TRIGGER WARNING: this chapter peddles Suicide Ideation
He awoke one day as a full-grown adult, conscious, the Listmaker did. Oblivious to whether or not he ever had parents, the Listmaker always concluded that he must have had parents at some point, but somewhere floating along the surface just above the depths of the faraway unconscious, he knows that he has never had a family. How did he get here, then?, he wondered from time to time, never dwelling on the details but rather, questioning the manner of his existence, in general. The only thing that gives him any sort of existential relief is his uncanny abilities regarding organization and the particular way in which he could arrange stuff in an exactly right schema. This stuff, undoubtedly, ranged in importance from the triteness of one’s clothing to the esoteric nature of one’s mental faculties. Assuredly, however, the Listmaker would never characterize his … proclivities with any sort of genius or thoughtfulness; the prowess is perfunctory. Nevertheless, the Listmaker found that he had little to no tolerance for bad design or clutter, per se, and so, at some time he learned that there a hierarchy of better existed.
Inevitably, like for all people who reach the heights of exceptionality, people sought out the Listmaker for his exclusive skill set. And soon thereafter, the boredom and eventual disdain for “regular folk” convinced him to get the hell out of this hell hole. He had never truly contemplated suicide ever before, but now, the urge was too great to ignore, and so, after a little research, he sought out the necessary supplies for the quickest, most effective hanging. What he learned included a space that offered somewhere from which to hang a rope that would allow him to dangle appropriately, something upon which he could stand, another thing that would allow him to either kick or pull the thing upon which he would stand out from underneath him, and, as a consideration for whoever might find him, a ladder and a mat within the vicinity. The Listmaker made a list for all of these things. The first item proved to be the most difficult to acquire. As a tenant of a more-than-modest apartment, the place had no high beams or hooks or nooks from which he could loop a rope. He also decided against installing a hook into the ceiling, since, it would essentially ruin the general feel of the place, since, rarely do ceiling-type hooks ever belong in such a space. He was also quite tall. He was not short on cash, either. And so, after a few days of mulling his options, the Listmaker made another list of what types of residences or spaces possessed what he would consider an ideal, lofted space. And then he made a list for the order in which he would do all of the things that needed to be done beginning with, “scout out places to do the deed (via Types of Places list),” ending with, “do the deed.”
Disinterested in wasting money, he opted for something akin to a storage unit. To his surprise, the Listmaker found that the monthly rate on one of these things was enormous. Of course his storage unit search prioritized functionality to the cause over price or general size, but despite the specifics of his needs, the Listmaker felt sick when visiting various storage unit facilitators. One particular storage facility’s facilitator answered his inquiry into the vacancy rate of the particular facility in question by stating that it was null. The only thing that interested the Listmaker in a storage space revolved around the peculiarities of his needs, and oddly enough, a set of makeshift units that were tall and narrow were squeezed into the back portion of this particular facility’s lot as an afterthought for people needing to store odd things like kayaks or basketball hoops, etc. But aside from the four spaces of the tall-and-narrow type, all the other units were booked and billed. Ever the more curious about the nature of storage units, the Listmaker found himself jotting down a list of questions regarding store unit facilities and had a delightful conversation with this particular storage facility’s facilitator. The bottom line, according to the sf’s facilitator was simple: big pay, small work. He, the sf’s facilitator, unfortunately, was not the owner of this particular facility. He, the sf’s facilitator, did, however, do most of the work and so, knew how much money poured in and out of the place on a daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly basis. The operation, in and of itself, according to the sf’s facilitator, was extremely well-suited to money laundering, as word throughout like-businesses were concerned but that this particular facility did not participate in the overall, well-known practice of the storage unit business. As far as he, the sf’s facilitator, knew, the Listmaker noted. Curious still about this storage unit business, as a whole, the Listmaker asked the sf’s facilitator to whom he had been talking for a few hours now, whether or not he could or would outright name a facility that practiced these … shady business operations known as money laundering. The facilitator hardly hesitated before suggesting that he could not name the place, but that he could point the Listmaker in the right direction. And then the facilitator quickly followed up with a question regarding whether or not the Listmaker himself was in need of some … laundering.
