Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rumors swirl around B ----------, Stepanovich’s wife, like insects drawn to the carbon dioxide that oozes from our skin. These rumors, though, are rarely salacious. I happen to know a thing or two on the subject, but I’ll never tell. I could, however, be persuaded to drop some hints. It doesn’t take much to get me wagging my tongue – a bottle of cheap gin, say, even just a partial bottle. Tickets to see the minor league baseball team. They play in an area of town no one really feels comfortable visiting anymore, at least not since they put cameras on the light poles and they put decoy cameras on some other light poles and you can’t tell which ones are actually taking snapshots of you and which are just there to get you to behave yourself even when you don’t have to. Once, B -------- and I were sitting by ourselves in an abandoned horse cab – the old throwback buggies that ply certain parts of downtown in hopes the tourists will give their operators more money than they deserve to take them once or twice around the block. She was fiddling with the snaps on the front of my clothes as if she had never seen snaps before and wanted to figure out for herself how they worked. The moon was barely discernible in the sky and the traffic was making its peculiar noise on the ramp overhead, but we were unobserved and unobservable in the horse cab abandoned at the end of an otherwise deserted street. I liked the way B--------‘s breasts moved around visibly inside her black shirt and when she would catch me glancing at them she would let out a laugh that sounded very like a piece of machinery grinding its gears or, later, after we loosed all parts of our bodies onto one another like debris – fence posts and ripped tarpaulins and blocks of Styrofoam -- riding the swell of simultaneous floods, her laugh simmered for a while and dissipated on the breeze while I was trying to imagine why I might have done such a thing to Stepanovich. I felt guilty, even though he and I really weren’t all that close to begin with. I mean, I wasn’t entirely sure what his first name was or if he had a first name. I had never heard anyone refer to him as anything other than Stepanovich, and there were some people that never referred to him by name at all but just held a closed fist up in front of their faces in order, I suppose, to imitate his nose which was misshapen, to be sure, but not overly large or imposing and certainly not the sort of thing one could expect to be known for when there are so many other things one could be known for. Like generosity. Or a tendency to reduce absolutely everything that happens -- and many things that don’t -- to an axiom originally gleaned from college trigonometry class.                

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