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The Harlequin Years

Wayne Wolfson By

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I had been the third dreamer that she had lived with. Immediately preceding me, a 5'3" guitarist whose long hair was almost equal to his height but thinning, since it was taking him so long to "make it" as an established musician and then his friend, from a well to do family but considered incapable of ever running the family business. He was an art dilettante, plucking away at a bass and working menial jobs between allowance checks.

Neither of them ever came close to their dreams which were fueled by long hours of playing country fairs and pie in the sky.

Then there was me. I did not look with contempt upon my predecessors as they had with each other. I gave them no thought except for initially, when I was embarrassed to think that I might get caught at the start of a cheat.

Of course it could not but end badly for us, we were young. I am not embarrassed now to say that, at the time I constantly told myself that she was what I wanted. I was too busy trying to survive for any deeper reflection. Really though, she was merely emblematic for all I did not have but desired.

I do not know who she was with after me but I suspect she had a hard time quitting her little girl games. Maybe The Dutchman, then his friend?

I am getting ready to move again, to a bigger place. I think of all the places that I have lived. I try to clear the jumble and make them parade by in order. I would be tempted to do the same thing with girlfriends were there not the risk of the parade being accompanied by the soundtrack of tears and accusations.

Her place where I often stayed, an attic room, it was like a warren with the ceiling slanting down until it touched the floor upon which the mattress lay. She would encourage me to write and doodle on that of the ceiling which I could reach while laying on my back. Older and wiser, I now know it was not a bohemian bent but symptom of a destructive desire on her part.

I am waiting for my drink, doodling on my placemat. She seems impatient. A man walks by on the edge of the crowd and she gives to herself what she thinks is a secret smile.

Carefully packing my books, wedged into one of my editions of Dante, the mustard yellow silk pocket square she had gotten me one Christmas, now being used to save a page whose importance is lost to me. I wonder if she ever found out that I made good. No, I never would. In her mind, she controlled the narrative. The beginning of our relationship I was a rising star, a king with his scepter pen. By the time she was cheating on me with The Dutchmen, I was deposed, less than nothing. Now I am a star. A star, the perfect way to put it as it worked on several levels. I was a star to her, still there but at such a distance as to be indiscriminate from all the others, all of us so far away.

I only thought of these things, her, them, when packing. The "I will show them" mentality only applies to people who have yet to get what they want. The past several moves, spaced out by years, I find this type of reflection to be like an old movie I used to watch. I recall the main plot points but none of the nuances or emotional associations which were so strong during that first viewing. I am doing the final walk through, everything is loaded onto trucks, the uneasy feeling of a life now contained in a pyramid of cardboard boxes. I check the closets to make sure nothing was forgotten.

On impulse I take the pencil inherited from Morton from my pocket and do a small sketch of a roulette wheel.


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