plant in the front yard. The tiny blossoms of violet beam their radiance back up to the sun as if they were smaller solar entities themselves, regal lords subject only to that greater more effervescent King. The door itself is of a solid wood adorned with beautiful carved panels that display the shapes of large four petaled flowers and broad jagged edged leaves.
The windows of the house are closed tight, the blinds looking blindly outward like eyes without pupils, sealed from behind by insulated curtains. Within the house all is dark. The floor is composed of many polished honey blond wood panels. In the darkness the color is lost, but the sheen is apparent so that it seems almost like the face of a mirror but less lustrous. To the left of the front entry way, a carpeted hallway leads to the three bedrooms and a bathroom that waits at the very end of its track. The thermostat, a little square box with a metallic surface, juts from the wall of the hallway, opposite of a closet meant to accept the hats, coats and shoes of those entering the abode. To the right rests the living room hidden behind those tightly closed front windows. Beyond it, separated only by further yawning arches, waits a dinning room with sliding glass doors that open onto a patio as well as a tiny kitchen that occupies the least space of all these three grand rooms, nestled in the corner as an afterthought. Its floor is covered with yellow laminate designed to look like sunny Spanish tiles. There are more windows in the wall behind the dining table but they too are hermetically sealed, complete with blinds and long drapes whose color is that of rusty anchors. The living room and the dining room share the same wood flooring, but in the living room, an enormous Persian rug featuring predominately the colors of deep red and gold, covers most of the surface. There is a clock hung on the little bit of wall between the arches that separate the two rooms. It reads 6 o’clock. There is also a television set on an imposing entertainment center that stands beside the stone fireplace at the end of the rectangular space. It casts the only illumination in ghostly electric blue hues that spill so far out as to dance upon the dark surface of the wood floor before the front entrance.
Tucked into a makeshift bed of sleeping bags and pillows, a young couple lies sleeping oblivious to the images flashing before them. The woman’s hair is long and blond. The man’s hair is similarly toned and while it is shorter than hers, his is also long. On his neck there is a tattoo of a blue rose. Slightly behind them, closer to the front entrance, there are two rust colored arm chairs in which two elderly people sit in their pajamas and robes: an old woman with hair like the younger woman upon the floor but streaked with gray and an old man with short but unruly hair the color of brushed steel. These two watch the images flashing upon the screen with mute fascination. The scene is unfolding in a bedroom amid strewn bed clothes and candlelight, where a woman in a satin negligee is making love to a partner whose face is veiled by the shadows.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Hidden Room

The exterior of the imposing apartment building looks just like an oversized cinder block. It is large and sterile and bleak, its façade devoid of any feature or embellishment. It is clean and gray and practical, a building to live in, nothing more. No craftsmanship to admire, nothing added besides the necessities; the angles of the apartment building are sharp and hard, 90 degrees protrude with the practicality of an iron fist. It’s bare bones architecture, humorless and without emotion. It simply is a block, a square implanted within the soil and erected on the stretch of cold land without nostalgia or sentimentality. On each of the seven floors, there are simple square windows every 10 feet.
On ground level, there is a single metal door that leads in and out…either outside to the silent streets of a gray midmorning, or inside, in to the dark, cold palace of practicality.
Within the building is the hidden unpractical, the one great flourish of the architect who screamed silently into his plans and burst forth with a glimmer of possibility. It is the hidden room, the room of quiet existence, masked from observation on the ground floor by a wall that hides its entrance. Behind the thin façade of cinderblock is a large, two level room built halfway above the earth and partly within the cold soil. Spanning the entire length of the room, from end to end, is a narrow flight of stairs made from a shiny blend of cement and crushed rock. Upstairs, (the level above ground) is a single twin sized bed and a red velvet loveseat with curved wooden arm rests beside it. Twenty feet from the bed is a single wooden desk with a single wooden straight backed chair pushed into it. Upon the desk is a wrought iron lamp without a lampshade or light bulb and a single piece of clean white paper and a pencil laying beside it.
Downstairs, the part of the room submerged within the earth, there are six wooden dressers filled with clothes clustered in the center of the room. Within the dressers are men’s slacks and button up black shirts, there are clothes for little girls, pink party dresses and small white socks. There is a sequined evening gown and a stained apron and an entire drawer of silk lingerie and lacy brassieres. There is no division or organization within the drawers or dressers between sex or age, all the clothes are mixed up and wrinkled…socks next to shirts next to fur coats. Scattered next to the dressers and piled in heaps upon the cement floor are more clothes. Polo shirts and Batman underpants and silk pajamas and cotton T-shirts. All the clothes are clean, but wrinkled. On the second floor of the room (the ground floor of the apartment building), there are two windows that open directly to the gray sidewalk above.
A single daisy pokes its yellow from the space in between two large slabs of cement, the flower stands like a survivor of color in the square frame of the window. The light in the room comes solely from the two windows which casts the space in a bluish hue that is accentuated by the cement flooring.