from the Persian shah

No one can explain the sense of comfort a uniform provides: this royal blue garb with its emblems and flags shining, that his wife launders and irons each morning, the sense of pride with which he strides the corridors inspecting the upright doors that slam shut in the right order, wearing their numbers as stripes, near the tireless elevators hastening like round-the-clock handmaids; or in the foyer, standing by the silk flowers in their pits, where a crown of light sits on its throne, inviting visitors up the carpet to wait in lines for their names to be called.

Nothing can take away the warmth of a gun, nesting by his waist, as he looks through each floor, thinking that secrets are secured behind the white walls, where the regulated air trapped inside can’t escape, and the chlorinated pools or soft showers can perform ablution, that no matter what happens, everything is properly sanitized for the next day’s cross-examination.

Outside under the friendly heat, he savors the respect the preened and primed trees give him, as he strolls down the marbled sidewalk, watching their parade with the daisies at their heels waving, while up against the wall, beneath the hung neon marquee’s salute, the vines are mute observers to the procession.

He’s under a rib vault at his desk, a hawk hunched in a leather seat, staring at the hours, expecting to return home with memories of the amputated past sitting around him, to the evenings of drinking imported scotch brought in by Cyrus, where they played backgammon, practiced English for next month’s foreign dignitary’s visit, throwing dice, betting on which number was up and who should be called from the cellar to confess loyalty in the interview chamber.

Until someone calls Hey. You lazy Arab. Go down there and help them check their bags. He packs up his badge, the scars inscribed on his brown hand, the scraps of his broken English, puts them back in his pocket and walks out the automatic revolving door.