Eleven Graceland endings
18 July 2002
The Boy in the Bubble
It used to be we didn't talk, I mean, it used to be that when we talked (which we did, all the time) I didn't notice the words and the sounds and the interpretation. We used to be two sides of the same brain, both of us both sides of the brain even!, a constant flux of thought and opinion, and the air between us glowed with body language, facial tics, murmurings, gestures, a brightness of constant information enveloping us both; both of us caught up in a rhythm, in the same dance, a polka of thought.
Now we've collapsed back to words, just words, query and response, fire and forget. Now we talk, talk and nothing else, staccato signals meaning nothing. You talk. I talk. You talk. All the time. Clockwork.
And the worst thing is, I can't remember when it happened. It just started one day, and here we are. Tick tock. Tick tock.
One morning, a month ago: I remember it, it'd been a sunny day, she was standing by the window and the sun was low in the sky and I'd just got back from work and the sunset was beautiful, pink -- and she looked radiant. She'd let herself in and she was drinking a glass of milk and she didn't notice I'd come in, not for a few seconds, and in those seconds she brushed her hair from her forehead with a grazing, fingertip touch and she glowed.
Yes, and that was when I knew. That was when I knew we had never been that happy, and there was someone making her care about herself again. I didn't say anything. I never say anything. And yesterday she talked to me about losing love. And leaving.
I Know What I Know
Hey, we've been happy. Of course we've been happy.
As far as it goes. But I met this girl you know, I know that you know. We got on, yeah so we really got on.
No no, it wasn't me! She talked to me first. But hey, she's really something, the way she moves, mmm she's just that kind of girl. Sorry, sorry, I know you don't want to hear that.
But we come and we go, you know. Don't hold it against me.
I thought we really had something. It's been a secret city romance, long dinners in slow-motion against busy restaurants, fingers touching, glasses of wine in the twilight, hoping one of our friends won't call. Yes, and I've seen those glances you give me when we're out with the others, and I've heard snatches of those giggled conversations you have huddled with the girls. And I thought that time after the wine bar when you grabbed my waist under my coat and we tumbled bumping up the stairs and ended up with nude legs entwined in tangled sheets, I thought that time meant something, that this was the first time. But you don't feel you could love me. Damn. Damn. But I feel you could.
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
I'm not kidding, they were married for twenty-five years to the day. He was a salesman so he didn't go to the office, and it's not like they hadn't talked about the anniversary - there was going to be dinner, and the next day off to Paris - and so he was there when she left, for work.
But when she got back home: Nothing. Nada. Empty as a pocket. Like a gust of cold wind had gone through the house and taken his clothes, the television, two of the suitcases and even the dog. Unbelievable. The next day, he left it all on the doorstep. Left a note to say he'd gone walking.
She never saw him again, not one grey hair, never again.
You Can Call Me Al
So this is what it feels like.
A hot day. A blue sky. A tightness in my chest.
And it's difficult to breathe, and around me flashes of memory. I see my father's face floating in front of me. The voices of my children calling around me.
I fall to my knees on the dusty road. The sharp pain is vivid and colourful and surrounds me like smoke and when it clears the dry, baking city folds out around me, stretches to the horizons, and I see angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity, refracted again and again, outward and onward as the city and the road fades from my vision; then finally there's another pain, a different pain, a sharp pain, right in the middle of me, like it'll never end. But after all that, even that fades, into nothing.
Under African Skies
First of all I didn't believe them, even though really I knew it was true. Second I couldn't stand, couldn't speak. Next, third, I wanted to shout, I wanted the whole world to feel my pain. I wanted my shout to rock the city's foundations, to send a tremor that would ripple the firmament, to bellow and expel and shatter the unfairness into dust. Fourthly, last of all, I felt empty, a void, a shell the shape of a man and on both sides it was the Outside. I don't remember what happened next. I don't remember what happened for the year following.
Last night, after the dream of falling and calling your name out, I cried for the first time. I miss you so much.
Old. So old. I remember so much. My friends, my daughters all gone. So many dead. My old homes demolished, my deeply held beliefs updated and forgotten. All I have left is you. Us two. Hold me. Tonight it could be you.
Every night we hug, cheeks wet with our salty tears mixed for everything that's gone, but also tears for joy at us having each other, having each other for one more night.
Crazy Love, Vol. II
Well leave her, we said. Charlie just slumped there at the end of the bar with his beer and told us about the latest credit card bill he couldn't afford, her latest indiscretion that everyone at the car shop knew about. Well leave her! We've been saying this for, oh, how long exactly? Far too long. But he'd just rolled all that bile up and stuffed it deep down, and it was like he just didn't care. Keep it wedged down with another beer.
No, and I'm not sure what brought it on, but get this: he's filed for divorce. Incredible. When he came in here and told us we couldn't believe he'd finally done it. Didn't believe Charlie had it in him. You know, I don't think we'd ever hugged before that night. We're very proud. Good old Charlie. Good on him.
That Was Your Mother
This feels different! This feels good!
Why did nobody tell me it could be like this when I was still single? It's like you know what I'm thinking, even before I say it. It's as if we're still holding hands, even when we're not. This is like I'm complete, for the first time!
And then, later: here we are, a country manor, you in your white and me in my tails, and that "I do" you've just said bonds it officially if I'm not mistaken. That's it, single life over. I've unfolded, opened up into a bigger, richer life. With you. Feels good? Feels great! And still does.
All Around the World
Here is all you need to know: The sun gets weary, and the sun goes down.
That's not all: It's not just you. Come here. Let me hold you.