Dana actually beats me to the ledge and tackles me around the legs and I drop to the bricked floor. Stronger hands start restraining me and I take a wild swing and see it connect with a guy’s nose and blood and snot fly everywhere.
That is the last of my recollections.
When I regain consciousness I am being wheeled on a stretcher thru a depot of some kind. An airport as it turns out but I don’t know which one. I look around and see Dana glowering at me. I’m in four point restraints and cannot move even a little bit. My head aches furiously and I wonder if somebody cold-cocked me. On past the security lines where guys in uniforms like to stick their finger up passenger’s asses and to an unmarked door. They leave me there and Dana sits and pointedly does not look at me.
I guess I embarrassed her. That’s what she said when she thought I was going to jump. Not “Honey, I love you, come back inside. It’s dangerous out here.’ or ‘Whatever you’re mad at me about we can work it out. Just come inside and talk to me.’ No, it was ‘You’re embarrassing me.’
Where am I? I ask tonelessly.
NYC, she says. LaGuardia. Don’t ask why or how.
She continues to stare at the wall.
Presently a young guy in scrubs comes in and ignores me while he talks to Dana.
I never knew he was having an affair with my accountant, Dana says, lying smoothly. He was around her all the time but I never suspected…until she left and he just went to pieces. He was ready to jump off a building in Toronto and I just got to him in time…
You’re lying shit, I say contemptuously at Dana.
Anyway, he’s my husband and I want the best for him. From here i’m taking him to Dr. Kindsvater at the Institute. But he’s really agitated. I thought perhaps a shot of a benzodiazepine…she shrugs.
The doctor looks at me doubtfully and says, Well, okay. As long as Doctor Kindsvater is handling the case…
I look wildly at Dana and wonder what kind of treachery is afoot.
She says, You’ll be alright, Erik, the edge in her voice to make a point that nothing bad is going to happen to me.
I smell alcohol and feel the coolness of soaked cotton on my arm. My stomach heaves. A torrent of curses escapes my lips and a description of Dana’s character and treachery.
When I wake this time it’s a plain white room with a mesh screen on the window and doorglass. Dana sees me move my head and she comes over.
Where am I this time, you washed up old dyke? I say.
That’s gratitude for you, she says. If not for me you could’ve ended up God knows where. Maybe Bellevue.
Is that what this place is?
No, it’s an expensive private psychiatric facility on Long Island.
Then what now?
Now I guess you’re free to go if you promise to behave.
You’ve promised to behave hundreds of times and never kept that promise.
I mean not try to kill yourself.
Alright, Dana. I promise. I wasn’t going to jump off that fuckin building in Toronto.
I know that, she snaps. I realized it as soon as I had time to think. But you put me in an awful position. We were in Canada with expired visas because…
Because I forgot to take our passports to the embassy and had to go back to the hotel for them and you know what I saw there.
But…you know, I really thought you’d be okay with that. It’s not the first time you walked in on me like that and you seemed to like Tracy. She sure liked you. She really had her way with you every which way and you seemed like you loved it. You two were so cute together.
All that’s immaterial, I say.
You take things too hard, Erik, she says, her voice tired and shaky. You take yourself too seriously. If you’d lighten up you wouldn’t get so bent.
Where do we go from here, Dana?
Home I guess. The farm’s where I went to have my minor meltdown. Maybe it’ll be awhile before anybody comes after me for…
Nobody’s coming after you, Dana. The statute’s long run out. Besides, as far as they’re concerned you’re officially dead.
That’s what I mean, Erik. They’ll come after you if…
Oh, bullshit. We can leave again if we have to. Just stay out of Europe for a decade or so until the fascists run their course. We’ll go back to the farm for a while.
Erik, you’d better…
I am going to behave, dammit! Let’s get outta this fuckin place!
It may take me the better part of an hour to do the paperwork, she says. Try to stay calm until I get done.
It’s been many years since we were last at the farm but I am shocked at how bad the house is; it looks like a shack in Appalachia. The hill in front of the house is littered with all kinds of crap. Old tires, broken axe heads, fragments of chicken wire, goddamn beer cans. The porch is missing the first step and I have to pull myself up. The front of the house in the shade is green with fungus and guaranteed to make me sick. It’s cool and damp. The house faces the north with trees and fields behind it.
In the winter snow stays on the ground longer here in the shadow than most places. In the spring it becomes suddenly green and the air full of pollen and rank with the smell of spring. Pig shit on the field across the road, clover hay, all things that make me deathly sick. Now is the only season of good, cool weather. But it’s humid and I am sweating.
Fortunately Dana had the foresight to call and have the power turned back on. Inside the house looks like it always has and miraculously has not been broken into. But that’s because Henry down the road is in our debt big time and agrees to keep the batteries in the vehicles charged and the place looking lived in. But it’s musty and airless and there is black mold in the bathtub drain and when the smell hits me I heave.
Go take a Benadryl, Dana says coldly.
Fuck you, I say and go outside on the dilapidated porch.
The road outside the house has not changed. For years we harassed the county not to pave this road because we didn’t want all the traffic hauling ass thru here. Then one summer day after we’d been gone for a few days we’d come back and it was paved and the county said, Well we’re sorry but now that it’s paved we cant unpave it. Dana had a fit and I wasn’t happy about it but that was that.
The corn has not been harvested and the stalks are brown and sere. Banks along the road covered with withered honeysuckle. Limestone all around this eroded land staring at the infernal sky. Poplar and oak and hickory. A purlieu like this one seems to have affinities for all manner of things sickening, gangrenous mold, bugs, stray animals, people hunting on this place without permission. An enormous lank hound has come out of the corn and is sniffing around a dead bird.
I go back inside. Dana is on her knees scrubbing the mold off the bathtub drain. When she notices me she yells, GET OUTTA HERE! YOU’LL GET SICK!
Sometimes it’s things like that that just get you. Really get you.
I don’t say another word to her. I put some things in a frame pack and put on my new $300 hiking boots and get the keys and go down and start the Viper and just drive away.