A note and a sorbet

It’s April. I haven’t been here in a while. Below is a sorbet from a few weeks back. I’m still working on the elephant book, which has grown and evolved and is nearing completion. It’s almost at the point where my changes will no longer make it better.

labyrinth

Perhaps, in the fall, your wife convinces you to go to a corn maze, and while you are reluctant at first, she wears you down. You might say yes just as she was not expecting it, and she performs the smallest twitch of a Mona Lisa smile you have ever seen. It is infinitesimal. It is so small you would say it was insignificant. But you notice it because it is also sexy. It is insignificantly sexy. It reminds you that you used to have sex. You can’t recall the last time, but for sure, sometime in the past year – or two. Things have not been as good as expected between you and your wife lately – you’re in a dip, a low spot, a disconnected morass, a university of misunderstanding and resentment – but other than these minor irritants, things are fine. Flash forward three hours. You arrive at the corn field, pay your money to an evidently drunk little person with a foul mouth, and walk into the maze. Within 20 minutes, your wife is nowhere to be seen – she skips around a corner and vanishes – and then, you are alone in the middle of a pathway somewhere in the maze, surrounded by corn. Thousands of ears of corn, and they’re all listening. You might be wondering why it’s called an ear of corn. And what is it they expect to hear? They’re good listeners – silent except for a hush of wind that blows through the field moments before the lights go out. The sound of the generator, which had vanished somewhere in the back of your mind, stops, and its absence is noticeable. You are not immediately frightened. The first thing you notice is stars. You look up and the stars fill you – they are so thick, it’s as if they are falling, like snow and you eat them like snowflakes, and they are cool in your belly, like a sorbet, after a really good meal. After you have seen your fill of stars, you might start to worry about getting out. And where is your wife? Why isn’t she telling them to put the lights back on because her husband is still in there – for God’s Sake? There is no moon and the starlight, while impressive, does not light your way. You are in the dark, in an intricate maze, alone. The maze has become a labyrinth and you are the Minotaur. You search your pockets for your phone – but no, you left it in your jacket in the car. “Hello?” you offer to the darkness. Then a little louder – “Hello!?” Silence. You try walking blindly in the direction you’re facing – arms out like whiskers, but you run into a stand of corn, knock your glasses askew, scratch your face. You think you might be bleeding. There is something sticky on your fingers and smell of metal in the air. “Fuck you, corn,” you say, and then start to giggle because this is not the corn’s fault. It is your wife’s fault. She got you in here. She disappeared. And she is not rescuing you. But what if that sketchy little person was part of a gang of thieves and rapists, and your wife is tied up and the corner of a barn. You take out your Swiss army knife and open the blade. At best, it’s three inches. You can’t defend anything with a three-inch blade. You put the knife away. What if this is the end – the lights went out because everything has blown up, or been dissolved in a thousand nuclear explosions. Maybe, the president of the United States is a mad king, illiterate, thin-skinned and unwise – the worst kind of fool. He could have easily started something with an enemy who is equally unstable. And now, there’s no power anywhere. Everything is gone, except this cornfield. It’s the end of the world. You take a breath and exhale this idea. It resists so you take another, long, purposeful breath. Exhale, again. What if this is your wife’s way of telling you she is done with you, she’s home packing up her things – and she’s going to take all the Steely Dan vinyl even though she knows it’s not hers – she knows this but she’s taking them anyway? “Jesus Christ. Pull it together,” you tell yourself. Your marriage isn’t ending tonight. Love is bigger than resentment. And there are only a few strands of contempt between you. A few strands is nothing. This is some sort of innocent mix-up. A faulty wire. Or a generator that ran out of gas and in a few minutes the tank will have been filled, the lights will come on, and you will find your wife. You almost jump out of your skin when the dog gently puts your hand in its mouth. You find out later, it is a German Shepherd. You pet the dog and then, as it seems to want to pull you along the path, you let it lead you out of the labyrinth. The drunk midget – the inebriated little person, is not at the entrance. You’re in the country, beside a cornfield you can barely see and it’s a cool, fall evening. The air is wet and fresh and cool – it smells green. You don’t see a soul on the way to your car. You notice there are still twenty cars in the parking lot. Your phone rings. It’s your wife, Enid. “Where are you?” “I’m in the fucking maze,” she says. “The lights. They went out.” “I’m coming to get you,” you say. “Don’t move.” You pause. It’s as if the corn maze is a therapy session that offers clarity. If you make it out, you get clarity. If you make it out. If. You’ve always loved dogs. Enid, on the other hand, has never had time for dogs – doesn’t like them at all. You start the car. Drive home and begin by packing up your Steely Dan albums.

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