A man with a short face, not from chin to forehead but tip of the beaky nose to upper lip–not enough distance. The topography of his face is flat as if the effort of blooming a nose and plumping some lips was abandoned half way to finished. The eyes are photoshopped Cancun ridge of the sea blue, but paler, far too brilliant for his age in a hand’s decades, no dullness to the liquid gaze, like polished museum or Madison Avenue marble flooring–a splendorous richesse of gloss. The face is proportionate to the rest of him, distant soccer player traces of a cut angle just below the scapula, a rounded sternum suggesting the brim of a broad chest but for the expansion below that arcs convexly far more than it should beyond the belt. But the semblance of a prime physique resides, the residuals of fitness imports a belated youth to his figure. His name is Beagleman.
A recent return from the edge of a self-inflicted, imploding dual-minded fury left him enervated and his tawny fatigued suitcase paupered.
A soft touch and a hard hand, the teacher speaks in incantations, dronings of esoterica to mystify and satisfy his own urges to expel. Behind office hour doors he is hand full of slick hair clutched at the scalp mummified despair leaving its traces along the spiked tufts that resist gravity’s pull to his ears, one of which is pierced with a diamond stud. Only a knock, a student’s hand, a backward glance or a shy inquiry can shift his mood. His smile smeared on with putty lips, he ogles the words typed for him, pausing long over an improper punctuation or diction switch up. His eyes’ return are shuttered behind thick dark lashes that paint his pupils dark, the velvet of brown specked with black and stroked with soft charcoal malleable leniency and persuasion. The burning does not show. The coursing rage racing up the alleys of his cortisol-laden cerebral landscape, pathways to his libidinal longings for a leg, the hem of a skirt, a bite in the pen cap, tongue caressing the indentation, remains repressed against his spine, thrust shut in his pelvic dance of storming scribblings in marker red, furiously punctilious and benignly compliant. He is grade A swallowed fear in disgust, disguised as propitious transitioning. Everyone passes through and by the teacher while he remains, steady like the axis of a planet, a cross road or dawn’s return.
Limerent lover, you caught me when I fell from the sky, unable to fly any more, like Marquez’s winged Gabriel landed in the chicken coop, a mute wonder of decrepit miracle and obscene spectacle for sale. My wings had been clipped from the systematic circus of prosecutorial car clowns and elephantine asses braying in the windy tents of their failures. My flight was downed by opinion–a crippling injustice. You, imagining the first man bemoaning the lack of his mate, knew my journey even before I spoke it. I was the sign. You were the signifier.
Pouring into me the hope of a happy ending, the magic of healing and soul-worn revival of the A-1 amphetamine or the super pill of soporific splendor, I was your mother duck after the ardor of digging elongation from the dark enclosure and safety of the shell. You stretched. Your first light was the sun’s reflection in my tear-stained retinal orbs, blinding your peripheral vision forever and altering your perception of the pumping pinions of this bird, discerning a halo through the steaming breath in the cold of that fall night of your birth. I was your real.
Soon the collage I collaborated with in the making was filled with wind-swept plains of dust and despair or poppy plummets into sweet surrender-ful liquid love potion stares of hypnotic release. Wherever love and hate could be found I was there: in the trees that conspired to collapse the condor’s nest and in the giant avian mother’s courage to free her ovate unborn, in the evil of cardboard figures of terror-filled torturing shadow puppet fights and in the savior soldier’s merciful sacrificial sword of righteous right. I was the paste on your brush to sparkle your smile and the crusted crud on the blade of your unclean can opener.
Shooting up my words, your veins thicken even now long after the flash of my tail light has faded from view and the neon sign points to the hotel next door. Plum with the injected placebo of blossoming romance and forever ending rivulets of passion dribbles eked out of a nano-glance, a sliver of a smirk, an eye glimmer from a passing head light, you are confirmed. It means something. You have thought two thousand times in two thousand hours that it is so. In truth, you have obsessively intruded on the tale, remade the story.
You once threatened, the plot must end well or there will be no end to sorrow’s cascading falls into the mountain crevasses that poorly piloted Cessna’s crash into and crack up their cargo–ordinary men and women with a taste for the daring. The height of expectation and card castles is too great, the air too thin and be-speckled with polluting particles for a pure realization. Limerent. Listen. You.love.you.loving.me. That’s all.
Kelly and I did puzzles on Sundays, mornings mostly, when the New York Times double dared its daily puzzlers to take the bigger, harder challenge of the page-wide crossword. We were both super sleuths, so we toiled as two resolved to solve the mystery of the hour it took us to fill in all of the empty spaces between the black of the uninvited and irrelevant to the game–like our world on Sundays, just us. There were no other people or places more alluring than the chicory of our coffee, the shaded sun on our table, and the pencil and paper inked with our patience–unconditional time. We were peaceful and complacent then. The metronomic congeniality of our pocket of a world was no more, no less: in the middle of hurry and sleep.
Kelly was a mechanic. No matter the make, no engine escaped the exhaustive expertise of this meticulous and measured engineer with a temperament of a lover scientist: observant, percipient and objective, yet warm, conciliatory and intuitive. I often heard, “They all have the same components with a switch up here and there to make me go mad.” And even so, even after having handily fine tuned many similar models before me, the puzzler could not calibrate my candor nor loosen my brakes. Typically, my symptoms–the broken parts–never showed before a somewhat stranger (like finally taking the car into the shop for that noise that suddenly disappears), but with time and travel, the intermittent accelerator hesitation, piercing brake squeals and mysterious trunk rattles made the ride rough, uneasy. And so, after much studied twisting and turning and torquing, the chassis collapsed. I was an enigma.
When Kelly moved to the black, I would bring that scratch-pad stretch of space and moment to mind when suffering the turbulence of spinning-on-the-teacups Terry or enduring the ennui of Edward or Kim or Ken or Sam. Back then, I longed for presence of the puzzle, of even-keeled Kelly time in our kingdom of suspended seismography, no pantomime of the naked love or the jealous joust or the sentimental snore, just Cadillac calm and Bavarian precision.