WEEKLY FORECAST — SEPTEMBER 13 – 19, 2015

Tim Stephens.cover.J#7B6373Note: this is NEXT WEEK’S forecast. To read the present week’s column, please scroll down to “RECENT POSTS” on the right margin, and click on “Sept. 6 – 12, 2015.”

 

 

ALL TIMES/DATES ARE PDT (Pacific Daylight Time Zone). PDT is 8 hours “before” Greenwich (England). (As long as Britain is also on Daylight time.) For example, when it is noon PST, it is 8 pm in England. The “World Clock” in the right margin gives you some clues. (You can also Google “time zone converter.”)

 

 

START NOTHING: 7:08 pm to 7:41 pm Sun., 9:22 pm Tues. to 8:43 am Wed., and 12:49 pm to 8:32 pm Fri.

 

PREAMBLE:

 

Mercury turns retrograde September 17 to October 9. Enough said, for long-time readers. But just in case, I’ve put warnings against new projects/relationships in every sign’s forecast below. BTW, I disagree with astrologers who believe that we should do nothing for an additional two weeks after Mercury turns direct again. (This would make the present “start nothing” period extend from Sept. 17 to October 24.) But there is a special character to this “hangover from the retro” period, which perhaps I’ll discuss in a future week.

Chapter Six of “1969” is at the end of PISCES’ Weekly Forecast.

WEEKLY FORECAST:

 

Aries.svgARIES   March 21-April 19

Sunday starts your last ten days of “overwhelming” work, Aries. Plunge in and get as much accomplished as you can, as September 17 (Thursday) to October 9 will bring back neglected chores, and will make it difficult to complete ongoing tasks. Do not begin new projects now; they would fail. The four weeks ahead could bring a former flame or spouse. He/she was/is a better person than you might have admitted. Also, especially if he/she returns in early October, this former love might be more “destined” than you have thought. Work hard Sunday, especially on career or ambition-oriented tasks. Relationships fill Sunday night (PDT – Monday in Europe, Asia) to Wed. morning. The first phase of this interval, Monday, might lean toward breaking a bond; the second phase, Tuesday, is colored by a friendly disagreement, and healing of relationships. All week, especially mid-week, brings a choice between hands-on work and management or delegating chores. Hands-on brings better results: combining both is best. Life’s depths and mysteries rise to the surface Wed. to Fri. eve. It’s a good interval, but exercise caution Thurs. eve and Fri. noon (PDT). Gentle, mellow thoughts Saturday – but don’t take them as gospel.

 

taurus weekly forecastTAURUS   April 20-May 20

Start no new projects nor relationships before October 9, Taurus. Instead, work to complete ongoing tasks (especially this week) and protect existing situations from delays, shortages, etc. (For example, if you utilize materials in your assembly line, make sure you have enough if a supplier doesn’t deliver on time.) A former task, co-worker or employer might return – in a beneficial way. Double-check instructions, schedules, figures on checks, etc. Sunday’s romantic, pleasure prone. Soak up life’s beauty. But eat and dress sensibly, especially this night – protect your health through Wed. morning. Tackle chores, but steer away from legal, educational, travel or publishing tasks Monday. (Not a good day to say, “Do you love me?”) Relationships fill Wed. morning to Fri. eve. A huge wish could come true about love, popularity, social situations, even about creativity/fame. Or, alternatively, a fantasy could be bigger than life can support. Be cautious, avoid argument, impatience on the home front, Fri. noon (PDT). Saturday’s mysterious, sexy, financially tempting – re-read the first sentence above.

 

Gemini.svgGEMINI   May 21-June 20

Start nothing new, projects, relationships, before October 9. Buy nothing important (e.g., clothes, TV, car). Expect delays, mistakes, indecision – double-check figures, protect ongoing projects from delays and shortages. An old flame might appear – if so, chances are he/she is, always was, a good person, and might – just might – be destined to be in your life. You might also reprise a former project, especially a creative one. (However, be careful – usually, reviving a former written piece during this influence only leads to a more confused piece.) All this, to October 9. Spend Sunday near home, with family; rest in the arms of Mother Nature, if you can. Sunday night (PDT – Monday in Europe, Asia) to dawn Wednesday brings thoughts of romance, visions of beauty, urges toward pleasure. Take care Monday: a lustful approach could “break” romance. Tuesday’s lovely. Tackle chores and protect your “daily” health Wed. morning to Friday eve. You might be torn between ambition and a “big rest,” between prestige (career) and security (food, shelter, family) all week, but especially Wed./Thurs. Relay on your heart, Gemini. If you can combine these, ambition and security, you’ll find the best outcome – e.g., a career in real estate. Friday night, Saturday bring relationships – be diplomatic, not pushy.

