chapter 3


 - - –-  - – - -–- last chance -- - – - - - - -  - -  -  -    -      -


I didnt just take off,  dont think me barbaric, i waited for a

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time when claire was gona be out of town anyway. she was flyin to
newyork, to meet with a gallery owner who was intrested in her work.
her last chance, thats the way she saw it [ and in a way it was,  another
week and she wouldnt be able to fly ] if this didnt result in something
concrete, she was ready to relegate painting to hobby and throw herself
into career and motherhood.

but this gallery owner was a pretybig deal i think. she had among her
clients elton john, dont ask me why i remember that. if she took on claire
and the show went well, it could possibly allow her—if things went realy
well crossfingers—to quit her job and try painting full time.

to make it as a painter, even if your talented you still have to be extremely lucky, have richass parents, or— pardon my french— suck mad dick, none of which claire did. if you dont have those things, you better possess that rare combination of talent and drive. not just momentary impulses but the kind thats sustaind over years—

you better have a plan.

i wanted it so bad for her. for us.

does evry relationship hafta have a plan?
seems like it. somethin to do with the future i guess, maybe it helps us
not feel stagnant. but we are not bodies of water, we can actualy thrive
while standing still. in theory, anyway. i myself couldnot. or i’d forgoten
how. i brushd my teeth with one foot already out the door, always ready
for the next thing the next thing the nexthing—

what about this thing?

But where was i? my trip, right? my own last chance. the plan went somethin like—

take claire to the airport on friday, kiss her goodbye with asurances
youll be safe. start drivin east on I-20, see how far you can get. when
you get tired, pullover at a rest stop.

wake up saturday and drive the resta the way to athens, get a cheap motel, checkout the town, see if you can find bluesky.

leave sunday by noon, to be back in time to pickup claire at the airport sunday night. and pay for it all with the tiny amount you have in your personal account.

i explaind this to claire, all except the sleepin
in a restop part. i stressd the my money thing i’m sure, possibly said
somethin along the lines of—

if i didnt do anything you didnt want me to,

i wouldnt do anything.

maybe worse, i dont know forsure, its mercifly lost in the haze.

Before we get on the road, let me paint you one last domestic scene—

its the night before we are to leave on our respectiv trips. the house
is feeling rather small. at some point claire goes to bed without
tellin me.

i follow after her like a yard dog. but she’d already disappeard into the masterbath [ we added that, now i was regrettin it ]

so here i am on my side of the bed—seated, mind you,
not lyin down—waiting for claire to finish brushin her teeth but realy
waiting for her to tell me the state of our relationship, as i mentiond
earlier or maybe i didnt, i needed constant reasurance, it must have
been annoying as hell.

eventialy she comes out, words are exchanged
i dont remember, but it ends with her crying and me atempting to cry
but failing to do so.

then, thru tears, she asks me a question—

if you had the time and the money, why arent you coming with

me to new york?

[ good question, claire. the sad truth is it had not occurd to me ]

this changed things, too, removing the freedom-versus-responsibility frame i had wanted to hang on it.

Al i askd you a question.

why didnt i come with you?

thats what i askd.

well why didnt you invite me?

things escalated from there in the usual fashion—
i got defensiv and claire got disapointed then sad. eventialy i askd if she
wanted me to sleep here or on the couch.

she didnt answer.

so i retreated to my office, threw myself back into the internets, the original source of my trouble if you dont count that bluesky card, and there found more trouble— 800-dollar-lastminute-ticket-to-la guardia kindof trouble, which i was ready to pull the trigger on if claire was okay with me payin for it out of our joint-acount and payin it back next month.

did she even respond? i hope not. perhaps
she faind sleep. but fakesleepin is easy as shit to spot. i lay there
nexto her and assaulted her with pillow talk. one thing i know
i said, sevral times—

i love you.

which i meant at the time, tho now it sounds to me more like an acuzation than anything.

The D-F-W airport is in Irving, halfanhour from our place in medium
traffic. dont know if youv been to irving, but unless you are in love with
the kind of establishments that popup at interstate exits—and would
infact like to see an entire town made of that shit—its prety depressing.

not very many words were spoken on the drive.

i dont know what she was doing, but i was preparin my defense, workinup an answer for anything she might possibly acuse me of last minute. we were running late—mostly my fault—so the plan to park and walk together as far as security [ and my secret plan to get her fast-trackd since she was pregnant ] was not gona happen. it would have to be a dropoff. the dreaded curbside dropoff.

Follow signs for departures.

get in line. keep an eye out for american airlines.

clear your throat. say things like—

you should be fine, as long as security isnt too slow.

[ and ]

sure you dont want me to park and run in realquick?

if securitys slow i could wait in line with you.

[ how weak is that? the only way shit isnt gona blowup is if securitys fast and slow at the same time ]

i dont remember what we said to eachother
at the dropoff. we formd a provisional peace, hugs and sniffles,
probly somethin like—

Claire you know i love you dont you?

i do know that.

and the baby—gabe— he’s already an important part

of my life—our lives—our life.

then why do you forget i’m pregnant and try to feed me

raw fish?

i thought the tuna was seared. . .

[ yes! i got a laugh ]

really claire, you know i have a badmemory, i think of you

all the time

you do?

course i do. sometimes i’m so busy thinkin a you

i almost forget your there, its like— you know that

seabear song i always play. . .

[ i attempt to sing tho i cannot carry a tune ]

i miss youuu, even when your around. . .

i think i know it.

just cause i’m spacey, it doesnt mean

i know it doesnt, oh Al watchout.

a pressure on my arm,

just above the elbow—

the steely grip of authority.

Sir, i need you to move your

vehicle away from the curb.

i should give him credit,
he didnt exercise the full extent of his anti-terroristic capabilities, he understood there was a domestic situation here, and dependant as the state is on the famly unit—

but lets not go there now.

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We said the holy trinity— iloveyou i’llmissyou haveanicetrip.

at the last second i planted a kiss—

went for the lips but had to settle for cheek.

[ she was distracted by airport cop and turnd her head ]

i was then re-invited by my security-minded friend

to move my vehicle away from the curb.

i jumpd in the car

rolld down the passenger window

[ thanks globe cap, for power windows ]



and moved my vehicle away from the curb.

as i drove off, i could see claire in the rearview

standin by her suitcase wavin goodbye

gettin smaller and smaller.

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and then she was gone.


or i was, dependin on how you look at it.