He had not drunk the poisoned wine. Not literally. Not metaphorically. Not at all.
He did not think such things.
As though someone’s love meant something.
She said she was playing a woman.
He said, if you are playing a woman and you know you are playing a woman, aren’t you a woman who knows what, what role, she is playing?
She said he had delivered a hammer blow.
She said he was destroying her.
He said he would not join the like-minded enemies.
She pulled out the wine of accusation.
To make him like the others.
To put him in a group.
A group separate from her.
To fade him to some mentally enforced nowhere.
Barstowe said he’d better frame it.
He kind of knew what Barstowe meant in a sort of sort of understanding.
If Barstowe meant anything.
Barstowe above him. Higher in hierarchy.
It seemed Barstowe got there by parroting phrases from the conferences and journals.
He suspected the phrases meant nothing just as it was casual day which meant almost nothing.
Barstowe said to make the cut you could and move on.
Do you know, Barstowe said, what a prayer of necessity is?
Seemed like something from a story.
Maybe one of those stories with a magic fish.
Maybe one of those stories of bus stop assassination.
Even the question—the asking of it—seemed reenactment, the obsessive repletion of a scene.
Was that what life was?
And do you know, he said, what was inside that fish?