Monday, August 20, 2007

A Savannah Story

Watch the long arms of those live oaks and the dripping green. They are beautiful, unforgettable, and tell every story, some sordid, some hopeful. Their own stories are in another language, sometimes equally charged with change, always adapting, no questions asked. Listen.

We met in the park near my office after Nina called me.
I would like to state my case, she said, her head down, voice getting softer and a trickle of tears slowly moving down her cheeks.
Tell me, I said, my voice soft too, even softer than the way it felt inside me.
I didn’t kill anyone, she said.
Who said you did? I said, not believing what I was hearing.
You’re going to be hearing this, she said, but it’s not true.
What are you talking about? I asked.
You’ve heard me talk about Randall, haven’t you?
Yes, I answered.
Randall is dead, she said. I was with him the day before.
I could not figure out where this was coming from.
We’re friends, aren’t we? I said, lifting her chin so she would look at me.
She nodded, her made-up eyes filled with tears.
Tell me about Randall, I said. What happened?
I don’t know, she said. I only know that he was found dead in the parking garage at his office, and I know my name is going to come up. I thought I loved him – I didn’t love him, but he was a force in my life, a wind that swept up everything so I would be persuaded to do things he said. When I did, he seemed happy, and I just got caught up in it, that seemed so simple, for a change. For a change, everything was simple, and happy.
You were having an affair with him? I asked, not just wanting to state the obvious, but feeling compelled to be crystal clear.
She cried more, and nodded. You don’t understand, she said.
You’d be surprised, I said.
I had loved her a long time. This love I felt had gone through every stage of upheaval, it seemed, though much of it was on the inside. She knew I loved her, but had never felt the same for me, so we had softened it over, glossed it over, and tried to be kind to the pet in the room called My Love. This was at least amusing to us. I had never married, but I was happy. My friend Angela and I shared parallel lives – she was divorced and happy to be friends with me. We had grown to appreciate life and the little things. Divorce is no walk in the park, she used to say, quoting her ex-husband and enjoying every taste of chocolate-mint ice cream as we walked through the park.
Who knows about you? I asked Nina.
His wife, now, I think, she said. And one of his friends at the office. I met him one day when we met up for lunch. His friend knew right away, gave me that smile that said he knew, then I saw how that smile between them went. It disgusted me, but I went with him and jollied up, enjoyed myself by the time we finished that fresh, delicious food and champagne.
This story is going to go on a long time, I thought.
There are lifetimes to solve this one, not just the details of what bullet, what finger, what trigger, what gun, but the whys that converged into all of these “only for the moments” which seemed happy and overrode the true love of all true kindness, compassion, the heart-sleeve which wiped the mouths of children after sipping juice, the laughter which came from a moment by the fire, the joy that is impossible to make small, and deadly.

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