Authors: William Deverell
Tags: #General Fiction
“The mind,” Nataraja purred, “clouds the eyes with the dust of desire.”
Sally and I tried to work that one through, a game we often played. “Maybe desire does confuse your thinking,” she said after other possibilities were eliminated. She fell silent, looked sad, but then smiled. “It’s okay, Tim, read my mind. I got tired of it. It was like he was performing.”
Nothing more was said on the subject, but I was almost giddy with relief and elation. Though it was not yet her birthday, I presented her with the twenty-five-year-old photo that had been sitting in my desk drawer, now framed: Arm in arm, beside a cake with ten candles, are Sally, in false lips, and Timmy, in a false nose. We began to laugh at shared memories: aged seven, getting lost together, ending up at the police station sucking Popsicles, our parents furious with concern; aged twelve, when I defended her for drawing caricatures of the school principal and got suspended too. Aged twenty-one, at a wedding reception, when we discovered my fly was open.
As much as we talked about the past, neither of us mentioned the future. It didn’t seem the time do so. Let matters take their course, I decided. I have another date with her tomorrow: on Creelman Street, where I’ll prepare stir-fried shrimp and baby peas, my first venture into Chinese cooking.
Meanwhile, I’ve been talking to a travel agent. Yes, I am summoning the courage to invite Sally on a tropical holiday. Yes, I’m damn nervous about it. (I’ve joined a fear-of-flying group, alternate Tuesday nights.)
By the way, Sally mentioned that you shared a bottle of wine on the weekend, and I was a little surprised you didn’t mention that. I gather you recommended some useful techniques in dealing with my imperfections.
What else? Oh, I’ve retained Dotty, set her on the trail of my missing begetter. If she can’t find him, he doesn’t exist.
(Freud once wrote that the death of a father is the most important event in a man’s life. But can it be more compelling than never having known him?)
I had only one bizarre dream this week. I was on Mount Olympus, standing in snow up to my hips, and in front of me the gods were gathered in the Parthenon. They were leaderless: no bearded Zeus-like figure, just a laughing, raucous group of Ovidian figures in flowing robes. I was demanding my freedom: hadn’t they tortured me enough?
The gods debated my future hotly, shouting. A scuffle broke out involving snowballs. “Let’s put this thing to rest,” one shouted. “He’s not guilty.” Several of opposing view flounced off, and the meeting disintegrated amid shouted points of order. They were acting in a very clownish way, and I had a sense I was at a Punch and Judy show, perhaps from the way they moved as if pulled by strings.
Suddenly, I was rising, soaring above them, and I realized it was I who was holding the strings.
I awoke laughing.
I had a helpful discussion with her on the weekend.
Copyright © 2003 by William Deverell
Cloth edition published 2003
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Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Deverell, William, 1937-
Mind games / William Deverell.
PS8557.E8775M5 2004 c813’.54 C2004-904371-4
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