One With Ann (a story)


Photos courtesy of Ann

Part One: Ann

I believe that, if one wants something, one can achieve what may have seemed previously impossible. I realize that logic is merely a certain way of looking at life. So, anything that can happen is logical. Ever since I have discovered that to be true, I have figured out that I am on the right path.

Part Two: Harold

My trip to San Francisco was surprising. My friend, Ivan Popov, accompanied me. He suggested I take my mind off of my problems. We lived in Antioch, on the corner of Somersville Avenue and Willow Pass Road. He was my next door neighbor. We first met at a poetry reading in Somersville Pavilion. Previously, we would wave hello to each other when we passed on the street but did not know how much we had in common until we attended an event called Patrick’s Poetry Parlor, a place where poets could read their work during the open mic segment of the show. We both read poetry. He was impressed with my work and vice versa. Since then, we visited each other every Wednesday afternoon.

Ivan had a sister who he needed to look after most days of the week except Wednesday. His sister, Rose, worked as a volunteer orderly in a hospital on Wednesday and stayed home, next door to Ivan, during the rest of the week. In my opinion, Ivan was overly concerned for her. He washed her dishes and trimmed the rose bushes in her front yard, apparently needing to spend six days a week doing so. His one day of rest, Wednesday, he spent with me. The feeling of escaping our problems was mutual.

My family, the Goldbergs, had been problematic for me during many years. However, my uncle Adam died recently and he had a lot of money accumulating in his bank account. My aunt, Esther, Adam’s sister, had joint custody of the account. As to why her name was on it, I never heard a clear reason but my assumption was Adam received money from government assistance and Esther acted as his payee. From what I understood, she was not involved in the account except in name only, until the bank informed her, after Adam died, there was one hundred thousand dollars in it. Esther did not want any of the money. She gave fifty thousand to my mother and fifty thousand to me.

When I received the money, several days ago, it came at a time in which it was most needed. I had no job and I relied on government assistance for the small amount of money I obtained for living expenses each month. I had a few friends, whom I prefer to remain nameless, who borrowed money from me and then would not pay me back. One of my problems was lending the money. I should have not done so. However, that was in the past. I was down to my last ten dollars for the next two weeks when I had suddenly received the fifty thousand.

When I met up with Ivan the next Wednesday, I had not told him of my money or that my uncle had died. As far as he was concerned, I was still depressed because of my family. Uncle Adam, when he was alive, would constantly call me to come over and give him glasses of water. He liked riding in his wheelchair even though he could walk. He sounded like a hypochondriac who complained about a multitude of aches and pains. He was three hundred pounds and looked four hundred because he never exercised or ate healthy food. However, my mother, who was slim, smoked cigarettes every minute and her energy level was not at its best. She would call me and ask if I could buy her a carton of smokes. If not for my friends borrowing my money, I had my family borrowing my time. My Wednesday visits with Ivan were my weekly vacations. During my time with him, we discussed art and ignored the world around us.

Now, on the most recent outing, we strolled through a pleasant neighborhood on 20th Street, close to Potrero Hill, in San Francisco. 20th was a bit of a walk, since it was at the top of the hill, but the houses and the ambiance were worth the effort. Ivan had merely smiled and said he had something different prepared.

I said, “This is helping me psychologically. I love looking at pretty houses.”

He nodded. “I know what you mean. When I lived in Oakland, up in the hills, I felt the same way. I figured I would give you a chance to elevate yourself from your dealings with your family. I also needed a rest from my sister.”

I asked, “Why do you help your sister so much? Is she totally dependent on you?”

He answered, “Not totally. She does work one day a week and she owns her house that was left over by my parents, but work was never a big word in her vocabulary and I feel a sort of debt to her because she blames me for teasing her when she was growing up and I can’t say I didn’t do that.”

“But wasn’t that a long time ago? Why are you so hard on yourself?”

“I have no idea. Maybe it is karma from a past life.”

