you say potato, i say dont sue me: Well, Im thinking by now its
"original" but I could be wrong. It could be uber, it could be stolen
from LN James diary
you decide. At any rate, no copyright infringement
is intended and no profit gained. Yet. Will someone please send me money?
HOLY CRAP, ITS A TRILOGY!: And we shall call it the "Variations
on a Theme of Codependency Series." This is the final of 3 stories that began
Narcoleptics Guide to Romance" and continued with "A
Lexicon for the Sunday Morning Sleeper." Arent you glad I picked
a short title this time? Anyway, this story refers to characters/incidents mentioned
in the previous two. If you arent familiar with these stories, it might
be advisable to read them first before proceeding here.
THANKS: Im very grateful to B.M. Morgan for her comments on the draft.
SEND ME NO POTATOES: firstname.lastname@example.org
God picks up the reed-flute world and blows,
Each note is a need coming through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain.
Remember the lips
where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Jalal al-Din Rumi
Prelude: A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck
It had been good while it lasted, this numb, careless passage of timeunfettered,
illustrated in her mind as a hackneyed image from easily a dozen movies about
composers (Ken Russells Mahler, his Lizst, the old film about
Gershwin with Robert Alda
), as pages from a music score fluttering past
in an all-powerful wind, whipped into chaos, representing the whirlwind of time.
However clichéd the image was, Danny coddled it close to her heart for
its pure truth. Music written on a page was a calendar of sorts, tracking days
in notes and states of mind in the rise and fall of passages; funny, she thought,
how in the stasis of its written formtrapped in amberthis most elusive
and disembodied of art forms could do that.
The passage was over, the song cycle complete on that day in Testaccio, when
she bought the cello from Santangelos shop. It had hardly been surprising
that, on her first day back in Rome, she would seek out one of the places shed
loved best in the entire city, and that was a music store owned by this ebullient
Romana child prodigy gone astray, a former trapeze artist, fisherman, nightclub
owner and bouncer. His squinty, bright blue eyes served as beacons in the magnificent
wreck of his tanned, leathered face, a face dominated by a large and, according
to Santangelo himself, frequently broken nose. (Name a celebrity living within
the past 45 years, Danny thought, and Santangelo would claim hed been punched
by himor her.) In college, she had seen a photo of the Czech writer Milan
Kundera; the resemblance to Santangelo was so pronounced that she immediately
assumed the old man was putting his prodigious talent for bullshitting into a
venturewriting fictionwhere it would blossom like a weed.
No, she thought, it was hardly surprising that she walked away from his shop
with a cello trailing in her wake and the taste of a good Valpolicella lining
The carrying case Santangelo had provided for the cello was probably older
than he was. Only a few blocks away from the shop the wheels finally split off
and rolled helter-skelter across the cobblestones like giant, mechanical ants.
Fuck. Danny looked in vain for a cab as the sun sizzled into her back.
The streets surrounding the warehouses and the humble trattorias were bare. She
glanced shamefacedly at the cello, as if it were a bad date that she simply couldnt
figure out how to abandon.
Come on. You carried one of these things for years. You can do it again.
She knelt and tipped the cello onto her back. Mother of God. A
tide of vomit ebbed at the back of her throat; she broke out into a sweat. Nonetheless,
she carried the thing across the piazza, almost crawling along the rutted street,
until it literally drove her to her knees.
After delicately rolling the cello off her back, she looked up. In front of
her was the Church of Santa Sabina. Sabine.
Ostensibly, her father had called her to Rome for reconciliation. Come to
Rome, my childsaid during a drunken 3 a.m. phone call, said in the regal
manner that made Massimo, his assistant, frequently refer to him as "the
American Pope." In an email following the call, Massimo told her that Sabine
was gonehe had caught her in flagrante with a housepainter. Exuding
the unsubtle power of blackmail, Massimo finally got Sabine to abandon the crumbling
marriage to her father. Danny wondered if Massimo had been counted among her soon-to-be
former stepmothers conquests; regardless, the smug tone of his email indicated
he had won the power struggle that had existed in the villa ever since Sabines
arrival on the scene.
