By sean mcnulty
Geissel and Walter hung around all day in the hotel talking. From the restaurant, they moved to the lobby (where topics included Kant, Jung, and the recent conflict in Korea); and after the lobby, they changed to the bar (where they discussed the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, Aristotle, and the Nuremberg Trials); from there, they returned to the restaurant (where they ate pork patties and drank two bottles of red wine); and then they set off jabbering around the hotel again.
There weren’t many people in the Iverson to be bothered by their dialogue, but in each of the places they moved to, their voices echoed so loudly above all other sounds that when the occasional guest or staff member did pass them, a puzzlement was drawn on their faces which quickly turned to malaise. Their peripatetic odyssey took them to the hotel kitchens at one point and they went through the storeroom to the back doors where Mrs. Juhl’s coffin stood. It wasn’t an elegant-looking receptacle – a cracked old pinewood thing– and among the other dusty crates and containers in the storeroom, it could have been mistaken for just another box of hostelry provisions.
Walter returned to his preternatural old self when within reach of his wife’s body again, and after stating he could feel her spirit was with them, listening to them, Geissel argued: ‘We can agree the soul is imperishable but I disagree with regards location, my friend. I would suggest her soul is now above with God. You seem to be speaking of supernatural things. An area I find frankly untenable within reason.’
‘I should say it is always difficult to locate a soul, whether the body holding it is alive or not. But that doesn’t mean a soul cannot show itself to us when it wants to. They’re cunning fickle things.’
‘A disembodied waft you’d have it to be? No disrespect, Walter, but hullabaloo is all I can say. I think it’s rather insolent in the face of God to believe in all of that stuff.’
‘Well, I wouldn’t imagine God is unused to a little defiance from time to time.’
‘Are you one of these occultists, Walter?’
‘That word has been used more than once in reference to me, but it’s not a word I’ve ever been given to seriously mull over. I’m aware it’s used pejoratively by some – of course.’
And on and on they went until the kitchen porter interrupted them finally and shooed them away because, as he informed them, they were making the kitchen staff uncomfortable.
‘Doesn’t the presence of a dead body make them more uncomfortable?’ Geissel pointed out.
The kitchen porter answered that their words and ideas were more upsetting than the corpse at that time and they should take the rhetoric somewhere their verbosity might go unnoticed.
So the new friends acquiesced; but before leaving, Geissel decided to comment on the timeworn condition of Mrs. Juhl’s casket. ‘It’s not made of the best wood, is it?’ he said.
‘It's previously owned,’ replied Walter.
And they returned to the restaurant where more pork patties were served along with a hundred more theses before the day was through.