As we continued talking, I noticed occasionally women who were dressed specifically in shirts tucked into belted jeans. Since no one in my neighborhood or family ever wore that style, I considered it a treat to see, especially since I thought it looked sexy. I said, “I could live here in San Francisco. A lot of well dressed people are walking around. This is a completely different vibe than what I experience in Antioch. I am really amazed.”

He nodded. “You’ll be even more amazed. My old college friend, Oswald Stern, invited me to meet him at his neighbor’s house. His neighbor’s name is Ann. I figured that, while I talk with Oswald, you can talk with her.”

“Is she an artist too?”

“I wouldn’t doubt it. He only associates with artists. I haven’t met her but I’ve heard she’s very interesting and I figured you needed to be around some quality people for a change of pace. Oswald said his own place is too cluttered with his art supplies for us to visit him there.” We continued until we reached 20th and Kansas Street. He pointed to a large brown house with shingles, at the right hand corner of the street, facing the hill where the view of the city was clear. The house had two levels. The top level showed a deck and large windows at the sides. He said, “That’s the place.”

“How would you know?”

“Oswald’s house is next door. I’ve been there. He said Ann’s house was the brown one with shingles.”

He knocked on the door. A woman opened, smiled and said, “Hello. You must be Ivan.”

He nodded. “I am. This is Harold Goldberg.”

She said, “Welcome to the both of you.”

I said, “Thank you.” We walked inside.

Ann was dressed in a way that made me feel I was around people who were above my everyday surroundings. She was wearing a down jacket tucked into her belted jeans and her sleeves were pushed up by her elbows. She looked extremely sexy in that outfit. If I was lucky, I would occasionally notice a woman wear a tucked-in sweater or tucked-in sweatshirt, but a tucked-in jacket, especially a down jacket, was a first time experience for me. I wondered if the people living in that neighborhood were used to seeing such things in the same way members of royalty could eat roasted pheasant every night while working class people had to settle for fried chicken. I told myself I wouldn’t stare at Ann too much, though I was tempted to do so. I was certainly not going to ask her why she tucked in a jacket. That would be too inquisitive on my part. However, I would cherish the afternoon, listening to everything she said and trying my best to incorporate it into my life. I noticed her looking right at me, waving and smiling. Perhaps that was a sign of something.


A man walked into the front room. He waved and said, “I am happy to see you again, Ivan. It has been a bit too long since we last communicated.”

Ivan smiled. “My good friend, Oswald. I still remember you from when we grew up in Lublin together.”

Ann said, “I thought you met at college.”

Oswald laughed. “We met again by chance, or design, in college. We were both taking art history and recognized each other right away. I became an American citizen a year before he moved to the States. I was ahead of him in that department. But that is ancient history. We have been active friends for many years now, if you don’t count the many months we are sometimes away from each other.”

Ann asked, “Would you all like to sit down?”

Ivan said, “Harold and I walked here from 16th Street. Yes, we would like to sit down.”

We went to another room which looked more like an entertainment room than the area by the front door. However, the walls looked the same, with an interesting dark design that seemed to complement the silver and black of Ann’s belt and the white of her jacket. I noticed that, when I glanced at her, she was already looking at me, as if she knew previously the plan was for us to talk while Ivan and Oswald conversed together on their own. Yet, that was not seemingly going to happen. The energy was odd, as if something else was supposed to occur but would be delayed. As we sat down on separate couches in the entertainment room, I thought to myself that Ivan and Oswald were purposefully intending for Ann and I to be witness to their conversation. Ann would look at them and then at me, back and forth, as if she would finally take control but not yet.

Ivan said, “I remember that the first record I heard when I arrived in America was by Leonard Cohen. I thought he was American and then I found out he was Canadian. When I heard Neil Young later, I found out the same thing.”

Oswald said, “Neil Young is an American citizen now. I am not sure about Leonard Cohen. Their music does not interest me. Cohen is too slow and his music has a monotone quality I don’t like. Neil Young is okay but I cannot stand his voice. I prefer instrumental music like jazz. I love Stanley Turrentine and Freddie Hubbard.”

