Thursday, February 11, 2010


We lean in close to each other. To anyone who sees us here in this restaurant garden it must look like we are flirting. Gillian is talking about past potential. She says she used to have an hou glass figure, which sounds to me like a dark term from Victorian days. And I cannot see how what appeals to me could have been improved upon by what also sounds like a touch of anorexia.

She says grandly that she used to be a best selling author. It sounds to me like a routine series book, maybe a lowly text book, something that happened to have her name on it because someone liked her. She does not ask about the real books she must know I have written.

“I once saw a lama levitate,” she says. “I didn’t see it directly,” she says, but I was right outside the shed where it happened and so I knew he was levitating."

I cannot quite edge in to talk about my years of travel, my time in revolutions. Four months ago, in February of this for me turning-point year, the deadly dictatorial couple Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were fleeing the Philippines. That was where very recently I was being threatened with death by Marcos enforcers, while the people on the side I chose were being murdered. And at virtually this same time that Marcos was being overthrown, Baby Doc Duvalier was being flown out of Haiti. Haiti, where long ago a woman of the night and I were given a bottle of Barbancourt rum, and hidden in a shed behind an open air whorehouse dance hall where Baby Doc’s father's sadist thugs, perhaps with voodoo on their side, had come to kill a student leader.

Only recently have I thought there might be a connection between my getting into this sort of thing and the nature of the family I came from.

The reason I go to these meetings where I spotted Gillian is not just that I am at last out to find out what happened in my family homes. I also want to expose the people who presided at my childhood, just as Gillian is out to expose her crazed mother and her mother's husbands and lovers.

The past is fast catching up with my family. My cousins are dying. Suicides and unexplained disease and drugs and more. And survivors are becoming the walking dead. It seems people are hounded into death in that family I came from every bit as much as liberal Filipinos under the Marcoses, and liberal Haitians under the Duvaliers.

But again I can’t get a word in as Gillian keeps talking. And I keep enjoying the sight of her. Her bare shoulders and rounded arms. Rounded everything. This open face American girl speaking with an acquired English accent. Waspy women in the family I came from also had those fake British accents that they considered upper class. Though none of them looked anything like Gillian.

In the restaurant garden Gillian’s face is full of color, some of it from the colored lights, some from her days on the sidewalk in the sun. Oval face and oval body. She seems to spread out and surround me. Engulf me. She is every wonderful heart-breaker I have ever had or known.

And she talks and talks and talks. And now she is calling these meetings we go to group therapy, though they are if anything in reaction to failures of clinical therapy. It is as if inside Gillian there is a cold inner literary critic or inner art historian trying to water down and obscure what is so glaringly real.

And I cannot get a word in, so I look. And almost listen. And drift.

How did I become so practiced at tuning out foolish talk?

I want so badly for her to be who I want.

And anyway it is high time, whoever she is, for the sex scene.

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