The 804 Word Sentence

Groping and stumbling, the woman pushed her way into the crowded salon, flashed a look of terror and exhaustion into the faces of the impeccable 400 gathered there for the annual arts show of New York's Upper Forties where, indeed, anything was likely to happen with all these strange though undoubtedly talented young men and women lounging about with their odd clothes and cynical mouths and dark eyes behind dark glasses, and collapsed - yes, she absolutely crumpled into the plush carpet, although when Dr. Bayard Rogers bent solicitously over her, being the nearest and quickest to react due to his constant contact with emergency situations in his influential post as director of a large downtown hospital, the woman started, though weakly, and gasped - "Oh, don't!," whereupon, of course, the doctor attempted to reassure her and discover what was wrong, against the growing murmur from the assemblage, some haughtily disclaiming the incident as some kind of publicity affair, some questioning, having missed the brief yet dramatic entrance of the woman completely, some petulant, some merely murmuring among themselves and craning to get a better look at Dr. Rogers who had bent over the strange disheveled figure, only to start back suddenly with a cry of pain, and even fear, in his voice, flinging up a hand as if to shield himself and actually stumbling backwards to his feet, which startled the crowd leaning in over the pair, so that they gave way slightly as the doctor reeled back and was caught by an alert bystander, one of the artists, I believe, his dark glasses knocked off and a sharp look of unquiet on his face increasing to some concern as the dignity of the older man cracked, and, covering his eyes with his hand, he began to tremble, crying hoarsely, "Oh, God, no, no," to the consternation of those around him who turned to look with him as he seemed to get himself under control and turned back to the woman, though unconsciously he retained a tight grip on the artist's sweatered arm, and started anew as Dr. Rogers and the crowd discovered together that the space where the woman had fallen was now empty, a peculiar kind of solid emptiness that kept the crowd at bay and spread the fear from the doctor's eyes to all those who stood nearby, artist and aristocrat alike, promoting for a curious moment a kind of democracy of human fear of the unknown, which was confronting them point blank, for the moment too glaring to be glossed over with bored explanations or emotional outbursts and, indeed, the unknown that was to remain with every one close enough to have even a confused impression of the events culminating in Dr. Bayard Roger's sudden nervous collapse, which eventually necessitated his removal to a private sanatarium - not his own metropolitan hospital's psychiatry ward - where he was subject to recurring periods of terror in which he would break off normal activity at the sight of some reminder of that night - and everything from a bit of red like the red plush carpet or a nurse with hair escaping untidily from her usually ordered styling could bring the helpless terror upon him - whereupon he would murmur incoherently or upon occasion burst out with dark, lyrical wildernesses of words, phrases, even poetry, which invoked pictures of compelling horror in the minds of even the most prosaic, tough old nurses attending him, though as the years passed few but the uninitiated would attend the strange old man, supposed to be a real big wig from New York, who would unpredictably be jolted from an intelligent, quiet, sad old gentleman who would discuss the staff's affairs and current news with insight and interest shadowed by the inevitable wistfulness of the enforced idle, to a terrifying madman whose glowing words lit up the very air around him with a smoky electrical fire and called up the deepest fears of unnamed evil personified, watching, dabbling a hand in men's small affairs, working to dark eternal music in, under, between the bright molecules of air that protect the normal earth and cushion it against things too vast, too dark, too full of emptiness to be allowed to touch the delicate sunny webs of the daily lives and works of men, so that when he died at 76 few were saddened, unable to separate the remembered friend from the fear associated with his small frame and the great, swirling wildernesses of words which came pouring from him until, like some Egyptian's embalmer's mystic acids, they seemed to drain him, until he was only a small dry husk, finally seared once too often and burned out - the image of the flame remaining scorched against one's eyelids to be glimpsed at odd, lonely moments as a reminder, a touch from the void.