Friday, May 10

All That I Can See

‘YEAH, WE’RE GOING for a meal tonight.’
On the penultimate evening of our holiday my parents wanted to have dinner alone. I retired to my room and stared out of the window at the rain that fell; one had to squint to see it against the shadier fractions of the scenery, it was there. Then I sat on a chair and stared at the wall, contemplating – shower, reading, orgasm, drink? – but I got up, filled my pockets with whatever I thought I would need and went down the lift and out into the rain.
An unusual mood saddened my day; a hangover still leaned over me; I felt neither there nor somewhere else. The pool was empty because of the rain; lifeguards circled in sorry bright vests; stopping to look out & over; burdened by contracts; stamping in puddles with the foam tips of flip-flops; examining the sky to see when it would clear; yet the cloud of night was eagerly approaching. I walked right past them and out of the hotel. Plants and shrubs, so foreign to my eyes, crowded the path as lizards and puddles fled my footprints. I was hungry. I could get something to eat and maybe I would feel better. The dusk was fading, hurried along by the clouds so I trod fast. I felt quite good.
Actually I appreciated being alone. The crowds had been with me everywhere. Everywhere. There was no escaping them. They had a hum about them, and a terrific colour that I could gaze at for hours, and their movement, their toing & froing captivated me, so that even as I cursed them I felt a joy & envy of them at the same time. However, the crowds were no longer there. The weather had ushered them all inside; now it was just me. I swung my arms and breathed on my cigarette and looked up & down & around so much that it made me dizzy and I remembered how my joints were still very occupied by my hangover. ‘Maybe it’s alcohol poisoning,’ I thought. I laughed. Humidity – the bastard of Florida – was all over me.
The path wound on.
The path was very windy. It wound all over the place. I followed it.
The manmade lake beside me slapped against its sides. What a feeling to be alone! and I felt truly alone – more alone than alive, yet, for all my sorrow, I felt good about it. There was nothing anywhere for me; nothing waiting, nothing dying, nothing being prepared. All the little puddles attracted me. So as the rain fell it was sucked up into the air and the air became thick with rain, falling rain & rising rain. One had to swim to get to their destination. I listened to music and the small lights of my destination appeared around the bend. They twinkled in the stink.
The lights twinkled in the stink, and some of the bulbs had blown. The blown bulbs stood out to me more than those that shone.
The hotel was done up to look like an Italian village by the sea. Much of it was fake but it still endeared itself toward me. My family & I had gone there on the first day for lunch and planned all the things we were going to do on our holiday and drank wine and looked out at the water. How strange to go there on the penultimate night. Slowly I approached the little cafĂ©. The cast iron tables in front were empty except for a young couple. I went in – a bell rang! – and I thought I’d order some fruit punch and a big sandwich. The man in front of me started speaking about protein and his work-outs; he started to ripple in his tight shirt and he spoke very keenly to the ladies behind the till. My eyes were half closed when they asked me what I’d like – ‘How can we help?’
I sat outside, with the young couple; they spoke quietly though I was not interested in their conversation. I could only look at the view and the rain that fell and the lake. A lady – no doubt a guest at the hotel – was feeding some ducks that waddled out of the lake to get some free food. I wrote down:

lady feeding ducks
at her feet, the rain waiting
for them on the lake

The hotel and the shops and the restaurants all crowded round a limb of the lake, near the jetty and lots of little boats, always anchored and always empty, bobbed in time to their own music. The piazza was empty after the duck-lady walked off and her subjects returned to the lake. Speakers atop lampposts strung out Italian opera to beat against the rain and give me something to listen to. The fruit punch was tasty and I could have drunk a gallon of it. I reclined.
An Italian lady brought me my sandwich. She was very polite and didn’t mind that I was alone in the rain. The young couple had gone; replaced by a man, a woman and their child in a pram. I ate quickly. The hangover made me hungrier than normal and I ate with a ravenousness I was unfamiliar with. The aria wilted over the wet paving slabs. After I’d finished I sighed and lit a cigarette. The child in the pram was fascinated with a duck. She threw a piece of lettuce and ordered the duck to eat it – ‘Duckie! Eat it! Eat it, duckie!’ The duck couldn’t have her pizza and its disappointment was obvious.
I ordered a black coffee. There was no rush. I had nothing to go back to. If it were my last day on earth I probably would have done the same. I drank the coffee. The sky was almost black now. The family went. I watched them go; they shrank in the rain; the rain did not stop for anybody.
I walked back along the path I had come. Everything was dark now and harder to see. In my hotel room I stood in one spot for a long time and looked around to see what was going on. The rain could not be heard over the air conditioning. I shat. My mother text me asking if I wanted to join them for dinner. ‘I’m bored of your father already.’ ‘I just ate.’ ‘Well, you can have dessert or a coffee or something.’ ‘I’m taking a shit. I’ll see you in a bit.’ ‘Okay. We’ve just ordered the starters.’
They sat there in a chequerboard of empty tables and welcomed me. The waiter asked me if I wanted anything. ‘Just a coke, for the time being.’ My brothers had gone out with a barman they’d befriended. I watched my parents eat and felt no hunger. When they were done I ordered another black coffee and listened to the waiter talk to us about London. The words were there but I could not understand them. I drifted off, looking perfectly at the fans rotating by the ceiling.

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