Judith McAvoy, Library Scientist / 10 April 1999

Judith McAvoy, library scientist, thirty-three, shares a birthday with the late Akira Kurosawa, divorced, unmother. Once a month she will take a brace of under-the-counter pharmaceuticals, the kind that energize not enervate, and Judith will stay awake for an entire weekend after a deep nap postwork Friday, a nap fueled by an appetizer of intensely focused Transcendental Meditation — a dreamless, blackened sleep.

This is typically late in the month, in the mid-twenties. Judith McAvoy awakens from her nap and leaves her home, 80215, and doesn’t return until Sunday night. She tends to follow a similar routine, a traceable though circuitous routine. Judith starts by taking her car to a car wash on the other side of town. Car wash: crowded with employees, ammoniac, pretty pennies are asked. She gets the thing called The Platinum wherein special attention is paid.

The car is shining bright and Judith feels an enormous tranquility, especially in those first few moments before she reignites. The car doesn’t entirely block out external sound but does make it endearing, spherical. The car is absolutely still, not knocking.

Judith McAvoy, vibratory, her most oft-used fun fact being that the Dewey decimal code for library science is 666, drives to three places over the course of the weekend.

1. The Museum of Natural History, Denver, CO. Here she sits on granite-slab benches in the subdued light of the Early Man wing, staring through glass into manufactured scenes of novel invention or perhaps bloody struggles for survival. She finds more comfort in the zoological wing, where a sandpiper, one spindly leg in midair over a synthetic shoreline, is caught forever with a fragment of thought in its tiny head, but she keeps returning to Early Man, darker, pronounced lobes, brutish comprehension.

Because, see, Judith McAvoy can’t take pleasure in environments unless they contain some degree of fear.

It’s freezing in the Early Man wing!

2. Lamplighter Inn, Raton, NM. It takes a few hours to get there. She has a library copy of The Invisible Man that’s three years overdue but according to the computer system it’s “DESTROYED.” Also known as code 17, which doesn’t get a lot of use, which is why Judith had to look it up on the laminated guide that’s taped to the cabinet door under the desk. On these once-a-month weekends she writes in the margins of The Invisible Man [ISBN: 0679732764], sometimes words collected into phrases but more often than not mathematical formulae: proofs. She does this at the Lamplighter for a long, long time, sitting at a little table in front of a mirror, next to the window. No sleeping, remember. Judith McAvoy likes the way she looks when she’s working proofs and sometimes, if she glances up quickly enough, she can catch herself with the expression of focused surety that’s so appealing.

Then she walks over to a diner that serves American food, entitled Krinkler’s. The eating can be described as voracious and thorough. Rarely, once in a while, she writes in her book while at Krinkler’s, but more typical is for her to look through the free real estate magazines found in the waiting area.

Judith McAvoy has this funny habit of placing her right index finger to her lips while she reads, absently, and then, when truly absorbed, Judith will slide her finger slightly into her mouth and slip her fingernail, closely shorn, into the space between her two front teeth — only barely.

3. 1415 Pine Hill Rd., Apt. 7, Boulder, CO. She is greeted at the door by an elderly man, the light always falling from him rather than on him. Bone structure easily identifiable; a scent; posture: excellent. By this time, Judith usually has unsightly black marks under her eyes, her entire mien slightly swollen.

There are these noises from behind the door, behind the windowless wall of Apt. 7, and they’re the kind of noises that remind you of being back in the womb. Sounds are unfiltered but muddied, uninterpretable but familiar. I think it’s like when screaming distorts and begins to sound like laughter.

Judith McAvoy, haggard, pinkish marks around her ankles where her shoes have scraped, then returns home, often closing out Sunday evening with a glass of red wine and a quick skim of the paper.

Previously / SXXXSW
Next / The Making Of Brainbox

Joshua Green Allen

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