That was the week that was. My shoes fit you rather well, I thought. Yours were a little snug but no less a source of amusement. So I parodied and you mocked and we raised a few brows.
Just how well do you know me? Well enough to know how others see me, of course, which is what you did to perfection, and I with you. So you present me in caricature, 2-D, and with a fairly large kernel of truth at the heart of it too, but otherwise you mock the mockery. Of course, I think you know me pretty conclusively, not that such a thing needed to be proved at all.
Still, I wonder if you saw this hidden rouse.
Yeah, it’s all well and good swapping personalities to prove a point that was never really a point at all, that was obvious from the start, but as I tend towards a bit of deviousness now and again I have used this swap with suitably perverse intent.
You can’t forget what time of year it is either, I’m sure. Although this, my devious gift to call attention to that date is given to you a little early for the beginning of March. And perhaps I’m just a little unexpected in marking the night so prominently in any case, but that’s also half the fun- as you by now suspect.
And so I shall again unearth what I said, and we shall see where it takes me and, hopefully, where it urges that delicious blush of mortified contentment that I’ll wager has already begun to spread.
"I have not wavered from my views since 1791, and do not see why I need change them now..."
Sometimes any one of us might feel apart from ourselves. Is that a fair way of describing that indefinable feeling of dizziness and loss? You know to what I refer; an encroaching feeling of numbing distance that’s the inevitable consequence of change.
Everything changes but us. This dark life we share is nothing if not an endless walk of faith towards whatever may yet come. And all we have known and by which we define our very souls fades from view with every step.
Did you know that I feel it too? Ah, I think you guess in some secret fold of that logical mind, but did you also guess what might be a chief defense against that widening chasm?
"I have heard of this new-fangled art of the daguerreotype that makes a facsimile like a painting. I like to keep up to date with modernity..."
Time exists for us at a different pace from the marching world, or even not at all. Blink and the years have passed. Watch closely, and we bear witness to countless black hours dripping by with infinitesimal disregard. It all comes down to the same thing in the end; all we have ever known will ultimately vanish. And where does that leave us, and with what vestige of sanity?
And I concede here that mine was never as great as yours.
Life itself excludes us. We are held to a ransom that is never paid. And so there must be context, a backdrop. Even some crudely painted scenery of our own devising that we use to represent what we knew, and who we were and to which we might cling and so endure what will come. Each brush stroke we make is like a scent that lingers on after the blossom is dried, or a half remembered song without words: infinitely necessary.
And you often remain the surest cure for what ails me.
You are the cool, appraising remedy for this endless fevered yearning of mine, for my constant ebb of risk and loss, hope and ruination. I really do forget so much and so easily. In you, and in the journey we’ve shared, I remember myself.
"I do not take note of what anyone says of me. In fact I exist so far in the past that I cannot even hear anything addressed to me until many years after..."
You exist just as much in the present as I though accepting more than I ever do, just as capable of grasping the endless parade of futures. But you are as my velvets and silks, my Bach, my constant silken raiment which keeps me whole in this world I adore but was not born into. Fundamental.
Don’t you dare change or I shall have lost myself.
"I have been preoccupied with watching rather a fascinating adventure unfold, but I think all of the paint has now completely dried..."
I heard you laugh with me on that one, don’t say I didn’t! Frenetic creature that I am what small and hidden beauties would I trample if not for your studious eye? Well, yes, I still do trample. My patience is always several steps behind my curiosity. Who knows the restless tempest in my heart as well as you? I would be perfectly miserable without the sheer mesmerism of your silence, by your gentle- or very often not at all gentle- urging for me to surrender myself to some quiet.
Transfixed by your reticent but unruffled vigilance I find myself borrowing a little of it, in welcome and blissful peace. Or for the scant hour or two it lasts in any case.
"I'm hoping I might be able to design my own purgatory as I have spent my eternal hours perfecting it here on earth. Until that time I shall punish myself and as many adjacent sinners as I am able in the comfort of my own hovel. Failing that, I shall endure the comforts of Lestat's home, and continue to create my own personal hell with the aid of sackcloth, Dickens and self denial..."
I sometimes swear that I made you to be my penance; my personal punishment for all that I rightfully deserve. My soul has always known what’s coming to it, after all. I can’t help that whatever it is never actually arrives, so I flagellate and tease it myself while I sin anew. That would be a new level of selfishness on my part don’t you think? Imagine if it were true.
"Any likely harbinger of doom that would sit uneasily in the corner, brooding like a caged and resentful creature...
"...I wonder if you could explain the words, "forget about it and move on with your life." I can read them but I cannot understand the concept you are conveying..."
