At each bridge you emptied the boat, carried it up the embankment across the road and back down the other side to the canal. Fitzcarraldo.
Fred came from America for the celebration. Forty years after your relationship had ended, he still held a deep affection for you. You had loved each of them in a particular way and time. Each represented an episode in your love life, as it is called.
Instead, the day became about the bridges and all the hard work to navigate them. The whole event turned into that. You won’t bore us with the rest.
She was shortish, with the curliest natural blonde hair. Her round face and complexion reminded you of an apple. She rushed towards you after the lecture, a white piece of A-4 flapping in her hand.
“That last clip was about you, wasn’t it?” she asked.
“More or less, yes”.
“It’s in the lyrics; I could hear it” she added.
“Actually, more the visuals. What’s that piece of paper?” you hastened to ask, always preferring to divert attention away from yourself.
“Oh, just some sketches. Ideas really”.
“Let me see… are you left-handed? You draw a lot like I do”.
“I know. I’ve seen your drawings. Most people haven’t. They don’t understand how your work now follows on naturally from that time in your career”.
“You’re right about that. Too little time to explain. Better to get on with the work at hand than …”
PULL OUT FADE TO BLACK
Craig was so wrong for you. The wrong age, the wrong time in life, the wrong place. And yet it was beginning to work. He had asked you to move in with him, which was very sweet and kind of foolish. It never would have worked.
The meeting was in a medieval hall, usually reserved for important political and social functions. The old oak panelling and fixtures had a particular smell that most ordinary folks would only recall from churches in their childhoods.
The tables and high-backed chairs were set out in a rectangle in the centre of the room; the meeting was about to begin. This was a British gathering of (mostly) men who thought they had their ‘fingers on the pulse of contemporary male culture’. Such hubris.
You were there. Craig, being in his twenties and from a poor background, was invited to represent ‘youth culture’. Your colleague, Margaret, the only female participant, sat dead centre on one of the long sides of the rectangle.
The truth is that the British only implement change, which they frequently find distasteful, in small increments. A bit like their taking their good old time in getting the fuck out of India. It’s just the way they are. How this particular group ever thought they could recognize cultural change was beyond your comprehension. Nonetheless, the Brits love to bang on about things instead of participating in them.
After a round of introductions (listing credentials like so many cock measurements), a second go-round was conducted—what the Brits like to call a warm-up exercise. Each member in turn was to name a men’s cologne recently introduced to the marketplace.
Craig’s longish hair, cord jacket and screen-printed denim shirt stood out from the rest, of course. They had been expecting Craig to be a ‘hoody’ so were a bit disappointed. When his turn came, he mentioned the little-known maker, Parfumerie Generale from Paris, and it’s new scent, ‘Monsieur’.
Just as he finished, Margaret fainted. Perhaps it was all the talk about colognes or just the over-powering scent of testosterone in the room. Craig rushed to her side, as the others remained immobile and dumb-founded. Craig helped her to her feet and out of the hall. You followed close behind.
“I’m okay now, really. Thanks ever so much, Craig”.
“No problem! Do you want to go to the ladies’ and splash some cold water on your face?”
“Good idea, Craig. See you back in the hall”.
Craig then asked you to join him for a fag in the fresh air. As the pair walked towards the exit, Craig said, “Y’know, I’ve invited Margaret to join us for our party on the canal in September but she says she can’t make it”.
“I don’t think she really approves of our relationship, Craig”.
“No! I’m sure she’s not like that. Why do you think that?”
“Because of our age difference”.
Now outside, the temperature was rising and the air balmy. Craig removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. He jumped from the hall’s steep climb of steps on to the pavement and began dancing and punching the air, imitating Rocky or Muhammad Ali.
“We’re the best! We’re the greatest!” he shouted, continuing to dance in the street.
Your love for him and attraction to his youth, enthusiasm and energy were immense at that moment.
Joining you on the steps and lighting his cigarette from yours, he said, “There’s plenty of time. She’ll change her mind by September”.
Neither of you knew, of course, that by September you would be dead.
FADE TO BLACK