Sadly, the Listmaker responded, he was not, but that he was very curious about the whole endeavor. What he did need, however, was a storage unit of exactly the type that this particular storage facility offered—one of those tall, narrow things. And so, the facilitator got to the small amount of work required to acquire such a unit. To the Listmaker’s surprise, the facilitator was absolutely right in the smallness of the amount of work he must do on a day-to-day basis. After filling out one form of a mere dozen lines or so requesting information about the short-term tenant’s personal such-and-suches, the Listmaker paid the facilitator the month’s rent. After the Listmaker’s information entered the digital catalog, the facilitator disappeared through a door behind the service counter area for a minute and then reappeared with a set of keys and another form that was half as small as the first form. On this half-sheet, the Listmaker wrote down similar information as to that that was required on the first form and handed the sheet back to the facilitator. At this point the facilitator wrote in large numerals, a three-digit number and then asked the Listmaker to say a sort of password. The Listmaker thought for a moment and then picked the word bombastic. Switching pens now, the facilitator asked the Listmaker to spell the word, which he then did as the facilitator wrote the word down while holding a small flashlight. The letters glowed on the page as the facilitator wrote them down. Obviously, the Listmaker’s curiosity had not damped, and so, the Listmaker asked the facilitator about this particular process. The facilitator gladly shared that the keys are not marked with any information about the storage unit or the facility, just in case a renter loses the key or whatnot. So, if a renter forgets, which they do, which unit their stuff is in, they can come in here and find out by presenting the key and their password. The system seemed strange to the Listmaker when considering how the system relies on a people who cannot remember their unit’s number remembering their password. The Listmaker said this aloud, of course, and the facilitator merely looked at him with a look. Then the facilitator pulled out another small piece of paper that greatly resembled a business card, a blank business card upon which the facilitator promptly wrote down the Listmaker’s password in visible ink. The Listmaker nodded in acknowledgement of his own presupposition. At this point, the Listmaker decided that he probably shouldn’t ask anymore questions.
The facilitator then explained the keys. One of the keys was significantly larger than the other. The large one, according to the facilitator, accesses the building itself, the small one, the Listmaker’s personal unit. The Listmaker nodded in understanding. The Listmaker learned that he was free to come and go throughout the facility twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred, sixty-five days a year. Well, the facilitator added, except not really in his case since he’s only renting for one month. The Listmaker smiled, then asked if he could look at the unit one more time, to which the facilitator replied by repeating how the Listmaker was free to move about the facility now that he had his keys. So tempted the Listmaker was at this point to ask about security and safety and all sorts of procedures regarding people who don’t pay their monthly bills but who still have keys, etc., but the Listmaker refrained, thanked the facilitator and walked out of the storage unit facility’s office toward the main entrance of the storage units’ building.
As the Listmaker walked through the hall lined with unit after unit after unit filled with stuff that people wanted to keep but not be around, the Listmaker lamented at the entire concept of storage facilities, but then a feeling of gratitude overcame him as he thought about how he would be unable to carry out his wishes to end his droll life if such a place did not exist. Torn, he meandered through each hallway of the building, strolled up the steps to the next floor and meandered the next floor until he reached the fourth floor. The Listmaker meandered the fourth floor as well until he found his temporary … coffin. On each of the four floors of the facility, one of the tall-but-narrow type of units was housed or smushed into the end of the hall next to the staircase that necessarily ate into, what would otherwise be, another full-sized storage unit. An elevator sat at the opposite entrance-end of the hall, but elevators are more rote in size and so, take up an entire full-sized storage unit’s space. Bending down to unlock the padlock from the vertically sliding, garage-door-type door, the Listmaker unlocked the lock, shimmied the thing from the loop attaching the door to the floor and pulled the door up as he stood to pull the door up farther over his head. A dry, dull air came slowly oozing out of the unit. Upon examination, two of him, the Listmaker decided, could not fit in there shoulder to shoulder. Since this particular unit was not actually a proper unit, no lights were installed, hence the higher, unfinished ceiling with exposed beams and such, hence the acquisition of this particular unit. Luckily, the facility’s hallways were lighted, and the lighted light easily poured far enough into the unit that the lightless situation bothered the Listmaker not.
