I Walked Down the Long Hall

I walked down the long hall with doors on either side. I wasn’t sure where I was, and the repetition of those doorways made me dizzy. The doors had numbers on them. My palm was bleeding for some reason.

17 responses to “I Walked Down the Long Hall

  1. The hotel security cameras picked up an elderly gent staggering toward the south fire exit on the fourteenth floor. Ramirez clicked the side button of his two-way radio.
    “Gotta drunk on fourteen.” he barked. Nothing unusual for Las Vegas, even at four a.m., but he had seen what looked like an injury to this guy’s left hand. Blood dripping to floor.
    “I’ll take it, I’m on five.” said Porter, the night engineer on duty.”You go back to sleep, Rammy.”
    “Let me know what’s up, smartass.” said Ramirez. “Out.” Porter tugged his tool belt back up to his mid section, and headed for the fire exit on five. Better try to head this guy off, he thought. If I take the elevator, I might miss him. When he opened the emergency door, he heard a disctinct wailing sound above.

    “Don’t kill me!” I cried, “Take my money, but don’t hurt me.”
    “I’m not trying to rob you, you drunken old fool.I’m just want to see what is wrong with your hand.” A skinny man in his early twenties was staring into my face. I didn’t recognize him.
    “Where am I?” I asked?” Who are you?” I felt the walls in the stairwell closing in on me. A large man with a massive tool belt came up the stairs from below.
    “What’s going on old timer?” the man asked. He seemed kind.
    “Not sure,” I said, sitting down on the step. “My hand seems to be bleeding.” The two men seemed to be towering over me now, and I was feeling anxious again. I could hear and feel my heart beating in my ears.
    “Let me see that hand. Ouch! That’s a nasty cut. Any idea how it happened?” asked the tool belt.
    “No, no. “ I said, as I searched my brain to remember how I got here. “Where am I ?” I asked .
    “Las Vegas, Mandarin Hotel.” said Porter.
    “Las Vegas, Nevada?” I said much too loudly, “You must be kidding. I left my home on foot this morning, and have been walking all day. But I can’t be in Nevada.”

    “Where is your home?” the skinny kid asked.
    “Honolulu.” I said. Porter reached for his two-way, and pressed down the long button on the side.
    “Wake up, Ramirez! I’m going to need your help on this one.”

    • Gale – some things which I think hurt this story. You used the word “seemed” twice. Seemed is weak. You are the writer. Make the description count. Also, “what looked like” falls in the same trap.

      The story centers around the wandering man. You start with “The hotel security cameras picked…”. Compare with something like, “The elderly gent staggered toward the south fire exit on the fourteenth floor…” This puts the reader right into the action.

      • Thanks Jeff for taking time to point out those weak little words.
        I purposefully moved from a third person narrative to a first person as a writing device. Guess it didn’t work so well in this case.

  2. I walked down the long hall with doors on either side. I wasn’t sure where I was, and the repetition of those doorways made me dizzy. The doors had numbers on them. My palm was bleeding for some reason.

    Odd numbers on the left, even numbers on the right, the hallway diminished into a point. I felt I was in a three-dimensional art class studying perspective, the vanishing railroad tracks in some odd Rod Serlingesque moment without the background music linked in a harmony of sharps and flats.

    I walked past six doors studying each number. At the seventh I paused at the sound of children laughing. My hand reached for the doorknob and I gave it a turn. Pushed. In a field of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush stretched rows of school desks with children seated. A vague familiarity brushed my brain as a tow-headed lad looked my way. He held a finger to his lips as to silence me. I nodded my head and backed out the door.

    I passed a couple more doors. Some drew me to them, others repelled. I stopped at door number ten. I opened it and gave a peek to a party, a birthday party, with balloons and streamers, and a cake which said Happy Birthday Timmy topped with the number “9.” I looked at the blonde boy seated at the cake, a slightly older lad than the one I saw at the previous door. How ironic. My name is Tim.

    My hands became moist, my heartbeat irregular, my breathing erratic. I had a faint memory of such a birthday party in my youth. A shadow turned toward the boy and his cake and together they blew out. I watched the woman give the boy a hug and a kiss on the cheek and the boy rubbed his cheek in embarrassment. The woman looked toward me and blew me a kiss. I smiled and returned the kiss to my mother and closed the door before I realized what I had seen. I pushed the door open with a shaky hand, but now there was only blackness and the smell of burned candles.

    I opened the door numbered “17,” and watched myself walk across an auditorium stage wearing a cap and gown. Principal Peters shook my hand and handed me my diploma.

    Door number eighteen. I tried to walk past it, but couldn’t. I entered and found myself in a jungle; men were screaming; the sound of gunfire rampant. I fell to the ground and reached for my M-16 but it wasn’t there. I covered my head with my arms and hands and felt a bullet penetrate my hand as something kicked my head. Wetness, warm and sticky flowed down my cheek. I backed to the open doorway and pulled it shut.

