Rosetti Marches

When they came for him, the little men in their dark suits and their queerly shaped glasses, he was ready. For three nights he had stayed awake, grinding flat the rough places in the floor, filling the cracks and smoothing them, that their feet might slip, and so find no purchase. They came from the corners of the room, their oversized heads split in bonhomie, their hands (their so soft hands, that spin words, that pick and sort between hot and cold, that raise pillars and lower isles) empty and loose upon their wrists. But the floor was smooth, and so they sat, and smoked their long clay pipes, until the room was thick with the smoke of cloves and tobacco and marihuana, and his eyes burned and his throat flamed.

They were patient. Though they could not move, they had no need. Though they could not leave, they were content to remain, until he should be theirs at last. For the diggers and the builders need no food, nor sleep, nor cooling drink.

He settled down to wait with them, the polished wood of a chessboard upon his knees. Their eyes, suddenly, were wary, and eager, behind their glasses…