Friday, October 05, 2007

a thrice told tale...


I wish I had gotten there just a bit earlier. Of course I do. First, I would have been ahead of the rain, once it began to fall heavily, and I would not have seen dripping wet after the run from the bus stop three streets over. And second, more importantly surely, I would have been there before Liam. He might not have said that to her if he had known I was in the room. And who knows? The party might have just gone along swimmingly.

I couldn't get there earlier. Not really. I suppose that I must say that at the start. Oh sure, I could have stopped checking email before I did, gotten into the shower, gotten myself dressed and all, and out the door and to the bus stop. The busses are supposed to be about twenty minutes apart that time of the day, but even if I had been twenty or even forty minutes ahead, you understand, this is Dublin and the Dublin Bus system and, when I did get to the stop, three busses were forming their own queue for the seven people waiting. A full hours worth of mass transport lined up into a single minute. I simply would have waited longer, probably become more frustrated myself. That, combined with being soaked to the skin by the downpour between the stop on Baggot Street and her home, might have made the over-reaction - if it was an over-reaction, because I'm not quite ready to admit that just yet - even greater. At least that's possible.

Yes, yes. I should not have hit him. Yes, not like that. Damn close to a sucker punch. He really never saw it coming, though he should have, and I caught him right on the side of the mouth, knocking him sideways off his feet, leaving blood pouring from a split lip. But holy fuck, ya know, he deserved it. You just don't pull shite like that. If you're gonna come already snockered to a party, you better arrive as a happy drunk, not a belligerant arsehole.

When I was in the shower, the hot water coursing across my body, I imagined that the night would go differently. Absolutely I did. But that's the nature of being naked in warm water, it creates optimism. The reality of the evening was built on other bodily sensations, the clinging to the skin of cold, wet cotton and wool. That forces the harshness of the universe right into your face. So, when I opened the door, dripped on the aged oak flooring, saw the
tears and heard the anger, the romantic allusions had already drained away, and I was just a tosser blown in by the storm.

True. I shouldn't have hit him. I should have found words. Used words. But there were too many things in my head at that moment. And I only found the action that lay on top of that mental pile.

She was in tears, and she was shouting, "Get the fuck out! Just get the fuck out of my house." And everybody was just staring. I walked into this frozen scene, with only her in movement, and only her sounds. I moved into a circle of ice, and shivered as she looked at me, and then hardened as I saw him.

She was in tears. He had loudly announced that her ambition was the cause of her kid's problems. Which is something you do not say to a mother who has tried that hard, or to anyone in their home in front of guests, or if you've been invited to an ex's "Tenure Party" - since the very invitation is an act of grace that you should accept with silent thanks. But he is an arse. And he thinks he looks strong if he can make her cry.

Right. I should'na hit him. That's something else guests are not supposed to do.

Had I been there before him, as I said, I would have been near her, and he would have stayed away. He might have, drunk as he was he surely would have, made snarkey remarks to others. He might have even said something about what had happened. But he would not have said it loudly, or directly, and he would not have attacked her ability to parent that way. Liam's a coward. He's afraid of lots of people. And one of those people he's afraid of is me.

I hit him on an impulse. I did. It wasn't planned. He had insulted the woman who might have been on the way to becoming "my" woman. He had not just insulted her, but had suggested that her accomplishments, the very reason for this gathering, was some kind of crime.

I hit him because I wanted to sleep with her again. Yes. I wanted to be the knight in shining armour. Because I was raised on the belief that nothing was more romantic than defending the honour of your woman. King Arthur, of course, was a Celt.

I hit him because I'm an idiot. An impulsive idiot. I do shite and then, well, I fuck myself over all the time. I do. I'm a fuckin' ijiot. So I hit him. Looked around. People were shocked. He was bleeding. She didn't say anything. Not like in a movie where she'd rush to me and thank me. Of course not. I'm a juvenile moron for thinking that. So I turned around, mumbled something, and went back out into the rain.

I left. Furious at many things. Thumping down the stairs, treading heavily on the footwalk. The rain had turned into a soft mist. It was full dark and the streetlamps lit the water molecules around them. I went one block, then two.

I left. Sometimes I just disappoint myself. Sometimes? Often. Oh well. I'd walk to the bus, with, perhaps, a stop for a pint. Or two. Night had fully fallen but the rain had slackened, then faded further into a mist. My trainers squeaked on the damp stone of the footwalk. Couples walked past, some looking happy. I kept my head down, the lights of the lamps wavered in the puddles. Then my mobile started playing Norwegian Wood.

I could see Baggot Street at the end of the block. An old Jaguar was parked at the curb beside me and I had let my eyes follow its sinuous curves up from the footwalk. It was the first object I had really looked at since I left the house. My mobile rang. It was her. For reasons all too clear I had linked her to an ancient Beatles tune about love lost. I waited. But then pulled it from my pocket and opened it. The text read, "Come back you arse."

So I turned around, there on the footwalk, and I went back. I went back and was very quiet. I went back and stayed the night, and all the next day.

copyright 2007 by Ira Socol

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