Robert picked up his glasses. Gold rims. Large enough. There were two cracks in the lens. Like two sides of a triangle. And when he positioned them over his face the cracks became a smudge over everything he saw.
Goddamn fucking fuck.
Is everything okay? The man enquired. The man was bald and wearing sunglasses that curved around his bald head and he had bulk to his limbs and he defaulted to a kind of toothy wince. His hands were on his hips. Robert had not vocalised his concern. He looked to the man, who was standing by the open rear hatch of his SUV. Robert could see the peroxide bob of the man’s wife sitting in the passenger seat. Robert could see the grey lines working their way down from the roots of the peroxide bob. The peroxide bob turned and looked at Robert with similar sunglasses that curved around her head, making her eyes seem like those of an insect.
Robert nodded and then nodded again and picked up the cardboard box, within which the unassembled parts of an imitation Eames chair sat tucked together in the semblance of a cube. The box went into the SUV boot. Through the two cracks in the lens the man’s face yawned into a distended smear. Robert positioned the box. Closed the SUV rear hatch.
Thanks mate. The man pushed on the hatch to check Robert had succeeded in closing it. He looked at Robert as he did this. Robert did not look at the ground. The ripple of smudged reality moved across the man’s forehead. Over his nose, which had been broken when the man played lacrosse in high school. Over his black insect eyes. Over his bald skull.
Robert could see inside. The SUV left the loading dock. The bald man’s black insect eyes traced a path to its destination. Robert checked the destination of the bald man and the peroxide bob from the delivery sheet as he unclipped his brace belt. Simon saw him sign out.
You’re on for three more hours.
Got work to do.
Yeah you got work to do here for another three hours. Rob? What are you doing?
Robert, who did not like being called “Rob” or “Bob” or “Bobby” or “Robbo,” looked back at Simon as he reached the door and Simon’s open mouth distorted into a howling stretch of flesh and teeth and tongue, and Robert stopped and shifted an amount just enough to reduce Simon’s entire head into a smear across his shoulders.
Robert’s car was a silver coupe from the year of 1985 that hugged the road in a way that signified its movement had real purpose. A silver bullet. There were some weeks of dead leaves collected below the windshield wipers. Robert had increasing difficulty entering and exiting his vehicle due to the diminished height of the seat, but once inside all difficulty subsided. As the inert streetlights and trees and street signs and glowing billboards and warmly illuminated underbellies of bridges reflected over the Teflon casing of Robert’s silver bullet, gone was the usual nagging of doubt that his presence at the wheel of this sleek machine — his role as its unquestioned pilot — was somehow fraudulent or a mistake slipped through the economic machinations. He was, in this elongated moment, clear.
Ahead of Robert the other cars slipped through a rift. Metal boxes made malleable and atoms moved and rearranged into primordial material and light. Robert turned on the radio. He took a route that would take him through the tunnel with the very bright lights. He found a radio station with a persistent beat and turned the volume high. He imagined a checklist. He imagined the paper and the boxes perfectly square and aligned alongside the list of things he could now clearly see he needed to do.