Waiting for Autumn on a Spanish Inquisition Bench

More short fiction about Karl, who wishes for more comfortable seats in the Liberal Arts Building.

October 4, 2014

                So I have an update about Autumn and her lost copy of The Book Thief. Dr. Corddry told me that ENG 254 meets in room 219 in the Liberal Arts Building, so I went there to wait for her, or at least wait for somebody who smelled like the apple pumpkin nutmeg that reeks from her book.

If you don’t know LA, which is what we call the Liberal Arts Building because I guess it’s filled with hipsters like LA is, it was renovated this summer, so now it’s supposed to be all knew and fancy. It has these weird chairs on wheels that go all over the place really slowly. They’re like daleks or something. Seriously, it’s like they have a mind of their own. They sometimes sneak up on you or move around when you’re not looking. Dr. Corddry kicked one when it got too close to him in the middle of a lecture, and the next day all of them were gone from the room, so we had class standing up. It was ridiculous.

                People also put up propaganda posters about the building’s renovation. They have pictures of what it used to look like, with splintery chairs and old school chalk boards and some dead guy in the corner and boarded up windows, next to pictures of the new building, with the dalek chairs and these gigantic white boards and people being happy and smiling and doing homework, as if that were realistic in any way. But you know what? They have these dalek chairs all over the place, but they don’t have new benches. It’s like they took pews from a really old Catholic church from back in England or wherever it is they have Catholics these days. These pew benches are made of splintery old wood, and when you sit on them, it’s like they beat your ass with baseball bats or something. They’re the most uncomfortable things in the world. Maybe they’re from the waiting room of the Spanish Inquisition.

Church Pew Bench

                So I sat out there until the class got out at like 10:50 or something, and while I waited I listened to the lecture. The teacher. Dr. Gardner, was talking about how communism saved the world in 1961 or something like that. I don’t think the Holocaust came up even once. Anyway, I sat there reading Cannery Row by John Steinbeck for my Honors class. I think I was supposed to have read it for last week, but I guess I missed that part of the syllabus or something. Anyway, I’m supposed to read it and write a paper about it for mid-terms. My Honors teacher, Lindsey, keeps telling me that I need to improve my writing. Like, apparently, I keep using the word “like” in all my papers. And I guess I keep starting sentences with conjunctions, which is like bad or something. And like my papers are all being written in passive, which isn’t supposed to be done by me, I guess. I had no idea my papers were passive until it was told to me by Lindsey.

                I guess I’ll get better with more papers. I’ll figure it out. It’s only college, right?

                Eddie stopped by at one point. He popped out of the elevator and left a purple bag next to the window. I asked him what it was about.

                “Don’t ask about that.”

                “Is it for the lost-and-found people?”

                “What did I just say to not do? Seriously, Karl, don’t get involved with the lost-and-found people.”

                “Harrington is involved, though.”

                “Don’t get me started on Harrington. He’s the one who’s making me. . .”

                “Leave purple bags near the window?”

                “Seriously, don’t get involved. You know the construction they do on NAU all the time, all over the place, whenever and wherever possible?”

                I moved because the inquisition bench was injecting tranquilizers into my butt, apparently.

                “Yeah, I know the construction.”

                “Well, when people ask too many questions, they end up in the construction.”

                “Like working there?”

                “Like in the holes covered in cement with pipes through their corpses. Don’t ask too many questions. I have to go wash my hands.”

                Eddie is a weird guy, but he’s not a terrible human being, so he’s that makes him cool, I guess. I kept reading, cause I have all these mid-terms coming up. Last week My Psychology professor Dr. Freudenjungenheimstein or something told us we need to get ready for the mid-term. I think she might be a cynic; she told us that half of us are guaranteed to fail the mid-term, and she had this dead stare in her eyes when she said it. Every time she looks at the syllabus, she gets this glazed look on her face, and one time I think I saw tears rolling down her face. Maybe Maxwell and the herd of cynics got to her. Or maybe her mid-term is just that impossible to pass. Or maybe she just hates us all. I think it’s that last one, actually. That makes more sense. She just hates us all.

                The door to 219 opened and people came rushing out. I closed Steinbeck and started sniffing as best I could, but I’m not a very good smeller. I even took out the book and started reading it so they would all see it, like holding it up to my nose with the cover wide open, but everybody just passed by. Some of them were really chatty and happy, which seemed weird for a class about Holocaust fiction. Anyway, by the time they were all gone, I gave up on ever returning the book to Autumn. I’ll just be a weirdo with a stranger’s copy of The Book Thief in his backpack.

                When I stood up and got ready to go to my own classes, I looked at the window in front of the elevator and saw that the purple bag was gone. I looked around to see if anybody was carrying it. At that point, I wondered if I’d just witnessed a drug deal or something, but I didn’t actually witness it, so I guess not. I stood up, and then saw one of the dalek chairs in front of me, in the middle of the hallway, just sitting there. If it had a face, it would have been staring at me, I bet. I slowly walked around it and tried not to anger it. Those chairs scare me.

                That’s where I’m at right now. Good luck with your own lives.

                -Karl

Dalek Chair

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