Here, now, the Listmaker stands, working out the particulars of the space. The thing stands fully empty with the one exception of some kind of trash stuff in the corner. He wants and/or needs to examine the thing more closely. Two crumpled up pieces of paper it is, and so, he picks the stuff up and begins to meticulously unfold the paper balls, one at a time. Upon opening the first, the Listmaker recognizes the general schematic of a brochure. “All Tents Circus!” the top of the first sheet reads and below it, a smattering of circus-related designs, event details, etc. He folds the first sheet and tucks it into his back pocket. He opens the second. At first it seems blank but then he turns to face the light oozing in from the hallway, and tilts the paper ever so slightly so that the paper may reflect said light. Still the paper seems to be blank, and just as the Listmaker’s about to fold the sheet up for safe keeping—Let’s not be wasteful, he thinks to himself—the paper shimmers a bit to slowly reveal an image … the face of … the image of the Listmaker’s own face. Bending over the sheet to stare into it, the Listmaker sees that the sheet has turned into some sort of reflective surface … a mirror of sorts. Holding the sheet vertically now, he moves the paper around to see if the thing continues to reflect more than just his face, and as soon as the paper moves away from his face, the shimmery effect slowly dissolves, returning the magical sheet to its dull, papery self. Of the curious sort, the Listmaker realizes that he needs to find out if any other person can/will see his/her own face reflected in the paper. The facilitator, he thinks. Forgetting, at least for the moment, about the task at hand, he locks up his unit, questionably magically paper in hand, runs down the stairs, out the door of the storage units’ building, back into the storage unit facility’s office building.
“Hey, man,” the Listmaker greets the facilitator. “Everything look alright?” the facilitator asks. “Yea; it’s great, thanks,” the Listmaker responds. The facilitator looks at him, a little curious himself now. The Listmaker is breathing a bit heavier than a person ought, the facilitator considers. The Listmaker, recognizing the look on the facilitator’s face immediately pipes up, “Uh, so I was wondering if you’d take a look at this piece of paper for me?” “What?” the facilitator nearly scoffs. “This piece of paper,” the Listmaker reiterates as he holds up the piece in question; “Can you just look at it for me?” “I am looking at it. It looks blank,” the facilitator comments; “And very wrinkled.” “Yea, just here,” the Listmaker offers as he holds out the sheet for the facilitator to take. The facilitator obliges and takes the paper with both hands from the Listmaker. “Okay?” the facilitator shrugs. “Uh, hold it up to your face, and look at it,” the Listmaker gently directs. The facilitator complies. And then looks back at the Listmaker. “Look at it,” the Listmaker reiterates. The facilitator looks at the sheet again while the Listmaker waits patiently for the facilitator to be blown away. Nothing. Still holding the sheet, the facilitator looks back at the Listmaker, “What?” Quickly, the Listmaker lowers the sheet in the facilitator’s hands to see if he can see the facilitator’s face in the sheet. Nothing. The Listmaker takes the sheet back, “Here, come look at this.” The facilitator walks around the service-counter area and stands next to the Listmaker. Slowly, the Listmaker lifts the sheet to face level and waits. He’s sure that the paper is about to shimmer, but then, the thing remains fucking dull. “What am I looking at?” the facilitator asks. “Goddammit,” the Listmaker curses; “Nevermind.” “Alright, man,” the facilitator mocks; “That’s a nice wrinkled piece of paper.” “Thanks,” the Listmaker retorts, disappointed, somber. The facilitator does not seem to care much about the Listmaker, in general and so, simply walks back around to the Employees Only side of the service counter. The Listmaker feels slightly embarrassed but is overwhelmed by surprisingly strong feelings of anger. He turns to exit the office, “See ya around.” The facilitator merely raises a hand in farewell while attending to other sheets of paper related to the nature of his work. Standing just outside the storage unit facility’s office now, the Listmaker takes another glance at the paper; it begins to shimmer. “Are you fucking kidding me,” the Listmaker whispers under his breath. Another moment passes and the paper slowly reveals and reflects the Listmaker’s face. “Motherfucker,” the Listmaker spits as he crumples the sheet back into the ball-like form in which he originally found it. He tosses the thing into the nearby row of weeds lining the storage unit facility’s office and walks away. He hears the door of the office open behind him. “Come on man!” the facilitator scolds. The Listmaker keeps on walking away. “Asshole!” the facilitator yells.