“If you are talking about jazz, you should talk about Miles Davis and John Coltrane. They are the two greats.”

“Everyone talks about Davis and Coltrane. People who never listen to jazz know who they are. You are just name dropping.”

Ann laughed. “I’m sure Harold here does not want to hear you two fighting. Is that right, Harold?”

I said, “I don’t want to take sides. I’m just here to listen.”

Ivan nodded. “He is here because he spends most of his time with his mother or his uncle or his aunt, doing errands for them. He needs a change of pace so he’s here, spending time with us.”

Ann smiled. “I’m glad Harold’s here. If I had anything to say about it, he’d stay.” She winked at me.

I sensed a warm connection emanating from her to me, as if she knew we had a mutual attraction. I felt like I needed to do something so I could test what was happening. Somehow, I knew that if I got up and went to another room, she would follow me. I asked, “Do you have a restroom?”

She said, “It’s to your right after you go to the front room again.”

I got up and so did she. As I walked towards the front room, she stood by the wall and looked at me, as if knowing I really did not need to use the restroom. Her gaze was hypnotic and I just stood there, looking at her and her outfit, wishing I could be living next door to her instead of my family. We continued standing still, looking at each other for close to two minutes until Oswald said, “Time seems to have stopped for those two.”


I felt self-conscious and returned to my couch. Ann returned to hers but continued looking at me. She said, “It’s like we’re glued.”

I did not know what she meant but the idea of us getting stuck together entered my thoughts like a fantasy daydream becoming real. I knew there was no way we would really be stuck together and she meant we shared a mutual liking that would continue if we visited each other in the future.

Oswald said, “We are all stuck together in this thing called life. Some of us feel we are spirits who have been born on earth before becoming spirits again in the afterlife. Others feel we are just animals who act according to nature’s laws. I used to feel I knew the answer to that conundrum but now I feel I don’t need to know. As long as I wake up everyday, smell the flowers and feel the cool breeze on my skin, I am content.”

Ivan shrugged. “I wish I could say I could do that but I have too many worries, anxieties and preoccupations preventing me from forgetting my thoughts. Maybe I have read too many books and now I cannot stop my excessive guilt.”

Oswald asked, “Why do you have guilt? You are not to blame for being alive. You are to be praised.”

Ivan sighed. “I wish I could feel that way. But I feel an odd suspicion that the point of living is balanced with the guilt one has about doing wrong things.”

“Right and wrong are concepts for the overly concerned. There is only action. Things happen. Aside from a sense of wanting to be decent to our fellow human beings, which I do believe in, I feel we really cannot hold ourselves accountable to the flow of change. We do not control life.”

“I think we are responsible for what happens in life. Things happen because we make them happen.”

Ann asked, “Harold, what do you think?”

I wanted to answer her question, not because of the question itself but because she asked. I said, “I think it’s a little of both. There are some things that we cannot control like physical laws but we can control other things like our opinions. It’s a constant balance between what we can change and what we cannot. The point is not if we ever find out the answers. The point is having fun in the discovery.”

Ann nodded. “I agree with you. We’re going to have to spend more time together. I’m thinking of writing a book of philosophy and I’d like you to help me get it done. Oswald told Ivan you are a writer. Is that correct?”

Ivan said, “I hope you don’t mind that I mentioned to Oswald you write poetry.”

I said, “I’m glad you did. I want more people to know of my work.”

Ann said, “I wrote a few poems but I’m more of a thinker than a writer. I’ve written music. That’s my big thing. I haven’t sold any of my compositions but it’s fun to write them.”

I said, “I write music, too.”

She smiled, “Oh, so we have a lot in common.”

Oswald said, “I studied music when I was a young child but then I decided I wanted to be more of a listener than a performer.”

Ivan said, “You could have fooled me. Back during college, you never shut up.”

Oswald frowned. “I don’t like your tone.”

Ivan shook his head. “You never do. I thought things would change between us and we would get along better but you are the same- guy you’ve always been.”

