Friday, March 11, 2011



“That was a good screw,” Clare said to me, her gray eyes in pale focus, looking at my face as if she were fixing on some point past me. She had propped herself upon one elbow. I could feel the soft down under her armpit resting on my shoulder. Her small conical breast was resting on my chest.

“Yes it was,” I said flatly, emptily.

“You’re good in bed,” she said.

“I suppose I am. I never really thought of it,” my voice sounded hollow, as if I were speaking from the inside of a drum.

She continued her observations, her eyes scanning me, “You’re very large, your body, I mean, is very well developed.”

“It’s a family trait. Vandemark men are expansive, well mostly,” I said. She stared down at me from close range. I closed one eye so I could focus on her face. She had an inscrutable expression; she looked like she would say something outrageous at any moment and then thought the better of it. Perhaps I was imagining the whole thing. Clare had the implacable ability to project a searing look into me that would ricochet around my hollow head never finding a perch or resting point. This is a common occurrence.

Never settled, never at equilibrium. I tried many thought experiments: I could trace the malady backward in time. I could make the problem chronological: somehow, somewhere, something had gotten lost.

Then it would simply be a task of unraveling the knot backward to that primal knot, untying it, and releasing what was lost and held and bound by time, circumstance, and that unforgiving sow Fate. But this way was fraught with danger, dead ends, slippery pit falls. How did I know I was on the right trail. What if I was tracking down a common red-herring?

Another possible world: perhaps it is a problem that creates itself anew each day? In some fantastic and inexplicable feat of regeneration it emerges de novo, fully clad and armored, fresh, each day transformed into a brilliantly off-centered facsimile, governed by its own inscrutable laws.

Or perhaps there is no problem at all and it is a mere phantasm of an overtaxed, imaginative, fizzled brain.

A bubble erupts from the source, and another scenario: perhaps my powerful need for enclosure masks the real condition to be endured: that behind my two pulsing eyes there is nothing. That the part that is missing simply never existed; the hole where a faculty supposedly held court, arranging, nurturing, and coordinating its less apt cousins, is only a chimera. The bulk conceals the hollow that never had a tenant. And try as I may, rail as I might against this despicable condition, how do we fill a void whose context may well have never existed, whose identity we would not know if we met Her on the street, whose face we would never recognize?

Clare was standing above me, dressed in her rumpled blue uniform.

“Maybe you never slept with a man as old as me?” I asked.

“What?” she asked quietly, glancing at the bed.

“Perhaps that’s why I appear so large to you. You’ve never only slept with men that are younger than me. Men get bigger as they age”

“No,” she said, brushing her hair at the mirrored dresser, “I slept with one of Daddy’s Oxford chums when I was sixteen. Gavin’s father. Don’t tell him, though, he would be mortified to know that his respectable father was an old letch that fancied pubescent girls. He must have been in his late forties.”

“Oh,” I said, feeling a twisting hand in my abdomen.

“You shouldn’t lay there like a lump Langley, you know, we have work today.”

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