 

Cancer.svgCANCER   June 21-July 22

Strive to complete ongoing projects this week, Cancer – or to protect them from future delays, shortages and misunderstandings. (For example, if you make toys from rubber bands, buy extra bands this week, as they might be in short supply in a week or two.) A period of “backwardation,” of postponement, indecision, second-thinking, missed meetings and mistakes, exists from September 17 to October 9. Projects or relationships begun during this interval will likely fail. Buy nothing important. On the plus side, a former neighbourhood “gang” could get together, bringing sweet nostalgia, or a property you’ve always coveted could become available (in this case, ignore my warning about buying). Sunday’s for errands, talks, friendly casual meetings, short travel. You home and family, security, garden, retirement plans occupy your thoughts and heart Sunday night (PDT) to Wednesday dawn. Sidestep an argument on the home front or with spouse Monday. Don’t “pull rank.” Love, romance, charming kids, beauty, pleasure, creative surges and gambling urges fill Wed. morning to Friday eve. A fascinating stranger, or a period of “starry-eyed” love could entrance you mid-week. Careful Friday around noon – DON’T buy a luxury item, or spend on love, or argue. Tackle chores Saturday.

 

Leo icon, Luck ForecastLEO   July 23-Aug. 22

Don’t start any new projects or relationships now to October 9, Leo. Instead, complete ongoing projects a.s.a.p., or “insulate” them from a looming period of mistakes, delays, indecision and misunderstandings (technically, from Sept. 17, Thursday, to Oct. 9). For example, get extra supplies now for your factory, or mail those items early week. A rather casual friend or two from the past could reappear soon; there’s no harm here, and renewing acquaintance could be a good thing, perhaps even lead to a bit of friendly romance. Sunday’s for shopping. (DON’T buy significant things – clothes, electronics, cars – after mid-week, to Oct. 9.) Errands, casual friends, siblings, short trips, communications and paperwork fill Sun. night to dawn Wed. Avoid alienating anyone Monday – and practice safety at work and home. Your domestic situation grabs your attention Wed. to Friday eve – all’s well here, but don’t argue around noon Friday. You might have to decide, all week, between earnings and investments, between casual sex and meaningful sex. Saturday brings romantic notions, beauty and pleasure.

 

Virgo.svgVIRGO   Aug. 23-Sept. 22

Start nothing new before October 9, Virgo. Projects, plans and relationships can run into delays, indecision, mistakes, altered schedules, shortages, etc. What seems like a great idea one day, might not seem so great a week later. Be very careful about purchases – avoid anything significant. Pay neglected bills before they start a tangled web. Collect money owed you, also. A former money source might return. A former sensual affair might return also – but this person bored you before, and probably will again. Your energy and charisma shine Sunday. Buy/sell sensibly Mon. to dawn Wed. (PDT). Careful Monday – it’s not a good day for romance nor for any kind of gamble. Errands, communications, short trips, paperwork and details fill Wed. morning to Friday eve. Saturday, seek home, be with kids, nature, putter around the house. (Check the plumbing, perhaps.) Centering on Wed./Thurs., but really affecting the whole week, a special relationship or a plan to relocate seems to fill your mind. There is something elusive yet fascinating about this. Best approach: don’t jump now, even though this could be a good thing.

 

Libra.svgLIBRA   Sept. 23-Oct. 22

A former lover, teacher, voyage, educational experience, lawsuit, cultural involvement or intellectual project (e.g., a poem or book you wrote) could return to both haunt and please you in the weeks ahead (to October 9). If you’re unsure whether this is a good thing or not, just bide your time – the first ten days of October will tell you, and permit you to make a wise decision; or, these days will simply ensure that the outcome is good. Meanwhile, now to Oct. 9, DO NOT start a brand new relationship or project. Instead, protect ongoing situations from mistakes, delays and indecision. Double-check figures, and don’t welch on any deals, even though you might feel justified in doing so. Neither make nor accept any promises. Rest and contemplate Sunday. Your energy and charisma rise this night (PDT) to dawn Wednesday. Accomplish things, wrap up projects, see and be seen. You might have to make a decision or over-rule someone on the home front. Midweek features a dilemma – do you tackle a situation hands-on, or try to manage it from a bit of a “distance?” I think the latter is wisest. Buy/sell, handle money (and a sensual bond) Wednesday morning to Friday eve. Issue no ultimatums around midday Fri. Saturday’s busy, a bit fun, filled with errands, calls, trips, paperwork. Drive alertly.

 

Scorpio.svgSCORPIO   Oct. 23-Nov. 21

Don’t start any new projects nor relationships, nor buy anything important now to October 9. (Don’t make any long-range plans, either, as you’d simply change them later due to changed circumstances.) Instead, use this week to wrap up ongoing projects a.s.a.p., and/or protect ongoing situations from near-future snafus such as supply shortages, misunderstood directions or meeting times, etc. The few weeks ahead will be rife with mistakes, indecisions and delays. A former government-related situation might return (back taxes?). So might a former friend, but in an almost secretive way. You might reprise a past project in an institutional, management, corporate, warehousing, assembly line or charitable/spiritual zone. This is fine – there’s “good karma” here, somehow. Sunday’s social, happy. But retreat this night to dawn Wed. – rest, contemplate (don’t plan!) be charitable, seek your spiritual self, visit shut-ins. Monday is not a good day to communicate nor travel. Your energy and charisma soar Wed. morning to Fri. eve. Get out, see and be seen. All week, but especially Wed./Thurs., a social situation might breed a fascinating romantic prospect. Avoid accidents, arguments, around Fri. noon (PDT). Saturday’s for money, shopping – buy only routine items.

