The crystal banister

Desire overcomes all, said Haruki to himself and took another big sip of grievously bitter sake. His reflection in the frameless mirror was laterally distorted, giving him the impression that he was a drunken sumo player, slanted to his right, unstoppable from reaching the beatified contact with the fortunes of gravity. Haruki was not yet fully impregnated with alcohol like a fetus with liquid in the womb but the plastic cup with sake given to him at the museum’s entrance immediately transposed him into a delirious, indefinable state of wobbly waft through the intricate maze of mirrors, marble statues, illusory corridors, glass floors, translucent stairways, moving walls, mysterious whispering voices with documentary intonations describing so and so sculpture or so and so point of view of a world renowned art critic, but Haruki did not care about all these, he only cared about that piercing scent that he picked up seven minutes ago in the line-up for tickets, which he did not know if it was lilac and caper with an infusion of dry orange skin or freshly squeezed grapes with droplets of strong vanilla essence. He had no idea about perfumes, but he entered the museum crooning a tune just to calm down the excitement, or maybe a memory that was awaken or a feeling that was never felt and wanted to come out of nowhere, like a new organ that grows almost infectiously on an existing one, creating a sort of displacement or desynchronization between two living tissues.

Haruki’s feeling of bewilderment was craning to a contrite torment. Curiosity was flinginghis legs, step after step, but fear was making him swallow sake like air, but rarely and methodically. Here is a partridge made of paper, sitting on a stainless steel egg, that reflects the navels of the passers-by. Well, of those that have the navel exposed, thought Haruki. What a strange creature. The punctilious details of the bird might represent the scars on the heart of the Ikebana artist who made it. I will never understand paper as art. The corridor takes him into a dark room, with no windows and no source of natural light. There is a glowing red neon somewhere in the back. It is a blot of blood, or maybe an exit sign, or maybe a fire hydrant. He drops the paper cup on the floor. No one will notice and they’ll clean up the place anyways. No one will notice and they’ll clean up the place. Paces and further few breaths later enclose Haruki into complete darkness. The air is frowsty. He feels the nearness of the walls and the pulsatory claustrophobic pressure of a gorge. A humanoid shape blends with apparent shadows in a corner and a squeaking noise comes from nowhere as he approaches it. He thinks that courage is when you’re scared to death but still pursue on the steps of horrific danger and inscrutable unknown to face a deformed gargantuan monster around a sharp edged corner. Heavy steps lay on the floor that is covered with a thin layer of rubber with foldings and bubbles here and there. A squeaking noise mimics his steps. There must be sensors in the floor that react at weight. Haruki approaches a chair in the corner, where shades of neon light reveal the verisimilar contour of a museum guard, made of tattered wax, indulging himself in a superficial nap.

Haruki feels no more qualm, heart rates stabilize below a deleterious level and he utters into the guard’s ear you’re just a piece of wax art. You’re pure twaddle. The hidden speakers in the walls retort with an echoed snore in the lower octaves that makes the air vibrate and anticipate an uncontrolled implosion in the darkness. Spotlights materialize from nowhere and shed a focused beam of light on the figurine’s chest where a wooden sign reads There is a door handle behind my back. Haruki grabs the handle and opens the door and is blinded by an avalanche of light from the next room.

He steps on a gang plank, his skin like curried pelt, tremor builds a vortex behind his belt and he senses an indefinable female presence, mingled in the scent, yet impalpable but stronger than ever. The gang plank makes a bridge over a refectory, located at a lower level, in a huge hall with reverberating acoustics, all made of glass, populated with a mort of costumeless characters with prominent exposed bodies in engaged positions at translucent tables, with translucent plates on them and bread and salt shakers. Twaddlers on strike thinks Haruki and looks down at them and washes the show at its surface with a glance.

At the other end of the gang plank a paper samurai blocks the path into the next room. He is holding a tray with little paper swords and seven tiny samurai hats on it. The sign on his chest reads Please take a sword and a curlicue. A curlicue?! Haruki takes a deep breath and waits for no answer from himself or other explanatory source. What a strange costume for a stationer. As Haruki grabs a tiny samurai hat and puts it in his mouth the Sorcerer’s Apprentice by the French composer Paul Dukas 1865-1935, no! ’34, no! ’35! it’s ’35! starts to play from inside the walls and doors close behind him, he steps forward, munching tiny caramel samurai hats, widening the pupils and stretching out his arms.

There she is veiled in a mirific scent, leaning against a crystal banister, like a pretence leans against the truth, in steel or ice, she looks like a golden cat, Haruki feels a billion mice giggling up his spine as he steps towards her, the banister retracts into the ground, it smells like grass, it is grass all over the ground, the walls, the ceiling is open into the sky, there are no windows but walls of grass and now chairs with enameled rungs, raise from hidden niches and flung into the air purple leaves, made of paper, again scent of caper loiters all over and Haruki approaches her, I have been looking for you, and she whispers I have been waiting for you, and the man feels a granite load being lifted from his heart, he feels exculpated from a burning curiosity, from unuttered desire, his body entire is a thorn in honey, he grabs a chair, she grabs a chair, they sit and face each other, reach for each other’s hands and look up at soaring paper doves.

About Vlad Bunea

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