The Listmaker consults the list of necessary goods in his pocket and reads:
- a place for the deed
- stool or the like
- mat or the like
- knife or large scissors
- ladder of unknown height
Then, he crosses off the item that reads “a place for the deed,” crosses off “of unknown height” and jots down a two-digit number next to the crossed off portion regarding the ladder. Of the more insular in nature, the Listmaker does not own any of the remaining necessities of his list and has never frequented the type of store he imagines one would frequent in order to purchase the remaining items on his list. Thus, the Listmaker retrieves the to-do list regarding the necessary steps of the task at hand and adds the instruction, “scout out places to purchase necessary items,” before the line item, “buy necessary items,” after, “acquire a place to do the deed.” And then the Listmaker reads a few line items down the to-do list regarding the necessary steps of the task at hand and sees, “prepare to do the deed (consult Doing the Deed Preparation list),” and soon realizes that he has not prepared the Doing the Deed Preparation list. Obviously, the Listmaker jots down “prepare the Doing the Deed Preparation list” onto the to-do list regarding the necessary steps of the task at hand list under “prepare necessary items,” over “prepare acquired place with prepared necessary items.” At this point, the Listmaker considers how vastly under prepared he truly is for the task at hand, and so, immediately decides that he must return to prepare the rest of his preparations. But first, he consults his to-do list regarding the necessary steps of the task at hand and jots down “return home to prepare the preparations for preparing” beneath “acquire a place,” above the newly added “scout out places to purchase necessary items.” The Listmaker takes a deep breath as a temporary glaze of satisfaction washes over him. Within a moment, however the feeling fades as he remembers another line item, and so he jots down, “discard Types of Places list” between “acquire a place” and the newly added “return home to prepare the preparations for preparing.” And then he spots the first three items on the list that have been completed and thusly squeezes “scratch off first three completed items,” directly below the “acquire a place,” atop “discard Types of Places list.” Promptly, the Listmaker follows the newest order and crosses off the three completed items at the top of the to-do list regarding the necessary steps of the task at hand. The Listmaker reads the immediate next item and reaches into his pocket for the Types of Places list, crumples the thing up and litters.
Frozen, the Listmaker stands debating whether or not he should add instructions to cross of each completed task as he completes them, or if he should simply let all remaining lists, in general, persist in their duties. For an unknowable amount of time, the Listmaker stands outside the storage unit facility’s office, just out of sight of the facilitator. A vehicle screams by as it blares its horn at the Listmaker loitering on the side of the road. Awakened by the screeching terror, the Listmaker, under adrenaline’s influence, instantly decides that to write instructions instructing him to cross off each item would be a sort of conundrum since he would then have to write instructions instructing him to cross off each line of instruction instructing him to cross off each line of instruction instructing him to cross off each line of instruction instructing him to … etc. The Listmaker consults his to-do list regarding the necessary steps of the task at hand, reads the next line item—”return home to prepare the preparations for preparing”—and walks on home, free of distraction, pursuing one, very specific, instruction.
And then, the worst possible happening happens. Focused, the Listmaker walks the most direct route home, passes through the main street corridor through the heart of the small town in which he resides. He fixates on the task immediately before him so intensely that he finds it waning just as he nears the end of the main block of the main street of the heart of the small town. Losing focus now, questions surrounding the Listmaker’s general sense of purpose begin to cloud his mind with distraction. In an attempt to quell the disturbance, the Listmaker stops for only a moment, closes his eyes, shakes his head in a lame struggle to regain clarity. It is within this moment that the Listmaker’s eye catches but only a glimpse of a face sitting beyond the glass that separates him from the face. A face of such extraordinary exclusivity cannot be easily ignored. Of course only his unconscious mind recognized the fantastic nature of the face, and so, then sent the necessary stimuli to the places that could and would do something about this need to see and know more about this fantastic face. The Listmaker slowly turns his head over his right shoulder and takes a good long look this time into the face that sits clearly through the glass that continues to separate the two. Amazingly, the face looks up and smiles at him. He nearly dies from the radiation of the emanating beauty. The Listmaker, caught between what he must do and what he wants to do, stares into the face of the seated woman. She looks away, embarrassed but smiling. Smiling too, the Listmaker refuses to suppress the mind-blowing urge to know the face that sits beyond the glass that separates them.
