Judith’s sex appeal skyrocketed the moment I, as a teenager, became aware of women. She carried herself apparently heedless of the temperature boost she induced in her surroundings. I followed her, blindsided by her ability to see how different reality might as well be, wherever she asked me to go. One could say her tits sprang up, making the landscape around me, which thus far had been hibernating, slowly begin to bloom. Who would have wanted to go through the effort of staying up to speed with the fast and furious parade of raising cars when all the meaningful action was happening so close to one’s belly, right between her eyes and . . . ? Well, I guess all tempting things in this world come in pairs.
I was determined to make her mine. And I religiously did all I was supposed to in order to fit in her frame. But she was untameable. She would not let herself fall for conventions, and when John came along, so sparklingly new and inconveniently preposterous, she was doomed to try and seize him. At the beginning, he was just some regular guy with painting skills. Nonetheless, he was soon brushing his way down toward her, drawing deprecatory heart-shaped statements with entitlement. I didn’t want to warn her before she could catch a glimpse of his true nature for herself so that she couldn’t accuse me of seeking to further a hidden agenda of sorts. “Presumptuous pricks come to light in good time,” I convinced myself and played along with his hideous and always punctual smile. But what I didn’t expect was that tragedy would visit us all.
We had met at the movie theater to watch a sci-fi flick together and were discussing the precise whereabouts of the apocalyptic future the harbinger of destiny had just screened for us while headed somewhere to grab a bite and satisfy our more pedestrian appetites when John collapsed, suddenly hit by some kind of heat stroke and banging his head on the ground.
“Dropped dead,” I thought. “Clean sweep.”
I wouldn’t be the one to damn the stars for their dramatic moves. No, I would have been left with two brave and dry shoulders to provide. But I should have known better than to trust the mischievous firmament. His endgame was far from close. John came out of the hospital muttering the code of fairyland, its precepts the size and consistency of fists. The window of opportunity to win her over was named pity, no confusion there, and the crystal-clear picture he had in mind to go crawling to her graceful feet involved nothing but unchallengeable blue, blue skies. However, the shackles of his sententious blabber did not allow him to blithely cluster his morphological chunk to properly articulate ambiguity. His lexical bricks were cut to only mount their reliable cousins, who they had never really let out of sight. One and only one hook had been bestowed upon his semantic bits in their eligible and amputated state to cling to the descriptive building that embraced the exogenous mess, and it was constantly on the lookout for the humongous ticking crocodile to become complete. It had feasted on their source and signature, controlling their time. No kidding, he just had a lot of fun drawing up straight rows and ranking them in order. The linguistically unexplored jungle out there, beyond his cage, baffled and scared him shitless at the same time. I tried to throw him off his rhetorical balance now and then by hurling some wry remarks his way, but he excelled at the art of looking retarded, oblivious to the possibility of concealing intentions.
Once I realized the extent to which he strategically wielded his blunt perception, I talked to her as the fellow garrulous individual I had grown to be, pointing her toward the undeniable conclusion of him being stuck in the contemporaneity of his shiny steel words, because it seemed he would not get past the ready-made and sealed resolutions concerning their affiliation preferences. He would not chew and swallow them, regurgitate them with the input of his ancient guts, which would then feasibly be able to tell him to own his flow and aim for other, less stiff approaches to untangle the mystery behind the capricious fog. In short, he didn’t seem willing to forget her and avoid me. Conspicuously, there is this species that doesn’t fathom its own redundancy until it gets the message tattooed on its skin.
In this particular case, they were labeled the “eclipsed.” John, like the rest of them, was positive of his immortality. What he had yet to figure out was that I, as an indubitable mortal soul, couldn’t afford to squander my opportunity to conquer her regarding his tenacity of purpose. She, for some inexplicable reason, let him do—come and go—grinding up her epic taste for resistance with wildly allotted flowers and maudlin pick-up lines. She even seemed to fancy the contrast between his yawning outspokenness and his sputtering discernment. Overnight, my company was no longer required. Hence, I stayed home, poring through my crosswords for the clue where she had left me stranded.
What I had reckoned to be two mutually exclusive watches: one extremely digital, the other rather analogue, were suddenly making each other tick. And I was out of the loop, having been thrown out of the ball. Still not eager to fully concede, I taped John’s behavior under her spell when they weren’t paying attention to my presence. Perhaps I did it to catch him let slip some unforgivable allegation directly consequent to the narrowly cut bow with which he presumed to wrap the voluptuousness of God’s peach-crammed garden. Indeed, he finally betrayed himself but with the unexpected.
“Humor me,” he might as well have said when he said, “Let’s return home.”
To the best of my knowledge and judging by her delighted countenance, they hadn’t agreed on a common nesting ground yet. I then saw it more distinctively than ever. He would never grant her a chance to defy him, nor even consent to her righteous claim on hesitation. However, to maintain control, he would have to show his true colors, the carefully concealed hues on the palette that I hoped would jeopardize the precarious stability of their blissfully deaf bond. He was probably very proud of himself for having been able to bend her will to honor the manner in which the world was meant to be seen by enclosing her lavish perspective within his depthless canvas. But I had my indelible proof of his denied wittiness and could easily go peek at what the rest of the oxymoron-allergic morons, better called “eclipsed” gangsters, had to share about one of their own gone rogue. Because they weren’t the most tolerant people, you see. You either belonged with them or had to respect them, for they had suffered a great deal while being deprived of the ability to let go. They had been derided for their drive to find the designated meaning to their human tribulations and to the conclusive evidence of them not being the ones monitoring the proclamatory spikes their mouths ejected.
I did it for her—so that she could have a go at living on her own terms. Yet the moment my interference was done and dusted, I, ironically enough, started to spot his actual down-to-earth stupidity and realized his genuine intent to expand and further slice his linguistic boundaries in order to make room for her in his rigid conceptualization of outer space, so she could be the undetermined kind of friend that may give their not previously but jointly determined future a shot. I called to tip her off as to where my jealousy might have led. But it was definitely too late by the time I made the call. John was shot the next morning on his way to work. Shot as in dropped dead—dirty as hell—right after he had lost his hope of achieving immortality and gained access to a life shared with her.
To John, from whom I inherited the language that only allows me to live in order to remember.