Friday, June 08, 2012

The Enterprise - 39

I was beside myself, what to do with Melissa. All I could imagine was her disappearing. And me grasping at the space where she had been. She’d been a little quiet lately. What was up? I made mental lists of things to say to her. Little jokes to make. As though to appease some insatiable beast.

Still, our relationship persisted. I shuffled fearfully to her apartment every couple of days, convinced she’d send me right back home. Instead, we’d order out. Watch some old movie. Fuck. Wake up and brush our teeth and that was that.

I began to make a tally of the good days and the bad. I took her out to dinner for her birthday. That was good. I got her drunk enough so she forgot my apprehension.

We planned a vacation. A trip out west. A visit to a friend of mine and to a friend of hers. Hotels, wineries, a drive up the coast. Carmel and Monterey. Some camping. I hated camping. I would have done anything she said.

There appeared a warning light on the dashboard of our rental car and I called the 800 number that was provided in our pamphlet of materials. Ignore it, they said. There’s no problem with the car. There’s a problem with the warning.

The first few days were fine. She liked to get high. As long as we were smoking pot together, everything was all right. That’s what I thought. We sat on the windowsill of a motel room in Santa Monica, blowing smoke into the shaft. Little sparks flew up into the darkness.

The night before it was all over we were staying at an extremely expensive inn overlooking the rocky Pacific shore in Big Sur. We got high on our patio. I sucked each papery hit deeply and held it in as long as I could, drawing every last bit of intoxicating smoke into my lungs in little bursts, trying not to cough. Then we walked the path to the restaurant perched over the foggy cliffs.

We were offered a table facing an angry orange fire; for a moment it seemed lovely and then my hands and knees and face heated intolerably and in my hazy state I felt the thing was ruined and the whole world was sure to end.

"Ask the Maitre d' for another table," said Melissa quite reasonably, so I did, and we were promptly seated at a table by the picture window looking out to sea.

We ordered white wine and oysters and California caviar and when it came we set the oysters between us and slipped them off the shells into our mouths, and everything was fine as gray turned to black outside, and far below us the foamy surf that beat upon the shore receded into darkness too.

Suddenly there was a man standing behind her, his nose to the window. He had wound his way around nearby tables and chairs and appeared to be examining the glass with intense curiosity. His fingers walked upon the surface and its ghostly, gold reflections of faces and hunched bodies, chairs, tables, plates and softly glowing candles. He probed it timidly, hesitantly, like an explorer who has discovered a new world far more mysterious and wonderful and terrifying than he could ever have imagined.

"Sir?" said Melissa.

After a beat more puzzled fumbling he broke out of his trance.

"Oh! I… I thought that was another room!" he said, and pivoted back among the real things from whence he came.

As we watched the lost man and debated the meaning of his behavior—was it some kind of joke? Was he very drunk? Senile?—I became convinced I wasn’t me.

We drank more in the restaurant, got the check, wandered through the parking lot and smoked some more. We tried to break in to the swimming pool, the fancy one that’s in the pictures in the travel magazines. Someone with a flashlight saw us and yelled something. So we went back to our room, drank some more. Fucked in the tub. When I awoke in the morning she was not beside me and I knew right then it was over. It wasn’t my own thoughts that told me. It wasn’t my own voice. It came from outside of me. It had the authority of the other. It’s over. I knew there was nothing I could do. And like an idiot I still tried.