Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snap Shot Theatre: Placement


By Stuart Warren

I awoke to find myself in a white presence, familiar and interminable. My gaze flitted about the room. I was driving, or walking; I can't remember which. And now I am here, in this impregnable conundrum. 

A man sat at a desk before me. Was he there when I arrived, or did he simply come into being? I could not tell. His eyes looked kind and friendly, and one arm extended from his body offering my self to take a seat at a chair before him. Whether the chair was there, if it had been there at all, I could not be certain. This man who simply appeared, desired me to trust him, and I was compelled by unknown impression to agree with him, as if it were my nature to do so. And I did trust him. I found my body approach him, take a seat.

He was a thin man. His features were not gaunt, or sickly. Perhaps dainty was a better word to describe him. His fingers meticulously prodded instruments within his immediate sphere. Pencils and pens were spread equidistant across his desk in organized clusters. A simple organizing box was mounted in the corner of his desk, finely labeled "In," and "Out," in ebony, bolded in crystalline lettering. Taking off his pleasant bi-focals, he spread his long fingers across the desk, and swiveled presumptuously in his chair, bobbing back and fourth, back and fourth, in a semi circle. 

"Well," he began in a clear, precise voice. "Well, well, well. Are you ready to take the plunge? It's a big step you are making, a big one indeed; one for the ages."

"I beg your pardon?" I heard my own voice trail off into the abyss that surrounded me. It was flat, undefined by space, and separated from my body, which I felt unaware of.

"You've arrived," he said plainly, glancing down at his hands, which now held a crisp manila folder. Where it came from, I could not say. "I ought to place you."

"Place me?" I asked. Had I died, I wondered?

"Yes," he replied, as if to both. "There is always placement. That never changes."

Opening the folder he thumbed through the few documents that it contained, though he seemed to flip through an immeasurable amount despite this.

"I don't understand," I began, politely, as I did not wish to disturb him in any way, "Why do I need to be placed?"

The man hummed a familiar tune, one I could not approximate, though its intonations struck me as something that I had heard recently on the radio while driving to work. He raised his eyes, grey and observant of my discomfort. With brotherly affection he smiled, and patted me on the shoulder swiftly and guffawed.

"Come now," he said jovially. "Cheer up. This is all very normal. I understand."

I shifted, I think, in my seat awkwardly.

"'Normal?' Are you Saint Peter?"

At this the man, flashed an indignant expression, seemingly appalled. Closing the folder he stood up abruptly, and walked over to an upright filing cabinet and put it away. I didn't recall seeing a filing cabinet when I had arrived.

"He's on vacation," the man replied politely, returning to his desk. Taking a seat he leaned back once more, and looked at me hard, as if trying to discern something hidden within me. After a good while, how long I wasn't certain, he slowly nodded agreeably, having made a decision in his mind. 

"Maybe this wasn't the right time," he finally said. Leaning forward he said, "Apologies," and tapped me on the forehead. I felt a sudden pull on my heart, lurching forward as he flashed out of my mind. My heart pounded against my chest, as a hot pain coursed through my body. Surrounding me were shouts and cries for help, as the familiar tune bled into reality, stuttering through a discordant radio. A man slid in beside me holding an orange box of medical equipment and began to shine lights in my eyes.

"I'm right here," he said in a frantic, authoritative voice. "Are you still with me?"

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