The body was face-down atop the bushes. Everyone walked toward it with certainty, as if he or she were recovering a vacuum cleaner hose needed to complete a custodial job. Everyone was amazed no one else had come for the body. Others had seen it fall--coworkers everyone knew and probably some passersby. The building from which the body had fallen was downtown. Hours had passed. There had been restaurant eaters and bar hoppers and moviegoers and bookstore fiends to contend with. A body shouldn’t have been able to lay atop the bushes so blithely without someone becoming upset.
The body had on a plaid jacket. Everyone had seen the jacket only a few times before. The jacket had been in everyone’s closet soon after everyone had gotten married. Everyone was uncertain whether the jacket belonged to his or her spouse or whether it was intended as a gift to him- or herself or whether it was in fact reserved for one of their eventual children. The jacket did not seem to fit within the parameters of everyone’s spouse’s usual tastes, and it certainly didn’t fit within the parameters of everyone’s.
And then the jacket disappeared.
That had been so long ago now that everyone was uncertain whether the jacket was real.
When everyone asked his or her spouse about the jacket, as everyone had a few times before the spouse had left everyone, the spouse denied its existence. “Why would I have such a thing?” the spouse had asked. “I hate plaid, and so do you.”
Everyone grabbed the jacket from atop the bushes, and the body slipped down into them. The jacket tore. Everyone had only a handful of it, as if everyone had pulled a handkerchief from the bushes’ pocket.
The bushes were thorny and full of poison. Everyone pondered whether to go in and, if so, how far. Everyone wondered if the body belonged to the person everyone thought it did. Everyone had concerns. Everyone pondered calling the authorities. Everyone wondered whether the authorities would have concerns and whether those concerns would involve everyone.
No one seemed to have noticed the body, and now it had disappeared into the bushes. The authorities might wonder how everyone had known it was there. The authorities might not believe everyone if everyone stated that he or she had seen it fall. So many others had seen it fall. So many others had been around and had passed it by, but no one had mentioned it. No one had called.
Everyone considered the act of calling an ethical dilemma. Everyone hated ethical dilemmas.
Everyone wished that he or she was at a computer so that everyone could contact the Internet regarding what to do.
Everyone did not recognize that the dilemma did not really involve ethics. Everyone’s reason for not calling the authorities was, in fact, cowardice. Everyone did not think about how if he or she could not risk calling about the body, everyone could not risk what was necessary to find the meaning of life, as he or she desired. If everyone had listened to his or her former coworker Harvey, everyone would have known that finding the meaning of life involved giving up one’s life.
Harvey would have told everyone that whether to call was not an ethical dilemma. Harvey knew a lot about ethics because religion and philosophy were what Harvey liked to talk about with the Internet. Harvey often mentioned religion and philosophy to everyone.
Harvey was a custodian. Harvey owned a vacuum cleaner. A vacuum cleaner could gather a body from the bushes. A vacuum cleaner could make a masterpiece of a mess.
Everyone did not have a vacuum cleaner at this moment.
Everyone wiped at his or her brow with the plaid handkerchief. Everyone did not go into the bushes. Everyone was uncertain whether the body was inside them. The handkerchief seemed like something everyone had seen in his or her closet soon after everyone had been married. Everyone’s spouse had denied the thing existed.
Everyone threw the handkerchief into the bushes.
Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.
To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.