I’m stuck on the word you used. Why should one word “jwhorwl” be a key — the only key — to understanding the passage, and by extension the story you wrote. I wax semi-affirmative on the style, the composition, and the concept — the artifice — behind it.
But Sevastopol calls me out and says, “How can you speak about it intelligently without knowing the meaning of that word or liking that passage? Is that possible?”
You look askance at me. And I fill the air with words defending my critique, using my own stories as examples. Some energy is drained from the room…
The museum is closed, but sometimes people get in and use the restrooms near the vestibules and outer halls while the ticket takers and other staff setup at 7am.
There is a man taking flash photos of some of the works in this area, and as I’m coming to speak to him, he moves to another room. This is an attempt to get into another wing of the museum, but I ask him to leave. I tell him we aren’t open yet.
He continues shooting photos until I impose myself, and then I walk him out. I tell him to look at all that he can do until we open, making a sweeping gesture at the wide strip unspooling before us full of casinos and amusement parks.
I head back inside to another entrance area at the museum. Many people, much too crowded, packed in are waiting in another vestibule area — this one festooned with gothic colonnades, dozens of medieval madonna with child panels, and multiple takes on the Pietà. Even though I work at the museum there is something unspoken and the guard won’t let me in because I’m somehow not “legitimate.”
A moment later I’m somehow inside, and I know the passage to get to the other wing of the museum where I need to be— the contemporary wing — but the way is closed and now I find myself with the man I escorted out earlier…
Another man, a well dressed man, sits in the seat between us. He is handsome and you stare at his clothes and face. I engage him in conversation — he is well spoken.
Then I’m doing some sort of violence to him. I’m bloodying his face in some undefined way, but definitely bloodying it. Tearing at his hair. The man I’m beating is called in for an interview; and now I need to help him clean up so I don’t get fired.
We try to walk into a couple of men’s rooms in different halls of the museum but they’re being cleaned. The cleaning person snaps the chain brusquely across the bathroom door.
Closed For Cleaning.
We have to queue. We wait. Wait.
“If I throw myself fully into my work again, very good, but I shall always be cracked.”
— Vincent van Gogh / Letter to Theo van Gogh, May 3, 1889