- An Older Woman
She had a bed that came out of her wall. Every night, she made it appear and every morning, she made it disappear. "I never knew anyone like you," he told her the first time he watched the magic trick.
"What, a grown woman with a murphy bed? You think when I was your age I imagined I'd have a murphy bed? Don't stay in this city forever. This city will make you forty-two years old with a murphy bed and a thirty-year-old lover."
"That sounds nice," he said.
She had a bathtub that stood on porcelain paws. "Do you ever go in it?" he asked her.
"Honestly, never. That's the New York way. You never go to the art museums. You never eat at your neighborhood bistro. You definitely never take a bath in your own tub. Will you never fuck me again if I wear a shower cap? I just blow-dried my hair. Don't look at me."
"You resemble to a poison mushroom."
"Close your eyes. Get in."
He sat in front of her, between her legs. How strange it was to bathe, to boil one's self in a pot. Looking down at his penis just floating there, useless as the egg whites from that soup his grandmother made, the one with all the garlic, he was suddenly so wrecked by sadness, he wished Jane would get out so he could drown himself.
"I was a hairdresser," Jane said. "In another lifetime."
"Do you believe in this?"
"What? No, not like a past life. I mean a former life. Right after high school. I thought I was rebelling. I was not rebelling. I was just doing a job I hated." She gently pushed his butt forward and lowered his head to her breasts. She washed his hair with shampoo that smelled like peppermint, massaging his scalp, his neck, even his ears, and he released a long, shuddering sigh. [End Page 143]
"You probably find me dark. When I was your age, I found people my age dark. I decided I'd never be dark. I'd never be bitter. I'd never be old. I would never be one of those adults who wouldn't jump in the pool. I'd never go argh when I got up off furniture. I'd never say, 'Isn't that something' or 'Aren't you just the sweetest.' I've broken all my rules."
"I don't see you like dark."
"You don't have darkness," Jane said. "That's why you don't see it.
That's what drew me to you. Your light."
"No. I don't know. Sometimes I just want life to be poetic. I can't believe I'm one of these people who's so nostalgic for youth she's robbing the cradle. I've always regarded men who do that with disdain."
"I don't see you like old. Why do you think you are old?"
"Do you think you have darkness?"
"Maybe I do not understand what this means." He wanted to talk about something else. The conversation was doing something funny to his pulse. It was beating too quickly in his neck and he was naked. He hoped she couldn't see it. "Let me fuck you," he said. "Turn around. Stand on your knees."
Within the first minutes of knowing her he lied. She was wearing glasses. She was reading a paperback book. She looked like a librarian from an American porno, except she was feverishly gnawing her thumbnail. She had sat with two empty stools on either side of her, instead of at the end of the bar, so he knew that she hoped to be spoken to. He wiped the wood in front of her clean with his rag.
She had a long neck and wore a gold necklace as thin as thread. Her curly hair was caught up behind her and he imagined unclipping it, springing it wild. "Would you like a martini?" he asked. He thought a porno librarian would drink martinis.
She looked startled. She removed...