When asked, he said that that he didn't sail to France, but that he did take an ocean liner, which he wouldn't call "sailing," and that he didn't like strangers, which in those days were everywhere. They wore cowboy hats, back packs, and strolled on deck, fluttering waves of self-regard, as if they had somewhere important to go to, but where could that have been since we were all headed for the same dirty washcloth bunched up by the side of the yellow brick road leading to the capitol, where children sold their parents on every corner, and those that didn't found another way of tricking them into leaving the apartment. Maids waited in the wings, pigeons nested in the eaves,
The time for sewing dresses into coats and clouds had passed.
He rented a room at the top of the stairs. There was a rocking chair and spider plant on the iron balcony. Music from the church across the boulevard came in clusters and was often nauseating, which prompted him to move to a missile silo on the outskirts of a region known for its wine and vinegar.
This is where they met.
She was a teacher of Latin, daughter of an anarchist, and was called a braided breeze in a coalmine. They held hands, and then each other. They opened a gas station and sold barbecued pork ribs on Sundays. Someone with a card offered to buy the movie rights, but they refused. They didn't name their only child Mister Pickles, as has often been repeated, much to the consternation of those gathered at the next table the last time you passed through town.
That was in the summer of the anaconda and tapir, the evenings of heat lightning followed by refreshing breezes.
I started looking for another job when my boss informed me that management decided that I was replaceable, and that almost anyone short of a moron could do what I did in less time. This proved the company's undoing, and the beginning of my ascendance into the levels of society where anything resembling cupidity was held in high esteem, a mark of superior talent, a sign of innate wisdom.
I learned to "cook the books" and was awarded a chef's hat, which I wore whenever it rained. I did all this despite entering onto this plain of constant conflagration, without a silver spoon or brass ring.
She likes living in a tower, rundown and open. Noon's purples press against the shadows of her bedroom. Every morning she walks out on the balcony, and, turning toward the sun, announces in a loud clear voice: You can face yourself from any direction, but that doesn't mean you need to sing to me.