…into oblivion

“I was right,” Sailor said slowly, softly, “He did follow us out.  And he knew what was happening with Harlin, and he got jealous.”  She turned to Epson, who was busy jamming some notepapers deeper into his trouser pocket.

“Where’s Upi now?”

“He went on with his life….desolate as it was.  Went home to his garret in the U-district, made himself rice, smoked a cigarette, said his prayers, and went to bed.  He got up a couple of hours later and showered, cleaned his apartment, drove down to the water.  He tossed his machine gun into the choppy black waters of Lake Union and went to work.  They’ll never catch him.  The police don’t know who either of these men are; no one’s looking for them.  Besides…Upi has no criminal record; he’s fastidious.  It will be as if it never happened.”

Sailor and I held each other.

“He could have taken a pistol and been gone…click-click…crack!  And he meditated on suicide with the hard muzzle of a Glock to his temple.  He imagined it vividly, over three hours of exquisite stillness, leaning his naked, hulking mass forward onto the plastic lip of his tub, his elbows resting there, one hand to his head, the other hand with a gun.  He internalized it, reflected on every minute detail…from the blood spray and Ajax on the shower wall to the distant, unemployed cousin whose reading of household circulars would be momentarily interrupted when he learned, by phone call, of Upi’s death.  But he never pulled the trigger.

“He will do nothing, now, but work, pray, meditate….and live in humble simplicity.  He will become no one.  He may move to an industrial city in Europe, and work in a coffee shop there…but without pretense, without romance.  And, ultimately, he will vanish.  He will vanish into oblivion.”

Sailor moved even closer, so that our bodies were touching.  We knew that perhaps our lives had been saved by an act of murder.  There was an emotion that came with this piece of knowledge; it was small, and hard, and bitter, like a cold smooth stone lodged somewhere in the body.

Sailor spoke.  “So he’s stopped looking for us, Upi..?”

“Yes,” said Epson brightly, matter-of-factly. “He satisfied himself.”  Then he turned his head, crawled to the far end of the hollow, and opened the small wooden door there. Light spilling out from the hollow revealed a tunnel marked by cage-like sconces containing darkened bulbs.  The distant sound of a roaring crowd poured softly forth from the dark hole of the tunnel.

“Come along now!” said Epson, “They’re waiting for you.”  He clicked on the lights by way of a switch obscured by shadows, and scuttled into the hole.

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The Murder of Harlin Coke

“It can be done.”  A voice came from the moss and earth behind the cricket.  The cricket popped away from its place on the knot of a root, then dangled on a wire.  Its eyes flashed and went dark, like small lenses lit up from behind.  Earth and bits of moss began to fall away from the hole where the wire came through beside the root.  Pink, living fingers poked through, stunningly large and soft next to the dangling electronic cricket.

A tuxedoed arm plunged through the earthen ceiling.  Rocks and soil and bits of debris rained down into the dry grass.  Sailor and I scuffled quickly out of the way.  A whole man came through the ceiling, dropped onto the floor.  He landed lightly on his feet and stood still for a moment, facing us.  Earth and loam covered his tuxedo.  A sheaf of heavily inked, rough-edged notebook papers protruded from one of his trouser pockets.  One hand gripped some sort of remote control, wired to the cricket.  With a soft click, the wire popped off the cricket’s body and whipped back into the box of the remote.  A little electronic door snapped shut behind the wire.  The remote had a handle and a screen packed with incredibly detailed visual information.

“I love this thing,” said Epson, smiling slightly, jamming the remote into the inside pocket of his tuxedo, where it created an ungainly bulge.  He stooped down, pinched the robot cricket between his thumb and forefinger, and motioned for me to put my hand out.  I did.  He placed the insect, a tiny, elaborately engineered robot, at the center of my outstretched palm.  I heard a tick.  The cricket hopped once and then tipped over onto one side and was motionless.  I handed it back to him.

“Some toy,” Sailor said sarcastically, covering her shock.

Epson ignored her with some effort.  He pulled a fountain pen from another inside jacket pocket, and a piece of paper from one of his sleeves.  A cuff link fell off and disappeared into the soft floor of the hollow. He muttered something about blasted cuff links and cultural decay.  Then he looked up quickly.  While his eyes had heavy bags and his face four days or so of stubble, his movements were bright, energized.  He scratched at his tousled hair with his pen, licked its tip, and began scrawling notes, still standing on the pile of earth and debris he’d created when he’d plunged through the ceiling.

“Somewhat off script,” he said, still scrawling, “but well-played.  The erotic sex scene was marvelous…my Bob-Martin nearly shot its cream…although I wouldn’t have written it in when you did it.”  Then, a bit more quietly, he said, “That’s a beastly looking cock you have there, N.  Err, no offense, all very erotic, but my goodness…the poor fellow’s ugly as sin.  We could’ve given him a screen-test, you know, gotten a good wax penis to stand in for him.”

