69. Cat Man and Pillow Woman

TODAY IS VALE O' TIME'S Day. A day for sitting in the grass in an otherwise empty suburban park on a too-hot afternoon and imagining the year 4120. BCE or CE? The Common Era - too true. The year 4120 CE is 2108 years from now. The year 4120 BCE, on the other hand, will never return. They didn’t call it 4120 BCE back then, they just called it ‘now’. Today is Vandal-Lion’s Day, a day for sitting in the grass of an empty suburban park and drinking lukewarm ginger ale and eating black cherries and red grapes. What will they make of us 2108 years from now? Sadly, says Cat Man, examining a cherry, cherry season is definitely over. But the grapes are great, says Pillow Woman. When was the first time you tasted cherries?, she asks. I can’t remember, Cat Man replies, but I can remember the first time I really tasted cherries. I was 18, with Adriano and Ray and Holly, driving along a narrow winding road in the south. I was in the back and as usual Ray was driving like a cat with a death-wish. I was carsick. We stopped for a rest on a hillside road and noticed we were in the middle of a row of cherry trees shouldering the road, all of them heavy with fruit. We climbed into the trees and gorged ourselves on them. They were blacker and sweeter than any cherry I have eaten before or since. Their juice left our clothes bloodstained. I had diarrhoea the next day, but it was worth it. Today is Van Der Lyon’s Day, a day for sitting in the grass in an empty park eating cherries and grapes and reciting poetry. She recites two of her haikus to him. Haiku one: Sharp knife/on a cold platter/cake crumbs. Haiku two: Up yesterday/down today/camping. You should write those down, Cat Man says. Pillow Woman shrugs. He takes his pen and notebook and write them down. She is lying in the grass with her hands folded under her head. The skin of the underside of her arms is translucent: he can just make out a veiled network of capillaries underneath, a map tattooed under her skin. Cat Man takes his pen again and traces the subcutaneous map in black ink. The result is calligraphic. On her shoulder, the grass has made its own calligraphic imprint, reminiscent of a crazy kind of Japanese. He tells her the terrible story of the White Raj of Borneo, and how in former times colonial men called their indigenous lovers sleeping dictionaries. Today is Dandelion’s Day, a day for sitting in the grass and admiring bird-flight and observing the dimpled underside of clouds and trading stories in languages half-forgotten and others yet to be invented.

For, and with, MC