Sandy Florian, The Chair

 

Excerpts from Sandy Florian’s prose manuscript, The Chair, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.

 

THE CHAIR

Having climbed all five thousand stairs of the towering high-rise, OUR AUTHOR, in a red state of rage, erupts wildly into the room, and there, seeing that he was late to the conference, seeing that there were already so many authors at the table already, a million authors with a billion inflections, OUR AUTHOR thinks to himself that to pose even a single assertion, to converse with even a single poet, simply would not do, for if he, OUR AUTHOR, now sitting in THE CHAIR at the head of table were to prompt a discourse with even a single critic, his voice would loosen its boom in the echoing chamber, like the catalogue of faces in the parallel mirrors, and he would lose his imprimatur, he would lose his adjudication, so instead, OUR AUTHOR affectedly sidles THE CHAIR toward the title of the book where he fingers his prick and probes his hole, nosing up and nosing down whatever limitations he damn well pleases, folding up the ballot, voting only for himself, thereby electing himself president of his newly erected metropolis.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

After toteming his pole and pogoing his stick, OUR AUTHOR, erect in THE CHAIR, thrusts into his mouth a rubberized stamp the size of a russet potato, cauterized and vulcanized with the official curves his official signature, and then he bobs his head to the tall stacks of papers, his municipal registers, first slowly, then swiftly, first directly, then haply, arching his neck to bring his rubberized stamp from the “o” of his orifice to the “x” of the pages, bobbing down to sign nine thousand documents that dictate the decrees of his new municipal blueprint, from the organization of the city’s avenues to the qualification of its architecture, from the classification of its hospitals to the codification of its prisons, from the residential boundaries to the size of its smoke stacks, OUR AUTHOR bobs his head deliberately and assertively, vigorously and emphatically, notarizing and legalizing the city’s breadth and the city’s width, the city’s heighth and the city’s depth, the inclines of its hillsides, the slopes of its steeples, the population of its peoples, the ages of children, regulating and standardizing, endorsing and sanctioning the very temper of its very weather, its sunrise and sunset, its wind and its thunder, its barometric pressure, certifying and ratifying, authorizing and licensing, the blue hue of its firmament, its starlings and starlight, its empyrean, its pantheon, the very size of its trees’ leaves, the bloom of its blossoms, its wild flowers and tulips, and the moods of the waves as they ripple in ponds, round lakes, and long streams, stamp after stamp, nine thousand times over, until, exhausted, he spits out his rubberized stamp to the edge his universe where it bounces briefly on the windshield of a bus, then rolls precipitously and shamelessly across the twelve-lane drag he calls Greenbelt.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

OUR AUTHOR shuffles his chair, screaming, “This chair! The chair! My chair!” streaking and scratching and scuffing the floor to the northernmost window with its southern exposure where he puts to his eye, his left, the one with the squiggly sclera, the monocular he stole from one hunchbacked dolt back in the winter of 1938 from a store whose storefront displayed a beautiful teal awning 4 feet by 8 and embossed with gilded letters in Baskerville font, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE THE ONE-EYED SQUINTS.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

With the monocular to his eye, his left, the one with the squiggly sclera, OUR AUTHOR peers through his window across the avenues and roadways and the rolling parks, at a brick-laid building four hundred hectares away, and in the top right window of this brick-laid building a mere 3 stories high, OUR AUTHOR spies on an old man with a wooden leg dressed in woolen trousers and a graying shirt, buttoned tightly to his stubbly neck, sitting in a fading couch against a nicotine wall, watching reruns of IT’S A GREAT LIFE on his black-and-white boob-tube in his otherwise empty living room, in his otherwise dimly-lit living room, in his otherwise murky living room, what with its threadbare rug and its wobbly table, what with its crooked lamp and his graying curtains, those graying curtains so hazy and limp against the drafty window, and because this old man is the first one he sees, OUR AUTHOR, sitting in THE CHAIR in his high-rise loft, opens his trap with a yelp and a shout, “I hereby name you SUBJECT 1,” as the old man adjusts briefly his hearing aid and looks vaguely in his direction.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

