What is This?

About six months ago, the tunnel courier delivered to me a series of "comedies" written by Ephraim P. Noble from 1968-1974. Maybe there is an older meaning to the word "comedies" that I'm not familiar with, because they seem nothing like comedies to me. In any case, I have scanned the covers of each of these very short stories, and hope to post them here on a regular basis.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Hand in Window

"A Hand in Window"

There was a lot wrong with 1969, but nothing more wrong than the hand in the window.

Not in, but through. Through the window. I had been trailed home from Gravedigger’s Bar by someone who appeared to have a hunched back. Either that or he had many misshapen things stacked up on his shoulders beneath his trench coat. But it was late. It was deep into summer. The locusts were singing like maniacs in the high branches of diseased elms. I had had few. So what did I know?

I knew this: a hand came crashing through the glass of my apartment window during the middle of the night. I knew that it belonged to a woman, whose face I could see in the moonlight. What were these things? This woman, this moon? What was happening to me? I pitied the woman for being on the outside.

“There’s a door,” I think I said. “You could have knocked.”

Her hand was strong around my wrist. She wanted to pull me somewhere, maybe somewhere out of this earth. As it turns out, I should have gone. But I was young, embroiled in the passing events of my era. I had no sense of time, really. Gigantic ferns grew in the corners of my apartment, left over from the last tenant. An impossibly long green vine snaked its way back and forth across the floor, and up the legs of furniture.

The woman finally let go, but my arm was not the same. I examined the shadows of her fingers on my wrist in the morning, like ashes from a fire. I took aspirins but it still throbbed. The room itself pulsed in green.

At breakfast at the Black Ink Diner on Fifth Street later that morning I looked up from my French Toast and said, to nobody, “she could have knocked.”

The waitress with the beautiful red hair smiled and refilled my cup. The world was steady again.

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