I began with a gaggle of other people, twenty to thirty, I’d guess, all strangers. We were sitting in rows of picnic tables. All faced the same direction, we only sat on one side. Gray blankets covered the tables.
I learned that a religious ceremony was about to take place. What religion, I was asking aloud. Someone was telling me but I wasn’t comprehending. Three people in gray arrived at the front to speak. I attended them, waiting for them to open their mouths. They pulled gray blankets over their head. With surprise, I gave a glance around and discovered that everyone except me and my seatmate had their heads under a gray blanket. Well, shit, I thought with embarrassment, hurry, pull the blanket over your head before it’s noticed. I did, then waited, blanket over the head. Complete silence outside. Venturing a peek, I found that everyone else had uncovered their heads and were leaving.
That was a religious ceremony? I understood zero of what it was about. But that part ended. Now, I was working. I was given an old wooden desk. The front was closed. When it was pulled open, it would come down to provide a working surface. But I was working on the slanted front. It was quickly apparent that was completely ineffective. After asking, “Why can’t I open the desk,” and not receiving any answers, I opened it.
Stuff was inside. I began unpacking it, trying to learn what these things were. They seemed familiar but glazed with mystery. As I delved into them, I ended up taking that desk section apart. Now it needed to be put back together. I was working on that when gossip and warnings rippling to us warned that the religious people were arriving to conduct inspection. A friend nearby told me that we need to go and warn our other friend so she could hide her contraband.
We covertly hastened to her small place, ground level flat not far away. Stealing inside, we discovered that she wasn’t there. Her back door was cracked open. Hearing her voice, we peeked out. She was there, coming, but engaged with others. I looked out the front window. The inspectors were almost at her place. We fretted over what was going to happen.
Finally, our friend entered her place through the back door. We warned her, “The inspectors are coming.” She calmly replied that she already knew and that she had already prepared for them and didn’t expect any problems. Turning to another person who entered, they began talking about another man. “He looks hideous,” she said, “just like Michael.”
“Me? I look hideous?” I asked. I was appalled; do people think I like hideous.
“Not you,” my friend replied, “my Michael.”