If intelligence was a love affair, Darryl would have been the Dear John letter.
He emptied the pepper-shaker and refilled it with her ashes – not for the flavor – but because this would bring them together, forever.
The sunny-side-up eggs stared at him from the plate. He wondered if an occasional sprinkle of salt, with her dust, would disrupt their union in any way. He left that question unanswered and opted to use just the fine brown powder that looked like nutmeg on the white, owlish goggles. Hoping her visage would somehow appear he hovered closer. Denise never showed. The brown particles made the yellow bulges appear like a pair of distended, chocolate-butter cow’s eyes.
On the other side, Denise was spilling her heart out to the Divine ‘whatever’ that she did not want to be part of Darryl’s thoughts. Not now, not ever.
After the eggs were consumed, even more difficult questions arose.
“What if, after he had finished the contents of the pepper-shaker and he died, and he elected to be consumed by fire in like manner, she will have then been twice cooked – would that disrupt their union?” “And what if he felt sick one day, and thought he might die soon, and devoured her remains in one gulp. Would that change their union?” Who would know the answers to these questions?
A nicely chilled plate of dark green watercress with fruit pieces, dotted with white coconut spirals, and a tall glass of iced tea with a big sprig of mint followed the brownish orbs.
The following hours were to be devoted to microscopically studying the few items he had absconded from her apartment. After adjusting the height of the swivel chair for a third time that morning, he sat and remembered the dime that he found in her couch. Darryl had scrutinized it the day before and discovered no remarkable characteristics, except for the red speck just below the ‘i’ in “Pluribus”. It could have been – lipstick. He enshrined the coin in a tightly folded plastic bag, taped it shut and sequestered the treasure in the back of the bottom left desk drawer.
He held the second artifact up to the light; one-sixth of a crumpled, typewritten, letter-sized piece of paper ripped off from the top corner with the words, ‘Dear Darryl: I hope that . . .’ still intact. The brightness highlighted the creases which he studied diligently. With enough time devoted, he was able to reconstruct exactly how the paper was initially crumbled. His rushing blood caused a blush as the familiar words, ‘If she was a typewriter, I’d like to be the ‘D’ key’ took the well-worn route through his mind.
Drizzle began bouncing off the tin roof. It reminded him of bacon sizzling in a pan – then eggs – then ‘those’ eggs – then he shook his head and made a drowsy, haphazard effort to exit the dimly lit, oak paneled room. Nearer the ocean he reposed, face down, for a soggy siesta, alfresco.
Darryl opened his eyes to another shade of dark and an overripe sensation of uncertainty turning in his head. The surf-kicked breeze, sidetracked and redirected through the sea oats and other scraggly growth, created a haunting dissonance that weaved through his disillusionment. His lips, an assortment of thin black worms of dirt, twitched, then gave way to a hint of a smile. He didn’t dare move. He wanted to hang on to this feeling of never having been there before. This intoxicating reverie became a bay leaf to his pot of life.
The sand was wet, clumpy. The idea shot through his mind like a wrecking ball through a plaster wall. “What if the ‘pepper’ got wet – and the lid rusted? What happened to the union then?”
He closed his eyes. He needed to see the marbles to count, but poignant considerations continued.
“They never had a song to call their own. Maybe she was needed in someone else’s dream. Maybe he hadn’t lost her, maybe it was just her phone number.”
He rolled over on his back. Staring up at the stars and clouds he kept wondering, “Where is the ceiling?”