Thursday, March 28, 2013
FEEDING THE SQUIRRELS (Chapter Nine) - LENA
I suspected from the get go that Lena would be trouble, but figured I wouldn't be around long enough to get too deeply into it. With women like her though, trouble tends to strike swiftly, strongly and randomly.
Needing to take a break from writing, having penned a particularly bulky first chapter that day, I chose to waste a few hours in a bar near my apartment. You probably figure I'm an alcoholic since so many of my evenings are spent in bars. The truth is, I rarely consume more than three drinks and they serve merely as a diversion until my real purpose has been served.
I suppose I am a lonely sort, not talented or committed enough for writing to sustain me, so inevitably seeking companionship. Perhaps craving for women is actually an excuse to keep me from accomplishing anything. If I could reverse the durations of my writing and break periods, who knows what I might achieve. You may think I never make it to a second chapter because I play it by ear and depend on inspiration which never comes. In fact, the reason I stop writing is because I am not creating a masterpiece, and I would rather stop and try again than carry on with mediocrity. I prefer failing at greatness to succeeding with something commonplace.
These were the thoughts keeping me company as I watched Lena from my barstool. She sat at the opposite end of the bar in a dress cut low enough to draw men effortlessly, and in all likelihood purposefully. But one proposition after another was shunned with scarcely a glance at the proposers. She seemed bored by the scene, but then why be in it, at the center no less?
It was a slow night lady wise, the one I was observing being the only one not already spoken for who even remotely piqued my interest. Had I been hell bent on getting laid, I would have headed elsewhere in search of odds more in my favor. But for the moment I was content with my thoughts, my drink, and my view.
From time to time she would look in my direction, but with no more focus or attention than if I were a piece of gum stuck to the wall. I got the impression that she had drunk quite a bit, though she was nursing the concoction currently in front of her. If I was right, she certainly was a mellow and composed drunk, and such a state can only be achieved through years of practice.
When the seat beside her became available after the sixth consecutive guy who dared to occupy it was rejected and sent scurrying along, she surprised me by placing her purse on it, smiling, then beckoning me to come over. I didn't need to be asked twice. She kissed me passionately the moment I arrived by her side, as if we were long parted lovers finally reunited. I registered no surprise, for very little surprises me. She called the bartender over to pay her tab. When he returned her credit card, a quick glance informed me of her name. She kissed me again, then took my hand and allowed me to lead her outside.
"I just live a few blocks from here."
She smiled absently at the information.
Some people get paranoid when good things come their way hassle free. I was used to easy, but even by my standards this was eerily elementary. Why couldn't the next War and Peace or Catcher in the Rye come to me in a like manner? We walked in silence to my apartment. I commented on it being a beautiful night, to which she responded by briefly gazing at the sky. That summed up the verbal foreplay.
We were in my bedroom, clothing dispensed of, my hands getting acquainted with the feel of her full bodied voluptuousness, when Lena grabbed my wrists tightly.
"I love you, Eddie."
"Huh?" Her silence was finally broken, only to get my name wrong.
"Why did you leave me? You know I can't make it without you."
She looked directly at me, but I clearly was not who she was seeing. Lena was tripping on something a lot more powerful than what the bartender was serving. Either that, or she was a certified nutcase.
"You're such a cold bastard."
"Look, Lena ..." The rest of what I had to say was cut short by her slap across my face. I was starting to get annoyed.
"How could you use me like that?"
"I just met you. I haven't done a damn ..."
This time I caught the slap before it reached me. That was it. It was time for Lena to hit the road. I began guiding her out, but she pulled free from my grasp and backed away. Tears were welling up in her eyes.
"You never loved me, did you, Eddie?"
Intuitively I knew I could make this go in a variety of directions, including the one I had originally intended. She wanted to make love, but only to some guy who wasn't there, who wasn't me. Since she was deluded enough to think that I was him, I needed only to play along. It was well within my area of expertise, pretending to be someone I wasn't. The only things different were that I wasn't in charge of who I got to be, and I wouldn't get to go by my real name.
Was it worth it? Was Eddie someone whose throat Lena intended to slit in the middle of the night? I had no idea what being a surrogate for this guy would entail, beyond what my crotch was anticipating.
I put my hand tenderly on Lena's face.
"Do you still love me, Eddie?"
"As much as I always have." I meant the meaningless words as much as the real Eddie probably would have, and since I was being him, I could not be held accountable for a single thing I said or did. This empowered me with limitless freedom. An actor is not responsible for the actions of the character he's playing, nor do the actions have real consequences. It's all make believe.
"Do you still want me?" she asked.
"More than ever before."
"You'll marry me then?"
"Whatever you want, baby. Whatever you want." But first I would get what I wanted. Then I would call for a cab. Which is what I did. And by the time I held the car door open for her, Lena looked at me with recognition, or lack of it rather, which told me that reality was beginning to kick in. As the taxi pulled away towards the address she had given, Eddie and I waved goodbye.