Despite all the reasons for being back in Rome, despite the desperation of
her atonementwasnt she buying the cello as much to please her father
as herself?despite being on her knees in front of a church whose name evoked
her whore of a stepmother (and she always brought you to your knees too, didnt
she?), she looked at the church and thought not of God, nor atonement, nor
Sabine, nor her wounded father, nor a passion for music that she longed to rekindle,
Kate possessed an almost encyclopedic knowledge about religious architecture,
and Danny was certain she would appreciate the splendor of the churches not only
in Rome, but throughout the country. Early onbasking in the glow of fresh
love, in the scent of musky bedsheets, in the promise of endless summer afternoonsthey
spoke of traveling together to Italy, even all across Europe.
She even remembered Kate dragging her to an Orthodox Greek church in Astoria,
a Byzantine marvel that even made Danny cower in awe and respect. They always
say the Devils in the details, Kate had said, but you look at thisand
you cant help but think theyre wrong.
She stared at the Church of Santa Sabine. A hollowness within her chest rang
like a bell; its vibrato unfurled in her veins.
Scherzo for Stalking
It was a shock of blue, deep and jarring, lacking the soothing properties
so customarily associated with the color, and it covered most of the wall. It
appeared to seep out of the boundaries of the canvas, encroaching and laying waste
to the other small figurative studies that lurked beside it.
In spite of her surprisingly conventional tastes in art, Danny rather liked
it. What she didnt like was the disgusting, newfangled martini that Walter
gave her. There was some sort of raspberry liqueur in it; red curls bobbed on
its surface, demonic little corkscrews that mockingly dared her to eat them. It
was the latest thing, apparently, but despite the drinks ambitions it accomplished
nothing aside from making her feel incredibly dated and old.
Once again Walter was pressed up against her, taking advantage of the unfortunate
social rule that ex-boyfriends, even those dating as far back as college, can
always violate ones personal space whenever they please.
"You like this one," he burred. The rough scrub of his unshaven chin
brushed her earlobe.
Danny was certain that he wanted the crowd to think he was whispering some
kind of unbridled come-on into her ear, the sort of thing he would murmur when
they dated in school; that he continued to indulge in this fraudulent intimacy
after they broke up was first out of desperation, then a matter of principlefutile,
febrile attempts to swing her back from "the dyke side." Now it was
merely force of habit. "Remind me againhow much did I give you for
Walter pulled back, as if she had struck him. "Jesus. How many times are
you going to rub my nose in it?"
"Im just kidding."
"Im going to pay you back." Walter never inspired confidence,
particularly now. His idea of opening-night attire was sneakers, paint-stippled
khakis, and a t-shirt. Danny did like the t-shirt, however. It showed a picture
of an egg and a pint of cream; the thought balloons above the respective items
read "Beat Me" and "Whip Me."
She didnt care about the money; she knew she would be lucky to get half
of it back. It didnt matter. Walter deserved it, she thought, for putting
up with her for almost 15 years. "Dont worry about it."
"Whaddya going to do when Judith notices its gone?"
"Tell her its for my heroin habit and all the whores that I sleep
Walter giggled. "Ah, what would that woman do, without you to continuously
yank her chain?"
She didnt want to think about her mother, so she nodded at the painting.
"Yeah, I like this one. Its the only one I do like."
"I knew you wouldnt understand his work," Walter lamented.
"Yeah, I know, Walter. Im so fucking stupid." She thrust her
half-empty glass at him. "Make me a proper drink, would you?"
"Id settle for a simple G & T. Hold the sugar, hold the raspberry
liqueur, hold the squiggly red things."
"Theyre licorice shavings," he replied in a strangely supercilious
"Am I supposed to be impressed with that?"
"Get me a bottle of Bombay from upstairs, then."
"Since when are the gallerys patrons also the hired help?"
"Since the guys who were supposed to help never showed up. Ive been
the bartender all goddamn night, in case you havent noticed. Oh." Walter
turned on the worn heel of a yellow Converse All-Star sneaker. "And youre
the only patron, you know that." His voice rose over the paltry din of conversation
and old U2 playing on the boombox: "Ill kiss your ass later. In front
of everybody, if you want."
