Noble X — Episode 18: Opening Ceremonies
MINUTES FROM IGNITION, John steps into the cold to tape a bizarre-looking, frantically-collaged sign on the front door. The sign reads simply, “Enter around the back,” written in thick black sharpie over a cacophony of images meticulously cut from a travel magazine. Smoothing the strip of tape once more for good measure, he steps back inside, dead bolting the door. John stands at the front of his apartment in the center of the performance space they have created, looking across the long narrow room, clear to the kitchen in the back where the people are congregating.
“Time for the opening ceremonies,” John says out loud to no one in particular as he notes the time on the clock to his left. He reaches up to take the clock off its nail, removes the batteries from the back and rehangs it. He feels time stand still, removes his socks, and wanders back to the kitchen to join those who are just arriving.
“WELCOME! WELCOME! The clock has struck 7:00 so let’s start with a couple announcements,” he booms entering the kitchen. He pauses as a few more people enter through the back door. His face becomes serious and he continues, “I would like to invite you all to take your filters off this evening as we share in this experience, the Noble Experiment. Furthermore, I would like to invite you all this evening to be my roommates. My family. What’s mine is yours. Open the refrigerator and the liquor cabinet as if it is your own. Eat anything you’d like. Drink deeply. All is stocked just for this occasion. And please partake in my love buds if you love weed. Sharing is caring. Performances will begin shortly but first, the opening ceremonies.”
With his announcements concluded, he begins to remove his clothing right where he is standing, in the middle of the kitchen, surrounded by the earliest party guests who begin to exchange nervous looks as John removes his t-shirt, dropping it at his feet and beginning to unbuckle his belt. Down come the pants, boxers and all. “Holy shit,” Thomas utters.
Fully naked, John steps out of his pants and boxers, bunched up at his ankles without bending over, maintaining uncomfortable eye contact with everyone as he turns and heads into the bathroom without closing the door. They all listen as the shower turn ons. Moments later, the tension begins to melt as John belts out the lines of “You Are My Sunshine” at top volume as he bathes. Some even laugh.
“What the fuck is he doing?” Thomas grabs Anthony by the arm. Anthony shrugs and whispers, “It feels like performance art, maybe. Not sure.” Colin overhears and adds leaning in, “Let’s just keep an eye on him.” Surprisingly, nobody leaves. However uncomfortable they’ve been made at the start of this evening, they are all intrigued and intend to see how this plays out. More people arrive and the chatter rises as present guests fill the new guests in on what they just missed.
The water turns off and as if connected to the faucet, so does John’s song, and their is a brief silence. The chatter stops. The clatter of metal shower rings cuts through the silence as John throws the curtain open, his whistle resuming the old familiar melody. Curious heads poke around the door frame to see what he’s doing and to their surprise, John is going through his usual morning grooming routine, as if he is getting ready for work. He towels dry, wraps it around his waist, proceeds to comb his dark hair straight back, finally brushing his teeth. Those looking on are oddly transfixed by this display of the ordinary and are startled when he turns towards them having finished his routine. They all act as if they have invaded John’s privacy, just as he has intended.
Emerging back into the crowding kitchen in his towel, John flamboyantly announces, “This is the New Renaissance. The rebirth. And with it, we do nudity tastefully,” dropping his towel with a spinning flourish and then cupping his balls and cock as he begins to circulate and greet his guests, testing their comfort levels, attempting to elicit genuine human responses to his filter-less behavior, engaging in mind games he has told no one about, all for his study. At last, confronted by Anthony, John dons the towel once more, heading to the front of the apartment to begin the musical performances, encouraging everyone to follow him. And they do. They all want to see what happens next.
Roger, having only recently met John, is absolutely confused by John’s antics but not put off by it, nor is his girlfriend Molly. “Dude, you’re crazy,” Roger says as John approaches, wearing only the towel. “Are you ready? We have a wonderful audience of people hear to give you their full undivided attention. Play us some songs, Roger.” The crowd from the kitchen oozes forth, finding chairs and spots on the ground to get comfortable while Roger tunes up his guitar.
For a moment, the Noble Experiment is happening just as Paul envisioned. But Paul still hasn’t arrived. John takes an unplugged keyboard, still wearing a towel, and proceeds to take a “silent solo” as Roger continues to play on, despite this distraction. As the song finishes, Anthony approaches John again and more forcefully commands, “Put some fuckin’ clothes on, man! And let ‘em play,” gesturing to Roger holding the guitar.
John’s eyes light up and he yells, “WINNER!” and everyone stops in their tracks. They all have no idea what John could possibly mean. “You are the winner of the night’s first mind game, my friend. Of all the people in here that could have spoke up, you were the only one that did.” And with that John calmly disappears to his bedroom as Roger begins another song, uninterrupted by John’s antics. When he emerges from his room, John is wearing a winter hat and an open bath robe, his boxers showing underneath. His lab coat.
Stay tuned for Episode 19.
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