 

Sagittarius.svgSAGITTARIUS   Nov. 22-Dec. 21

A former friend or group might return to your life before October 9. This could lead to a new (or renewed) partnership, career opportunity, or marriage prospect – even, in some cases, to a revived relocation plan, or a “fame” opportunity. However, unless it is connected to the past, do not chase nor start any new project, relationship or major purchase before Oct. 9. Instead, protect ongoing situations from delays, misunderstandings, and indecision. Use the present week to wrap up tasks, projects, a.s.a.p. Be ambitious Sunday, in a quiet, stable way (e.g., perform outstanding tasks). Happiness, social delights, popularity and optimism enter Sun. night (PDT – Monday in Europe, Asia) to dawn Wed. Take care Monday – buy nothing, and don’t let friendship descend into gossip. You might feel a tug, all week but especially around Wed., between home and career. This is a subtle but significant dilemma: wait, feel it out, dream on it, before acting. Retreat into solitude and rest Wed. morning to Fri. eve. Be charitable (in thought, too) rest, contemplate, and handle any neglected governmental or institutional or corporate administrative chores. Your energy and charisma rise nicely Fri. night, Sat.

 

Capricorn.svgCAPRICORN   Dec. 22-Jan. 19

Start nothing new before October 10, Cap. That includes relationships, projects – and large purchases (clothes, cars, computers, etc.). Especially avoid new initiatives in career and status zones. Neither make nor accept promises, especially to/from higher-ups, parents and VIPs. Wrap up tasks this week, and for the next few weeks protect ongoing projects from delays, indecision, misunderstandings and shortages. Realize some scheduled meetings might be called off. A former career role or employer might return – this is beneficial, if it occurs. Sunday’s mellow; your mind is far-ranging, your mood philosophical and loving. Be ambitious, dutiful Sunday night to Wed. morning (PDT). DON’T start a new career direction/project, but be dutiful, maintain things. You might see, Monday, how your ambitions have a social side, or can lead in future to emotional goals such as love and friendship. These – love, friendship, popularity, light romance, flirtation, entertainment, optimism and wish fulfillment – rush in to make your days happy, from Wed. morning to Friday eve. Avoid an argument, and avoid ending a relationship, midday Friday. Retreat, rest and contemplate Saturday. All week, but centering on Wednesday, an elusive yet fascinating prospect or fantasy, an attraction that leaves you wondering, can emerge. Give it time.

 

Aquarius.svgAQUARIUS   Jan. 20-Feb. 18

Start no new projects, ventures nor relationships, especially in legal, far travel, schooling, publishing nor intellectual zones, before October 9. A past involvement in one of these could re-appear during this interval. It will probably be a good one, so don’t worry about reprising it. A former love could appear also – indications are that this is a good person, perhaps even that you are meant to be together. By October, you should be reassured on that point, either way. Use this week to complete any ongoing projects, or at least to tie up loose ends. Midweek contains a choice between short-term money (e.g., earnings) and long term (e.g., investment) – or between casual sex and deep, life-changing intimacy. Sunday emphasizes earnings, shopping (buy routine items only, e.g. groceries). This night to dawn Wed. (PDT) brings love, intellectual pursuits, legal stuff – everything mentioned in the first sentence. Careful Monday, when careless action could lead to gossip, or alienate someone. Be ambitious Wed. morn to Fri. eve – not enough to start a project, but enough to show higher-ups you’re being dutiful. Avoid a silly argument Friday midday. Happiness, freshness, flirtation, popularity, light romance, optimism and social joys visit Saturday.

 

Pisces.svgPISCES   Feb. 19-March 20

Don’t start any new projects nor relationships before October 9, Pisces. Especially avoid new investments, new debt, lifestyle changes, new sexual partners, or major commitments of any kind. You can, though, engage quite fruitfully in research or detective work. A health diagnosis could be either right, or wrong – wait until October 9 onward, then get a second opinion. A former investment or intimate lover might return for a second go-round. This can be quite beneficial (if neither person is married, of course). Use this week to wrap up projects. Realize a period of delay, indecision, of “lost contact” and missed meetings lies ahead. So might shortages, so if you will need anything in a crucial way in the next three weeks, go now to pick it up. This whole year ahead, to September 2016, features good luck in relationships and “from others.” Midweek emphasizes this, could bring a crucial opportunity or meeting with someone cheerful who could play a significant role. You don’t have to jump on this: be receptive, and let time work things out. Sunday’s for relationships. Sunday night to Wed. dawn (PDT) brings all those things mentioned in the second sentence above – investments, intimacy, etc. Don’t violate social conventions Monday. A gentle, wise mood flows over you Wed. morn to Fri. night – love is possible! Don’t argue over money or possessions midday Friday. Be dutiful, show bosses or parents that you’re “on the ball” Saturday.

 

The End.