“It’s about sensation, not looks.”

“Err, right.”  Epson went back to his notes.  “Anyway, the drama between you, and all of that…again, the wishes were about getting out of the labyrinth, not about your relationship…which was a bit of a tangent…but, like I said, well-played, well-played.”

He finished up with his notes and stuffed them into his pocket with others.  He capped his pen, put it behind his ear, and slowly took a seat in the dried grass.  He blinked at us for a moment, sizing us up emotionally, then spoke again.

“Oh! And you did know that fellow Upi took a machine gun to Harlin Coke, did you not?  Totally off-script as well, shot him in his Buick while he was standing at a red light up in Seattle, somewhere off Denny Way, dead of night, horrible scene, Bonny-and-Clyde sort of stuff, body jumping from the gunshots, whole car riddled with holes, shattered glass everywhere, blood dripping from under the car door, godawful stuff…though I suppose that’s child’s play to you Americans…”  Epson trailed off, then cleared his throat and looked at us from under arched eyebrows.

“Anyway…you’re wearing condoms for the sex scenes, no?  I mean, we don’t have hazard pay for that…if one of you catches the clap from all that ejaculating that’s going on?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, it’s just, well, you know…safety first!”

Sailor and I sat stock still and stared.

 

(Back Door: Enter Harlin Coke into the search bar.)

 

 

 

It is the price you must pay…

“Yes it’s true,” the cricket said.  “But no matter this small discrepancy.  It is the price you must pay for this type of love…one of the seven types of love…  Although that is a tale for another time…”

I fell silent.  Even in my mind, no thought formed itself into words.

Sailor closed her eyes remorsefully.  She would have reached out to touch me, but she did not.  She kept her hands on her lap, her body curled, her space small.

“You still have one question,” said the cricket.

“What if I don’t?” asked Sailor.

“What do you mean,” asked the cricket, “You must want to know something!”

“What I mean is…what I really have is not so much a question…as a wish.”

“No matter; they are the same,” said the cricket.

 

The Scales

It was always I who did the talking, and she who stared with fascinated eyes…  It was I who poured myself out to her, and she who listened.  That was how I knew I loved her more.  With my mouth attached to my heart, I gave away my love in endless babble; it was all I could do to force a moment’s pause, to hold my breath for an instant before going on.  I needed to tell her everything..everything.  And she so graciously accepted.  And she loved me passionately…but not the way I loved her.  Not the way my world was turned upside down, the way I breathed and walked in a state of colliding ecstasy and despair.

Neither lover desires their part in this unequal relation.  The lover who loves more only wants his lover to love him as much…and the lover who loves less wishes subtly for the transformation of her lover into something more.  That same lover wishes she had no such wish…and bitterly guards the secret knowledge that her love is the smaller of two flames.

Cheat (The Second Touch)

And who loves the other more? 

No!  How could I have asked that?  …I just took the question for myself.  I’m so so sorry. I…

“It’s too late.  Look to yourself,” the cricket said,   “You know the answer.”

My heart sank.  A flood of images, memories, rushed through me, as they had in Sailor’s apartment in New York, just after we’d met.  But now they were not mine, they were hers.  Once again I was inside Sailor, and she was deep in the bowels of the theater, in the green room, in the half light, slung out on the sofa, books and newspapers piled all around, half naked, fucking….

With my eyes still open, the present moment now layered into my strange vision, I could see that Sailor was asleep, yet restless, uncomfortable.

 

(Back Door:  Enter Sideways, Their limbs twined together, Pea Green Easy Chair or Turbulence (The First Touch) into the search bar.)

Three Questions

Should I ask two questions, and you the one…or vice versa, I wondered.

I could hear Sailor’s voice inside my head.  You ask first; then we’ll know how the other two will go.

“How do I know…it’s true love?”

“Look to your beloved,” the cricket said.

Sailor placed her hand lightly on my forearm.  She had done this before, and yet I could not stop what was happening…  A soft tingling sensation washed over my skin, from my arm up to the crown of my head…then down into my genitals, my legs and feet.  My eyes wept…and yet I felt calm, rested.  I listened for Sailor’s voice inside my head.

She closed her eyes slowly, opened them again.  I watched as her eyelashes merged and separated; I saw the colors in her iris, like the colors of a wooden bowl filled with rainwater.

When your lover’s touch reveals your suffering to you, and at once washes it away…as if you’d spent lifetimes of struggle to reach her side, yet only realized your exhaustion at the moment of your arrival.  That is true love.

I brushed tears from my cheeks.

And one will always love the other more; that is the nature of this love.

 

(A Back Door: Enter Turbulence/The First Touch into the search bar.)