Friday, August 22, 2014

Alcyone, Chapter Thirty-One: Sperm Meet Egg

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Thirty One

“Now let me see if I got this. When you’n the unmentionable missus want to ron-dess-vooz, y’all do this I Spy thing at the Shorefront, or else you hike out to this cabin in the woods ain’t nobody heard of named after a Amazon queen. Zat about it?”
“Villa Califa.”
“Okay.” Jackie took a sip from her intermission coffee. “Scootie, honey. Are you sure you’re not makin’ this up?”
“It’s been a very different existence.”
Jackie saw the need for a little distraction. “D’I tell you about this theater? Used to be an art gallery. The main attraction was a life-size wax-figure reproduction of The Last Supper. After they closed, they were usin’ the one with his finger pointing in the air to show everyone where the restrooms were. I think they stored the rest of them in the...”
She had lost him. She followed his gaze to a couple in their forties, dressed in their finest, holding hands and exchanging private jokes next to a dormant rose bush. The woman took the strap from the man’s overcoat and wrapped it around his neck, pulling him closer for a kiss. Jackie couldn’t help putting words to Scootie’s thought.
“Right out in public.”
“It looks nice,” he said. “Really nice.”

“You know what surprises me the most. Scott couldn’t be happier about this.”
“It’s that scrap you had over the gala. I’ve always said you should give your husband more shit. They don’t train themselves, you know.”
“Mother, I think I know my husband well enough to tell the difference between subterfuge and genuine excitement. Scootie, on the other hand, has been kind of... surly.”
“Well, do the paperwork, Jewel. Scott’s got more personal success than he knows what to do with. If anything, your increased busy-ness will take him off the hook a little. He can overwork to his heart’s content. Scootie, meanwhile, has been squeezed into this little game of espionage, so naturally he’s feeling threatened. If he harbors any notions of a more permanent life with you, they are, indeed, imperiled by your continued rise, since your career at Fetzle is permanently attached to your marriage with Scott.”
Juliana stood to lift her mother’s lumpy Persian, Phileas, from the piano bench. “Damn, Mother. You’re too good.”
“Yes, I am. And if you possess the kind of conscience I think you do, you may have to let that young man go before you cause some real damage.”

“So tell me about number five.”
“Not much of a story.”
“Did you love her?”
“Sure. Just not much of a story. Fella like me, likes a little drama in his marriages.”
“You’ve had plenty, old man.”
Rip laughed. “So refreshing to hear that expression ‘old man.’ I’ve earned it, you know. Okay, so her name was Wendy Johnson. Met her at a birthday party, friend of mine in Monterey. I was seventy-six, she was sixty. Robbin’ the cradle till the end, that’s me. She was very sweet, I was sweet in return. We lived very peacably together until she died five years ago of what we used to call ‘old age’ but now they have some fancy-shmancy name so you can juice the medical insurance.”
“Advanced Chronology Syndrome.”
“Yaknow, you’re damn witty for someone barely past ‘sperm, meet egg; egg, meet sperm.’”
“Yes. But I am disappointed.”
“In my story? Hell, I didn’t sell it to you on a twenty-foot billboard, son, I toldja it was gonna be dull, and by damn, I delivered! Tell you what, though. Only two of my wives lasted more’n ten years, and Wendy was the only one who mighta put up with me for twenty. She also had the good taste to descend from a monied clan, which has allowed me the luxury of of a dignified old age. Well, as dignified as someone like me can manage.”
“And then you’ve got your young lady.”
“Young lady?”
“The one who visits you. The one you never tell me anything about.”
“I fear the association would reflect poorly upon her. And it’s not like you tell me squat about your love life.”
“Well, I...”
“I thought so. Y’see, we all have our blind spots. You don’t look at mine, I won’t look at yours”
“Point taken,” said Scootie. “You up for checkers?”
Rip flashed his perfect dentures. “I believe we’re ready for next step up: chess.”

Photo by MJV

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