by Salvatore Difalco
She’d worn her hair in a bun for most of the courtship. She liked neck scarves, pretty things, pink, mauve, this sort of thing. She walked with a slight limp. The details accumulated as the morning dragged on.
“Is your tooth fixed?”
“Think it’s dead.”
“Was at Shopper’s the other day. They had these things.”
“Yeah? How much?”
“What? I can’t remember.”
Even if help came, would I want it? Sometimes you have to make a decision before the thirty second clock winds down, and the buzzer goes off and your hands fall flat on the desk.
“Is she tall, the girl?”
“Hm. Probably not that tall.”
“She could be.”
“Make her blonde.”
“That’s a given.”
“But you don’t like blondes.”
“That’s quite true.”
They had complicated my existence, both the real and false ones, though in retrospect, and with the wisdom of experience, most filled the latter category, which is not to suggest they were false people, though some were, but that they adopted false hair colour, perhaps with the mistaken belief that they would have more fun.
“I’d like to ask them if they do.”
“If they do what?”
“If they do have more fun.”
Life is a strange, minority phenomenon in a universe roiling with phenomena, both classical and quantum. Why does it exist at all? Is the universe really in the business of creating busy, chattering ephemera, tiny novelties, cognizant toys? Try as I might, I cannot come to any satisfactory conclusions.
“Coffee’s good this morning.”
Craig had come into some armor, actually an authentic medieval suit of armor. He never told us how he did. Likely something to do with his father, Mr. Duncan, a devout Presbyterian who wore kilts. It’s better perhaps we resist overdeveloping this minor character, as rendering his brogue would test our skill. Ah can’t dew it, captain.
When you see a suit of armor perhaps you recall a cartoon or Three Stooges episode, or a movie starring Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff. In any event, Craig maintained that the suit of armor would look brilliant in his foyer.
“In some respects it’s intimidating.”
The men agreed with nods and murmurs.
“On the other hand, it can be a source of comedy.”
One of the men raised his hand.
“Yes, Stuart, you have a question.”
“Yes, thank you, Craig. A real pleasure to be here. I’m sure the others agree. But I was wondering, ah, about the suit’s provenance.”
“Yes, well that hasn’t been entirely established yet.”
“Surely it, ah, belonged to a fighting knight.”
“A fighting knight?”
“Yes, someone like, ah, Bertrand du Guesclin.”
“But he’s French.”
“He was kick-ass. Read your history.”
“I was hoping it belonged to Sir Lancelot.”
Perhaps it did, there is always that possibility, even if it only resides in the imagination. Remember, there is more to the world than meets the eye. Oftentimes, the drift inward, into the catacombs and recesses of the mind, its blue grottoes, yields a history that pleases a narrative persuasion.
“That’s how I get through my days.”
“The imagination is a strong life force.”
“If you say it is.”
On our journey inward we ran into many impediments. Let me be honest, I cannot say for certain it was worth it.
“Tell them about the anxiety.”
At times, I became so anxious I ground my teeth until my jaw and neck muscles seized up. And I clenched my hands so hard I drove my fingernails into my palms.
“Did they bleed?”
“You know what stigmata is, I assume.”
“Yes, but it was nothing like that.”
I glanced at the sunburst clock above the sink, one I had pilfered from my dying friend Ray’s house, and it was still stuck at 2:50 as it had been for several weeks. This is known as the Timex time, in case you’re wondering, with the watch-hands framing the Timex logo.
“Where does this shit come from?”
“I used to read a lot, I think.”
“No, you were a boob-tube cat.”
“Is that even a thing?’
Was that even a thing, a boob-tube cat? An unpleasant stench comes to mind.
“You need rest perhaps.”
“I always need rest.”
“Have some camomile.”
“It reminds me of illness.”
“Perhaps you are ill.”
“I hear voices.”
“Maybe it’s the universe talking to you.”
Does the universe even know who I am? I don’t think so. How would I introduce myself to the stars? Here I am, Mr. Nobody. You may shine brightly, but I write little stories about your shining brightly.
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF SUICIDE
I spent the day in pain. My tooth needed pulling, a molar, loose as a goose in there. My sinus infection flared up. My back ached from sitting around all day trying to avoid sudden movements and also battling the vertigo that accompanies my sinus infections.
“You can always off yourself.”
This is the little voice I hear when I’m sitting by myself, feeling pathetic. I used to talk to God, to Jesus rather. Entire monologues. But after my cousins turned Jehovah Witness, I tired of hearing about Jesus. Jesus this. Jesus that. You’d think that during one of my monologues this “son” of a deity would respond, let me know he’s all ears, as avowed by the nuns and priests who raised me.
“Like I said, you can always off yourself.”
“It’s that easy?”
“Eighth floor. Fall from here would fix you up.”
“You’d like that.”
“It’s against my better interests, truth be told.”
“Then why encourage me?”
“To see the lighter side.”
“The lighter side of suicide?”
“Must we always be so serious?”
No point in telling the little voice that suicide is a serious business. I’m sure it understood. To say that I was in a dark enough place to contemplate it, well that’s another thing.
“I heard that.”
“You’re a mind-reader now?”
“Dude, I’m walking around in here. I can hear everything. You’re a fucking mess.”
“Easy with the language. This isn’t R-rated.”
“What does that even mean anymore?”
He was right. My next door neighbour Mr. Highliner told me he had caught his ten-year-old son Chooch watching porn on the internet.
“He bypassed the filters, little prick.”
“Kids are smart these days!” shouted the voice in my head.
“What was that?” Mr. Highliner said, frowning.
“You heard that?” I said.
“Yeah, seemed to come from your ear.”
“That’s a first,” I said.
MENAGE A TROIS
We sat in contemplative silence. The two women visiting from the Sorbonne reclined and held hands. We’d been discussing art and death, exhausting subjects. Also, the opium had worked its magic.
“I’m floating above myself,” I said.
“Sammy—they call you Sammy?”
“That’s what they call me, even though it’s not my name. But I’ve grown used to it. Indeed I’ve all but forgotten my given name.”
“That is tragique.”
“Pardon, she is being—how you say—hyperbolique.”
“Pardon, she is being—how you say—a beech.”
Someone knocked at the front door. The girls were too wasted to move from the divan.
I opened the door. A bearded man wearing a white suit stood there with his hands behind his back. He looked vaguely familiar.
“Do I know you?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Do you?”
I couldn’t place him.
“I can’t place you.”
“No? well never mind that. I’m here to deliver a message from the executive branch.”
“The executive branch of what?”
“Look, the board has decided you’re having way too much fun with this crap.”
“It’s hard work.”
“Bullshit. Now, you have one minute to finish this.”
“Don’t test us.”
He walked away. A black limousine waited for him. This was serious. I went in and told the French women to leave.
“But we have done rien?”
“No, Monsieur Sammy. We have done rien.”
See, and that right there was what the board must have meant. That French shit never flies with them. They have prurient minds. They start thinking all kinds of nasty things. Talk later.