“It’s just like that.” Angus nods, turning suavely in his cubicle chair, “It’s exactly like that.”
His pony-tail hat-hair swishes in front his face, lanky legs crossed flamboyantly, one over the other, flashing his humongous space-shoe Nikey trainers at us all. I yield back and crack a smile.
“Do they even have enough space for a full one?”
It’s too early to engage so I droop in my chair.
Sunday shift. April 3. We see the inklings of morning dusk, rising above the city buildings up there. They’re dribbling and bouncing, reflecting the clustering light photons between the glossy, bossy, glassed-up surfaces of Tel Aviv banker land. Sat behind our clammy desks, our tired retinas ask for rest. Angus, Yaeli, Linda and I, all yawning, some sneezing, barely awake yet still so asleep, scan through our countries, tapping our mice, sweeping, we sieve through the tabbage. And with a leather-like, worn-in haste, the machine starts on grinding. It’s a well oiled paste, winded and binded, so thoughtfully combined. “Haaaaaaaarrrchew”
Damn Angus. We’ll all get sick. But bless you. Bless me. Bless us all since we’re in these salt mines, together, mining, filing…..And see there? That’s my swivel chair – it’s a recumbent cycle – of sorts: a sunken quilt-cradle built for the tired. Expired.
Think laden-eyelids – burrowed and trailed – seeking retirement, stewing in soothing sweet pillows for hire…the smell of pistachio, soft cotton sapphire. My hearty duvet from office attire.
(Readjusts tin-foil-cap, points to thermostat)
Now look – this office thermostat’s been spiked too for sure…It’s been meddled to see which worker-bee,
into the land of Noddy. See?
They’re on the hunt for sleepy-head-bees lusting to catch some shuty-eye Zzz. I swear, ’cause it’s so darn hot in here. “It’s all an illusion Anna, you know” yes Angus. We know. You’d know all about ill-u-sions. ‘Life through the click, death by the tab’ our insignia in Latin. Or Greek. Clikety click. Tab after tab. Bezillionth drab –
“Anna – YOU KNOW?”
My eyes dart open.
Wake up woman. Wake up goddamn. I look from screen to screen. Stare – Tab 56: ‘Khaleda might turn herself in.’ Wink. Blink.
Blink that sobering monolith blink.
Ghee BNP, who would have thought? Protests in Maldives, in Bang-la-desh, fresh protests ongoing, slated for soon, fresh protests for someone, fresh protests for you! Such hype, must type: “maintain heightened vigilance” Type out some more. Then map.
Map out Dhaka.
Map out Malé.
Malé was funner; the archipelago nation from satellite’s gaze, is a damn cute one; a bunch of tiny specks drifting in the indigo, plastic-ridden coasts of the Indian Ocean. When El Niño visits, they’ll haze into the new Atlantis. An oceanographer’s wet dream, a diving hotpot! A neat maritime research grant for some lucky bastard. Until then, Tab 66: ‘authorities pepper spray media reporters outside President’s Office.’
Hmm, adhere some milk? (Types): ‘adhere some milk, avoid nonessential travel…potential for further unrest‘ bla bla bla umm no yea maybe ignore the milk. Defo no milk. Backspace the milk. BACKSPACE THAT MILK: Stop making excuses for breakfast woman!
Angus rubs his nose in circular motions – a mini roundabout, then looks up alarmed, unable and unwilling to contain it, flashing his fangs and with one big heave roars like a T-rex swamping the staplers, mouse-pads, keyboards with his dingo sputter flem. Organic. “That wall does not exist.” He assures us, wiping the back of his palms on the front of his trousers. “I’m telling you” Tsunami over, he circles his nose again. Hoola-hoop, Hoola-Hoop.
20 minutes pass.
“The wall does nooooooot exist.”
Fine. I halt my typing.
Stop google earthing; shut off the monitors, hootsuites and Malés. Then, with pretend cat in lap, I pivot in my bicycle-bed chair with what I’d like to imagine was a sort of grand, slow-mo ‘bring-it-on’ shrug, embracing what was going to be, a personal, work-inappropriate sparring with Angus about humanity and walls.