    My fingertips touched my head and traced the fleshy scar above my cheek bone. My hand which often itched now throbbed. I watched my bloody palm wound dry and heal. I rubbed my palm with my thumb and fought the tears that were building.

    I stood and staggered down the hallway. Past door “23.” That would be my wedding. Door “26,” my divorce. “33,” my arrest for vehicular manslaughter. “43.” The year I left prison.

    Somewhere around doors fifty or fifty-one is when I was found unconscious in a Pittsburgh alley.

    “55.” That would tell the tale of the year I was institutionalized. I don’t remember what the next few doors would hold.

    Now I stand at the last door, a door without a number. The hall continues but not the doors. My hand reaches for the knob. I give it a twist and a push. I enter a darkness beyond belief, a cold to rival space, and a numbness beyond a thousand drug-induced highs. I hear the door without a number close behind me, and I step through the darkness. In a fleeting moment of clarity I know where I am.

    • Aagh, cake should have number 10, not 9.

      • Great story Mr. Jeff. It sounds very real but hey, we are writing fiction stories, don’t we?

      • ..or the door could have been 9…or they both could have been 8…or.
        did not detract..
        .
        Well done, Jeff. Another thought provoking tale. Thanks.

      • Lando – thank you. A long time ago my perceptions became my reality and I discarded all previous truths.
        Gale – thank you. It was a first draft and I see several needed changes. I think I might edit and keep this one.

    • Nice. I really like this sort of story. Although, I thought the self-realization was revealed a little too soon. I wanted it and it gave it to me right as I expected it. Draw me out a little more. The numbers on the doors are priceless. I like the dark-ish ending as well. Great job!

      • “Walter” – thank you for your insight, I will take a look at the timing of the reveal. Jeff

    • Nicely done. Very Twilight Zone. Fore some reason, the very last sentence caught my eye.

      Paraphrasing a line from a famous movie…

      A slave stood behind the great writer, whispering in his ear, “All clarity is fleeting.”

  3. I WALKED DOWN THE LONG HALL.

    “Tell me what your dream is all about” she said with a calm voice.
    “Well, I dreamed that I was walking down this long hall with doors on either side. I wasn’t sure where I was, and the repetition of those doorways make me dizzy. The doors had numbers on them. My palm was bleeding for some reason.”
    “Is that all?” she asked.
    “Yes” I replied.” “This is the dream I’ve been having twice a week for the last two months, and it is driving me crazy. Could you tell me what does it mean and how could I get rid of it?”

    We were sitting across from one another separated by a small round table covered by a tablecloth of intricate design showing stars and planets of different sizes on an intense blue background.
    The only light in the room came from a short lamp on the center of the table which illuminated our faces from the chins up creating the Frankstein look.
    She wasn’t a bad looking woman of undermined age, with pleasant features and a long dark and curly hair, most of which escaped from under the red bandana covering part of her head.
    The smell of incense being burned somewhere filled the room with a heavy sweet aroma.

    “Very well, let’s try to give you an explanation of your dream. Please give me your hands” she placed her hands palms up on the table and I put mine on top of hers.
    “Please, close your eyes and try not to think of anything. Concentrate and just visualize the dot in your forehead.”

    I closed my eyes. Nothing happened for a few seconds. Then I started to notice that her hands were getting very warm. Finally, she started to speak in a voice that sounded as it was coming from the inside of a cave.

    “The long hall represents your life” she started. “You were not sure as to where you were because you take life for granted and don’t stop to realize the blessing of waking up each morning and be thankful for the chance of living another day”
    “The doors on either side of the hall represent the opportunities you are giving in your life to make it better, most of which you have been ignoring.”
    “The numbers on the doors make reference to the type of opportunity on the other side. I don’t know the code but it could be that, for example; numbers that start with a 6 are related to business, those with a 4 relate to social affairs, and so on.”
    After few seconds of silence, she released her grip and pulled back her hands.
    “You may open your eyes now. My work is finished. I hope you are satisfied with my interpretation of your dream.”
    “Yes I’m satisfied but, there are still two unexplained details.”
    “And those are?”
    “One is my bleeding palm.”
    “That is nothing but a distraction which you, sometimes, take as an excuse for not been fully committed to improve yourself. Pay no attention to it.”
    “And the other is: what do I have to do to get rid of this dream.”
    “ For that you must be more willing to take risks, to explore opportunities beyond your comfort zone, to be more confident in your abilities and knowledge; to raise the ceiling of your ambitions; to reach for things you now consider impossible to achieve.”

    I paid, thanked the lady for her service and walked out of the house with firm and confident steps.

  4. I walked down the long hall with doors on either side. I wasn’t sure where I was, and the repetition of those doorways made me dizzy. The doors had numbers on them. My palm was bleeding for some reason.

