Friday, August 22, 2008

The Waiting Room

High ceilings. Tan walls. Slowly turning fans circulating the air. Several rows of frosted windows let in light, but do not show what is outside the large room. Those inside don’t seem concerned about the outside, if there is an outside at all. The room is quiet and somewhat still, thought some of the figures move through the room – restless as they wait. Jazz music plays at a subliminally low level.
Florescent lights flicker overhead and bathe the figures beneath them with an off white light. The inhabitants shift awkwardly in green plastic seats and try to get as comfortable as they can for the seemingly long wait ahead of them. The room is large and the rows of chairs are mostly occupied. Some figures even sit on the floor – perhaps more comfortable there than on the ridged, uncomfortable seats provided.
The murmur of conversation hums steadily, but rarely goes above a respectable level. The water fountain in the corner returns the hum of the room as a woman leans over and drinks from it. She has ample curves and shimmering blonde hair. Her lips purse as she laps at the cool water that jets from the water fountain. She is completely nude.
Something crashes on the tile flooring in the back of the room and heads turn. The man in the back raises his hand and waves. “Sorry.” He picks up a large, automatic rifle from the tile floor, waves again with an embarrassed look on his face and returns to his seat. He settles the weapon in his lap and glances at a slip of paper in his hand, avoiding eye contact.
A small, round man slips through a set of double doors and comes out to the tiny office area at the front of the room. The rooms focus shifts as he scans the group before him and adjusts his glasses before turning and moving to the metal file cabinet to the right. Eyes filled with hope follow him.
A few members of the assembly lean forward. Others stand and take a quick look at the slips of paper they hold.
The man removes a folder and slides the file drawer shut. He scans the group again and counts quietly. “…thirty…thirty-one….thirty…um…forty-five…” He sniffs and shakes his head, turns, and moves out of the office pen and back through the double doors.
Several members of the group moan audibly. Others curse.
“I don’t buh-believe this. Th-This is taking forever,” a slim man stutters and twists the knot of his tie. He wipes his brow with the back of his jacket and taps his foot rhythmically in an agitated manor. Something drifts past him and disappears into a shimmer of smoke. He doesn’t acknowledge it. “I mean – right?” He looks up to the nude woman as she takes a seat next to him. “Th-This is just sssilly. Wu-Waiting th-this long?”
The woman runs her hands down her thighs then leans back and crosses her legs. She glances at the slip of paper in her hand before shifting her gaze to the man. “Yeah, well….” Her voice is like syrup. There’s a tinge of a New York accent deep within it. She drags a hand through her hair, looks up to the ceiling and frowns, then bites her lower lip. “Uh, I guess. I mean, it’s been a while.” She shrugs and folds her arms over her bosom. Her skin looks like porcelain under the fluorescents. She watches as a man dressed in robes leads a horse past her and the stuttering man at her side. The man whispers to the horse in Hebrew, though the woman doesn’t have a clue what language it is. Why would she?
The woman’s platinum blonde hair falls in front of one eye and she resembles Veronica Lake. She whispers, “Pretty horse.” She re-crosses her legs and breathes out a sigh.
A man and woman kiss passionately in the far corner of the room. She wears jeans and a t-shirt and her hair is cut short and dyed pink. He wears a business suit and large, fuzzy slippers in the shape of bears heads – his feet slipped into their open mouths.
At the back of the room, a woman in some sort of armor space suit presses the buttons H and 4 on a vending machine and watches as a small, metal coil rotates slowly and moves a bag of chips forward. The bag reaches the end of its aisle then hangs for an instant before dropping. It gets caught on the way down between a package of popcorn and the glass. She grumbles and slams her fist into the machine. The loud bang makes heads turn again. The bag drops and she flips the door up and retrieves it. She doesn’t apologies for the noise. She turns and leans against the wall. “I can’t get enough of these. So good.” She pulls the edges of the bag and it pops open. She removes her glove and tucks it into her belt, then reaches into t with a smile playing on her lips. “Like a spicy, chille flavor corn chip. Pretty damn good.”
The zombie facing her nods and blinks his one remaining eye. His flesh is sickly grey and rotted to the muscle and bone in some spots. His clothing is covered with dirt.