Oswald laughed. “You’re the one who talks about guilt and anxiety. If that’s not negativity, I do not know what is.”

Ann said, “Excuse me, but I’m not sure what’s going on. We’re here to have a peaceful conversation about art, philosophy and whatever else we choose to discuss but I’m sensing hostility.”

Ivan said, “I’m not hostile. Harold can attest to that. Isn’t that right?”

I said, “I’m not sure I should give an answer.”

Ivan raised his voice. “What does that mean? Are you turning on me, too? If it wasn’t for me, you’d be at home waiting on your mother’s next phone call so you could constantly go to the store for her. I bring you here so you could have a good time but now it seems you’re taking Oswald’s side of the argument.”

Oswald asked, “What exactly is the argument?”

Ann said, “Would any of you like a cup of tea?”

I said “Sure.”

Ivan shook his head. “I know I’m being difficult. I apologize. I do errands for my sister, much like how Harold does errands for his family. We don’t always have the opportunity to come into San Francisco and we almost never come here because it’s such a long hike up the steep road.”

Ann asked, “Why not take the bus?”

Ivan said, “I don’t trust the passengers on buses.”

Oswald nodded. “I really do understand what you are going through. Your clutter is in your mind. My clutter is in my house. That is why I asked Ann if she would allow me to visit you here. As you can tell, she lives in a very posh place.”

Ann shrugged. “Life isn’t just about living somewhere posh. Life is about having connections. I often wonder if I’ll find someone who will be my one and only. Oswald is a good friend and I have great conversations with him and that is why I wanted to meet his friends.”

Oswald said, “It’s the first time I’ve met Harold but, if he’s a friend of Ivan’s, he’s a friend of mine.”

Ivan said, “Maybe it was a mistake for me to come here. I’m thinking about how my sister will nag me tomorrow to prune the rose bushes and fix the bathroom sink. Maybe Harold and I ought to leave.”

Oswald shrugged. “You can do what you want but if you allow your sister to take over your life for you, you’re not really living. I think you might want to consider that Harold might be enjoying himself.”

Ann said, “I have the solution for this whole afternoon and for myself.”

Ivan got up. “I don’t want to hear it. Come on, Harold.”

I stood up and so did Ann. She shrugged and said, “I know what I have to do.”

Ivan waved and said, “Whatever you all decide is fine but Harold doesn’t have any money to get home and I’m paying his way. If you don’t want to be stranded here, Harold, I’d suggest you come with me.”

I said, “I actually do have some money. By the way, my uncle died.”

Ivan said, “You can make your own choices. I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. I’m leaving.”

I said, “I came here with Ivan so it would be rude of me not to go back with him.”

Ivan walked into the front room and I followed him.

Ann walked with us. She extended her hand. “I’m glad I met you, Harold.”


I gave her my hand. “I feel likewise.”

Her grip was firm and she kept shaking. She said, “Remember what I said about glue.”

I said, “Okay.”

Oswald said, “It looks like you two are glued together.”

I thought to myself Ann could not intend to keep holding on as if we were stuck like that. I was nervous and tried letting go but her grip remained firm. I pulled harder but I could not break free. Ivan waited at the front door while at least two more minutes passed and Ann was still shaking my hand. Finally, Ivan said, “I’m feeling better now. My apologies for my earlier outburst. Let’s all sit in the entertainment room again and continue having a pleasant conversation.”

Oswald winked. “That’s the spirit.”

We returned to the room. Ann and I sat on a couch together while Ivan and Oswald sat on separate couches. Ann still gripped my hand tight. I said, “You can let go now.”

She shrugged. “No, I can’t.”

Oswald laughed. “I wish I was you, right now. You’re lucky.”

I looked at Ann, realizing that a woman who dressed like her was an exciting rarity, and then I looked at her hand shaking mine with a grip I could not break. There was such a thing as experiencing an awesome encounter and there was another thing entirely when one was stuck in that encounter. I could not help but enjoy feeling the suspense of us joined as one but I also could not help thinking she would shake my hand forever. I said, “I need to leave at five o’clock.”

