Thursday, January 01, 2004

The Ravishing Mrs. Ames Day!

Her mascara is eroding and she doesn't even care. The ravishing Mrs. Ames sits on an empty crosstown bus on her way to a beautiful bridge. (There's a driver on the bus. Otherwise, how would it move?)

She might prefer a crowd. The driver's eyes might keep to the road a bit more if they weren't so interested in what's up with the passenger who is quite ravishing but has recently wept. A face full of runny black streaks would blend in with bus folk.

As it is, she keeps her eyes on the passing streets outside, fingering the man's comb in her pocket. On the sidewalk, people walk alone with their faces pointed at the concrete. People hold each other as if in goodbye or "I'm sorry." People scream at the sky, they really do. You've seen them.

How many of them came to a conclusion tonight? How many made a discovery and a decision? How many are about to cut someone out of their lives? How many have a man's comb in their pockets?

There's a trash truck blocking the road. If the bus never makes it to the bridge, she could stay married forever. Always the ravishing Mrs. Ames. Never again, Madelaine. It's a thought that makes her shiver. Forever married to a man, Mr. Ames, who recites witticisms from magazines as if they were his own concoctions. A man fond of money, and those who have just a little less of it than he. A man who combs his thinning hair in the bathroom, in the car before getting out, in restaurant restrooms and shop windows, in lake reflections. A dull man who, the ravishing Mrs. Ames discovered tonight, sleeps with a dull young woman who is most certainly not ravishing. His comb is in her pocket.

A twenty minute walk to the middle of the bridge. The traffic is extraordinary for midnight. Leaning against the handrail, the comb is to her nose. She smells his hair. Remembers when he had so much of it. Remembers that she fell in love with him when he fell on some ice. His hand was in hers and then it wasn't and he was on the ground. She saw him there where he fell, his arms still in the air with the drop, one leg upraised. It looked to her like she was watching him fall from an airplane. From that moment on, her heart was his. And now, watching his comb fall from a bridge, just a few seconds before the black night swallows it, Madelaine's got her heart back.

Happy The Ravishing Mrs. Ames Day!