Forty-Square Metres Of Insanity
“This apartment is forty-square metres. It comes equipped with a bathroom, kitchen, a miscellaneous small room and of course a, a balcony”, the agent says. I glance at the worn floor, the spartan rooms waiting to be decorated. ” The laundry rooms are municipial; that is to say that you write your name under a specific table of time, and that’s when you wash your clothes. The laundry room has several ironing boards, a tumble-dryer and a laundry tub. Shall we-” “We will take it”, I say.
The agent sputter, midspeech. “What Rune is trying to say is that we will discuss it”, Hermann interjects, giving the agent a look. In quick order we’re alone in the apartment.
“Are you out of your mind?” “I resent that question”, I respond with hurt dignity. “This place”, Hermann begins, “is filthy. You heard the agent; you’re going to be sharing the laundry room with a bunch of people who have no appreciation for schedules. What will happen when someone steals your laundry-time?”
I wince. I hadn’t thought of that. “When that happens I will deal with it. I will improvise”, I add. I immediately wish I hadn’t use the word ‘improvise’. “Yes”, Hermann deadpans. “You, who can’t even handle it when the Olympics break the usual television-schedule once every fourth year, is going to live in a place where people might take your laundry, play music through thin walls and generally act like obnoxious assholes?”
I try a different attack. “One might say that ‘obnoxious assholes’ covers a great deal of humanity. Shouldn’t I get the wonderful opportunity experience this firsthand?” I continue, on a more serious tone. “Really though. I need to be able to handle real life. And this certainly qualifies, don’t you agree?”
Rather than answer, Hermann walks out onto the balcony. Eventually I follow him, after a suitable amount of time spent waiting. “Look”, I say to Hermann’s back. “I get it. You.. you don’t want me to leave. But I need this to grow up. And everything ends, doesn’t it?” He doesn’t answer. So against my warring instincts I hug him. It is only now that I realize that Hermann is actually shorter than I. How odd- in my memories he always seems so large.
“Right”, he says, turning briskly. “Let’s call Greyscale. We’re going to need help moving.”
In ten minutes Greyscale arrives. Within twenty the contract is signed. Within a half-hour we start moving.
“A little to the left”, I force out, as I shift the bed. Greyscale shifts the bed to his left. “Not your left, my left, ugh.” Technically speaking we could probably do this by ourselves, but using supernatural strength would leave to many questions, and so we toil, like mortals. Ugh?
“No!” Hermann’s scream shake my apartment. Despite his call, Greyscale plugs the refrigerator. There is a fizzle and now Greyscale screams. “I told you we had the wrong cable!” “Now you tell me”, Greyscale roars.
“We’re not buying him a widescreen”, Hermann comments mildly. “Why not?”Greyscale asks. “Because he doesn’t need one”, Hermann retorts. “How will he impress his friends? The girls he will bring home?”
We’re standing in Daniel’s Market, the local tech-store here in Fallowfell. Daniel’s Market is operated by Mrs Irja, a former professor from Chalmers, one of Sweden’s premier universities. Daniel Market’s is where you go when you want a computer, a screen, a new microprocessor. It’s where the young male adolescents, yours excluded, go when their laptops have been filled with malware after visits to… let’s say, strange websites.
“… what about porn? Are you going to make him masturbate to a goddamn 21-inch screen?” Did Greyscale just scream that out loud? I am going to fucking murder him, immortal or not.
Hermann pushes a button, and the old steel door slides open. He disappears into the storage room, while I glare at Greyscale.
“I am sorry Rune”, he says. “I didn’t mean to shout”, he reiterates, for what is probably the thousandth time. I am rescued from having to respond as Hermann exits the dusty room with something rolled over his shoulders.
He snaps the rope around the item, revealing a beautiful carpet, the kind Lawrence of Arabia probably sat on, something Aladdin should be riding. It takes me a moment to realize why Hermann has brought it out.
“No Hermann”, I start. “I can’t. This carpet is probably worth more than the entire building.” Hermann nods. “I won’t deny it. This carpet was woven for me by someone who told me that it would bring joy and life to whatever home it would grace. And so I give it you.”
“How much bacon”, I start,” is too much bacon?”
Greyscale snickers. ” Let me answer that question as an eternal bachelor; one can’t have too much bacon.” “So you have never been married?” I throw out my question without thinking, not knowing or caring for the results.
Greyscale looks down on the ground. “Six times.” “Hmm?”
“Six times, I have been married six times”, he responds. I am about to ask him more, when I realize that when I helped him move into the villa last summer, there were no mementos of families or wifes. Yeah, not going to pursue that further.
“So what do we have”, I ask, moving the subject on to other topics. Greyscale glances down at the basket. “Eggs, milk, flour, chicken, cereal, some pasta, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, cinnamon– everything a growing boy needs!”
“No oatmeal”, Greyscale responds, miffed. He continues. “Towards the section with the… erhm…. flours!”
I sit alone in my apartment, Greyscale and Hermann having left less than a minute earlier. I grab a square of sticky notes and start to stick them to the spartan floor, the part not covered in the luxurious carpet. I write the down the routines. Laundry times. Looking up recipies. Shower. Exercise. Appropiate amounts of time spent sleeping.
That void I feel inside my heart, that feeling of being unmoored, unteethered to solid ground abates somewhat as I look down on the routines.
“I am going to make this work”, I tell myself.