You must login to vote
“Susan, how did you get my number?”
“I purloined your number from our mutual friends in the Internal Affairs.”
“What else did you find out?”
“The color of your jockeys,” she said smiling through a perceptible sense of urgency. “I have no clue as to where you’ve been all this time.”
“Intellectuals? Like Hutch?”
“You still think we are lovers? I am tired of this. It’s hilarious.”
“I am kidding. The thought has crossed my mind. Hey, what about you – you think I am a lesbian.”
“You know that’s just to tease you.”
“Has Achsahlee been getting some of this scruffy beefcake?”
“Why,” the Captain said, not as a question, but as a prompt: “Fast forward.”
“Well, has she?” Leutenant Bowman bitterly through a perfect smile.
“Why don’t you quit the Navy and marry her?”
“Scared. I think I have a problem with commitment. Don’t know what to do after sex.”
Then he realized that when he ran away from Achsahlee, had he told Susan that he loved her and he was back for good, he would have married her. Susan would have ascendeded to the altar of lust, at last to offer up to him what he fantasized as her bisexuality.
“Why, you could read literary magazines to each other.”
“I would have to hold down a nine to five job just to satisfy her level of life. Probably the most boring type of work. Maybe I am scared of getting married.”
“Maybe you could open a business together, that way you could keep her on a leash.”
“Great idea, coming from a career woman. Yes,” he said, cynical, thinking and dreaming at the ceiling, “we could have opened a gun club. She’d be my executive secretary.”
“She was a great lay, then?”
“That she was,” Vic said.
“Insecure, that's what you are.”
“Sure. I should have married her and had you on the side.”
“You think I would have made a spiritual assistant to Achsahlee the Connubial Partner?” Leutenant Bowman said with slight halting between words.
“Susan, Susan, let’s concentrate,” he waved his hands as if conducting a single violin in an orchestra. “No matter what you say, I am not going to judge you. I appreciate that there is some jealousy towards Achsahlee. But I am a lot stronger than you think I am.”
“I don’t trust you.”
“You are weak. Too weak to commit. Afraid of being strong. I already had someone in my life who was weak and he also told me he was strong enough to tolerate infidelity.”
“Come on, Susan. I am not him.”
“Come on,” she said imitating him. “Get off your high horse. He was strong enough that he did not care a thing in the world. He personally drove me to a man and let me spend the night with him. The next morning he personally picked me up and then called the man just to humiliate him.”
“Where’s the strength then?”
“Pretty much where you said yours is,” she said, her lips tightening up. Vic knew that reaction. Her eyes aimed away from him, her lips tight, as if sucking on a candy.
“But the guy’s mind is twisted. He proves that he is strong enough to give you to someone else for a night?”
“But in the process he proves that he can let go of you just to have an ego trip.”
“Well, you analyzed that right,” she said with bitter mocking in her voice. “What’s this strength of yours you’ve been talking about?”
“What do you want to do with me, then? Give me to someone else for a night to show me that your love that you have for me is uniquely strong?”
Leutenant Bowman looked at him in stony silence.
“Should I say it in plain English? What do you want from me?”
“I definitely don’t need an Anglo-Saxon, rational, professional, frigid partner. I want someone like Achsahlee in uniform.”
Leutenant Bowman shed the bullet-proof shell of a psychologist, and let him see a sparkle in her eyes. The look of a woman left alone in the sadness of the sugary Christmas songs.
“I got to get going. But let me get a look at you. That’s how I want to remember you when I’m in boondocks sniping goons.”
“You will remember me? You will be thinking of me?”
“Sure. I am the Santa Claus, you are my virtuous Snow White.”
“I know you’re going away. This is our last time together.”
“You know I love you.”
He did not know anything else to say, and just waited for her to come up with new, happy ideas for their relationship.
He wondered what other men might say in this situation. All he knew from other men was to avoid committing to her, promising, offering to marry her. At that moment, something had to be fixed or built anew.
He loved her today, but only for her daring attempt to hold him by bodily union, for her wearing the most charming lingerie for him. The Anglo-Saxon Protestant blonde was no longer an austere military officer tasked to condemn shell-shocked to mental institutions, to give medical discharges, to disqualify. She was a woman to him, understanding, guiding, consoling him, her beauty still wonderfully platonic.
The radio played My Love is Blue, the one she had learned to love, to listen to while looking into the window, into the jagged mass of leafless trees, into the dreamy expanse of the meadows, to tap her fingers, as if an amateur drummer girl, as if one of the girls he and Keith took on the tubing trip.
“Just when I learned how to sob, you leave me.”
He said nothing. He is torn between his old habit of giving love out of mercy and being a chaste champion of his Lady Felíne.
“You love only those who are afar from you.”
I'm leaving her to cry in sadness, he thought.
Huddling at the end of the sofa, her shyness bared, her self-pity and bitterness all boiling in her shivering body, her nudity begging through the lace, her soul nude before a man, she waited for something right.
He waited, looking at her, leaning towards her, to give her a chance to say, to request, to do anything she wished.
He got up, walked to the door, turned around, but did not return to her. That was how he wanted to remember her. He wanted to remember this nude and vulnerable honesty.
Leaving her apartment, he heard her say it in the future tense that stabbed his heart and gave him a shudder. He heard her say it to all who could hear: “Vic, I will always love you. You’ll never know how much I really love you!”