As the waiting for the Dalton Event goes on, I find that my sense of waiting, as in “the particularity of waiting,” weakens. I no longer feel so certain that waiting is what I am doing. I am perhaps, rather, simply “in a place,” doing whatever one does or can do in a place. The first room, with the various viewing booths and such, has proven to be not the only such room. There are numerous others, which I have, since my last posting, perused. In one, I ducked under a curtain and watched a short video in which a girl goes into a hip neighborhood cafe early in the morning and, after waiting in line, is asked what she’d like to have for breakfast. “Some warm beer, please,” she says, to which the barista replies, “certainly,” and pours her a cup of boiling hot coffee. The girl gratefully takes a gigantic gulp of the boiling liquid and her face is burned to a charred nub. Slowly, as she daubs it with a napkin, a hyena face grows out of the wreckage, like it was “the best that could be salvaged.” She dries the hyena face off with the rest of the napkin, clutching it inexpertly with her hyena paws. “How’s your warm beer?” the barista asks, coyly, to which the hyena replies, “a bit chilly,” and, cackling, departs that place. I move on to another room, fingering my “Dalton” ticket in my pocket. I transfer it from the side pocket of my pants to the front pocket of my coat and think, “Now I’ve done a day’s work.” I laugh to myself in a sweaty way and know that soon I’ll be overcome by hunger and will have to sit down. I wonder when the last time I ate was, and what. I’m touching the walls now, running my hands along them like a sufferer from some compulsion. They are decked out in, or made of, gauze and felt and fatty wax and sinew. I touch them and, where possible, break little pieces off and roll them between my fingers before letting go. I think of this place now as a petting zoo of sorts, and realize that I am being babied. They are perhaps making fun of me, of me waiting, knowing that there’s precious little else I can possibly do. I hope to chance upon some village social night soon, with steaming plates of spaghetti or something, and all the elders lined up to judge the entrants in the annual Dessert Competition. I see an old Americana sign tacked to a wall that says “A Journey of 1000 Miles Begins at 711.” I start to get dizzy. Almost by accident, I stumble into another viewing booth. This one is more interactive than most. I’ve barely been in here for a second before it’s co-opted me entirely. Now I am the subject of this scene:

I’m at the edge of the deep jungle in the middle of the night. The usual tiger is standing beside me. He says, “You better get in there and find yourself a place to live.” Thinking of myself also as a tiger, I am at first surprised that I can speak. “You mean like go apartment hunting?” I ask. “You better find somewhere where someone else isn’t,” he replies, and is gone. Bearing this advice in mind, I enter the dense vegetation, looking for signs of inhabitance. I wake up a lion, here, and then a lynx, there, and several pumas and panthers, not to mention snakes, all taken as signs that these sites are inhabited and hence not, for me, inhabitable. Other tigers gnash their teeth, spewing hot grassy saliva, but I, believing myself to be a tiger, believe that they are merely suggesting in our common language that I try a different district in my search for a suitable residence. But then one tiger, awoken suddenly, paws me across the face, tearing out part of one cheek and the underside of the eye on that side, and enough of my gum to leave my upper canines exposed, and with them one whole row of teeth almost back to the molars. Not accustomed to this new wetness upon me, nor to the strange sensation of the night upon my back teeth, I take off at a run. In the distance, I see lights burning, obscured by a moving film of insects. I run through them, making my customary “running through the car wash with eyes closed” whoop. Finally, I arrive. I scuttle past various carts and motorcycles parked outside, and in through the clattering screen door. Though the door makes a loud sound behind me, my arrival seems to go unannounced. My face is now so wet that I feel fresh from the shower. Inside is a dim living room, minimally furnished. There is only a TV set and a man who appears to be a colonel, in tight military T-shirt, naked from the waist down. “You some kind of a eloquent bitch, ain’t you?” he shouts, perhaps at me, but not in my direction. The TV says this same phrase, again and again, so that either he is repeating it, or it him, or they have each chanced upon the phrase independently, through some coincidence. This last possibility seems the least likely, for, when I take a closer look at the TV, I see that this same colonel is on the screen, leading what appears to be an exercise program consisting primarily of the phrase, “You some kind of a eloquent bitch, ain’t you?” The man in the room before me shouts it again, and I see that the object he holds throttled in his hand is an appendage, perhaps one of his own. He grips it ferociously and gesticulates in a wide dripping arc at the screen, as if he believed it to be (or as if it in fact were) a remote control. Perhaps he has pulled it off himself just recently, in a moment of imprudence, or else taken it from another in a recent altercation or exchange. I can see that soon he will crush it to jelly in his fist. I leave him to it and press further into the house, looking for a place to sleep. In the rooms that follow I see a great many figures suspended on hooks. They are almost human but bloated tremendously, their chests and shoulders and thighs so engorged that words like “slabs” or “hocks” seem the only fitting ones to try in this instance. I wonder if there is truly such a thing as “popping,” or only an infinity of “swelling.” Their faces are in some cases so obscured by meat that they barely peep out at all, like the faces of a hermit crab. I take up a cleaver from a nearby table and, striding over to one such fellow, hack off a good handful of his bodily material, whispering to him, “You some kind of a eloquent bitch, ain’t you?” It comes away easily, with a few gentle strokes of the cleaver. Looking at my hand as it swings, I am given pause regarding the question of whether or not I am actually a tiger. Tasting the meat, I cannot tell how old it is. Its inner fluids have congealed into the consistency of a condiment, which I find rather agreeable. I stroll from room to room, each one fuller than the last with these huge suspended forms, carrying the cleaver with one hand, snacking with the other. Finally, when I tire of this, I seek out an unoccupied hook and ease myself first up to and then down onto it, still holding the cleaver. I wiggle around until I manage to slot the tooth of the hook properly into the eye of my spine, and then I relax. I feel some gel-like anesthetic from the metal coursing more or less directly into my brain stem, and relish the tingly feeling. When next I feel like it, I bring the cleaver down onto my thigh and tear off a nice handful, which I raise to my lips, wrapped in denim like a tortilla shell. “You some kind of a eloquent bitch, ain’t you?” I whisper, as I take a bite.

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