Why Is This Here? — 9th installment

As he struggles on his hands and knees to raise himself he spots the black dumbbell on the fleckedwhite tile floor, reaches for it like a child a gift, rises and does a few curls. Maybe if he does enough of them it’ll erase the dull discomfort in his thigh, he closes his eyes, grimaces. He rises like a wounded troll blindly exits the bathroom opens his eyes the first photo he encounters on the hallway wall is that of a young Toni, he knows it’s her because he reads the tag, she’s beautiful, Audrey Hepburnlike but a bit fuller, there’s a glitter on her lower lip and in her dark eyes. He takes a few steps, stops at a picture of a young man in a military uniform receiving an award of some kind from another uniformed man, both rigid as flagpoles, oh yes it’s a Purple Heart, he received it for a wound in combat, almost lost his leg, a memory rises and as quickly recedes. Martin Major’s face turns grim as granite, he raises the twentypound dumbbell and smashes the glass over the photo, it shatters and the wall booms, quivers, he smashes it again, then after a quick survey of the gallery he spots another photo. 1st Lt. Martin Major beaming, shaking hands with a colonel, he rushes to it strikes it too STUPIDFUCKINGWAR HE SHOUTS, the glass shatters and the wall’s report sounds like artillery. His youthful dream of a law degree and a career in politics he’d thought necessitated his enlistment and his subsequent officer status and his dysentery and his killing of four soldiers one of them trying to desert his command and finally his nearfatal legwound, he’d earned the degree but wanted nothing to do with politics, just work and drink and fucking, that was all, until he met Toni. Now he hears deep barking, his fury abates, he turns toward the den. The dog. Marci.

He surveys the minor havoc in the hallway, shattered glass and broken frames and photos askew but he misses the new cracks and chips in the plaster, he looks downward at his own form, he’s pantless and diaperless, his feet are clad in brown leather slippers, there’s some some blood meandering down the shin of his right leg, nothing serious, small shard cuts, it gathers a bit at the top of his foot and slides down into the slipper. Marci barks, moans, barks again. He stands there, lowers his head closes his eyes feels a rising desire, he wishes he could think rationally, again carry on a line of thought, all he knows is that he has something to do, there’s a mission to accomplish, he has to finish all this, end it all, while he still has a shred of will left, enough thought to connect intent A to what turns out to be telos B. His wife’s smokey voice, or something like it, interjects itself into his desire, his wistfulness, uttering words that she may or may not have said but that are clearer than the background soprano of Kiri Te Kanawa competing with it You’ve got to live, Marty, you can’t go before your time, you can’t leave me before I’m ready to let you go Maybe it’s really he that’s saying it, maybe not Toni at all, though it sure as hell sounds like her I’ll help you with your history Marty, you help me get through this time okay? we’ll work on the future together everything in its time.




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