Fragment: Collaborative enterprise

A still-developing epistolary between by Emin Orhan and me.  We take turns writing vignettes about fictitious versions of each other.

I (by Emin)

There were around 40 people in the room immersed with all their being in a bewildering, dizzying variety of rhythmic bodily activities: some up and down, up and down and then up and down again, some right and left, right and left and then right and left again, and some more complex: up and down, right and left, and then up and down again. Some of these activities necessitated the rhythmic movements of certain parts of the body only (two arms, or one arm, the opposite leg and the head for example). Some required wholesale rotations and distortions of the body. The whole room looked like an elaborate clockwork set in motion by some invisible yet infinitely powerful force. What was that force, wondered Alex, content with being part of something harmonious, as if vibrating mechanically in a limpid sea of celestial rhythmicity. He thought about his dog. The faintest shadow of a smile could be discerned in his clean-shaven face by an astute observer with an eagle’s eyes. Everybody in the room was extremely serious, staring fixedly with stony gazes of ice and granite at a steel horizon invisible, incomprehensible to finite, primitive minds of dust and mud, even as they continued in their rhythmic activities. It was as if the skipping of a single movement, a single extra breath between two ups (or between an up and a down for that matter) would disrupt the proper functioning of all the delicate laws of this fragile universe, tinker with the moral compass of the human race, or cause a genocide in some remote, godforsaken part of the world whose name Alex was sure ended with ‘stan’ or ‘ia’ or simply with ‘land’. His contorted face took the curious shape of a fantastic, long-extinct beast from a long-gone age, while he struggled with his rhythmic exercises. He realized that he was sweating profusely as he tried to remember the name of the girl he had met the other day at that very spot. Laura? Laurel? Lauren? Jackie?

II (by Alex)

In the few minutes before he had to open the doors to greet his early, regular customers, Emin sat down at his desk and drew a deep breath.  He looked at a poster tacked to the wall by the door.  It was a photograph of a small kitten, hanging from a tree limb.  “Hang in there”, it said.  “Friday’s coming.”  Laurel had hung the poster there in an effort to “liven the place up”.  Emin logged onto Facebook.  Today was Kevin’s birthday.  “Hope its a good one buddy”, Alex had written on Kevin’s wall.  Emin considered Liking Alex’s comment, but thought the hostility of the gesture may be too transparent.  He clicked to Alex’s profile, and saw a recent post outlining Alex’s weightlifting progress.  He Liked it.  This would be read as playfully sarcastic, and would be forgotten within minutes as Birthdays, Events, and Shared articles accumulated over his digital gesture like sand covering the husk of an unremarkable sea animal.

Mrs. Hinson and Duke Ellington were waiting outside the door.  Even though it was only 8:56 and Happy Tails Dog Boarding did not open until 9:00, Emin unlocked the door.  As the door opened, a tinny recording of “Who let the dogs out?” piped from a speaker affixed to the door jamb.
“Duke Ellington has already had a very big morning”, Mrs. Hinson explained, smiling.  “He took two poopies while Marty and I had coffee!”
“Oh”, said Emin.
As Mrs. Hinson left, Emin opened a spreadsheet on his desktop called “DukeEllingtonLogBook”.  Any nasal discharge?  There was none.  Any apparent eye irritation?  There was none.  On a scale of 1-10, how would you describe DUKE ELLINGTON’s mood?  Emin gave him a 7.  Is there anything you would like to add about DUKE ELLINGTON?  Nothing comes to mind.
The usual mix of terriers, golden retrievers, viszlas, weimaraners, and other suburban dog brands filled the outdoor play area.  Emin watched them play impassively.  By now he could barely recall the circumstances that had led him into the canine day and overnight care business.  Vague sound bytes made their way back to his consciousness.  Pseudo-scientific liberal dogma…, chirped a radio talk show host.   Funding eliminated as Republicans take the Senate….
Dogs came to him and retreated and returned again.  They cocked their heads at him. Two labradors began to sniff each other’s rear ends, circling faster and faster, like a dervish.  The shadow of a thought formed in Emin’s mind.  Posteriors.  Something about the situation made the word seem funny.  The dogs sampled from each other’s posteriors.  Emin could not contextualize the sentence, but it stayed with him all day.
Emin wiped off his glasses with the tail of his denim shirt and, without needing to look for confirmation, picked up the Easy Poop ‘N Pak and headed towards the far corner of the play area, where the dogs had just been.

Supply and demand

Here was a man whose bald scalp was permanently and symmetrically dimpled.  But he was a big man, and when he laughed hard his head went back and the scalp dimples were hidden from the view of most.  We met every Wednesday for voice lessons and when I sang he said “You harmonize with an inaudible chorus who sings a different song”.  His voice was way down in the bass range and when he sang The Messiah with the community orchestra the Episcopalians met to draft a formal offer.  The Episcopalians offered him a salary and a per diem for missionary ski trips to West Virginia, where he would sing in Super 8 conference rooms while all the snow melted outside.  The Lutherans caught wind of the offer and threw their hands up.  And the Baptist deacons would fold their hands in front of them after tithing and before the prayer and regard with discomfort and insecurity the Juilliard-trained cellist with the overbite who last year broke off her engagement to the youth pastor, and whose market value had, in light of the Episcopalian offer, suddenly increased in ways unforeseen and unwelcome.