Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Angular Tube

It is an angular tube made of slick paneled walls brought together by plastic joints and hidden metal screws that evade detection. It is a long tunnel in the shape of a hollowed out rectangle stretching at least a hundred feet, curving ever so slightly in the middle towards a goal I cannot see. On both sides the walls are shiny gray plastic without reflection or texture. They are simple, sterile. If needed, they could be disassembled in a matter of hours.
We wait in a single-file line within the tube. I cannot see the beginning, I cannot see the end, there are bodies in each direction. Most are dressed in long-sleeved dress shirts that button to the neck. They are men of all shapes, sizes and skin-tones. They all shoulder either a black computer bag or a small black suitcase with wheels and elongated collapsible handle. We wait, each facing forward, just a few inches from the person before us.
The man in front of me taps the plastic wall with his finger impatiently. He is tall, reaching nearly seven feet. His outstretched arm, covered in a cotton pin-striped plaid design, can reach easily from one side of the corridor to the other. He rests his right palm on the wall and taps his index finger in quick agitated bursts.
The dull sound of strangers is all around, the sound of communal silence unbroken by questions or laughter. We stand, waiting, all looking forward towards the corridor’s curve into a future which cannot be seen.
Overhead are evenly spaced strips of florescent lights that glow through narrow plastic frames embedded in the ceiling. There are lights every five feet, providing the plastic tunnel with rays of yellow illumination in an otherwise dim, windowless chamber.
The black plastic floor below my feet is covered in a pattern of raised circles the size of silver dollars. Somewhere behind me a small suitcase rolls relentlessly over the plastic bumps, thunk thunk thunk thumk. The rhythm adds one more layer to the soundscape. On both sides of the ground where the walls and floor meet, stretching the length of the tube, is a foot-wide striped yellow and black plastic sticker indicating a warning of some kind.
Close by, an idling plane hums, its roar finding us through the plastic walls, its constancy unable to drown the silence of strangers.

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