September 12, 2005


He wished he could figure out a way to show people that he wasn’t the cold insensitive bastard they thought. In fact the sadness of life had affected him lately to the point where he didn’t know how much more he could take. The news was all war and flood and crime, all disaster and meanness and stupidity and greed. Then just yesterday he heard a story about the accidental death of a child – no one he knew, the neighbor of a friend in another part of the country – and he had to put his head in his hands – this was in a restaurant full of people in suits lunching – for a full minute, invoking over and over, profanely, one of the names of God.

That afternoon he almost fired one of his employees for a mistake caused by his own faulty instructions. When he realized what he was doing he shouted at the employee to get back to work and stop being a nuisance.

Somehow he got home that evening. “Was it an all right day for you?” his wife asked. He said that it was.

A while later she asked, “Do you want to talk?”

“What do you mean?” he said.

As they got into bed that night she asked again, “Is there anything you wanted to talk about?”

“Not especially,” he said. “Anything you want to, though, I’ll listen.”

His wife began speaking about things of interest to her, and he forced answers up from somewhere, each response preceded by a processing delay, as if he had to keep rolling a stone away from the tomb of his mouth.

But the sound of her voice soothed him, and he huddled against her. He put his arm around her, and soon another part of him took over and he felt masterful and efficient and strong. Bringing her along as if she were the one who needed to be guided to pleasure.

But then at the climax something strange happened. It wasn’t the rocking rampaging explosion he expected from long habit. Instead, at the peak, he hung motionless, arched like a rainbow or a bridge, and with all his nerves ringing he began to moan in loud helpless pulses like bulletins from a foreign land, and when it was all spent and faded he huddled down against her and sank into a second paroxysm, one of tears.

At first he thought he was having a heart attack or something, this trembling all over his skin and through his limbs and into his chest. When he realized it was his soul thawing, he just wanted to lie there feeling it and never go to sleep.