Along Love's well worn path marked by splatters of errant white paint, epoxy and chips from the plaster, I step carefully over the growing cracks in the cement, crumbling pieces staying low and lethal.
Even the short flights of stairs here and there are stripped bare only to reveal worn out wooden planks. Around the edges are the visible beginnings of dry rot. A stark contrast to the new paint are the doors at regular intervals. They are very heavy wooden doors, scratched and scraped, and don't match anything in the hallway not even the splatters of red paint on the floor below the fire extinguisher case. Some of the doors are fortified with gleaming fake gold metal plates as if to repair a break-in that happened sometime in the old past.
Folks in charge were in the process of giving the place a facelift or so the legend goes. That explains the newly painted ceilings and walls. The long walls are painted "babyshit green" as a woman told me when I stopped to talk to her. She had hollowed out cheeks, bright green eyes, even with all the fatigue hanging on her, and thin red hair. It was the faded red of a former copperhead child grown into an adult. She had been sitting alone in the hallway munching the last crumbs of an elaborate picnic.
"The wall surrounding the beginning and ending doorways are a dark forest green," she had said, "The same color as the nursery walls in my son's room." I tried to get her to talk more after that, but she would only look off into space. I had walked on, giving her privacy.
The trim of the walls are painted a light terra cotta. What Fucker came up with this color combination is anyone's guess. And guess we do.
"The walls in the other hallway are a burnt yellow," a young dark haired woman had told me. Thin wiry silver spectacles perched on her face, giving her a faint owlish look. She looked trustworthy in her oversized dark blue sweater, grey muffler and faded skinny jeans.
"What other hallway?" I had asked. I had no idea there were different hallways for this place.
"Love works in mysterious ways that include multiple levels. Much like there are different chambers of the heart," she had said. She'd opened a notebook she was carrying. The electric green cover was half torn and the inside cover full of heart doodles. She had shown me a sketch she had made of the four chambers of the human heart.
"I did that in anatomy," she had said proudly, "I got to see a real heart.
"God help you," I'd said and moved on. Beating hearts give me the creeps with their primeval squish-squish and unelegant shivering.
Another rumor says that the folks in charge will eventually (no one knows when) install new carpeting. We are all afraid, really afraid to see what they've come up with. As it is, the colors they've picked are completely unflattering to any living person's skin tone no matter how pale or deep it is. In the meantime, I walk down the hallway, sometimes completing household chores, sometimes writing novels, although most of the time I'm saving the world. No matter what I'm doing, I'm still wondering what they're going to do with the doors once they are finished.