Tasha met me at my cubicle door, cheerfully and affectionately, and I felt immediately better. As always. Coming through that door never failed to provide a rush of much-needed endorphins. Ah, my girl.
Hey baby, I said.
Hey. Ready for a glass of wine?
Oh yeah, I said. Bottle and a glass already by my chair. She was a master of timing.
Hungry? she asked.
I will be. What you got?
I was thinking of a cauliflower/sardine casserole.
Drew! You’re supposed to laugh. I used to be able to make you laugh.
You make me laugh? Don’t make me laugh.
Actually, I’ve done something rather wonderful with an eggplant.
In private, I hope.
Baby, all I have is private.
What will you do when I’m gone?
You pick the strangest subjects. I don’t know. I don’t think there’ll be a me after that. At least not this me.
You’ll take up with somebody else.
I can’t understand why you spend so much time on unpleasant things that never happen. You must have some extra stress today. Have some more wine.
I poured another glass, and rubbed my eyes.
Ready for something to eat?
No, I said, and leaned my head back and closed my eyes.
You just need a little relaxation. I want you to let everything go now. Picture a room, dark and stuffy, and full of poisonous air. We’re going to open all the doors and windows—got it?—and let in the fresh air and the light, and the fragrance of jasmine and gardenias. Isn’t that nice?
I could only grunt. Because it was. As always. Then some piano music started, and I guess I made a little noise.
Remember that? Oh, don’t worry, baby. I’ve got all your memories in a safe place.
I lost myself for a while.
Shall we move on to your entertainment? she asked.
I guess, I said resignedly, then killed the wine and put on the gloves and headset.
What’s brewing in there?
I’m too tired to think, I said. Why don’t you surprise me?
Oh, give me something, she said. Don’t you care if it’s good for me too?
Okay, I said. Future scenario. The music changed to something techno-minimalist. No, not so—whatever that is. The music became nostalgic again. Yeah. And it looks too—I don’t know, hard-edged or something. Yeah. More like that. Maybe more, you know, flowers, misty fields, shafts of light in the forest, whatever—
Got you. My nostalgic guy.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s it. And the people: good-looking. Not Hollywood, just good-looking. Yeah—
Children break my heart.
Okay. Our hero?
Oh, an explorer, I guess. The Amazon or something. And there’s this woman—
If only you were jealous.
I don’t do jealous, baby.
I know. Anyway, it’s way in the future.
A clever word for the past.
And he finds, like, a lost city or something. And he starts decoding their language and discovers this elaborate thought system—
Please not aliens.
No. Not aliens. Just a lost way of thinking—the key to mastering ego and greed. Just as he’s, you know, falling in love.
Ah! Enlightenment and love.
Yeah. And he has a lot of sex.
How about some kind of rivalry?
His brother. They’ve always been ideological opposites, but mainly the brother has envied his brilliance. But now he figures out what he’s on to, and sets out to suppress it, or destroy it—
More like steal it. And not a brother. Brothers should be—brothers. More like somebody from the administration who recognizes it as a dangerous idea—
Yes! Steal it. But not him—his Machiavellian wife, who immediately sees the potential in it to make a lot of money. Package it and sell it. So she hires this plumber she’s having an affair with to kill him—
But his woman figures it out—
A harrowing chase scene—
But all the while our hero is beginning to understand there are only infinite versions of something there are only infinite versions of.
If you say so. But definitely lots of sex.
Yes, yes. Just leave it to me. Oh! I enjoy this. How about this for where he meets the girl?
Oh, I moaned. Oh God, that’s perfect.
Are those tears in the corners of your eyes, my romantic guy?
I dabbed my eyes. Of course not. And—ah—the plumber? When we get there, I want to be him. You know, just until—
Yes, my liege. Now just relax, let it all go. That little guy in the control room in your brain? Send him home—with pay—and I’ll make everything good. Real good.
She always did.
March 1, 2019