In the garden I was playing the tart
She smiled in what she hoped was a ravishing, irresistible fashion.
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
Walter flipped her the bird and grinned.
"Am I your Judas?" God, did I actually say that to you
She headed up to the verboten second floor.
During the summer, Walter had bought the building with the intention of opening
it as a gallery that September. What he did not count on were the numerous building,
fire, and safety code violations that had to be overcome before the space could
be opened to the public; he settled instead for a hasty opening on a gloomy, frigid
weekend in December.
The renovations had not yet extended to the musty second floor. It didnt
matter muchat this point Walter was only using it for storage, although
visions of tiny, overpriced apartments rented to desperate NYU students danced
through his head. The space did have potentiallike the downstairs floor,
the east wall was a lovely, rugged exposed brick. But at the moment the upstairs
rooms only held paintings, unused canvas, frames, and booze.
The windows were layered with frost and filth. The neighborhood reminded her
a little of Testaccio in Rome: Crumbling and working-class, retaining a sliver
of rough dockside charm even as it was overrun with hipsters. She pulled a bottle
of gin from an open box. She was not eager to return downstairs and so, grasping
the bottle by the neck, she leaned against the dusty windowsill and looked out
the begrimed window onto Berry Street. Suddenly people flooded the almost empty
streetshe briefly wondered where they were coming from, until she remembered
the proximity of the subway station. The onslaughtyoung women in bright
skirts, old men in workpants, young men in elegant overcoats, a grizzled vagrant
carrying a garbage bag, black teenagers swallowed whole in baggy jeans and puffy
North Face jacketssoon fell to a trickle. Bringing up the rear was an obese
man wearing a mechanics jacket and overalls, and loping behind him a tall
figure wearing a dark blue parka. Danny recognized not only the walk but the battered
sheen of the coat, just before the hood was pushed down and a skein of black hair
flew out like a flag, proudly proclaiming an independent state, a bold new territory.
It was Kate.
You were acting like it was the end of the world
Danny dropped the bottle. Glass and gin glistened in a beautiful smash-up
at her feet, tinkling gently as it pooled, sharp and bright, along the floor.
In her first leap toward the door she skidded in the spilt gin; the glass crunching
under her boots served as a safety brake of sorts, a jagged precaution. She stopped
and allowed a vague sense of foolishness battle a painful yearning; either her
bottled-up heart was exploding through her ears or Walter had cranked the music.
What will it accomplish, she wondered, to go running off after a ghost?
She galloped down the stairs, past the guy who looked like Ted from "Queer
Eye," (or was it really Ted? she wondered), swam by the blue painting,
and nearly collided with Walter, who was now making the circuit armed with a tray
"What the hell are you doing?" he cried.
"Ill be back." She burst through the main door, startling a
couple who were just about to come in.
"Ive never seen you run in your entire life!" Walter yelled
And then she was on the street, running down to the corner and making the same
turn that she saw Kate take, dodging bewildered people, ignoring the boys loitering
outside a club who screamed "Run, Lola, Run!" at her as she flew by.
She ran harder. She was not accustomed to pushing her body beyond any kind of
limitexcept when it came to drinkingbut she ran until she wasnt
sure where she was anymore, until doubt settled in and she wondered if it was
really Kate she had seen and not an apparition spurred by a bad martini, too much
U2, and too much hope.
She stopped. Doubled over and panting, she gasped out clouds of air that hit
her knees. Sweat cooled along her back as the night, sleek and dark, starry and
chilled, poured over her. Is it stupid of me to think it means something, to
see her again? It hurt to breathe. Does it mean I am still capable of feeling
When finally she returned to the gallery, U2 wasnt playing anymore. However,
Walters nostalgia for the early 90s continued unabated; he was now playing
Bettie Seveert: Ray ray rain/if you feel the same/give me a sign
He stood near the door with Saul, whod apparently just arrived. Saul
wore a fur hat and a camel hair overcoat. Even after so many years, there was
still something about his urbanity that sometimes overwhelmed Dannyas if
he were too tasteful to exist outside his antique-laden Chelsea apartment, a portly
figurine that would shatter if confronted with too much mundane ugliness. In this
respect he seemed almost frighteningly, preternaturally gay. "Well, theres
our little poppet," he murmured as Danny entered the gallery.
