by Stanley Lieber

The lateral elevator was still stuck on sideways, so SL had to take the stairs up to his room. Coaching staff was strangely absent.

The cleaners had moved all his books. And, it seemed, removed all his bookmarks, he supposed as a sort of commentary upon the general state of his room. Fair enough.

SL colonized the balcony with a minimum of support equipment. Just him and his cup of tea, not even the folded daily newspaper. The indigenous population of his little table had scattered at the sight of his tattered boxer shorts, surrendering whatever claim they might have otherwise held in the absence of universally recognized property rights.

SL sat down in his chair, feeling anything but the conquering hero.

The town had changed since he’d arrived, he surmised. Nothing he had actually observed, mind, but it stood to reason, didn’t it? Even if only by virtue of his sudden appearance there. Anyway, whatever.

Dull care washed over him and then subsided with the smog.

From then to now he hadn’t allowed himself to approach the memory of what had come before. Masking his awareness with the background clatter (such as it was) of the hustle and bustle here in town. Subsumed by nothing much, at least it was a quiet day. The ticker tape advanced at intervals, now faintly audible in the cradling semi-silence.

The sound was annoying.

Who had he been? No one here seemed to recognize him, so that ruled out intersectional fame. There were no clues as to his interests amongst his few personal belongings, unless you counted the books, which he had never attempted to do. The lot was distinguished primarily by its failure to establish a clear pattern—this scattershot identifier seemed to be all that remained of him. In any case, by now he had forgotten the question. he completed the apparent inventory of his room and decided it was time for lunch.

There wasn’t much, in all honesty, that couldn’t be conveyed through simple language. This was a cornerstone of recovery theory, even though every patient immediately recognized it as bullshit. There was nothing that could be conveyed through simple language, nothing that could be conveyed at all. Each new advance in technology revealed this poverty of capability anew through the increase of immediate— literally, cybernetic—feedback.

Just because few of them could express it in words didn’t make it any less true.

Just look at his friend.