9. The dog Peppa had taken four rolled up socks and hunkered down with them under J’s bed. When he tried to retrieve them, the dog snapped at J. He told the woman who claimed to be his mother.
“The vet says she thinks they are her puppies…” the mother answered, don’t touch her socks,”
J left his room and cautiously climbed down into the cellar. He carefully leaned against the utility closet door. The urge to open it left his soul bursting with overwhelming energy. The impulse to not open the door was like denying a powerful itch.
So J. opened the door. Beneath him lay buried 2000 years of detritus. Every year, two centimeters of dusk settles on Rome, and J’s city sinks imperceptibly, unless, of course, you have the vantage of centuries: homes buried, filled with soot, their roofs employed as foundations for yet another structure.
And in the hole: the columns, the attic rooms, the secret vestries, the mithraeum, the catacombs painted with figures of Orphic dancers, doves, nymphs clutching clumps of grapes, painted garish reds, blues, greens, like a harlot’s face, all surrounded by the gurgle of pipes, of the sluicing of water through the ancient sewer, the Cloaca Maxima, and the bones of the babies begotten by priests and nuns, storied away as shamelessly as they were produced, in the vice grip of venal sin.
They all swirled in an orderless procession. Wasn’t this the point? J. realized that life could live and breath buried beneath a city in the dust and mire of disuse.