Saturday, January 9, 2010


Cornelius had been, until of late, very adaptable to all climates. Not the complainer, at all, just goes with things. Take traffic for example. He enjoys traffic, the chaos of it all, he supposes. Good in distances, and in tightness. Good for a day or a night gig. Can be there at 3am, or ask him to wake at 7am on a Saturday. Just goes with it. Big deal, he shrugs.

He could be in sub-Sahara desert on Thursday and then shuffling through a London center rush hour on Friday, tea and scone in hand, offending everyone by his eating and walking and chattering. On the London tube sleeping and circling no stop in particular, hour upon hour, dreaming the dreams of youth. A dream of childhood golfing somewhere on the Iberia steppe. Hitting a seven iron on the number 12 fairway. His shot high as hell and no distance. Good shot, though. On the green is where the game is truly won. But so many people are busily concentrating on the long game with every manner of driver and new club technology and swing. Incredible, the resources these games can consume. Incredible. Cornelius remembers watching a natural once. He didn't know what he was witnessing, a workman-like approach and no gamesmanship.

Cornelius here writing something important. Not letting anyone see the note. Wallace sitting next to him. Trying to peek.

Wallace studies his friend, takes in the entirety of the moment, and the past, put all scenarios into play and understood the totality of Cornelius' life and decides to help, saying about love:

"If you love her, then just do me a solid," he was trying to speak American. Cornelius assumed drugs, maybe, which he could not work around, adaptable though he was, it was bad news, if it was drugs, and he was alive, and he knew how to stay that way, for another seventy he figured.

"A what?"

"A solid, like ah favor," the drug guy, Wallace, is saying, "Stand under an archway, it's a classical technology the archway, you know. Stand under an archway and tell her. Make some pact. Like in a movie. A pact under an archway."

"Like a love story, you're saying."

"Not love. Just a pact."

"I'm not sure I can do that. I hardly walk under arches anymore. I'll tell you all the places I've run through and all the planes and all the cabs and the jobs. I should have been under an arch with her. I'll tell you that much. It should have been that, instead of flying unnaturally around the globe. It's not regret, really, just I should have been boring. Anyway. You're on drugs?"

"You'll see them. Arches. Just arches everywhere. Probably holding up the galaxy. The galaxy is shaped like a soccer ball you know."



"The universe expands outwards like a soccer ball. The universe holding many galaxies. I just know is all. This is my stop, now. So, goodbye and thank you for that idea. The world needs boredom, so much boredom is needed now."

And Cornelius stepped off the tube. He was at Trafalgar Square and he knew there was the work. He thought of life in a kitchen. Cooking in a flat somewhere. In another life. He decided he did have regrets. He twitched his right eye, and found he was in an unusually sunny fall day in London.

Cornelius thought the meaning of it all could be that love, like an arch can support any unfathomable thing. Kitchens weren't boring he concluded. Kitchens are deceptively simple places. He thought of her there and how he didn't like living in a flat, sleeping in a bed, until she was in his kitchen, once. He thought it made him human. He put up art after she was in his kitchen. He seemed to notice emptiness because of her presence. But then he had to leave quickly, and no one was over anymore. He had sprinted through the Dublin airport thinking he would call from there, but his plane was loading, he practically choked down a scone, and was very tired from the work. There was no time. He was gone quickly. He was finally sorry. She wore black like a uniform, he remembered. She was seemingly in her black turtleneck uniform every day he saw her. He smirked. She was original. Like an old wise soul caring not for fashion or timeliness. Making her fashionable, in a way no one understood properly, he concluded.

Suddenly, he was going to call. He stepped into a red phone booth. But then remembered the work. He bit his lip. It was a damn sunny day for London. Rain makes the job easier. He wished he had not ordered the tea. He was not usually jittery, but the work was upsetting to him now in a way it never upset him in the past. He stood for a long time with his head on the phone and decided he was going to find a flat again. Find her. Invite her to his kitchen. It would be an arch. Like a movie, he thought, only better.

The phone rang incredibly loudly, he thought, startling him. It was Wallace.

"Do you think this has anything to do with the fact that you're not the most reckless of people?"

"I'm reckless as hell."

"You're practically a stay at home dad. You should be driving the soccer van. You're going to get fired, you know."

"Thank you. Is it that evident? I'm not good at hiding things. I'm going to go civilian, now. So, like get clean and find me in a week."

