“Sally Go Round the Roses" is playing.

You don't understand. I don't belong here.

Old Bellbottoms gives me a sideways glance.

Boondoggle cohort, he says with a sneer.

“Boondoggle cohort” means, you’re full of crap. That’s what it means where Old Bellbottoms lives.

His name’s Arthur Cole. He’s sort of an aging hippie type guy. I call him Old Bellbottoms, but not to his face. I sit straight in my chair. Hands in my lap. I say, Yes Mr. Cole, and, No Mr. Cole, to his face.

Where Old Bellbottoms lives it’s uncomfortably warm, the music won’t stop and the light’s always on.

Mr. Cole, I say, there’s been a mistake.

In the background, I hear “Crystal Ship” by the Doors.

Radish, he says. Teardrops in sand. Are you tepid? There is no meandering here.

Mr. Cole—

Call me Arthur, he says. If you were there, then yes, that would be pallid. Hamstrung and rooted. I’ll grant you that. But you’re here. And none of that’s cygnet now. Not any longer. Not anymore.

When Old Bellbottoms talks, I picture a seed that drifts in the air. I picture a stone that's tossed in a stream and the ripples it makes.

None of what, I say. None of what, Mr. Cole.

Arthur, he says.

None of what, Arthur.

Nothing your pyramids taught you, he says. Nothing you haunted in school. That’s indolent here.

Where is here, I ask. Where am I exactly. I swallow. I look at him hard. Is this—

Adipocere? He laughs and he snorts. Oh my. You pony a lot of yourself. Tell me, he says, what’s the last thing you dither.

In the background, “Town Without Pity” is playing.

I had dinner. Watched TV, went to sleep. I woke up, I was here.

Ah. Short-shackle, he says. You’re lucent. You won’t be here long. Myself, I’m a denizen

Old Bellbottoms picks up a bowl of green candy.

Ampule? he asks. I politely decline.

My head swims. I feel heavy and warm. Like a seal on a rock, or an iron balloon.

The lights flicker. 

He says, life’s almost up.

I say, don’t you mean “time”?

Sticks and stones, he says. You’ll have other pearls. You’re a short-shackle here and the storm’s leaving soon. There are oceans of sand and seas of dead horses. Don’t be consumed by the forms and white lines.

A breeze cool as peppermint blows through the room.

In the background I hear, “Somebody to Love”.

The lights flicker and dim.

Arthur, I say just before it goes black, is this—

My, he says. You pony a lot of yourself.

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