Excerpt from my novel in progress….Lover Boy
It is morning, and I am seated on the balcony outside, gazing past the rolling white sand dunes to where lines of surf break down the coast for miles and miles. On the shore nearby, sanderlings scurry hurriedly along, their movements wonderfully synchronized and ballet like. Pitter patter, pitter patter. Stop to probe and eat, then scurry off on their little feet again. We are wonderfully magnificent at times in our self-will, but it seems to me in this moment, mostly clumsy creatures and prone to catastrophe. In comparison.
Farther down the coast, I see a pod of pelicans resting and preening on the shore. The birds had been feasting on mullet just a short while ago. I had watched them dive out beyond the surf with great interest, their wings pinned back, a splash of whitewater with each attack. You expected to hear a report, but nothing. Not a single sound reached you from a mile away.
Every so often, another school of bottlenose dolphins passes by, going north, their nearly black skin arcing out of the sea gracefully and glistening in the morning sun. A group of four tourists have wandered out among the dunes, looking lost. Otherwise, there is not a single soul in sight.
For all this beauty and solitude, my wife would have been miserable. The early haze has yet to burn off entirely and there is nothing to do. As always, she would have been absolutely lost without heat and distractions. For all her beauty and glowing, sun-like spirit at times, if things weren’t right in her world, she became a tyrant. She had made loneliness desirable to me.
Just now I heard the maids rolling their carts down the veranda outside my room. No doubt they want to clean in here but I do not wish to be disturbed. Without a clock, I am lost in time and as much as possible wish to remain that way.
The Japanese couple have started banging about in their room again. I am driven to go over and find out what they’re up to.
I had run into them earlier at breakfast. They went about their meal like two generals mapping out a military invasion. She positioned the butter and jelly over here, like battleships being assigned their place on a war map. He repositioned them over there. She would then reposition them to her liking and snipe at him gently. Back and forth the battleships went.
I presume this served as a release valve between them. Better small skirmishes than all-out war. They definitely had differing ideas on the invasion.
Each time they had noticed me staring at them, they bowed their heads. Twice in succession. I bowed back, once. They were hard to ignore, the two of them, chattering away and turning breakfast into a war college.
Watching them had turned my thoughts back to Adelina. I longed for her milky-white skin, her graceful movements, her introspection. I longed for the devotion she made me feel. Endlessly, in my mind’s eye, I saw her tilt her head and pull her long, wavy hair off to one side, exposing her ear. Oh, to kiss that ear, to kiss them both. I could have done so for all eternity.
Lying in bed late last night, still tangled there Gulliver like in the threads of my unsettling dream, I had experienced a sudden revelation. Something in Barbara’s beauty had returned me to oneness. In my adoration of her beauty, I had transcended the duality of existence. Two became one. Her milky-white skin and ears were my talismans to God’s love-song of creation. In her bosom, I would be like a string vibrating with complete harmony in the fabric of space and time.
No sooner had I thought this than the horror of a recent episode came back to haunt me. Good god. The lying and cheating.
In the last few weeks before my wife’s departure, I had begun to troll the internet for other women. We were already sleeping in separate beds so what the hell. Anyway, there is no loneliness like being imprisoned in the same house with a person who no longer loves you.
“Esposo?!” she had called out one evening from the top of the stairs.
“Yes?” I had called back.
“What are ju doing?”
Her tentative footsteps started down the stairs. I quickly ditched the website.
“Ay, you are working too much, esposo.”
She went around my office, inspecting things on the bookshelves. Finally she came over to my desk.
“I have my new spin class starting tomorrow.”
“Ay, esposo. Don’t be ugly with me. I need money.”
I nodded. It was the only reason she engaged with me any longer. I had all the responsibilities of a marriage, but none of its benefits. I dug out my money clip and handed her forty dollars.
“Ay, esposo. That is barely enough for the class. I need gas money too.”
I handed her another twenty. We stared at each other. Finally, I pulled out another twenty. That got me a kiss on the forehead and her swift departure.
The minute I heard the door close upstairs, I opened the dating site again.
Having been away from it for two years, I was dully shocked to return and find the same smiling faces staring back at me, habitually so, as if there had never been a bicycle crash, no scraped knees, no tears, as if nothing untoward had ever happened to them, unwavering in their hopes and unflinching in their expectations of romantic success this time around.
So many people I knew had failed at l’amour. So why, given our lack of success, did we go on trying? So little remains the same in this world. Why did we expect love to remain constant? Who said we were supposed to find a perfect soul mate? Probably we have seen one too many movies.
I had this sudden vision of my generation as pilgrims to a lost Mecca, our flags staked in a barren desert. The Foreign Legion of Love.
Romance will be known as our Great War, our D-Day. Our determination to go on trying at this thing called romance will be remembered as our most remarkable achievement. Corpses of our failed romances will litter the beach of lost hopes and dreams, but it will be said that we never gave up trying.