That undeniable whine of a worn out computer whizzes behind me. They do that from time to time. Burn out, I mean. Everything is going fine until one seemingly sporadic moment, that computer just quits. The screen locks up, the flashing lights stop flashing. The monitor still glows iridescent blue, but no matter how much you agonizingly nudge that mouse, that cursor isn't budging. And then that whine begins.
I've never really been able to understand it. Why does it just give out that one day? One day in a million. Billion, maybe. I've never done the math. Truth is, math never really was my strong suit. But it's not like there's been some enormous build up. Just one day, wham, it stops working and your ass has to find a new job tomorrow morning.
I think that those computers freeze more on Monday than any other day. People think computers are just a bundle of wires and circuits, transistor connected to resistor connected to endless transistor. That they're just machines. But those things have a life force. I've seen it. Twenty years on the job will do that to you - make you see things, think things, I mean. But I believe that. Those computers know as well as we do what day it is. And come Monday, you know they'll be that one computer waiting in the office, waiting to screw over that poor schmuck whose turn it is.
That schmuck happens to be me. I can feel the heat of the over-worked modem surging through the keys, tingling at my finger tips and working its way up my arms in a spine-tingling shiver. I stare at the screen, drop my fist in frustration. It bounces harmlessly off an unsuspecting paper cup below. The coffee remnants of the drink splash in all directions. One launches onto my clean white shirt; the brown dot stares innocently upward. A few cling to my palm; I lick them off thoughtlessly.
"Shit," I murmur. My hand creeps up above the monitor, finally coming to a rest with a lifeless embraces of the still screen. A green light flickers menacingly below, but I pay it no attention. My mind is having a hard time concentrating on anything.
Twenty years. Twenty years I've spent in this dump. The peeling white paint, each chip slowly stumbling toward the gray carpet below. White. I've always hated that color. Boring. Bland. So bland. We seem to melt into it, melt into those white walls. My hand, blurred against the wall. Who can tell where the paint ends and pale skin begins?
The white walls. Reflecting the dull white light from overhead. Occasionally a light will flicker or go out altogether. The rays of light are kind of unevenly dispersed like that. The one above me seems to pulse on Mondays. White ceiling tiles outline those lights. Fluorescent ones, I think. Fluorescent… yes, that sounds right. The tiles are stained along the edges. Stained an ugly brown-gray. The faded edges of the stains dissolve into faded edges of tiles, dissolved into obscurity. Gray. At least it isn't white.
Yesterday. Worked until 3. Don't normally work Sundays. Worked. Computers. Typing all day. White walls. White light. Gray ceiling overhead. Gray clouds above. Overcast. Lightly raining. Small drops dust my jacket. Droplets. Clinging to my sleeves. I brush them off. Smell of rain hangs in the air. I walk home today.
Home. White home. White fence. Green grass. Turning brown lately. Getting colder. Inside. Warm. Dry. Smell of vanilla. Doesn't smell like usual. Doesn't smell like my home. Dusty jacket. Beat up, old jacket. Toss it on the couch. Brown couch. Tattered. Hole on the right arm rest. Don't remember why. Not my home.
Vanilla. White walls. Gray ceiling. Low moaning. White walls. White hand. Hand. Doorknob. Brass, reflective, shiny. White door. Slowly creaking. Open. One hour early. Gray carpet. Not my home. Tattered clothes. Brown. Low moaning. White walls, gray ceiling.
Thrusting. Violent. Angry. Playful. White walls. Gray ceiling. Vanilla. Not my home. Longer moan. Knot of legs. Brown hand. White walls. Not my walls.
White hand. Tangled hair. Vanilla. White. Throbbing. Pulsing. White. Moan. Not me. Crash. Moan. White walls. Not my walls. Thunder. Vanilla. Not my home. Matted hair. Crash. Brown hand. Hand. My hand? Open. Slowly. Moan. Sob. Moan. White walls. Crash. Sweat. White hand. Gray carpet. Not my home. Red walls.