Chapter 10: See all chapters here.
We walked to a courtyard beneath the glowing white cross of Sacre Coeur. Almost everything was closed, with wicker chairs stacked upside down on café tables. We found a bar, with two guitarists playing inside, and sat out front. I ordered whiskey.
It had been poetry, the walk up those steep hills to the bar. Poetry because it was easy, because I could see the streets, and lamps, and the black starless sky without any looking back for the others behind me. Yes, pretty girls, all of them. But Merry, there, was my purpose. No better way to put it.
Poetry because, simply, what else would you call a thing, a feeling, a wordless passage from a cruel world to a shining, intense and beautiful one, the explosions, gastrointestinal, spreading through your blood from your stomach like cocaine. What else to call Merry and me but a poem?
“I don’t think I can handle Paris much longer,” she said.
“But where will you go?”
My head spun and I traced Merry’s ceramic face in the moonlit terrace with my eyes. My hands were cold and occupied with cigarette and drink.
She shook her head.
“Wherever the hell that is. Back to New York. Maybe. Or somewhere new. Maybe back to Seattle, see my mom.”
I grabbed her hand.
“I mean. Why leave? This is your dream. Stay.”
“Not anymore,” she said, smiling weakly. “Anyway, I’m tired of dreaming.”
After leaving, we strolled through Rue St. Vincent, that serpentine Roman sanctuary, where I saw a couple kissing against the mossy ancient wall of the cemetery, and later?—?according to the newspapers?—the girl would be found dead, raped and left in a pool of blood on the same street.
When we made it to Merry’s place on Boursault, Angela wasn’t home. After fifteen minutes of calling, Angela answered her phone. Everything was fine. She’d met up with someone. That’s all. She’d be home in a bit.
“That girl is a maniac,” said Merry, and she came over and sat on the bed next to me.
“She’s a maniac,” I said.
I repeated Merry’s words thinking of the girl with black eyes pushing her red lips onto me in the smoking room. I wiped my lips, sure there was nothing, but wiped them anyway. I saw Angela dancing in my mind. But then, on the bed, I saw Merry.
“Don’t go,” I told her.
Meredith looked at me with pity.
“Sorry. It’s just?—?I’ve never felt so crazy for anyone.”
I have spent nearly ten thousand words fighting an urge to break the straight path in which I told you this story. The path that wouldn’t, under any circumstance, include a direct address from me, the writer, to you. The path that would never use those three little asterisks to skip around. It’s too lazy. You are only breaking because you don’t have the patience to do it right. For once, Jack, do it right. Tell this thing with skill. But a few chapters ago, with the French Man rubbing the girl on the beach?—?that evil thing, with the lips, the cunt of my ruination ?—?I strayed from that path, I showed you something which I could have left to the subtleties, in the background. And then the whole thing went to shit. Each word since has come out wrong, and I’m tired of being led by all the wrong words and all the bullshit. I just want to tell you what happened. I just want to get it out.
I’ve been here, back in Buenos Aires, trying to pick it all up. Trying, trying to figure out how the fuck everything went so wrong, how the fuck I am who I am, and did what I did. That’s why I started to write about the whole thing. But as the days went on, and nothing inside me changed, nothing around me either, it’s gotten harder and harder to do. So I’m giving up on the straight line bullshit.
This is the fifth time I’ve written this chapter. And every time it ends up on the floor with all the others. You know what I mean: crumpled papers. The reason’s simple. I am trying to write about my desires as if they were interesting. But it’s all so stupid. I don’t even care for them?—?why should you?
All I can say for sure is that I am filth. I’ve been fucking, masturbating, doing drugs, sleeping in, crying at night when I think of her. Which one? What does it matter. Not making any money. Not doing a damn thing except wake up, watch TV, and despite my desperate promise to myself the night before, made with the breath of wine and cigarette, take a cab down to Microcentro, buzz the little brass button which is so well worn at that old colonial mansion, walk up those dirty marble steps, and choose from a line up of girls, who let you do what you want to them, for a $5 tip. I haven’t been writing. There is nothing to write about. So there was Merry on the bed. And then, you know what happened? We fucked. Obviously. And you know what else, gather ‘round, for a few seconds, it was as if everything between us ceased to exist. And for few seconds, I lost my hard on, thinking about The Other and her tits, which I so loved. But I breathed in deep, and looked her?—?Merry?—? in the eyes, you know?
This one. I told myself. Be with this one right here.
So I gave her everything I had to give. I placed my mouth on her sex and felt her hands pull my hair. I put two fingers into her and felt the ridges and rubber lips deep down. I watched as her body quaked and I thought: you are being a man. Give, give, don’t take.
And when she’d collapsed, for a moment I thought I would leave it at that. But I couldn’t. And so I slammed my limp self against her, between her open thighs, over and over again, selfishly, waiting to again be ready, and then, feeling as if I had given her enough, I took, and I fucked her, and we finished, both, in arms, comfortably, and I felt like a man who had paid his bills. Nothing wrong.