"Whats up?" Walter asked. "Think you saw Sigourney Weaver
"No," replied Danny, sullen and possessed of a strong urge to go
Saul smiled and tugged at the ragged cuff of her sweater. "Are you okay,
"You broke a bottle of gin," Walter threw in irritably.
She sighed. "Sorry about that." Deftly she avoided meeting Sauls
"And you didnt even clean it up."
"Fuck it, Walter," she hissed.
"Well, if I wasnt already selling my firstborn to you Id really
bitch about it, but"
"Are you all right?" Saul repeated.
"Yeah, Imfine." Danny tried to change the subject. "Is
Ted still here?"
Walter frowned. "Ted who?"
Saul touched her cheek, steering her face so that their eyes finally met. Occasionally
she was amused by Sauls uncanny talent for reading her mind; most of the
time, however, it either terrified or irritated her beyond belief, and this moment
was no exception.
"Oh my God," he blurted. "Danny, no."
"What?" Clueless, Walter peered into her face. "Is she sick?"
"Goddamnit, Saul." She pushed his hand away from her face.
"You saw her again."
"Sigourney Weaver?" Walter asked hopefully.
"Not Sigourney Weaver," Sauls shout was directed at
Walter but nonetheless caught the interest of practically everyone jammed in the
tiny room. "The narcoleptic Jesus freak!"
For a group of about 30 art gallery attendees on a winters night in Brooklyn,
Danny was hereby anointed as The Narcoleptic Jesus Freak. An urban legend was
born. My friends cousin works at St. Vincents and said one night
they brought in this girl with stigmata no shit really she had wandered into this
like party in Brooklyn and her hands were covered in blood and she collapsed and
they took her away and nobody ever heard from her again
"Wow." Walter was awestruck. For him, a Kate sighting was as good
as a Sigourney Weaver sighting; he had never met the fabled Kate, the only woman
that Danny had ever pined after "like some dumb bitch in a Bronte novel"
as Sauls partner, Bart, had put it.
"I dont know if it was her," Danny muttered.
"Or perhaps youre trying to convince yourself it isnt."
Saul whipped his coat off with the assuredness of a man with a minionand
draped it over Walters waiting arms.
She sneered. "Isnt that what you want, Saul?"
"What I want is for you to not go down this road again. Nothing will come
of it. Shes straight, Danny. If she wanted to be with you, she would."
"There are no straight women. Only degrees of queerness." It was
her standard retort, usually spiced with just the right amount of bravado and
confidence. Now, she couldnt manage it.
Saul issued forth a long-suffering sigh.
She wished she could tell Saul how she knew that Kate had loved her, had loved
what they did together. When I first saw you I thought you were the most beautiful
thing Id ever seen. She could tell Saul, again, that Kate had said
that, but she could not translate that tone of voice, rich and tremulous, spilling
over into lust. Nor could she convey the eager, guileless conviction of Kates
movement in bed; she was the student who wished to know and to be known, who desired
the release of the knowledge that she always knew existed within herself.
But Danny knew he wouldnt believe her; there were times when she scarcely
believed it herself.
Adagio: Miss Bronte, or the Idiot in the Attic
Two days later
The ancient state of pathos was as foreign to Danny as Sanskrit was to a fish;
while she saw it in other people, she could not recognize it as something that
ever touched her. Every ridiculous gesturesuch as, for example, sitting
in the frigid second floor of Walters gallery on a Sunday afternoon in order
to stalk a woman she hadnt seen for three yearswas imbued with conviction
and a bizarre kind of dignity.
As for whether others might view her as patheticand here Danny lowered
a pair of binoculars and stared at the cotton-ball sky with naked eyesshe
simply didnt care.
