FROM “WHAT WAS THAT I WAS SEARCHING FOR?”
Christopher was yelling at me in the street. “Come on, let’s celebrate.” He had a group of males with him and I had just left a known man of gluttonous descent. I thought to myself, nothing but moments, and went out to a bar with this hammered group. I said yes and our lips straddled each other in the frozen air.
His apartment was full of books. They were dormant. They lived only by their covers. No one had cracked them. I was dubious when he announced that Moby Dick was a long-winded staunch novel of men during the war. His best friend, whom he wanted me to meet, thought women were whiny and long- winded, as well.
He cried one night. “I never read these goddamn books. I just buy them to unnerve women.” I was fucking unnerved.
I met the psychiatrist at a small bar downtown. I was doing my usual drunken rendition of some lounge singer with the micro- phone and he came to watch my act. He was older, shrunken and teaching at the University of Chicago. Yes, I was impressed and thought, what the hell. He lived in the rich part of the area. He’d just divorced and wanted to take me on.
He invited me to the ballet. He got a box for us and brought champagne. This was a whole new world for me. During intermission he ran into a couple he knew. They looked at me, wondering if I was one of his sleazy students. He said, “Have you met Martinique?” My eyebrows rose. My name was Elizabeth. “She was a prima ballerina for the Aspen Ballet, but she had a terrible accident one night and could never dance again.” My mouth dropped open. “Tell them about it, Martinique,” he prodded and the couple was intrigued now, nodded their heads. He was challenging me.
“It was horrible,” I said closing my eyes and looking pained. “I don’t speak of it much, but it was during a performance of Giselle. I played Giselle, of course,” my voice got shaky and I shook my head. “Bastion Hedrick, you know him don’t you?” I eyed the couple as they both nodded. “Well, he had me up in the air and we were doing the final lift and as I was coming down, I realized he was off” my voice quivered. “He was two steps off and I buckled under my toe shoes and ripped my Achille’s tendon.” The couple put their hands to their mouths. “No,” they said. I nodded my head again and then the lights were flashing and intermission was over. The woman rammed me against her chest and said, “I’m so sorry. You poor, poor dear.” She had tears in her eyes.
And that was how the psychiatrist got off. He would get down on his knees in crowded restaurants and propose. He’d start raging arguments with me in public. I never knew when I was on stage. It was exhilarating and heightened our lust.
And just like the curtain goes down, one day it was over. He said he’d meet me somewhere and never showed. It happened a few times before I stopped calling. He was still acting and I had become the unsuspecting spectator.
Beth Couture is an assistant editor with Sundress Publication and the secretary of the board of directors of SAFTA. She is also the fiction editor of Sundress’ newest imprint, Doubleback Books. Her own work can be found in Gargoyle, Drunken Boat, Yalobusha Review, the Thirty Under Thirtyanthology from Starcherone Books, Dirty, Dirty from Jaded Ibis Press, and other publications. Her first book, a novella titled Women Born with Fur, is due out in the fall from Jaded Ibis Press. She teaches at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA.