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"Lino", excerpt

Tuesday 11/5/19

It's 9:30 in the AM now. I've been a bad Colin. I was at the Starbucks--and I am about to return to do my grunt work--when an entire 2000 word story came to me, called "Lino," so I returned to this hellish sty and wrote the full story. Here is an excerpt:

“But you used to live up there, ma’am?” the workman repeated, trying a slightly different combination of words to create the same sense, a sort of verbal back-up plan. Initially he had opted for, “That was your former residence, then?” She wasn’t keen on the ma’am bit, though he hadn’t really much else to go on, and it was conceivable that “workman” was itself wrong, which is perhaps why it didn’t cross the threshold of her lips. Structural architect, maybe. Contractor. Though that made her think of muscles flexing in orgasm. He was handsome. This was not about that.

“I did live up there,” she replied. “Now I live down here, three floors down, at ground level. You see, I lost my job, and then I could only find one that paid a fraction as much, I have felt so comfortable in this building for so long, I am the accountant for the board…” She didn’t know why she was volunteering so much information. Her lips fused. Her tongue traced their contours from the inside of her mouth. People rarely consider that lips have inner components.

There was a slight gap between her own lips. She could feel an edge of air creeping in. Perhaps that was why some men told her she snored when she knew she did not. Confidence was not exactly her steadiest, steeliest of attributes, which is why she believed her certainty on the no-snoring score told volumes.

Rick gave sailing lessons from his boat at the harbor. He was a monochromatic thruster, this Rick—Harbor Rick; HR; though, confusingly, there was not long ago a Rick from HR. It was as though Harbor Rick had three speeds. His early thrusting speed was choppy, like the surf, with hip wiggles to each side, zany, unscripted—and then anticipatable—lightning bolts, presumably for variation, but as if he also sensed that there might be other orifices in the walls of her vagina, and those deserved probing as well. Equal opportunity thrusting. He was a big Beatles fan. Maybe he knew the orchestral track, “Sea of Holes.” Perfect marriage of man, medium, music, and thrusting style.

His second speed was more workmanlike, duty-bound, but still within the realm of the legato. Third speed was final speed, go-for-broke speed, in a quarter-of-an-hour-we-will-all-be-dead speed, speed that ends with a car and a rock wall and everything rendered motionless, done, silent, until either the paramedics come or the stilled forms return to life.

He slept as she lay there. Her eyelashes, as she blinked, felt like alighting night forms—not bugs, nothing with an ick factor, but dryadic, tenebrous.

She could feel the results of speed number three dripping out of her when Rick rolled awake, ever-so-slightly, and said, “you’re snoring, can you stop it?” She knew that she produced no sound and was conscious. But even if she had been guilty of the leveled charge, you’d think a guy who made his living with the wind that was in sails rattling in his ears would be okay with a little awkwardly escaped carbon dioxide.

When he entered her there had been a squelching sound, and she apologized. “No, I like it,” he said, “the suction of us. I’m a squeegee guy.” She almost threw up.

“What I’m saying, ma’am, is, well, we keep encountering you up there, and you know, of course, that that part of the building is shut off. For this work. Everything in the air. You should be fine down here on the first floor, but, it’s just that…”

Her feet were bare. They felt cold on the linoleum. She looked at her toenails. They were painted garnet. A treat for herself. She liked to have them done on Sundays when she thought a little reward was in order. If she had started her week with purpose. Ran. Did her spin class. Read. She was reading Flaubert. Took a music appreciation class every other weekend. Haydn and Mozart. She didn’t know how people told the difference, but she was trying to learn how to become one of those people. She’d be able to remark, “hear the tempi? Well, Mozart is indebted to Haydn for tempi like that, though far be it for me to vouchsafe to someone like you that Mozart wouldn’t have eventually seized upon such tempi on his own, gone further with rubato than Haydn did, as, of course, he did.”

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