On our first date, Stanmore spoke of his parents, how his father was a street magician and his mother weaved trick ropes. They taught him to count cards, to predict IQs by the tightness of others’ lips. His only dream, though, was to be an astronaut or an acrobat or anything kept in air. He then spoke of the moon, knowing he will never unsee the faces on the surface, one being his grandfather, who stayed behind so, on the trip home, Armstrong could keep his boots up.
Pathological liars are more apt to believe their lies themselves when drinking. We alcoholics do the same. I told him my first job was as a grouter. A donkey herder, he said of himself, taking my hand, and I saw myself filling his marriage line with mortar, as I was a palm reader, too. I told him his fate to be a quick-rising stardom at thirty-two and an even faster downfall at thirty-four, his murder serenaded as suicide by an escort named Caramel. He said, That is so like her.
Perfume lingers longer than gin in the frontal lobe, in the iris of the third eye, and sometimes I’m in need of company, in case I hear the Klaxon. I don’t know why him.
The bill on our eighth date came to $42.24, and he ommed to the harmony, reminding me he had once joined Indonesian Buddhists in the quest for the perfect silence. He said his awakening was understanding the wind, said he’d learned to imitate the crickets before his vocal cords rediscovered the difference between vowels.
Two years in, he gives a hundred dollars to a homeless man. I wanted a ring, but I carry leftovers instead: rib-eye, asparagus, knotted bread, and wrapped saltine crackers from every emptied table we’d passed. The man says he’ll do anything for us, and Stanmore says, Build me a rocket ship. I say, I see God commanding Noah. Stanmore, sincere, says that I am right, that God is a sheepish drunk, and a selfish one at that, and this time around not even the mountains will stand.
Preach to me of the enlightenment, Stanmore. To that silent forest tree, falling. To the equanimity of you and I and the feng shui of these emptied bottles. To the peace I find within turpentine. To the nirvana of your jet fuel. Here, mix these and then ask me again of the blackout wind tunnel roar.
Stanmore calls from a payphone at 1 a.m., drunk on the worm and Pixy Stix, says he cannot leave without saying goodbye. I hear the jukebox in the background and a glass bottle break. He says he’s off tonight, says he wishes there were enough room and supplies for me, says something of us and controlled burns, says Guess how much I’d weigh on Mars.
Photo by Dean Pasch