Table Twenty-Four: Joseph Suglia

The sky is not the color of sapphire. The sky is not the color of lapis lazuli. The sky is not azure. The sky is not cerulean. The sky is not an oceanic blue. The sky is not the color of anyone’s eyes. The sky is the color of a Blueberry Popsicle, and that is that. It is a cloudless sky, and its color is exactly the color of a Blueberry Popsicle.

Double-glazed windows blink in the sunlight behind balustraded balconies. The sun smears the white planes of the apartment buildings, the jutting balconies forming ridges. Pyramid-shaped office buildings rise around you, engulfing you and the crowd. Conical protrusions are looming, imposing cone-shaped buildings. Concrete boxes with glass-cubed fronts. They are steel structures with concrete bases, monoliths of steel surrounded by arterial beltways.

People mill about. They are walking in the middle of Clark Street. These people—they are like mountaineers searching for a mountain. Instead of mountain ranges, you have Walgreens, Starbucks, and Nordstrom’s.

They look into the shop and restaurant windows. They emit phatic expressions disguised as questions (“How are you?”; “How’s it going?”). A fatherly man in wire glasses is standing by the Dunkin’ Donuts. He looks through the window.

Vicious and viscous insect-devouring plants are covering the Urban Outfitters, the inside and the outside of the bauble store.

The sweep of plants that you sweep aside, as you enter the Urban Outfitters, is a virulent green.

Plowing your way into the Urban Outfitters, you are greeted by a vibrant burst of animal life. Simian life. Monkey life.

A proboscis monkey throws itself through the air, hurling its body on to the rack of pre-faded designer jeans.

Chattering gibbons and springy lemurs scale the walls.

Crazed monkeys are radiating in all directions, langurs with white-sideburned and white-crested heads, thick black rats’ tails snaking back and forth, scrambling and scampering, screeching and shrilling. Crawling over everything and shattering everything. They destroy the novelty coffee mugs, the turntables, the faux-vintage LPs, the incense candles, the portable game consoles, the disposable ‘selfie’ cameras, the disposable radios, the Gummy Bear kegs, the bobble heads, all of the baubles and trinkets and junk.

Look up. There are bats. Bats crawl across the high ceiling, strange slit-faced bats with rabbit ears, bats with heads like hyenas, crawling bats, long-snouted chiroptera.

(Chiroptera are volatile mammals—the only flying mammals—with hands like wings.)

The bats umbrella their black wings, their ballooning wings, waiting to descend. A cluster of roosting bats: The ceiling is alive with sucker-footed bats, bats suckering the ceiling above you.

Ring-tailed lemurs pad the ground with their pads, swishing their bushy black-on-white ringed tails, projecting their canine noses upward. Lemurs with their massive liquid brown irises, seeing everything, are mounting the walls, climbing on to the ceiling fans, and playing playfully, grooming one another. Stretching their arachnoid bodies spider-like across the ceiling, leaping through the air, the lemurs dominate the space. They wrap their bodies around the glittering disco ball, performing their arabesque calisthenics. They ring their tails around the wooden ceiling beams. A cluster of angry lemurs, their black-and-white masks unsmilingly surveying you.

Shuddering monkeys are in the rafters, giggling and chattering, swinging black-and-white colobus monkeys swinging and swaying above you. The monkeys seem to be impersonating the stupidities of human beings, their inferiors.

See the marmoset on the check-out counter frenziedly chewing on the smartphone that it holds in both hands.

A howler monkey hurtles itself through the air, from rack to vibrating rack.

Nothing sounds more terrifying than a howler monkey. The howler monkeys shrill their shrill, skin-shriveling shrieks. They loose their bone-grinding howls, which resound from two miles away.

The capybaras give their barks. The howler monkeys howl.

The Urban Outfitters is a reeking, unruly zoo. The artsters and the hipsters, the emos and the scenesters can no longer practice their unpracticed irony there. Where nothing is normal, there can be no irony.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


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