We were alone, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.
“We are alone, with nowhere to go and nothing to do,” she said.
I let this pass without comment.
We stared into the middle distance for some moments. Meanwhile the grandfather clock, left to me by my grandmother, marked time with sinister regularity.
“I know what I’ll do,” she announced. “I will grow a moustache!”
She waited in anxious silence for me to respond, as if so much depended on my approval.
“Well, a moustache,” I said at last, trying to control my voice. “Your own or someone else’s?”
“Why, my very own,” she responded. “It’s not like we have access to a community garden and…
“What type of moustache are we talking about, then?” I interrupted. “I mean, if you don’t mind my asking.”
“Oh, I don’t know. A flourishing kind, I guess. A Fu Manchu or a handlebar. Maybe with a side of mutton chops.”
“Or whatever the hell David Niven wore,” I said bitterly. “Him, with his stupid face and that gap in his teeth.”
“I think you may be confusing him with Terry Thomas, pet. Quite another Brit who…”
“Silence!” I roared. “Perfect time for you to grow a moustache, isn’t it? You and your cockamamie projects. Like the time you wanted to keep bees — you, without a drop of Flemish blood.”
This, she allowed to pass.
“Like you, I had hopes and dreams,” I continued, striding back and forth in our narrow living quarters and throwing myself on the white leather banquette. “Sure, nothing grand like a moustache. But something — anything to slake my parched soul…”
A quick rustling outside, and a piercing scream. Instantly we were on our feet and dashing to the front door. The narrow window admitted only one person’s view, and so in our haste we cracked skulls. Stars! But not before we caught a glimpse of two cats hissing and spitting at each other on the front walk.
“Shit-for-brains!” she cried, rubbing her forehead.
“Stupid bitch!” I countered, holding my own throbbing head.
“Ah, so quick to move on to the next letter,” I said accusingly.
* * *
We held each other and wept, hot tears mingling on our faces.
We were in our narrow living quarters again, candles lit, snifters drained.
“I will take you now,” she said in a trembling voice, seizing me by the ears and lifting me from the white leather banquette.
“On the coffee table,” I whispered. “Quickly, take me on the coffee table, and I will video our lovemaking from below. On my Samsung Galaxy Six.”
She laid me across the glass coffee table as gently as you would lay down a baby to change its diaper. I reached around and placed my Samsung Galaxy Six on the carpet. I pressed Record.
* * *
Later, I watched the video.
Have you ever seen lovemaking, dear reader, from beneath a coffee table? Have you seen what happens to flesh pressed flat against tempered glass?
Best to turn away.
* * *
Tightly, tightly we held each other and wept.
“There’s nothing to do.”
“Nowhere to go.”
With nothing new to add, I slipped into the vestibule to wind my grandmother’s grandfather clock. But as I turned the old bastard’s crank, an idea popped into my head.
“I think I have it,” I announced, after I was once again seated on the banquette. “My very own project, I mean. I’ll knit cigarettes for the less fortunate.”
Now it was her turn to hesitate. “But these days, with the uncertain supply of woollens…” I could hear the skepticism in her voice, but also a measure of kindness. She didn’t want to bruise my enthusiasm.
“But listen, I’ve thought it through, my love. Emerson, who brings our supplies,” I said. “Emerson will add a few balls of wool to our order, along with the weekly produce. Couldn’t be simpler. I can knit cigarettes in the evening, during Netflix. Then you’ll help me bundle them into packs the next morning, once they’re dry. And I’ll leave them for Emerson to take back at week’s end, with a note for the pastor.”
She shrugged, considering my idea. “Knitted woollens are a blessing,” she allowed, “what with the shortage of tobacco products. The pastor will be pleased. And, as you say, it’ll give you something to do while I cultivate my moustache.”
“Your flourishing moustache,” I added, punching her playfully on the nose and handing her a tea towel to stanch the flow of blood.
“At times like these…” she said, attempting to seize me by the throat. “At times like these…”
We held each other and wept, tears and blood mingling, growing into a mighty tributary of grief and sorrow. Let the world wobble on its broken axis, for she and I have each other.
* * *
Nowhere to go, nothing to do.
On the street, a public security truck rolls by, broadcasting dire warnings, promises of relief.
At any moment Emerson will knock on our window. Among the spinach and kiwi fruit, a few balls of wool, white and brown.
Today she will begin to cultivate her moustache. A flourishing specimen, dear reader, ripe, luxuriant and rich with possibilities.
Wish us luck.