 

1969

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

I hated the apartment, and still do. Everything was stark and hard. It’s the 23rd floor, Waterton Towers. I mean it’s a nice apartment. The carpet’s grey and thick. There’s modern furniture, and wine glasses, and real paintings on the wall. It’s quite a splendid, luxurious place. The living-dining room is bigger than the rented house my Mom and Paul and I lived in. It looks out over English Bay, a wide semi-circle of ocean, and the trees and stores and cars and people and streets beneath. I would usually love that view, as if you could sail out over the ocean, glistening in the sun. But to me it was all stark and hard. Nothing moist or soft. Except Berry. Berry’s soft and plump, and she spent most of her days curled up on the couch, staring at the carpet, or lay curled on the bed. (Berry’s not her real name. Nor is Beryl. You’ll see.) She wears a semi-see through pink nightie, so you can see her breasts all small and round and hard underneath. When you slide the nightie back her nipples are pink, pink as double-bubble gum, but in a brown circle. Her vagina is a bright pink inside, too, almost scarlet. And the little round part of her bum is pink, too. I’ve never seen other women to any degree, but this seems all awfully pink to me. She just lets me enter her. She doesn’t protest, and she doesn’t make me flirt or anything, which I couldn’t do. I’m too tired. I’m tired of people, of everything. Worse, I’m angry. I’m angry more and longer than I’ve ever been in my life. I never imagined such anger could exist. I am softly, quietly seething with it, and guess who this anger burns at? At her. At this woman who I cannot leave, who hypnotizes me just by the way she puts one foot in front of another, whose delicate, brooding beauty alarms me.

Because she broods all the time now. At least, she’s always thoughtful. Oh god how I miss the woods! There I could breathe and feel the wet and get lost in the smells and run if I had to, run and run until I could escape this anger, escape this hatred. You’ll think I’m a pansy, but she came in the other day and found me crying, not bawling or anything, just sitting on the couch trying to watch tv and my eyes were filled with tears, and I couldn’t stop them.

“Oh, no, no,” she said, bending onto her knees and making herself busy wiping my eyes with her fingertips. “No, don’t cry. You saved me. You rescued me. You’re my hero,” she said a little lightly, as if comforting a child. Her eyes were deep and dark behind the blonde eyebrows and lashes, and I wondered what she really thought, deep in there.

She rose to end the comforting session. “You’ve saved me twice,” she said, in an almost bouncy, upbeat way, as she retreated from the couch to sit in an armchair, “and you might do it three times!”

I stared at her, suddenly astonished, watching her, in my mind, jumping off the balcony from this 23rd floor. My heart raced and fear grabbed at me. It took a minute to sink in after the initial little shock, but now I grasped the insidious meaning of what she had said. Now I would have to watch her every day, every minute, or one day she’d hop over the railing and be gone, dead gone, and I would have nothing. Nothing. No family, no job, no money, no one, just alone. The prospect terrified me.

“What do you mean?” I almost screamed at her. I would have to follow her, plunge off the 23rd floor too, and then I would go to hell forever, because I’d murdered a man. All I had now was the short distance, the short space of earthly living, before I had to go to hell. But I clung to that short space. I contemplated it every day.

She didn’t answer. She just looked at my eyes. Legs crossed in a business-like way in front of the chair. Then her face crinkled and tears burst out; she hid her face in her hands and shrank away, into her body.

“Please don’t cry!” I said, standing up and walking around the living room in fast circles, “Oh God, don’t cry!” I wanted to rush to her and hold her and hide her and comfort her; and I also hated her and almost wanted to slap her and shout at her until she stopped crying.

But that day ended as most did, sadly. Sadly, we made up, if that’s what you call it. We sat at the dining room table. She made a salad and hamburgers, and we drank some wine. She liked to drink wine, and gave me some, so I drank too. And we sat and ate and held hands and hardly talked except in one or five-word sentences about ordinary things – “Will you do the dishes?” “Yes, sure.” Then she would turn on the TV, then we’d go to bed, and she’d let me come over her and put it in, and I would fuck her like a prayer, silently and reverently, as if she was an angel and I was in her church.

 

“Yes, no,” I said one day, then stopped. I’d been about to accuse her of something, or argue with her, but – well, about what? I couldn’t put it in words, so I wasn’t sure it really existed, I mean that I had a reason for it – and what it was, I didn’t yet, exactly, know what it was.

“What is it?”

This was before she mentioned “a third time.”

“Nothing,” I said, shrugging.

