Heat. Everywhere. No escape. It creeps in under the drawn windowshade, laughs at the feeble warning shot from the air conditioner, and runs its sticky tongue down your neck to the base of your spine.
A simple three-block walk to the subway stretches to ten shimmering miles. The exposed subway platform is so hot that sap and tar ooze from the wooden planks. Your shoes fry as you wait for the train, delayed due to overheated and malfunctioning signals somewhere in the Loop. The train arrives, overcrowded. Everybody on in your car stinks.
Sleepy silence reigns until a woman's bare, sweaty shoulder smacks up against the impossibly crisp white shirt of a businessman. The businessman, aghast, calls the woman a pig. The woman shakes her hair and drops of sweat fly across his face, his glasses, his briefcase. He screams. Then the woman reaches out to embrace him in a moist hug. His face takes on the violent contortions of a damned soul in a mediaeval altarpiece.
You trudge the mile from the train to your office. Your brain, liquifying, conjures perverted fantasies in which ice and snow are put to uses not intended by nature.
You are startled from these bright visions by the sounds of yelling. The owner of the bookstore is yelling at a homeless man. A motorist is yelling at a cop. A mother is yelling at her children. The children simply yell.
You arrive at the office and find that painters have been contracted to touch up the walls. Today. Out of the three hundred and sixty five days in which, theoretically, painting could be done, this day has been chosen.
The painters insist on working with the windows open. There are no window screens. You attempt to focus on work as the temperature climbs into the nineties and a plague of nasty, heat-loving swamp insects gathers on your monitor.
You ask if you might work from home and are told no, you may not, as the university does not cease normal operations due to the vagaries of climate. You hear the air conditioner in the boss's office kick into high gear as he hangs up the telephone.
Your coworkers smack wildly at the swarming locusts and flies. The smell of paint hangs in the air like a fog.
You wonder if this is a health and safety violation and decided to consult the OSHA Web site, but are so disoriented from huffing secondhand latex fumes that you cannot remember how to spell OSHA.
A normally mild-mannered, elderly coworker tells the painter she is going to turn on the ceiling fan and he is just going to have to deal with it. He tells her she can't as he needs to work on the ceiling. She calls him a "motherfucker."
You turn back to the Panama Canal article and find yourself staring at the water in the accompanying photograph. The blue, blue water. The blue, cool, clear water. So much water. In your mind, you strip off your clothes and dive into the water and suck it into the red-hot coils of your lungs.
The painter and the coworker are locked in an escalating battle of words that promises to turn physical. You wonder what exactly would happen if a gallon of Navajo white were poured over the CPU of a Mac G5. You find the idea of being dipped into a stream of nice, cool Navajo white alluring.
Somehow, you have moved from your chair onto the floor. It's cooler down here.
The darkness under the desk beckons to you. Cooler still under there. So dark, so cool. If you just bend your legs a little, you can fit completely under the desk. Ah.
You curl up, thumb in mouth. You close your eyes, and wait for November.