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God Only Knows

by Ian Duncan Smith

I turned sideways, and pushed. I squeezed through the gap around the doorframe. It was just wide enough. I dusted my suit in the hallway, and saw a man sitting at the kitchen table. He was trying to tune a radio.

I walked into the kitchen, and put my briefcase down. “Sorry. No one came to the door. I’ve been ringing for ten minutes.”

The man looked up. “What do you want me to do about it?”

I smiled. I told him it was about the letter.

“Good. You see the gap. I want you to prove negligence. Can you do that?”

I looked at the gap. I could see across the street. Negligence would be impossible. There was no case for negligence. The gap around the doorframe was the opposite of negligence. The gap was meant to be there.

“I guess you know what it is.”

The man shook the radio. “Sure do.”

He stood up, and walked to the kitchen window. He reached through a gap around the window, and pulled a weed out of his garden. He showed me the weed. “That’s what happened last time. Tell the company that.”

It was unusual to have things happen twice. He dropped the weed in the sink, and carried on tuning the radio.

“Did you open the window last time?”

“Course I opened the window. I need air, don’t I?”

“Well, they said don’t open doors or windows. If you sit tight, it all closes up in time, in exactly the same place.”

“How long?”

“How long’s a piece of string?”

“How long’s that?”

“A month, maybe more. But don’t worry, they’re faster now. They’re automatic.”

“No one’s down there?”

“No one. Think of it as a slow wave.”

There was a creak of floorboards, a fluttering sound, like the wings of a butterfly trapped under the floor. Dust fell from the ceiling. I brushed my suit.

The man picked up the radio, and shook it. A tune came out of the radio. He turned up the volume. “‘God Only Knows’. Now that’s some song.”

Copyright © 2006 by Ian Duncan Smith

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