Bedlam by Paolo Bicchieri

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It’s an eclectic place with two dragon heads and another dualistic art piece: two coal black drawings of hollowed women are framed in one rectangular piece of glass. A library is carved into the wall with well-manicured spines of books and a couch is carved out of the wall near it. It’s something like a nook and something like a confessional. I imagine people have held lingering kisses in there, and a woman in pink wrote in there an hour ago.

Four handsome chairs with impressive rounded backs crowd a, well, handsome table. All five pieces are shiny brown, and a man came to wipe them down an hour ago.

Less handsome pieces of furniture, including two stools and couches that are old like the couches your grandparents have, make the upper level feel mystical, like it’s a place that protagonists meet for information inside a whale, or that the boy who lived finds after tapping the thin planks of wood, that make up only one of the walls, with a wand.

A blanket, not a tapestry, is pinned with two thumb tacks to the farthest wall from the stairs.

It is illuminated by a spotted lantern that hangs from a chain. It feels Machiavellian. Whatever that means in this context, I don’t know, it just feels that way.

The blanket has stupid big mountains of just white and brown in the background and a snow covered fern in the foreground. Somewhere in the middle there’s a man in red on a dog sled pulled by seven dogs. He looks like he is pushing the dogs, because the dogs seem lackadaisical and uncaring that they are being asked to bring the man anywhere at all. He has a beard, and looks frustrated. The dogs just look lackadaisical, with their tongues begging for snowflakes.

One of the not-fitting-in chairs, a red one below the blanket, makes one think this is a scene from a movie, and that it is all designed just so for the big finale.

A checkered board, circled by four fairies, is above the library, and a knight’s chess piece of stone, maybe old wood, is the base of a lamp on a table. Not the handsome brown one, a handsome black one.

There’s a “restricted area” door next to a door with no knob or handle of any kind. The instruments were removed, or if they were never there then the designer of the door thought someone would put some there because there are two holes where one would expect to see door-opening instruments.

I crinkle open another almond and coconut trail bar. I’m not on a trail, but this place, with a painting of a legless, shivering Astroboy-looking redhead glaring down from the stairs, makes me think I could be. A trail on that string theory I’ve heard about but never read about. Maybe I’m just pretending it applies at all since I know nothing about it.

When did I get here? I was outside in the sun just a moment ago. It seems like some nautilus portal whooshed me to this intimate place.

The only photo on the upper level is one of soldiers marching in 1917 down the main drag of the city. They’re ready for battle. It feels like the world of soldiers and battles is so far away from this upper level. Maybe that’s the point of the photo. I’m still working on the dragon heads, to be frank.

A blonde haired man who I did not see enter the “restricted area” door has just left through it. He looked like David Lynch and murmured something indistinguishable as he passed in front of my crossed feet like I imagine David Lynch might. There is tinkling behind the door now, and Spanish lyrics, maybe Portuguese, plays above it all. A bell tinkles downstairs, on the lower level. String theory – it is matching the “restricted area” craziness of this upper level.

I realize I can’t stay here any longer. The staff here can’t be real – none of this can really be happening. I must have pulled on some string while I unwrapped my snack.

I walk below, white converse with skateboard holes in them that I never bought laced around my feet. Three people sit at a red counter that belongs as the plank on Captain Hook’s ship. One frizzy haired hipster makes tea in a phone booth looking kitchen, and a couple make conversation behind the stairs.

The upstairs is much more eclectic, and I’m sorry I left. But one can’t sustain on almond and coconut trail bars alone. I purchase a tea and leave the place, with its dragon heads and strange paintings and David Lynch impersonators, and am affronted by a torrent of rain.

A lot of it.

The rain washes me away to some other place.



Paolo Bicchieri is a Chicano fiction writer writing for folks on the margins. His work can be found in Headway Literary, WordLitZine, Labyrinth Women’s Magazine, and more. He can be found calling his family and drinking red wine.

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