Perpendicular Spaces

Robert Gonzales

hair close up

Photograph by Aharon Yosef Næhring Ortiz García

"Should I call? No, I have to clean my car. Ok. Yeah that's what I'll do. Just before I make this cup of coffee and watch a little TV. Let's see what's on the Discovery channel." George thought to himself as he pointlessly paced from the kitchen to the bathroom.

Sitting in front of the TV, the middle aged man scanned the channels watching people watching bears. Roaming the grounds of the cage in which they were confined, the bears playfully wrestled and roamed while their keepers observed and commented into the camera.

"They really do have individual personalities", the woman biologist says turning to the lens and then quickly turning her attention back to the animals, who were oblivious to the humans standing near their manufactured environment.

Visions of noble deeds pertaining to animal care flashed across George's mind as he languished on the couch in front of images trapped inside an electronic device. There would be time, George thought to himself. Time for saving animals, time for saving children in third-world countries, time for saving his credit score, time for saving that slice of pizza from going moldy. Suddenly George felt completely committed to a cause bigger, nobler, than himself. He would give up his mundane job and join one of the paradigms of animal protection. Yes, for minutes, perhaps tens of minutes, George visualized himself picking up a bear from the charred remains of a forest, stripped of its life by an unwitting construction crew, ignorant of their own destructiveness. He would protect those creatures, whose massiveness and strength and vigor could not save them from the paralyzing movement of humanity.

George's humanitarian visions soon fell victim to one of the most predatory and diminishing hunters of the modern world, the television commercial. Presently, George's dreams made a strategically sound retreat in the face of mounting pressure from the new Clorox dish washing ball, which would, despite the skepticism of the pragmatic human mind, transform dishes covered with dirty, grimy, stuck-on grease into shining examples of sanitary dishware. So, George's thoughts transferred from the height of good-intentions and humanitarian idealism to the reliability of cell phone services and the performance of pocket pilots. Throughout the program George's thoughts functioned in this parabola until the end when George noticed it was 6:45 and he should really wash the car.

"Ok, first I have to get the towels," George thought as he walked to the cabinet pulling out two white towels to wipe off the car after he had soaked it with soapy water. "Now I have to get the car cleaner. Ok, where did I leave it last? In the garage? I can't wash the car without the special soup that leaves the clear coat free of all marks and even helps protect the paint from dangerous UV rays. No, it's not here. Wait, I must have left it under the sink. No, not there. I must have used it all last time I washed the car. Dammit, I'm going to have to go to the store. Shit." George painfully mused to himself as he grabbed his keys from off the kitchen table.

Stepping through the automatic doors, George walked into the small drug store. The front end of the aisles where fully stocked in immaculate parallel order, and the clerks, with their sunken eyes, walked around unpacking merchandise, attempting to set it on the shelves in a systematic fashion. George slowly made his way to the center aisle of the store. He was side tracked by the cereal aisle and made a detour into the garden of processed high-fiber breakfasts, part of a complete meal if accompanied by about three other items. George looked carefully down the aisle of cereal. The boxes were all about the same size, all pulled forward and made flush with the edge of the shelf thus achieving the appearance of ordered reproduction. George pulled a box of Coco Puffs from the shelf and then put it back and started to take another one.

"Did it really matter though?" George thought to himself. "If I take that one or this one what is the difference. They both have the same stupid bird with his stupid mocking smile, they were both about the same color, same dimension and, most likely, they taste exactly alike. What does it even matter if I take a box of Coco Puffs or Cheerios, I know what they both taste like and, therefore, they might as well taste the same. Hell, they might as well be the same thing."

George looked at the boxes and turned one sideways and then another. Surveying his work, George went to his car and fetched two pens (one blue and one red) and walked back into the store and back to the cereal aisle. Checking to see if the aisle was all clear, he moved toward the box of Coco Puffs and, lifting the box, colored in the bird's beak blue and then carefully colored the eyes red. Then, Lucky the Leprechaun fell victim to the man's pen thus becoming a red faced devil with a funny hat. Forgetting the car cleaner, he walked swiftly out of the store and thought that he would make eggs and bacon for breakfast tomorrow.

About an hour later, one of the clerks, in a blue smock, straightened the cereal and removed the defaced merchandise to the back, thus returning the aisle to perfection.