S found the grey truss, the story began. Neither of us knew about trusses. Anger is an energy, he said beating to the electronic band (with the flat sound). We decided on two definitions: the device worn to support a hernia, and, to tie or bind securely. After years of minor decisions, stilted talk, and intermittent carnality he tied himself with rope and jumped from a tall building. He told the woman in the lift that he’d decided to drown. But he jumped onto the concrete parking lot and broke everything and died ninety seconds later. The woman said she’d always remember him jerking. Held tied the rope tight around his chest and thighs. We were on the edge, that was the point of our involvement, he was intent on proving mortality. Anyway. the truss was just one of those tiny instances which inevitably lead to a larger act, and so he jumped trussed. I loved him. But you can’t argue with obsession. He even had caring friends. He always acted stories.
It’s for me to tell something about him, even though I’m unconvinced. For instance, he was selfish. That’s all. I’m left with a German text, it was sealed in a large brown envelope. His hair was short, his eyes green. I met someone once who he said was his friend, and she said, I go home when he arrives, I just have to go, can’t listen to him at all. I was at a party with her a year ago and she saw him walk in and left. I knew his capacity for words. He bought me nothing, not a single gift. If he hadn’t died I’d have stayed with him forever. He never told other women, even though his greed was obvious. He was often boring. But this german text turned up. I burnt his notebooks, I don’t need those memories. He ignored one potency: I can not be depleted, there is the joy of departure. He took twelve months to calm, to walk with ease, to talk slowly, to believe I loved him. He wasn’t a fine man, I was bad, he was bad, together we came to arrangements.
There was the question of a child once, but we decided no. He stuck the white cutlery rack on a wall in the passage next to the truss and the ivory shoe horn. It was square and new. We used a yellow one. He was a restless man, called me a burden. Whole days became halls where he delivered liturgies about the tyranny of things. The white cutlery rack was one. He brought it back from a party, carried it from room to room. Hammered nails in various spots until satisfied. He said his friend from the bookshop gave it to him. He lied, he’d stolen it from a kitchen. He didn’t ask me to the party. Then he died. A speck spiralling down. Floating perhaps, He was sober, said the lift woman. She was upset, said the detectives. They came to the house in twos. I didn’t have an answer. I tried to tell them about the liturgies but they couldn’t see the link. It was the same at a second hand shop where we looked through a suitcase of pink corsets. We knew their connection to the white cutlery rack. I’m pleased I held back about that suitcase.
We often walked, no money for a car. He wanted to look at the groins of statues. Again there wasn’t a no in me. He was the one with the no’s and the one waiting for them. He was caught in his own one thousand no’s. There was a fine woman’s groin in a garden in the city and a fine man’s groin beside a river near the sea. I think he got what he wanted, Let’s hope so. Trussing oneself to the inner beat of a flat sound must mean something. He did not like his body. I did. When I saw him laid out in the morgue he was beautiful, clear glowing skin. For a man too deep for his own vision, he looked outwardly healthy. I’ve never been sick, he said. I was always going into or coming out of tiredness. Don’t forsake me. he managed to say between abusive mouthfuls. There were times when he had the body of a woman. I’d catch him curled asleep naked, his balls squeezed between his thighs, and the curve of his body from waist to knee was female, his hand resting at the back of his knee.
I couldn’t stand being ordered from various rooms of our house. But for a reason obscure, travelling fast from his past, he couldn’t trust me with his friends. By the time I’d been notified he was long cold. Whenever he was bored he accused me of boring him, he bored himself to death. He said to me, he couldn’t bear it if a man made a play for me when we were out, and I’d be charmed. Yet he put great store in being charming. It’s a curious attitude. Was. Diaphanous was his favourite word. He had the youngest hands in the world. In every woman’s life there is an essential desire. I’m wide awake, have been for weeks, remembering his arms wrapping me, seeing his weary eyes, and hearing his horrid cries for clemency. He was sometimes good company. He was ready for touch, and corrected the array of things, potato-masher, frypan, tea-strainer, vase. He was a man damaged by beauty, endlessly soiling his symmetry. I’d never heard of new-order.
