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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

September 10, 2003


“So tell me about it,” she said.
“About what?”
“Your life.”
“You first.”
“I asked first.”
“I don’t know where to start.”
“Start with why you stopped speaking to me.”
I felt like Sydney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon. “Why, Mr Spade, you certainly are a man who likes to get straight to the point.”
“Stop stalling.”
“I have to say to you, it’s a hard place to start.”
“Because I’ve thought about it over and over again over the past… years, you know, and apart from saying I was fucking insane there’s not a whole lot of reason I can find for why I did that.”
“Why were you insane?”
“I was jealous.”
“You’ll have to explain that. I don’t understand that.”

I didn’t know where to go next, so I drank some of my coffee, which was strong, bitter, and oily. Then I said,“I was jealous of you and James. Which I thought was obvious."
“Of the two of us, or just one of us?”
“I don’t know how else to put it. I wanted you, he had you, it destroyed me.”
“But you had… You know… You were…”
“There were others.”
“Yeah. What about…?”
“Sally, for example?”
“Yeah. Her.”
“She… she was never really interested in me, though was she? I mean, she tolerated the fact that I was all puppydog about her. But it was also safer for me that she wasn't interested.”
“And I wasn’t safe?”
“You were my friend. I could actually speak to you and get along with you on an equal footing. Aside from James, you were my best friend. You were part of my life. If I could rewrite history I would say you were, in fact, my best friend, more than he ever was. Then suddenly you were his girlfriend, and he had access to parts of you, to times of the day with you, that I didn’t have. He knew what you looked like on a Saturday afternoon. He knew what it was like to kiss you, to touch your skin. He knew what your house looked like, what your family was like. I knew you at school and that was it. And afterwards, I knew you through him only. Suddenly this really important part of my life was behind a door marked, ‘Property of James.’ I know that’s not the right way to say it, but I had to go through him to get to you.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“That’s how I felt.”
“But that’s… what about all the letters we wrote to each other? Did you think he was reading them over my shoulder? Or dictating the replies?”
“Of course not. But you’re assuming rational thought at work. There was none. I was like a baby who wants something but can’t reach it. I just felt like…”
“Shall I tell you what I felt like?”
“When you stopped speaking to me.”
“Like I’d smacked you in the face?”
“Like you’d kicked me in the guts. I felt like the worst person in the world, that I’d done something terribly, terribly wrong."
"And there's nothing I can say to put that right. There are no words. I've regretted it for twenty years, and another twenty years of the same regret still won't make it right."


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