Oswald looked at his watch. “It’s now two thirty p.m., exactly. You have more than two hours.”

Ivan asked, “Where do you have to go at five? I thought your Wednesdays were clear.”

I said, “I want to be out of here by five.”

Ann nodded. “That’s a good idea. I don’t want to stay here all day, either. We could go over to Union Square and watch the holiday shoppers. That’s always fun.”

I said, “I want to go alone.”

Ann shook her head. “You can’t. I’m now a part of your life. I told you I would correct the situation and now I did. You don’t need to help your family ever again. We are now living together.”

“Well, I didn’t want to mention this now because I wanted to keep the information to myself for a while but I now have fifty thousand dollars and so does my mom. I don’t need to help her anymore. She’s hiring a personal assistant to do her chores and go shopping for her. She’s also hiring one for Aunt Esther so I don’t have to help her out, either.”

Ann nodded. “That’s excellent. So, the momentum is moving smoothly. Your energy and mine will create new possibilities. I’m glad I made my decision. It’s now set. Anyway, Ivan, are there any poetry readings or art exhibits you’ve been to recently that you can recommend? Oswald said there’s a reading in Antioch.”

Ivan said, “I suppose that if you called Patrick’s Poetry Parlor a reading, it qualifies but the attendance is small and the host, Patrick Llewellyn, tends to pick his immediate family members as featured readers. One time, the main poet was his plumber. It’s not always organized properly. He arrives sometimes thirty minutes late. It’s in the lobby of a mall, right outside the shoe store. I go there and so does Harold because it’s the only poetry reading in town. I’m sure Oswald knows more about hot places in San Francisco doing art happenings. He’s in the scene more.”

Oswald said, “That’s true. I hear about them but I don’t see many. I prefer staying home at night, eating a warm bowl of soup, listening to jazz on the radio. Crowds don’t entice me anymore. In my older age, subtle pleasures comfort me more. However, a neighbor of ours, Stanley Parker, is putting on an event at Coolio’s Art Gallery, a small place by Folsom and 8th. It’s not my favorite area but I hear a few famous art critics and local celebrities are planning on showing up and I trust Stanley’s going to have something interesting going on.”

Ivan said, “I think I met Stanley. Isn’t he the tall gentleman who wears hats with peacock feathers in them?”

Oswald nodded.

Ivan continued, “Isn’t he picky about dress codes? Didn’t you once tell me he insisted everyone show up to his event in formal wear?”

Oswald shrugged. “He’s not always like that.”

Ann asked, “Will it be okay if we show up and I’m wearing a down jacket?”

Oswald said, “I think he’ll take a second look at you. Also, you’re wearing it tucked in like a shirt so it will qualify anywhere.”

Ann nodded. “I always wear my shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts and jackets tucked. I don’t consider myself ready for the day unless I do that.”

Ivan said, “I don’t feel my mind is fully dressed in the morning unless I put on a mental paradox. That’s perhaps because I’m Polish.”

Oswald said, “I’m Polish and German so I guess I should trump you when it comes to paradoxes but I won’t. I believe my taste in culture runs more the way of Italian American.”

Ann asked, “Harold, what culture do you follow?”

I said, “I never met my dad. I don’t even know who he is. My maternal grandfather was Jewish but my maternal grandmother was Catholic. My grandmother divorced my grandfather when their children were young and she re-married a Catholic man. So they were raised Catholic but then turned back to the Jewish faith when they became of legal age because they hated their step-grandfather. My mom believes in Judaism but lets me follow my own path. I don’t believe in any official religion. I believe in the harmony of the universe.”

“Maybe on Sunday we could go to the Church of the Harmony of the Universe.”

“I don’t think it exists.”

“I’m just kidding.”

Oswald said, “I see that you’ll be a good influence on him, Ann. With his new fortune and you by his side, a whole new world will open up for him.”

