siamese twins

he stops by her apartment just a little after midnight. she doesn’t say anything when she opens the door, she steps to the side and lets him in. all the lights are off. in the bedroom the moon lights the room evening alabaster through two large windows. she sits down on the side of the bed in the moon. she’s not wearing anything. he takes a seat across from her in a large blue chair.

you didn’t think I would come, he says.

I didn’t know.

neither did I, he says.

you’ve been drinking.

yes.

would you like another?

he stands up. don’t bother, he tells her. I’ll get it myself. are you having anything?

she shrugs. bring me whatever you’re having.

the moon through the windows looks like large piano keys.

he comes back with two drinks, hands one to her and sits back down in the chair.

I wish you hadn’t come, she says.

I wish I hadn’t either.

then why did you?

he shrugs. what did you do today?

not much. I walked out by the pond.

women are being attacked out there, he says.

I know.

he finishes his drink without looking at her. I could use another, he says.

do you want me to get it?

never mind. I’ll get it myself.

she doesn’t move. he comes back and sits down without looking at her.

I shouldn’t have come tonight, he decides.

you should never come.

maybe I should leave.

she pulls up her legs and folds her arms around them. she laughs. did you hear about the guy in the news today who burned down his own house?

really?

yeah, there was a mouse in it. he chased it all night and he couldn’t get it. it drove him crazy.

sure sounds like it.

well, he got so mad at the mouse, well this is what he said happened anyway, that all he could think about was getting revenge on the mouse. he didn’t care what happened to his apartment.

so where is he now?

I think they’re putting him away in a place for crazy people.

I guess that’s where he belongs.

when I was a little kid, she says, and he’s looking at the moon making squares of light on her bare legs, I burned off a little corner of my windowsill because it hit me in the head one morning as I was getting out of bed.

sure, that’s different.

I don’t see how it’s that different. given the right circumstances I might have burned my house down too.

did he get the mouse?

I don’t think so. I think the mouse got away.

that’s the way of things.

is it? maybe that’s what would happen if the man upstairs tried to burn us down. which she says in a way that makes him stand up again. is he listening? I need another, he says. are you having anything?

I suppose so, she says. I suppose I’m going to need it.

as he comes back into the room she asks him, aren’t you drinking too quickly?

is it any different from any other night?

she thinks. no. I suppose not. in fact-

he smiles and she smiles back at him.

you’re like the sun, she says, when you do that.

like the sun?

is that the sun I see,

smiling back at me? pause. what do you say someday we go sailing together?

sailing? really? I think I’d like that a lot.

so do I. did I ever tell you the story of the first time I went sailing?

I don’t know. maybe.

well, tell me again. you think I remember every little thing you say?

when you put it like that it doesn’t sound nice at all.

she smiles at him and he smiles back again.

you’re like the moon, he says, when you do that.

the moon?

I saw you standing alone.

without a dream in my heart, she says.

I was only sixteen.

that’s not that young. I tell you that every time.

it felt like I was very young. and I’d never been sailing before.

what time of year was it?

well that’s a silly question. it was spring.

was it just spring, or had it been for a while?

it was well into the spring season, he begins. beneath the late may sun, friend and friend and friend embarked together on a journey by sea.

I thought it was just a little creek.

oh, go to hell.

what kind of thing is that to say?

well, let me tell my story.

you’re going to need another drink.

am I?

I think so. I think tonight you’re going to need another drink.

should I just bring in the bottle?

yes, after all, I’m going to need another too.

he gets up and leaves the room. she leans forward on the bed, arms still around her knees so that her whole body bathes in the moonlight. he comes back and stops to look at her.

you should learn to be polite, she says.

he puts the bottle down next to her glass and sits back in the large blue chair.

you should be more appropriate around guests, he says.

you’re an intruder, she says. you’re no guest of mine.

that’s right, he says. I’m an intruder.

the sound of someone stomping around upstairs comes through the ceiling.

doesn’t that guy ever go to bed? he says.

never, she says. he’s always there. all day and all night. he doesn’t sleep and he doesn’t leave the apartment.

have you ever met him?

no, she says. I’m afraid of him.

sometimes he’ll get quiet when I’m here.

yes, he’s listening.

listening?

yes.

how do you know?

I can imagine him. I can see what he looks like and everything.

have you ever seen him?

no, she says. I’m afraid of him.

well, I’m certainly not afraid of him. let’s go have a talk with him.

she shivers and slides back on the bed. no!

yes, he says and fills up his glass again. I say yes. he finishes his drink.

aren’t you drinking too quickly, she asks.

am I?

yes, she says.

he pours himself another. I’ll decide what’s yes and no.

will you tell me the story? she asks.

which story?

the sailboat.

oh, the sailboat story. have I never told you the sailboat story before?

no, never.

well, it begins with father and son on a sunny autumn day.

and you’d never been sailing before?

never; but I was only sixteen.

that’s not so young.

not so young to some, but I was in the prime of my youth.

and you’re past that prime now?

what?

are you no longer in the prime of your youth?

alas, he says flourishing, I am not.

you should go.

father and son on the high seas.

I thought you said it was a creek.

a lie, he suggests, in order to appear humble. it was the high seas indeed!

you’re drinking too quickly.

I’m drinking at just the appropriate speed. did you know that when I first came over here I dreaded everything?

you did?

yes. almost as much as you dreaded my coming. but now nothing seems better.

really?

yes, after all, here we are, talking about sailing.

will you take me sailing some time?

is a promise a promise?

yes, she says. a promise is a promise.

do you know, he says, that the moon makes you look more lovely than Helen of Troy?

does it?

oh, I could write soliloquies.

did you know Helen well?

I knew her intimately.

anyway, you shouldn’t be so happy as you are.

not so happy as I am? can anyone be less happy than they are? he finishes his drink and pours another.

you’re drinking too quickly.

too quickly? he says.

and so you’re forgetting, she says.

forgetting?

that he listens.

yes. that’s right. he listens. pause. storm the staircase, he shouts. we’ll kill him!

we can’t kill him, she says.

and we can’t let him live, he says, standing up again and pacing the length of the floor flooded by the moon. she slides up against her pillow. you’re scaring me, she says.

scaring little girls, murdering tenants, drinking glass after glass of god’s glorious gin, what kind of men do you let into your apartment at odd hours of the night?

will you tell me the story about the sailboat? I’d much rather talk about sailboats.

sailboats and sailors and sinners all go to hell, he shouts, finishing his drink and stopping a minute to pour himself another.

be quiet for a second, she says.

he stops pacing and stands in place.

you hear? she says. no more stomping. he’s listening.

shameless bastard son of shit! he yells at the ceiling. you’ve got nothing better to do every evening I suppose.

don’t be angry, I bet he’s lonely. she smiles at him and he smiles back. he walks over to where she’s sitting on the bed and sits next to her.

you’re like the moon, he says, when you do that.

like the moon?

I saw you standing alone.

without a dream in my heart.

he says, beautifully, yes.

she leans herself up against him and whispers no.

he rapes her.

afterwards she won’t talk to him. he sits in the large blue chair and finishes the bottle while she lies in bed smoking. after the last glass is finished he stands up.

he was listening, he says.

she doesn’t say anything.

I’m not going to come tomorrow, he says.

she doesn’t say anything. he goes to the door and looks back at her. I mean it this time, he says.

he opens the door and pauses at the threshold. she’s saying something:

(Whit Frazier, From “Youth and the Unreal City”, 2001)

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