Monday, April 27, 2009
The perfume, the powder and the lead
We were married in the spring, she didn’t want for anything
A lovin’ husband, a little cabin, close to town
Workin’ hard out on the farm, comin’ in to all her charm
Until one day, when the stranger came around
It starts to rain can’t work no more, run to the porch open the door
To their surprise I realize their little game
So what was I supposed to do, oh I could tell he’d been with you
It made me mad and I just couldn’t stand the pain
I can’t believe what I have done, I killed them both with daddy’s gun
As their bodies lay entangled in our bed
He was the sheriffs only son, to me she was the only one
I smelled the perfume, the powder and the lead
A final, irreducible antinomy. Shot them both with Daddy's gun.
Ah, but the truth is more rococo, full of ifs and buts, and how is it that an outraged lothario comes home to find that what was good for the gandder was good for the goose.
Part-Chapter l6 of Light Over Newmaket.
I was now walking down Timothy Street, my home street, and it seemed straight out of a dream and not at all the avenue of warmth, home and pleasure that I had longed for while being so lonely in Mexico. I walked past George's income tax preparation office, past the taxi stand on the left, past all the parking meters in the lot in front of the town hall, past the house across from my own where a guy who looked like Elmer Fudd lived, up on my own gravel driveway to walk up to the front door, to park my two bags on the porch, to go up to the screen door, open the heavy oak to be almost immediately greeted by my children. They were tumbling down the stairs, a little plump in their body-hugging pajamas that made them look like little Pooh-bears and they were shouting "Daddy, Daddy." (They had apparently been sent to bed even though it was only six-thirty). I clutched at Michelle and David and hugged them, picked them both up off their feet and proceeded to walk to the kitchen where Loren was lying back in a chair, very relaxed at the end of the yellow plastic table we had bought a year back.
She was peering up at me, the light a little behind her through the glass of the back porch door, and she seemed very calm and she had this little half-smile on her face and I stared at her as if I were looking at a stranger, for she was now to me not of the Loren in my head. Who was this woman whose entire colouring was strawberry itself, the woman who was regarding me through here newly purchased bee-eye glasses, sexless, seemingly compared to the instant flash of Valerie and her fashionably uplifted eyebrows. Loren seemed to me a pleasant stranger whom I really did not know, perhaps had never really known. She appeared relaxed, calm, oddly cheerful in this situation. One sentence from her, though:
"Kevin, Red is asleep in the other room."
I had a sudden inexplicable flash of jealousy, rage, desire to murder. I examined one of the heavy wooden chair around the white plastic table. I could use one of these to kill the interloper. But kill a man out of hand? Just like that? That would be murder, pure and simple, and it was beginning to dawn on me that I was not entirely the innocent one, the outraged husband.
I was wearing, with my expensive suit, hush puppies of a soft rubber sole. I would not kill my wife's lover, but I could certainly remind him, bring it home to the cuckolder that the husband was back and that the intruder would not soon forget the entering of another man's territory, to woo the wife while hubby was away.
I let the children down on the floor, tenderly though a little faster that I should have, turned on my worn heel and went into the living room where I had somehow missed the sleeping form of Red Stassen on my way in. He appeared to rest so slumberingly on our white linen chesterfield, undisturbed apparently, by all the noise and obvious drama of the situation.
Before attacking the sleeping (or apparently sleeping) form of Stassen, I observed how red he was in colouring, much redder than Loren herself. Wide, flaring nostrils and a rather probing nose.
I kicked Stassen in the face, and kicked him again in the face and in his side and along the shoulder blade and again in the face.
All I heard from him were sighs as if the man were having dreams, as if he were still sleeping.
I kicked him until he fell off the chesterfield, onto the floor and I was about to kick him for about the eighth or ninth time when I felt Loren behind me, yelling "What are you doing? Get out. Get out of this house!" She was pushing me out the open door and I was letting her because it was I who had transgressed first and I didn't really have the right to come into the house and act like a Master when I had in fact abdicated, had left the house to the suitors and the inevitable people of the street, people like Stassen, specifically Red Stassen.
And I was suddenly out into the street, and there was a pause as I stood there with my two bags, and I was making it back toard Main Street and the hotel to try again, when I heard Loren's voice behind me, saying "Wait."
I paused and waited and soon she had the car started up and she said, "Wait, wait. listen, here is what I'll do, I'll drive you to Sals, my sister's and then you can go to your parents' house." And I'm saying that's bullshit, that is my house, our house, why won't you let me come back, and she says, you can't and I am saying, "Look, I've been a cunt." "Don't use that word!" she screamed. "I know. But you have to let me back into the house," and she says No and then I said "I know I've done the wrong thing, but I will get back into our house even if I have to go crazy. Will you visit me in the nuthouse?"
"Yes, but the children won't."
And by this time we were in the GO terminal where she said she had to phone Sal and while I was sitting down while she was phoning, I thought I could hear her saying that she had "had it" and that she could not, would not take me back. I refused to believe my ears.
And then we were back in the car and when was saying for the second or first time that she loved me and her eyes were wild and very ball-like and round through her glasses, and she was saying I..I love you. I will find a way, listen, I will find a way...
From ancient Celtic truth to colloquial suburban soap opera.
We try to be kings, but end up as clowns.