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The Part Where Bull Scours His Room for Bugs photo

He slides an open palm up and down wallpaper that appears to depict horsemen and battalions in battle. He presses an ear to it. He tilts a framed print of Caravaggio’s Holofernes away from the wall. He whips an eye over his shoulder at the spacious beachfront suite. His shit’s draped and hanging over everything. He makes like to cross but stumbles on a briefcase opened to 90º, its gold buckles thwung open, its security code turned to Samsonite’s preset 123 on the dial. He says, Fucking shit, and kicks the thing. He hops onto the king-size cardioid waterbed and peeks behind the headboard. He’s not, at the moment, fully clothed. Tiny elastic suspenders suspend socks that have him covered toe to knee. Both socks and suspenders are navy. There’s nothing behind the headboard and a rotary phone on a tiny bedside table. He makes like for the phone, but hotel staff has not yet re-inflated the heart-shaped novelty mattress, as they’re to daily, on rounds. His foot plunges into the bedding, and the rest of him, expecting to spring toward the telephone, instead flips over and flies off the bed, 1000-count Phoenician silk sheets, one decorative pillow, down comforter, and entire bedside table in tow. The receiver emits the highpitched dial tone indicative of failure to connect. The man swears again and picks up the telephone, decides ultimately to chuck the thing out the window, just to be safe, attempts to do this, but fails to rip the cord from its plug, which sends the unit into a spiral the physics of which I won’t even try to describe, but results rather immediately with the receiver swinging full circle, clocking the guy right in the eye socket. A long blonde reclined on a chaise lounge balances a martini and laughs. You think this is funny, he hollers. He untwists the rather complicated knot of complimentary linens and says, Forget it. He glances at the chandelier with interest, and then recalls the treacherous, deflating waterbed below it. Instead he drops to his knees and shuffles to the fancy glass coffee table, pokes his head underneath, when the phone rings. The man slams his head into the table and says, Jesus fuck. The phone rings again. The woman laughs and tips back her cocktail, spilling most of it on the upholstery. The man makes for the phone he’s not yet been able to answer, clutching the back of his braincase, cursing these stems as he struggles to dodge fake facial hair and classified folios, blueprints, flight plans, incongruent forms of identification, silver flatware, and China en route to the phone, which, when he does finally manage to answer, of course no one speaks, only an ominous pause before a click and that dial tone returns.

image: Amy Butcher