It was a typical city apartment. Small, boxy, and brown. The space designated for the kitchen was unremarkable and unmemorable. Everything was yellow and brown from the linoleum on the floor to the wallpaper. The oven was on, doing its best to perfectly tenderize the Idaho yellow potatoes and the rump roast. The square table was set with two plates, two napkins, two forks, and two knives. A large wooden bowl sat in the middle, filled with dull yellow-green lettuce and croutons that ranged from burnt to bread. There were no glasses, only rings of left behind condensation.
The life of the apartment seemed to be the living room. The couch, the chair, and the worn-in carpet were all faded shades of brown. The ornate floor-to-ceiling door opened up to a small balcony giving the living room breathing room. The door’s glass panels had curtains, both different shades of brown – one was sheer and light, the other was thick velvet that blocked out everything, including the sounds and smells of the city. Both were tied up, the way those actresses swept their bangs across their foreheads. Every knob, latch, handle, or trinket was either brassy gold, or a golden brass. In the city no one could ever be certain.
A thin layer of cigarette smoke lingered in the living room snuffing out whatever moonlight dared to enter. Ella Fitzgerald’s voice mingled with the smoke. Including the singer, there seemed to be three different voices swirling together. One voice ranged in yellows, a contrast to the other’s tones of brown.
The air was dense and stale – that didn’t stop the bathroom door from swinging closed. The bathroom was done in the same vein as the rest of the apartment. Brown and yellow tiles to compliment the yellow shower curtain, the brown toilet, and the patterned yellow and brown towels. The toilet stirred as if it had been recently flushed, and several drops of water dripped from sink. The patterned towel fell to the floor. A loud cloud of laughter rolled in from the window diluted with song and smoke. The bathroom door swung away from the doorway. At the end of the hall was the bedroom, and its door. No one knew what the bedroom looked like.
The cigarettes were snubbed and the roast was ready. The yellow and brown voices traipsed into the living room. The brown voice drifted to the bar and replenished the empty glasses with a golden honey colored liquid, while the yellow voice moved into the kitchen. The only presence still circulating was the chilling and melodic sounds of “Summertime.”
The kitchen and hallway lights died, the yellowed lighting of the living room dimmed. Flames from several candles roared to life, searing through the thick air. Voices stirred. They moved from soft to electric, eventually returning to their almost neutral inclination. Once again the pattern of smoky air, muddled with voices and, this time, the stench of nighttime in the city pulsed throughout the apartment. In a careful dance the voices wafted through the grand doorway. Moving effortlessly from the living room, they transcended the hallway approaching the bedroom doorway.
For all its darkness, the bedroom could have been black. The only light seemed to come from the intertwining of voices. Now, instead of two distinctive sounds, there was one golden, vibrant hum filling the blackened room. The brightness grew and dimmed as the hum ebbed louder and flowed softer. In the brightest moment furniture that was maybe cherry wood or that had been overstained was slightly visible. Abruptly the humming stilled. The darkness grew to be the only presence.
The sheets rustled. The canorous soul of the record player started up again. Indifferent to the presence of windows, the door slowly pulled closed, pushing out whatever dust particles had been floating like nearly invisible snowfall. Almost everything was static.
In the living room the sweet sounds of Miss Fitzgerald grew louder overpowering the last of the cigarette smoke, the dried out rump roast and hardened potatoes, and the last few whispers of the yellow and brown voices. A breeze pushed through the apartment closing the exit to the balcony, and untying the two sets of curtains and extinguishing the candles. The living room had become as placid as the other rooms, save the last few notes of the sultry jazz. Uncountable amounts of time passed. The apartment remained dark; nothing penetrated the thick velvet curtains. No doors opened, no candles burned. The time was soundless.