mercredi, octobre 10, 2007

JIM KRUSOE, LE RETOUR....


This was the first time ever that Spinner had trusted me with the keys to Mister Twisty’s, but at any rate I was feeling very tired myself, and for some reason, a little sad also. From the basement I could hear the hum of the giant cooling machines as I sprayed a little Windex on the counters to wipe away the stickiness, and rubbed down the swirl machines with chrome cleaner. And I was just about to go home when I heard, or thought I heard, a difference in the intensity of sound coming from below me. For a moment I thought I might be coming down with a cold, or maybe the flu myself, but when I shook my head and pressed my sinuses everything seemed fine. It was probably nothing, but just suppose there was some kind of a malfunction in the equipment downstairs, or even one of the old guys had had a heart attack and fallen into the machinery. We never really kept track of who went down and who came back up, and for all I know there might be someone down there, dying this very minute. I knew that Spinner had said he’d been working on the equipment a few weeks earlier, but I also knew that he had told me once, when I first began to work there, never to go down to the basement for any reason at all.

Once at the foot of the stairs, I was slightly surprised to see that the dull, yellow glow came, not as I'd imagined, from some bare bulb suspended from the ceiling, but rather from the walls and corners, from what looked like giant, softly glowing Popsicles. Not only that, but the basement itself was much larger than I had ever guessed. It was far larger in fact than the whole floor of the yogurt parlor above, and must have stretched at least to McReedy's Hardware, and possibly even beneath Pets Incorporated, at the far end of our corner mall. The stairs from Mister Twisty's, however, appeared to be the only entrance or exit to the place, and as my eyes slowly grew accustomed to the light, I could see a cooling machine certainly more grand than any I'd imagined — four or five times bigger in fact than any yogurt refrigeration apparatus I'd ever seen in trade magazines, possibly ten times more powerful than would be necessary to supply a modest frozen yogurt outlet such as Mister Twisty's.

This was the time, I decided, to take a closer look at those glowing objects placed around the walls. I chose one set of pipes running out from the central compressor and followed it to a tall cylinder with a sort of a burnished metal cap and a shiny metal base, out of which stuck three silver fins, strangely like those early rockets that landed on London in newsreels of years ago. Or, to use a more modern analogy, it resembled a seven-foot tall version of one of those fancy Italian espresso boilers you sometimes see in trendy coffee bars, hissing and wheezing out phlegmy portions of java. Between the base and the cap was a wide band, about six feet tall, of cloudy glass, or possibly Plexiglas. It was that glass which was the source of the dim glow.

I placed my hand against the glass, and felt a slight hum, almost a pulse. Moving my hand then to the bottom of the cylinder, down between the fins, my fingertips inadvertently brushed against what felt like a toggle switch. I hesitated, wondering whether it might be connected to an alarm, but then I reasoned that you don't go around installing alarm switches in the hopes that a burglar will deliberately set one off. My forefinger slipped under the smooth metal ball at its tip and I flipped it upward. At first nothing happened. Then there was a flicker from behind the surface, and slowly the glass brightened from its faint glow to reveal the form of a young and actual and completely naked woman--somewhere in her twenties, I guessed. Her hands were at her sides; her blue eyes were open wide; her hair moved slowly as a whisper in the liquid that had held her there, for who knew how long?
--Jim Krusoe

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