Saturday, March 03, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment sixteen)


The next morning, as 15 bodies slept in a giant quilt of blankets, gently heaving whatever was not spent, already sucked away through the window, by the city that moves on the residue, Elendele’s uncle came to town.

He wasn’t really an uncle. It was the cousin of her mother’s aunt. He claimed he was the mayor of the southern Spanish town of Moguer; a position to which he had been appointed by virtue of the family into which he’d been married.

A career civil servant and architect, the monarchical life had always been good to him, though having met Picasso at a rally of the United Left far outweighed his dinners with half the royalty in Europe. The only difficulty he’d discuss was that between he and his brother-in-law, the Marquis, a younger man who was always telling Elendele’s uncle what to do, even though he wasn’t as handsome, tall, or mathematically correct.

With the socialists in power, they were building a road not 222 meters from the Marquis’ farmhouse in Jaen. Right across his front lawn, through his chicken coops and past the little country road that led to town where heroin addicts left their water bottles after a night of pinching.

“Tell me there’s no justice and God in heaven,” he lobbied his unsympathetic audience. “I’m the one they forced to build it.”

And then he didn’t stop. As he spoke, the hungover heads turned and roselips blossomed, puckered up in slow motion dismay, shot looks over crossbow shoulders of displeasure in the chosen topic.

“Now I had a gallstone operation six years ago,” he said, inflicting the sight of his breathing and heaving scare upon our scarlessness. “I was surprised how long it took my body to recover from having been cut into. Major anesthesia and shock trauma. An unhappy marriage of sensations. I was tired by 5 p.m. for months at a time. And that’s nothing. A dear friend of mine had clogged an artery leading to his heart with so much rich living they had to yank it out and replace it with veins taken from his leg. His scar runs from here-to-here just like an earthquake fault line,” he drafted in finale, running his finger the full length of the limb.
Trevor, who’d stayed the evening in a failed bid for Saturn’s basket of apricots, went to the bathroom and heaved his gallon of pinot noir.

“You see what a person’s got to go through before he finally gets to conk out for good?” asks the uncle.


I was sure Elendele and her stringent feminisms would decline the gaudy offer of the rogue agent Cassius. But she was drawn to it, a wood nymph to warm water, fully of humanity and its multi-varied weaknesses.

Saturnina was equally full of what she called “love of self.”

“Which according to Rousseau,” she logic-chopped me, “is akin to survival for me.”
Beloved step-sister in sophistry. I was growing amazed. In how many differing forms could love present itself?


When the exhibition, “Futurismi e Futurismo” came to town, I bought two tickets and some cocaine for Elendele who I knew to be the first fan of those severe social technicians. But she couldn’t find the time for me in her tumble trunk of themes.

Cassius was taking her out to the beach where a photographer friend of his was going to take some shots for her budding portfolio.

So I waited for Saturn to get home, but she couldn’t make it either because Cassius had sent her to the famous, right-leaning stylist Elisabetta Rogiani, to see if her look needed an updating.

“It doesn’t Saturnina, believe me,” came my ultimately correct observation.

Meantime, she noted, Elendele’s image had inexplicably failed to register itself in any of the 120 shots Cassius’ friend had taken of her.

“Not a trace,” Saturn headlined, “Like pictures of a ghost.” She’d heard that could happen after a bad batch of romance.

Trevor calls up to talk with me. He’s upset that his city council mom can’t take care of his unpaid jaywalking tickets for him. He’s got hundreds of them and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. He’s confused now about the meanings of criminality.

“Bastards. They’ve got a law for everyone to break so everyone’s a criminal.

Criminal! The word’s use is inflated. Police can’t stop axe murderers because they’re too busy scribbling their litter of pink paper fines along the byways. It’s their most noble pose, poised, pen and papier in hand.”

“You sound like you’ve been hanging around Elendele,” I said because she likes to send a check for a dollar more than she owes. It causes all kinds of paper work and they haven’t found the backbone to make it a crime, too... yet.

He say he has been with her, that Elendele and Saturn also got a ticket the other day. They were selling hot dogs and chocolate cappuccinos under a day-glo umbrella on the street, down by the third world and her cheap fashion districts. They had neglected to put a quarter in the meter after the 13th passage of a 15-minute period had ended. The little Gestapo car was there, flashingly, after having passed some time, waitingly, for the girls to make a mistake. “Forty hot dogs worth,” Elendele bitched at the cost.

Except for breakfast, and some escorting on runs to get Maria, I hadn’t seen or talked to the girls much since Cassius. I just lay around looking at Elendele’s scrapbook, fantasizing about all those girls in those pictures from her Catholic school days. I don’t think she had truly forgiven me for maybe getting her pregnant, anyway. Trevor says he doesn’t think she can forgive me for not asking her to have the baby, maybe.

“I know that sounds crazy,” he editorializes

“What are they doing selling hot dogs?”

He describes the girls in floppy hats and pearls raining on braless breasts – peddling their dogs to whomever. A plan born in the brain of Cassius who thought the stand was a good way to get the girls a little “exposure.”

“Exposure is something those two are good at,” I needled my distant nemeses.

“Cassius also said he thought it would help to pay for the abortion,” he served.

“I paid for the abortion,” I returned.

“That’s not what they told Cassius,” Trevor volleyed.

No comments: