Intimacies, Prose. Poems and Stories
If I could tell you. If I thought you might believe me.
If I could remember.
I think she was alone. Yes. & I think there were two men or maybe women. It was hazy & I’m never certain anymore. & she seemed happy to be there. Very happy. But who can be sure? I carry my own weight, as they say & never intrude . . . but it was her, I swear. & I would do it again if I could but it’s too late. But, it was her, I swear & when they began to cross the bridge I noticed a light & then a sound I’m not used to & Yes. there was an explosion & there were flames & the building collapsed & all I remember was the cloud it raised & the eventual silence . . . & sirens – they came later & I looked down to see her again & she was gone.
It was a clear night. I remember. The moon was full & in spite of the glare from the city, there were even a few stars & I did see her. I’m sure. She was with a crowd from the opera or symphony. I don’t go anymore. & she was wearing a black leather trench coat, the kind you see in foreign movies from the 40’s & she was on the arm of a woman in red . . . Yes. A red smock, the kind a painter wears & they were kissing & I was entranced & then they stopped & the fire & the explosion & I ran & No. I haven’t seen either of them.
I know her. Yes! Very well. & she can’t be trusted. I remember a time when she could but that was years ago . . . That night, Yes. I remember. She was with him & they had left the party early, early enough to have been there. I know. I was there too. & the next thing I know, they were running & there was the explosion & the rush of hot air & I fell & when I could get up I saw them – I’m sure it was them – running away & laughing.
I was with her. Yes. Hand in hand. We had much to talk about & much to settle & it was between us & no one else & when we left the lounge we walked, as we’ve often done, to the park & stopped for a crepe & a coffee & after a while – oh, maybe thirty minutes, we walked to the river & started across the bridge & stopped to watch the passing skulls & the fisherman reeling in for the night & we walked further & it was then it happened & we fell to the road & held each other & I heard her pray.
Of course it was her. Who else do you think. She’s been planning this for months & she had the time & the connections. I should know. She confided in me. I’ve spent the last six months following her & to be sure, I’ve hired others & rented rooms close by . . . & to think you let her slip through . . . & Why? Why now? Why come with your lame excuses & theories & no one to back you up . . . where were you when I was there & ready & could have stopped it all – could have saved the day.
You must be nuts. Her. No way. She hasn’t been home let alone here for weeks. I know. I live next door & we usually have coffee in the morning & maybe a croissant or two & No. In fact, the last I time we met in the market & she was complaining about the heat & how a trip to the mountains was what she needed & asked me to feed her cat, Salome, but changed her mind & said an aunt would do it or she would take it to the kennel & now you ask me – Ha. Who do you think she is . . .? & if so, you are mistaken!
Women. I’m not certain how many but quite a few & after ten. Yes. I’m certain. The news was on in my car & I remember the chimes from St. Michael’s & they were walking & one had a lantern & swung it like a sensor & they stopped & formed a circle & one came to the center & picked a partner & held her close & the rest swirled around them & then the explosion & the smoke & I couldn’t see.
Why do you ask so many questions? & why do you look so hard for me? I’m here. I live where I’ve always lived & have not hidden from you or anyone else. But you insist on asking others instead of coming to me & I resent that. How dare you. You have no right. & Now. Here I am. What do you want of me? Is it that night? Is that what you want? To know that night . . . I’ll tell you but not because I think you deserve it . . . it’s for myself that I will tell you.
I was walking along the river & stopped for a cigarette when I saw a man rowing across the river which is odd since most rowers go up & down but this one was rowing across & when he disappeared in the fog I left for the café where they know me well & I sat in my usual seat near the door & when it happened, I don’t know, the windows shook & we all hid our faces & someone cried “God” & then the police & I don’t know what else.
May I speak? Thank you. In fact, there was no woman. Yes, that’s right. No Woman. In fact, there was no one on the bridge that night. How do I know? I’m the attendant for that bridge & at precisely ten o’clock I chained the gate to that walk & within an hour, all the others as well. If she was there – if anyone was on the bridge, they had to climb over my gate or swim & climb up & the current is strong – as you should know.