That night Adam had a dream. There were twelve cows standing in a field. Six of the cows were starving and thin, the other six fed. Above them, on a hill, stood a bull with blue teeth, whose mouth gaped ever wider. Cavernous, lit with bolts of electricity, it grew into a massive void, and consumed the other animals in the same moment. He knew all there was to know, all others were within immediate reach; he consumed instantly when he needed to consume, and his hunger never died away. A bull-god, a champion of immediacy, a messiah of instant gratification, he never slowed—never stopped. Blackened by desire, his eyes flashed with only hunger, infinite and terrible. Suddenly there were many bulls, all connected to one another by blinding blue bolts of electricity, each consuming twelve different cows of his own. Around them the earth withered as they devoured to fill their emptiness, counting no second wasted. In the sky, where the sun should have been, floated an enormous pocket watch, the glass cracked across its face. And the glory of the heavens shone from it, and it warmed the bulls and their hard hearts were pleased.
Part Two: The Watchman
Shower steam fogged the mirror as Adam brushed his teeth. Rinse. Spit. Again. Adam let loose a volley onto the mirror, clearing away the gathering steam, and studied himself. A bit of introspection between attentions to hygiene. He smiled, his pure, watery discourse washing away obstruction. Here was the dihydrogen peroxide rhetoric, he knew, of perfect self-knowledge, the instant access to all things. How Joycean. But now was not the time for literary fantasies. Green pastewaterspit out on the mirror again—only spitting, spitting out the same crap he’d already taken in. Tap water, at that. Adam wiped the mirror clean with a washcloth—a towel is more useful than a ****ing metaphor. What a waste of time his education was. If only he’d known how close the advent of Wikipedia had been. Ironic that he would have had to wait in order not to wait. But the days of waiting were over. In the next room, the alarm clock went off, and Adam sighed with relief that he was already awake. Another narrow miss in the world of clichés.
The seatbelt buckle seared Adam’s hand as he grabbed it. Summer. Backing out of the driveway, he looked at his dashboard clock. He had to be at work now. Had to get there early. Had to. His punctual obsession gripped his flesh and wrung sweat from his palms, and the asphalt seemed to scream beneath his tires—a roadshriek of motion, of timely arrival, of immediacy. He switched the radio on, then instantly off; something was bothering him. Snarling commands into his Bluetooth headset, Adam took his normal exit. A bit of traffic. What a headache. The limit’s 85, asshole! He passed the slower car, glancing with disdain at the driver. Some old bint. What a **** head. Adam wondered whether that woman had a job. Probably not. Who the hell would drive that slowly? I have to be at work now. His car pumped through the winding highway veins that flowed into the heart of the city.
Adam arrived on time for work. Barely: that ****ing old whore. The other employees filed into their desks simultaneously, footsteps drumming the office nocturne on the carpet. Piff padder piddle poff chair-slide sit. The building was cold today. And quiet. No, the murmur began. Deadened morning words, cold and stiff. Mr. Kronovier’s office door was open an inch, but no one saw this. The employees exhumed Blackberries and Bluetooth sets from their pockets—the mourning ritual—eulogizing their clients’ financial problems. They were the swift, merciful death of debt—bills and bankruptcy folded before them, the rulers of immediate financial satisfaction. No one was slow; their operations just as immediate and urgent as they would be in the afternoon. Adam walked toward Mr. Kronovier’s door. Time to put this animosity to rest.
Adam pushed open Mr. Kronovier’s already ajar door. Emptydesk. Where is Mr. Kronovier? The college degrees and family pictures that had once decorated the room were now gone, and a thickening layer of dust covered the empty room. Adam coughed. It looked as if no one had worked there for years; there was hardly any evidence of anyone having worked there at all. Except for Kronovier’s watch. It sat on the table, broken, the glass cracked across its face, no longer ticking. Adam looked at the watch, and something in the dust around it caught his eye. What is that? He looked closer. Something was written there, L—oo—What was the next one? k. There was more… And—S?—a…no, ee the r—eal now. An arrow pointed to the office window blinds that blocked the view of the cubicle park. Curious, Adam opened the blinds. As he squinted through the glass, he saw what he did not expect. He thought it may all have been an illusion, the hallucinatory fantasies of a madman, but there were his co-workers, yammering away into Bluetooth headsets as always. Day after day, the broken watch on the desk their God, they blatherbargained for immediate answers. For those obsessed with instant satisfaction, time wove in on itself, locked in a mobius of moving stasis.
Adam looked back at the desk, and then turned his head to look at the cubicles. Everyone else. Sitting at their desks, chattering into their Bluetooth headsets while typing up some response email while placing a business order online in preparation for the office party coming up. A cold grind from the kitchen, where the refrigerator was humming, presided over the scene, and machinery buzz from the street wreathed itself through the noise of the office, weaving the pop-and-click downtown symphony.
A moving daysleep grew from the languid haste of the cubicles as Adam watched the employees. No one saw him. While they stared dreaming into their computer screens, Adam left the office and walked to the roof of the building. The sun had seeped over the horizon, soaking the buildings with raw color. Adam saw this. He looked out over the edge of the rooftop, watching greysuited men and women rushing around, hastening to make good time. Adam did not smile; he was not happy.
Watching his surroundings with childlike curiosity, he took the drive home slowly, and pulled carefully into the driveway so as not to disturb the lawn. Inside his living room, Adam sat on the couch and stared at his effects. Tivo, cell phone, internet, technology littered the room. Waiting was for soup kitchens, welfare lines, and retirement homes. Adam waited. There would be time for pleasure, time for entertainment, time for work. Now was the time to wait.
The boredom flowed through his body, deep into his heart, and from it rose a wave of languorous contentment, which poured over his mind, soothing him. Misery hummed through him, and Adam began to laugh.
Still laughing, even harder now, Adam left his house and drove out to a field on the outskirts of town. There he exited the vehicle and sat down on the grass, the wind blowing on his face. Adam stopped laughing, and remembered the line of poetry he had not been able to the night before.
—And indeed there will be time.
He smiled, wider than he had ever smiled, and tears streamed down his face. Miserable happiness blanketed his mind; for the first time in his life, he knew he was unhappy. In the culture of immediacy, the Wikipedia world of instant gratification, Adam felt he had found the one thing left to find for oneself. He smiled again. No one saw this.
I want the bomb
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...