The Listmaker’s desire outbids the demanding next step shouting at him from the to-do list regarding the necessary steps of the task at hand. He is young, so they say, and so, why not? Through the front door of the establishment he enters and looks toward the young woman at which he could not help himself but stare. The Listmaker stops to take in her beauty like the warmth of sunshine after a long winter. The young woman glances up at him and smiles; he nearly faints at her glow. Confident, the Listmaker walks through the cafe and sits himself down in the open seat across from her. She begins to look around the place, as if seeking some sort of approval. The Listmaker does not notice her discomfort. Silent, the two simply look at each other, happy, wonderful. Soon enough, the Listmaker strikes up a conversation, skipping all formalities regarding introductions and whatnot, jumps right in as if he’s known her and simply needs to catch up, “How are you?” She smiles and laughs a contagious laugh. “I’m fine. And you?” she responds. That laugh, the Listmaker realizes, will kill him; she is perfection. “Oh, I’m doing just great. Thank you,” he answers, never taking his eyes off her. The two sit together for another silent moment. “I’m not bothering you, am I?” the Listmaker finally asks. She looks around again, “Uh, no.” The Listmaker observes that she looks uncomfortable and prods, “Are you doing some work or something?” “Well, not exactly,” she responds. “Oh,” the Listmaker states in a seriously chipper tone; “Well then, would you like to accompany me on a day out on the town?” She looks over her shoulder toward the counter/ordering area of the cafe. The Listmaker perceives her attempt at subtlety and so, also glances in the same general direction. A person who looks like a manager or supervisor of some sort eyes him coolly. “Uh, well, I can’t exactly leave here right now,” she answers. The Listmaker catches another glimpse of the manager-type person looking in their direction, “Oh, I see.” Sad and disappointed, the Listmaker fidgets in a motion to excuse himself, “Well, it was really nice to meet … Oh, I guess we never really met.” “No, it’s not that,” the young woman urgently states as she reaches out across the table and touches his arm; he feels warm, then feels … excited. The Listmaker melts at her touch, “Oh.” He situates himself back into a comfortable seated position.
The young woman takes a deep breath, sighs, “It’s just that I’m working right now.” “You are?” the Listmaker wonders aloud. “Yes,” she explains; “It’s my job to sit here, right here, in the window of this cafe.” “What?” he laughs; “That’s a thing … that you get paid for?” She rolls her eyes a bit, “Yea.” “Wait, wait, explain this to me,” the Listmaker urges as he crosses his arms and leans back in the chair. The young woman scoffs sarcastically, “Come on, don’t be so judgmental.” The Listmaker leans forward again, arms resting atop the table, “Oh, I’m not judging, please, by all means, please, explain to me how it’s your job to sit here in this window.” “I’m a window model,” she begins softly, almost whispering. She looks all around her, supposedly at the manager again. Curious, the Listmaker also looks around the cafe. “A window model?” the Listmaker repeats, mimicking her whisper. “Yes,” she confirms. “Okay, so what exactly does that mean?” the ever-the-curious Listmaker pries, thoroughly entertained. She sighs again, “I sit in the window seat of different cafes and restaurants so that people will think that this is the place to be.” “Are you serious?” the Listmaker almost shouts, excited … nearly erect this time; “That is the greatest thing I have ever heard. You’re being serious?” “Yes,” she whispers while miming him to please keep it down. The Listmaker picks up on the hint and gazes around the cafe to make sure no one is listening, and then he leans in again over the table, “And you get paid?” “Yes,” she verifies. The Listmaker sits back and crosses his arms again, smiling. They stare at each other in silence.
