I lay in bed. After my first day everything had been arranged according to my own logic. With no nearby night table, the exact spot under the bed to put my glasses, so that I could still reach them, even while laying on my back, but never risk accidentally stepping on them.
The old transistor radio had been trickier. It was across the room, cord kissing the only outlet. It took much trial and error to get the volume right for the three hour jazz program I tuned into every night.
Too loud and the neighbors would complain, too loud , when it switched to early morning news and the sudden appearance of the correspondence voice would startle me awake.
Too soft and each piece could only vaguely be heard, giving the effect of ease-dropping on the end of a secret.
It took time, but I finally got it just right. The few people whom had been allowed into my place were told "not to touch anything."
I had taken a break from staying up all night and drinking cafe-fins while playing dominos with Pascal's ghost. Actually, it was an overly heavy meal at Gina's. Initially I had flat out said "Thanks, no" to the invitation. She was relentless, all week, slipping notes under my door. She wore me down.
As an out, I told her ten times, a good round number, that after, there would be no dancing. I could not stick around. I had a new chapter to work on.
She said "OK" even after I asked several times if she understood.
The food was good, but heavy, her place was always too hot. Barefoot, she wore the white silk shirt I had gotten her as a birthday gift, with no bra. When she sat upright, two wine dark areolas showed through, that, the food, I was weakening.
The dishes piled in the sink, she served little glasses of grappa, the good stuff. She leaned forward and slowly kissed me. Again that familiar scent of her skin. She pulled away.
"Well, I know you have work to do."
She disengaged, and getting up, led me to the door. The perfect bite-back, I hadn't seen it coming.
Getting home, the heat from Gina's seemed to have followed me, it kept Pascal away. I could not work with this meal weighing me down. I had a routine, a ritual which had always worked but not tonight.
Throwing on my clothes again, I decide to just walk. All along the Seine, stopping to look at the two Russian girls taking turns photographing each other in front of the lit up Notre Dame.
I keep walking, down Rue Dante, the whole city, Left Bank, Right Bank, two giant merry-go-rounds, distorted, the music plays, all the lights blur and in lieu of wooden horses, the buildings creak as they slowly go up and down.
I find my way home again. The stairway is a corkscrew cloaked in darkness. I have to run down the street for a book of matches. Burning two fingers, I finally manage to let myself in.
It is late, no later than usual. I lay on the bed trying to decide my next move. My face and arms are fine, but my chest is pale, so pale that the hair appears an almost purple against it. Saint Christopher tethered to his chain has slipped off to the side. There are the surgery scars, the doctor had done such a good job that they were now merely a series of small punctuation marks.
I drank a glass of water and fell asleep. Early in the morning, a noise, what I thought was Gina with another note; no, just a bird scratching in the window box at the geraniums.
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Photo above by Wayne Wolfson
FICTION & POETRY ARCHIVE
- What do you call a bloodsucking fiend in the daytime?
- All Things Raf and O
- Heavier Than Heaven
- Charles Plymell in Austria
- Grand Duchy: I Got You, Babe
- If It's Tomorrow, It Must Be Tav Falco
- Michael Jackson and plunderphonics
- The Jesus Record, the Hail Mary, and the Arc of the Covenant
- Owen Pallett: Sweet Nothings
- The Light reflecting Off of My Hero's Grave: Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique