The man steps into the front foyer of his office on feet that feel mushy and weak. He suppresses a scowl at the receptionist who’s clicking an “s” into the New York Times crossword puzzle on her computer to complete the word “ass.” This is not a coincidence. As the man passes her, he veers close to the guest chair beside her desk. So close, in fact, that the leather strap of his shoulder bag catches one of its backposts.
To the casual observer — or, just about any observer, unfortunately — this appears inconsequential.
With the man’s next step the strap pulls taught on the backpost, lifting up the chair’s back legs.
The man hesitates — exactly as long as it takes for the second hand of his Rolex to lean into its next tick; exactly as long as it takes a fruitfly buzzing at his ear to cause him to flick his hand at it.
The shoulder strap slides up off the backpost, releasing the chair which bounces down onto the wood floor with a soft knock that the man does not bother to hear.
The chair wobbles, stills.
The fruitfly heads for the backpost.
Now in his office, the man is deep into his thoughts, which concern the workday ahead. He places the bag on his desk and pulls out his laptop computer, sets it down and powers it up. But, really. He could have considered what had happened with strap and the chair, for he had no doubt felt the pull, the momentary tension and the release.
He would laugh at the notion. He is far too busy to note such minutiae. His unconscious mind, however, has done exactly that. It has absorbed every detail, for as a recorder it is unequaled, a digital-like device lacking an off button. The marriage (and subsequent divorce) of shoulder strap and chair post has taken up permanent residence within it.
When the man is sleeping (which he does fitfully), or drinking Vodka (which does eagerly), or daydreaming (which he does rarely), or when, years from now, he is lying in his deathbed in his last throes, the memory of the chair post, the laptop bag, the strap — and all the other “meaningless” minutiae — even the fruitfly — will percolate up from within him as though from a loudly boiling kettle.
They will intrude on his awareness, announcing themselves with the same urgency as any one of the man’s many achievements, which had all seemed so incredible, compelling and momentous.