I cannot believe what I saw last night.
At 3 AM, the hallway of the apartment building smells like soup and cats. Dead tired and dead stressed, I notice for the first time how well the place resembles an old Russian hotel: striped wallpaper, dubious red carpeting, a powerful sense of utter desertion. Sighing, I lower myself on the steps of the front hall and rest my cheek on my fist. My purse is gone, mysteriously and frustratingly disappeared in the ether. I have my phone and my Oyster card, at least.
I am waiting for the security guard, but quickly realize that there’s no chance of his apparition. Saturday night…I thought security works in shifts. But nobody is asking me.
After walking aimlessly down the borscht hallways, I resign and retake my throne at the steps of the foyer. Not long after, paramedics appear noiselessly through the front door. They are bizarrely soft, vaporous in their hideous neon uniforms. Without seeing me, they head towards the staircase carrying their equipment. This doesn’t seem strange for some reason. Magical realism is possible in London at 3:25 AM, no? Back to my own worries, at any rate – for a few more minutes.
‘Kkrrrr’ – the grating of the 1920’s lift can be heard. Someone is pulling it open, hesitantly, at 3 AM in the morning. The paramedics glide backwards out of the time machine, leading a man slowly by both hands, as though ice-skating. His head is bandaged haphazardly á la Great War soldier, and blood runs down his bare back weakly. A young svelte woman in a long dress hovers behind him for doubled protection. He is silent. She whimpers softly and mutters. It blurs out as the door slams behind them, expelling a cold gust of autumn.
She runs in, rushing through the stale smell under the lightbulbs, back to wrench the lift’s grating open again.
I’m going to take off my pretentious literary bodysuit for a minute and hop bare-bottocked into my normal voice. Um, woah. Dude, woah. Did I really see that? So surreal!
Blunt bags, blurred red lips. Squinting at her as she wobbles away utterly wasted to the door (having retrieved her own forgotten bag) I think of the lack of gravity in Chagall’s paintings. Disturbing, even horrifying, yet amorphous. It can’t be real. Did I dream it?
Update: two days later, the bank calls to announce that someone has found my purse in the tube and returned it. Karmic forces pleasantly surprising, or Saint Anthony is really the confirmed best. Probably more than I deserve. Life in a big city resembles a Dadaist play more and more.