    Of course, though I was walking, it really wasn’t down a long door-filled hallway. I was actually on a sound stage at WCTG in Akron, Ohio. Behind me was a huge “green screen.” A monitor beside the camera at the front of the stage displayed what I looked like in front of the hallway image the technicians put up for test and equipment calibration. Fred, our director, made his way through the off-stage darkness to stand beside the monitor.

    “It looks good,” he said, “but lose the pen in your right hand. It’s the same color as the chroma key and when you stand in front of red it looks like your hand is bleeding.”

    “Yeah, I saw that too,” I said, trying to appear engaged in the technical process. I stuffed pen in the breast pocket of my suit jacket.

    Fred was a friend-of-a-friend and I had cut a deal with him for 30 minutes of studio time in exchange for a thousand bucks, but I was pretty sure Fred wanted the time to be more like 20 minutes. As he stood beside the monitor, he went over, once again, how this was all going to go down.

    “Now, the monitor, which you need to look at, is split. The top half is what you look like in front of the background. The bottom is a teleprompter that will display your lines. The lines that you promised me you’d memorize. You say the words, we change the background, it’s as easy as that. We do this right, and you’re outta here in ten.”

    Fred was even more motivated than I had thought.

    As I faced the camera, I wasn’t sure if I was regretting the second martini, or, not having the third. The bottom of the monitor was displaying a countdown that was just passing ten.

    “You’re on at zero!” Fred shouted.

    At five, I could see the first image come up ‘behind’ me on the monitor. I was now standing in front of a desk in a stereotypical lawyer’s office complete with a wall of impressive looking legal texts. On the desk was a picture of me with my wife Jodi and our six young children. Also on the desk was a miniature American flag and a frame containing some of my war medals. A nice touch I thought, given that I was a childless guy who had been divorced five years ago and spent most of the Vietnam era living in Toronto.

    Two, one, zero.

    “Hello, I’m attorney Jack Warner with Warner and Associates, LLP. The law firm that fights for you! What do you know about Onychomycosis? Probably not a lot. Well, I’ll tell you what it is. Onychomycosis is responsible for more deaths every year than AIDS, crack, cancer, and drunk driving combined. That’s right, if you have it, tell your friends not to bother sending a Christmas card this year. That is, if you have enough time left to call or write them.

    The image behind me changed, and I was standing in an active operating room. A doctor was performing CPR on the patient while another readied defibrillation paddles. One of the nurses placed her hand over her mouth as if shocked by the activity unfolding in front of her. Bedside the operating table, a machine that had been producing an encouraging series of beeps, emitted only a somber steady tone, it’s radar-like display drawing a perfectly horizontal trace across the rectangular screen.

    “There is NO cure for Onychomycosis. The only treatment is a long series of incredibly painful and expensive medical operations. The chances are very good that the average patient won’t even survive long enough to have all the operations doctors typically recommend.”

    As quickly as I had entered the operating room, I was standing before a large blackboard. There was a bulleted list written on it in chalk. Starting to get into the spirit, I gestured in the direction of the list.

    “And what are the warning signs of Onychomycosis? Take a look at this list. Night sweats. An unexplained lump on your forearm. Occasional bad breath. Irritability and crossness. A sensitivity to loud noises. And, reduced night vision. If you experience any two of these, in combination or alone, do yourself a favor and seek immediate medical help. Call our law office for a list of physicians who will provide you with a FREE diagnosis.”

    Then, I stood in front of a chain-link fence. Attached to the fence was a yellow sign that bore the international bio-hazard symbol. Behind the fence, there was an ancient brick factory coupled to a forest of tall smoke stacks that spewed deep black smoke into the bright blue sky.

    “And where does Onychomycosis come from? Not from a walk in the park. Not from your lover, even if they are serially unfaithful or have less than perfect personal hygiene. And, certainly not from a toilet seat. Onychomycosis comes from deep-pocketed polluters like Fortune 500 corporations, or the governments of wealthy nations, who poison hard-working decent folk like yourselves.

    Back, once again, to the lawyer’s office.

    “But you don’t have to take it. Call us now at the law offices of Warner and Associates, LLP while you still have time. We’ll fight to get you the just compensation you deserve. You may not live to see it, but you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you WILL make the bastards pay.”

    “Cut!” yelled Fred from somewhere out in the darkness. “That’s a wrap. Excellent Jack. I told you, one take, ten minutes. Are we still on for next week, the spot with the Harley riding lawyer who defends injured bikers?”

    “Definitely Fred. I’ve already hired the model, god they’re big, and I rented the bike.”

    Then, it was time for that third martini.

    • The indications for the disease sound an awful lot like aging – or maybe just the consequence of procreation. 🙂

    • Sometimes I feel like having those same symptoms you mentioned here. but I never though it could have been Onychomycosis.
      In any event, it is a very good story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s