After another moment or two, the Listmaker leans forward and reiterates, “Okay, so let me get this straight. You’re so beautiful that people, shop owners, hire you to sit in the window where randos walking by can see you sitting inside their shop or whatnot, and these people who hire you think that this helps their business. And so what, you get a cut of their daily profits or something?” The young woman lightly scratches the space between her eyebrows, “Well, I don’t know if it’s that I’m so beautiful. Maybe I just have the right vibe for whatever the owners think will attract people.” “Right, you’re not sure if you’re so beautiful,” the Listmaker sarcastically mocks. She hugs herself tightly and then takes a sip of her tea. “I’m sorry,” the Listmaker apologizes; “I didn’t mean for that to sound rude. But come on, you’ve got to have some semblance of recognition that you’re being hired because you’re beautiful.” She shrugs, and the Listmaker notices her face as it turns somber, uncomfortable. “I need to get rid of you in about two minutes,” she explains. “What?” he questions. “I’m not really allowed to let people sit here with me for more than a few minutes,” she outlines. “Oh, because a taken woman is all the more less appealing?” he asks. She nods and shrugs simultaneously. “Oh, come on,” the Listmaker states, annoyed; “So, I have to leave while you just sit here?” Again she nods and shrugs. The Listmaker’s calm excitement morphs into a mild, heated frustration. “Well, I’m not gonna leave that easy,” the Listmaker challenges. “Then you’ll eventually meet the manager,” she retorts. The Listmaker grins a big grin in acceptance of the challenge, “Oh, so you don’t want me to leave either.” She fingers her teacup. “Alright,” the Listmaker nods; “Then what are we gonna do?” “We could just sit here until the manager kicks you out,” she suggests. “How can he, she, they?” the Listmaker begins. “She,” she delineates. “Yea, so how can she just kick me out?” he disputes. “Uh, she usually just comes over here and asks, ‘Is this guy bothering you?,’ to which I have to respond, ‘Yea,’ and then she says something like, ‘Look kid, why don’t you just leave this nice lady alone,’ or something,” she explains; “Then the guys just leave, sort of pissed, sort of desperate for me to reach out to them. They usually want to know how they can see me again.” The Listmaker fills with concern and ultimately looks a bit concerned, “Wait, do any of them give you problems. You know, like if they see you again?” She laughs, “No, I have a pretty steady rotation. I won’t be back in this area of town for at least another month.” “Oh,” the Listmaker responds, shocked; “May I ask you something?” “Uh, sure,” she allows. “So, like how many guys hit on you on a daily basis?” he boldly throws out. She blushes, “Uh, I don’t know.” “Oh, like so many guys that you can’t keep count?” the Listmaker further requests. She cocks her head, “No, not like that. I just don’t keep track because I don’t care. I guess if you’re making me come up with a number, it’s only like one a day, on average. Most guys don’t talk to me or even approach me.” “It’s cause they’re scared,” he nods with lifted eyebrows. “What? No,” she condemns; “Oh. I get it. But you’re supposed to be some man’s man who can handle me?” Feeling proud, the Listmaker confidently nods, “Definitely.” The two laugh together, she almost mockingly, he full of certainty.
“Oh shit,” the Listmaker stops laughing; “I think she’s coming over here.” “It’s fine,” she starts; “I’ll be done in an hour.” “What am I supposed to do without you for an hour?” he helplessly states. She laughs. “Fine. I’ll be back in one hour,” he concedes. “Ma’am,” the manager states calmly. “Yea yea,” the Listmaker cuts in; “I’m outa here. She’s not into me anyway.” He winks. She looks to be suppressing a smile. The manager walks away. As he turns to leave the cafe, he looks back, “I’m Erzst by the way.” She smiles a big smile. The Listmaker makes his way to the cafe’s front doors and takes a left back toward the direction of the young woman. Outside now, through the glass, the Listmaker waves and gestures a motion as if slitting his throat. She smiles back and cocks her head as if confused. He then blows her a kiss. She catches it. The Listmaker gives her a nerdy thumbs up and jogs cross the street to walk the other side and heads home.