“Whiskey is a sure fire cure for every illness.” I know that voice — the only one with a British accent I heard out West. I spent three months chasing that voice through the streets of Tempe, Arizona, so I can’t help but stand at attention and wonder what the hell Emmett is doing in New York.
What goes around never comes around. That’s our tragedy. Life is one-way; there’s no return journey. Our single ticket allows us to see ourselves as part of a cycle, which is humbling, yet debars us from taking part in its completion, which is tragic. When we understand this there can be no premature opting-out. We see it through, painlessly if we’re lucky. But the tragedy is complicated by the absurd, in that what we are resigned to leaving behind is what we want more of. At the point of death, we crave more life.
You will almost certainly have heard of my husband Marcus, the author of a series of highly successful books on intuitive relationship management. He has been fêted from Dublin to Dubai and is credited with rescuing the marriages of many thousands. I feel a deep gratitude toward those thousands, for they have supplied me, through their eagerness to buy my husband's books and attend his seminars, with a standard of living almost embarrassingly high. The size of our villa in the San Fernando Valley is a particular asset, as it enables us to maintain a polite distance. Marcus and I have, over many a long year, mastered what may be a uniquely convivial form of loathing.
It was the year a Turkish aircraft was hijacked to Lebanon. The same year of the Taksim Square massacres on Labour Day. The year of the post-modern coup. Two years after Billy Hayes took his midnight express from Imrali prison. Fifty-four years after the republic was formed. The four young adults, in the full bloom of raging hormones and thirst for enjoyment, were blissfully unaware of it all, heading to Turkey for what they hoped would be a memorable holiday.
Larry was kind of a bad guy. He had gotten in some trouble with the law when he was younger. I liked him. I met him when I was eighteen at Toronto Fashion Week. He was twenty-eight. I was on the security team and Larry was too.
It’s not all that wild up here in New Hampshire. Along with our adjacent states we share some rugged territory, but in truth are mostly pretty well settled. In winter the roads get cleared to enable the skiers to get here, which they do in numbers. That said, it is entirely possible for overly venturesome hikers to get lost and into trouble, which they predictably do.
The electric chariot was prepared for immediate departure, with fresh flowers arranged in vases that were attached to its interior walls. There were two robots in the exact shape and form of stallions, efficient and self-driving. All the attendant needed to do was to tap in the coordinates of the destination and pour the champagne. The intelligent horses got pulling at a max speed of 23 miles per hour. The ride was so smooth it felt like walking on clouds, while being tickled in all the right places.
You tell me to leave the door open and wait, so I do. Naked, crouched with the small of my back pressed to the wall, looking down at the hardwood floor. It is late afternoon. Gold light comes in through the windows. The weather has turned and the air drifting in gives me goosebumps, pulls my nipples up. Sometimes I love being cold.
This is not a place but a person. "Just call me Chicago," he had said. "That's where I'm from." And that is what I had to make do with. Not that we met often, only three times, and not that we formed a deep bond, in fact, the opposite. That is what I cannot purge, that we didn't. This is a story of failure. And I am guilty. College music practice rooms, soulless little concrete block boxes with a small glass panel in each door and no natural light, are secluded sites, perversely private, eerily silent but for fragments of music flitting along the carpeted corridors. Earnest students with violin or compact clarinet cases or more often pianists seeking an instrument slide into these as if entering the confessional, then muted sounds emerge. It is a tranquil and civilized little business, but because of soundproofing and the nature of practice - largely repetition and difficulty – a flawed experience to any musically hopeful passer-by. It is merely music in the making, rough music, and only the smallest hint of the sublime reaches out. This was the winter of 1964, Missouri, a long way from Chicago. I don't know if he played an instrument. He was in the building, but so was I and I didn't play anything. It was a quiet place, notwithstanding the music, removed from bustle and speed, solitary people coming and going, and the building, soundproofed as it was, allied to silence, undramatic and fortified with twenty or thirty small enclosures of lined rooms.
She bought barberries. She had enough saffron at home. A twenty-kilo sack of smoked rice was still untouched in the kitchen cupboard. She was going to kill the fattest chicken by the fountain, let it bleed out and skin it right there on the mustard mosaics. She was going to disintegrate the bird in four: two legs and two breasts, marinade it in her magic mix. “Magic” he used to call it. It is just a few spices and butter, she’d protest, what’s so magic about it? Your fingers, you’ve got magic fingers, you touch anything and it becomes the yummiest. Saffron, turmeric, cumin, that was it really. But he called it magic.