Monday, December 12, 2016

Riddles and Reason

"But what does it mean, the plague? It's life, that's all." 
— The Plague Albert Camus

Her day began as it always does with aching bones and the irritation of waking-up at 3:30 every morning.  She starts the kettle and hears the whistle, but it's not from the steam of hot water.  Instead, to her mild surprise, it's from a train.  She walks out of the building to see if, in fact, there is one.  As she heads up 45th street, the train is rolling through. But the darkness and the fog keep her from seeing it.

"Damn it." She mutters.  But she continues up the street until it comes into view.  The fog swirls around the tracks and she is a bit out of breath. Finally the caboose rolls by and Munny is standing on the back tossing orange peels off the platform.  She only sees him for a brief moment, and then he's gone. The a few orange peels skitter to a stop near her feet. She looks down, "Damn it. That's not good." She mutters again. Turns and heads back to the scream of her own kettle. "I would not think it would be Munny. He doesn't fit."

"Everything okay, Ellen?" Harvey startles her was she heads back into the office.
"Strange things, Harvey, strange things out there."
He cocks his head like a well-trained collie.
"Trains are on the tracks." She glares at him for a moment and closes the door behind her leaving Harvey alone in the hallway.

Throughout the morning, she is restless and unable to focus. The fog makes her feel trapped. By late afternoon, she walks out of The Victorian and more or less wobbles down Blackbird with no particular direction in mind.   She waves her arms from time to time thinking to move the fog from her eyes.  He shouts from the shadows. "Ah, but aren't you the best woman alive at solving riddles?"

She squints in the old man's direction. "What?" She shouts back.
"You heard me!" He responds.
She walks closer, stops, and puts her hands on her hips.
"Go away, woman!" He shouts.
"What damn riddles?"  She shouts back.  And the young boy waves his hands in warning. His eyebrows raised.

"Ridiculous." She says, but feels the tingle down her back as she walks away.

Just as she leaves the grocery store, a women approaches her and says, "Must you ignore everyone but yourself? There are sick people that need curing!"
"What?" Ellen's voice bristles with irritation and she looks at the startling colors enveloping the woman. "Get away from me you gypsy freak!" She shouts and waddles faster toward The Victorian. The woman follows and as Ellen enters, she turns toward the woman and says, "Read the sign on the door, no soliciting. Get the hell away from my door!"

But in her small office watching the fog darken into evening, the tightness in her chest returns and she shouts. "There are no riddles in life!" and throws her cup out into the lobby and it shatters sending countless fragments across the floor.