Tonight—the first moonless night of this winter—I can sense a change in Lenny, which starts, for me, with the scent of his aftershave.
It’s Aqua Velva. It’s been a long time since I’ve caught it on him, and I can get a bit tipsy just by tipping over, like, to take it in. He grips the faded armrest and gets up, with some effort, from his corner, and puts on his fingerless leather gloves, with which he can type, especially on cold nights. Then he goes out to the balcony, and I can see him fumbling for something there, in the drawers of his desk. Finally he brings back a handful of tapes—I hope none of them is mine—and the tape recorder, which he sets up across from me, on the floor next to Beethoven’s bust.
From down there Lenny turns to me, and I see the question in his eyes, like, Is it too late already, for the two of us?
And aloud he says, “Anita? Want to dance?”
Over the last couple of months he hasn’t given voice to no anger, and neither have I, which I figure can’t hardly be bad, ‘cause without words any feeling—even rage—can peter out, so that one of these days, it’s gonna be left there, dull and limp, somewhere behind us. It can happen, ‘cause his son isn’t here between us, and time passes.
Like ma used to say, Time heals all wounds. Which sounds pretty stale, but it must be true, ‘cause I’ve stopped thinking by now about my youth going to waste. Instead I’m thinking about the fact that I’ve stopped thinking about that.
So in the end, we’re back where we started, almost. Lenny’s my man. He’s mine. Me, I’m his. All’s clear. Nothing gets confused.
“Well?” he murmurs. “Do you?”
I reckon the reason he’s talking to me, like, under his breath, isn’t only because he’s unsure of me, of what I’ll say after the long, icy silence—but also because he can’t stand the echo, which seems to have moved in here with us lately.
So I whisper, as soft as I can, “I do.”
He inserts one of them tapes, and sets the tape recorder to Rewind, then Play. At first I almost expect my voice to come on, but then, by the spring in his step as he’s coming over, I figure it’s gonna be music. He reaches out to me, so I peel off his glove, and his touch feels nice, it’s warm and strong, the way I remember it.
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The complete series:
Volume I & II, woven together: