By Patrick Alcatraz
CENTRAL CITY, Colo. - Morning had come after a long night of conversation that came and went and sailed away and sailed back. You could tell the air in the cabin had gone stale, the best of the whipped oxygen now clinging to the ceiling, up there with the spiders and bugs deep inside the weathered logging that made the roof look comfortable. Marguerite had disappeared into the bathroom and was refusing to come out. My way was to angle over to the ancient wooden door and say, in a low voice, that I'd be preparing bacon for breakfast. A guy is ahead of the game if he's cooked for his woman; it's the most natural of relationship bridges. Nothing came back at me from where Marguerite bunkered. I pictured her standing directly in front of the old sink, staring at the old mirror, but not looking at anything in particular, the last of the Mascara now but a speck of gray-black at the bottom of her chin. I suppose she pictured me being stupid, going on with the show, and fully believing a warm breakfast of Canadian bacon and eggs would smooth everything.
The feelings raged ragged that morning. How we 'd got to the point of destroying the moment remained the mystery to me, although it should be said that a man is the last to know when he's hurt a woman's feelings. I recall one of my theology professors saying something about how Eve had gone for the apple after hearing Adam say he'd be waiting for the pear. That one had drawn laughter from the women in the class, guys in the crowd merely looking at each other in what had to be a show of we're-fucked unity. An apple, a pear, an orange; whatever, was my feeling. Lord knows, I rose to say in class, the fruit-of-choice should have been the frickin' banana. Is there a better fruit to play the part? Well, other than the suddenly-popular veggie in the bedroom - the goddamned gourd.
"Scrambled?" I asked in a loud voice sent in the direction of the bathroom.
Nothing. The fluttering of a hawk's wings startled me, so I walked to the kitchen window and watched the graceful climb of a gorgeous harrier. That guy is as free as a bird, I told myself before thinking, Dang, I know hawks hate being called something as a queer as a bird. It's the law of the wind for anything with wings. Hawks know who and what they are; birds are still thinking about it. I reached for the marmalade.
"Ready in five minutes!" I threw at the bathroom. My ears strained for sounds and, for a second, I thought I heard what sounded like a woman wiping her face with some washcloth. Perhaps she was getting over it. Marguerite was too cute to cry. Sobbing was not in her jeans or genes. I waited and then turned to crack two eggs into the hot skillet. My two-burner stove was doing its job. I set the table while the eggs cooked, placing the orange marmalade alongside the silverware. Marguerite loved orange marmalade. I'd asked her about that, but hadn't really cared all that much. It was chit-chat. Then I had thought to think there likely was a good story behind it. The sound of the batroom door opening came next.
"Coffee?" she asked and I nodded, motioning her over to her chair.
I didn't speak. Someone had once told me that women are turned-off by a man's voice early in the day, except on Sunday. Who knows? I liked to take things as they came, some to be ignored and some to pay attention to - like most guys. I was, however, dying to ask her about the moment she'd left me alone in the sack. I waited, moving to place the scrambled eggs on both of our plates. She ate as if on vacation, slowly and looking out the window. I slopped my toast with gobs of butter and marmalade, refueling.
"What's to do today?" she asked, finally.
"Whatever you want to do," I said in reply, beginning the make-up.
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