The unsolicited clatter of voices, the undistinguishable vices, the bruising behind the eyes. A man growing old in a stranger’s bed. She’s still asleep, and her hair is molded to the pillow, random strands reaching my shoulder, a delicate swatch as soft as candlelight. I feel the firmness of her hip against mine, clean young flesh upon mottled old flesh, flesh like weatherworn leather.
A pretty woman with silk black hair and Polynesian eyes. And dimples. Jesus Christ, are they still a thing? Or were they carefully carved from a gifted surgeon? And does it matter? This is another one-night. She’s too spirited and clever, and I’m too me. Exploring is nice, but territories would need to be established, borders constantly realigned, battle flags stitched together in separate guest rooms.
“That’s your answer, your problem, and your philosophy, David,” Saul once said. “Does it matter? As a matter of fact, no, it doesn’t matter what wine goes with what piece of bread. I’d recommend the Brioche, but that’s just me. You need to make a choice, a decision, and stick with it. Set up your campground and hoist a flag. Park a couple of Dobermans around the perimeter. Does it matter? Yes, sometimes it does. Figure it out, you dink.”
Saul started as my friend and now he’s my Jiminy Cricket. He’d love that. And I usually listen to him. He’s been married for almost 40 years, walks with a swagger, and carries a glass of scotch in his hand like it’s been grafted there. His voice is rough and thick as a bog, he likes his steaks wounded, not cooked, and he is one – no, scratch that – he is the smartest, most compassionate men I’ve known. Other than my father.
You see that? The indecision? Is he or isn’t he? He is the second most, blah blah blah. What does it–.
And I catch myself, trapped in this torpid philosophy.
I can barely read the clock just beyond the silhouette of my one-night companion. Four: fourteen. My feet are crawling with a need to run. Write a note in the bathroom and leave it beside the clock. Same old David, how many times… how many drunken times… has that performance been played out? Though the note is a relatively new twist. Not to be a complete asshole, but I had to leave. Signed, D.
Saul hates that. He hates that about me, and I hate that about me, too. It’s a compulsion. I need that reassurance, that sealing wax to the ego that I’m something other than a photographer, a painter. Is it all about the appetite? Yes. No. It’s about wanting to be noticed standing there on the hill, more important than a bumbling, staggering idiot, tumbling, tumbling, falling into her arms.
Good God, I need to get out of here.