I met a guy. He’s married. Don’t worry – it’s already over.
We were in his little cabin on “the mesa” – they call it that – in New Mexico. He bought my plane ticket – the biggest romantic thrill of my life.
The cabin was, well, basic. No running water. No electricity. It was freezing when we stepped inside but he built a fire and we were quickly feeling really cozy. We cooked a meal on the wood stove – steaks in butter – potatoes cooked right on the coals – no foil – you just have to brush off the ash and coal and you’d be amazed. I don’t know. Maybe they sucked.
Everything seems good sometimes.
Anyway were drinking– beer, wine, whiskey “because this is the west” – though I cannot stand the stuff ever since I was sixteen and spent the night vomiting. I woke up the next day with a bruise on the inside of my lip. Did I already tell you that?
So we were drinking and getting uninhibited, so to speak, and talking and making out and losing pieces of clothing here and there.
James – he’s called – is a writer for a big newspaper. A columnist. He’s fifty-four. We met at a bar. He knows Sunny’s husband who told me to stay away because James is a trouble-maker in more ways than one – but I only know the one way. I knew from the get-go that he was married – Why did that not matter to me?
So there we were, caressing, and James was going on about a painting – “A Turner,” he called it – a massive canvas with massive ships and massive gods and weather and fire and lots of little, non-descript men. “Epic. Just epic,” he repeated.
Then there was a knock at the door – of the cabin – which was a mile from the nearest neighbor – at the end of a rutty driveway a half a mile long – very late at night – did I mention we were in New Mexico?
Suddenly James changes. Gone is glowing confidence. He just shrunk. Shriveled. And froze – so I had to go to the door having no clue whatsoever.
From the light of the crack in the door I coulr make him out, a young man from south of the boarder somewhere – later we find out he’s from Guatemala -- smelling very strongly of alcohol.
He spoke to me in Spanish – through the crack I opened in the door – I wasn’t totally exposed but I wasn’t wearing much on the bottom. He wasn’t looking straight at me anyway – having trouble with the blurred vision I’d guess.
I took Spanish in 7th grade and that was a long time ago so – Help! James speaks Spanish, he says, but still doesn’t come to the door, so I have to repeat what the guys says back to James. Anyway, after many tries – dormir – dormir – I finally – finally – understand this guy wants to know if he can sleep in the shed behind the cabin.
This stuns James – he says, "this has never happened before, this has never happened before." What the hell. I tell the guy “Sí” and he weaves himself around to the back of the cabin. I hear the latch of the shed click.
And that, as I look back, is the end of our affair – still Friday night – a very short weekend – but a long night of James crying.
Whatever fantasy James was living out ended suddenly – like a door slamming shut – and locked. He just kept crying – on the floor in the kitchen because he didn’t want to share the bed with me anymore. Crying with brief periods of silence, which must have been when he slept – then more crying. I tried to comfort him but he wouldn’t let me touch him. Why don’t I get to know people better BEFORE I go off to their cabin in another state to spend the weekend? I felt like a stranger. You really wouldn't know this man was capable of this kind of crying just by looking at him. Tall. Tan. Tailored. What the hell.
The next morning we are up and dressed and packed by dawn. I go out to the shed to check on the young man and manage to wake him up when I open the door. I give him the glass of water I am holding and communicate with my hands and sound effects that we can give him a ride somewhere. He says blah blah blah “autobus”and I say “si” and go to tell James.
In the car James is all built up again. No sign of the weeps. He doesn’t tell me what they talk about – him and young man – but I understand Guatemala and coyote and Denver and figure the young man has crossed the border and is on his way to Denver.
James takes me to the airport and pulls up to the departures curb. I think he will say something along the lines of “I’m sorry this didn’t work out the way we had planned” or "I don’t know how to explain myself but I'll call you in a couple days." Nope. He says “you’d better get your stuff before the cops hassle me to move the car.”
I guess I was so stunned by the sudden change of heart I couldn’t think anything to say. Now I have lots to say – asshole shit-head jerk – but no James to say it to. So instead I have a recurring daydream.
Wielding a large sword I cut him in quarters – top to bottom and across the middle. This particular image is very satisfying even still. I keep thinking of the word “flay” but it’s not quite “flaying” that happens. His skin is still attached. Then he is in the backyard of his suburban home – in quarters – under a dogwood tree after the blooms have all fallen off –it’s raining.