There was a slight tremble in Maurice’s hand, but he pretended it didn’t exist. He imagined his muscles like loose ropes which moored a ship to the docks. He saw himself grabbing hold of the frayed, coarseness of them and pulling hard, stealing all the slack they had stolen as the ship drifted at the mercy of the tide, and he wrapped each one tighter and tighter around the steel protuberances of the wharf. His muscles mimicked this, the taught-ness and the tension. He knew that this utter focus was necessary, because this was something that could not be undone. There was no means to erase or undo each stroke of his blade. There was a finality in this, but it did not enter into his head. Only the unfettered commitment to his work which slowly etched itself in front of him as he went.
As each cut bore itself deeper into the surface, flakes and bits of paint fell to the floor like confetti and began to stick to his pants. But this too went unnoticed. Maurice was almost finished now. He was almost at the end of all this. He felt a sudden, unexpected sting on the flat part of his thumb and a small stream of blood began to drip across the groves in his palm and down his wrist, as if some disembodied force was guiding it without knowing it, like hands on an Ouija board.
As a single drop of his own blood struck the floor, mixing with the paint and flecks of cheap metal, Maurice finished his work. He had transfered which had only been a semblance of thoughts, a mixture of things never quite settled on long enough to be considered thoughts. They couldn’t have that name because they were only flickers of ideas, strapped together with the fleeting phantoms of past experiences. But now he had made them concrete. He folded up his tool, hiding the half-dull tool away for now. Maurice didn’t linger, though. The thing was done and before the blood that had spilled on the floor had made its way into the groves of the tiles, he was out the door and in his car and down the road.
He knew that his work would be there forever. And if he ever questioned his own existence, doubted for a moment that he was really a relevant player in this world, he would not need to doubt himself.
Because, forever etched into the third bathroom stall in the Gas and Go off of Interstate 73, read the words: