Night Patrol

by David Ackley

In the galleries of the empty mill, the blackened residue of production--the  constant lubing of the machines having sprayed  oil and grease particles into the air to be breathed—had settled on the walls, ceilings, floors and windows in a slick, filthy layer, giving off this thick petroleum smell mixed with benzine fumes from the poisonous, futile attempts to clean off the layers from the machines that spun them into the air constantly; once worn home embedded in clothing, in yours still at mere touches and rubs against a wall, hanging from the ceilings in the dusty greasy clumps of old accumulated spider webs. You'd think that merely patrolling this emptiness, protecting Eugene's investment, was not very difficult work, yet you come home in the mornings exhausted, as if the vacated space had a draining force that drew something out of you, a kind of suctioning that left you so emptied you'd fall fully clothed on your bed greasy unbathed and unfed and sleep restlessly for hours into the afternoon. This work shamed.

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