"We've always been friends, haven't we?" he asked, ignoring her denial. "There's always been something between us, hasn't there? Don't look so scared. Oh, God ... Otto, Ruth, this country with its death rays and frozen peas ... I'm not so different from Otto. I want the past, too. I hate planes and cars and rocket ships. But I don't dare ... I don't dare. Don't you see? This war! Bobby is already sixteen. He can he drafted in a few years. Look at the mess!"
"Sometimes I'm glad we don't have a child," she said.
He didn't seem to have heard her. He slid out from beneath the table and went to the bar, returning with two more bottles of beer.
"I had two miscarriages," she said.
"I know you did," he said, sounding cranky.
"I've got a uterus like a pinball machine, apparently."
"Why didn't you ever adopt a child?"
"We put it off and put it off and now -- we're such a settled childless couple."
"It doesn't matter," he said. "They are hostages to fortune. I love them and they suffocate me. And it's a business, like everything else is these days, the having children business, the radical business, the culture business, the collapse of old values business, the militant business ... every aberration becomes a style, a business. There's even a failure business."
"Then there's the committed, self-sacrificing lawyer business," she said.
"I wanted only to be like Mr. Jarndyce, really. That is the kind of lawyer I wanted to be," Charlie said, rubbing his scalp furiously at a certain spot as though someone were hammering away from the inside. "You know ... of Bleak House. There is that scene when Esther Summerson is weeping in the coach, and old Jarndyce whips out a plum cake and a pie from his cloak and offers her both of them, and when she refuses, my God, he simply flings them both out the window and says 'Floored again!' What style!" He began to laugh, shouted "And flung them out the window!" and collapsed in the corner of the booth, choking a little and waving at the bartender, who was staring at them worriedly.
"I think I've got rabies," she said.
"Have a plum pie," he replied, snickering.
"You're the one who doesn't care about anything," she said. "Oh, stop that stupid giggling!"
"I care about everything," he said. "In my desperate fashion. It's desperation that keeps me going. Let's go wake up Otto. I want to tell him about Jarndyce." And he began to laugh again. Then he wiped his face with the back of his hand and looked at her intently. "Are you desperate?"
John just bought The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard and I'd like to dig into that next.
Listening to: The Smiths, obviously. I want to write a cento from Morrissey lyrics. Thinking a lot about this line especially: "I've seen this happen in other people's lives and now it's happening in mine."
Eating: Carnitas tacos with slaw, pickled onions and guacamole. This recipe is excellent.