He squeezed the railing tightly, the better to keep from launching himself over it and into the night below.
She had said that thing that couldn’t be unsaid. Described him in a quite novel way, said that she had overlooked it out of love for him, that he was disgusting, a unique pig, a never-to-be-healed sore seeping out of her soul, a blackness from which she could never fully emerge, his memory shadowing a wide swath of her life and consciousness, now.
Her statements were pointed and fresh, for she was very, very intelligent and original, and her descriptions snapped electrically with outrage and scalded hurt.
She drew novel analogies between him and several dysfunctions of the digestive tract, forms of procreation, and some of the many stages, states and even “statements” of bacterial decomposition and discharge that is, and always will be, the inexhaustible source, the compost, really, of all earth’s humor and insult.
She displayed this astonishing descriptive gift during this, their last meeting.
Her metaphors likening him to obscure mycobacteria and to a radiation field of poisoned memory was rather well said, to be honest. It began modestly enough, but soon, the upward-scaling analogies grew so extreme that they evidently required a consequent rise in volume such that was soon loud enough to entertain all the patrons at DaVinci’s.
“Entertain” in the same way people are “entertained” by a circus trick gone terribly wrong, or by an upper-storey apartment fire, or by a multicar accident on a snowy (snowbliterated?) turnpike. Diners open-mouthed, children fallen silent with admiration at this big-people naughtiness, pausing waitstaff–all found something irresistible to look at in the extraordinariness of others, our each and individual penchant for doing something unprecedented. At least in the experience of all concerned, her corsair disparagements presented an irresistible spectacular: a bourbon-bewitched mischief blonde unfolding insults and taunts of astounding intricacy and literacy.
With A Thousand-and-One Belittlements did she him crown and did she the crowd astound!
She indeed had made such a case for her true inconsolability, the ten years of travail and quite often happy times by his side now irretrievable past and sicklied over, now with revelation of his perfidy. She removed articles of jewelry from her appendages, offering them back as suspect, contraband windfalls. These displaced earrings, rings, necklaces, bangles, wristlets now existed for her as reference points as immovable as the Stars, seen through a new telescope allowing her to perceive things in their true infamy.
It was a dark enlightening. She now felt, as much as understood, that she lived in a far wider, crueler universe, torn open by his treachery, an upside-down jeering unfamiliar world she had suspected but had hoped never to actually see.
Any of his previous actions and absences was now subject to scrutiny through this rent in her universe, her new lens to the past, this portal of evil, her awakening to this brutal new calculus of betrayal.
That voice of angry truth had chased him out onto the balcony of the restaurant, where he now gripped the handle to keep himself steady.
Late night traffic whispered on the street below, as though the machines, too, were curious what she might say next. And say, she did, through and onto the balcony, that now the city they visited might know of his perfidies.
Thoughts of their times together came to him. At the Yankees games. Those were great. She was legendary in their section for the quality of her heckling. She could launch family-friendly jests at visiting players that would set those in range of her voice a-laughing with gems like “Buy a vowel, you can afford it” to the Slavic-surnamed players or, to the umpire, “Hey, Blue! That’s home plate, not a dinner plate.” Odd-statured or plain short fielders could receive a, “Hey, So-and-So! Step out of the hole!” Players suffering in the tabloid headlines might expect a, “Oh, he can hit. Just ask his wife!” and that was as PG as she got.
Sometimes, the entire section, and even the target of her jest, would turn laughing to salute her, clapping with the civility of a tennis crowd at her aces.
What a voice! He had a selection of Bulgarian music in his library, choral stuff in weird 7:12 and 5:9 tempos, where the women singers offered the same kind of sound: a corsair or Valkyrie keening designed to enable complaints to be heard between the peaks of Rhodopes.
Her voice worked the same way, and now, freighted with the maximum payload of scornful derision. It fairly blistered his ear canals.
So easy, he thought. What is it? 35 feet? Might not be high enough.
Wasn’t going to happen. He backed into the restaurant.
The conversations in the restaurant had begun to guardedly resume and he returned to find her still there, silent.
They paid the check, and he escorted her to the car. So much they had experienced together. So much he had betrayed.