Walter Wallace sat at the small three legged dinner table in his stud apartment. Although sometimes confused for its titular suggestion of being some sort of bachelor pad the stud is so named because it is actually not legally large enough to be a complete studio apartment. And while the three legger may sound like trendy, new age furniture, it is in fact simply missing a leg and therefore resting up against the bar fridge. If he ever wanted to open the fridge he would have to move the table and all the contents that rested upon it. This, however, was never much of an issue because the fridge was empty and his home and furniture rarely contented.
Walter sat rigidly, his chin balanced on the palm of his hand, his elbow balanced on the three legger (avoiding the temptation to put too much weight down as he was sitting at the legless corner). He stared dully out the window - for he had no TV – analysing the varying shades of grey that the bricks of the opposing building displayed. He did not feel like sleep even though it often proved to be the best use of his time; his dreams were filled with windows that overlooked the most varying shades of grey that opposing buildings could generate - Bricks that had been stained from faulty plumbing; dark grey bricks with light grey concrete in between; sometimes the opposing buildings in his dreams weren’t even parallel to his own and could cut a dazzling shadow across the uneven surface of the brick – Walter invariably woke in a sweat whenever he had these dreams.
An hour or so passed before Walter’s mind returned to a stroke of luck that befell him earlier that day. Before walking home from his job cleaning the toilets at the train station, he had stumbled across a damp rag. He could lay this on his table! Make a placemat out of it- No, wait. It isn’t a rag, but not all is lost: it is last Tuesday’s newspaper! It had rained only a few days since Tuesday so Walter scooped it up and shook it out softly. Most of the pages fell away, hitting the ground with loud slaps, but towards the centre was a page and a half still readable. The weather and the crosswords. Walter had carefully pocketed them, making sure not to cause further damage. When he arrived at the apartment block he lay the page and a half next to the air vent in the lobby, just out of sight of the doorman.
Walter quickly rose to his memory and went to the lobby. He found his page of weather reports had fluttered away but the crosswords remained. He brought it up to his apartment and took out his pen. The pen had long run out of ink but he managed to make impressions of the letters in the little boxes. Walter had a knack for crosswords. Every one is an expert at something; for Walter this was it. A crossword was just like a grey brick wall. He had to search each little block to find its meaning; its purpose. He followed the patterns and the clues and could apply his own shading (if his pen were working). He felt like tonight he would be incapable of sleeping. The dreams would be too intense.
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