Mannequin_Robots by keralaguest


									                               Mannequin Robots
                                 Vern Beachy
                                    January 1992

The reconditioned air was heady with Channel Number 5, Polo and Obsession
but it still smelled like death.

The aroma excited me, gave me meaning to the task, yet the excitement flirted
casually with claustrophobia. The public quarters were long and spacial, but the
walls seemed to grow closer…tighter. As an „insider,‟ I never experienced the
eerie feeling of entrapment. Now, as an „outsider,‟ the perception is vastly
different. The three-dimensional world of reality appeared to gain or lose a
dimension. I wasn‟t sure exactly which. Maybe it expanded to the fourth, shrunk
to the first like a box with no sides, top, or ends. The butterflies in my stomach
were not the product of a nervous nature, but of a frightened self.

The masses passed without a glance, save for the occasional non-committal
stare from a mildly attractive young female. She could‟ve been a secretary at
one of the many stock brokerage firms several floors up. Brief whips of air
graced my visage as couples and groups of four and five walked by chatting
among themselves. Some of them wandered into the bar and grill located at the
end of the Skywalk. Others traversed the maze of hallways and disappeared
into various quarters. Still more, like the man in the Bill Blass suit and tortoise-
shell glasses, carried their lunches in non-descript paper bags. Mr. Bill Blass-
suit-guy consumed the last bit of a Romano pizza while he checked his watch
and pressed the „up‟ button on the elevator. He tapped his fingers while waiting
impatiently for the metal doors to open. Down below, the early lunch hour
traffic began to increase. An intermittent car horn could be heard above the
low din of the office workers as they made their way through the carpeted
maze like rats in a laboratory sniffing for that elusive cheese.

Snippets from various conversations surrounded my head. A pair of women
walking by was discussing weekend plans, a young man in an impeccably
tailored Italian suit consulted an older man in a worn sweater and polyester golf
pants about investments, most meandered the connecting hallways without
uttering a word.

No one seemed to notice.
No one seemed to care.

I walked to a nearby group of paper dispensers to get a broader view. The New
York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal were prominently
displayed for the next eager customer thirsty for the news of the day. From my
new vantage point I could see to the end of the adjacent hallway that led to
more shops, business offices and a mandatory parking garage.

The people kept coming.

Paisley ties and French-cut suits were the attire of choice among the brokers,
bankers and ad agency professionals that called this section of town home five
days a week. The women preferred Liz Claiborne suits ordained with silk
scarves and gaudy broaches. The triangular-style Claiborne suits were the result
of that particular designer‟s fascination with her college sorority. Even the now-
famous label reflected her Tri-Delt beginnings. The blond to the left was
wearing a brown tweed two-piece suit and carried a leather appointment book.
She checked her watch and scurried a little faster.

Still, no one noticed.
The Skywalk was full of mannequin robots controlled and directed by the rise
and fall of the stock market and two martini lunches.

A group of four men walked down the sloping hallway toward me. All were
impeccably dressed in their four-button, double-breasted suits and matching
briefcases. The blue-suited moussed blond man on the left laughed discretely to
his friends and his pearly white teeth seemed to sparkle as he did. I caught a
small portion of their conversation as the group walked by, never glancing in
my direction. “…and she just sat there and looked at me with those eyes and

God I hated those pukes. They didn‟t even notice me. They noticed me before,
all of them did. When I was riding high and I, too, carried my leather briefcase
with the combination locks and matching wallet and checkbook cover.

Hell, I was King Shit Yuppie. However, after a few bad investments in a sluggish
(yeah, right: sluggish. How about fucking anorexic?) economy I was lower than
whale shit in the minds of those self-righteous moguls. I started using red ink
to balance my checkbook and the pawnshop paid me a fraction of what my
leather briefcase and matching wallet and checkbook cover were truly worth.

Still, they didn‟t notice.

The mannequin robots did notice a young black man walking aimlessly through
the carpeted maze. He was wearing a black, Los Angeles Kings t-shirt with torn
and faded blue jeans, dirty white Nike hi-tops and a silver lightening-bolt
earring. They looked at him with accusing eyes as he passed by, but they barely
gave me a second thought. Ironically, I was more dangerous than he probably
ever would be.

Even their perception was fucked.

My trigger finger was getting itchy and the Uzi was feeling increasingly heavy. It
was time to lighten the load.

My long, black overcoat did not appear out of season given the chill of the
early March winds. Underneath, I was naked, save for the black, snub-nosed
machine gun hanging by my side secured with a nylon shoulder strap.

Time for them to go.
I exposed the weapon with ease, pulling the barrel up to waist level and gently
squeezing the trigger. I sprayed back and forth in the crowded Skywalk for
what seemed like hours. It was a matter of seconds and the 30 round magazine
was empty. The end of the barrel emitted a thin line of smoke like a snake
slithering toward the heavens as I casually replaced the spent clip with a fresh
one. I again sprayed, but this time in the opposite direction.

They noticed me now.

People scurried through the Skywalk scratching, clawing and digging for an
exit. Some made their way effortlessly, others limped away bleeding profusely.
The majority didn‟t, couldn‟t, move. Blood splattered on the window walls
blocking the sun that had seconds before spilled into the hallways. Screams
pierced my ears and it took another full clip to encase the din.

It was quiet now. The voices inside my head no longer uttered a sound. I was
finally at peace.

                                    The end

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