The Room

by Richard Baldasty

I am about to leave the room with the round rug beneath the pedestal table. It’s not that the people here do not try to be helpful because they do try, at least to a degree. As much as they can for how tired and overworked (so much help needed by so many) they are and must always be. No, it’s not that, not any generic complaint against the uselessness of being in the room with the rug beneath the table. Uselessness per se is not an objection, surely, to be brought against any place or any person. In the cosmic eternity of things—dark matter, antimatter, galaxy cluster collisions—what can mere uselessness mean? If anything is going anywhere to any purpose, how would anyone suspect much less demonstrate?

I am about to leave the room with the round rug beneath the pedestal table simply because it’s drab, nearly bare, cursed by the wan utopianism of nonbelievers in utopia. There’s the round rug, of course, which is charming: multi-colored, concentric circles, 100% wool, hooked and tufted, made by endearing villagers somewhere in Honduras or Pakistan. And the solid value of the antique French pedestal table, Louis XV at least, maybe even two of its three legs genuine Louis XIV grafts on the later parts. Cherry wood. Rich stain. Probably an illustrious history of aristocratic ownership.

The pedestal table on the round rug is itself round. And sitting in the middle of the round table is a round porcelain cache-pot holding the most delightful blossoming display of violets. Oh, that scene, the scented languor! Really, I ought never tire admiring them.

But I did. So I am about to leave. It is a great deal: charming rug, fine table, sweet woodland flowers. But it isn’t everything, and it is everything—serenity unalloyed—that I want. The rest of the room offers little despite the presence of the cadres trying to be helpful. It’s dullish drab, as I have said, otherwise bare, and benighted by a pallid ideology of faux hopefulness. There’s really nothing to do here but scream, yet screaming is the one thing positively disallowed. Anyone who tries—the helpers moonlight as enforcers—is quickly stopped. Tasered, gagged, hog-tied, carried out, tumbled into a cenote, a Mayan sacrificial well.

I have already received two warning notices, two reminders of the rule. Photos of the cenote mysteriously appear on my phone. It’s time. Not a moment too soon, I am ready to leave the room. 


Richard Baldasty is an Irreal veteran: "The Session" (Issue 40) and "Pentacle" (Issue 29). Recent work online includes "The Merchant" at Thickjam.