Monday, December 15, 2008

Vanilla (Concluded)

I was faced with the burning bush and nothing in my career or life could have prepared me for what I found in this man.
He had ages a hundred years as he stared down at the cold vessel that was once vanilla and the sadness that swept him felt like a cold blade flaying the skin on my lips.
It was tangible almost and yet he didn’t cry, he didn’t offer and explanation.
he just stood as if cast from stone watching until she was taken from him.
It was the slightest twitch of his hands as they lifted her to the ambulance that broke my heart.
Had he wanted to touch her?
He never touched her in the bar.

Slowly the crowd wandered of their blood thirst satisfied.
I sunk then into my own sadness and confusion realizing that I had lost so much more than my hopes of a best seller.
But when I looked up he was gone.

A week had passed since vanilla had baptized the city I loved so deeply in her blood, and each day I avoided the little corner pub and its crushing memories.
But my absence from the place did not dispel her from my mind.
she was there always flirting with my sanity, in crowds on the television I smelt her hands in mine despite the soap and water I used to wash her from me.
I could see her
I could smell her and worst of all I could feel her.
I was no match for vanilla and it was not long before I found myself in the little bar at 17:03 waiting for her….
It seemed that my vanilla had left the place unscathed.
The busty blond waitress with her tray, carting drinks and glasses from table to bar.
The regulars robust and rowdy in their revelry.
The little table in its uncomfortable corner empty lifeless and my mind conjured up hazy phantoms of her painted in vanilla.

“She’s gone what are you doing here” I scolded myself “get up and leave”
But I didn’t leave
Instead I sat a while longer and watched him shuffle in.
Without ceremony, or bells and whistles. He may have gone unnoticed by the other patrons.
Nobody looked up to notice the sallow look on his face or comment on his sunken eyes framed in that bitter purple color that speaks of sleepless nights.
He’s step was slow and deliberate as he reached the little table and he sat down heavy under the hear ace and despair that covered him like lead.
He was an unfortunate figure as he swallowed the scotch.

I had never been able to approach her, too fragile was my bond with her to dare chance the meeting, and yet there I was my hand on the back rest of her chair across from his sunken dreams prepared suddenly for any eventuality.
I sat down and fixed upon him and yet he did not seem alarmed at my presence not did he move to be rid of me.
I had stepped into his grief uninvited and yet undeterred.

He swallowed again and met my gaze.
“I saw you with her, on the road”
It was not a question, it was not even a statement yet I sensed it was a justification.
“ her name was Eve” he’s voice deep when he mentioned her name.
“I met her here 2 years ago and she made me feel like my life had just begun. I came back every night just to talk to her, just for her to look at me like she sees me”
It was whipped from his face as soon as the tear appeared.
“you see sir, I have lived so much of my life being invisible…..”
There was hesitation in his voice
“and I deserve to be. But with her…. With Eve I had substance”
“I am married you see….” Something about his tone told me that I didn’t see
“but Farah had taken to drinking when our child was still born three years ago. She drank to numb it she drank to forgive herself, she drank to forgive me for not falling as far she did, and after a while she stopped seeing me”
It was not the story I had imagined, but I kept still and watched as it played out across his face
“I came here every night to see Eve and she never presumed anything even when we had fallen so deeply in love that every fiber within me longed to touch her.
She wouldn’t of coarse, I was married and she had too much class to walk that road even if I had the courage to let her.”

He spoke long into the night.
At times he cried.
He had promised her a life together but Farah had taken a fall that night that had put her in a wheel chair.
A fall that had plunged him into the pits of guilt to heavy and sick with it to move.

Finally he finished. Eyes swimming in sorrow and relieve.
My words had no place here so I remained silent and watched him leave.
When I left the bar that night my mind was awash with possibilities.
He never touched her and yet he loved her.
The purity was almost to hard to believe and yet I wanted to with everything in me I wanted to believe and I wanted to tell it.
And I did.
Months latter the little paper back about a woman named vanilla who met a man in a bar every night to hear him say they could be together. About a man bound by guilt to his drunken wife and about a promise that could never be fulfilled hit the shelves under a dark cloud of critic.

“it lacked substance and believability” one said
“an idealistic love story, out of place in its modern setting, more suited for the housewife genre” another had taken printed.
Vanilla never made second edition and while I did not know it at the time but vanilla would be outsold three fold by a glossy commercial about a busty blond waitress who dreams of becoming a movie star.

The sidewalk was grubby and the night air would suffocate you in your sleep, with the newspaper and its hateful remarks tucked under my arm I ambled along the city streets cursing their insolence.
“How dare they”
“How dare they say that about her”
It was bitter as bile in my mouth and I cursed the shadows about me and this city that could not love her as I did.
“I loved her”
When I stepped into the smoggy little room my eyes caught a glimpse of him in the corner. Slumped slightly against the wall.
I had not spoken to him since the night of his confession and now as vanilla fell to the bottom of the must read list I had no intention peppering either of our wounds.
I took a table and ordered a bear intending to wash the hurtful words from my mind with the abrasive bubbles.
The waitress was still a waitress and she was little more than a dull figure in a cookie cutter spell in a book that did not fight me like vanilla did.
She delivered the beer, grinning a crooked grin and her hate of being here.
But there was something wrong.
My view had changed and I noted he was leaning on the wall and not simply slumped to one side.
I hated that he had fallen this far.
He was my hero Adonis in my pages and here he was squandering vanillas place in scotch and cigar smoke.
It angered me and as the horror bubbled up I stood and walked to him.
Deliberately, with intention.

The scotch had been laced with poison.
The police report would confirm.
It would latter be called a murder and I thought it more dignified as I folded the napkin and put it in my breast pocket.
Maybe one day I would write Vanilla again, he had given me my ending.
On the napkin in my pocket, in the scraggly hand of a dying man four simple words that she would never hear
“To be with you”

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