She nodded and left me. I watched her round bum and the cant of her back as she walked away. She had an almost trance-like way of placing her thighs ahead of her lower legs as she walked. It was like the delicate way she dabbed her back and neck when she bathed in the woods, it was strange and artificial, and yet strangely natural. It repulsed and fascinated me. It was too feminine, but it held a magic. Always, I knew that moist thing was beneath and between, that I could slide my erection into. Even on the street, when we walked to buy groceries, the hardness would often come, and I’d turn and press sideways against her, against the hardness of her thigh or hip, to press the erection and make it give that gold rush that stopped the bother for a while. I did walk on the streets, and go to the restaurants and stores. I cared that I might get caught, but I didn’t care, too. At first she demanded that I stay in the apartment, but after a few days I refused. What connection the cops might make to me, from the murdered RCMP, was kind of confused and vague for me. I tried to sit down many times and think it through, figure it out logically, but my mind kept drifting away from it. It was like a swirling mini tornado that you sometimes see on the street, picking up bits of paper and garbage, or like a swirl in the sea, all slick and sliding smoothly into itself. Like these, but not fast, just slow. My mind had become so slow. Sometimes I would put my whole head in my hands, to hide, so my knees pressed against my ears and my fingers almost met on top of my hair, and hold it like this, trying to figure it out, trying to face it and make the slow swirling stop, or congeal into facts and logic and things that go from one thing to another, step-by-step, but I couldn’t. I’m so tired. I’m just tired.

The day after we arrived, she took me out and bought me some clothes, jeans and things. And a leather jacket, which I’ve never had. I look like a real city punk-aroonie now, a clean fresh-dressed one. I supposed she thought the cop I’d killed wasn’t discovered yet, so it was safe for me to be in public. But after three days passed, and we saw the report of the slain Mountie on TV…now she begs and begs me not to go out, and I almost have to be rough and push my way out the door. Maybe that’s why she talked about a “third time,” to make me stay because I was afraid she’d throw herself off the balcony. Twenty-three stories, that meant death. I now realize how clever women are, how they can make you do things. I would never threaten to throw myself off a balcony for any reason – but she would, it was all or nothing for a woman, I guess – and I knew she would.

Now I’m a prisoner. It’s almost funny, a prisoner of love. Sometimes I think my feelings have changed. But I know I’m wrong. I know my heart was as full and broken that second day in the woods, as it is now. I think I even know why I kept bursting into tears that few days in the woods, at her tent cabin. Because somehow I knew there was no escape, and now it’s sealed – unless I run away, or let her jump to the street 230 feet below. Now I’ve been in Waterton Towers for almost four weeks….I think. I keep losing track of time. A week goes by like a day. I haven’t met anyone, I mean to be a friend, except Beryl. Whose name, by the way, is not Beryl, but Serena. Beryl, Berry, was her baby’s name. I found this out a week after we exited from the cab from the ferry terminal and she pulled a ring of keys from her small purse and turned it in the glass door of Waterton Towers and turned it again in the elevator, which opened on a hallway with only two doors in it, hers and another large, tall wooden door. And there we were, in a palace, it seemed to me, a palace of carpets and furniture and paintings, like I said, with the ocean, the bay, bellied with freighters like a big sky-lit pool.

She’s very secretive, Serena is, and you can’t force anything out of her. But if you wait, and wait, sometimes she’ll just out of the blue give you another little nugget of truth. Like the truth that I was sure she was going to tell me some day, that she would say she didn’t shoot that Dietmar guy, and that my killing the RCMP guy was in vain, for nothing, and that I saved her for nothing, and condemned myself to hell, for nothing. But so far, all she’s told me is that Beryl was her baby, and her own name was Serena – which fit her better. The minute we got there, she went to the bedroom (there’s three) and put the locket gently in a drawer. I watched her do it.

 

I still loved the erections, at least at first, especially pressing them against her, partly because when that was happening, I wasn’t concentrating on the way the sun’s gone fuzzy or the stark hard thing about her apartment, or the . . . none of it’s absolutely clear, but the anger, the anger’s growing clearer and clearer. Clearer why, I mean. But now I was just watching her neutrally, no erection, just suspended in her beauty. I heard her pour a glass of water, then she came back and sat on the couch beside me. She said, in that calm, undisturbed voice that must be her regular voice, since it has become more and more the voice she speaks in since we left the coast and the woods and the tent and all that death. It must have been hard for her, she seemed half crazy up there, that’s why I assumed she was guilty of shooting Dietmar, but now she talks and shops and cooks dinner and lunch, and tidies, and, really, I guess, tries to make the apartment a home for me. She even goes out and returns with bright plants for the balcony, or flowers for the vases that stand around the place. Except for the hours she spends curled on the couch, hands between her thighs, staring at the carpet. I still haven’t talked it through with her, I mean the Dietmar thing. She still hasn’t said anything to me about it one way or the other, she hasn’t said she did it or someone else did, or that she even knows Dietmar is dead, except in those indirect ways, like when she looked at me in shock up at the tent. Heck, for all I knew she didn’t even know who the shot man was! This could all be my doing, my imagination, and she was living some completely different life than I thought, and had thrown herself into the pool for some entirely other reason, and I had killed a policeman for absolutely no real reason, for no reason other than my wrong assumptions.

The thing is, when I cry like I did just then, and she wiped my eyes, when I felt the crying like that, I knew all the answers, I had a feeling that everything was known, it was a glorious feeling, in a way, or at least a sweet, release kind of feeling; there was no puzzle, the crying wiped out all the puzzle. I felt almost incandescent, like a sun shone inside me, and the tears, and – but I never had any thoughts at these times, and though I felt I knew the answers, I didn’t know the answers in any way that I could express, or even that my own mind could express to itself.

