On the second floor of a townhouse, on a quiet little street, Brian is sitting on an old, wobbly, wooden chair. His eyes are cast downwards, staring at the floor, the floorboards, the grain of the wood underneath his feet. He has been sitting like this for quite a while now, his feet itching, his backside numb. How much time exactly? Brian does not know. I really don’t. There is no way for him to measure the pace of time passing, there is no watch on his wrist, nor is there the ticking of a clock in the kitchen, or the soft glow of a digital clock on his bedside table. What would I need a watch for? What is he doing? Well, for one, by looking at the floor he avoids looking at the tall HOVET IKEA mirror in front of him, standing proudly at 77-inches tall. He is quite sure of those measurements, if not to say, absolutely certain of them. He measured them himself after unwrapping the mirror from the protective material that was keeping it safe from breaking in the cardboard box. Not that he actually needed to do that, after all, every IKEA item has its sizes printed neatly in its catalog, which he receives every year.
Perhaps it was more about prolonging the inevitable action of having to use the mirror for its intended purpose. The reflective surface calling him. The tape measure is still there where he left it, lying lifelessly on the floor next to the frame. It is stretched out as a venomous yellow snake lurking dangerously, biding its time, its metal end like teeth ready to pierce your skin, the recoiling mechanism broken from when he had used it last. It was silent now. No longer a threat. What was it? Yesterday? Today? What is today? Brian looks around the room and then back at the tape measurer. He had not bothered to rewind it, before moving on to placing the box the mirror had come in into the hallway. He can still see his footsteps on the floor, a straight line to the corridor and back, a path of red toes following him wherever he goes. Watching the trail from his seated position, he can still see from the corner of his eye, the cardboard box standing there, leaning against the wall, slightly slumped. Tired from being upright all the time I guess. It was standing right next to the other old paper that has been piling up over the past couple of months. Greasy old pizza boxes and old newspapers which are nothing more than a collection of commercials meant to frame the few articles you find in them. Litter box material. I’d move it if I knew when they would come to pick it up. But Brian recognizes the thought for just another lie. He has become quite good at that. There is a good reason the new schedule for this year’s pick up rounds is also hidden somewhere in that pile.
Brian’s bare feet touch the hardwood floor, his big toe slowly traces a wide gap between the old wooden floorboards of the bedroom. A straight line connecting himself to the reflective surface of the mirror. Looking at his feet, Brian actively tries to avoid following that line to its end. It is difficult, his eyes are pulled towards the end of that line like magnets, wanting to follow it like a breadcrumb trail to its destination, the surface of the mirror. He knows his reflection is right there looking at him, mocking him from the other side of the room. Laughing at him and the way he is sitting here. The floor is cold. My feet are sticky. I am cold. The wooden floor is cold indeed, its touch causing an uncontrollable shudder to go through his whole body, from way down his toes all the way through each individual vertebra in his spine, rushing towards his shoulders and each individual hair in his neck. They stand at attention. In the distance, there is the rumbling sound of a freight train passing through the town, the steady rhythm slowly coming closer. In the street outside a car with a broken exhaust drives by.
Dr. Ekkehardt has not come yet today.
He was supposed to come today. Brian moves slowly back and forth. What day is today? And yesterday? He was here yesterday. Wasn’t he? It’s hard to tell but Brian’s line of thought gets interrupted when, in the corner of the room, his jacket emits a distant, vibrating noise.
Scrambling up from his chair he almost runs towards his leather jacket. Right hand on the fur collar he picks it up, at the same struggling with the sleeves, trying to get at the pocket he knew he left his phone in. The vibrating stops and a few seconds later a distant ping notifies him that the voicemail was reached. But no message, it would have taken longer. With a thud, the jacket falls back to the floor. Brian turns around slowly and makes his way back to the chair, stepping over a stray shoe and sits down, looking once more at the floorboards.
In the mirror, Brian is showing a desperate frown, his body shaking, his fingers fidgetting, his stare ignoring his red feet and the hammer left on the floor next to it, next to the body. Around it, a pool of brown dried up blood.
Dr. Ekkehardt did not come today.
A guard watches Brian through the small window of the heavy metal door. He is sitting on his bed, looking at the wall. “Dinner!” he yells, pushing a metal plate through the opened hole in the door, onto a ledge just big enough to fit the plate. With a loud bang, the briefly opened hole shuts once more. Brian did not move. Shaking his head the tired guard pushes the meal cart forward through the white hallway.
He must have missed his train. He will be on the next one. I’m sure of it.
I’m sure of it.