The recently formed “Society to Preserve the Rights of Geese to Maintain their Livers” crossed the nearly empty street, furtively moving to block nonexistent traffic in front of the Foie Gras Palace, its two members somewhat at odds over appropriate tactics, the male half wanting to go get a beer somewhere, his partner determined to make a statement concerning the rights of geese, ignoring totally what to an objective observer might have seemed like the equally valid rights of ducks. The guy wondered if any exotic delicacies anywhere might have involved swans, or perhaps, in more mundane fashion, sparrows. He’d never really had any experience with dishes employing avian livers but she’d talked him into the venture, implying, very indirectly (preserving all rights to plausible deniability), that his willing participation might be rewarded later on that very night with the attainment of his real interest, a very different delicacy, one only she was in a position to provide.
Of course, that bait and switch gambit was not new in their quasi-relationship. She would regularly imply they had one, but (plausible deniability preserved), even more regularly (were that possible) advise him he’d been mistaken and that they were, at best, just friends, at least at the moment. He should have known; the one piece of quasi-art decorating her wreck of an apartment, one she somehow got him to subsidize, was a large poster of Lucy pulling a football away as Charlie Brown was about to kick it, Snoopy snickering in the background.
He wondered whether she really cared about geese at all or just enjoyed torturing him. Still, just as naïve Charlie Brown always fell for the field goal gambit, he’d spent the last dozen years, on and off, falling for hers. A very costly hobby. She was pretty demanding, in a subtle fashion, never really asking for anything, just clearly expecting it, and getting really pissed off if he didn’t come through. He wondered what it was about her that made him stay, and when he did manage to escape, immediately made him want to go back to her, although his role in her life was indefinable. She was really good at that, so good that although he was more than just pretty sure she was using him, it didn’t matter as long as there was any chance, any chance at all, that he was wrong. He actually kind of admired that talent, she was an artist, at least in that respect.
The movie Malévola was her favorite. That ought to have told him something.
As they got to the Foie Gras Palace he tried to clasp her hand but she quickly pulled it away. “Someone might see us” she said, “and what would they say?” He wondered why anyone would care, but she did, she definitely did. She claimed that to her, her private life had to be, well, … totally private, kind of implying the two of them had something to be private about. At least that’s how he chose to interpret that inexplicably awkward situation. His friends had other interpretations.
No one was at the Foie Gras Palace.
They waited a while, she ready to verbally assail anyone who dared to patronize that depraved avian house of torture (as she’d described it to him), he thinking that, it being chilly, he ought to perhaps share his coat with her, or perhaps even snuggle close (for warmth you understand). But all too quickly, at least for real dedicated protesters, she shrugged her shoulders, glanced at him in a manner both demure and enticing, a special trick of hers, and smiling, whispered “Oh well, better luck next time”, then, said “I wish I had enough money for a cab, I really need to get home, my daughters are alone and might wake up any minute now”. She had two, three and eleven, different fathers, born during periods when they’d broken up, although, how one can break up a non-existent relationship was a bit enigmatic. She blamed him, hinting she would have been thrilled had he been the father.
He told her not to worry and they walked a few blocks to a main thoroughfare where he hailed a taxi, expecting to accompany her home. She pecked him on the cheek and thanked him, then slammed the door, waving goodbye, first subtly pulling the ten dollar bill he had in his hand from his surprised fingers.
“See you soon” she said smiling, “call me”.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2019; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution. No names have been used as a means of protecting the stupid and the guilty.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.