Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Look, Explode, Hide

"LSD says look. Explode. Hide thought."
I look down at the crumpled yellow note held in my dry bony fingers. The penmanship is terrible, difficult to read. It looks more like the results of a seismograph than a message written in English. That is the language that I speak. My head is bald, wreathed by a thin crown of fine gray hair. My eyes are blue and sunken into my face, surrounded by dark hollow circles. Gaunt cheeks flank a pointed noise. My lips are thin and dry. I speak and read English. I live in North America, on a planet that in English we call Earth, but if you can read English, then you know we call it that. I live on the fifth floor of a narrow brick apartment building on a street called Kesling in the city of San Francisco. I am standing on the stairs between the fourth and the third floor listening to an old woman cough through the thin walls. In my hands I hold the nearly illegible note. Under the square panel emitting meek electric light above my bare skull it reads;
“LSD says look. Explode. Hide thought.”
I have already read it 376 times since I found it this morning on the doormat inside my door. The mat says “Welcome”. It always says that. No matter how many times I step on it. It was purchased at a store called Anna’s Linens and Things with a visa gift card which the phone company sent to thank me for signing up for their service. The visa gift card was orange. It had a value of $100.00. With it, I also purchased the pair of shoes that I am wearing now, the same shoes I use to step on the mat. They are brown suede loafers.
The note had been intentionally placed there. Slipped under the door? I don’t really know. I look at the palm of my right hand. There is a very faint charcoal colored speck on the ridge aligned with my pinky. It looks as if the tip of a graphite pencil were lodged in my hand. It appeared inexplicably one morning 5 years ago. I had not stabbed myself in the hand with a pencil. I suspect that I have been tagged by Aliens. I do not venture to imagine what type of aliens or for what reason they tagged me. I merely suspect that some alien being placed it there to track my comings and goings as a North American biologist might tag a bird, or a frog, or a whale.
I look again at the note and read its message. Is it from the Alien? I don’t know. I dismiss the idea.
What is LSD? I put the note in my polyester trouser pocket and descend the next flight of stairs. Then the next. Are they the initials of a person? Is it the drug? I have never taken LSD. When I was young I was acquainted with another young man who attended the university at Berkley. He took LSD and tried to jump from a moving roller coaster. He had long blonde hair. His name was Herb. Herbert Mason, a biologist. I no longer have his telephone number, or I might call him to see what he thinks about the note.
No, on second thought, I would not. Hide thought, it says. So maybe I should also hide knowledge of the message which provokes the thought. Between the second and first floor I stop again and take out the note. The paper is soft and wrinkled as though it had been crumpled and un-crumpled again a thousand times by some nervous hand. It was in this condition when I found it. I am adding to the wear. I am still holding it when I reach the first floor. The sound of the old electric elevator whirring upward makes me cringe. The gold faces of the mail boxes stare at me with cyclopean keyhole eyes. I take the key out with my free hand. I open my box, the one with the number 513 embossed on its surface. I look. The box is empty.
I close and lock the mailbox and face the black wrought iron gate at the other end of the courtyard. Beyond it, cars drive on the street. A man walks by in short red shorts and a blue polo shirt. He is wearing a white terry cloth headband. The fountain in the center of the courtyard trickles softly from fount to basin. Its tiles are blue and white. At the gate, I look once more at the note.
“LSD says look. Explode. Hide thought.”
Then I put it back into my pocket and push open the squeaking gate, stepping out into the whirlwind of color and noise that is the world outside.

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