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The face reside in the corners where I put away things that I've long since left behind. Like ghosts, or wilted flowers, or some other whimsical cliché. I put them there and there they remain, because I don't have the guts to open the window and let them out. They can't leave those corners, because I like to remember they're there, but they also can't fly away and for that I am truly sorry. It's just the hand dealt to me by the universe and there are much worse deals to be had so I always take what I can get. What I get just happens to be quite beautiful and thus quite cruel when it goes away, so I hold on, if only in the hollows of the attic.

They are a varied bunch, my corner girls; exuberant, caramel-coated sweetcheeks; thin eyebrows penciled in for extra expressive oomph; narrow nose accentuating the kind of striking profile that makes a girl look nosy but exotic; wide, hollow eyes that could melt a man's will by mere glance. The features of many lost loves. I think they still look out from the corners, but while I keep them there I can't allow myself to glance in their direction. Too risky, you understand. My corner girls would tear me to shreds.

Who told you about love? You know, the first time you asked or the first time someone told you about it? And I'm talking love love here. Nitpick about the nature of love if you wish but if it involves wanting to spend all day in bed with someone and there's all manner of caressing (and more) going on then you're probably on point with what I'm getting at. I want to know who told you, and though I'll never hear you I'd like to think you'll at least dedicate a few moments and picture that person in your mind. Picture him or her, and remember how it felt to learn of love.

My father told me. It was about his past, which is a subject rarely ventured into, so I made careful note when he brought up the subject. I imagine I was 12 or so at the time as that's when a father breaches the subject of loving a woman. I was seated on the old gray polyester wool seat cover that he used to cover the exposed springs and old white asbestos lining of the front seat in his 1966 Chevy Nova stationwagon. We were on La Brea headed for Pico on our way to the few houses he worked out there. As we drove in silence he sometimes, far from always, liked to talk about things. Things about himself, things about me and how to improve my pathetic existence, and so on. He spoke of falling in love with my mother. I didn't ask why or how he knew she was the one because I do not ask questions, but he spoke enough. He knew she was a good woman, and faithful, and that women like that are not easy to find. She would raise good children and not leave them to go galavanting out to the clubs. He told me he had never been with a woman before my mother, and that love is meant to be between two married people. Several years later, when I was gone and our distant conversations became more relevant than those we engaged in when I was a lad, he asked me if I realized that of course he had been with women before my mother. I told him I just sort of assumed that was the case, just like I assumed that as a kid living alone in L.A. in the seventies he tried every kind of drug known to man. He finally admitted to that as well sometime last year. He is now a decent father.

There is a situation. A story. It is an old story--nothing new or exciting, really. You've heard it before and you're more than like to hear it again. If you'll indulge me I'd like to tell you a story. Short one, I promise.

A man meets a girl. Always unexpectedly, always without much effort, and always a girl. No women, not yet, as he can't handle a woman. It has to be a girl. This girl, sitting at a front desk, is no older than twenty two. He isn't sure yet. The man talks to the girl and not much happens beyond talking until she looks up. Gold. Flame. Heart-attack in the mind and stones in the stomach. Her eyes are the most deadly yet.

Deadly. I mean these kill, they're hungry eyes. They're on the verge of spontaneous combustion. And I want to be there when they blow because, man, these eyes are going to burn bright. They might have already, but you better believe I will do all I can to see them burn again. And this is more, much more, than what you think it is. You get to a point where you feel the difference between lust and potential for more. The meaty blonde who walks across the lawn to Stabucks in the mornings--the one with the skirts up to here and the cleavage down to there? Yea, that's lust. She with the eyes who sits at the front desk of the office, she's more. More than the possibly successful series of flirting events followed by the possibly successful series of casual meetings followed by the possibly successful evening outings culminating in the evening in the living room that usually, though not always, ends in the bedroom (or right there in said living room, barring an unforeseen side trip to the lavatory). So, once again you're probably on point. This can very well become lust in hindsight, but I ask that you not call me out until after she's gone.

The last time I held a woman in the way you hold your woman (my woman) was right before she told me that she had been lying to me. She wasn't really in pain, she wasn't weak, she wasn't who she made me believe she was. She did it for my benefit. It's my fault, because really, who else's fault could it be? I should sense these things from the start, shouldn't I? In any case that's over and done with. It sometimes worries me that such a passionate and emotionally draining relatioship could be over and done with so quickly, and forgotten with such ease. Practice I suppose.

Forgetful to the end.

Foresight I lack, but forethought is plentiful, and I've had much time to contemplate matters. I know how it ends. I'm going to die in the corner grasping a wall or a lamp or anything within reach, and my corner girls will leap out of the window and feel the rush of the wind for the first time. God, I hope they make it.

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