Ann said, “I hope you like turkey, Harold. I’m ordering a dinner from Krantz Delicatessen, just a couple of blocks away. Hardly anyone knows about it unless one lives here on the hill but they do excellent food and I went to high school with their chef, Bobby Fritz.”

Oswald said, “Ivan, you may want to find out what Ann’s and Harold’s plans are, in case you have to tell Harold’s mother he is now joined with Ann?”

Ann sighed. “I don’t think she needs to know what he’s doing. He’s an adult, right? He can live his own life. I mean, he’ll be living it with me but he won’t be dependent on her anymore.”

The conversation seemed surreal. For me to think of Ann as attached permanently to me was to invite the concept of being totally and completely in her world, as if such a thing was no big deal. However, the shock of knowing someone like her, coupled with the idea of suddenly considering her to be a part of me, after having received all that money, was almost overwhelming. I should have felt panic but, when I saw how her fingers were pressing down on my hand and her hand was a part of her arm that was wearing a jacket with pushed up sleeves, I felt I was in an actual work of art. Our joined hands were a thing of beauty. When I tried twisting and turning my hand in hers, to find a possible way of working myself loose from her hold, I was intrigued with the apparent impossibility of the task. Her grip was strategic. We were playing hand chess. Of course, a part of me knew we would not stay like that forever. She was taking the handshake that lasted a little bit too long to the furthest extreme. Tonight, after dinner was over, we would go to sleep. Then, I would be able to escape.

Part three: Ivan

My intent was to visit with my old friend Oswald, whom I had not seen in several months, and he did something to show me he was a bit better than I. He arranged for us to meet at his neighbor’s house. I had not met Ann before and I cannot remember if I even saw her but I figured I would take advantage of my Wednesday with Harold by inviting Harold to join us. My thought was that we could listen to some music, perhaps Leonard Cohen, and discuss art and politics. I am not a big fan of the topic of politics but my experience had told me that a good political discussion will result in a good artistic discussion.

I knew that, when I saw Ann as she opened the door to her house to let us in, I would not be able to concentrate on any subject for long. She had not dressed in a neutral way. Her aim was to be noticed and I noticed for sure. She was quite distracting with her beauty and I felt like Oswald set everything up so I would feel as though he were superior to me. I could tell, by the way Oswald looked at Harold, Oswald was thinking of saying, “Look who I have as a friend. I am able to be associated with beautiful women. Look at you. The only person you could bring along was your next door neighbor because no one else will be your friend.”


If the situation stopped at that point, I would have finally been able to handle it. But Ann did not look at me too often. Instead, she paid attention to Harold. Then, she shook his hand and would not let go. Oswald must have choreographed the situation. He wanted to distract me by having Ann join us and then he wanted to frustrate me by my having to watch as someone other than I held her hand. I was even more frustrated when Harold tried letting go and Ann refused to let him do so because I would have felt fine holding her hand all afternoon.

I have not seen Harold since that last Wednesday. Maybe now that he became rich and met a beautiful woman, he does not have need of his old friend, Ivan. What will I do now? Will I have to brood and sulk by myself, thinking that my Wednesdays are now of no importance anymore?

I blame Ostwald for everything. He had tried before to ruin my life and I believe he tried again last Wednesday. However, I am an artist. I feed on suffering.

Part Four: Harold

After the festivities came to a conclusion and Ivan and Oswald left Ann’s house, she and I strolled through a few of the streets in her neighborhood. Her hand was still gripping mine and was not about to loosen its hold but, at that point, I was getting used to her touch. Occasionally, a pedestrian would look wonderingly at us as if he or she were not sure whether or not we were a part of a social experiment in order to test people’s reactions. I was enjoying the evening. The overcast view and the cool temperature made me feel we were in a movie. Perhaps that was part of her intent, providing me with a reality that would not exist outside of the realm of artists.

