The Quiet Life of Paul Rudolph, Pages 6-10
It may be hard to understand pages 6-10 out of context with 1-5. The first 5 pages are up here in two separate entries. Leave a comment, even if it’s a critique. My skin is thick. No, literally, it’s like a rhino’s.
Paul closed his eyes for much of the last few songs. The white circle with the secant line. Words mostly absent from his thoughts. Synesthesia: beats turned into shapes. The final chords of the final song were played, and Skip and Paul coordinated the big ending.
Two hours passed like a thought. Sweat. Blister on right index.
If I could stick a knife in my heart—suicide right on stage. Would it be enough for your teenaged lust? Would it help to ease the pain? Ease the pain..
Paul loaded his green Mercury. Tahyler came out carrying a vintage, wooden guitar case. Yellow and blue jogging pants with a red sweatshirt—
“That was pretty rocking,” Tahyler said to him. Maloccluded grin. Long, dark brown hair dangling around the stubble on his face and chin.
”I know it’s only rock n roll, but I like it,” P.R. said.
“You ready to rock next Friday?”
“Yeah, man. Nice playing today,” Paul said.
“Thanks. You, too.”
“We sounded better than we did on Thursday night.”
“Yeah. ‘Reckless Masturbation’ really sounded good today.”
“True. We played it a little faster; I think it needs it.”
“I hit a wrong note in ‘Torture the Robot’.”
“Oh yea? I didn’t notice.” And P.R. didn’t notice; he was a drummer.
“Yea, in the bridge. I’ll listen to it this week, though. It’ll be good. See you Friday, Paulie. Gonna kill those motherfuckers!”
Anathemising the audience? Tahyler toddled to his brand new Civic. What a gait! A takahe with a central nervous system injury.
“See ya, man,” Paul called out after him.
Tahyler drove off. Paul lit a cigarette. Musical chairs. Third guitar player in as many months. Consistently inconsistent. Bands as brittle as rods of pure iridium…or is osmium the most brittle? Most dense, I think. Ten years. Playing in groups of all sorts. A few years ago—The Conniving Hermit Crabs. Still the longest lasting band. Toured almost the whole country. Bus. Colleges. Living with Cynthia back then. Expected to stay faithful on the road? Knew my fidelity would be determined by the appeal of my opportunities.
Twenty-Seven years and nothing but failures and promises that I couldn’t keep, Oh Lord.
The studio door opened and slammed.
”Paul!” It was Skip.
“Can I bum a smoke?”
Paul handed one over and stared at him squarely: inquisitively.
“We’ll use him Friday and then probably find someone else. Don’t you think?” Skip said.
Kevin and Keith came out. Skip had something to say to Keith.
“What’d you get into last night?” Kevin asked Paul.
“Inflamed my liver. We went to NorthBeach and then R-Bar.”
“You need a new one?”
“New liver? Yea, I probably do. My cytokine levels are increasing. What about you?”
Kevin laughed and said, “No, you know, I haven’t been drinking all that much lately.”
P.R. grinned, “I mean what did you do last night?”
“Ah. Just hung with the old lady. I don’t like going out to bars anymore unless I’m playing.”
“I know what you mean, but I still do it.”
Skip and Keith approached and the parting niceties took place. Less fumbled were the fist bumps. The musicians entered their cars. They crept toward the exit.
Another release. Paul called Rose. She didn’t answer. Leave a message? No. He dialed for Olivia while driving again on Mansell Street. Think she said something about today. Before whatever I did. Was flirting with Tonya in front of her? Glad Rose did not come? Or is it genuine apathy? The debaucher dialed.
“Hello?” Olivia said, as if she hadn’t looked to see who was calling.
“Hello?” he mocked her questioning voice.
“Hi.” A small giggle escaped.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, just watching TV. I just took a run.”
“Oh yea? So, did you have fun last night?” he asked, fishing.
“Not as much fun as you had.”
“What do you mean? I thought it was kind of boring.”
“You were a mess last night.”
“Nah, I was fine.”
“You were so drunk.”
“Just blowing off some steam.” Echoing cliché for excessive englutting.
“Right. So what are you doing?” She asked.
“Trafficking rocks to the community.”
“Plating tanzanite with rhodium.”
“Just finished rehearsal. I’m going for a quesadilla from El Faralito. Are you hungry?”
“No. I ate a huge breakfast with Tonya. She stayed here last night, just left.”
“Well at least somebody took care of you last night. Why didn’t you take me home with you?”
“You were too busy with that blonde.”
Blonde? Blonde Russian? Another visage in his mind: Svetlana? Got her number?
“Whatever,” he said glibly. “Well, do you want to come over and watch me eat? I’ll swing by. I have the Maltese Falcon at my place. Have you seen it?”
Olivia giggled again. “No. What time?”
“Be there in fifteen minutes.”
Tonya was there all night? Tittle-tattle of little lasses. Menu. Contacts. S, Svetlana. There it is. She was cute, I think. Check the camera. Call Randall.
Paul stopped by the taqueria and proceeded to Olivia’s. He double-parked in front of her three-story building while trying to gluttonize his overstuffed quesadilla. He texted, I’m here, with Linus’ Blanket, for the second time that day. He wiped sour cream from his chin.
The busy intersection of 23rd and Valencia served as a place to watch passersby. Tall dark man with white sweatshirt and blue jeans: rare raiment: pink stitching around the pockets. Asian woman. Loving lovers. Hands lovingly clasped. Little, short, white dress. Mild weather for such apparel. Decent figure. Skinny ankles. Laughing. Their eyes met his simultaneously. They passed his parked car.
Plant in the window. Shrub? Short with blue flowers. Shrubby sage? Cadger, don’t come over here. Won’t give you fifty–five cents or whatever random amount you want. Always asking for some small specific sum. Given enough to the impecunious.
And I worked hard for every little bit I got, the things I got are gonna stay.
He looked down at his phone to avoid the panhandler’s eyes. He dialed Randall. Randall reassured him. They spoke briefly about the upcoming evening, Paul explaining he needed a quiet night at home.
Olivia: fell for her fast and thought it would last. Thought I could thwart off temptations. I can resist anything but temptation. Thought it wouldn’t even matter in ten or twenty years, when the wrinkles came, when the sagging began. The sparkle in her eyes doesn’t mean that much anymore. The kisses have lost their tingle. Already after a couple months…already pining for others and lying to her and worrying and feeling guilty. Not as if I killed Alyona Ivanovna.
Where did it go? Was there ever it? Many infatuations, many romances. Never empty love? Never consummate love? Can fly, do the loopty loop, but can’t land.
Olivia came to the car and climbed inside, tossing a small bag in the backseat. Little five foot five frame coming toward me, sitting by me, smiling at me. Light brown hair swathed round to make her face appear heart-shaped, like her posterior. Paul shifted the automatic transmission into drive and pulled onto Valencia. The car approached Cesar Chavez. He looked at Olivia’s pale blue eyes. The Triangular Theory of Love.
“Who’s the greater Renaissance man: Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin?”
“Franklin wasn’t in the Renaissance,” Olivia said.
“Right, but who achieved more great things in more fields?”
“Da Vinci, definitely.”
“But what about the lightning rod? The…”
“Well, da Vinci was a great artist,” she said. “You know he’s my favorite.”
“Yes, that’s why I said him. But Franklin was a diplomat, inventor, philosopher, scientist and…”
“da Vinci was an inventor. And, I mean, the Mona Lisa! Come on!” Olivia interrupted, “And the Last Supper; he drew the Virtri…, ah, Vit…”
“The Vitruvian Man.” Paul completed.
“Yea, VitruvianMan. And those flying machines he came up with, those were way ahead of his time.”
“Franklin was sort of famous as an inventor. He invented bifocals and the Franklin Stove: both still used today.” Count Rumford. Massachusetts. Franklin and Thompson. Fireplace innovators. Different sides. Two Benjamins.
“So you want to argue about Ben Franklin today?”
Her little nose wrinkled, and her large eyes squinted.
Devil’s defender. Dialectics, darling. Octavian and Mark dueling over power after the break in the Triumvirate.
“No, but we can arm wrestle at my place.”
“I’d kick your ass,” she said, smiling widely and caressing his right leg.
Rudolph grinned insincerely.
The car made a slight right and went down Mission St.