Public Key (xLiv)

Note: I will retcon the rondavel’s bed into a hammock later. For the moment, please accept the transformation as an act of thaumaturgy. Lazy, lazy thaumaturgy.


I went back to my room, my rondavel, my home. I managed to keep myself from looking over my shoulder while I did so. Means I didn’t see much of the world around me, but there would be plenty of time for that once I’d calmed down.

God willing I’d have such time. God willing I’d calm down.

I got back to my room. I tried playing a relaxing game of Fuck With My Computer. I couldn’t sit still for it. I realized I’d gotten myself nice and worked up. That understanding wasn’t going to help me come down.

If the room had been larger I would have paced. If I’d had a pipe I would have smoked it. I gave serious consideration to playing some guitar, but I was unready to commit to that kind of noise, that attention-getting, that quite-defining noise. Also my fingers hurt too much. It was a bitch enough just to type.

There was something I could do. Something that required no higher brain function at all. I set about unpacking, and in doing so taking stock of all I had.

I had a suitcase and a guitar case. Best not to let those be seen in public. They were too identifiable. Carrying them made me too easily made.

I had my guitar. The strings were getting a little old. I had three packs of strings remaining. High-tension nylons. Black trebels. Tie ends.

I had a capo that my sophomore-year girlfriend had made for me. It was made of iron with leather padding. It ended in an iron rose.

I had a nail-clipper and a sanding stone, both to keep my fingers in shape for fretting and plucking. I also had a little multi-tool that clipped onto my belt. Or belt-loop, since I never wore a belt.

I had my college hoodie. It was the only piece of clothing I had that was clean. I didn’t dare wear it. I might as well have sent up signal-flares.

I had four pairs of pants, four t-shirts, two flannel workshirts and a single button-down. I had a twelve-pack of socks that was down to ten and a half pairs. I had a brace of boxers. Damned if I was going to count them.

I had a pair of shoes. They were wet. I’d been wearing them every day for five years. They’d seen worse.

I had my laptop, 2.21 GHz and four gigs of RAM. Terabyte internal hard drive and 512GB solid-state external, both nearly filled with media I’d yet to enjoy. 15” screen. 9-cell battery. Still under warranty. Much good that would do me.

I had a pair of headphones with a 50kHz frequency response, 110dB at 1/1 and THD under .04. Some people got cars at graduation. Some people had their priorities just all messed up.

I had three-quarters of a bottle of Castile soap, unscented. I had a toothbrush that could have stood replacing. I was out of toothpaste, I was out of razor blades, I was out of sunblock, I was out of deodorant. For some reason I had a tiny one-ounce bottle of tea tree oil. I’d never used it for anything.

I had half a bottle of blackstrap rum. I had half a kilogram of powerful black tea. I had half a mind to see how the two would mix. I had no doubt I would have occasion to find out.

Of my provisions I had maybe half a pound of pistachios and a bag of dried banana. I hoped never to see any of either again. I saw I’d have to venture out of my room at some point, if only to avoid starvation.

I had a bit over five thousand South African rands in R100 bills. I had eighteen hundred US dollars in $100s. I had five hundred Euros in €20s and five hundred pounds in £50s. I also had four 100,000 ariary notes. Much good that they’d do me.

Let’s see. Did I have anything else?

Nope. No. Nothing else at all.

No. Wait! Hold up now. Of course I had a few more things. I had whatever was provided to me in my little room. I had a hammock made of rope. There was a quilt for below you and a quilt for above and a sheet big enough to wrap yourself in. I had one big pillow that was stuffed with feathers. There was a big cushion on the floor that was stuffed with something that crunched when I sat on it.

There were two shelves on the wall. On one there was a big bowl made of seafoam ceramic. That, I guessed, was my washbasin. There was a blue pitcher next to it, and a white mug with a handle. On the other shelf there were two cast-iron Dutch ovens and two big wooden spoons.

There were two little windows, one square, one round. They each had one-piece shades made of canvas, that like the hammock had to be tied in place.

With the hammock up it was hard pace across the room, but I guessed it to be about eight paces across. The ceiling was about seven feet at the edges and rose to maybe eleven feet in the center. The roof was made of thatch.

In this space, and upon these things, I would make my life.

It reminded me of move-in day at college. The room was about the same size as the single-double I had second year. Except here air was sweet, the quiet soft and long, and the bed wasn’t surplus from a Communist reeducation camp.

Was I missing anything? Was there anything else I had that I had failed to take into account.

Oh. Yes. One thing.

I had my freedom.



~ by davekov on 20 February 2011.

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