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CASTING A CIRCLE/OZzircr Broudy "WASN'T PHILIP THE GUY you said I would like?" I didn't have time to answer this. It was late, the bus was electric and stealthy, and Genevieve's pupils were malfunctioning. She was walking ahead to keep out of Philip's hearing, cutting in front of a parked van to cross the street and get to our car. Edging between bumpers, considering possible replies, I glimpsed her expression the moment she looked up and reaUzed there was no time to get clear, the way she stubbornly lowered her head and aimed her shoulder at the oncoming grille, like someone breaking down a door. And then that horrible "Whump!" A sculpture of her in that remarkable posture, a posture I can only call heroic, was instantly cast in my mind, where it is still. Then the bus skidding to a surprisingly quick halt, and the few people inside standing up in the ghostly light. Poor PhiUp went flying away with his hands over his eyes, concussing himseU on a street tree. He is an emotional genius, with his abiUty to instantly translate events into grief. I just stood there, thinking it through, eye to eye with a largerthan -life model reclining in his skivvies and wearing a totally inappropriate grin. The panicked driver was on the phone, squealing for an ambulance. The streets shone a shiny plum black, and a pretty arrangement of brown and yellow leaves lay pressed flat on the sidewalk . Genevieve was crumpled in front of the bus, on her side, but moving, it appeared, slowly levering herself onto her back. A few bus riders had gotten off and were standing quietly around with their hands in their pockets amidst the oblong reflections of light smeared in the wet streets. One kid with hatchet sideburns lit a cigarette. An old lady was peering out the front window, too arthritic to get down the stairs. I went to Genevieve and knelt, feeling suddenly heroic myself, full of dignity and competence, like men must ordinarily feel. She looked fine, rosy-faced, for once, no Umbs irregularly angled. Her lower lip was split, and her eyes were closed. "The rain feels nice," she said, looking on the bright side. It was misting. I heard PhiUp wailing and went to fetch him. Later we were in an ambulance, city lights skating over blackened windows like atoms, Philip being taken to the hospital to have his head repaired. Genevieve had been whisked off by a different ambulance, the one that arrived first. She lived. Broken arm, collarbone, busted ribs. The bus was not going fast. Philip was out of it for a few days, but 154 · The Missouri Review I sent roses under his name to Genevieve's room, a few floors up, with a note that read: "Public transportation shaU not keep us apart." When he recovered, though, he didn't seem to be interested in Genevieve, as though the bus had bumped her out of his mind. This was a massive disappointment, as their relationship had promised to be so wonderful, and I began to think that the premature discontinuation of it might also spell the end to my friendships with each of them. Philip and I became acquainted after I survived one of his ludicrous infatuations. Briefly, he said he had seen my reflection in the display window, like an advertisement, and was so struck by it that he simply had to come in and learn more. (I was in my early twenties at the time, relatively bewildered—like most people that age—with regard to occupation, and had taken a stopgap position at a fabric shop, measuring out fabric by the yard. Debra, the stumpy, elderly woman I worked with, always said I was born for the job, meaning my wingspan of exactly six feet.) "So pale!" Philip said, fiddling with a scrap of rayon. "So stern!" "So why don't you go hassle my reflection?" I asked. Here he just grinned. I'd never had to fend off unwanted suitors before, but I had had experience withbullying salesmen, unruly homeless, and preposterous relatives. Even as a child I'd had to...


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