“Yeah, those are good. Have you tried the Sun Chips, though? I think they are better for you. Less salt and a better oil? Something like that.” He wipes a bit of spittle from what remains of his lower lip. “Sorry.”
“No problem.” She crunches another chip, then offers the bag out to the grey figure before her. He declines a chip and she reaches into the bag again. “They’re pretty good too, but I prefer these. They aren’t that bad for you overall.”
The zombie nods and glances around the room. His eye drops to the slip of paper in his hand, then back to the space woman. “Yeah.” He nods absently. “Is this all metal here?” He points a rotted finger to the woman’s shoulder pad.
“Carbon core silicone weaves.” She nods and drops three chips into her mouth. “It’s lighter,” she mumbles through the chips.
Something stomps past. It’s eight-foot frame blocks the light for a moment as it passes. The thing cocks its head and sniffs the air. It’s eyes narrow and it crouches down to scratch it’s foot before moving to the far right side of the room. It takes a seat next to a brunette wearing bright red running pants and a sweatshirt with “Born To Run” written across the front in gold letters.
She looks at the werewolf beside her and shifts in her seat slightly to give it more room.
It looks down at her and slides its legs out to the side, leaning out and away from her a bit. Its maw is somewhat short and its nose is dark and wet. Its grey hair is neat and not too long. Pointed ears poke off of its head at the sides. I has broad shoulders and long, muscular arms. It opens its mouth and a row of sharp teeth glisten as it’s steel blue eyes lock on her. “Sorry, do you have enough room? I can move over a bit.”
“No, no – I’m fine thanks.” She smiles.
The werewolf licks its lips. “They call H38 yet?” Its looks towards the office pen.
“Not since I’ve been here,” she says as she slips the baseball cap forward on her head. The werewolf’s breath smells like meat, but she tries to ignore it.
He looks back to the baseball cap girl and his fingers tap on his hairy knee. “They called that girl with the baseball bat WAY before me, but I thought I was here first, you know?” The werewolf scratches its side with a massive hand. Claw tipped fingers rake through the fur there. “I guess that’s not how it works. Not sure what’s up, really. I thought it was pretty clear that I was here first though. But…you know.” It huffs out a sigh and holds up it’s hands in resignation.
The girl shrugs.
The werewolf nods and leans back in its seat. “Yup yup yup….”
The short, round man pushes through the double doors again.
Again, the crowd in the room comes to a hush and all focus moves to the little round man as he moves to the front of the office pen, this time avoiding the file cabinet.
A woman dressed in a business suit stands and grabs up her briefcase hopefully as a small S.W.A.T. team stands at attention next to her. Their leader waves his hand. “Shh…quiet down, people.” He holds up their ticket with a gloved hand.
The office man clears his throat and grips a small, silver microphone that sits on the desk at the front. He presses the button on the side and leans into it. “C89? C89, please?”
The room lets out many disenchanted, yet subtle groans of disappointment. All but one go back to what they were doing.
A woman with short, dark hair moves towards the office pen and holds up her slip. “C89 – right here.” Her voice is matter of fact and quiet. She slips past a small group of dogs and they all wag their tails. She slips past them and moves forward. Someone blocks her and she whispers, “Pardon me.”
A man covered in blood smiles at her and moves his paper aside so she can pass. “Sorry.”
The woman makes her way to the front desk and hands her slip to the office man. She smiles politely.
He checks the number and smiles back. “Good, good.” He slides the ticket into a slot on the desk and gestures to her. “Now, you ate a dime before, right?”
She nods brightly. “Yes. In a coffee shop.” She touches her stomach, then raises her hands and makes small quote marks in the air with her fingers. “It’s inside my body right now.” She smirks.
“I see. I see. Fine.” He motions to the side. “Ok, will you please step around to the gate? I’ll let you though.” He points and smiles.
The woman nods and makes her way down the aisle towards the small gate. She waves back to the waiting room occupants as she passes through the tiny, batwing doors and a few people wave back begrudgingly.
“Ta-totally unfair…” the stuttering man whispers as she moves out of the room through the double doors. He looks over his shoulder to the row of chairs behind him where an anthropomorphic dog sits reading The Three Musketeers. “Right?”
The dog looks up from the book and glances at the man, then to the double doors as the swing closed. He shrugs and says, “Well, what are you gonna do?” and then goes back to reading.

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