Glommed to Sam’s libido like a lovesick cephalopod, suctioning every globule of
erstwhile better judgment, her deduced proximity lures and
overpowers, pulls him up and down the length and breadth of Page Street in a
search that nets him zilch...
... apart from mute
derision as evinced by Jo herself, watching from a bay window, on the third
floor of an apartment building, in a sprawling flat for rent, relieved of
the landlord’s third-degree by a stream of would-be tenants, free to snap
her zoom-lens shots of “Blumenthal” and organize a composite, juxtaposing
Rockefeller’s portraits to his look-alike profiteer’s, reassured that
the pair’s resemblance is more than uncanny, reaffirming her contention
that their features, indeed, are interchangeable, two
peas in a pod...
... apart from
uncertainty (the car might not be hers), and a reinstated host of consternating
a woman who not only is betrothed, but is, as rumor has it, pregnant by her
How has her
alleged condition worked to overturn his ruling out a relationship, caused
his major flip-flop, re-stoked his enthusiasm, re-ignited passions his ego
dismissed and squelched, re-established lust as his primary impetus while
rousing in the process a wellspring of compassion heretofore unmatched in
his dealings with le femme?
she be thinking if in truth she tracked him down, parked her pink
Mercedes in his neighborhood to confront him, to harass him, to serve him
legal papers that accuse him of indecent behavior toward a
(most frustrating of all) is the woman herself?
one count, not yet guilty on another, while feeling vaguely avenged by the act
of her surveillance, by capturing her 'abuser' on camera, by manipulating his
image, by possessing him in effect without his awareness (let alone his
permission), Joanna stows her Cyclops, takes a lease application (for show),
moseys down three flights to exit the premises, then crosses to a nearby corner and
proceeds downhill to a coffeehouse (effectively unobserved). Once seated
therein, courage bolstered by a latté, she recapitulates information
Blumenthal is a real live person (not an autoerotic figment of her id's imagination)
who lives in San Francisco, goes to graduate school in Berkeley, and plays, of
all things, baseball, according to the UC website, is 22 years old, born in
California (on August 6th to be exact), is a member of Phi Beta
Kappa, and volunteers as a coach for Special Olympics.
reappraises her multi-tier agenda:
sexually, though a most propitious start...
... does not a
match-made-in-Heaven guarantee; Sam, no less than Joanna, harbors reservations,
widens his search by a block to the retail shops on Haight Street, darting in
and out with a mind devoid of schemes, having no idea, should he find her, what
he might do next, like a child who grabs at a firefly then is startled upon
catching it, the creepy-crawly life inside his fist not what he expects—because
he reacts more than expects, because his hot pursuit is an impulse, a
reflex-guided urge, connected to its goal like a stretched-too-taut guitar
string, Sam’s mad quest strumming scores of discordant doubts and off-key
reverberating in Jo’s clamped-under-the-table knees—to stave off urination, waiting for the
single unisex restroom to be vacated—as she nurses at her foam, sucks a sip of
coffee through its frothy soymilk filter and blames it for her nerves, for
causing raw emotion to run roughshod over reason, envisioning the moment when—Is that him? No—her speech will finally be
delivered, the one that she rehearsed a dozen times on the drive from
Palo Alto, a brilliant combination of indictment and seduction that is sure to
get his goat while riling his satyr...
... no Jo;
everywhere he looks he garners stares from clerks and proprietors suspicious of
his trespasses, staying only long enough in any one establishment to case the
joint then split, trusting in his memory to consolidate intimate parts into one
familiar whole, about which he admittedly knows almost nothing, like judging a
book by its ultra-sultry cover...
fully clothed, abruptly drops her short-shorts in the public privy’s privacy,
squats, and pees, letting loose a torrent that besprinkles an unsanitary seat, she presumes, buttocks held aloft avoiding contact with the fixture, if
inhibiting what might pass for careful aim, wiping herself
entrance made, Sam scans the clientele—a carrot-top not among them; with caffeine
headache pending, he suspends his hide and seek, orders a large house coffee
(black, no nonsense) and settles down to savor it, back turned to whomever is
leaving the café’s toilet, though he notes svelte hips pass by, absence of a panty-line arresting his
attention, color of her hair, on glancing up, occasioning a blush as ruddy as
her curls, loss of cool compounded by his more than likely imminent loss for
... back to her lookout spot
and half-drunk lukewarm
latté, Joanna is well-aware
that customers have changed—some gone, a few new arrivals; she glances once, twice, thrice at a man
who meets her gaze, who rises and walks with a slightly halting step that
terminates at her table, who hesitates, hovers, hampered by indecision yet
determined to have his say; who kneels (?)...
(He must be crazy; right here in the
coffeehouse; with everybody watching!)
... who joins his hands in a gesture of
(Stop! This is REALLY embarrassing!)
who swallows, parts
(Like a penitent choirboy)
must be kidding!)
a proposal so sincere...
(Good God, he means it?)
that Joanna, rescinding vengeance, hangs
upon every word.
"Or if you won't consider marrying me, say at least you
forgive me for appropriating a love I wish could be ours."