David Gilmour: Extraordinary

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David Gilmour Extraordinary
  • Название:
    Extraordinary
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Patrick Crean Editions
  • Жанр:
    Современная проза / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2013
  • Город:
    Toronto
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-1-44342-372-4
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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Extraordinary: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Over the course of one Saturday night, a man and his half-sister meet at her request to spend the evening preparing for her assisted death. They drink and reminisce fondly, sadly, amusingly about their lives and especially her children, both of whom have led dramatic and profoundly different lives. Extraordinary

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Two

She looked up from the candle flame. “Are we going to do this thing?”

“Yes.”

“And you’ll stay?”

“Of course I’ll stay.”

And I thought, Nothing works out the way you think it will. And this won’t either. So I know which way it won’t work out. But the other way, the way it will, that I don’t know. How was it supposed to go again? The climb up eighteen flights of stairs, the quick walk down the hall, into the apartment. But then what? I can’t seem to recall. What did I think would come after the apartment? The next day, the next week. A year later. Five years later. Surely I must have thought about that: that the end of something isn’t necessarily the end of it. A man parts the curtains one morning and discovers an entire planet revolving just outside the window. Oh, I see.

Sally looked back at the flame, nodding. “What were we talking about?”

“Edward Albee.”

“Somebody asked Freddie about him one night when he was holding court in the Cucaracha bar. ‘If homosexuality had not existed, Albee would have invented it,’ Freddie said.” Sally smiled affectionately. “You could tell he’d said it before. Please, another Drambuie.”

In the kitchen doorway, I turned around. “I have to turn the light on now. Close your eyes.”

* * *

Settled with a brandy snifter that burned like dark gold in her hand, she continued. “Freddie Steigman dressed like a slightly down-at-the-heels salesman from the fifties. Heavy New York accent. A face part bulldog, part baseball mitt. Loved to drink. He wore a baby blue linen jacket every day of the year. He had two or three of them, identically wrinkled, and a white Mexican shirt that he kept unbuttoned almost to the waist. He reminded me of the retired history teacher in The Catcher in the Rye. Except it was endearing, it was tender, it was adorable, this old blade with a bony chest insisting he was still in the game.

“And he was. Once a month, Freddie took the bus to Mexico City, hired the prettiest boy he could find in the red light district. He paid well, never got beaten up and came back the following Monday with a light step and interested in everything. I adored him.

“Freddie knew everybody in San Miguel, and he liked knowing everyone. He got me a ground floor sublet, with an old piano somebody had left behind, a patio and a view of the mountains. When someone asked me where I lived, I’d say, ‘Callejón de los Muertos.’ The Street of Dead Lanterns. I loved how it rolled off my tongue. Three weeks after my arrival, Freddie threw a party for me.

“The events that day haven’t lost a drop of colour. They’re vivid the way the world looks when you suddenly surface after swimming underwater. I must have been paying a certain kind of attention. Why, I don’t know. Unless you believe that stuff. I’ve been over these details a million times. Because if I had done anything differently, if I had taken this street instead of that street, if I’d lingered over the lines in the fruit stall a few moments longer, then what happened would not have happened. It’s like watching Romeo and Juliet: even though you know the story backwards, you keep hoping that this time the Friar will get the letter to Romeo.

“I took a morning sketch class at the Institute. We were drawing a bare-breasted Mexican girl with a beauty spot on her right shoulder. She had a gap between her front teeth and you could see by the way she smiled that she was shy about it. After the class, some of the students, mostly women, stayed on to talk to the instructor, a Frenchman who smoked Gauloises through an absurdly long cigarette filter. But I had things to do. I bought fruit for the party in the mercado and then I met Jan Trober for a coffee at the Cucaracha. She was a New York actress who had settled in San Miguel after the bottom fell out of her career and her husband left her. We sat at a table on the sidewalk so we could see all the people in the town square. The boys walking in a circle one way, girls walking in a circle the other; everybody eyeing each other. Beautiful in its way, the way life works like that.”

The candle sputtered and went out. We sat in the silence and the darkness. After a while, I said, “Shall I light another candle?”

“No, let’s just sit here like this for a while.”

In the hallway, voices speaking an Indian dialect passed by the door. It’s going to be dark in here tomorrow night, I thought. And for a few nights afterwards; and everything will be different. You assume things are going to be a certain way afterwards, and then you find out, like Macbeth did, that they’re not. Preposterously not. The act, or its after-burn rather, becomes who you are.

How could I have been so naive?

“In Mexico, up in the mountains where I lived, I sometimes felt as if I had just emigrated from a country where it always rained,” Sally said. And it seemed as though I had overheard her thinking, that she hadn’t actually meant to say anything.

A door shut with a bang and the Indian voices disappeared.

And Sally, where will she be? I mean physically. And that too seemed like an extraordinary thing not to have considered. Because you don’t just go into the air when you die; you go other places first, and they’re not so pleasant.

In the darkness, she continued. “Freddie lived on a narrow, windy cobblestone street a few blocks up from the cathedral. He found it comforting, he said, all that redemption so close at hand. He invited all his friends to the party. By sunset, his patio looked like Fire Island. Those tans, those biceps, those white teeth. There were other people too. A Brit with a pirate’s moustache, a sixties rock star from some California band, a handful of alcoholic writers who had spent the morning in the Cucaracha talking about their unfinished Ph.D.s. There was a mysterious, tall Canadian who wouldn’t let anyone take his picture. Some people said he was CIA. I think he’d just been thwarted by life in Toronto and was trying to make himself seem interesting. There was a retired Australian ambassador—some sort of scandal there, I forget what.

“Oh yes, and divorcees! God, so many divorcees. Women with short haircuts and children in Ivy League schools. For them, San Miguel was the last stop before the Pacific Ocean. Their last chance for a slow dance. Even if it meant sleeping with the gardener at night and letting him watch television by the pool all day long. These were transactions, yes, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t friendly, even loving. And let’s face it, a friendly body in the bed is a friendly body in the bed; after a certain age, who cares why it’s there.

“I was cutting limes in the kitchen with Freddie when I recognized a voice in the other room. It was a friend from Toronto who was passing through San Miguel, had stopped for a drink at the Cucaracha and somebody told her about Freddie’s party.

“I heard her say, ‘I hope you don’t mind me crashing in like this.’ I came out of the kitchen, and I was just moving through the living room when I tripped on the carpet, hit my head on the fireplace and broke my neck.

“I didn’t know it was broken at the time. But I knew something bad had happened because I heard a sound I had never heard before. I’ve talked to other people who broke their necks and they say the same thing: in that sound, you know your life is never going to be the same again.

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