“I am not going to lose my mind,” Oliver said. “Do you know that feeling where something about your mind is getting out of control?”
“How it’s like, you know everyone else is a normal person, and then there’s you, caught up in all this crap, and that makes it worse?”
Again, no reply. The blank wall, after all, was incapable of speech. If it could talk, Oliver was sure, it would shoot back disgusted answers such as Why are you bothering me about this? Can’t you figure out your life on your own? What’s a wall going to do for you?
The suitcase sat on top of Oliver’s shoes at the foot of the bed. Unopened.
“I should like this bed,” Oliver said, looking it over. It had two big, fluffy white pillows, unlike his apartment’s bed, which featured just a lone pillow that seemed to have at least a dozen lumps inside it. The bed itself in this room was at least a foot longer and a foot wider than the one he was used to. It even came with a headboard, which he considered a luxury, although what purpose it served beyond ornamental, he wasn’t sure.
“Why don’t I like this bed?”
Tomorrow. Presentations he’d been working on for months. He needed this job. At least that was what he told himself.
“I need this job.”
Looking out through the billowing white curtains the hotel kept beside the windows, Oliver took in the view of a tall, slender convenience store sign advertising its prices for gasoline, diesel, and cigarettes. Away, Oliver ordered his eyes for fear that the temptation for a quick smoke would spark in his brain the old nicotine dependence that made itself known every time he had a wheezing, hacking fit of coughing.
The rest of the scenery outside the hotel did not entice him, either, though: more hotels, mainly, crowded around in a loose line beside the road leading to the Intestate. They all had “Inn” in their name and, if they swapped paint colors, would be almost identical. The only other buildings were small squares selling at all hours of day food that came in square boxes and packets.
To distract himself from this sight, Oliver pulled out his phone. As he had done for the past week, he went straight to a job search site just to read and revel in the lengthy description the company wanted for its first-ever Mental Health Consultant, spelled out in all caps at the top of the webpage in an angry orange font.
The name of the company, whatever it was, Oliver had forgotten. He didn’t mind not knowing. He told himself that he would see it the next day for the interview, and, besides, that’s what business cards were for. To remember names and then forget them as soon as they had outlasted their purpose.
“That’s what I’ll be when I get up there. Fifties, sixties,” he said to the wall, which still wasn’t listening. “A business card.” The month before he had celebrated by himself his thirtieth birthday.
He had the degree for the position, he had the background the company desired, and he even had garnered enough experience to meet their minimum requirements. On paper, Oliver thought, I’m a sure shot.
But he knew he wouldn’t get hired. Already he could see himself giving the interview team limp handshakes, saying “uh” in between every word in his answers to their laser-focused questions, and, of course, forgetting to ask for their business cards at the end so that he wouldn’t be able to send any follow-up thank-you emails. His name would be the first they’d cross out on their candidate list.
“And I’ll be glad of it,” Oliver told the wall.
The wall, being the wall, said nothing.
Oliver sighed. He knew that before the evening was over, he would consume at least one heated-up product from the square restaurants below his window. It wouldn’t matter what the item or items tasted like.
He took his suitcase, bulging with a week’s worth of clothes, and hurled it against the wall that refused to speak to him. After colliding with the wall, the suitcase bounced backwards with a thunk and burst out its contents onto the floor. The guests in the room next to the wall were bound to send in a complain. Oliver wished he could get over the other side of the wall to apologize to them for what he had done. But he couldn’t. The wall stayed there, silent, taking in all that Oliver had to throw at it with his mind.