S is her own solace. Three of them are waiting. Johnny, his double, and S. There’s some grubby excitement. There’s a nasty little incident. They learn that other things cost more than lives. Real worlds can recede. In the struggle between innocence and sexual attraction there is less indecency than refuge. Everything washes up as a forceful reluctance, one way or the other. The exit door always leads in. It was always hard to describe him. Johnny is more an expression and mood than wild mustang and his curiosity always defiant. He knows someone has been fooling around. Every room, every atrocity, every urban landscape comes up as impending. Each story justifies its own refutation. He is intending to persuade her of some kind of inescapability presented as audacity. In ambition, this was inventiveness without pragmatism. There are no guidelines nor doctrines. What she knows is that he was ridiculed at least once too much. And rebuffed in a hierarchy. The facts may be symbolic of others. But that could be inverted superstition. Everything is disproportionate when it comes to Johnny. He accepts the limits he violates. He experienced with the few women he had known a slyly next-to-nothing deadpan. He has little in common. Evasion is his habit of fading. Guile a way of reflecting on his own uneasy youth. If they sound like incantatory in a sense they were. Like depth charges. Or bombs.
Something is plainly wrong with piety. It lacks dignity and poignancy, the pathos of damnation and a self defeating pride that knows. Johnny’s distance from his double is greatest when at its strangest. It’s a Shakespearean Hamlet vs Edmund mash. It’s a burning away of context, history and ideology leaving us with a primal distraction. Edmund is the coldest of characters. He’s a cosmological gap. He is beyond values like something altogether bereft. Johnny understands the impossibility of transcendence no matter how far he pushes past the end towards offstage. Both himself and his icy brilliant shadow are invoked. The nihilising comes under the looming bulk where dialogue is possible. Old age bears more. Youth sees less, lives shorter.
In the light of this, Johnny is a gleaner in the wake. But of whom? His judgements remain ruthless, absolute and unacceptable. He proves fierce after everything. The women he got to know were hardly religious categories. They just conferred blessings. Were blank astonishment charms. Time eats metaphors up. Idealising can bring nothing but boredom. Narcissism seems best in cats.
She won’t descend for him, nor join up his mania's dots. She’s distinct from any idealization and transmits clearly. Her personal ego performs not a martrehood but a dogmatic licence. She is the counterpart of whatever foreshadowed him. She surpasses everything about him, but in small circles. There’s a fine metaphysical dignity that prefigures. Jonny’s strangeness is his pride in what was excluded by her. He centres on her partly to avoid needless quarrels with himself. Sometimes you don’t decide permanently. She existed in his thought whether or not the complement was returned. These thoughts were deliberately renewed. If there was a cure he’d receive it from her or from nowhere.
‘I wonder why everything has been so very quiet?’
‘It’s not me doing the waiting. It’s not you. I am tempted to write a letter or something…’
‘You go around all the time just happy to be alive.’
‘I never think like that. I’ve never been so lazy in my life.’
‘I’m going to bed to dream of lilacs.’
And in the hallway they were standing facing each other. He stared in horror over her shoulder.
‘What does it look like?’ she screamed inwards.
Johnny’s face rose crazily as if he was drunk.
‘It looks like paint and smells terribly,’ she answered.
‘It’s not paint. It’s not all over. It’s writing on the wall.’ One of these days he’d pull his head back and just howl.
Everything was a strong misreading. He was looking for grace and redemption. Idiot. Just cut away suffering and meaninglessness and smile. This was the dying into each other he rejected. Everything is layered with Pygmalian lust. They’re self enclosed. But their times are not serene. Some ironies are too large to be seen. The world has its own shadows. Johnny shook with extraordinary realism. He fell away from echoes of a vanished romance. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day. Such a state of obsolescence is hard to sustain.
Boredom, satiety and repulsion were obligations afterwards. There were quixotic attempts at violating shame ending in disappointment and a curious sense of wastefulness. He wondered why whenever the girls were sweet he turned docile and the act seemed more his sacrifice than hers. The human in him calls for pity and aborrance. So many people walking with their backs to him are either unjustly hurt or leaving forever. The city had an absentmindedness lost in smaller settings. It requires a different goodby. A different greeting and sense of loss. There are meek injustices. Johnny had disdain and indulgence running through him like well-groomed gashes. His eyes made him strange without being handsome, a garbled monotone of facial features that was both an impression of seriousness mixed with cold hilarity. His approach was like a time-honoured ritual. His greeting a startled probe that anticipated harm, belligerance and a way of looking out. A week later you were always amazed by remembering his modest diligence with saliva drips and arm swings. He never seemed to hold his animosities for long, and shifted them from one aspect of sexual continence to another with alarming good nature, so it seemed. He liked to lower his eyes and cock his head in another direction, covering his mouth with his hands as if he’d got a girl to point out to the crowd. There was not really a crowd. Just the reputation of one in the dim background. It never materialized north of his disappointments. Same with the girl.