Melvin’s heart started racing. His plans were sweaty. Something about this door handle didn’t seem right to him. He’d definitely have to bring this up with his analyst. And he’d have to talk to that odd super, and maybe the realtor he talked to. Did they manage the company, or did they own it? Maybe there was an owner he could talk to. Or maybe he should go to the library and do some research, dig through old newspapers and archives to see if he could find anything about this door or what might be lurking in the other side.
Melvin sat down on the floor, pulled out a pen and his writing notebook and started scribbling down ideas- about the door, what might be behind it, lists of possible search terms and categorizations, questions. Who was liable if something happened? Was it covered by insurance? What if there’s a clause in the lease about mysterious doorways? That seemed improbable, but at this point, Melvin was long gone.
As Melvin jotted frantically, a knock came from the front door. Melvin didn’t respond. Though, somewhere, in the back of his mind, he noticed. Actually, he noticed and thought about it and decided that maybe if he ignored it, then whomever was out there would go away or somehow be impressed by the pace of his work.
Of course, it turned out to be Emily, his uh… Well, you get the picture, dear reader.
Emily pushed the door open. “Melvy?” She called into the empty apartment.
“Oh, Em… Is that you? Wait, did I forget something? Did we have plans?” Melvin replied.
“Nope. Just thought I’d drop by. You know. See what’s happening. Can I help?”
“Uh… I… No. That’s alright. I think today I’m just going to arrange a few things. I’ve hired some movers to help with the big stuff tomorrow.”
“That seems sensible,” Emily replied. She looked down at her shoes as she shuffled back and forth a bit, hoping this meant Melvin had time to go out for dinner, or drinks or something.
There was an awkward lull in the conversation.
“Okay, well, I’ll just get going then, I guess,” Emily said, moving slowly back to the door.
“Good night, Em. Thanks for stopping by,” Melvin replied.
Emily stepped out the door and let out a big sigh. She wandered down the hallway and out the building into the warm summer air.
She reached into her pocket and checked her phone, hoping that maybe, and it seemed s bit crazy to her, that Melvin would text her, suggesting they try that new sushi place that opened up, or go for a walk through the park. Instead, she made her way home, struggling to figure out what she’d do for the rest of the night. Maybe she’d take up writing too, or watch a movie, or just go to bed early. The last one seemed ideal. Though it didn’t exactly put a spring in her step, early bedtime gave her a sense of direction.
Meanwhile, Melvin continued mulling over the mysterious door. He pulled open his phone and did a search about mysterious doors, dangerous doors, doors that were beautiful, inspiring, or led to good things. Though, Melvin had a feeling that nothing good could come from this ordinary door. This drab door which was the poster child for bland things like the color palate of Arizona, or English cooking, or episodic crime dramas on TV. Melvin started listing all the bland things he disliked, the color tan, polo shirts, economy-sized sedans, chain corner stores, airport bookstores, the list went on for pages.
If Melvin had been writing for a constructive reason, say, to exercise his creative muscles in preparation for a big new script, then his techniques like list writing would have been a veritable gold mine of source material and turns of phrase. The scripts he could write from this rambling mass of words could have been incredible. Instead, these pages would eventually be destroyed in an unspectacular fashion for no other reason than to dispose them. It wouldn’t even be Melvin’s doing. But, I simultaneously digress and get ahead of myself, reader.
Where was I? Oh yes. So, Melvin burned the midnight oil, writing and pacing across his new apartment. The downstairs neighbors hoped it was only the sound of moving. They’d later learn this was what Melvin normally sounded like, and it would drive them just a little crazy. They’d be eating breakfast or having sex, or watching TV, and somehow, the rhythmic pacing of Melvin would ruin each moment for them, but only enough to take away the color and excitement, never enough to motivate them to get off their asses and do something about it. No, Melvin’s neighbors never quite realized the sudden depression they felt was easily curable. They could never quite out their finger on it, frustrating them and their analysts and psychiatrists. “How can we help you if you can’t be more specific,” they’d cry.
Anyway, Melvin kept pacing and writing until finally, he got too tired. Melvin looked around and realized that he should have moved the bed. It seemed wierd to go back to the old place. Maybe he’d just curl up in the floor and use a sweater as a pillow. Or maybe he’d call Emily and stay over with her. He pulled out his phone, scrolled through his contacts, and hovered over her name. He almost pressed it, but he wondered, would she let him stay over? How could he make his intentions clear? He only needed a place to sleep. What if she offered him the couch? What about the bed? Or what if she wanted to snuggle? Melvin’s palms grew sweaty. He shoved the phone back in his pocket and resumed pacing.
Eventually, Melvin sat down on the floor, hoping that would be enough rest to get him by just a bit longer. It was almost daytime, and soon, his bed would arrive. As Melvin sat there, he noticed the weight of his eyelids as they slowly made their way downward, finally, Melvin fell asleep, leaning against a wall. Precedent seemed set, and somehow, the universe would find a way to never let him sleep there peacefully.
Melvin’s dream life was active. He dreamt that the city had been miniaturized. Major landmarks stood tall, while everything else was pushed into the ground, flattened into the background and thus, forgotten. Melvin and Emily were playing some sort of game, like Monopoly, where they’d work to buy significant places from each other in some kind of bid for control. But, instead, they just tried to skirt along the city, avoiding each other, refusing to buy or sell, and forcing the game to last forever. Finally, Melvin and Emily both reached out for an unclaimed skyscraper in the middle of the city. They’d travelled in concentric circles and found themselves at the same point. Reader: it doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to tell you, that dream was chock full of symbols. Too bad Melvin never remembered them long enough to relay them to his analyst.
Except that one time when Melvin had dreamt he was running down a mountain with a tiger while they were trying to escape an avalanche headed for Medieval city of Bagdad. The shrink puzzled it for a moment and asked Melvin what he thought it could mean. Melvin pondered it and suggested he was comparing himself to more successful people, but that in the end, everybody has problems. The shrink asked about Bagdad. Melvin didn’t know. They both sat in silence wondering where that come from before the shrink looked at his watch, got up, and left. He came back thirty minutes later with a cup of coffee and sat down. Then, the shrink slowly and quietly announced that Melvin’s time was up. Melvin got up and left.
Then, he spent the rest of the day parked in a bench, staring at the fountain, and wondering, “why Bagdad?”
A few days later, the analyst called. Melvin picked up the phone, and the analyst shouted “Arabian nights!” And promptly hung up. Melvin sat down, dragged his hands across his face and said, “oh, of course!”