The Man, who steps into the office foyer on feet that feel like concrete blocks, suppresses a scowl for the benefit (perceived, and inaccurately) of the receptionist who sits at her desk clicking an “s” into the crossword puzzle on her iPad to complete the word “Ass.” This is not a coincidence. The Man veers close to the guest chair beside her desk. So close, in fact, that the leather strap of his shoulder bag catches on one of its backposts.
To the casual observer — or just about all observers, unfortunately — this appears to be inconsequential.
It is not.
With the Man’s next step the strap pulls taught, lifting the back legs of the chair exactly an inch and a half off the floor.
The man hesitates, briefly — 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 for the fruitfly zzzzzzing at the Man’s ear to cause him to flick his hand at it (a gesture the Man will not recall, further setting him back).
The shoulder bag strap slides off the top of backpost, releasing the chair which bounces down with a soft knock the that Man does not hear.
The chair wobbles, becomes still.
The fruitfly approaches the backpost.
The oblivious Man arrives in his office, his thoughts deep into the workday ahead. He places the bag on his desk and pulls his laptop out of it, sets it down and powers it on. But, really. He could have considered taught strap and the chair even for a moment, for he had no doubt felt the pull, the momentary tension and the release. Something had happened.
He would laugh at the idea. He is far too busy to note such minutiae. His unconscious mind, however, has noted it all. It has absorbed every detail of that sequence, for as a recorder it is unequaled, a digital-like device that has no 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 (as he often does in the evenings), or daydreaming (which he rarely does), or when, years from now, he is lying on 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 all seemed so compelling and momentous.