The ride from one end of the city to the other resembled an exhilarating video game. The driver, Edvard, boasted that he could take us across in record time. We told him, more than once, that we were in no hurry.
“You are totem-like figures,” Edvard said, “made up of wooden boxes on which features have been drawn.”
We maintained a dogged resistance to his whims, however insulting he may have been.
“Why don’t you metamorphose into a viola or something?” Edvard said to my partner.
While she could have appreciated the correspondence between the harmonious proportions of the female form and a musical instrument, she found Edvard’s forwardness galling. She elbowed me in the ribs. A supremacy of pure feeling—in this case sharp pain—radiated from my ribs into my brain. The sound of electronic activity diverted my attention momentarily.
“What are you doing now, Edvard?” I demanded to know.
“One must invest technology with a spiritual dimension if one wishes to maintain sanity. You know, the ghost-in-the-machine thing. Truth is, electronic digits pop up everywhere in daily life. They are presented as infinite change or as symbols of cosmic time.”
My partner whispered in my ear: “If he drives any faster we’ll die.”
“Edvard,” I said. “Slow down, man. We know you can break the record, but slow fucking down. We want to live to see tomorrow.”
He turned his head. His face, in profile, looked angular and unsympathetic, but full on he resembled a paranoid and self-doubting etching, with heavy eyes and a thickly structured mouth.
“You two represent the romanticized vision of the union between man and woman, that is to say, as filtered through the fantasy of the male imagination.”
Indeed, Edvard was far off the mark. My partner and I had discussed the bisexual nature of the human psyche, and concluded that emotion and personal feeling superseded the infantile, or rather puerile caprice of corporations and advertisers. We were both man and woman in our union, something Edvard could probably not understand. I was a man and a woman, and my partner was a woman and man. Not that we were four people. We were not.
“Where are you going now, Edvard?” said my partner with some alarm.
“I will take you to an abstract landscape which I call, A Place Without Words.”
“Stop, Edvard,” I said.
“Tell him to stop,” said my partner. “Stop, Edvard!”
“There is no evidence of empathy,” he said, turning and smiling. “The subject has a uniform flatness of affect.”
Perhaps it stemmed from a relentless desire to know himself inside and out—illustrative, but possessed of some kind of unwanted painful inner vision—or a narcissistic impulse to regard oneself to death, but I knew Edvard had succumbed to the vicissitudes of modern life.
“I like jazz music,” I said. “Do you like jazz music, Edvard? Put on some jazz music, will you.”
Salvatore Difalco’s work has appeared in many journals. He lives in Toronto. http://saldifalco.weebly.com