Chapter 14 – Monday

January 11th, 2011 § 0 comments

At the first sign of light, a pink and yellow lightening of the ceiling, Felix’s eyes snapped open like rubber gloves. Sleep done before it had even started. He felt like he had been thrown suddenly out of a painless place and into a harsh, discordant one and lay there in disbelief that it was all starting again, and so soon. Unable to go forward or fully return he observed half formed thoughts clash as if in an empty arena. The lights brightened. He watched them till they were too bright to look at directly. A sweet smelling breeze swept the room, as if through open windows with white curtains, Alpine Day, or Mediterranean Mural. Veronica awakened without stirring. She stretched out her arms, yawned like a cat and threw off the light, lavender blanket. She sat up, gazed down at him with a warm smile and touched his chest.

“Don’t you have to get up? You’ll have to rush.” She swung out of bed and stretched again. He grunted. She breathed deeply and walked around the room. “That was just,” she paused and exhaled.

“Will you make coffee for me too?”

“Anything to eat?”

He gagged. “No.”

She smiled and sat down next to him on the futon. He smelled her. She had a strong odor, very enticing but not normal. It wasn’t perfume exactly, it wasn’t sweat, maybe something in between. But he couldn’t respond to it, the martinis were stale on his breath and most of his thoughts were taken up by the next move. She felt around in the blanket and took him in her hand. “I wish you could just stay here. We could fuck, go back to sleep, spend the day in the park.”

His bladder ached. “It’s a piss hard on,” he croaked. She dropped his cock and stood, pulling the white silk sleeveless gown over her head. Felix looked up at her. She seemed to tower over him. In the bright light her skin smouldered like a jar of honey in the sun. It was almost like rubber, firm and lustrous. Her buttocks swelled out and her breasts were full, as if she were lactating. She wasn’t any hairier than before but the hair she did have was glossy and thick and stood up off her body, under her arms, in a line down from her navel to her pubic hair. She had become an alien beauty. He felt small and dirty, weak and hung over. Even his unhappiness felt petty.

“How did you sleep,” Felix asked, finally, knowing the answer already. But it was a custom with them to ask and he wanted to get on with it.

“Marvelous,” she warbled.

“I wish I knew what that meant.”

She faced him and stepped into a pair of black cotton briefs, the muscles flexing in her calves and thighs, her breasts swinging down as she bent forward. “I just feel so good in the morning now.” She stood straight. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“Why.” It wasn’t a question even, just a sound he had to make now and again, the human form of echolocation.

“It’s just that you might feel bad, that I spend my nights walking through paradise.”

Jealousy. Was that it then? He could feel it, so could she. There was no way to hide. They heard each other’s thoughts. She put on a black bra and buttoned up a peach blouse, open at the neck, with loose sleeves. “I don’t mind hearing about the dreams.” He swung out of bed and rubbed his scalp. “It’s when you act like those dreams of yours are real.”

“I wish you didn’t get so mad about it.”

“Who’s mad?” he half shouted, and then, feeling ridiculous, glared at her to let her know that it was her fault they were fighting.

“That’s o.k. I understand. I would be mad too.”

He gripped the sides of his head and sort of silently screamed. “And then you are so even tempered all the time. It’s that goddamn drug, and that goddamn place. I don’t have you anymore. You’ve become something else.”

She sat by him. “It’s been hard, I know. I’ve put you through a lot. I’ve put myself through a lot too. But this is who I am, who I’ve always been.”

He shook his head. “That’s not it. Something’s not right with us. I slog away at that BioWatch WorkStation while you moon about. You’re like a lotus-eater. And we’ve got no money.”

“I’m looking for work,” she said evenly.

“Every day you say that.”

“Do you want me to work in a bar?” She stood and stepped into a simple obsidian miniskirt and went out the door. Naked, Felix followed her up the stairs and into the living room.

“No, not at a bar. Anywhere. What you do–I want us to be happy.”

“By drinking yourself into a stupor every night of the week? When did we last even eat a meal together?”

Felix grumbled. “I’m tense by evening. I’m trying to adjust.”

She ran boiling water out of the faucet into a glass bowl full of coffee grounds, which she stirred briefly but vigorously with a glass rod. “I think we should change our lives.”

“I’d like to have our old life back,” he answered, facing her close, in the doorway. She put slices of white bread in the toaster.

“Look at this place,” she said. “We’re like rats in a hole.”

“This,” he declared indignantly, counting off each point with a finger, “is a great apartment. We’ve got total climate control, dawn to dusk natural lighting, photosynthetic air and water filters, easy access to mass transit. People swelter away in storm prone boxes, little composite huts! In foul suburbs, near methane plants and fusion reactors, literally dying to get into one of these, which they’ll never do, even if they save all their lives. Be real.” He stared at her. Her composure was sound, she was relaxed, listening to what he said, sort of, but she seemed to be drifting off. “You’re there right now, aren’t you? Thinking about that place, fantasizing as we speak.”

“We can change, Felix.”

He retreated to the living room and sat on the couch. She poured coffee into two glass mugs and handed him one. They sat together on the couch a moment in silence and then he put his cup down on the coffee table and stood. “I have to get ready.”

Pud, he thought, gazing down at his penis in the shower. It was a depressing thought, a heavy, shapeless word dropping through his mind and landing on a soft dark contour with a dull thud. Felix soaped his dead member, dead in its little nest of hair, like a fledgling bird. He soaped up his nearly hairless armpits. He washed out the crack of his ass. He cleaned between his toes. The water felt good. It was hot. It smelled like vaporized perfume. The billows of steam and water contained him in a totality he otherwise lacked. It blurred the lights into amber and lavender clouds and it blurred his thoughts till the worst they could manage was the monosyllabic pud, without alarm, just the slow, depressing realization of the true, the inevitable. Then the shower dissolved even that into prismatic aerosol. He toweled off and dressed in a white shirt, white slacks and an artichoke linen jacket. He selected one of his many maroon ties and knotted it carelessly.

Upstairs they faced each other in the doorway. He felt hungry and tired and when he looked at her he saw that she had somehow grown a little in height and stature. There was a look in her eyes, the spokes flashing like emeralds and sapphires, that could command who ever looked there to do her bidding and yet her expression seemed to renounce this power. It lay all within, beyond intention or control and he realized it was focused entirely on him. It stirred up in him an old thought, I am a lucky man, but luck at that moment lacked the gravitas of pud.

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