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Staves 3 and 4 from "Edju"


by RW Spryszak


3.

I have sweaters and my apartment is simple.

My simple apartment is the essence of quiet. The apex of silence. And the key to simplicity is to have a lack of things. I do not have many things in my apartment. Because it is simple.

In contrast to other apartments the authorities will see when they inspect the scenes of the crime, my apartment will offer them few clues. Perhaps none at all. It wasn't planned that way. It only just happened over time because there is much a person does not need. When they break down the door they will find me gone. There will be no telltale trace or mitigating circumstance. No lead will create a trail they can follow. There will be nothing to discern. Nothing to judge. Nothing to use.

There is no television in my apartment. I do not watch television. There is no radio as there is never anything on the radio I want to listen to. I have no books because I do not read. And because I do not read there are no newspapers or magazines here either.

I have a pad of paper and a pen but I never seem to use them.

I have two cups in case one is dirty.

I have one plate because all you have to do is wipe your plate clean when you finish and it is ready for the next time. I eat out of cans and boxes, so there is only ice in my freezer. But I never use it because water does not need help.

My kitchen counters are spotless and empty except for the bread box, which is blue and has a flower painted on it. It is usually empty. But right now I do have a loaf of rye bread in there I better eat soon or it will go moldy.

I have a couch and a chair and a table by the front window of the apartment. This window faces the street but I never open the blinds.

I keep the heat down to save money in the winter and use a fan in my bedroom window in the summer. I have three sweaters. One is green. One is black. And the third is also green. I get cold easy now that I am older. I do not smoke.

I do not smoke and I do not drink. I get headaches and have five bottles of aspirin in my medicine cabinet. They are next to my shaving cream and bandages, which are there just in case.

Many people may wonder, you for example, what I do to pass the time. I could try and explain it but it wouldn't be of much interest to people. I spend a lot of time at church. And of course there is always Alice.

I make my food and am sure to have three meals a day but I am not a heavy eater and am not much interested in food anyway. So soup and bread and water and canned stew is fine. I don't care for fruit except blueberries. But they are hard to find and not usually worth the price as they go off and spoil fast in this kind of air.

I sleep in my bed and I shave. I keep washed and take care of my clothes. I have four shirts and five pairs of pants. They are brown and blue. And the sweaters I've already mentioned.

I keep the apartment clean but I worry sometimes about why I have stomach pains. I'm sure it is a virus so I keep the floors clean too and never eat food off it if I drop something. But sometimes I lay in bed and hold my stomach because it hurts so bad. I do that for hours sometimes until the pain goes away.

I like to have pain. I've noticed that when it subsides something gets released inside my body that makes me feel good. Relieved bliss I suppose. So whenever I am in pain I think — oh, I will feel good when it is over — and it isn't so bad anymore. I especially enjoy waking up with a splitting headache. Because when I take two aspirin I feel good when they kick in. I like the feeling of relief when a long bout of pain is over.

I don't have any pets because they are dirty, but I seem to be always fighting ants in my kitchen. I don't know where they come from but they are not my pets. I once considered waging a full scale international war against all ants. But after several years I recognized the futility of it. I satisfied myself with the local battle as being as much as one man may be expected to handle.

I don't have a telephone because there is no one I know well enough to talk to on it. But I do keep a basket of plastic flowers on my kitchen table because they are a light blue plastic. I think they are pretty. Plus I do not have to water them. Just dust them. Alice likes them too, I think. But she never speaks because she is dead. I keep her in a simple sack I bought on the mountain. At night when I go to sleep I put her in the closet on a shelf so she doesn't attract ants.

 

4.

At night the young men and boys begin to appear. From the high street and down the rough stairs. They move in a trance to the formless river that sizzles through our city like an old broken snake. Polluted and dark. Crusted with a hard algae scum. They go down to this river, because that is where they can find the last vestiges of the ancient maze. They come in the dim cold squeak of the late night and early morning. Three AM they come. Out of their own streets and shops and secret, feverish bedrooms. One by one. They are like drug fiends, nervous and worn. Pale and shaking. Tromping down the old stone steps. Passing the abandoned fishing huts and black old shacks. Drawn to the worn down remnants of the Wall that still exists from a thousand years before.

They rub their hands against the old stones of the Wall. Their faces. Or their whole bodies. It stops their shaking and their moaning. Some lean against it, this monument to a bygone age, and seem to soak in an odd kind of strength from it. It calms them. And they are able to relax again after making this contact with the past. 

The entire spectacle frightens the authorities. It has been going on for months and there is some alarm. They want to destroy what remains of the old Walls but there are historic principles to consider. So all talk of these remnant's once and for all destruction labors on.

It comes from the most important time of our history. In the age of the Vikings we were a small country with few people. The Vikings invaded again and again but we were always too small to fight them. So they plundered at will until Ulf the Hermit built a magnificent maze. It spanned across the entire width and breadth of our country. Overnight ten foot high brick, stone, and old composition concrete. It sprung up like a miasmic weed. The maze broke up the country. It created long, winding corridors across open country. Broke up roads and whole villages. Dead ends. False openings. Concentric circles that wound the traveler right back where they started. When the Vikings invaded and attempted to follow their old paths of plunder, they got lost. The maze befuddled them. And while they were wandering aimless we burned their ships. Little by little we killed them all. Trapping them in blind alleys and throwing rocks from the high walls. They never came again.

Over the centuries, of course, need, weather and wind wore down the structure. Farmers cut openings to resume the cultivation of their fields. Towns broke down the maze to reconnect their streets and markets. The rain wore down the rest. All that remained crouched hidden in forgotten places in untouched reaches of the country.

The maze no longer exists as it was. It ceased to exist as a function or a thing we thought of. It was a thing we saw from a passing car on a country drive. A thing we had picnics beside without remembering what it was for long ago. An ignored thing. Taken for granted. Generations came and went without realizing the reason for the stones they rested against. 

Only in the recent years has this changed. After the onset of a terrible plague in our young men that seemed to have no cure. Our young men found that coming in physical contact with the artifact helps. It calms their nerves. Helps them focus. Summons their long neglected and waning strength. It helps them focus. And stops the horrendous shaking they suffer from.

No one understands the nature or cause of these symptoms or maladies. But touching the old maze cures all. 

It is a great mystery.

But the old walls of the great maze are not for me. I do not have this malady. I have another.

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