the lounge is playing a low toasty fire in the place, a toaster's record spitting reggae as our final adult inculcation for our final conversation.
Auverin: you always told me you were the bug in the system. the virus.
me: i think that's true. i wish i had cried in front of you, if only to get you out of that longchair to give me a hug one last time, so i could remember what you felt like.
Auverin: let's finish up before it's too late.
me: your Wienerschnitzel pastrami?
Auverin: you always feed me.
Auverin's eyes are otherworldy emerald. they don't sparkle as much as simmer.
me: it's too late. it will always be too late. what were we talking about that i can keep you a while longer? the cars. Maldark's cars. not all were reported in that final race. i was thinking a Grand Tourer.
Auverin: definitely Mr. Bean's yellow mini.
that makes me laugh.
me: what were Codrus's real final words i wonder.
Auverin: ain't democracy grand?
me: how was it?
Auverin: everything you would imagine. you don't imagine just how beautiful the red of that carpet is against the drab landscape of the world. Daniel Day-Lewis interviewed me, asking me what i was wearing, which i found odd. i was supposed to interview Gwyneth Paltrow, the star of our film, but she never showed. i talked instead to a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press, a nice lady from Saudi Arabia who informed me Gwyneth was vaginal steaming and would be a little late. we got to talking and soon i forgot all about my grand entrance. we got lost in conversation, i talked to her about everything: foreign films, the science of films, the emotion of film, the access to film. she drove me to a movie theatre in her home country which had just opened up. she was giddy in her own car, lavishing praise on a surfer boy she had just taught to live. by teaching him how to drive. we get to the small indie theatre in Saudi Arabia and the picture is just about to begin. that's when i remember i had given up a hell of a lot to be here. it was Vivian's deadname ceremony, the same day as the premiere, i had to miss it. that's when that nice woman with the smile that framed her hoodie and i got assaulted by a group of men right there in the theatre, just up on stage, like it was a sport, something about the largest-size they had of bulbs, between the flickering lights.
me: while you were there i was at a football game. my first one not on tv. i had never liked football, hated it in fact as a symbol of the elite jock hierarchy, but surprise surprise i caved. it's not called the national pastime for nothing. it's a snowy Sunday night in Minneapolis. Carolina Panthers v Vikings. Molly Qerim is in the stands and looking pregnant. or bloated. she can't look fat. turns out it's just Jalen Rose under her coat applying oral. between licks to her yonic rose vagina Jalen effervescently comes up for air and i slap-five him as a gesture that he's holding it down for all the brothers and is an example---i'm not a brother---and he sages me with this wisdom hit: you're only as faithful as your options. from a comedy show i didn't see. Molly snickers embarrassingly and doesn't want to talk about it. that advice could not be wronger. more wrong.
it's here that i hear the greatest-ever line from a professional athlete. Cam Newton on stage, on grass, looks at the opponents' defensive adjustment and declares before snapping the ball:
oh, you watch film, too, huh? that's cool, watch this.
Auverin: i wanted to call Vivian for help. cos he was a big strong man now. but he had changed his name to Victor and wasn't in the directory.
me: o Auverin. oh how i wanted to save you. but you see, i never experienced this. i left school before you could tell me the final story of the summer. your experience. i don't recall any of this just now. it would have happened if i had stayed in college. i feel guilty for having had what would have been a relatively nicer story. this is what was supposed to happen, supposed to be my meant line. but you are the last girl who witnessed me with a clear mind. from then on, i was on a different path, one of a damaged mind and succumbing to illness. this was the clear line of demarcation between a life of success and plays to one of regrets and days. i would never be the same after our summer interlude, i was changed for the worse, a person lesser. than you or anyone else knew. it was over for me. all over. hopes, dreams, schemes.
Auverin. Auverin. i wanted to protect you. cos you were the only one who protected me. i wanted to hold you to my bellybutton, cheek-to-cheek you, never let you go, spin you out of those meat-market raves, dance the pain away. hold your right arm high and your left arm by my side. save you from the world of man.
Auverin. you were the last person i ever knew.