Naked Lunch August 19, 2010Posted by Mark Folse in Counting House, cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
If you’re bothering to order something healthy, a salad & a plastic bottle of spring water & you’re taking it outside into the fresh air & then there’s some damn truck parked just under the balcony, the horrible rumbling in the street of the shuddering diesel engine left to spew out soot and fumes but if I light a cigarette here after lunch the army of gray concierge guards will descend on me with stern faces. The tables all around me are full of happy office friends (& HR wants to know: do you have a friend at work? as if it were any of the company’s fucking business) & the hollering & laughing at every table is so loud to make themselves heard over the thundering truck’s unattended engine but somehow it’s still the best place to read or think in this building, remembering the blocks of cubicles upstairs ranked in beige silence barely broken by the skeletal rattling of keyboards, a cough, some whispered business, the cricketing of telephones. It makes you want to walk back out out to the elevator lobby and study the letters of the directory again to find out which of these endless Lego block rooms holds which deceased but instead you go down to lunch & sit outside in the roar of the exhaust amid the gay tables of women, tossing cracker bits to the pigeons & reading Bukowski & watching the Whitney Bank branch across the street: no one has come in or out for thirty minutes & it’s lunch break, the working man’s errand hour and you wonder why they hell we bother to go back inside. I slowly scan the tables up and down from Common to Gravier, from blond to black, from bosom to ankle and wonder if I shouldn’t have a friend at work if it would make the Counting House happy or else I should try reading something other than Bukowski at lunch but I think of those endless rows of cubicles like mail slots and all the years he spent slaving at the post office & I realize that if this place weren’t driving me crazy that would mean I’m already there, that work is just some medication-induced bad dream of the sort I had all the time when I tried the anti-depressant Buproprion to quit smoking & any minute now I’m going to wake up strapped to a gurney somewhere but that’s just wishful thinking. My cube is waiting for me umpteen floors up this boxy tower. No doubt I have phone messages from people who’ve decided I need to take a vacation day if I don’t want to work on Mardi Gras (and I wonder if I could find a branch open on Mardi Gras day and walk in in a satin clown suit in full makeup with my childhood friction spark ray gun in my waste band and pass the teller a note that says: This is a parade. Give me all your beads) but it’s not Carnival; I’m on a balcony full of chattering young women bright as birds in their filmy summer dresses on a balmy August day with the streetcars rolling by and if I crane my neck just a bit I can see down Royal Street and I know who the crazy ones are, I passed them on the escalator hurrying back upstairs to eat their lunch out of Styrofoam boxes not much smaller than their cubicles, a fork in one hand and the computer mouse in the other and I know why I don’t have a friend at work, or if I did she would be sitting down here across from me, some seditious book of her own at her elbow, laughing klaxon loud over the noise as I read her this. I toss the last of my salad to the birds & light a cigarette & stay long enough to finish this page but if I’m going to eat tomorrow I know I have to go back.