Wallace found him later in the British Museum, examining Scientific Revolution era instruments. Talking to docents.

"What makes them so special?" he was wondering about scientists. Why could they do this and not anybody else?

Wallace was the first to bring up the Samurai: "Sometimes I picture you losing impossibly outnumbered Samurai battles."

"I'd never be in an impossibly outnumbered battle," he answered, "I'd have left last week, before the nobility showed."

"Good show," Wallace took a document from his satchel, and put it back, "We're going to do this now?"

"Remember that work in Ireland?"

"You were in country a long time. Ireland. Thought you were settling there," Wallace was saying, thinking about how dark the museum rooms were, "They almost sent me in for you. Thought you had finally cracked, man."

Cornelius remembered the petrol stop. She was an attendant at a petrol station when they met. He was quiet as a statue. She was sweeping floors. He had brought in a lot of dirt, as if his shoes were designed for petrol shop mussing.

"And how do you get so messy?" she was asking. To which Cornelius did not immediately acknowledge, owing which to the facts that he partially was not aware of how dirty he was and he frequently ignored any sounds he wasn't listening for. He was tuned for exclusion. Filtering out everything non essential. Science could not have produced a more unnatural sense of exclusion.

"I'm not. Am I?" he was asking, looking at her very icy eyes.

"Your shoes are. What are you in the fields all day?"

"Not exactly. I don't know. I lost track of where I had walked. I was distracted by some things. Did you know your petrol is out? This second one, the,.."

"--Yes we know. Use a different one, then. The other one works."

"Fine. What is that called?"

"You mean the cheese? The cheese is called cheese." She was looking away, embarrassed for him.

"It looks weird."

"That's what cheese looks like..."

"Well, I'll take it, then."

He was trying to make her smile. He purposely dropped the cheese and she smiled and he thought it was good that even here in a muddy Irish scene people could smile about dropped cheese. He didn't know what to do with cheese anyway. Cornelius could not cook and rarely ate while not walking or running.

"How Irish are you?" he had idiotically asked.

She looked at her dropped cheese and his muddy strange looking shoes and decided he was the strangest person she had met in a long time. She thought he was odd and strangely harmless, too. It was not long before he had found different excuses for going to the petrol shop -- various household supplies, which they frequently didn't have, and he would ask all kinds of questions about baking, and soldering, things only indirectly related to petrol shops, but these questions were always delivered to her, personally.

Eventually, they asked if he might help in the shop. So he did help repair any kind of engine, because, he had claimed, engine repair was calming to him, to which she wondered what he even did that needed calming. Cornelius almost convinced himself into believing he might be able to just fix broken engines for the rest of his life. He was wrong.

He had been put into a situation bigger than he, there were frameworks which he understood and lived by, but disagreed greatly with now and wanted to believe he could live outside the frames again. So he did as was expected. Cut his ties, inhumanely, he loathed to, but was then sprinting onto the next city, like Achilles into Hades.

"Wallace. I'm out of gas so I really can't do this justice. I'll just preface and parenthetically note you are by far the intellectual titan here. We both know this. The company knows this. Biology is biology though. You have a bad eye. Not good in darkness. And you're in withdrawal, so that's why I think cognitively you've walked into this, and but so even though you are by far up for my personal de-mapping. I am free now. Running on fumes, here, but free."

Wallace laughed. It was true.

"Or, I don't even know maybe it's something like you happen to be more of a humanist than I. And you want to see me in Dublin again. I don't know. You probably don't count on me moving a psychotic sailor against you and everyone. That work I wouldn't have the heart to undertake -- but that's why I was on board, wasn't it? Weren't we both?"

Wallace was trying to get his vision, closing his eyes to adjust to darkness, but only felt dizzy opening them again.

"But I wondered why, both of the most human of the monsters here in London? There could only be one reason. They saw me going soon. For good. Only they probably thought you would de-map me no problem. I guess I'm hurt not by their reasoning, but by you being here actually undertaking said work."

Cornelius impossibly tripped and fell into Wallace who in turn fell into a docent. Cornelius getting hoarse accusing Wallace of stealing his wallet. The docents had been so charmed by Cornelius, they believed it all, detaining Wallace, the most brilliant of their kind.

Cornelius was free and had no personal vengeance planned. This was not a movie he decided, the ending, in doubt, to pacts yet unmade, but he would take other roads into the Ireland he had known. He was there once. He could find it again.