You're the off-season groundskeeper for the maison and it's in the middle of nowhere. Desert heat. Dry air. As if the dust itself is too tired to shake in wind. Not that there's any wind. Heat covering the walls like sweat. Can't believe the paint hasn't peeled. The maison is beautiful, like a palace. Decadence lives in the corners of the earth where no one visits. But they do visit, the people, during the winter. A winter palace. A palace of perfect. The architecture makes little sense to you. You want to hear voices cycle through the halls, watch plays performed on the stage in the large hall. You sleep in the last room on the second floor. There're four floors. You're having trouble sleeping. You always have trouble sleeping. Like days and nights rolled into one when the landscape surrounding you can't differentiate other than going from dark brown to light gray. No idea how color works in this flatness. Every night you ache. Desperation. There's a necessary feeling you don't know how to shake. Loneliness. This is what sleep brings. You drank all the alcohol in the first month, it was the only thing that would help you. Now you're just stuck.
Time seems problematic when you have little to do other than make sure dust doesn't blanket the home. Home seems like the wrong word. The palace of perfect. The maison where you've rediscovered desperation. Your attempt at holiness brought to a halt by exhaustion. As the sun rises you sit on the parapet and practice your breath. Focus on the easy geometry of the structural necessities around you. When you wake up it's the middle of the early morning, the end of the night. 3am in a time-zone that you're still not sure makes any sense. Difference. You walk to the window and the endless sprawl of surrounding looks exactly the same, only flatter in darkness. You think you hear melancholic chords underneath the voices that aren't there. While you can't sleep you play a cassette recording you made of static. This is the only calm in the desert at night. If there were animals to protect the palace from you'd at least have something to do. Focus. This is all there is. Enough food to last the remaining months at least. A fat paycheck. You can't think of everything at once. You don't understand how within exhaustion your body still refuses to be asleep. If the maison were a pyramid at least you could impale yourself on the tip. Maybe. Death can't be much different than this ennui. The only thing that reminds you of your own body is how slow it works. Fall asleep an hour later while the tape continues to hum noise.
The sun sets slower in the desert. You can see for miles, or at least it feels like you can. There's nothing in the way. You try to invent stories of abandoned children struggling to exist—not in any reality, but in this empty space that you see out the window. The palace is beautiful but you don't understand it. You don't understand perfection. As the sun begins to set you walk directly out of the maison's front door holding an iron rod. The rod drags on the ground and creates a straight line. “I'll walk until the sun is gone,” you think to yourself. You get too tired before it happens. You pick up your rod and move it an inch parallel to the first line before you return. “This line is a dividing line. This line is all that exists between me and god.” You understand god even less than you understand the palace. The first month you lived here, in this desert, you mapped your path through the hotel until you had exhausted the labyrinthine hallways. This is when you started to play the voices in your head. The voices of the others, those that take holiday in this place. The way winter turns the rich into intellectuals. The one time they read a book. You've read all the books you brought with you multiple times already. You thought you could write but it seems that you've forgotten how. Time still slows. When you wake up at the same time you can't move. Your eyes dart around the darkness for an hour or so. Nothing changes. You're afraid you're dead. When you wake up the next morning you curse the fact that you're not.
Three am three am three am three am. It rings out in the darkness as you wake up again. This time you return to the parapet and stare at the sky. Darkness. You could swear that something stares back. You think you feel a breeze but you know that's impossible. You look to the east to try to watch the sun peak over the horizon but it's still too early. But this is when you see the man. The man is far away but without even knowing any defining features you feel nothing but love for the man. You want the man to tell you stories, to love you back, physically and emotionally. He won't. He can't even be real. You're barely real yourself. But the man keeps walking. He walks to the garden of obelisks where he pauses. You think you can see his mouth move but it's still too dark to be sure. You try to shout out but find that your voice is absent. A void. The man's hair reaches his neck and his beard is thick. His eyes are beautiful and haunted. You still can't see this of course. You walk down through the palace to the front door where the man stands directly in front of you. You wonder if he's holy. He slowly strips himself of his clothes. They drop silently onto the sand. He leaves each item of clothing next to a separate obelisk. His nude body is beautiful. He might be god. He takes you in his arms and you begin to cry. Taking your head in his rough hands, he puts his mouth next to your ear and speaks: “check the false doors, this palace is a tomb. Help me.” You stare him directly in the eyes and understand oblivion. You want to follow him to the abyss. Instead you only lead him to your bed.
In the morning your body feels good. Your flesh pushes against the man's, whose fur rubs against your own. The man wakes up, tells you to remember what he said, and walks out of the room. You return to the parapet to watch him. From above, you see him pick up each piece of clothing one by one and put them on. After he is fully dressed, you look at the sun. When your gaze returns to the man he is standing atop a palmiform column just beyond the obelisks. The man is holy. You watch him glow. You want three am to return forever. The singular hour spent with the man will become the most important moment of your life. An escape from the excess of reality. A calm outside of ennui. Satisfaction met in every capacity. The man is a saint and his presence is in remembrance of your sins. You walk around the palace to find all the false doors. One of them turns out to not be false. Inside, you shut the door behind you. You close your eyes and lay down to die.