We’d been to Kevin’s the day before he went up in the lift. There was an eye chart on the wall and a pile of women’s black shoes on the floor below. Kevin’s the type who drinks all night. So was S. Apparently he’d found an empty room with a view, bound himself, shuffled onto the balcony and rolled over the rail. I sat quietly all through the evening. They talked about food. I had my own thoughts. And I made up sentences from the chart; if I stared long enough I could hold words together and see written on Kevin’s wall between the chart and the shoes: look behind, round where the women gather. Even the German text materialised. If people took with them when they died their images from back of my eves I’d be grateful, and even more so if they’d reclaim the feel of themselves from my throat and arms and belly. He is dead, he filled me, still does. I wish no-one had told me about his jerking. People are rarely silent when morbid. The ears are alert in grief.
He hung the fillets to defrost on the clothes line and so another idea hit. This time he traded a box of paperbacks for a sack of small mullet and invited twenty of his friends for dinner, and directed each of them to cook their fish a different way, no-one lost. People often came to our house, I’d close myself away and let them drink. There was a fear about him. He was an unkind drunk to me. To others he was charming, but to me he exercised the exhaustion charm induced. He’d say, don’t get defiant with me. Then he’d say, put up with these travesties. Apparently he’d been with his good friend before catching the lift; he didn’t smell death. When S was nine he beat up four teenagers. blinding one. He said he’d kill anyone who tried to harm me. His friend was in love with me: he had the brownest eyes I’ve ever seen. I was tempted. They can say S was a bad man if they like, he was a good man. I wish we’d had the child.
He was the best kisser ever. I go over conversations. Our time well it wasn’t based on anything love perhaps. But that seems too abstract or cosmic (his word, not mine) or nondescript or even easy. I suspect love was the core, but don’t quote me. Why am I calm about this. We would kiss for hours, it was necessary. He collected cacti, but only for a short time, like the fish. Things came and went without trace. Possibly the lift and truss came fast. The lift woman said he told her a story about an old blues singer who died at ninety two and had seventeen children and had married fourteen times, the last at eighty seven to a fifty year old virgin. She said he went on and on and ended up giving her a list of his famous songs. He said to her twelve times, she counted, that the best song in the world was Further On Down The Road. He always said that though, everytime he was drunk, whatever song he heard was the best song in the world.
He had a black shirt, I didn’t. All my clothes were black except for shirts. Once he asked me to dress totally in black with his shirt. I couldn’t think of a reason to say no. All his requests were unreasonable on one level or another. He stood beside the bed, I undressed by the wardrobe, He promised to buy me beautiful underwear, for himself. I didn’t object. I love black silk. I am not yet passed this desire, and of course soon I’ll indulge, as soon as his life has edged away from me, been teased out to the borders. This shirt was very old, ragged, but he took on the look of strength. I have a scarf like that, he was scathing, but whenever I wrapped it around my neck I was safe. The nearest I got to its meaning was when he held my throat during lovemaking. I never found that threatening even though we both knew my vulnerability at each of those extreme seconds, I’ve felt two other surfaces of similar softness: his eyelids, and the head of his penis. He never realised when I put silk around my neck that I was caressed by his eyes and penis simultaneously, and reminded of my own trust.
This is what his good friend told me the German text said: A baker and his wife from a German village had a seventeen year old daughter who disappeared one day and the police investigated and found traces of bone in the oven, and some bloodstained clothes in the cellar. The couple were arrested and said no no the bones were from a pig that she helped slaughter, they were pig bones and it was pig blood (schweineblutt) on the clothes they were going to throw away, But they were charged with murder, they confessed, yes it was her blood and they had burnt the body. They were sentenced to death, later commuted to life in prison, Then, some time later, the daughter turned up with a baby. She’d had a liaison with a soldier and run away with him, he’d left her, and she’d come back, The parents were set free. They had killed a pig.