The telephone rang. I picked it up, covering the mouthpiece with my hand. I listened silently to the girl.
"Hello, hello. Is anyone there?"
I hung up, satisfied that I had been suitably mysterious. I turned back to the pages of the morning paper. There was always sleep I told myself. Peace in unconsciousness, but there was no peace without conflict.
I remembered last night. It was no pleasant memory. No talking and drinking to excess. There was only one moment. One moment replayed a thousand times, over and over again. In that moment he turned to me and I to him. A few seconds of mutual discomfort and then we turned away again. He was so gentle and flirtatious, beautiful? No, not beautiful. I had never connected beauty, real beauty with any kind of physical attributes. They were too common, too diverse ever to be labelled beauty. But there was something, something that left me cold and empty; lying silently on my bed with my hands clasped tight over my eyes, allowing that moment to replay in my mind again and again and again.
I sat at my desk, pen in hand. I tried to draw him, to capture his image. Imprison him in paper and ink and keep him at my bedside. Each sketch was less satisfactory, lacking something but I continued to draw.
I remembered last week in that café. Some stupid girl had spilt coffee on my shirt. She looked at me lost and helpless. She didn't need to say she was sorry, but she did, several times "Err.... Thank you", I said. She looked at me. There was nervous laughter.
I got up from my desk and walked over to the mirror. I unfastened two of my shirt buttons. The mark was clearly visible, bright red against my pale skin. "Yes, thank you", I thought. "Thank you very much". I glanced down at the sketches, then back towards the mirror. What? I riffled quickly through the sketches arranging then in order as best as I could. I was right. It had suddenly dawned on me each sketch had only been a stage in the metamorphosis. I held up the last sketch. It was me, my face perfectly. Every feature, every blemish identical and in the correct position. I turned back to the mirror, with a nervous laugh.
I walked down the high street past Temple Bar. The morning's experiences had left me shaken and in need of coffee. I wasn't coherent, not coherent at all. The coffee was sweet and black. Sweet, black and intoxicating. My eyes rolled. I was beginning to rely on this café; its soft music, strong coffee and blond waitresses. At first there was novelty in being alone. Alone in a café full of couples, but now I just felt pathetic. They grey mind of an old man rattling around in an old man's head. I couldn't talk to ant yone, not real people. I would chat and converse with the bank clerk, the newsagent and the shopkeeper, but never with anyone real.
A computer. An enormous, hideous, looming piece of arrogant, complacent technology. But I loved it. Its blocky body and blank opaque face. Not just the computer, but all it represented. A mighty vast network, as huge as the world itself; within it, all individuals. Only details. Details on a far greater landscape.
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