Four Places

Real or Otherwise

I. THE PALACE OF AUBURN HILLS (GAME NIGHT)

I wasn’t planning on going to watch basketball that fateful night — I had better things to do in Detroit — but I just could not fight off the mystical allure: the ball’s inherent roundness, the shine of the playing court. After you attend a match, you’re never the same. I once saw the Pistons pound the Celtics to within an inch of their lives. It was a glorious evening; clear and moist and cold. Cold, but glorious.

Upon reemerging from the embrace of the arena into the biting chill, I paused and thought to myself, “I am not the same. The man who came to watch ten tall men attempt to bounce and repeatedly throw a leather ball into an elevated, net-adorned hoop has changed.” Indeed, my normally flippant demeanor had metamorphosed into a hushed, reverent sense of awe. My complexion (often described by observant onlookers as ghostly, at best) had become a healthy erubescent hue. Even my once-dull clothes now radiated a heavenly white light, giving me a distinguished (albeit illusory) hoary-headed appearance. This was all very startling to my companion, who initially pleaded with me to seek the aid of a physician. After convincing her that I was going to be perfectly all right, and that I was in fact sounder of body and sharper of wit since experiencing the transformation, we both decided that some serious reflection was in order. To this end, we skipped down to the most outstanding ice cream parlor in town. The ice cream parlor was where things got done.

II. THE OLDE DETROIT CONFECTIONERS (A.K.A. SANDERS’)

I slipped my boots off and sunk down to the floor, spread-eagle, with a smoldering concentration. My forearm, full of wristwatches, crackled over the cold tile as I slowly swayed my arms to the sound of the chattering customers. I do my best reflection barefoot. The young children glared at me from behind their sundaes and Banana-Rama Splits. The cashier pleaded with me to get up and leave, but to no avail. My brow was by now deeply furrowed in concentration; “I need this catharsis in the worst way, ” I thought to myself. And then, just as I felt that elusion was all but a certainty, it hit me. Basketball. Ice cream parlor. These places I had been to were no mere edifices of mindless entertainment and revelry. They were part of an intricate metaphor; a warning sent to me by the spirits of the damned. Both places pointed to the very same thing: spheres and receptacles. Spheres and receptacles. I knew now what had to be done. I leaped up off the floor, bid my companion a fond adieu, and skipped off to find my destiny.

III. THE HERBUCK POULTRY RANCH & EGG FARM, ROUTE 96 (3:37am)

I carefully snuck into the first chicken coop I came across. It was impossibly large — its grand façade threatened to overtake my sense of scale in the near pitch-black night. As I entered, I knew that this place was where I was to find the final meaning behind my experiences at the basketball parlor/ice cream arena. The consequences of illegal trespassing briefly crossed my mind, but I could not be bothered with such trifles as the hot blast of trained shotgun. The kid gloves were off, the gauntlet tossed so far yonder it was barely visible to the naked eye. I wasn’t going to leave empty-handed.

I saw the eggs rolling down their mini-chutes, from the hens to the unborn hen catchers, ready to be collected the next morning. I was drawn to one and crouched down to pluck it from its temporary refuge. “What an absolute delight! ” I thought to myself. Mere moments after discarding this surprisingly eager line of internal dialogue, the egg exploded in my hand, peppering my face with globules of yolk and egg white. Through the breakfast haze, I spotted a small bit of paper that seemed to have been nestled within the annihilated egg. I gingerly picked it up, fingers trembling, palms slick with anticipation-fueled sweat. It was a crude diagram: a squat rectangle with a short, straight line emanating from one of its shorter sides; adjacent to this line was a longer, curved line that attached to a circle. Yes. I could build these, manufacture them, sell them to the populace. I knew instinctively that whatever this was would bring joy to millions. This is what the night had led me to. Feeling a supreme sense of closure, I left the chickens and headed home.

IV. HOME SWEET HOME

Shutting the front door behind me, I removed my dentures and went to bed. I dreamed of presidents long passed.