The conversation room.
Near the fireplace at the South end is the large monitor, currently off, beside the large urn. Near that sits the banged-up grocery cart. Though these items are sizable, they take up little space, and the room still seems cavernous. Near the center, under the chandelier, stands a round folding card table, surrounded by several folding chairs.
In the Northeast corner of the room is the grand piano. [Typo discovered just before publishing this post: “grad piano.” Noting for possible association.] “Dwight” (Eisenhower played by Rainn Wilson) sits sideways on the end of the piano bench, facing the arched entry, with his arms crossed. His eyes are closed, but his posture suggests deep thought rather than sleep.
In one of the chairs at the card table sits Bruce, now awake and now played by William H. Macy. He is relaxed, but is looking out into the hallway expectantly.
There is a brief, soft buzzing that drifts in from the other end of the hallway, a hushed momentary conversation.
Oh, I am sitting at the card table too. I am It. [Read that as “I am It,” as if you are talking about a game of tag. That will work too.] As has always been the case so far, I am played by Kathy Bates. The bovine is lying on the floor beside/behind my chair, like a cow might lie in the shade a the edge of a pasture on a hot sunny day. It is ruminating placidly.
The two have reached the arch, and step up into the conversation room. It’s nearly impossible to avoid thinking of them as the two Sarahs, though one of them “is” a Sarah (insofar as anything here “is”) and the other is played by a Sarah. They move silently and calmly to the center of the room. They each choose one of the empty folding chairs and sit down.
Before they sat down, I had noticed three unoccupied folding chairs, but now that they are seated I notice that there are two remaining. I glance out at the hallway, and then over at Bruce, who seems to be looking at a spot on the table surface where there is nothing to look at. Now there are three empty chairs. Now there’s only one. Now there are two again. OK, that’s apparently not going to finalize, so I give up on it.
Everyone at the table now looks at me, as if I had said something or made some sound in order to get their attention (which I had not).
No, they aren’t looking at me. They are looking beside me. The bovine is gone, and the one who is neither male nor female is in a folding chair right beside mine. S/he reaches over and takes my hand. She leans toward me and whispers: “You have to start.”
“I don’t know what I’m starting.”
“Of course you don’t. We never do.”
Now it’s only me sitting here. My hand is clasping my other hand.
Someone speaks. “Does anyone know why we are here?”
I shake my head. “No, we don’t know yet. We’re having this meeting…” I pause for a moment, reconsidering. “We’re playing this game precisely because nothing else has happened yet, and we don’t know what’s next.”
I look at Bruce, meeting his eyes and holding his gaze for several seconds. I shift my weight, scoot my chair a bit closer to the card table, and reach out my hand toward him, fingers relaxed, palm down.
After looking at my hand for what seems a long time, Bruce calmly reaches out his own hand, and holds it in the same way, but a few inches under mine. I reach down and gently touch the back of his hand with my index and middle fingers, and then lean back and meet his gaze again. “You’re It.”
He leans back in his own chair, nods, sighs softly, and closes his eyes.