But at other times, when the tears aren’t there, the sun is hazy and everything’s grey yet stark, and I don’t know answers but I want to know them, and slowly they creep closer and closer, and as they come I grow angrier and angrier. I can feel this hatred building in me, it’s small, and hard and solid and it grows a little bit, like a black fire burning with black smoke, every time I sense the real, knowable answers coming closer.

“I don’t blame you,” she said out of the blue as we ate supper.

I looked at her. She looked directly at me. She has this way, no one else has it, of looking directly, softly and fully at me. It’s not a compassionate look, more a studying one. It only makes me more in love, though that’s not its intent. I think it’s her way of knowing me without thinking thoughts or speaking. I stare at her, too. She doesn’t like me doing it all the time, so I don’t. I look secretly, sometimes. It doesn’t feel secret. It’s just my eyes go that way.

“For what?” I said.

“For anything.”

“But –.”

“Because you always look guilty. Don’t be guilty.”

More and more now, my love was being replaced by an anger. In a moment the love went away, instantly, as if it never existed. Then the love would return in a huge wave and drown the anger, and when this was really a big wave I would burst into tears.

But now, in anger, I said, “What were you doing up there?”

“Where?” she said.

“There,” I said, angered at her refusal to know what I was talking about. “What are you trying to hide?”

“Nothing.” She frowned intently at me, in a worried way. Suddenly, I was afraid her “nervous breakdown,” was going to come back. (For that’s what I called it in my thoughts, the way she’d acted up in the woods.)

“Nothing. No. No, not nothing.” I stood up, sighed and sighed and walked to the balcony window, the sliding glass doors. Why are even the soft drapes hard and stark? “You’ve got to tell me. I’ve got to know. Can’t you see I have to know?”

“I don’t know,” she said quietly.

“You stupid woman!” Rage took me over. “You don’t know what? Were you – okay, okay, I need to put this clearly. I need every piece logically. In order. In order, fucking order…” I suddenly realized I was talking like my brother, showing the same abrupt, rude, oath-fucked speech as him. So this was how he felt. This was why he talked that way. I’d always thought it was a kind of arrogance and low-IQ pompousness. But it was this, it was anger and emotions all mixed up and confusion. I understood in an intense way now, and also I felt demeaned, reduced, that I was like my brother, whom I’d always considered inferior. And now I was being him. In shock, I sat down wide-eyed and ran my hand through my hair.

“I can’t –.” I stopped again. This had happened already, three or four times I’d tried to have this conversation with her, ask these questions, and each time I stopped in frustration, confused about what I really wanted to ask. The words, even the actual questions, just escaped me. At first, it was just a bit frustrating, and at first, I was rather calm and curious. But each time I tried to start the conversation again, in these two or four weeks or so since we’d fled on the ferry, each time I grew a bit more excited and angry and confused, until now I was like this.

“Okay, WHAT were you doing up there with Dietmar?” I finally said, standing tall over her, in a lordly, demanding, thick-voiced way. It made me feel sick with shame. I don’t know why. Now I had a flash: I felt like I was like my mother was, that time she tried to befriend or “seduce” that man, the way she demeaned herself and later how she tried to push the ugly thing off herself by putting him down after he’d gone, how she was extremely proud on the outside and I think probably ashamed on the inside. That was how I felt now. And worse so, because just as I had sensed the shame underneath it all in my mother that time, now I knew Serena could sense the shame clear as day sitting on my face when I made that demand. I stood stiff and watched her with a red face, though I wished I was outside the door, slinking away down the streets, far away from knowing she knew I was ashamed. I didn’t even know why I felt that way, except I feared that she would not love me.

She put her left hand over her eyes, as if shading them from the sun, although there was no direct sunlight in the room, just the soft grey.

“You have to give me SOME SORT of answer,” I said. God, I hated her! Posing and oh so delicate! Holding her hand over her brow like that! Yet it fascinated me, too.

“Just tell me,” I said, stiffening even more. “Did you LOVE Dietmar?” The shame was being replaced in me now by a sort of passion, a heat I was actually beginning to like.

“Why would I love him?” she said in a hopeless-sounding voice.

“Because he had the locket in his pocket. The locket of your –.” I stopped. Astoundingly, it had never occurred to me before. Why hadn’t it, it was so obvious! Why had life put me in this dream, and made me not see things?

“It – she – this baby – it was his baby too. It was. He was the father.” I stared at her, almost calmly.

She said nothing, just hid under her hand’s shadow.

“Are there any more babies?” I asked sarcastically. I felt a bit cruel, saying these things, but I enjoyed it now. I wanted to be even crueler, but I couldn’t find anything more to say. I knew I might hurt something fragile and valuable in her, though I didn’t know what it was, and I wanted to hurt this fragile thing, yet I was horrified that I would, or might. Me, who’d killed the Mountie for that very reason, so that fragile thing wouldn’t be bruised or shattered.