Then shifting his monocular a bit to left, OUR AUTHOR zooms to the window next to this man and finds in the top left window of this brick-laid building 3 stories high an elderly woman in a flannel nightgown with pink and white flowers and a spidery hairnet with zirconium additions lying supine alone in a queen sized bed, lying dormant, recumbent, corpse-like, cadaverous on her spiny back, what with her spindly legs and her knobby knees, what with her shriveled toes of fungus and rank, with her arms crossed over her sac-like breasts, wheezing softly like a rusted harmonica, snoring gently into her tomb of dreams, there, in her otherwise empty bedroom, save for the night-table chalky with dust, there, in her empty oblivion, save for the portrait of her long lost love, severely, profoundly, deeply, unfathomably, she sleeps woefully in her empty world, save for the fullness of her chaotic dreams, those dreams of intruders and bat-like invaders that want to plug her up just to bring her down, and because this is the second one he sees, OUR AUTHOR proclaims her to be SUBJECT 2, as she briefly stirs in her disturbing dream, before moving his monocular down to the next window.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

Through his magnificent megaphone, OUR AUTHOR barks sequentially, successively and consecutively, in a clockwise fashion, “SUBJECT 3, SUBJECT 4, SUBJECT 5, and SUBJECT 6,” to the 4 gelatinous and atrophied men sitting at the felt green table playing 5 Card Stud in the middle of the day in the windowpane directly beneath SUBJECT 2, until each of the players squint at each other, like a choir, like a system, suspecting a bluff, and with a loud howl, OUR AUTHOR shouts, “SUBJECTS 7 & 8,” to the young naked couple, the bare-naked fledglings cooing sweetly, serenely, on their downy couch of green and white vines in the bottom right window of the very same building, until they don in confusion their fig-leaf pajamas to cover their bareness in their newly found light, and with a whoop and a holler, OUR AUTHOR yelps, “SUBJECT 9,” to the lurking intruder in the adjacent alley dressed like Batman in a long cape and mask, until the lurking intruder starts climbing the fire escape of the same brick building, stealthily, discreetly, easing quietly and creepingly into the open window where he repeatedly violates SUBJECT 2.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

Without explanation, OUR AUTHOR beams, “SUBJECTS 10 through 18, 19, and 20,” to the pedestrians waiting at the cross-walk of the six-lane road OUR AUTHOR calls “Broadway Deluxe” all blinking their eyes at one blinking red hand until they puzzle their brows in contorted confusion, and with blunt exclamation OUR AUTHOR booms, “29 through 86,” to the passengers crowded on the silver bus heading South and West cramming and jamming their elbows and knees until they twitch and they turn with this new irritation, then with accusation, OUR AUTHOR erupts, “SUBJECT 101,” to the singular man descending a singular manhole by the singular ladder to the sewers and tubes until he slips and he falls in a wild disarray, and with imputation, OUR AUTHOR blows up, “SUBJECT 199,” to the painterly painter composing a mural on the side of a wall on a one way street, dipping and rolling a brush of blue wonder in a wonderful bucket of big blue paint until the painterly painter drops his bucket of blue with a thrash and a splash and a crashing down, and with condemnation, OUR AUTHOR blasts, “SUBJECT 253,” to the clown with a frown who is romping and rolling, juggling, ballooning, singing “Peas Porridge Hot” to a clamor of children until he looks he looks with a glower in OUR AUTHOR’s direction, and with consternation OUR AUTHOR bellows, “SUBJECTS 333 through 354,” to the 21 children sitting cross-legged on the floor, and with excitation, “355 through 376,” to the 21 mothers, with gesticulation to the 21 fathers, and with inflammation to the 500 sitters, and with domination to the clerks and the drivers, to the students and teachers, to the nurses and doctors, the policemen and women, to the butchers and bakers, to the plumbers, technicians, to the suits and their maids, librarians, and painters, to the potters, the builders, electricians and chefs, “SUBJECT 9,010 et cetera, et cetera,” to the waiters and barkeeps, cross-walkers and gardeners, street-sweepers and window washers, the scientists and farmers, the rhetoricians, morticians, magicians, and jugglers, “SUBJECT 131,001 et cetera, et cetera,” to the mechanics, psychologists, to the guards in their get ups, to the bank-tellers and robbers, the kidnappers and killers, to the firemen and women who dampen this heat, OUR AUTHOR whoops through his megaphone with monocular vision, to the composers, photographers, cartographers, and actors, to the accountants and zookeepers, the architects and vets, to the seismic interpreters, engineers and their dancers, to the burglars and snipers and hookers and pimps, to the hooker now hooking her mouth on a nub, OUR AUTHOR calls to them all in hammering yammers, “SUBJECTS 1 to infinity,” and counting and shifting without inhalation from THE CHAIR.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