When we returned to her house, I suggested we go to sleep. She agreed to do so. As we laid on the bed fully clothed and her hand still gripping mine, I waited for what seemed like an hour before I attempted to remove my hand from hers. She looked fully asleep. However, when I tried pulling free, her hand stayed firm in mine. I tried prying her hand off with my other hand but I could not do so. She showed no apparent signs of being awake but, whatever the reason, her hand stayed firm. Maybe there was a metaphysical force at work preventing my separation from her.

I stayed awake as long as possible but eventually must have fallen asleep. The next morning, when I woke up, we were still connected. Her jacket was still tucked into her belted jeans and the sleeves were still pushed up. I began understanding the idea I was in a new life experience that would take the place of my old one. I tried moving my hand around in hers, on the chance I may somehow get free, but my attempt was haphazard and the results were the same. I was beginning to understand the concept of forever.

She opened her eyes and smiled. She asked, “Did you have a good night?”

I said, “Believe it or not, when I finally was able to sleep, I was quite relaxed. I had a wonderful night.”

“Good. So did I. This was meant to be. I’m glad I went with my instincts. If I had mentioned to Oswald what I had planned when I met you, he might have convinced me not to go through with it. But, on the day I saw you on Powell Street when I was riding the cable car, our eyes met and I knew we needed to stay together.”

“Hmm. Did you know who I was then? What day was this? Was I with Ivan?”

She nodded. “You were with Ivan. You were talking with him and I recognized him from when I once noticed him talking with Oswald. So, to make a long story short, I found out your name and I concentrated heavily on the possibility of meeting you and having us stick like glue.”

“Is that why Oswald wanted to have us meet at your place?”

“I think that was coincidence but it could have been the result of my concentrating on meeting you.”

I said, “Were you wearing a gray sweatshirt tucked into belted blue jeans with your sleeves pushed up?”

“Probably. I always tuck in my sweatshirts. I don’t remember my specific outfit that day but my top would have most definitely been tucked in.”

“I remember a woman in a tucked in sweatshirt looking at me and not averting her gaze. I was quite surprised because I liked her and she gave me a warm smile. Wait a minute. Oh, wow! She was you!”

She smiled. “Did you get a feeling like you wanted to be connected with me and you were frustrated because the timing wasn’t right?”

“I would say I felt more like I looked at you as the ideal of something I could not have but would want to have if I could change everything about my world and start from scratch.”

“Well, welcome to your starting from scratch. You’ve achieved what you wanted. We both achieved what we wanted.”

I got out of bed and started stepping back, while her hand still gripped mine. I pulled as hard as possible, thinking that maybe she would admit the situation had gone far enough and she would finally let go. However, she kept holding on, looking at me with dreamy eyes and I did not mind.

Part Five: Oswald

I am an artist so, when I see something unusual, I enjoy myself.

When I was a young man back in the Nineteen Sixties, I wrote a novel under an assumed name. The name of the book does not matter. If one found an old copy in a used book store, I would privately feel appreciation that another human being chose my novel to read. After all, there are much more writers to discover than an obscure writer who wrote purely just to do so. I would not admit I wrote it if someone asked me. The plot reveals my strange interests.

Though I will not reveal the name of the book nor the plot, I will say there is an awkward scene between a man and a woman that I enjoyed writing. I like when women take initiative and make men squirm. I am mentioning this because I witnessed an incident last Wednesday that is similar to my imagination of what an awkward encounter could be like.

The situation was a handshake between my neighbor and a man named Harold who is a friend of a friend of mine. Ann shook Harold’s hand and refused to let go. I noticed a sense of desperation in Harold’s eyes like he wanted someone to free him. I was aroused by his struggle so I was not going to help him. Ann never did let go of him. I was so happy. I was watching a moment of awesomeness.

I went to visit Ann the next day, during the afternoon, and she was still gripping Harold’s hand. He tried prying free when he saw me, as if he figured I would come to the rescue. I never will. As far as I am concerned, he needs her to give him energy. If he is so anxious about getting away, that is too bad. I am listening to Stanley Turrentine’s album Salt Song. I am drinking green tea and thinking about how Ann is still holding Harold’s hand. All is bliss.


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