Friday, September 07, 2007
"The Liquid Life" (final installment)
And here, the pensive denouement to "The Liquid Life". the scribe hopes you have enjoyed the story.
She was waiting for me as I returned from a long and casual Saturday of avenue strolling and café lunch. I’ve learned to view it as no small coincidence that I was musing over Bakunin and what he said about the destructive urge being a creative one, when I first saw her after all that time had passed.
Her lips were thicker and her hair was richer and she was dyeing it some darker thing. She no longer lay in the sun, and her face cast blue and gray depending on how desperately the light clung to it.
She had lost that chocolate feeling.
Experience had added the wolf to her eyes and she wasn’t there to ask if it was alright for us to talk now. She was finished playing games.
“Hello Dominique,’ she said and I answered her:
OLD CLOWN FRIEND - MASK STRIPPED, SMILE SLIPPED, AND COMPLETELY OUT OF LOVE
For those interested:
Elendele and I held summit at the Upstage Café for champagne brunch. We were surprised at how poorly things were done, at how it looked like no one cared. When we asked for our old friend the chef, we got our short-sought answer.
“Dolmance is dead,” said the waitress curtly, suffocated by the finality.
As Elendele talked she hardly used her hands the way she did before. I teased her about those notions and her weakness for the charm of antique ideologies. Her head bobbed apologetically. Her mouth got embarrassed like all that stuff was stupid and in the past.
“You should be proud.”
“You always gave me the benefit of the doubt.”
She could serve a warm and humble pie.
“It’s the only way I could get you to do these little returnings; liberal use of the sugar cube.”
Elendele softly coils my elbow, takes me out and shares a mint tea with me. We talk for an hour about her concern over the forced and early retirement basketball player, Freddy Banks from Las Vegas, who wore a blue bandana on his right hand, to keep from getting raw since he shot much more than he was supposed to, and from way too far.
She also talked about a visit she’d had with her friend Maia, who was a fruit juicy girl with sequins and surgically pruned stockings. “At least five serious boyfriends ago,” is where Elendele placed their friendship in time. We had met her together.
Maia’s state of decomposition had dazed her shockingly.
“She looked awful,” Elendele painted. “What’s the point of taking care of your body when your contemporaries are going to let theirs go to loose, and remind you you’re old anyway?”
Of course, she had not always been kind.
The girl was disappointed, too, that Saturnina had stopped playing in her fixed-up, mixed-up baseball games.
“You need a better reason to get married than because it’s time to,” was her particular dissection of the liaison with the French Radical Party deputy. Her position was identical regarding friends’ many babies, and she still knew exactly who she was.
“I just don’t know if I like what I see,” was how she lifted her gauzy bandage somehow even making her wounds look good.
I concurred on the issue of Saturnina, but I’d seen Maia and thought her still fresh; just this first sign of some gentle falling, a projection of her physical near-future, down to counting days of beauty, spending them with guile and thrift – out on Tuesday nights only.
Certain things had happened to Elendele and when they were all added up the sum total was fear. She was in a real crisis of spirit. “Is an idea a bad one simple because men fail to make it work?” she asked, emphasizing “men.”
I had no answer (Do you?)
She was mistrustful of the differences between people. The mariachi music in the building next to the salon had become too much and she’d moved because she found herself cursing in Spanish out the window, telling her natural allies to go back where they came from and meaning it.
“I’m becoming everything I ever hated,” she whispered me.
Her depressions had little to do with her personal life and were tied, instead, to the ups-and-downs of world affairs.
“The people are as erratic as the times,” she reported in from the field of battle action and true-love crimes. The earth was an awful place in which – assumed for herself – was the task of leaving bits of new beauty here and there.
But that was her familiar creed and the whole point was that language does not create every reality. That just saying it isn’t always enough. She didn’t seem up to the task anymore. Living creatively in her own handmade world amounted to going against the grain and it had worn her out.
Cortez said it was a surface sign that Elendele had lost the feeling she could change the world.
If that was so, her body of work could be assessed as uneven and the world itself less lucky than before her surrender. So many people had been privy to her animal sentiments. I considered her honestly, in her new pallor before me and she was beautiful, still. A kitten spirit in search of whatever was left of the truth. But that was not enough anymore and she wasn’t sure if it was or should be.
People weren’t around as much. They’d been through her and she through them.
“There are lots of bad feelings floating around me,” she claimed in earnest portrayal. “They came and asked for excitement, but forgot to specify what kind.”
Elendele felt she had delivered on time and now they had strung her up for certain sins against them, had judged her, and rendered their slicings.
Elendele’s hypocrisy could not cheapen the facts of her knowledge and her sketchy campaign for hope. After all, my new gentleman had been pummeled and bruised. Nobody had wanted to play by his rules, either.
Determined not to cheat herself, disdainful of environment and restrictions, it was the aspiration to some higher style of existence that led to her many false paths which we followed her down.
“I’m going to take a little trip,” she noted before her final curtain. “The future’s gaining ground...if, when I get back let’s have coffee...together.”
She forgets to ask me if I want to come along and I choose not to remind her. I’m worn down, too. She lets me wrap a curl around my finger while she closes up shop, but turns away when I try to kiss her.
“We’re just right back where we started, Dominique,” comes her general and summary judgement and when I’d figured she probably just wasn’t in the mood for kissing.
“We don’t know what to do about it all. Only this time around we don’t have as much energy to try and figure things out.”
Whatever. I cannot decide how much credence to give the common rumor that she was just a crazy girl. Someone who wasn’t worth the investment she herself required. That Elendele was something that caught your eye when you first panned the river of life for gold. That she was only bright when the sun shone on her.
But when it did, God could that girl glitter.