You Shall Know Our Velocity!
professional way, "that you should see this."
                I know this file, but I have no need to see it now. I didn't ask for this goddamn file. I tell her this.
                "Yes," she says, "but I really thought you should see this again. We felt it was important for you to pore over the file right now, replaying the episode in your mind for the next few hours."
                I look at the file, and its contents scream at me in a voice containing thousands of murders in unclean homes. I push it back toward the staffer.
                "I looked at it. Thank you."
                She leaves. I look out at the meadow and see a scattering of birds chasing each other. I can see for maybe thirty miles.
                There's another tug at my sleeve. It's another staff member, a young man with eyes like animals on fire. He's leaning over the desk and he has a file. It's the same file the previous librarian had.
                "I just looked at that," I say.
                "Yes, but the feeling downstairs is that you haven't examined it closely enough. Especially the part with Nigel, the prick from the funeral home, and all Jack's college friends laughing and smoking out on the deck on the day of the service."
                I picture what I'd say to those imbeciles if I saw them again. I wanted to act and wanted something that would cause them pain and embarrassment but wanted it to happen quietly. Everything quietly. My tolerance for anything loud had diminished every year I'd lived, and now so many things gave me a jump. The steady noise at work, drills and saws -- I couldn't do it anymore, this noise. Before I quit I'd begun to ask for the quieter tasks. Painting walls and moldings, installing doors, though I maintained an option for the tearing down of ceilings -- usually the acoustic tile of officed areas -- and the digging up of floors. I loved doing both. So many good wood floors covered by layers and layers of indefensible surfaces -- fake linoleum, particle board, rubber, carpet, cement, anything. I loved to pry under these things to find the original floor, the floor of parallel and interlocking tongue-in-groove fir planks, to uncover them, run my rough palms over their soft wood and sand them, and finish them again -- to start over with this original smooth floor. And the ceilings were just as satisfying, slipping those hideous tiles, dotted like starry skies inverted, from their grids, dropping them to the floor, watching them break. Then the tearing down of the grids -- so easy! -- that held the tiles overhead, revealing a ceiling many feet higher, huge wooden beams old and full of the lines and curves of growth and struggle. I loved the effect when both happened in the same space: the raising of a ceiling, the lowering of a floor, exposing the wood again above and below, the space growing, the usable space and air attendant swelling within immovable walls. I thought of that painting in my boss's office, on a calendar his daughter had given him, a Callibotte, men bent over a wood floor, the sun whitening them, the men in that one painting bent over, kneeling and sanding the whitened wood floors in that second-story room in what must be Paris --
                I'm on a happy thought trail, hard-won, when another young woman, hairless and white with eyes burning black and red, appears on the other side of my desk. Now there are two staffers, flanking me, both pointing to the same material. She has the same file -- WHEN SEMI SPEEDS OVER CAR -- I was just looking at and had managed to forget. She sees my alarm.
                "What the hell is this?" I ask.
                "We made copies," she says.
                I turned on the TV. The State of the Union, a rebroadcast on cable. I pushed my ear into the pillow. The president had burst into the hall and everyone was so happy. They all seemed so

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