Conclusion? There is none. When the rain stops, the groundwater rises. I liken it to memory — intangible bilocation: the default state when the immaterial real world continues to pretend it's moving forward — which it is in its far-fetched way — but, neither here nor there, actually — merely circling upon in continual reckoning.
It’s where I am now, within these words.
Physically, however, it's also the case this afternoon. A vague storm passed through leaving a fluctuating body of water in my basement that I attend to every half-hour or so repositioning a pump to a seemingly shrinking, yet apparently insatiable, depth.
Right now, though, I’m in the comfy chair in my living room, pecking this away directly ten feet above that other place which my concentration straddles ankle-deep at-least under the influence of the ongoing meantime.
It’s all the same, really, as Januaries perpetually tend to be. The anagram for bilocate is etalocib, meaning “uncountable” — a word I’ve never used because I didn’t know it existed &, even if I did, wouldn’t be able to pronounce the same way twice.
This interminable spell of natural confusion provides a nonchalant atmosphere of temporary protection. & so, with this in mind, I’m going to recollect another time. It doesn’t matter which particular year; run-on metaphors conveniently prefer widespread anonymity. Let’s draw them out, summoning a yet further beginning, long enough ago to seem like none of this ever happened, calmly recalled in presently perfected continuous tense:
Prepare for the upcoming new year by cleaning up around the house as if expecting an overdue guest. Noon: temp in the oddly high fifties. Open the windows & sit idle, reflecting on the definition of progress. PM: close windows, skip dinner & press on to listening party digestifs. Pull out random thrift store vinyl hoarded but never played & read album notes while spinning through the first-listen details, attuning interior volume to musically align with more than just the facts:
First round: ”Rock, Pretty Baby" (1956 soundtrack to a rebellious youth flick). Songwriters include Henry Mancini & Bobby Troup. Troup wrote "Route 66” ten years before. He married & produced albums for singer Julie London after she divorced Jack Webb, a fanatic for jazz, chili dogs and cigarettes. London was a jazz lounge prodigy when introduced to Webb at fifteen years old, marrying him after she met legal drinking age. Webb later produced the TV show "Emergency" which also starred, heavy smokers, London & Troup.
Next on the turntable, ”Bobby Sherman's Greatest Hits Vol. 1” — somehow still sealed, original price $1.87. Sherman made a guest appearance on “Emergency" & became an EMT after retiring from teen idol status. He had a personally customized rescue vehicle converted from a red Dodge Daytona. One can safely wonder if he felt any tension between Webb & Troup/London.
Sherman fan club testimonials recount the hits that rescued admirers entrapped in teen trauma with little mention of his role in the briefly primetime “Here Come the Brides.”
He was a non-smoker — maybe still is.
Finish cleaning with sporadic touchups leaving ample time to casually prepare a shopping list. While driving to the supermarket, the temp agency leaves a phone message offering a one-off last-minute second shift that begins in a few hours. Get home & callback, declining. The agency says they will contact with another work assignment that’ll last for a few weeks beginning the following Monday: “Minor demolition. Dress warm. Wear boots. Yes, there will be no lead or asbestos. Respirator training on first day.”
That evening, the temperature dramatically drops without retention.
Morning clouds dryly remain. Turn up the heat & finish reading an abandoned novel. No word from the agency. Consider calling, but don't. Instead, begin the novel again to catch up with what you now know.
Later that night, hear a snow blower whirring in the darkness somewhere down the street. Inside, the countdown continues, well past zero long ago, but set to sum out month-to-month as just another year again. A dark mood floods behind a split in the curtains; no one sees in, no one sees out. Weary fascination finished, nod off to a dream of creatures disassembling walls & ceilings that fall to pieces past breath-clouds rising in the chill.
The temp agency morning-calls to confirm work described simply as “7:30-4." They say they’ll email additional details:
"Your assignment beginning Monday 1/4 is as follows:
Company: Victorian Mountain Lodge
Address: 2016 Victorian Mountain Road
Please meet with Human Resources on your first day.
Time: Monday-Friday 8:30-5
Please dress appropriately to be working in buildings that will have no electricity or heat. Boots are required for this as well.
Industrial Staffing Manager"
Send a reply email, thanking them. Then, while writing down the details, notice that the hours don't match in the two exchanges. Re-reply, asking if the first or second work time is correct. They respond:
"8:30-5 are the correct hours."
Reply again, thanking again.
A few minutes later they send another email:
"I apologize, I was looking at a different assignment. You are correct the assignment is 7-4:30."
A third set of hours, this one adding an hour. Don't reply again. Another query about this might put them on the defensive. Decide to just correctly show up in boots at 6:30 & see what happens.
Leave the house again, this time for sack lunch sandwich fixins. In the supermarket deli section, a person looks through the protective window over heat-lamped mac-n-cheese, finding the spoon handle & exhuming a mound that is dropped next to their broccoli-something in a to-go container. As they return the scooper to the silver tray, a string of cheese that landed on the web between their thumb & forefinger during the excavation snaps back like a rubber band into the remaining casserole. They sidestep along as fluorescent light refracts through a smear on the sneeze guard.
That evening, instead of cooking, forage leftovers, complete the novel midway & forgo music altogether, dwelling on the meaning of “minor demolition” between overlapping nitecaps.
Let the final day do what it must. In the actual eve, cruise the TV remote to watch a half-million billboards have a ball under complimentary purple foam hats promoting a fitness club you briefly joined, but then quit because the head trainer came across as unhealthy.
Drunken news anchors live on the festive scene forget about the wars & holiday immigration raids, but entertainingly publicize celebrity racists & political predators to kill air time until something more important happens.
At midnight, the TV is muted to listen to the dull rumble of distant fireworks.
Start afresh with biscuits, sausage gravy & bloody marys. The snow recedes over the course of the day. By evening, the streets are silent. A planned menu is condemned with the sudden death of a convection oven. The new year has already both fulfilled & broken its implied promise.
Make a morning run to a dying mall. Charge a clearance oven in a closeout department store. On the way home, stop at a diner now under new management. The afternoon passes speculatively without artistic headway. Prep for the upcoming paid employment with a tester wake-up alarm.
The drill works at 5AM — ignore it. Hours later, still in bed, consider a last free-time outing, but blow it off as well, reset the alarm & imagine what’s ahead tomorrow, drifting away without conclusion . . .
Well, back here in the present present, the basement is no longer submerged. Let’s leave it as-is for now from the safety of the comfy chair, putting off the inevitable as if it hasn’t already come.
We’ll return temporarily to go on-the-job in the next post: Bilocate—part two (back on the job).
Man Power was the name of my local temp agency. My best bud Dan spent several summers employed by them. Dan Power we called it. I also worked there as a bank receptionist, zero static floor waxer for microelectronics clean room, tree and limb clearer for power company. The industrial wood chipper whipped the limbs past you so fast and would grind you up in a second. The bank ladies liked my phone voice. Dan’s current side hustle is detailing cars. Dantail he calls it.
"...after she met legal drinking age"
I can't stop laughing at this entire post! 😂