Sunday, September 26, 2010

Looking left at a certain point in the middle of a traffic jam to the George Washington Bridge on the Garden State: the number 1471 painted on a Jersey barrier, a little pile of trash.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There's renovation going on at the building where I work, up on the seventeenth floor. The hallway's covered with a patchwork of thick cardboard jointed by duct tape; the walls papered halfway up with what looks like butcher paper.

It's unclear what's being done.

On the way out last night I passed two workers near an open door to nothing: some shadowy and dusty space, indistinct, its purpose utterly obscure. The threshold was strewn with mechanical junk - casings, coils, joints - forming a vague trail to a bewildering machine, mounted on stilts, steel-forged, inert.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oil & Hay - 12

I had the impression of awaking psychically, a fraction of a second before the phone sounded. I knew I'd likely been roused by a phantom first ring, unconsciously perceived, but it was tempting to imagine that I hadn't. Anything was possible.


"Darling, I know it's late for you. I only have a few minutes."

"Where are you? Los Angeles?"

"Los Angeles. Hollywood."

"When on earth can you get away?"

A breeze blew the diaphanous curtains from the window. The wall across the way glowed amber in the lamplight.

"I'm not sure, Mal. Life wants me tomorrow."

"What for?"

"Interview. Photo shoot. The song and dance."

"I'm testing in Rouen tomorrow," I said dully.

"Maybe I can get away next week. Will you have time?"

"I shall make the time. We'll go somewhere. Meet somewhere. We'll see each other."

"That sounds nice."

"We'll suss it out, Mel. Good luck w—"

"I have something to tell you, Mal."

A spasm of fear seized my heart. In a flash I understood it all: She no longer wanted me. She had another man.


"I'm pregnant."

Monday, September 20, 2010

A man stumbled aboard the train the other day straight from another era, or maybe the movies. Fedora perched carelessly on the back of his balding head. Too-tight jacket splayed to reveal sweat stains creeping from his pits. Tie loosened a good three inches. His flush face indicated he was drunk. He panted and peered around like a spooked dog. In his right hand he clutched his briefcase, in his left a disheveled section of The Times. He was the harried traveling salesman type, circa 1963. A Willy Loman, caught forever out of time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A small child was in our home recently, pushing every button in sight, seizing objects and testing their integrity. She dislodged a previously unnoticed panel on the stereo's remote control, revealing a mysterious, second keypad with numbers and obscure controls: the remote within the remote.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oil & Hay - 11

On Monday I drove the thousand kilometres to Paris in the pouring rain. My hangover didn't lift until I reached Lyon, but when it did I was plunged into a honeyed realm of ecstasy and nearly cried. Still it rained.

When I pulled up in front of 48 Rue de Grenelle I half expected to find her waiting in her soaking pea coat, blond hair matted to her brow. But she wasn't.

Upstairs I mixed a gin and tonic and leafed through my little black book to the page of her ever-changing numbers. The only one not crossed out was for the Hotel Pierre in New York City.

"I'm sorry, sir. Miss Welles has checked out," said the clerk. "She did leave a message for you in the event that you called."


"And it reads as follows: Had to fly back to Los Angeles. Publicity for the record. Will call you in Paris."

"Is that all?"



"Her salutation, sir."



I hung up, walked out on the balcony, and lit a cigarette. I gazed out at the intersection, at Boulevard Raspail divided by its treed median. I thought about Mel. Her night terrors, her love of Calder. Her advocacy on behalf of prisoners of conscience. Her past lives. She believed she'd been an emperor's taster in an ancient Chinese court.

"Which emperor?" I had asked her then, chidingly.

"Xian, the last emperor of the Han dynasty. He didn't see the writing on the wall. Also, his diet was overly rich in salt. I adored him though."

Her certitude startled me.

"Were you his concubine as well?"

"I was a male eunuch, Mal."

I remembered another thing she said that night at the party in St. Moritz.

"There's a new world coming. Don't you know that?"

"What in heaven's name do you mean?"

"It's about to be born. Can you feel it?"

"Where is this new world you speak of?" I asked, a bit pompously I fear, as if to say: This world you see is all there is, my dear.

"Not where, what. And when."

"So what? When?"

"We're evolving. We're casting off the old ideas. Sure, it might be rough at first. A bloody revolution in the streets. But the time has come. Are your chakras in order?"

"Beg pardon?"

"Seven energy centers run along your spine."

"Do you know where you are in time and space?" she queried.

"Right here. Right now," I answered. A bit defensively.

"I'm unconvinced, darling. You seem a little fuzzy."

I rattled my ice in mild irritation and smiled a tense little smile. "But I'm not driving, you see. I'm all sorted when I drive."

"You don't have to go around in circles to find yourself."

It struck me that I did. But I kept the thought to myself.

"You should meditate. You should do yoga."

"Will it help me drive faster?"

"It will help you do anything."