Welcome to the ceaseless torture of adulthood! We're glad you made it!
home | index by time | index by subject
previous let the piper lead the way next 

if a body catch a body coming through the rye
october 07, 2001
maurice resembled a rubber stress man.
"I think I even miss that goddamn Maurice. It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

~ Holden Caulfield

Even in its normal state, his head is unusually large and perfectly hairless. No eyebrows, eyelashes, or five o'clock shadow grow beneath the bald and slightly pointed dome. Just an expanse of puffy pale pink visage with large, stick-outish ears balances on his spindly neck. He looks like one of those Rubber Stress Heads filled with sand that you distort by squeezing.

But his face is kind, his smile gentle and sad. The first crinkles of middle age are gathering around his pale blue eyes magnified to blurriness behind heavy circular lenses.

His name is Maurice. He shows me around the abandoned department store, up and down dim, dusty aisles. Though Maurice walks with the slightly duck-footed rolling gate of the hugely obese, he is surprisingly light on his feet. He sails his 500-pound bulk through the womens' clothing section, jostling faded cheap blouses and leaving them quivering on their hangers in his wake.

He says he has lived here alone for more than 20 years.

Maurice lives well, sleeping in what was the manager's office on a stack of king mattresses neatly made up with linens and blankets from the bedding department. The room is lined with the best paperbacks from the book section. I glimpse some of the titles. Confederacy of Dunces. Catcher in the Rye.

His living room is what was once the department store pharmacy, furnished with the roomiest sofas from the furnishings section, the best of the cheap lamps, rattan tables, and color prints. In the middle is a large recliner chair. He has swept all the pharmacy drugs from their shelves into the trash, replacing them with a collection of musical CDs. A Beethoven symphony rises muted from an electric-blue boom box.

"Why do you live here alone?" I ask.

"I suffer from a terrible condition."

He explains that periodically his head grows to an enormous size -- 10, sometimes 15 times larger. "And then I have to remain in this recliner chair, not moving. I can't read, can't listen to music, can't even go to the restroom. I have no way to feed myself.

"So you see," he says. "I need a friend. Somebody to help during these times."

I'll be his friend.

A week or so later when I visit, I find him suffering from one of his attacks, immobile in the recliner chair with his huge head propped on several pillows. He did not think I would return. I spoon-feed him hot oatmeal. Take care of his hamsters and fish in the pet section. Read aloud from Catcher in the Rye.

previous let the piper lead the way next
index by time let the piper lead the way index by subject
marel trout let the piper lead the way the ceaseless torture of adulthood let the piper lead the way you are here