Ignorance is the night of the mind, a night without moon or star.
– Confucius, China
Ni**as think they know me, they don’t really know me. They don’t really – They don’t really – They don’t really know me.
– Uncle Murda, East New York
We came to a full stop in the cool grey of a subterranean garage. «Follow me»the rider in black said. Our steps echoed in and out of synch through the layered cake of cars and concrete. When the elevator opened to swallow he stayed outside, reached in to press the floor, tipped his hand to his head in a military salute and was gone, just a thought that passes through the mind for a few seconds neither to be thought or remembered ever again.
The elevator dinged and I stepped out into the lush lobby of Hotel National, which I recognized at once from many summers of blue balls that aren’t blue balls and blues music that isn’t that either. Finally seeing other people again, I felt the exaltation of a plane crash survivor, except that the debris rather than lying around burning was strewn inside of me. I got a grip and walked over to the arrivals desk.
Feeling moronic I announced myself, saying «Room 511, Mr. Mondada», 3/4-convinced that this would turn out to be some involved, pricey hoax after all. Some young, energetic, badly gelled guy would come up to me from behind, tap me on the shoulder and point to a hidden camera expecting me to know his face and the name of his shit-fucked show.
No such thing.
The fifth floor carpet was an animal unto itself gobbling up all sounds like a sonic monster that has not been fed in a long time. The wall was…
…the wall is hung with expensive-looking pictures. I only know half the artists but those are definitely upper echelon, seven figures plus. To be precise, I only know one artist and I do not like her. At all. But still. What a waste to have them squirreled away up here for the passing admiration of a few loaded guests.
The digits on the door are golden with ugly serifs, the thing itself massive and evidently built not to be ever kicked in or even chopped through with a fire axe.
– It is I, Mr. Mondada, you ridiculous fucker. Open the door please, will you? I might be willing to help. I might.
I hear ill-defined noises from inside; it’s not possible to tell how many people are inside. Other, lesser noises behind me, one or two floors down. Remembering the content of the letter, I spin around 180degrees like a punchkin. Nothing. Just the tedious hallway and the continuous tide of daylight. And what is a punchkin anyway?
The door opens a crack on a short, thick chain and a rectangular section of his head and body come into view. Disheveled, I can tell, even from this sliced view.
He has had the opportunity to live a life of excess and he has made the most of it. A guy who only is beholden to his ideas, one who in German is called a «dead unhappy person». But the Infected One is not dead, he is very alive, which is easy to see from all the quick-silvery agility of his eyes. They always look watery and on the verge of tears but for what reason I wouldn’t know. The Infected One has not many people in his life to remember and much fewer to attach his feelings to. If he is morose then and I don’t mean this in a cruel but simply a realistic way, he has only himself to blame. Or perhaps I should say it like this: the world is a sort of optional extension to the life of his mind. At least this is how I see him but please, by all means, be your own psychoanalytical guest.
I examine him through the crack, pale light spilling around his head. For a brief instant I want to punch him for always managing to get us involved in unnecessary hi-jinks but then I am reminded, almost melancholically, of our blood.
– Damn you, open the door. You’ve played this one good enough. Your messenger has gone back to hell now, I believe. Where’dchu pick that one up anyway?
– Glad you came. I wasn’t sure you were going to follow…the…instructions. They must have seemed outlandish. Absurd I suppose. But I couldn’t call you. I don’t have a safe line. Look at these.
He opens the door to let me in then his right, which is overflowing with little black plastic pellets, signifying nothing to me. So I look at him, my face meaning to say “so?” and his mien changes too, replying “Do I really need to spell this out for you?” I give myself a second in which I actually do; I’m not a fool, nobody’s. So then I let my eyes and mouth distend vertically as in “Oh, I see. Wow, this is happening.”