Perhaps it is all vicarious after all. Claudia was ever my conscience, even as she lacked one of her own, so why would I flinch at making you my atonement, my eternal reminder that I am the fiend I always said I was. I do sin impeccably well. And you alone know that the more I laugh, the more stricken I am. In that there is often a little envy on my part.
I just can’t give myself over to those waiting hell fires, and I won’t, but I am ever more deserving of them and your exotic and eloquent soul reminds me of it. Your suffering has always been mine.
"I would feel you to be a kindred soul, if I was not forever destined to glide soundlessly in sorrow as if I were on small wheels..."
As if it’s any news to you, I tend to bulldoze my way past anything. Nothing and nobody get in my way when my eye is fixed on some obsessive end, not even, and often especially you. Well, it’s all so much dust in the wind, really, but that has always been my way of living one year to the next. And just now and again, I realize that there’s so little to sustain me in the here and now that I must put my fervent hope into what I don’t have yet.
"Hair can be so inconveniently attractive..."
What has always stopped me in my tracks and made me think again, no matter how rambunctious and stubborn I am, is curiously hard to define. I wouldn’t know where to begin to categorize it, and it would be a positive crime to try. So I won’t hang an overall label on this arresting quality, but describe it more as a series of moments unfolding one after another, each a perfect aesthetic tableau that simply halts time, and when I least expect it still manages to launch my heart into my throat.
You ought to know what I’m talking about, but, of course, you don’t, you never do and that’s what makes this so fundamental, if not infuriating. You will give me that Look:
"I might look at you in a very fierce way then mope for a week and you wouldn't survive it..."
And if I were to talk of beauty perhaps incline your head or shake it and put it all down to my usual exaggeration or shall we just call it B.S. which I’m also full of. And I might still talk of it- if only to see you incline and shake your head so which is a good enough reason in itself- but that’s not what I refer to here at all. It’s just not a simple as that.
Say, you simply turn your head to glance at me, which routine and unadorned thing you did only last night, in fact, as you tapped thoughtfully on your laptop while I breezed past. Yeah, yeah, I can almost smell you getting all dismissive on my ass and rolling your eyes in anticipation at what you know comes next, but you’re absolutely going to read this.
You never just glance. I don’t know what you do, possibly nothing, but it’s phenomenal for all that. You darted a razor sharp look, eyes slanted quizzically, narrowed, yet somehow not seeing me at all. Your pupils dilated, I saw that faint sensual movement, a subtle eclipse and your hands froze above the keys for a split second, just long enough to be interrupted by me, which, naturally was my sole aim in passing so close.
It ain’t what you do, it’s the way the you do it. And that’s what gets results.
"I have several thousand volumes of poetry, all of varying degrees of obscurity and tedium, and all on the topic of misery. Which would you like me to intone next..?"
Simple rituals often bind us the tightest.
Do you recall our first nights, as we began to ease into unease; provocative and cagey nights when we searched blindly and distrustfully for any threads that might anchor us together? Ah, I know that you do. This is nothing but rhetoric.
You stared at that bookcase for an hour from your perch by the fire, hands folded in your lap but touched by a gorgeous frisson of tension. I was tempted to wave a hand before your eyes to see if you might finally blink or move, but you made some internal decision, and got to your feet. Those long fingers closed hesitantly upon a leather bound volume, one of a series of three numbered in ponderous and burnished gilt, and you pulled it free as if a life hung upon the action.
That book stayed opened on your knee while the clock ticked as sullenly as the tap of my foot and the wind rattled the rain from the shutters until you ventured a question that masqueraded as a statement. “I might just as well read aloud as sit here in silence,” and so you did.
“Is it thy will, thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows like to thee do mock my sight?
Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee
So far from home into my deeds to pry,
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenor of thy jealousy?”
Well if you don’t recall it, I do, and the particular sonnet that your steady voice read above the baying of the wind outside. Was it deliberately chosen to show how much you really knew? Ah, I have little doubt it was, of course, and in it you mocked my stalking of you, my fixation and possession and all of that jazz. You’d known all along.
You could always knock me sideways. It’s a knack. In that moment I felt the first certainty of your enduring strength.
"I can't find the reference to the correct etiquette for its removal in my seventy-five volume "Definite Manners for the Bourgeoisie, edited 1796," so any hints you can give me are appreciated, merci..."
Louis: the cozy confidant who shies from confrontation with enduring politeness; the warm and approachable gentleman. Ha! I love how the world sees you so! How little they truly know you and that pounding inner strength; your frequently alarming detachment! You can feel the heat of my smile, can’t you?
