I suppose I liked the look of him: the black leather pimp jacket worn ragged at the cuffs, "Cadillac" emblazoned on a dirty baseball cap pulled down over his greasy hair, and the flash of silver on his fingers, at his throat. But it was his face that made me angry then, and makes me angry still. If you were standing on the spine of a steep roof and someone suddenly pushed you from behind, don't you think you'd have time during your long slide down to feel fury as well as fear?
In fact, let's call him just that: Fury. A better pseudonym for my beloved I can't imagine, unless I fuse together some pidgin-Latin like a paleontologist naming a dinosaur that they discovered. "On your left you'll see a terrifyingly lifelike diorama of the dreaded Charismasaurus, whose Irish eyes were thought to pierce cleanly through the toughest hide across any crowded bar. We've arranged him here in thrilling combat with his usual victim, the Besottedtops. We can see by her submissive posture that he will likely be the victor in this encounter. Also, her entrails drip from his fingers."
"What are you doing with Fury's picture on your fridge?" my friend Shuck asked, casually opening the door and glancing possessively inside. "I haven't had a dime for days, so unless you're hankering for a box of baking soda, I suggest you shut the door," I snapped, trying to buy time while my brains scrambled around shrieking in my skull. You mean to tell me that Shuck actually KNEW this two-dimensional Caravaggio demon whose itsy-bitsy eye dots had seemed to follow me around the apartment ever since I stuck him up? Sure, Shuck was a grip or a gaffer (I never learned to tell them apart), so he did work on movies, but it seemed unreasonable to imagine that this mere mortal in dirty Adidas might lead me to the object of my impossible ardor. "You know that crappy film I've been working on, Feast or Fanzine? Well, he's in it. The wrap party's Saturday and he'll for sure be there." He glanced from Fury's photo to my flushed face. I quickly averted my eyes. "What's your damage? Do you want to meet him or something?" Does the mechanical rabbit dream of the greyhound's mouth?
So now it's Saturday and I'm waiting at the bar. Shall I tell you exactly what I was wearing? Because I'm a woman and I can. Go ahead, ask your mother what she was wearing when she heard that Kennedy had been shot, and you'll most likely hear about three pearl buttons on a pair of white kidskin gloves. Ask your father, and he'll be ahead of the game if he can answer "pants." Women are born with an innate understanding of love's fleeting and elusive nature, and so inevitably become obsessive archivists, folding sweaters into mothballs and pressing flowers into books, as if this busy work can seize the hands of time and hold them still. Orange Florsheim ankle boots, brown boot-cut cords, a blue polyester long-sleeved shirt with white stitching, and a '70s patchwork leather jacket. That's what I will always be wearing while I wait for him to walk into my life.
"Listen, Fury's a strange guy," Shuck murmured, sliding onto the barstool on my right and taking a sip of my drink. "I don't want you to get your hopes up and be disappointed." I looked over at him. "Are you aware of whom you are speaking to?" My voice dripped with dry ice. "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, understand? I'll bet you 20 dollars I leave this bar tonight with Mr. Movie Star's phone number in my pocket." Shuck extended his hand and I took it. His warm palm was still pressed against mine when Fury came through the door.
Before I continue, I have to ask whether or not you've heard this new Pinetop Seven CD, Bringing Home the Last Great Strike. I found it in a towering pile of junk on my editor's desk. Pinetop Seven sound different than anything I've ever heard before. It's not quite country. It's almost gothic. Imagine that you live in Appalachia and your lover falls down a well the night before you are to wed. These are the songs he might sing to lure you to the other side where he waits for you, down in the cold and in the dark. I guess I picked it up because the cover's cool. It's just a picture of a house and two trees, but the house looks haunted somehow, and the trees are bent all crazy in the wind. Inside there's a black-and-white picture of a cemetery during Dia de los Muertos, the holiday in Mexico when all the townspeople gather with candles and candy and gifts in remembrance of the dead, though in this picture here, it looks like mostly women doing all the remembering.
But I'm being evasive. I should return to the moment he walks through the door. Would you believe that I can recall nearly every moment of that evening, our first time together? It's true. And I was going to share all of it with you. But now I feel it might be better to leave the dead undisturbed, don't you agree? For surely he and I are dead to one another after all that's happened. However, I will lay these few small tokens on our grave: His eyes were the exact same shade of blue as mine, an unusual color with flecks of gold. Also, that first night, he came to me in a dream, and I awoke laughing. And this, which I never confessed to him: It wasn't lust I felt, reaching into my pocket at that evening's end, feeling the little piece of paper with his phone number written on it; it was relief. Because, despite the ferocious electrical tempest our souls' collision had created, I really believed I had found the eye in the storm, the one for which I had been longing for a lifetime. The one with whom I would finally rest in peace.