The voice I heard down at the bottom of the Lamb Blood Pool turns out to have been nothing more than that of an emissary.

 

After it — this emissary, or intern, perhaps — has ushered me through the bottom and into a Room made entirely of Bone (ceiling, floor, walls, banquet table, a Bone toilet behind a Bone curtain in one corner, with a roll of Bone toilet paper nearly used up), it goes on its way, leaving me alone in here with the Silent Professor, about whom, as you know, so much has been written.

 

The room is entirely dry except for a cup of wine that sits by the Silent Professor’s right hand, near where his cufflink on that side scrapes the Bone tablecloth. He looks neither at the wine nor at me, and, for a moment, I can’t tell if I’m actually in here with him or not. I try to think of where else I might be, and then I have a thought that’s something like, “How long will I wait for his lecture to begin?” before realizing, of course, that his lecture is well underway, and probably has been longer than I’ve been in Dodge City.

 

I want to lie down on a couch or at least take a seat at the table, but there is only the one chair, in which the Silent Professor sits and lectures and, I would venture to guess, in which he’s been sitting and lecturing for quite some time.

 

So I take to pacing, smelling my Lamby forearms and the backs of my Lamby hands. I’m barefoot and the Bone floor feels a little like ice, if ice weren’t so cold, not that the floor is exactly warm.

 

The Silent Professor doesn’t follow me with his eyes, and doesn’t even seem to notice when I pass into his field of vision.

 

I start to imagine a pole or spike connecting my body to his, keeping us at a fixed distance, like a moon in orbit, and feel the pressure of this pole or spike in my middle gut.

 

A shudder comes from outside the room — construction work? — and a dusting of bone chips falls before my eyes and, thinking it’s snow, I again forget the floor isn’t ice.

 

Not when will the lecture begin, but, now, when will it end? is my question.

 

The Silent Professor shows no sign of ceasing, just as he’s never shown any sign of beginning. He won’t even look at his wine, or at his French cuffs and cufflinks. He isn’t interested in any of this, apparently.

 

I want to latch onto the lecture in some way — make it about Sherman’s March-to-the-Sea! I think. Make it about 16 Lovers Lane.

 

Make it about The Benjy Section.

 

But the Silent Professor does no such thing. Another rattle comes from outside the Room, and the sound of something being drilled in somewhere and, desperately, exhausted, I think to myself, “They’re setting up the Lucien Freud exhibit on the other side of the wall!” and I lie down on the smooth Bone floor and picture the exhibit going up and then picture walking through it, sipping that wine from the table, and eating a stack of Table Water Crackers, and I picture the paintings — most of them of people I know — and to my great relief, I realize this has been the Silent Professor’s theme all along.

 

He doesn’t look down to where I’m lying, but I know he sees me, just as I know he knows I can hear him even if he has never once, in his fabled university career, deigned to speak.

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