“Did you LOVE him?” I burst out

“Lu –.” She couldn’t finish the word. She pulled her hand down from shading her eyes and put both hands in her lap and looked at me. Her face had collapsed into that wrinkled red plum. Tears were brimming in her eyes and her mouth was turned down and crinkled, to hold herself back, I guess.

She raised that bird’s wing hand again, stiff yet bent, to shade her eyes. “I just can’t talk about … it… right now,” She said “it” as if she was handling the word with two fingers, at arm’s length, like you pick up a smelly thing.

“Do you love ME?”

She didn’t answer.

“Why won’t you TALK to me?” I demanded. I didn’t even give her time to answer, because if I had, I would have hated her for staying silent. “You never say anything. What’s inside you? Anything? Maybe nothing, nothing!”

She looked surprised, at the carpet. Her eyes were wide and red and surprised, but at the carpet.

“It means you don’t love me,” I said.

She looked away sadly. It had depths that I couldn’t plunge, and that made me feel sorry, and superficial; for her one look of sadness outweighed all my words.

“Do you remember our picnic?” I asked. I was trying to raise a nice picture, something we could both like and share, so I could bring us together, or get over this huge eternal silence between us. But then I remembered how crazy I had thought she was then, in that clearing, when we shared that meal. But she wasn’t fooled by my sudden attempt, for she pulled even more into the shelter beneath the hand that shaded her forehead. She shrank, literally. She seemed small and ugly, hunched over like that on the edge of the couch. As if she would shrink totally from my sight. Or as if she became less and less worthy of me, and I grew bigger and bigger or more important. Or, and I knew this was the truth, that I repulsed and threatened her. This – that I thought I loved her boundlessly, yet scared and bullied her – my own cruelty scared and repulsed me. I had sat; now I leaped up from the chair and walked quickly to the kitchen and back, and then around the room, and then I stopped. I was suddenly sorry. I looked at her and wished I hadn’t hurt her, but I was too proud to go over there. She could come and wipe my eyes but I couldn’t do the same for her. I couldn’t because – because she was guilty. She was guilty, or at least she was ungenerous. She was refusing, withholding, and it wasn’t fair. I felt this and I felt sorry too, and finally I went and threw myself down on my knees on the carpet in front of her and wrapped my arms around her legs and threw my head on her thighs. I felt her tears dropping on my neck, at the back. I would never let her throw herself off the balcony, never let that third time come.

 

Of course they’ll come someday. At least, I suppose they will. I don’t regret throwing the rifle away. I’m glad, relieved that I did, even if it has my fingerprints on it. If I was standing on this balcony like now, twenty-three stories up, and I had the rifle in my hands, I’d throw it just like I did down that hillside, out and away, probably to land on that black roof of the Laundromat down there. Or maybe it’d clatter over the roof and drop into the street. It’s a busy street, people walk back and forth on it all day and night, often four abreast, and cars never stop here, except of course at the lights, which hang over every intersection. Sometimes I can’t stand the constant whoosh of noise, it’s like sandpaper rubbing against your ears.

Here’s the thing: she didn’t have a vehicle up there at the campsite, where the massacred trees were and the tent cabin. That means there was someone else. That means there was her, and Dietmar — the man I watched die on the trail — and someone else. Someone else drove the vehicle away. Because there had to be a vehicle, but there wasn’t any vehicle. Dietmar wasn’t driving a vehicle, he was just running and dying. And they didn’t haul that tent-cabin affair up there on their backs. So there was a third person.

That means maybe she was innocent. That means I killed the RCMP for nothing. That means I am forever fucked, blasted, my soul is gone and the sun has gone fuzzy grey forever. I’m a murderer. Caught or not, I’m guilty. And I did it for her. And yet, she is not guilty. She is clean. She can live a whole, bright, free, luxurious life ahead with her money. (I found out – she told me – that she has parents in Switzerland, her dad took her mom and sister to Switzerland and bought her this apartment and put a “sufficient” – her word — bunch of money in the bank for her.) She is free and clean and I am caught and bound and totally marked by this killing I can never escape, this thing I did. So I love her, and killed for her, but she is free of me. Deep down, in the core, I know, and I suspect she knows, she is free of me. I ruined my life, from here until death, for her, but she is not bound at all, she has no guilt. That makes me hate her, I hate her so intensely sometimes.

 

My life is ruined, because I tried to save hers. That makes me hate her. And yet, I still cannot think of her being taken, being abused or shamed by some force greater than her – that’s how I saw the policeman, and the police. I could not bear the thought of the sorrow, that’s why I killed him. Is that why? My head’s confused, and I can only think one or two thoughts along, and then it falls into this dreamy confusion Sometimes I think, God, why did you make the earth so beautiful, the sky and ocean so mysterious, majestic, and then let us walk into such traps as this? Then at other times, of course, it just doesn’t matter, and I just sit there and nothing has any color or emotions or anything, and absolutely nothing matters. Sometimes this lasts for hours, and I could sit in a cafe here in this bright city and not move for hours, it would be a great bother to move.

