(Pablo Picasso – The Guitar Player, 1910)
There is a place with nothing to see, save these ineffable shapes that vanish when I look too hard. Sometimes when I’m there and it’s real quiet, I think about those shapes and how I want to describe them, and then the words come.
My lady friend(LF) sat down at the kitchen table in front of her laptop. She wore an oversized sweater and leggings, and her left leg was folded with the foot under her right thigh. A short distance away in the railroad-style apartment was the couch. As soon as I plopped down on it, Scrappy D vaulted up and stretched his forelegs to my chest and gently licked my face. He was placid though joyful. He is a special doggie, with an abundance of love to give.
When I smiled, LF’s eyes brightened. I winked and gazed over to the TV, feeling joy down to my viscera. The TV remote in my hand was like a bar of gold, and the sofa beneath me was a heavenly cloud. The flat screen TV played on: a blur of news, a forecast of sloppy winter weather, and highlights from the past NFL season. I was more interested in the moment than being absorbed by a diversion.
After weeks in exile, I was back in the apartment I share with LF and the pizza and Chinese delivery guys(aka num and nuts). All the problems the succubus known as “woman x” had caused were seemingly behind LF and I.
LF and I had just spent hours getting reacquainted. I headed to the sofa because I had had a marathon chat with her about all things that I needed getting up to date on. Now I needed quality time with my dog, the TV, the couch, and just letting it all sink in. I had to become me again.
I opened my arms when LF came over and slipped down next to me. She looked deep into my eyes, to a place where only she can go. By the gleam in her eyes, I knew she liked what she saw. That special place has room for her and her only. Words can’t express what’s really in there, yet I believed she not only saw it was hers, but felt it too.
We talked some more about her sister who lives in Greenpoint, and her niece and nephew and stuff. It felt clean and smooth between us. I told her that she is the best thing to happen to a bunch of people, me most of all. When she retreated to the kitchen table, the sweater hung up on her hips, and I noticed her butt wasn’t as round. “You’ve lost weight,” I said.
“A little,” she said, pulling down the sweater, while shaking her hips.
(Pablo Picasso – Woman with Yellow Hair, 1931)
Early that evening the pizza and Chinese delivery guys came home separately, each suspicious of my presence.
But soon enough they made their usual sounds, like fledglings knocking around in the nest, trying to take flight. I usually pay them no mind, but I had my own suspicions. It seemed that in the morning pure luck had brought me to the Upper Westside apartment. After a job estimate in the Bronx, I had headed into Manhattan thinking about what I should eat and absently passed by the apartment. There was the rare spot right out in front. For no apparent reason, believing everyone was at work, I had rung the buzzer. To my amazement, LF had not only been home, but sounded hopeful as she said, “Come up, we need to talk.”
The previous face to face meeting with LF had been at the party of a friend last Saturday night. It felt like an insult when she had kissed me on the cheek. All that night I dealt with the finality of us being through as friends and lovers. I had left thinking that she had just slipped through my grasp–gone like a kite’s string taken by a stiff wind.
Now just days later we were full on in love again.
Num and nuts came into the room. Both were out of their greasy delivery clothes and dressed like hipsters in skinny jeans and black t-shirts. They planted themselves on the sofa next to me, as if we were friends. That only happens if LF is there to watch TV, or if I plop down after them.
Their eyes jumped like fleas though their heads faced the TV. I tried to think nice thoughts about them. All I could come up with was that both bastards had great hair. Seconds later, coming to mind were pictures of them affecting hipster-chic looks via detached and pouty facial expressions. I leaned forward and asked LF, “How come you took off from work today?”
“I had to run some errands.”
“Oh, okay,” I said.
“I never had the chance,” she said with a lupine smile.
The Chinese delivery guy stuck his head in my way, looking right at muah. I winced.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” he said in a testosterone-free tone. “Not this soon.”
The hairs on my arms stood as he spoke. There is never a line open between him and me. I do not speak to him. I do not look at him. I do not think about his condition. And even when he does speak, it is in a manner that only LF and the pizza delivery guy can decipher. I don’t speak bird language is all I can say. Though with the other one, the pizza delivery guy, from time to time I do yell at him, because he is like the kid that doesn’t associate the electric shock with sticking his finger in the outlet. He’s whacked, pure and simple.
I gave a detached nod and leaned back and eyed the TV. Num and nuts did the same.
Again I considered how the day had gone too perfectly. It seemed like someone or something had orchestrated the reconciliation. Even worse, I feared if that was true I chanced losing LF again.
“She was soooo mad at you,” the pizza delivery guy whispered, his gaze fixed on the TV. “I can’t believe you’re here, now.”
“Leave it alone,” I uttered. To break the tension, I got up and went to the window in our 4th floor apartment.
I pushed the thick curtains aside and leaned my forehead again the cold glass. Clouds of light drifted along the dim street from Broadway that was a half-a-block away. Barren trees lined both sides of the street. Tangles of tree branches below seemed like a filigree that could hold my weight.
Over the top of the apartment building across the street, I admired NYC’s cloudy-white radiance. I let my mind’s eye follow the light downtown, moving across Central Park from its northwest corner, down 5th Avenue to the Empire State building, then to Union Square and back onto Broadway and straight to South Ferry. That type of visualization I also do when I daydream closeup views of the moon, planets, and stars.
Scrappy D padded to my feet. I picked the little guy up, pressed my nose into his side and inhaled his goodness. My eyes were watery and I didn’t notice LF right next to me. I set down the dog. She stepped to the window and leaned back against my right side. She knows that nook is hers. I’ve told her she fits perfectly there. She accepted my embrace, her hands grabbing my thighs and part of my buttocks.
Num and nuts came over and stood close. They had to, because that’s what they do.
The scent of shampoo filled my nostrils as I pushed my mouth past LF’s hair to her ear. It took all my will to whisper, “Do you want me to go?”
“No,” she said.
I started to speak, but she cut me off.
“Stay with me.”
Yet there was little reprieve as I became certain the detente had been prearranged.
The first and most likely suspects came to mind in the form of two distinct silhouettes. One was a tall skinny being, and the other was a shorter, stout creature. For months if not longer I’ve been trying to escape them.
I couldn’t say they played a hand in the reunion, but given all the trouble they’ve caused of late, for the first time I thought of them as monoliths, smack in the middle of my life.
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Thirty-Three