Providence and blessing are immediate. The night, the minute. No tomorrow. Tomorrow is now. Tomorrow was last night. Such things held dear in places in the heart are provenanced in grief and ashes. And yet i have Liz to myself this priceless morning and so am uncommonly unafraid, though i have been afraid all my life. And i wonder if i am happy because this is a thing i have not known and i cannot put a word to what i feel.
I cant sense her mood for she is silent as the sphinx. I clear my throat and say, U know what they say about a house divided.
What about it?
Just hold that thought when they give us the third degree. Or whatever they give us. Maybe an intervention. That what they call it?
She pushes her hair back from her face as we ride thru the desert. She says, U mean tough love.
Tough love is bullshit. It’s when they lay for the sumbitch when he is exhausted and helpless. It’s another word for bullying. And your friends turn on you and the last is the first and the first the last. And the ones you thought loved you become sadists and bullies and thugs.
What got into you, Max? I was just really happy to be here with you. Now you’ve got me worried.
Dont listen to me. I dont know what i’m saying.
Her eyes are taciturn. She says, Max, everything we did, everything we felt. Was it all about that thing?
Yes, the artifact. We dont even know what it is.
Yet. I mean, Max, was it ever just about us? You and me? Because somebody could feel like they served their purpose.
Furious, i turn my head toward her and say, Is that what you think? Then i stifle myself and laugh bitterly and say, That could cut both ways. Oh, hell, some girls would give anything to fly thru outer space.
Dont be flippant.
Then dont be insecure, Liz. Stop being suspicious of me.
She says nothing. It’s still early enough that the streets of this diamond morning are hushed and hollow as a Sunday when i pull the jeep into a parking space a block from the Crashdown out of sentimentality or holy dread of what is to come or both.
As we walk down the street she takes my arm and says, So maybe you think U saved me from a life with Kyle.
Inertia can be a real bitch but even so, with or without me i dont think a life with Kyle was ever your destiny, Dushka.
So what is my destiny?
Well, i say. I only know the part i’m hoping for.
I put my arm around her waist and pull her roughly to me, whether to show them all solidarity or just to say fuck you. When i open the door to the Crashdown it looks like the whole town is in there, a virulent mob that no ceding nor surfeiting of blood could appease.
Uh-oh, Liz says.
I smile at them say innocently, It’s great to be home.