The Man in His Tower
Fishing Out at Sea
I bet you stare out of that office window at the sweltering hot pavement below like you’re a fish in a bowl, longing for nothing more than your freedom. You’re up there, somewhere, on the 56th floor, perhaps, and you’re looking on down at the road like you’re missing the very ‘first’ — the very first catch of the season…
“But man is not made for defeat…”
You’ve got your line drawn out the window as though you’re reeling in a giant marlin, like that old man out at sea you once read about; but like the old man, you’re not catching much at all. For, there’s no hook on the line and your boat ain’t moving. Next year though, they might put you up on the 57th floor with the newer water-cooler. It’s a better fishbowl up there, and all the best marlin are moving on up. Down below on the city streets, it’s nothing but a mirage: the heat reflecting off the pavement and all those fish swimming on through the canals between buildings — so you must head on up the monolith you're stuck in to get to the real water. The oasis is up there. But in order to do that, you must first acquire the same stolid features as these upright columns; the same rigid structure as these beams and girders...
You’ve got to harden... so you’ll be one and the same with the steel and concrete monolith that you’ve somehow managed to cage yourself in. You begin sweating; not because you’re working particularly hard at the moment, but because the air-conditioning system gave out. The units have stopped ventilating cool air throughout, and so the last fractions of moisture are now vacating your pores and staining your sensible clothes. You've gone Stoic and begin to settle like concrete.
“It is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.”
The ginormous two-inch-thick windows begin to bake you like an oven, so you reach for your mobile phone, as it is your custom. The real exercise will be for those fingers of yours as you type one email followed by another: you’re trying your best to get the service work done — before the end of the hot day — but all of the repairmen are busy with the exact same problem in a dozen or so towers in the same city. Those particular species of marlin are in high demand; there’s just not enough of them on a hot day like today, and they’re charging double for the overtime work.
The small desk fans were a temporary solution, and they’re sold out now anyway. Even if you tried, you couldn't get any more of those brought to the tower for today. You can hear a few of them humming in the background noise: the sound of the fan blades whirling at each of the partitions, but they’re being increasingly drowned out by the moaning coming from the other caged marlin. These other marlins aren't impressed with the temperature, nor with the leaky water-cooler on the floor below.
You hooked those marlin into your fishbowl long ago, and you’ve been relying on them. They're the most productive marlin of the lot. But you can bet they won’t be swimming hard with the temperature climbing faster than you can make it to the elevator shaft of this monolith. You’re in a special fishbowl, and you're not allowed up to the oasis on the top yet. The elevator goes up and down and stops at each floor, just for people like you. And it takes especially long when you happen to be in a hurry. It'll also break down and open its doors on the main floor of the building, to show its true face — a face like Medusa — just often enough to catch you out and turn you into stone.
They built this monolith just for you. It’s your second home, and it's a tombstone.