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Randall's Room

Occasional side effects may include runny nose, diarrhea, loss of appetite,
"Jesus Christ did I just say that?" He wonders almost but not quite,
Flip, flip, flip
In the corner of the otherwise darkened room there is the faint whisper
Of near metallic kisses and
A virtual blitzkrieg of flickering, shuddering, self adjusting light that
The roaches to scatter.
Out on the boulevard beyond the single, grimy, stuck window
That hasn't been open in years there are wackos with lasers and
Receivers everywhere and subtle signals bouncing off of everything or
Going right through to be intercepted on the other side, by
The initiated, they watch
I am here every Thursday, I help Randall wait
For the guy with the plastic jacket, he buzzes precisely
At nine thirty-five, but there is always a startle
Even though the buzz is expected, like spinning the crank on a
jack-in-the-box four dozen times,
And jumping in alarm
Every single time the clown pops out.
The family is gathered around the breakfast table, mom is dressed for
The children are smiling over an instant breakfast as dad
Runs out the door with a briefcase,
Randall retires to another room, and I take his money and make
A crack in the doorway,
I take the white package, and even though there are no words I think
The guy with the plastic jacket drives a double-parked, rusty Buick
With obscene tail fins.
Randall passes by me in a swoosh of musty air on his way to piss once
The environment is secure,
I place the demon inside his kit which is always located
Exactly three and a half inches from the metal edge of the greasy counter
The heap of empty whiskey bottles,
Every week I bring him smoked chicken on a sourdough roll, double onion
Two pickles, and two, two liter bottles of Coke,
All about the room there are Styrofoam cartons of
Chicken sandwiches with various numbers of bite crescents, some half eaten,
Blue but
Not a single onion ring.
On one of my first visits here with a junkie named Steve,
I noticed that on top of Randall's toilet tank there was a tiny, incongruous
island of precision,
His ancient, rusty, double edged razor, the kind with the screw on the
Of the handle was positioned on a dusty, stained washcloth
Spread out like a picnic dressing,
Beside it was a toothbrush with no bristles and a pair of huge tweezers, all
Perfectly perpendicular.
I considered this array a while and wondered if maybe there wasn't something
Sublime going on here,
So I tweaked the razor out of alignment before I flushed,

Later, that evening I saw that Randall had slipped in
And put it back in its place.
Built Ford Tough,
Sometimes we talk, I always have two beers, usually
We stare at the box waiting in filthy silence, cannons and bombs
Didn't do this damage, although
They finished the rough edges and putrid veneer
Of childhood torture and neglect.
Flip, flip, flip
It is snowing and much, much more is on the way there is
A winter storm warning but
The storm is already here,
Clank, clank, clank, clank, the furnace limps to life in a dark room
Distant from us,
As empty cups, cigarette ashes, dead bugs, and other detrius swirl
In small sultry pockets in various
Locations around the room that
Randall doesn't notice.
Images, stark and western, startling yet empty
Receed even as they grip the attention
Of the buyers and the sellers,
Ride the shadows on the walls pausing in the nebulous aura
And vanishing for eight long minutes,
I crush my can and rise, checking for
Pulses in the air,
Bidding farewell because you never know with all the loaded guns around
And vowing my return, skipping over the broken linoleum chunk in
The doorway I pause to see if he knows I'm leaving but
As usual he doesn't.
On the stairwell outside I know
The routine,
I pull the door to the jam with a soft click, and think
At least one thing works in this world,
I pause, thinking surely there
Was something more that could have been said,
I finally take two tentative steps toward the flight and
Pause again, hoping to sense something, and then I take
The first step down, and
The second, and the third and then
Click, click, click, click
The locks on Randall's door are thrown.

- Mike Glover

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