She starts for the door.
“Wait. How about meeting in the park?”
She turns around, looks at the floor, raises her head slowly, and answers: “I’ll meet you
at two tomorrow in the park under the big maple tree.”
I agree. “We have lots in common.”
Clara has no limp. She lied. We sit across from each other at the picnic table.
The expanse of the park surrounds us. The sward scents the atmosphere with our
“Gene, I don’t know how to say this, the limp is fake,” she says. It’s like wearing a
monocle, a fashion statement. “Do you want to limp?” I fiddled with my cane.
“I have back spasms from dumbbell exercises.” And often want to stab a person’s eyes
out with two prongs of the cane’s four legs. Spite is a prime motivator in lieu of passion.
Time’s passage never intruded into my consciousness. Here, time rubs me the
wrong way. Becoming dead is the antidote to life’s inconclusiveness.
“You seem not the kind who lies,” she says. “I find that charming.” The heat scorches
us, opening fissures.
“That bit about working in a prison—all made up,” I say.
“I saw a movie about a female correctional officer. She had a sexual encounter with
an inmate.” Clara turns to one side as she speaks, an actor moving her head just the way
the director wants. I’m an empty vessel, scriptwriters, fill me up.
“What about K-2?” It reminds me of social climbing, employing whatever it takes to
reach higher and higher into monstrosities.
“Nope. My dead friend’s fiancée was an avid mountaineer,” she says. Thou shall have
friends be dead unto you.
Nowadays people visit libraries to hook-up sexually with others.
“I’m a physician’s assistant because I used my dead friend’s curriculum vitae.” She
blushes. “I have herpes, too.” Clara, we’re nothings, so what.
“Welcome to the club,” I say.
For the first time I see a blank, her face disappears. Nothing exists, and that’s a
“What happened to your head and torso?” Clara asks.
“I don’t know, probably where yours went. We’re not invisible, we’re non-existent.”
“Are you religious? I’m not,” she says. Changing subjects are clear indications of a
vanishing act. With no face, no mouth, no torso, I look down at her legs. I’m a leg man
and hers were great. It’s too late for voyeurism. We could melt out here and no one
would find the remains of our lives.
“I’m a voyeur when it comes to religion and God. It’s better to pretend than actually
believe,” I say. The flaw lies not with the stars but with our emptiness.
“I don’t believe in anything,” she says. “But where are you, lost in the sunlight?
Where’s the rest of you?”
I don’t see her pupils. I shade my head with my hand and her body diminishes to a
I can’t tell whether I speak to myself, the abyss, or to her.
“I loathed your bodily form,” I lie.
I’m another puddle on the grass beneath the bench.
“I bet you wonder why I agreed to this non-date,” she says. It ain’t because she’s a
easy lay, sexism has been purged completely. “Sex is useless.”
Our insubstantial selves wouldn’t hold the glands, organs and fluids needed.
“How did you contract herpes?” I say. Gagging, I refrain from barfing. “My girlfriend
tricked on the side.”
“And your herpes from her,” she says. She begins to annoy me. “Once I visited a
bisexual and she gave it to me.”
“Yes. My girlfriend was bisexual.”
“Did she have a ‘Touch Me’ green tattoo on her belly?” she asks. We’ve touched
bases, so to speak. I assent.
We’re past being ethereal; terra incognita more apt.
We’re blanks shot from a gun.
The idea behind “Puddle Couple” came to me from an appointment
with a physician’s assistant. The rest is imaginary. We humans are so slight,
so tentative, we don’t sense that we’re alive. And to think that we have to lie
in spite that is absurd, laughable.