July 14: Bastille Day

It is Tuesday, July 14, and it is raining. He knows it is Tuesday because the plastic pill compartments for both Sunday and Monday are open, and empty. Perhaps the days all seem the same, but the pills in their compartments tell him that at least time is progressing. Then time finishes, and starts over. Another week. A progression in cycles. He knows it is raining because he can hear the sound of the water droplets on the windows. He cannot hear them hit the roof because the roof is six floors up. He cannot see the water droplets because the blinds are closed. He will not move to open them. The fact is negligible at any rate. Or is it? July 14 is more difficult to prove. If he had a newspaper, the date could be ascertained if he trusted the source. And knew it was today’s paper. It could be yesterday’s, or last week’s. You see where this is going. On the table is a copy of White Noise by Don DeLillo opened to the twenty-fourth page, where characters discuss how one knows when it is raining. Our character looks from the twenty-fourth page to the pill compartments and wonders if he remembered to take his pills yesterday. If he forgot, then today might be Wednesday. If he forgot two days running, or three, or four, it could be any day. If he accidentally took his pills twice one day, despair. Every year in July he reads White Noise, though not by design. This year it has possibly taken him fourteen days to reach page twenty-four, where there is a discussion about how one knows when it is raining, which makes our character wonder if it’s actually raining, or if someone is throwing pebbles against the windows, or if a tree’s branches are brushing the glass in just such a way, or if he can trust his hearing or mind at all — did he forget to take his pills? The pill compartments suggest it is Tuesday, making it July 14. If it is July 14, our character thinks, then many years ago in France, supposedly, there was a prison break. He imagines there must’ve been a good reason for it, but can’t think of what that reason is. Or was. Then, he assumes, being in prison is probably a perfectly good reason to have a prison break. There is a tapping sound at the window. The twenty-fourth page of White Noise says, “A victory for uncertainty, randomness, and chaos.” The pills, trapped in their compartment, wait.