Do you recall, mon amour, the teeming multitude of servants and slaves, of employees and businessmen and women age upon age who have trembled before your icy and implacable decorum? How they positively scrambled over each other to escape that coldly piercing green fire, how you unnerved each with an unforgiving and relentless integrity in the face of their tongue-tied inefficiency.
That old formality of yours has caused grown men to bolt like frightened horses. Well, who did they prefer to deal with? Amiable Monsieur de Lioncourt- yes, I am laughing now- so very charming and approachable that M. de Lioncourt, so understanding and generous to a fault! When he’s not being an absolute brute and bounder that is. Lord! God save us from the politely disregarding Pointe du Lac scrutiny!
It’s understandable, I suppose. One really needs a visual to get it. You have to be in the same room and feel it. The words are polite and indeed, always meant to be, the smile curves your mouth, but how might something as nebulous and non-emotive as the Internet portray the effect? I often think that your deliciously cool outward appearance and the inmost self are diametrically opposed. I have certainly felt it sear me. Your politeness can cut like a knife. Do it a bit more often won’t you?
"I'm far more accurate with oil lamps. You would recommend a knife, cherie? I prefer large gardening implements. I like to whittle away what I do not wish to keep with a scythe: heads, for example. In non ghostly matters, I am the one who wields sharp objects..."
Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. Well, you’ve got something of a head start on Him in immortal circles. Coiled tight as a spring you were in your wrath, and that’s simply delicious. Whoever thinks I wouldn’t have cheered you on in the destruction of that theater really doesn’t know me at all.
I can also rely on you to give me what I invite time and again. Maybe not what I would expect but who can deny that I’ve usually got it coming. It’s also quite possible that I need that crushing blow that’s also my vindicating due, the sudden implacable retribution that only you can pull off, and I’m sure right about now half the world is agreeing and settling in for the next fiery act.
"I understood his character perfectly, just as I wrote it. This is why, being hopelessly middle class and obsessed by property and guilt which are very sound bourgeois qualities, I assumed that my property and -his- guilt were his exact reasons for making me as I am. I'm glad you agree that it could not have been anything to do with me. That would then suggest I didn't know him very well in that book at all.."
So you mistake my motivations, so you always have underestimated the sweet alchemy you effect in me and no matter how many times it’s said, I might add, stubborn fiend to stubborn fiend. And you somehow see in my gaze whatever avenging furies batter your conscience. Well, my friend, the years are heaped with such miscomprehensions and, oddly, and even simultaneously, with perfect understanding too. I’m hardly blameless, but trust you to find a few extra and surprising ways for me to seem to torment you that I didn’t quite get around to myself.
Of course, there’s a lot else that simply doesn’t belong here, and you know to what I refer. I remain tight lipped on that score, if only for now.
"I respect secrets, of course. Except for those I publish that never even –happened- they were that secret..."
You remain silent on this topic even now. An exchange between us that was transcribed for me to read ten years after you added it to our story. Well, who says you can’t also be spiteful, and do it well. I wasn’t there, buried as I was deep in sleep beneath the decade and your brooding feet, so what possessed you to write such a thing? I have never asked, and you have never told. I won’t ask now.
Such bitter little lies, Cher. Still, it’s the very meeting between us that should have happened if ever I deserved any slight at your hands. God knows I did. So take this puzzling secret and keep it, most especially as a sign from me of how little it matters now.
"I do not care to talk of anything so vulgar in public. It's the fur and feathers, Chérie, but I find it too distasteful to discuss..."
Ah, even now it’s a bitter little joke to think on it. How many realize that joke was on me? I think out of everything that has passed between us, this was the hardest, this one thing, this absolute intractable denial. How it infuriated me and you know what that really meant, of course.
What was I but that very kill you refused? What am I but that predatory part of you? In bringing you to this life, I became the beast that stalks your heart. In denying your nature you refused me. It took exactly one hundred and ninety-four years for me to connect those dots, and I mean that I finally had to lay it out on the line for us both, stubborn and unseeing as I am.
Or chicken, you might even say.
And so, I reach the end, and as I’ve admitted it may seem a bit precipitous to offer to you now given the early date and my intent. We may have met in March in the feral way of these things; however the real deal happened in February. Back to that old stalking of mine, right? To find out shames and idle hours, and ah, how I did. You knew me first long after I spied you. And so that’s exactly what I mark here in this moment of sheer sentimental and sincerely explicit nonsense.
And again I smile, once for you and twice for me, here in what digital words I will repeat soon enough in person and sign the close,