I am on my fith glass of wine. These are the first words I’ve written since last week, when I finally saw The Other, Sofia, that brown-eyed princess who has occupied so many lines of the above story in that god awful italicized monolgue bullshit. And let me tell you about it …
“You poor baby,” the lips said. “You were grinding your teeth.”
I opened my eyes, and in the dark, there she was. Angela.
She placed her hand on my jaw. Meredith was asleep, her back toward us. I considered pretending I was asleep. I considered turning away. But I could see those lips floating in black space, and thought: Look at her. Maybe just a little bit, and then back to sleep. I shuffled closer to Angela and placed a hand on her waist. I could feel the girl above the bone, the fat above the muscle, the warm oily skin, the fabric of her dress.
It was a matter of pulling in close, without disturbing the mattress or the sister behind me. It was a matter of kissing her?—?the sound of lips separating in the dark room thunderous?—?and waiting for the stirring, and it never coming, so continuing. It was a matter of waist, and lips, and hand, and guiding her through the steps, and she guiding me. Ever so gently and secretly so that every motion was with a held breath and every touch counted. And just enough moonlight to see the parts that mattered. Her dress, the shoulder pulled down and over, exposing her breast. Her neck and the double violent neck bones, shaded like enormous bridges leading to her arrowhead jaw. Meredith moved a few times and each time we waited. We listened to the soft moan of the sleeping girl, of a little cough, just close enough to waking that each time it made it even harder to begin again. But Angela would begin again. Her hand straying down now. Past stomach, below boxers. Me, ready, giving her the piece to hold, and to feel an explosion reverberate, an instant satisfaction, with the slightest grip. Falling from a thousand feet, dissolving like soda into the blood, it was too much to continue that way.
“Not here?—?“ She stared at me through the darkness, with the loose smile of a devil. Behind me Meredith stirred gently, a sweet sound from the back of her throat. Angela said: “Follow me,” whispering into my ear. Carefully, she left from the foot of the bed, then walked over to the door. She waved me over. I got up, too, making sure I didn’t touch Meredith. I got to the door and Angela slid it open. There was no light on in the hallway and none poured it, but I looked back just in case and, in the moon light, I was sure I saw Meredith close her eyes and flinch her head just as Angela pulled my hand and took me into the dark hall.
“I think she’s awake,” I said.
“Hush baby. She’s fast asleep.”
Angela guided me down the hall to the bathroom and we stopped outside its door. The first time, I noticed she was wearing a silk dress?—?which she wasn’t wearing at the bar. I didn’t ask about it though, because my mouth was on her neck, and her hands were hungrily searching my body. And mine hers too, grappling her against the wall, searching her hips, the bones of her neck, the ass.
… we met in a little café outside her parents home, an hour or two out of town. And she looked perfect. Jesus, I cried, and I begged for forgiveness, and I tried, and I tried to get that thing back that had so definitely been lost.
“I think of you every day.”
“What do you want me to say,” she said.
Anything. Anything, but that.
I walked away, feeling thin. Feeling broken. Feeling lost. I wandered in the smouldering, dangerous city, a Paris of the South, back to my empty apartment, a jail-sized hole above a butchery, in the barrio San Telmo, where rich men used to brandish sabers and moustaches, Latin Kings, and now: hippies, dog shit, rusted Peugots, cheap wine, Indians in soccer jerseys and fake diamond earrings, riding on donkey-drawn carts, pillaging for cardboard, mustard gas pluming from the gutters, a purple flame burning in the distance with ashen clouds, clowns caked with white makeup begging for change, their noses red and bulbous, hookers retching, hiding their cocks between their legs, everyone out to steal from you. Every cab driver a liar. Every group of children a clan of thieves, with the innocence to murder. The sky is falling in acid pellets, leaving fist sized holes as they smash into the asphalt. The collectivos, crazily decorated busses, spewing their black lungs, and inside, full, always full and no where to sit. Hell on earth as I rode back home, thinking only of what I should have said to her. What I could have done, to make her take me back.
All here without Merry. Without Angie. Without Jane. Without money. Without future. Without patience. Without care. Witout words. Without, without.
“Fuck me,” she said.
Lips bigger than fingers. Plush and pink like tropical fruit. Eye balls like plutos, icy and tremendous. Blacker than oil.
So Angela and me, there in the bathroom, with our heads spinning, with all the whiskey, with the thoughts of Merry’s ass, covered in me after I had finished, the sudden urge to flee the bathroom and go back to sleeping Jane, stilted, stopped dead by Angela’s black dress being pulled off, her finger, her choking, her dirty begging, and so I placed her on the sink, and she looked at me, and I looked at her, her body shaking beneath mine, and she looked as if she was watching the whole world come undone, and she was the Bondian villain pulling the trigger.