Tuesday, December 21, 2010


As she looked back, three memories defined him to her. Only three. The rest were just fillers, plot-devices, and arbitrary details designed to make him seem real. Like how he used to say "abattoir" sounded better than "slaughterhouse." Those didn't matter to her.


The first memory was actually a sequence of events taking place over a few days. They'd met in France, in Aubagne, back when both of them were in occupations that most would deem important. Neither of them would have. Banal is the term they preferred for their choice of employment. They were in it because it paid well. And they got to lie.

He'd seen her at a company function, a few moments before she'd seen him. Nothing was said to each other at the function, save for quick hellos and the exchange of names. One caught the other staring several times throughout the night. But it was less for romantic interest and more for sizing the other up. Though they essentially worked for the same employer, they were, by nature, competitive in all things.

It was during a skydive the next evening that he'd come up to her and put a wad of paper in her mouth. It had his name and phone number written on it. Had it happened on the ground, she'd have certainly spit the paper back at him. But while accelerating in a free fall towards Earth, her curiosity kept her from expectorating.

That weekend they took some time off together and went to Cassis, where they spent most of three days exploring cliffs, inlets, and each other. Not much was said. Just many looks and a lot of sex.

The day he was about to leave France, they finally had a meaningful conversation. It was then they discovered both believed that everyone preferred being fake. Pretense, facade, disguise. Humanity was a mask. She mentioned that she felt sorry for anyone who felt obligated to love family simply because they were blood relatives. To her, it meant that they never explored people. He mentioned that he felt sorry for anyone who felt that France was a better place than anywhere else. To him, it meant that they never went anywhere.

A passerby would have thought each were being silly and merely exchanging jokes. But those in their occupation have a different language entirely.


The second memory was at the wedding of mutual friends. It actually wasn't a real wedding, but nobody except for the bride, groom, and three other people in the church knew that.

She'd watch him dance the Robot with the groom's mother. At least, that's who the woman said she was. Everyone claimed that they found the dance hilarious. They all laughed again when he compared the words fiancé and fiancée to "finance."

She thought it was stupid. She fully believed that everyone thought it was stupid. People laughed when they found themselves full of shit, after all. Everyone knew this. It's just that she was the only one willing to tell him so.

Even though he hadn't seen her since France, he kissed her when she did. That night, not much was said. Just many looks and a lot of sex.


The third memory was the last week of his life. They were both in Cambodia, ostensibly on vacation in Serei Saophoan, but not really on vacation. He was telling one of their partners a story about getting drunk off of nothing but Screwdrivers one night, then attending college classes the next day and throwing up at least seven times. Including once in front of a school security guard. And once so violently that he had fallen out of a car and into a fresh puddle of puke. His partner laughed his ass off.

She thought he was an idiot. She told him so. She also told him that he'd been right. France was no better than Cambodia. He agreed with himself. Then again, neither of them have ever allowed themselves to be weakened by the need for amenities. He told her the world was his home.

She told him that, increasingly, he was becoming hers. He smiled. C'est la vie.


He had no will and testament, but she knew what he wanted to happen. It was never an explicit statement, but she knew him well enough to know.

Taking him into the middle of nowhere, she buried his body. Eight feet deep, no clothing, no shroud, no casket. Just a body in an open pit about an hour's drive north of Tadjoura.

Before she covered him up, she poured a Screwdriver into the grave. Made of rare fresh Djibouti oranges and Pinnacle Vodka.

Pinnacle's the cheat stuff. He'd have been angry that it wasn't Citadelle. She'd have responded that there's no point in spending a lot of money on a dead man.

He'd have kissed her. Then asked how much she spent on the oranges.


Julie said...

Very dry.
I like.

Liza Ursu said...


Harnett-Hargrove said...

I've always liked the idea of summing up, but implying to more. You do this well. The meeting, middle, the parting.

PattiKen said...

Well-written, as always, with a really nice flow. And you know how I feel about implication.

Baino said...

Ok you know it's a lame use of the muse but for someone who's lost their mojo, you pulled it off. Your worst is often better than my best. "He told her the world was his home. She told him that, increasingly, he was becoming hers." Sweet.

Siobhan said...


Tina said...

I do so enjoy your matter of fact, "from a far" style of telling a story. this was no exception :-)

Tom said...

danced the robot...ick. But still, nice bit of romantic story telling.

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