...people in every direction....
I'm off to a murder mystery.
"Do you get to kill, or die?"
Neither tonight, unfortunately.
He pats my hand. "Better luck next time, Mama."
She leans over, body gilded by shaft of morning sun that streams through the bedroom window. The light ignites her hair into a burnished renaissance halo. Smiling sweetly, she feathers a kiss on my shoulder and is gone.
It's noon before he notices I've nothing underneath.
He brings me a South African wine called Angel Tears.
"You'll have to tell me if it's any good." He's charming and delightful and funny and warm. He's Robert, and he's leaving.
He promises to return when I've finished losing weight and together we will gorge ourselves on pastries at Vaccaro's.
He hides the evidence in his hand, a guilty expression crawling uncomfortably across his face.
"I cut off more than I meant to."
I check his hand. It's a lot. I check the mirror.
Not so bad. Now, instead of raggedy ends hanging to the top of my thighs, I have tidy ends falling straight across just above my beltline.
Can't cover up my best asset.
We have a beer before the show, in case the show's not good. She's been shoe shopping. I attack her bags.
The first box is uninspiring. Basic white standard-issue lady executive commuting sneakers. Bo-ring.
The next box has a lift-off lid and lots of tissue. Promising. I lift, unfold, inspect.
Beige Birkie-style flat thong sandals.
"They're comfortable," she protests, as if this were adequate defense. Puh-leeze.
She thinks she has not much time left.
"Maybe fifteen years. I'm going to make the most of them."
Because I always pictured us together at seventy-five years old, cackling like the crones we are at the bookstore, pool, mall, bar. Like now only with more wrinkles. It hurts me to think that might not happen.
It hurts me to think that might not happen.
He feeds me, tickles more than my imagination, makes me laugh at things that were never funny before. It's been far too long since I've seen him.
Tragedy exists on every scale.
"I'm five minutes away. Can I come over for tea?"
Are you kidding? Drive your fluffy ass over here, girl. I'll take off my underwear in your honor.
(I lie. I don't have to remove anything.)
I greet her at the door with a hug that ends only so we can talk to one another. That Girl is fabbo as usual in a chocolate top and those snakeskin pants, again underwear unencumbered. She's 22. She's my role model. I wanna be her when I grow up. I mean, if.
I take a sip. Ohhhhhhhhhh. Oh, ahhhhhhhhhh.
"I feel inappropriate just watching your face," he says.
Good wine? Yesssssss.
Maybe I should change this tiny tank for a real shirt before the kids get here.
"Maybe. It's amazing how your bra matches your shoes."
Well. I don't know whether to blush or to thank you for noticing.
I look at his face. And laugh.
You're blushing enough for both of us!
And laugh some more.
"I have a cold," he says. "Did you like the smooth transition I made just there?"
Seamless segue, that.
Just like buttah.
And he's still blushing.
Weekends, the whore next door sits on the tailgate of the truck parked in her driveway, drinking beer and waiting for the neighborhood to amuse her.
She lives two doors up.
(Ants Marching; Dave Matthews)