The cure for love was to fuck her as many times it took for “I love you” to be believable. It ended up being three times.
She was left-handed: this bothered him immensely.
He was told one in nine people were evil.
He was told one in nine people were left-handed.
He knew that people with last names that were first names were evil. He could do the math.
Her name was Amy Michelle. She didn’t have a middle name. He checked her license when she was in the bathroom leaving her purse with him the second night they ran into each other at the bar.
He stayed with her, kept on seeing, kept on calling, for no reason he could verbalize or turn to, or make an inane convincing gesture, the way you like a painting or know how to jaywalk at opportune times, near dusk to boot. He had been with her for eight years, two-hundred and seventy four days, and the moment he looked at her, a moment that people (homosapiens) call now – the present – the moment you are reading this, when the something, the crux, the center, of everything we’re talking about happened, or started to happen, they were clocked at twenty-two hours, thirty five minutes and twelve seconds.
He wanted to play football, but he hurt his knee in a JUCO program, and he didn’t have the discipline to rehabilitate, but he was extremely proficient at snorting all sorts of things (who isn’t with practice?) so he kept on doing that until it became a business strategy, a valid way to fill his pockets. Three days before he met Amy Michelle, when his standards meant something different, when he could still unwrap cheeseburgers on wax paper made clear with grease, when he could ride in the trunks of cars when the car was full up, when he thought a dessert was two Frostee’s and a cigarette in the cab of his truck, his old girlfriend, who should have been his fiance, who should have been his wife, who could have been his best-friend: dumped him (a logistically sound move) like rotten fruit in a slum alley. She floated into the equation seamlessly, a plug-in spot like every running back who has ever played, an upgrade really (she didn’t like fast-food or cigarettes) she was never dominant but never mediocre, essentially good, but not worth writing home about or interjecting into conversation through the glass wall with Daddy, not worth getting into during the collect calls from Mother. She was an object, and a serviceable one at that. She was merely a different face. He had to make a mnemonic to remember how to spell her name.
She (the old girlfriend) used to say that whisky would never cure him.
He spent the next imaginable end of his life proving her wrong. He worked harder than he ever worked in her entire life. He looked at his shitty surroundings (there was no other way to describe it – he was adult enough to admit this to his conscious) and made a proactive decision to not ever trust his instincts again, as they had not done him favors, and a wise person said there are two types of beings – those who give and those who take – and his instincts had taken him for a run. His body was literally using his mind.
He found a bar after the old girlfriend (he forgets her name too, but he hasn’t cared to configure a working memory) left on a Wednesday night, after an argument augmented by the losing end of a division playoff game and he fucked the first girl he was attracted to that even suggested reciprocity, using the stirring opening line of “even though it is Wednesday it sure feels like Friday to me” and found himself hungover in a strange bed, in a nice part of town with blood at the bottom of his shirt, an empty pack of smokes, and a note with a phone number stapled onto his jeans. He asked for directions from a man walking in a suit (unheard of in his neighborhood, it would be like Christ himself walking down the street using racial epithet and giving the crowd a middle-finger salute while endorsing Pepsi, though he wouldn’t think of this comparison) in order to get back to Charlestown. He fucked her two more times (once, awkwardly, in the cab of his truck) before the words slipped past his pursed lips: that first feigned sincerity of an “I love you” from the stomach that hooks and anchors all at once. She loved to hear it and silently believed in her own calculating upper-class way that it could be a solid foundation, she had money, she could live on words of love, she had a gas card, and though she could live without the money too (or thought she could with the naive confidence of Nordstrom’s card holders,) and so he agreed and nodded in that inarticulately odd way, and found himself talking to his own mind, commanding an apposite character at parties for dinners and long car rides with company to and from the airport, found himself dealing with the death of loss, the slow chamber he found himself sitting in, calling himself a magician of all things, found himself harnessing the eternal energy of archetypes to extend beyond a conventional horizon, by its own horizon, by saying inside himself (without using these words) that lust was love, that dating was a relation, that a partnership was a marriage (and attesting to it in a bonding, legal document with no prenuptial agreement) that saying a love-child was a baby, that this cold inadmissible finding that his years of decision were really stretched out into one week of really shitty decision making and exaggerations of perception, piled up and contorted like a grounded map shown by three historians shaking their heads in dismay, that time wasn’t actually time, but something in your head, and that his creaking smile could shutter the heavy water, that toothless, flat failure of ground. He performed a hysterectomy on his own memory. He became a translator of reality: he told stories to his stories.
She had enough money for them to both work but live three magnitudes beyond their income bracket and make sure Dondale (an amazing name) would stay in private school for an indefinite period, beyond an imaginable end. They were steps above steps and no form or document knew their worlds – his only problem lost all form and names, he was carelessly carefree – he had forgotten it all. He had a new mind, one reset, recalibrated to present conditions. It was actually pretty easy. It was one of those things that takes practice.
Then she told him she didn’t love him over a cheeseburger, served on a plate with a plastic container for the ketchup, and a fork and a knife. She said she didn’t love him and never did and couldn’t stay with him – it was killing her inside. She said he was literally a metaphorical saddle though he had trouble visualizing this. He took a deep breath and felt a blank whiteness over everything. This was always there. He did not know it though.
He said “alright.” and grabbed the knife with his left hand.