It's the devil's day. It's a red day. I've got to tell you what I'm seeing
in front of me, simply so I can not think about it; I must describe it
to distract myself. First, there's a staircase---in the left corner of
my room---it's a miniature staircase carved in a chinoiserie---red cinnabar---little
cherry branches and blossoms are carved in, reeds, entangled in ripplets,
form the steps. The railing is a gold-leafed vine---no, it's the roots of
a golden water lily---the blossom itself is the highest rung of this staircase---above
the blossom is a black door. Nothing carved on it. This is the devil's room.
In it there is a small table the size of your hand; it is fragile looking.
At the ends of the legs are small claws, each gripping a ball. There's a
large window---very large---in fact it's growing--it's snowing outside the
window. Immediately, a small fire starts dancing in the fireplace. There
is a small loveseat with black velvet cushions---it is innocuous but, coming
closer, there is a strong lavender mustiness to it---a snuffish quality.
Like a funeral parlour it evades tastefulness simply by the variety of
its obligations, the inability to meet all of them. The stench of the lavender
is growing stronger, growing through the air like infinitesimal roots.
In the far corner, I see a glass display case. In this display case are
a deck of cards, an ivory hand, a paper fish, a stuffed mongoose fighting
with a cross, a boggle eyed ceramic dog in a ceramic dogbasket. It quirks
at you. The wallpapering is a woman eating an alligator which in turn is
eating its tail. It is mostly bright oranges and greens. The devil's room,
it appears, is rarely used. On the table, there is a neat stack of contracts,
an inkwell and a very sharp quill.
"Did you sign?" I asked.
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