Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Worm

Click, it was the sound of metal releasing, all the right parts opening in unified collaboration. The key turned and the handle released in my hand with a creak of audible pleasure. I found myself momentarily on the thin line between spaces, not yet in the hotel room, not exactly in the hallway, and though I never stopped moving, the thin barrier seemed to last forever. I could not remember the series of steps my body took to end here, at the heavy door I had begun to push with my shoulder.
Had we driven? What city were we in? What were we doing here? The thoughts raced close to the walls of my skull, fast as lighting on a stormy night, without much significance, passing itches that were only vaguely distracting. The long carpeted hallway was typical of hotel interior design, a floral-inspired beige wallpaper covered the walls, its sleek surface intercepted every eight doors with oval mirrors and small wooded tables that sat in front of them like altars, holding vases with silk flowers upon them like offerings to the dead. The walls breathed the scent of cologne and business men in gray suits and overnight stays that hovered close to metal tubes, and tepid take-out, and mini bars left decimated.
The key turned and I took the first step, pushing the heavy white door open with a single whispered creak. My fiend was right behind me, so close I could feel the heat of his body like a slept in blanket. My other friend made no movement to follow. Her presence hovered like a low riding cloud, not quite with us, but still in the atmosphere. Maybe she knew safety remained in the corridor of yellow light and interspersed wall hangings that offered the gift of reflection. But I never asked.
Pushing on the heavy door, I stepped into the double room, my eyes zeroing in on the wall to my right, something was moving, I squinted, looking more intently. Suspended parallel to the floor, at the midway point from carpet to ceiling, was a single gossamer thread, an almost invisible tightrope made evident only by the foot long worm that traveled upon it. It was about a foot away from the front of the wall and silently, inch by inch, it shuffled along in the way that worms do, slowly approaching the wall. I watched and time seemed to hold still as the worm traveled.
I stood, conscious of nothing else, not my breathing, not my body, not my first friend next to me, I only saw the worm. It seemed like only a second had passed and it was almost at the wall, just an inch from its hard white goal, if worms have goals, and just as it took its final step, it evaporated. My neck turned without a clear intention and I shifted perspective, I looked at the wall opposite the door, the one in front of us.
There was the worm again, on another thread, five feet up from the pale green carpet and a couple inches from the wall. We watched it again, its methodical movements, but a foot from the wall, the worm started to sway, the back end of it fell from the thread and it held on for a second, but then it dropped from the spider’s thread and fell to the floor. I watched in silent horror as it fell through the air like a strand of spaghetti, landing quietly on the narrow walking space between the two beds of the hotel room.
On contact with the ground, the floor opened, the hole in the floor kept growing, opening wider and wider, revealing a pile of junk that had sat buried beneath the floorboards. The worm was lost among the refuse. Rusted metal chairs and crumpled papers and dented cans and bags of trash in black plastic. It stayed like this, as though the worm had pushed a button that it could not undo.
We could not stay here, the room had been exposed, its fa├žade opened, gaping and unlivable, obvious to us because of a quiet sacrifice. I looked at my friend, his eyes were fixed on the refuse…quietly, he instructed me to find the receptionist and search for another room. I stepped towards the door without question, I knew that there was no other option.

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