Goddamn that policeman! Why did he have to be a cop, what made him choose that line of work and meet me? Why did he have to come to that clearing and ask questions? Of course I was going to kill him. I see it now. If he came, I would kill him. I can’t help that. Will they send anyone else? Last night, in the sunset, I mean it was sunset outside, orange in the sky, with the blue deepening over the apartment balcony and the street below and the roofs and the tree’s deep branches, hidden in the many leaves, like a thousand little hands, and into the apartment onto the carpet and furniture, deepening the shadows and lying softly blue over everything like the light touch of a girl’s cool hand – I noticed all this in one rare moment of beauty, one very quick moment, it was almost like a picture, and then it was whisked away – not the color or anything, not the sunset, but the beauty of it was whisked away: whap. But that one moment of beauty, as if to tantalize me. It made a thrill run up and down my spine, and I said to her, slowly, softly, because I felt half like I was posing or acting, and yet I felt it truly, also, I said it was like a song, killing was like a song. I sang a death song, the murderer’s song. I was the song. I. . .

She stared at me in horror. Then I felt I had that choice – to stay in the beauty, to sing that song, or to step back and join her horror. Everything went flat. The beauty was whisked away – actually, it had already gone, full moments before.

I blushed. “I only wanted you to understand,” That was what I wanted to say. But I couldn’t say anything. I fell silent.

Then the next day I grew angry again, because she had said nothing last night, because she’d stared at me in horror.

“You keep accusing me of feeling guilty,” I said. “So are you so innocent?”

She shook her head slowly, without stopping, as if it were a slow pendulum. “No,” she said quietly.

“You aren’t?” I was surprised. I had expected her to protest, to abandon me even if only in the slightest way, the smallest inflection of her voice. And why hadn’t she? “But you can go,” I said. “You can go! Or at least, you can throw me out. You did nothing wrong.” (I didn’t believe that.) “I’ll go away.”

“If you want,” she said coolly.

“I’ll go away. You owe me nothing.”

“If you want.”

“Why are you acting as if I’m hurting you? Why are you hurting me?”

“You’re the one who’s leaving,” she said.

“Then I’m not leaving.”

She said nothing.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “I don’t know why you act this way or that. I don’t know if you love me or hate me.”

She lifted her eyes and stared at me, but it wasn’t a hard or judging stare. That made me soften. “I don’t know if you love me or hate me,” I said again. “I love you. Can’t you tell me which?”

“I don’t know if I love you,” she said.

“Do I repel you?”

“You scare me.”

“Why? Because I killed someone?”

No, her stare said.

“Why?”

“Your face is so … terrible,”

“Terrible? Terrible horrible? Terrible angry?”

She burst into laughter. “You really don’t see it!” she said.

“What? How terrible I look?”

“Yes! It’s – a frown. And your eyes bore into me.”

I knelt on the floor. “I’m just…looking at your beauty,” I said after a moment. It was the truth.

She looked away. She drew a ragged breath. “I don’t leave you because you saved me,” she said, but she grimaced mildly, as if unsatisfied with what she’d said. Then she said, quietly, “I can’t live without you.”

“How?”

“If you leave me, I’ll jump off the balcony,” she said simply.

“But WHY?”

She said nothing.

“I’ve ruined both our lives,” I said, ignoring her threat to kill herself, though later I would remember them and think, why didn’t I hug her then, and we would admit we loved each other, and we’d be happy, and everyone would just sing and dance and be happy! But somehow her death threat must have cheered me up, reassured me that she loved me, and I began to feel almost conversational. “I’ve ruined my life, anyway. You can be free of this, Serena. You can go away and make a good life. You can be clean, and – and free. I’m ruined, I’m fucked forever. But I – ” I was going to say “I can’t leave you,” and it was the truth, but I didn’t.

“No,” she said. “I have nothing anywhere else. You created – I had – can’t you stop talking?” she burst out.

I fell silent. The light faded in the room, it had a faint turquoise quality.

“Will you protect me? No matter who comes?” she said in that little girl voice she sometimes uses, mostly to flirt.

“Why? Who’s coming?” I took it for granted I would protect her. I just wanted to know the details.

“No one. No one!” She added, almost like a child protesting.

“You mean, like Dietmar?”

“No, no one! No one! Forget it!”

“You mean, someone who was around the cabin, the pool?”

“Yes.”

“Were you crazy there, when you – dove in?”

“Yes, crazy!”

“Because he left you?”

“Partly.”

“Was he your boyfriend?”

“Yes.”

“Who killed him’?”

She watched me. Her eyes said, You promised to protect me.

“Our father.”

My eyes grew large – I didn’t speak while this sank in.

“HE was the other man, the third man you mentioned, that was his rifle, and his boots in the cabin! And he – you – I – oh, come here.” I took her in my arms and held her head to my neck, and sat a long time, until night came and she stirred. All this time I felt more peaceful, the fear of the balcony ebbed away, and it didn’t matter if she loved me or not, or that I was condemned to hell, I just held her. I had an answer, and she was innocent – this gave me joy now rather than resentment – and I felt healthy and good for the first time in weeks, for the first time since I met her. Her father had killed her boyfriend.

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