In the distance, Gillian is getting into Michael's Porsche. Michael is tall, dark, and (from Morgan's dispossessed standpoint) unfairly handsome.

Bored she is, apparently, with short, blond, and interesting-looking.

The Porsche, like a silver eel, eases from the theatre's near-empty parking lot.

Morgan, on his ten-speed, tries to follow.

This is how the argument goes: we never vowed fidelity. We never vowed anything, for that matter; the relationship was what it was, no questions asked. Started out as intimate pals cum homogeneous artists—though worked in different fields, not actually collaborating. Shit! I lost them.

Morgan runs a traffic light; at 2 a.m. who notices? Nonetheless, he has missed the car's maneuver. Left or right?. He pedals up a one-way street, in the opposite direction; the Porsche, again, is back within his sights.

Where was I?... Ah, yes, the argument: fidelity. Never shook on it. Might as well be married, right? Why attempt to secure the un-securable? We would stay together because we chose to stay together, not because we committed ourselves before God or the laws of men. Suited me and suited her. He's heading toward the foothills? The Porsche is not a ruse; the bastard's filthy rich, as well? How can I compete with that, on fifty bucks a weekend!

The sports car picks up speed.

The bike, pursuing it, falls behind.

Okay, okay... I can't keep up... you're faster... taller... BETTER LOOKING...

Sprinting up a steady incline, Morgan fights for breath, the cool night desert air no match for his overheated body. Muscles, sapped of strength, refuel antipathy. Sweat flows freely. Tiredness, taxing stamina, compensates resolve...

To do just what; my Peeping Tom act? Catch the pair red-handed? Eavesdrop on their pillow-talk, then denounce them, storm the gates? Play the outraged husband, when I'm no more than a boyfriend—almost a dependent; I write poems, she pays the rent. Poems I never sell, while her profession earns real income. I'm a hanger-on, a sponge. She keeps me like a pet. Except I've fallen out of favor... Looky there; it's them! I wonder if they've spotted me?

The Porsche turns up a stately driveway... winds its way... slows... stops... waits for an automatic winch to lower a sort of drawbridge... proceeds across... then promptly disappears.

Morgan, having coasted to a halt on the main road's shoulder, pants like an outclassed racehorse.

Now what; watch from afar, or charge?

He sets his ten-speed's kick-stand, takes a few short steps, then pauses... notes the house... its skylights... its protruding decks... its views...

The bike behind him topples.


He elects to let it lie... looks instead at the moonless sky... at a thousand twinkling pinpricks... emitting silvered light as through a perforated dome... illuminating rocks and shrubs and spines of sundry cacti, each form frosted with a sequined due that glimmers... shimmers... glows...

Morgan, to forestall his chills, starts pacing.

Philosophically speaking, I accept this situation. What she does, when we're apart, is totally her affair—no pun intended. So she's having sex. With someone else. No problem. Why should I begrudge her having fun when I'm not there? Same as if she'd seen a film, or dined, or heard a concert—alone, or with her clique, whomever. Why be jealous? Miffed? Why regard her social life as a source of gross betrayal? Surely we are separate, she and I. Our thoughts, our actions—even our emotions—are detached... until we share... unless we don't, and then they're not. It seems autonomy is the issue. Autonomy is the nature of us all, despite our rhetoric. Seclusion is reality, whereas love... is a mirage... that wavers, out of arm's reach, making wellsprings out of hellholes... fooling foolish senses with a slight of hand, a trick. Why be taken in by such chicanery?

Morgan, as he argues with himself, finds Michael's driveway, ventures to the edge of its arroyo-spanning breach (the drawbridge once more raised against intruders).

People aren't possessions, after all. They have no owners. Even love, as whimsy, can't be bought or sold... or swiped. Love, if such a thing exists, is utterly unselfish... given and received with an open heart... an open mind... that doesn't cling, for fear of loss, or misidentify rivals. Others can display affection; envy is perverse. Lovers don't reject, for instance, brothers, sisters, parents. Love, among one's family members, poses no great threat. Why should love among one's friends or colleagues?

Morgan reconsiders... weighs the breadth and depth before him... estimates the flashflood odds... judiciously descends... and picks his way across the dark depression.

At least the lights are on.

The house goes dark.

I can't pursue this!

Turning, on his ignominious heels, he backtracks... stops.

She really isn't doing this to torture me on purpose? I'm the one who's torturing me; I came here uninvited—unbeknownst to her; so who's the culprit? Who's the cheat? Who's deceiving whom? She thinks I'm home; I frankly should be... instead of out here shivering like some lapdog, off its leash... 

Morgan climbs the bank, breaks into a run along the asphalt, exits onto the road, returns to his ten-speed, sets it right, plants his foot on a pedal, pushes off, swings onto the saddle, then glides off into the vast, dispassionate, imperturbable night... giving vent, as he goes, to a long-drawn WAIL.



Gillian is asleep...

Back to Table of Contents