The Montreal Review, September 2010
For about a year, I think, or perhaps a bit more, my dear Evelyn had a love affair with someone named Paul. She was very discreet of course, but one night she mentioned him in her sleep as if to get my attention. Which it did. Immediately all the small tics of the prior weeks took on a sickening coherence - the lapsed moments with their loopy smiles, the compliant but rote and indifferent sex, the frequent evenings of unapologetic fatigue abruptly alternating with spasms of frantic domestic energy. Had she worked out her confusion that way on me I would have worshiped her. Instead she had appointments to keep, like sessions with the hairdresser. Look at her, there she goes, off for another mad fuck-fest with Paul. And because the nature of these things is that there's never enough time to learn anything at all, why, both of them could be whatever they needed. In love? Why not? I saw her reliving our courtship with this Paul, a virgin again, being young, being pretty.
Suddenly her life was a blaze of compartmented activity. She wore herself thin to keep everything nailed down, but part of the ruse was to neglect nothing as if that were her habit, so for almost a year our little household ran like the Swiss Rail System. For a while she was even happy. Busy I mean. She had an interest. The phone bills jumped like a junkie's habit but it was almost a pleasure to come home at night. She lost almost fifteen pounds for that sonofabitch, and any minor irregularity at home became for Evelyn a glaring admission of infidelity.
It was only a pity that she couldn't talk to me about it. For a time I'd suffered the syndrome myself; an extremely profitable inquiry as it turned out, in which total strangers had found me a satisfactory lover. We might have discussed that, Evelyn and I. There are times when it can be essential to know that about yourself. That one is desirable? Capable of pleasure, of giving and receiving it? But she was an old-fashioned gal, my Evelyn, silence suited her better than speech, so I did my little bit, as it were, and made a point of coming home each night at the same time. I figured the more freedom she had, the faster things would run their course. Love affairs don't get better, you know. Most of them have half-lifes like radioactive metals. First you're only excited - terrifically. Then you're in love - mindlessly. Then, realizing you're only in love with yourself, it becomes important to know if you're being taken seriously, and after that, well, it's not as good. I knew it was over when I came home from work one afternoon and found yesterday's dinner dishes still in the sink and Evelyn in the yard reading a magazine.
"I don't want you to laugh," she said. "I made a decision today."
I sat down next to her on the grass.
"I think I want to get some counseling," she said.
"Would you like me to go, too?" I asked.
"It's something I want to do myself."
"All right, fine," I said.
"You would go with me?" she asked.
I thought she might cry then but she didn't. She was surprised though. "I didn't think of it," she said.
"I think it could help me."
"You don't have to justify it."
"Well I don't want to do it for the sake of doing it."
"When will you start?" I asked.
"I don't want you to be offended. I just need someone to talk to just now."
I had to laugh. "Evelyn, why would I be offended?"
"I mean someone not you."
"Of course not," I said.
She wiped at her eyes and looked away. "You always know so much," she said. "I couldn't live if I knew so much."
Bill Teitelbaum's plays and short fiction have appeared in journals such as Bayou, Rhino, Pacific Review and Red Wheelbarrow and in anthologies such as Western Michigan University's Art of The One-Act. Having been born and raised in New York City, he now lives quietly in Lincolnwood, Illinois, a small Midwestern village near Chicago.
Painting: Alan Feltus, "No Words Could Explain".
Alan Feltus' canvases portray the complexities of human relationships and emotions. Whether husbands and wives, siblings, lovers, or friends, Feltus' figures are communicative but detached, pensive yet silent, animated and motionless. Seeking to express the inexpressible, Feltus uses body language as a tool: hands appear clutched or reaching out, never completing a gesture; bodies are postured awkwardly, aloof and frozen in a moment. Preferring solitude as he works, the artist uses his own face as his primary model. The figures that result noticeably resemble one another, creating an additional layer of metaphor in the narrative of each canvas.
Feltus' works can be purchased at Forum Gallery (730 Fifth Avenue, suite 201, New York, NY 10019).
Felus' website: www.alanfeltus.com