Here is the layout. There was a small white case that he had assembled himself over a year ago. It supported the television that he held so dear. On the screen were a couple of Polish girls with shaved heads trying their best to look sexy as they shoved things into places where they were certainly not supposed to go. He stared at their faces with the sound at minimum. He felt bad for them but needed to see the scenario play out.
To his left was a black plastic shelf that had become his wardrobe. His clothing was neatly folded and placed on the black Rubbermaid shelf. There was a nail poking out from just above the top shelf, and he let his suit hang from that. Along the bottom of the shelf were his shoes, all black and all polished to a mirror shine.
To his right were the stacks—boxes and boxes of paperwork and files. 52 numbered and lettered boxes, each one weighing about 60 pounds. They were old Avon boxes that he’d acquired because their size was perfect for filing. Each one was secured with a shiny ribbon of silver duct tape.
Behind the television was a small square window covered by a small navy curtain. The navy fabric filtered the direct sunlight that the window received into a strange green hue. This was all surrounded by a pale green paint that he’d found on sale 10 years earlier. He’d painted the exposed brick this color in an effort to make the room seem more “medical.” On the television screen, the bald girls forced smiles as they shed their red plaid schoolgirl uniforms. This was what it had all come down to for them. All the birthday parties and slam-books and diaries and love notes and stuffed animals. Now, they were in America with shaved heads, standing naked before the world and trying to be “stars.”
The concrete floor was covered by a speckled brown carpet. It smelled faintly of bleach and burned rubber. Along the back wall were a series of outdated computer towers. Each one was obsolete yet full of important information that he couldn’t afford to lose.
Along the ceiling ran coaxial cables, telephone lines, water pipes and heating ducts. There was one power outlet running along the floor and underneath the door from the room across the hallway.
There was a single 75-watt bulb that illuminated all of this.
That night would be New Year’s Eve. He wasn’t planning on doing any real partying or celebrating. He would just drink a case of Seagram’s Fuzzy Navel coolers and
think about how he’d come to this place and what he was going to do to fix it. This was exactly what he’d done the year before. By now, he thought, even the bald Polish girls had found what they were looking for.
They had at least, he assumed, grown their hair back...