Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Love Of Your Life Like A Deer In Your Headlights Day!

You stopped saying her name a long time ago. When you talk of leaving her, you refer to it as, "When I left Los Angeles." Your friends understand.

Your old friends at least. The ones who used to surround the two of you, who seemed to celebrate the love you shared. Dinner parties felt like ring around the rosie, everyone hopping out of their chairs, joining hands and revolving around the two of you at the first sign of you spooning some sorbet onto her outstretched tongue.

And your fights were like a long-awaited summer blockbuster. You would show up alone to the bar and brood by the payphone all night. Or someone would spot her having coffee with Alan, her ex-husband. Word would spread, anticipation would be at a fever-pitch. Until opening night, when your old friends would pull into a rain-swept parking lot and spot you with your hair drenched in spikes down your forehead, arms wild and wide, clearly sobbing, her in a floral-print dress hugging her frame, responding with black eyeballs and a wailing squeal of a scream. All plans would be cancelled, your old friends would park their cars in a circle, headlights pointed at the main event, they'd sit back in their seats and recline their necks and prepare to be awestruck and ask each other, "Hey how'd they do that?"

Your old friends saw it all so you necessarily cut them off and moved to Tempe. Where tonight, out with your new friends, somewhere around your sixth drink you'll bring up "Around the time I left Los Angeles" and the table will go quiet. No one will ask you, "What happened back there?" They'll just wait in silence to find out how much you're willing to offer them tonight. Whether you care to share more than the usual, "Guess sometimes things just stop being the way they oughta." Or whether you'll just down your last sips and pack up and go.

You'll down your last sips and pack up and go out to your car and pull out of your space too drunk to drive on an Arizona night. But you're good at it and you'll ass the Chevy out onto the highway. And you'll pause to search the crack of the seat for a cigarette, and you'll find one and light it and the lighter will haze your eyes to the flash of white that just ran across the concrete. Probably a coyote.

In gear, you'll spin the wheels left and edge out onto your way home, getting 14 feet down the road and no more than four miles per hour before she's back. Standing there in the middle of the lane, no blink, no smile, no tears. Just a suitcase and a floral print dress pulled south with the wind. She's back, staring straight at you, eight and half years after the fact. It's either nighttime or she's dead because she hasn't aged a minute. And she won't move an inch. Oh wait, here she comes.

"Can you take me home?"

Yes. She's leaning inside the open passenger door, her suitcase by her feet on the road. The lamp from the parking lot shining a halo on her head. Both of you must be dead. You always said the day you two share a smile again will be the day you shake hands in hell. Yes. You can take her home.

Happy Love Of Your Life Like A Deer In Your Headlights Day!