I can't believe I missed church to write this down, but my subconscious sure is feeding me a marvelous soap opera...
"He certainly is a tidy person."
The earthly goods of Seymour Levine hung or lay in neat piles in an
chipboard wardrobe: four pairs of pants (khaki, grey flannel, jeans, and black), four jackets (jean, olive drab, black leather, blue blazer), a black off-the-rack suit, some sweaters (basic shetland, blue, Irish fisherman, Missoni copy, nubby black), along with an assortment of T-shirts from the Lower Manhattan area (declaring his allegiance to among other things, a Chinese restaurant, a copy shop, Strand Bookstore, and John Lennon), two white shirts, a pair of Converse Hi-Tops, a pair of Bass loafers, and several pairs of shorts. Arranged near them, tastefully, and with an eye towards both practicality and aesthetics, was a simple bedstead, with nightstand, an office area with a desk with a folding chair, and a bookshelf holding a boombox, currently playing the Violent Femmes. Nearby, was what you might term a kitchenette, with a bar fridge holding a hydroponic lettuce, half a bottle of mineral water, half a lemon, an opened jar of olives and a slightly wilted bunch of parsley, next to another bookshelf holding two cans of beans, a box of Barilla spaghetti, and some cans of Campbell's soup (tomato, chicken, and mushroom), along with a bottle of soy sauce, some nuoc mam, and a jar of chili powder, and surmounted by a microwave oven, upon which was a dishpan containing a single placesetting of white porcelain and stainless steel, including a pair of lacquer chopsticks. Everything could have come out of a housewares magazine, except, of course, that it was at the deep end of a drained swimming pool.
"You only have about ten minutes to look this over." an Asian woman, who'd given her name as Miss Peng remarked. She wore a black turtleneck sweater, and looked very official, and a little tired, as if she'd been up all night. "They want to put it in storage as soon as they can." She glanced upward at the banners reading "Go Benham!" and "Aquacats Reign #1!"
"I suppose we can't take any of it." I asked.
"If you can find anything out of the ordinary. Although, I suppose, that means all of it...but if you can find something, anything...." She touched her forehead, and frowned. "We've been over most of it for fingerprints. It just doesn't look like a suicide note."
Gordon Gano voiced his sexual frustration one last time, before the tape segued into the Ramones playing "Blitzkreig Bop". "Kind of odd tastes in music..." A balding fellow in a dark suit opined. "Mr. Levine was a bit old for all this...punk rock."
"No accounting for tastes." I said, cheerily. I'd had reason to be cheery -- after spending six hours trying to prove my sanity in the ER, with nearly every sentence being broken by interruptions, like bad vinyl, the nice people from City Handling came through and got me two weeks observation in the Comfy Cottage. I cooled my heels, read The Magic Mountain, concocted gourmet meals with bits and pieces from the Food Pantry, toasted my good fortune with Cranbernet Sauvignon, and after fourteen days of enforced non-smoking, non-drinking non-hallucinating Chinese-Checker-playing good behavior bid the staff a fond farewell, gifting them with my portrait of their cat, Princess. Things had been going pretty well, I would say, except for Seymour's disappearence.
I walked over and turned the tape off, looking at the half-a-dozen people in expensive clothing picking gingerly though Seymour's things. He'd never been wealthy, but some of his friends were -- hanging on the outskirts of the New York art and poetry scene got you into some pretty upscale parties, now and then. Dark Suit was lucky Seymour hadn't chosen Stockhausen, John Cage or (I shuddered to think) one of his own compositions, which tended towards Leonard Cohen as interpreted by aliens. I put the tape in an envelope, and saw a CD still in the player, which I also took. I then looked at the books on the shelves.
Most of it was as bland as the rest of the ersatz apartment. Seymour's own library ran heavily to artists' books, avant-garde and/or Beat Generation and/or Sixties graphics, while the bulk of his considerable archives were his countless interviews and performance videos. There was a copy of The Family of Man, and one of the Phaidon Art Book, and a travel book depicting scenes of Tuscany. I looked for da Vinci and Vermeer, and they were there, along with Ulysses, Lolita, and A Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish. But then, I found something.
I'd never seen this book in his apartment before -- the text ran up and down the pages instead of across, for half the book, and the rest was a series of tables, in very small type.
As far as I could tell, the story was about a fellow who'd been more-or-less a normal suburbanite, but had left his quadrilateral existence to find himself and take drugs. Unlike the usual confessional tale, however, he seemed to have taken opiates without getting addicted, and without remorse. Now and then, there was a page of black-and-white illustrations on the up-and-down side. Instead of a publisher, Alicia Hill was listed as "bookbinder".
The DVD was even odder. An elderly man's voice was saying "Of course, dey was Puerto Ricans back den, you gotta unnerstan'. I never dealt wit' dose. It was enough dealin' wit' de Italians..." Visually, all that could be seen was a sophisticated video of a pair of eyes synched to the voice-over: when the fellow mentioned the Puerto Ricans and Italians, national flags showed up in the irises...
Looking again, I found the finely-printed side of the book in a computer language neither BASIC, FORTRAN, nor COBOL....