He was one of those reporters. Never in a place long. Always going away, always coming back. Then he seemed to be around more. Then he was calling me up. I knew he did not have the most promising history with women. I knew that. I kept cool, he kept calling.
Afterwards when things fell apart and he drifted away, well, like fog really, I thought back to those early days when he’d been so persistent. Some men are at their best in pursuit. They put on clean shirts, have a certain gleam in their eye.
Then that gleam fades. He grows distracted, glances off, not wanting to miss the next thing coming along.
Uncertainty is like a drug. It quickens the blood, wears on the nerves. Slowly it dawned on me this was one of those loose and easy things. Maybe I’ll learn something, I thought. I did. I learned things. I learned I didn’t have the stomach for it. You need an iron stomach, and nerves of steel.
I was relieved when the man went off, finally, to South Africa. He planned a long stay.
Still, traces of him remained. At first, it was his name. I avoided the people he knew.
But at a dinner party strangers were discussing how the man had been spotted in some exotic locale with a mysterious woman at the end of a very long hall. Where does he find them? one person asked. He keeps them secret, another replied.
Or I end up at a restaurant sitting in the exact same chair I sat in one time with the man. Up his face rises like something out of “The Wizard of Oz,” underlit, ghoulish, laughing in a weird way, really not like the man at all.
I began to take in more movies than usual. Working for a film magazine I see plenty of movies already. Movies are soothing, they take you out of yourself But movies can also take you over. Credits begin to drift over me while I’m brushing my teeth or buying a token. A soundtrack swells and I’m in another world. It’s not always the best movie. This did not happen when the man was around. When I was with him, I was simply there.