The only price to pay for her obsession thus far was Walters perpetual
ridicule. He thumped ominously up the stairs to her makeshift garret, sounding
not unlike a villain in a third-rate melodrama. Certainly, she thought, he was
doing it on purpose; all his contrivances to the contrary, nothing was ever completely
accidental with Walter.
The heavy rhythm of his tread was accompanied by a trilling falsetto: "Heathcliff,
its meeeee, Cathy, Ive come home now
Im so alone
me in your windoooooow
Danny clenched her teeth. Kate Bush was the kind of girl she would have fucked
and taunted in college. Or maybe, depending upon her mood, taunted then fucked.
"Walter, do you know any music beyond the parameters of 1980-1995?"
"More like 1992," he admitted, slightly breathless from stair-climbing.
Danny sat on a barstool she confiscated from downstairs; he stood beside her as
his breathing reestablished its gentle, regular pattern. "Maria brought some
subs. Want one?"
Maria was Walters girlfriendeither long-suffering or exceedingly
patient. Perhaps both. "No. Thanks."
"Anything to drink?"
"Youd be warmer downstairs."
"I like it up here. It gives me a better overview of the street."
They were quiet together for almost a minute.
"I could tell Saul about this."
"Go ahead. He cant stop me."
"Hell hound you until you do."
"You got a bad attitude, Junior."
"Im not" She raised the binoculars again, inhibiting
any successful interpretation of her expressionalthough it wasnt as
if Walter could actually figure her out. "Im not going to do this forever."
"Well," Walter retorted, quite naturally, "how long?"
"Until I get her."
"Why is it stalking is illegal, dangerous, psychotic behavior when a man
does it, but when a woman does it, its completely charming and romantic?"
"We know how to do it right."
"I was being sarcastic."
Danny dropped the binoculars and glared at him. "Try being silent."
"Is that her?"
Her head snapped to window. She jumped up.
"Will you go the fuck away?"
"This is crazy. Youre completely wound up. Are you on something?"
"No!" Danny shouted.
"Oh my Godis that her?"
"Walter, I swear to God, I will kill you if you dont leave right
"No, seriously. Look."
"No, look." Walter pointed.
Blue and black, tall and lean, Kate moved through the street. And she moved
through the fair / And fondly I watched her move here / And move there. It
was her. Danny was breathless in remembrance of everythingher walk, her
laugh, her hands skimming back hair from her face or wrapped around a coffee cup.
And she went her way homeward /
With one star awake
She reached out to touch the windowpane and stopped, as if the dirty glass
would ripple like a pond and the illusion would shatter and disappear. As the
swan in the evening / Moved over the lake.
Walter modulated his usual sardonic tone with a genuine touch of tenderness.
"Arent you supposed to be running after her like a banshee?"
She looked at him. He smiled.
"Oh. Right." Danny took off.
Either Kate was walking slower or she was running faster, but this time Danny
managed to keep her in sight; she trailed behind her quarry, keeping a block between
them, until, several blocks later, Kate entered a warehouse-like building on Roebling
She had let herself into the building with a key that opened a heavy, gray
steel door. Several minutes after Kate disappeared inside, Danny wandered over
and peered at a row of buttons beside the door. Of course. Loft apartments.
There was a "K. ANDERSON" on the second floor.
She looked up. The terminal velocity of a raindrop struck the side of her head.
Kate hadnt married Jamesthat much Danny knew from Bart, who kept
abreast of Page Six, and her mother, the Livia of the local Republican Party.
At the time it hadnt mattered much to Danny; pursuit was madness, and she
had to stop. If she wants me, shell come to me, she thought; it was
a mantra of quiet desperation that she repeated it aloud to anyone who would listendisinterested
acquaintances at parties, the guys at her local Starbucks, the women in
bars sadly and strangely fascinated by tales of true love. She stole consolation
as a furtive and desperate lover would forbidden kisses in public places.