(BTW, that moment looked different in my head; t’was fueled principally by delusion and gay motivational work-out jam, pulping my right eardrum (read brain-lobe) into a mush, and mistakes were made. Also, yes the Scottish adaptation of Rachel Platten’s ‘Fight Song’ made me to do it. No I have no shame, fuck you. Anyways now that I’m awoken from Angus’ generous sprinkling of germs, I’ve reached a state of Zen which permitted me to interpret his relentlessly satiric antagonism as a mere cry for detail. A queue for disclosure. He saw my ‘Freedom to Move-ment’ bag, and it was time to speak.)
So back to the story, my grand swerve-around moment was more precisely a spasm-like twitch, the sort a big grey epileptic dog might produce upon being shot up with needle medicine right up the butt. Nevertheless.
Yaeli glances disapprovingly.
Angus is ready. The cheeky glint in his eye dances fervidly like that idle blue flame from a British Gas commercial. His huge sneaker shoes do a little twinkle-toe dance too. We lock eyes. Interrogatively, he places his hands in a finger-cage (Mr. Burns style):
“How did you get there?”
“Well Angus, I’m a gentile – I’m allowed.”
“No I mean – how did you get there?”
“Oh I took a bus, duh.”
The bus from Damascus Gate leaves promptly, full of hooded men, loving, tired, dreary — hazel-eyed men — with work hands and nails. They commute to Jerusalem for work, crossing the lines, papers in hand, terms and conditions apply. The other side, a mere 6.50 ILS, a bargain, where the strawberries are sold by the bag-full, and the green-lit Mosques preach their song. My friends and I wind through the creamy, crummy streets of our prophet’s birth. We climb to the rooftop of Bethlehem University’s pedagogic building from which we see our wall. Our walls.
Jabotinsky’s vision enacted.
Fast forward. “Close the window please, I don’t want the tear gas to enter.” I slide her window shut as she tells me about her Spaniard fiancee: “If a war breaks out, we’ll move to the Canary Islands!” She shows me her artwork. Did she use tape or is it free-hand?
“Did you use tape or is it free-hand?”
“Free hand of-course. My professors won’t like it though.” Her professors didn’t like it. She swapped universities. I was too late, we smell our wall.
Fast Forward. The baby girl stands on top of the pizza place table. She leaps into her father’s arms with no prior warning, like a sort of Kamikaze baby doll. He telepathically catches her, hands attuned to her tiny bones, jerks, whims, foes, throws, shakes, pokes. He makes an order for the both of them. She sticks her pygmy fingers in the cheese, and outwitted by the wholesome slime, clings onto a part of burnt crustage. It is the night before the run. Our Hawaiian order is running super late and – perhaps they’ve lost the can opener? We’re carb loading. Hoarding. Hoping. What’s the route again? Is there enough space for a full 42K? We’ll run near our wall.
If you say so.
Fast Forward. The Daewoo Nexia speeds through the cliffs and hills and turns and twists through the land of Western Bankers, who are neither western, nor bankers. We speed fast forward. Forward. “No no Miss, you stay inside the bus – Miss! You can stay inside the bus.” I stay inside the bus. My friends queue one by one outside.
“Lemme explain this to you Angus. You’ve seen Harry Potter right? Right, so you already know how to get there.”
Angus squints, “How so?”
“That Platform. Platform nine and three quarters. You charge full speed ahead, (demonstrates with swivel bicycle chair) … and you Indie go-go (fake pedals) but you no walkie talkie. You go; In escape of your muggle-ridden banality, the measly existence you call reality, you cross the wall to the other side.”
Linda pauses. Yaeli looks up.
“It’s a secret though remember – only some people get to go. And some people do go –“
They listen acutely, pinpointed pupils staring outside.
“Once you make it through the wall, Voila viva la fiesta, viva la noche, Hogwart Express awaits. And so simple no? No. There’s a glitch inside. Well, actually two: a) the wall is far from complete. Remember it’s three quarters done, so there’s patches and it’s hasn’t quite won. But give it time, and it may be fixed. What won’t be fixed —
—“each world thinks its the magic one?”
Stunned at his sudden spurt of aptitude, I smile approvingly,
each side thinks its Hogwarts.”