Vents tapered ripples, flecks tinted folds, patches accented sleeves. Wood mixed with wool, gray coated stone, herringbone complemented granite. The look was collegiate, the day autumnal, the colors metallic. Bronze and gold covered the ground, as if the world were an arboretum of money trees, as if the trees were as rich as the men who had seeded the land, endowed the buildings, and founded this college on a hill. Among their spirits stood challengers dressed as contestants and a man without clothes. They stood outside columns and a frieze, like lost pieces from a sculpture of a story about the history of the college. They filled the negative space with overalls, hoodies, canes, walkers, manacles, toe tags, pussy hats, and chains. They stood as applicants outside the office of admissions.
Harvey Weinstein stood alone.
He outlined concentric circles while a woman pogoed on pavement. She drummed between an albino and a slave as fake flames of cellophane and tissue paper flowed from her feet.
“You’re running,” she said to the albino.
—You’re running. Your neck—it’s running. I have henna in my bag.
—Henna. If you color the streaks, it adds depth. Looks like vitiligo. I can do it.
—Because of the patriarchy.
—Do you have time to stop my neck from running?
—Sure. Let me stop running. Two minutes.
“Acanthosis nigricans,” the slave said. “If anyone asks, not that they will, that’s what you say. That’s what you have, whitey.”
—Hey, Django. I have a name.
He was a bond of might in a weave of metal. He was flesh in a frame of steel. A jangling discord of locomotion, he was cargo aboard a train of transactions. He was the bloodstain in ledger books and vengeance from the holy book. He was also full of shit.
“It’s okay. He did this at Swarthmore,” the albino said.
He extended and opened his right palm toward the slave.
“Stay close to me. You chant when the crowd chants. Peroration’s about to begin.”
“Words don’t hurt me. Whips can’t hurt me. You can deatomize my body, disrespect my anatomy, and deny my humanity. But you can’t dodge the creditor of all creditors, the bill collector of destiny. You will repay my family. You will repair the breach. You will unchain me. Unchain me. Unchain me. Unchain me.”
The cry became a chorus.
Unchain me. Unchain me. Unchain me.
From the dome of the brass doorknob of the admissions office, from the patina of the eagle-on-shield pattern embossed on the surface, from the holes in the ridges of this gilded orb came the sound of authority.
This is a safe space. An admissions officer will greet you.
A man wheeled himself from a side entrance, down a ramp, and toward the crowd.
Shouters surrounded him. They shook his chair until they shook him from it. Shock silenced them. The image of a cripple lain helpless, of a social leper whose legs were as dead as any limbless victim of infection, repelled them. They gave him room. The ground was his safe space.
He crawled to his chair, asked for privacy, and… ran.
The crowd gave chase, while the albino, the woman, and the slave walked to the office of admissions.
“Jimmy, do me a favor,” the slave said to the albino.