L'Epilogue est Sans Issue
I watch her. She commands the bar with the stoicism of a field surgeon and the grace of an ice dancer.
“Whadda you want?” She mentally notates each answer with a nod, sawing down the front line of patrons as one bites corn off a cob, mercilessly bypassing any kernels with drink orders unready. Her hands move with deeply satisfying rhythm and automation. In one, a cocktail shaker pumps, in the other, a bottle tips to a wanting line of shot glasses. She chews off three more drink orders in the process, keeping tally of the beers filling under the taps behind her, then with balletic bravado, she cracks the shaker over two glasses, pirouettes to stop the three running taps, and returns with four totals for eleven drinks.
“Sixteen . . . twenty-four-fifty . . . forty-two . . . twenty-one-seventy-five.”
As the front line of patrons procure payment, she tops off the beers, delivers them to the bar, and begins the process all over again with the line behind them. She never stops. The whole night is her ballet, battle, and opera. They say true multitasking is impossible, but Jade has made a perfection of faking it. It’s a shame no one sees her brilliance the way I do—not even she, so I’m documenting it here, hoping for perpetuity. In fact, everyone I’ve documented here is a hope for perpetuity, but especially you.
I’m sorry. I still find myself talking to you. I’m still adjusting to a reality where I can’t do that. It’s like reading a good book and never knowing the ending, or maybe it just feels that way because I didn’t see the end coming. Our brief time together seemed to pass so quickly while in it, yet it feels eternal now from the effect.
But as an almost outside observer of my life now, I think I can see why in retrospect; nothing made time move faster than habit and nothing held it down like novelty, and you, you were the most novel thing to come into my life. You changed my life for the worst and best. However, novelty always comes with some discomfort. Without discomfort, nothing changes, and change is the ultimate arbiter of time from the mind’s perspective. Change is what makes time.
Speaking of novelty, the newscasts have been apocalyptic lately. It’s been raining in Southern California for three days and every television screen at the bar is filled with images of the deluge now that the sports games are over. Floods, mudslides, power outages, idiots in cars being swept away at water crossings; I pretend to watch, but my mind is elsewhere.
Fortunately these days I don’t get noticed here too often. Then again, I don’t look much like myself these days either. Over time I guess people have just gotten used to me sitting in this corner by the trivia machine, sipping wine—the last of the spirits I haven’t made enemies with, documenting their sordid romances and tragedies into my notebook. I’ve sort of become one with the old trinkets adorning the walls. Every now and then somebody finds me novel, but for the most part I’m free to be the surveying ghost I always wanted to be.
I think this bar is what I’m going to miss the most when I’m gone. I know that sounds alcoholic, but Perqs has been my only place of novelty during my years of mostly habit—not by choice of course. I also see why it was so special to you; one of two buildings left on Main Street over a hundred years old, forty of which it served as a brothel. You always did like a place with some history. The real value, however, is the people and stories on display every night here, many of whom and which I’ve borrowed for our story.
I only say “our story” now because so much of your story has become mine, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to be alone again yet. I always asked you if you thought I was going crazy, and you always reassured me, “only in the most lucid way.” But now that this last remnant of you is going to be gone, who’s going to be around to substantiate that? You’ve become so fixed in my imagination I’m beginning to question if any of it really happened at all. But I’ve got to move on. I’ve got to leave you in this locket of time, because I no longer have time to hold onto time. Only death can hold onto time forever.
But so can a great story—well, maybe not forever. But longer than I surely can in the limited time I have left.
So as the love of your life, simply because you had no others and I had no others—we didn’t have the “time”, I’ve now done my due diligence in trying my best to make sure the world remembers Walter Huxley. Because if you weren’t love, you were surely love’s muse. And if there is any practical purpose for love, it’s having someone who can tell your story in case you’re no longer around to—or in my case, finish the ending, the ending I accidently took away from you that fateful early Christmas morning. I never did get to hear that second verse.
Although we only met a mere few seconds in this existence Mister Huxley, maybe we can really fall in love in another. I guess I’ll find out soon coup de foudre.