Basically, I got tired of being the other guy. Sometimes when I’m feeling bitter, when I’m feeling angry at just how tone deaf he was, I like to imagine making a different kind of music that night, just Jess and I graveside to the recently departed, her jangling arms and clawing nails carving into the headstone something cruel under Tim’s name like “Second Fiddle.” I’d be skeptical of the cuckold who claimed to have once been a perfect husband in a former life. I say, make him prove it. Ask him if he can carry the tune from that night. Ask him if he can at least hum a few bars. I’ll bet he can’t. And it’s not that he can’t remember, he just simply wasn’t listening, wasn’t paying enough attention. People always talk about divorces as if they aren’t as American as fresh baked apple pie and the 4th of July and I say that the game of free association is like a jam session is like jazz is like the cosmos itself in that everything seems random and without structure at first, but that is because truth cannot be learned. You need a method of interpretation, a way of recovering and recognizing and re-experiencing what has been right there in front of you all along.
After drinking too much, Tim suggested that we call it a night and Jess and I adjourned to the kitchen where we shared a banana to soak up some of the alcohol. We traded bite for bite and mashed up the yellow meat against the roofs of our mouths. Tim half-stepped up and down the stairs like a broken record, always poking his head around the corner again and again to see if Jess was coming up to bed. She chewed and so did I. We passed that banana back and forth like a microphone smeared with the saliva of what we could not say loud enough, at least not yet. There were just murmurs and smacking. To the suspicious ear, it should have sounded a lot like kissing.
The Croaking Muse
I met Tim before I met Jess. It was at a party and he looked like a handsome frog prince caught midway in transformation, his far apart eyes lending some vague amphibious quality to his ancestry. And he surely was princely too. His family had prayed at the shrine of themselves for the last few American centuries, and for doing so, had rewarded themselves thoughtfully with stock options and lakefront property and a speaking voice that tittered somewhere between campaign trail and tour guide.
Now, this party we were at, it was a daytime affair. A backyard barbecue. There was no dim lighting or pulsing music that set our veins to throbbing. Only sunshine and fizzy wine in clear cups and those gleaming, bulging, fibrous, opaque whites of the eyes with the crinkled pink veins climbing up from the corners. Tim set his beer down on the table and asked me whether or not I played fantasy football and when I told him no, he responded with a measured blend of mock outrage and sharp smiles.
What else did we talk about? It’s hard to say. Just like all who feel guilty, memory is unreliable. Sometimes there are gaps, blank spaces, no alibi.
“And where did you go after you left the movies?”
“I can’t recall.”
“And who were you with?”
“You know, I’m not sure.”
“And what did you see?”
“I wish I could tell you.”