Why Is This Here? 4th Installment

They dance slowly at first, some improvised steps, and when the band’s synthesizer is joined by electric guitars and drums they pick up the pace and mostly sway with small steps, they listen for the words Teenage Wasteland and when they hear them they smile knowingly and begin to slow down, they look into each other’s eyesin building anticipation until the climactic exclamation They’re all wasted, their eyes widen and mouths stretch open as the synthesized instrumentation prepares for an extended coda of drums and fiddle, and when they hear the fiddle Martin’s steps pick up and their movement flows onto more of the floor, the whole living room, the fiddle sounds like a gypsy instrument on a barren hillside and Martin’s feet begin a speedy shuffle and father and son get to whirling faster and faster to the increasing tempo until Dervishlike they’re spinning almost without breathingTerrence throws back his head in a vast soundless laugh and dizzy Martin can barely see as they spin and spin until music and movement abruptly halt and their laughter peals with wildness, little boy’s squeal and grown man’s rich tenor filling the room and Toni with a broad smile leaning against the doorframe.

Emerging from the trance that gripped him since the music began Martin Major blinked and squinted, he shook his head, and as he regained his bearings his face shifted to a heavy concentration as though he were listening to new evidence before a trial, with some effort he recalled the fleeting details of the dance, he remembered past events passably well, it’s the details, the details . . . He knew there was an abundance of them for each happening but he couldn’t always fill them in, was it really him or were they just elusive, it was truly a conundrum he often thought, him or the details, which went first the mind or the stuff? He looked down at his right arm raising and lowering the dumbbell he’d been clutching all this time, however much time it was, that he’d been standing there, in this hallway, before this wall of photographs and postitnotes, in this abode of his, his and his wife’s, he grunted with effort, he surveyed the wall absently, he stopped when he saw her name attached to a portrait on the wall, oh Toni, that’s right, that’s he name.  Beautiful shot. She shimmers with power he thought, look at her.

Next to the portrait was a shot of the two of them, Happy times in Munich the note attached to the frame said, each is feeding a forkful of pighock to the other, arms extended across a table laden with kartufflesalat sauerkraut and maases of beer, when was that which time was that he wonders, then he hears her voice and then his and hers in turn and he pivots and peers into a small but stately diningroom, she’s in her usual seat dressed in bright cottons facing a watercolor of warblers and evergreens on the wall. This is a serious thing you’re saying Marty she says, Don’t I know it he says, I knew it would come up she says I anticipated it, but I want you to know my heart is breaking, her eyes, intense, burn into him, her fingers — he looks hard at them, remembers high voltage — gently glide along the rim of her coffeecup. We fully know each other’s values he says, we share them, they’ve grown in us.

Yes. Her eyes fade to soft, she lowers them, she knits her brow, relaxes it, gazes at him. But of course I never thought it would come to this she says, I mean our even talking about it in terms not just speculative, theoretical, But we know it’s not just speculative don’t we I know I can still think, I have some logical consistency yet, some, I just can’t remember, sometimes I lose the thread of a thought in the middle and there goes the logic, I can’t help it, and as it goes I go, and I don’t want to go that way, fade that way, bit by bit . . . I know it Marty, I understand it, she studies him her jaw muscles working, his eyes are gathering water again, they often do now, she sees them lose focus, she lowers her head purses her lips, there are tiny white specks on her slacks, should she attend to them or return to him, to his riveting eyes. When I’m gone just remember that I’ll be around as the air that you breathe, take a deep breath and we’ll be together Toni, I’ll be the green grass embracing you when you lie down under the sun, my bright rays will penetrate every pore, I’ll be the chemicals in the ink that dots your every page every chapter that you read Toni, Oh god the barrister poet she thinks, is this going to be a feature of everyday life from now on. just don’t do anything without me she says, I’m going to be with you every step, just promise you won’t do anything without me, promise me that. She lifts her face, eyes him, her elbow on the arm of her chair she forms a loose fist and with her curled thumb and forefinger lightly taps her mouth, Of course he says. He won’t remember any promise he makes me she thinks. 

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5 responses to “Why Is This Here? 4th Installment

  1. Heartbreaking that he knows and can so clearly express what is happening to his mind. Beautifully expressing such a tragedy, they discuss it and she begs him to not do anything without her. I will reread this soon and try to take it all in less emotionally. It hits me hard today even though the writing is so perfect.

  2. I know why it hits me so hard, having a parent who suffered dementia, which my father refused to acknowledge. Or couldn’t I guess. Both were in their seventies. The character in the story is younger which is even more tragic.
    Do not change what is written as it clearly paints the difficult path this couple must follow.

  3. Thank you, Ann. I lost a close cousin to a form of dementia a couple of years ago, and being at my age now I’m knowing several other people in various stages of it, including Alzheimer’s. I’m going to finish this story, but the character, like most of mine, has a complex past which isn’t all pretty.

  4. My Mom had severe osteoporosis. As her back crumbled, her mind became just as befuddled. She stopped eating ( or she didn’t remember what to do with her soup, her sandwich, or her coke ) once spooning clam chowder into her drink. I was 600 miles away and came as often as possible. Two of my brothers ( one worked during the day , the other at night ), watched her and cared for her. Yet she would become animated if they played Irish music and waved her hands around. A slow process with some glimmers of Mom coming through. Both of my parents lived to 86. Dad was five years older than she, and still driving and loved to talk about the old days. He refused to leave Mom except for a brief excursion to the mailbox he rented for the company they had run.
    You are giving a voice to those locked in their physical quandaries.

  5. Thanks again, Ann, for your personal details and for the encouraging word at the end. I appreciate it. I’m getting ready to resume my writing after a summer mixed with visiting families and some struggles with the Noonday Demon. I’ll have a new installment ready in a day or two.

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