"Ever the calm, cool professional, he feels nothing. He is nothing."



Breathing softly in the darkness, alone, I am a cyclic whisper to stir dust motes in moonbeams. I am thumping pulse and slumberous thoughts. I am a vestigial remnant of a surging tidal pool four billion years old.

That sea yet swims in me, or perhaps I swim in it. It encompasses my thoughts as I encompass it. Within it, I am countless tiny things, all individually meaningless and without purpose. Somehow, I am comprised.

This is an odd thing to be, I think; alive. I feel, but I am without feeling. My thoughts are electric nothings that dance from cell to cell. I am not the thoughts, alone. I am not the cells, alone. My feelings, the sensations that spawn them and the tissues that maintain them, are not my own either, for they are the mystical byproducts of gelatinous, sea-bound colonies of microscopic individuals, all guessing and their guesses all based on contact sequestered through the fabric of distant flesh. Everything they keep has been passed to them second and third hand. The individuals know nothing. Yet they are me.

I lie still in the night within the folds that warm me, and I feel eyeballs grating eyelids; round and round and round. My blackened vision chases still images and motion-picture parodies across mucous-slick membranes. Some are borne of memory. Some are borne of fantasy. Some come from I know not where, pure fabrications of the mysterious and distant realms of an inscrutable psyche.

Once, I believed such lies. Now, I scarcely notice them.

When the sun shines more completely into the room, I wake. The body has disgusting needs. I allow it a free reign for half an hour while I wander. I loathe such rituals, and I prefer not to watch, not to smell, not to taste or hear or touch during this time. I find it all so… gross.

Presently, I am myself peering through the bars of my cage at the thing called 'Raymond Elano Bagley'. Such a strange fellow. Tall. Lean. Angular. Doe-eyed. Slope-headed. Bob-eared. Knock-kneed. Tongue-tied.

I am a charcoal suit. I am a starched white oxford shirt. I am a flaming lavender swatch of silk. My belt buckle is gold, as is my watch and the three class rings that adorn my left hand. The knuckles bristle with coarse, dark hairs. Flared nostrils siphon a scent of expensive cologne from the steam-damp air. Steel heels snap the tiles of the changing room floor, and the lights all shine in balloon-shaped reflections from the toes of patent leather wingtips.

I am ready. I imagine myself a uniformed Nazi on starch parade, polished to a high shine and managed to a maniacal degree. The lines of my creases are as precise as moonshots. Gleaming, my eyes are as hard as bullets.

Leaving the room in perfect order, I am pleased to note that my passing presence has left no evidence of its kind. Indeed, the house might belong to anybody, anonymous as its walls and concealed spaces remain. Nothing of me is apparent here.

I walk through rooms drawn from catalogs. I admire bric-a-brac selected by salespersons. I like the dark colors and somber textures; this is all the joy I experience here.

Through a primary living space bristling with gadgets, I make my way past an immaculate kitchen that never cooked a meal. I am silver silhouettes and shadows captured in chrome. Slinking through dangling wine glasses and across fields of stainless steel, the parasite that is me infests everything with neglect and apathy.

I have never touched a handle there, that I recall, and rarely a knob. The glasses scarcely know my imprint and the utensils know less of my lips.

For five years I have existed here, but the passage of time might have expired in a minute. A second. An instant. I remember little of it. I cherish none of it. My memories are not kept in bulging books bound in gilded white leather. They do not shine from electronic pictographs or dance within gaudy holographs. I have not maintained them in mementoes or clarified them in keepsakes. Nothing is filed away. Nothing is on display. Nothing is hidden.

I glide through my office to brush my desk and snatch up a key ring and a wallet. If I am anything, I think, I am the receipts kept in the ledgers that sit atop that blotter. I am checksums and balance columns. I am a rolling calculation on a revolving account.

Nevertheless, I know a studious review of their contents would reveal nothing more than the machine. The machine feeds itself. The machine clothes itself. The machine shelters itself. I care nothing for it, and I know little of it, except to say; 'here I am – I am not dead'.

Nothing in the rules speaks of Raymond Bagley. No entry quantifies him. No annotation qualifies him. Taken altogether, not a single sum defines him in anyway. If his essence is to be truly found there or within the household, at all, I think he must be found as a ghost. Electric blue, he is a spark in the shaded corners and eaves. He is a flutter of gray beyond the darkened doorway. He is the skittering whisper of conspirators hidden in the woodwork.

Tapping heels and sliding toes, I march to a side door and through it, onto a cobbled walkway that passes beneath an ornate canopy writhing with flowering creepers. The vision is meant to please me. The scents are intended to arouse me. In the slanted light of early morning, I am utter disregard. Resplendent is my lack of notice.

The garage, alone in all the world to know such glory, senses my approach and exposes its contents to my amusement, though I am not amused. Within, several shining toys await my austere attention. I select one and penetrate its interior, though I find no pleasure in it.

Throaty with the promise of instantaneous power and excessive speed, the sedan roars to life hopefully. It begs to run wild through the streets. I keep a tight leash.

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