But Kate had not come to her. So she had moved on. There were new clubs, new
restaurants, new galleries, new songs, new diversions. And new women: An attorney
who liked to meet in hotels. A jewelry-maker who lived in Brooklyn and had a strangely
deep, thrilling voice. A British opera fanatic. A landscape architect who smoked
heavily; Danny wondered how her plants stayed alive.
On the buildings east side, facing an alley, was a fire escape.
Irregardless of retrospection, Danny knew the minute she seized the fire escapes
ladder that it was plainly stupid, blatantly criminal, and beyond insane to attempt
breaking into Kates apartment. The rain began to fall in a steady, slashing
torrent. The black metal of the fire escape grew slick and shiny; clumsily, she
wrapped her body around the first-floor landing like a drunken gymnast. But somehow
her grip faltered; the strong nimble fingers that coaxed beauty out of a cello
were simply too delicate and precise to play a fire escape.
She fell. It wasnt very far, but far enough to do damage. Pavement,
Lucidity was barely maintained during a brief cell-phone conversation with
Walter: Pain barked at her heels. She spoke through clenched teeth. He assured
her that help was on its way. She knew that meant he would call her mother. She
passed out. When next she woke a policeman was shining a light in her faceeven
though it was broad daylight.
New Yorks Finest, she thought, before passing out.
Over the next few hours she had bursts of claritya hospital corridor,
the nice Indian doctor, needles and bandages. The next thing she knew, she was
in the soft cocoon of her mothers BMW, drooling on the plush back seat,
sitting in a muffled, morphine bliss.
Judith sat beside her in the back, eating baby carrots; they were a coping
mechanism, a substitute for cigarettesshe always kept a Ziploc bag of them
in her purse. Normally the deafening, frantic crunch of them was enough to make
Danny matricidalalthough, admittedly, it never took much for Danny to attain
that statebut in the soft world of painkillers, the noise sounded as pleasant
as freshly fallen snow under a boot.
Her mother stopped crunching and sighed.
Here it comes. The thought slurred across Dannys mind.
"You know," she began, "if you are to ever convince me that
lesbian relationships are healthy, you simply must stop doing things like
this." She sighed again and packed away her carrots. "I mean, really,
Danny, didnt the girl have a doorbell?"
The notes of Dannys laughter escalated in a gentle frenzy not unlike
Ravels Bolero. She laughed until her collarbone throbbed all over
At home that night, she stared at the cello she bought in Rome and cried. Shed
made tentative, lukewarm overtures at playing again over the past two months,
and only last week gave in and called Andreas, her old teacher, for help. Now,
it would be two months at least before she could even attempt to play again. She
laid her face against the instruments swollen belly and inhaled ancient
resins, curling an aching hand around the fingerboard.
Coda: Sunday Morning
Danny knew Andreass back as well as she knew any part of her own
body; after all, shed spent close to ten years staring at the slope of his
shoulders, the sag of his corduroy jackets. Whenever she worked with him, he stood
half the time with his back to her, focused on the music. The other half he criticized
her physical approach. Your wrists are too tight. Play through your arms, not
with them. When your body seizes up, when it is stiff, it means you are searching
for the seat of your power in the wrong way.
Over and over he made her play a passage from a Caetano Veloso version of a
song called "Fina Estampa"a snippet played con rabbia,
a challenge to her stamina. Clearly Andreas didnt think she was ready for
Bach or Brahms orGod forbid she should even think ithis precious Elgar
or his sainted Sainte Colombe.
She sprinted over the notes. In their familiar burn, the strings against her
fingers yielded their old secrets, whispering intimacies softly hissed in the
exhale of the bows crossing. When finally Andreas told her to stop, she
was limp and sweaty.
He was pleased. His nicotine fingers rested affectionately in the damp nape
of her neck. "It is a good start. You havent forgotten much. But promise
me one thing."
She looked at him with feverish eyes, an adoring disciple out of a Renaissance
In turn he glared at her with Old Testament wrath. "Dont ever stop
Snow sanctified the city; that it was Sunday as well enhanced this vaguely
non-secular mood. It fell in a pure pointillist haze. Everything would be white,
if only for an hour or two, as everyone crept toward quiet and unknown destinations.
