Perhaps it was the sunrise, and who’s to say nobody buttered a pancake? The yellow light, the buttered wind weaved in, mottling the portrait of my parents on a beach, their bare triceps touching, young, happy, which hung in the breast pocket of my good tweed sport coat.
Am I all right? Ladies, I come here willingly, gratefully: the ample cupboard, here the hammock, the very possible sunrise filtering through the outer wall of tweed, and always the rumbling pulse animating the opposite, inner wall.
It’s a fact, for instance, that I have no calendar here. Only with the above-mentioned portrait (of such improbable happiness) would I interrupt the graceful pattern of the tapestry-like walls, which brush me as I pace the narrow floor of the pocket, a pleasant scratchiness. It’s a fact, for instance, that my father read me Winnie the Pooh, that I adore salted peanuts. Neither Pooh nor Mr. Peanut wears pants. And, Ladies, beneath my good tweed sport coat, which I wear at all times here inside the pocket of my good tweed sport coat, I wear no pants. This fact once led me to theorize that the white flakes gathering at the bottom of the pocket below the hammock (which I prefer to a bed, for reason of somewhat exiguous floor space) were the result of this pacing, of the exfoliation of my bare legs and fundament stalking nightly between the narrow scratchy walls.
One night, many nights, my chest hurt, and then I found the constant rumble from the inner wall acutely irritating. At last, as the orange, possibly sunny rays once again maculated the parental portrait, I banged on the wall several times.
My chest pained me.
I arose and wrote a letter: “Dear Big Harold, it is I, little Harold, here in the breast pocket of our good tweed sport coat. Your heartbeat has become a nuisance, and I wish you would see a doctor or discontinue whatever exercises you may be doing at night, possibly with the girl who grabbed us by the elbow. Perhaps you are looking into her eyes right now. Beautiful eyes.”
It’s true I had written dozens of such letters, letters shuttled over the outer wall. I suspected they went unnoticed, falling, for instance, onto that pink-swaddled palm tree in her sitting room, or taken for a dust of dandruff in the champagne. It’s been too long since I’ve had champagne. Abstinence is like nothing so much as detangling shampoo for the head’s innards. The mind grows cooperative, ready. Perhaps I am ready. Perhaps I won’t endure another day of this contentment. Another letter:
“Harold, I tell you, I’m ready. Remove me from the breast pocket at once.” Both letters I folded into aerodynamic wads and pitched over the high outer wall of tweed. I returned to bed, my brain and peripheries intent, as my eyelids fell, on the lady possibly grabbing big me’s elbow, possibly naked and covered in butter. I dreamt of my mother in an attic window which had no house to it.
A year I won’t describe passed.
My chest hurt. It’s possible I didn’t get sufficient exercise, pacing pantless between the narrow walls. The white flakes on the floor reached nearly to my ankles now. In a rare, blessed frenzy of tidiness, perhaps indicating springtime somewhere, I gathered the flakes and, balancing on my hammock, flung them, one by one, over the outer wall of tweed. I tidied thus throughout the alleged morning but somehow the accumulation on the floor diminished not the least. Cursing, I leapt onto the hammock with an armful of the flakes and heaved the lot over the tweed wall. The violence of the gesture toppled me, and I landed down among the unchanged filth on the seam of floor. One of the flakes, which I found adjacent to my cornea, had writing on it. I read:
“Dear Big Harold, it is I, Little Harold…”
I spent the day unfolding the flakes, the almost illegible miniatures of my own letters, which were themselves mere miniatures of such letters as Big Harold might write. It may not surprise you to learn I carry a monocle, and with this cinched to the zygomatic protuberance I read from one of the flakes: “Perhaps, Big Harold, she is with you now, on the beach. Perhaps a snapshot is being taken. You are smiling. You are looking out from the wall of some future sunny room, at your grown child, who is well, very well.” I read: “I’m ready to go now, yes I think I’m quite ready to resume, Big Harold, in the air, the air, in the pancake house down the road, on Sunday.” I read: “Tweed tweed tweed tweed.” I read: “Goodbye, Ladies.”
Had I written this? I felt now a positive banging on the bars of my rib cage, under my breast pocket. I was pounding of course, myself, on the inner, rumbling wall, which had grown intolerably loud, a wild, arrhythmic tattoo. Pain forked through me. I seized my chest. As I did so, a great concussion from the outer wall flung me from the hammock. On the floor, buried in mini-mini letters, I held my own little chest again, as though to stop the banging. Another wallop from the pocket’s outer wall. Dizzily I raised myself, mounted the hammock, my frantic heart even with the portrait on the wall—the seashore—and bringing my hand more deliberately to my own small breast, I stretched with stealth my trembling fingers. All at once, I squeezed. Through the terrifying constriction that followed, here in the collapsing pocket, as from the outer wall the grasp on me intensified, I squeezed myself as hard as I, being myself squeezed, could. But perhaps not quite as hard. I squeezed myself all day, but somehow not to death.