Meanwhile, a splash of blue paint falls from SUBJECT 199’s bucket, traverses the sidewalk, travels down the one-way street, colors the roads, the signposts, and the streetlights in the new true hue and forks into a hundred paths that lead to a thousand houses, coating the fences and gates, blanketing the roses, hydrangeas, and ferns, climbing the curbs and mounting the steps, scaling the doors, enshrouding the walls, and enveloping the exterior windows, roofs, and chimneys before trailing off into the parks and backyards to cover every tree, every leaf, and every blade of grass in blue.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

The next day, having called his subjects to order, OUR AUTHOR makes a speech, “Ma-ma-ma-my Subjects. Because it makes a twirl in my moustache, my mo-mo-mo-monocular is ka-ka-ka-kaleidescopic. Bless me pink elephant! I like electrons. Ma-ma-ma-my Subjects. My name is John, Jack, Joel, Joshua, Jud. Yes. No. I am a big hat, and I can hold five cigars in my mouth. Once-upon-a-plankety plank, I went to the beachery on a spiny day. There I rose out of the mouth with a pair of scissors in one hand and a bag of bombs in the other. Intrinstinctively, I knew that starfish were the wrong kind of elevator, so I took the stairs to THE CHAIR. This chair! The chair! My chair! And it’s here that I burned my lesson. So let me bang you some clang, dangit. When you live in innuendo, the begonias box bumping boleros in both blisters and in clusters. The bravery of tulips is impersonated poorly by the the rhododendrans, safaris, and the rolodex. I, on the other hand, am surrounded by bombbeams. Thereforehencesuch, to each of ma-ma-ma-my many subjects, I hearby bequeath to each of you one of my bulbous bonbons, unique in miscoloration, mustortives, and mruise. Now splisten up. I breath only for you, but the saint in the basement is frying gout, and in desperate need of my supportations, so take your balloons and splatter victimorious in your variant miscreations. You are now flea to blow,” after which OUR AUTHOR disperses to each of HIS SUBJECTS a spherical bomb fizzling with a with a spirited string.

 

 

 

THE CHAIR

Mouths wide and screaming, HIS SUBJECTS scatter in a million directions tightly gripping their fizzling bombs in the palms of their hands, erratically running in chaotic patterns and randomly colliding into one another with horrible looks of dismay, shocked at how quickly life has plagued them, aghast at how cruel the wheel has turned, agog and astray and scrambling in collective hysteria toward the nearest trash can and garbage bin in order to cast their fizzling bombs in frenzied craze and consternation, and in this manner, one by one, HIS SUBJECTS fling their bombs into the trash cans and garbage bins, and when the trash cans and garbage bins are filled with bombs, they throw them in the dumpsters, and when the dumpsters are filled with bombs, them launch them in the lakes, and when the lakes are filled with bombs, they take them to the landfills, making mountain after mountain after mountain of sizzling explosives, before hastening back across the avenues, crossing the congested freeways and electrical railroads, the electrical railroads with their unstoppable trains that howl and hoot and blow their horns, fleeing speedily back to their apartment buildings where they tumble up the stairs, fumble with their keys, and fall headfirst into their electric foyers before slamming their doors, doubling the deadbolts, turning off all the lights, and jumping into bed with their heads covered in dread against the inevitable, intractable explosion.

 

 


 

sandy-florian-photoABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author of 5 books, as well one chapbook published by Tarpaulin Sky, Sandy Florian is studio manager of corepower yoga in Glover Park, Washington DC.