Fade in . . . . . . . .
Down the elevator and out through the building’s pristine atrium comes Julia, heading home after a day in Hate Crimes. It is late. The spray of the indoor fountains is the only sound. Everyone has gone home except for the reception desk guards, and janitors who hang suspended by harnesses from the domed glass ceiling, misting Rapunzel ferns that spill down alongside terraced restaurants and automatic teller machines, the codependency temple and health club, the combination hair stylist, mind gym, and takeout koan shop.
The far side of the shatterproof glass doors brings a charged, mucosal air teeming with invisible grit. Ahead, beyond the plaza’s commissioned sculpture—four working televisions carouseling above a rusted flatbed covered with dirt clods, charred hay, and human-shaped rib cages made of wrought iron—Mish, the East European refugee and head of nighttime security, waits for her, speaking into a walkie-talkie. As Julia comes close, he rehangs the radio on his belt clip and waves her on, checking to his left, the direction they will be walking. Then he turns back to her, smiling, nodding, saying hello in some derivative Germanic tongue she doesn’t understand, though he never seems bothered by this. It is their ritual, the ground of unknowing on which they meet.