If you love, adore the moon. If you rob, steal a camel.

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Monday, May 19, 2014

KJ Hannah Greenberg: The Equipment Maintenance Man

The equipment maintenance man had more than a crush on the hard-nosed theatrical beauty from New York. Her eastern twang endeared her to him and her dynamic display of indignation made her seem the hottest woman he had ever met. During his many years of work in small time theatres, no other starlet, not even those individuals regularly animated during performances, was as vibrant to him as was Gee Gee Parker.

Gee Gee, though, could not be bothered with “minions” such as maintenance workers. Once life’s elevator doors had opened for her, she had leapt out, claiming her share of reality lighting assignments and small, walk on parts. Ever so briefly, she considered, but then rejected, devoting her life to raising funds for retired actors.

The janitor knew that lavatories remained one place in which cameras rarely lit peoples’ choices. Gee Gee merely assumed that no one would use the basement bathroom except for theater troop members. She had smiled weakly at the maintenance man as she had walked past him to get to a stall, never dreaming he’d lock her in.

The hourly wager inhaled his beloved’s protests, hoping against hope that those noises would go on forever. He had always attended her performances and was excited about this private staging. He knew that Gee Gee had missed his sneer when she had run for the toilet.

She was pregnant. She missed a lot of things. Dryfus, who had taken up with the lab assistant of his, who was working on her doctorate, missed a lot of things, too. He had even appointed another graduate student to proctor his midterms so that he could make more time for carnal sport.

Initially, Gee Gee had shadowed the younger woman, but had stopped short of the other’s bedroom, so afraid was she of reptiles. The other woman had brought cold blooded friends along with her when she enrolled in Dryfus’ program.

Sometimes, Dryfus was so preoccupied with his paramour’s exotic “sensibilities” that he forgot what he was teaching, stumbling, midlecture, in front of hundreds of students. Other times, like when emails popped up reminding him to renew professional memberships, or when snail mail, full of alumni announcements, from the departments where he had studied for his three respective degrees, arrived, he remembered that he was a tenured professor, father and husband.

The equipment maintenance man sniggered. He had at last caught his beauty. He rested his chin on his hand and would have remained poised as such had Gee Gee’s husband not walked into the toilet area.

Dryfus had been served papers, by Gee Gee’s lawyer, and had come to the theatre to beg for reconciliation. He meant to use the little known facilities in the basement to cry a bit before going upstairs to look for her.

The janitor dipped his mop in his bucket and wiped the floor. Thereafter, he sponged the sinks. Dryfus watched him.

Gee Gee heard her husband’s voice and footfall. Maybe he could actualize her escape. Her short tenure, on the psychiatric floor of the city’s medical center, which had followed her attempt to simultaneously slit her wrists, ingest pills, and chug down 100 Proof vodka, following her discovery of Dryfus’ dalliance, had been unpleasant.

Gee Gee began to silently cry. She had known that her marriage was troubled before learning about Dryfus’ infidelity. Yet, her psychologist only probed those places that the would-be actress made accessible. Gee Gee had spent literal decades covering traumas. Painting her face, every weekend, in order to deliver two or three lines, during a full length play, was not helping her get past any emotional bottleneck.

The maintenance man began to mop the floor of the farthest stall. He was unsure what he was going to do when he reached Gee Gee’s cage. If he had been able to reach the bathroom’s highest window and to toss Dryfus out, he would have. Maybe the husband would leave on his own. As long as Gee Gee failed to make any noise, she remained a prisoner. Accordingly, the man continued mopping until reaching the stall holding her. He motioned to Dryfus and then pointed to his bucket.

Dryfus nodded, promising to wait on the other side of the bathroom’s entrance. He was in no hurry to search the theatre for his wife. Maybe he could delay with a second comb over.

Billy came into the rest room. He flipped back a door, unzipped, did what was needed, rezipped and washed. He noticed Dryfus. The man’s presence, midday, was curious.

Gee Gee heard Billy’s footfall. Maybe that chum would rescue her. Maybe she should take up with him.

Some thespians bonded over hair styles or nose rings. Other pairs stayed together because of shared adventures in cooking, in karate, or in new math. Billy hadn’t really glommed unto anyone. Gee Gee was one of the few people with whom he exchanged salutations. What’s more whenever she brought baked goods to the theatre, he made sure to take some and to compliment her efforts.

Gee-Gee’s guts spilled over in the same way in which they had when she had eaten bad sushi. She used the toilet, and then, forgetting the goings on, flushed. Thereafter, it was of small matter for her to pound on the door of her stall. Both Dryfus and Billy ran in her direction. The janitor ran the other way.

Minutes later, Gee Gee was liberated. The police were en route. Billy, Dryfus and Gee Gee moved upstairs to the green room, a space to which none of them were entitled. They sipped coffee as they waited.

Dryfus frowned. He had hoped to make short work of locating his wife, to beg and to receive her forgiveness and to return to his graduate student for an afternoon of mortise and tendon.

Billy smiled. When Gee Gee had been hospitalized, he had visited her daily to play chess and bridge. His years of training in economics, plus his familiarity with organized crime, enabled him to discern good investments from bad ones.

It had been Billy who had sent the revealing pictures of Dryfus and the graduate student to Gee Gee. It had been Billy, as well, who had meant to trap her in a bathroom stall. It was a pity that his son had acted first.

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Silk Road Mantra

by Suchoon Mo

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road

I go and go

from west to east

I go and go

from east to west

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road


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