Church or brunchtake your pick. Danny sat at the fake Eames kitchen
table in her apartment. Absently, she tugged at her pursed lips and wondered how
best the day could be wasted. Her coffee grew cold. It was earlier than when she
usually awoke, and she blamed the snow for this. Her street was normally quiet
anyway, but the snow made the outside world downright silent. There wasnt
even the sound of shoes hitting the pavement.
Might as well go get the paper. She pulled on boots, a sweater, a suede
jacket. From the deli she would phone Saul. He was typically awake by now, and
perhaps he could be convinced to brunch earlierafter a certain amount of
complaining, of course. All the good places dont open until 11, you know
Downstairs, she opened the front door and was struck by not only the cold,
which pinched and prickled her bare cheeks, but the sight of Kate leaning against
the stone railing.
Kate looked genuinely surprised to see her, as if she had no idea that Danny
still lived there. Her mouth parted but no words came out.
"Hi." Danny didnt know what else to say.
The soft fluctuations of her lips finally produced sounds. "Youre
"Yeah." Danny took a couple steps down, her bare finger plowing a
fringe of snow off the rail. She barely felt the chill. This is what youve
waited for. This is what you want. "Thesnow woke me up."
"Weird, I know." She was now one step above Kateand hence,
on eye level with her. Snow settled starkly in her black hair. She looked remarkably
unchanged, as handsome, beautiful, and beguiling as ever. "Youre here.
Why are you here?"
"Oh," Kate said again.
"Didnt think this far ahead?" Danny hoped she sounded teasing
and not confrontational.
Kate shrugged, resisted a grin. "Never thought youd be awake before
noon on a Sunday."
"You know," Danny intoned, "weve got to stop stalking
She laughed, and it was beautiful. Oh God, how Ive missed your laugh.
"At least I didnt fall off a fire escape."
"You know about that." Danny was instantly dismayed. "I wasnt
sure if you did."
"You know meoblivious. I didnt know until my neighbors told
me that nightThere was a crazy woman trying to climb the side of the
building and she fell. The cops and the ambulance were out there. Didnt
you see? I didnt. Then they describedyou. I knew it was you."
She paused. "I called your mother around Christmas, to see how you were."
Bitch! "She didnt tell me."
"I didnt expect her to." Kate removed a thick, stiff glove
from her hand. Danny found the gesture simultaneously brazen as a striptease,
given the weather, and yet primly erotic. When Kates cool fingers wrapped
around her hand she could only think about how she didnt deserve it. She
was the beggar mistrusting the pot of gold at his feet. And when Kate kissed her
hand with soft, dry lips she disbelieved even further, and called the entire world
into question. Is it really snowing? Is this really New York? Is this really
what happens to good girls who wake up early on Sundays? Its a whole new
Kates eyes were closed, as if in prayer, and she kept Dannys reddening
knuckles pressed to her lips. "I dont know how to do this," she
finally said. Her voice rubbed against Dannys skin, like a cat.
"Its all right. Neither do I."
"It will end badly."
"Yes." She thought it best to agree with Kate; pessimists, she knew
all too well, dislike the counterpoint of sunny dissent. How did I suddenly
"I havent changed much," Kate admitted.
"Its okay. I have." Danny opted for full disclosure. "Well,
a little, I guess."
"And that would be enough for both of us?"
"I dont know. It might be worth finding out. A little may be enough."
Danny wasnt sure if Kate was frowning at the answer she gave, or at the
increasingly roughened state of Dannys left hand, which she caressed and
scrutinized like a too-affectionate fortuneteller. "Youve been playing
The truth was she played too much, as if trying to exhaust that hidden reserve
of years when she did not play. She had a bloody blister on the ring finger of
her left hand. "Yes."
Kate nodded at the building, at the cello somewhere within. "Will you
play that thing for me?"
She would play for Kate. She would continue to play, always. And this particular
pieceperformed with the accompaniment of a snowy morning and an unmerited
state of graceshe would play until she got it right, and perhaps even beyond
that point, perhaps until the end of her life. Da capo al fine, she thought.
From beginning to end.
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