ROCKET SCIENCE: A Violent Enigma

Frank Cotolo's Rocket Science

After living in morbid cities, where dangerous moments are spawned around every corner in the mornings, afternoons and evenings; after being lost in the suburban horror fields of Caucasian cacophony; after having every sense I possess dowsed in the void of country living; I still cannot comprehend the identities of anyone.

It’s useless to imagine a campaign that would take the time it would take to learn—not less care—about anyone because no explanation would suffice that could satisfy the origin of the self. The greatest successes in such endeavors result, at best, in merely disappointing probabilities. You may as well build a landing strip in your backyard for one of Jupiter’s moons.

This is my conflict with romance all wrapped up in a violent enigma. I know the fiction of my life will never be satisfied with reality but I should not be convicted for holding it so dear, even though it hurts to the bone. So many bad things make us great; so many intangible emotions drive us to live longer, stay awake and aware.

Some years ago I was in Paris, feasting into the morning hours with a number of artistic sorts in an expensive but quaint restaurant on the Champs de Elysee. It was the best way to beat the jet lag according to Kelly. So we drank and ate and talked and laughed.

Across from me was a lovely lady, a genuine French dream of a lady, a bohemian beauty. She lifted her wine glass and placed it between her lips like a priestess during a draconian orgy. Watching her made me never want to sleep again. I was wrapped up in the violent enigma. As I drank and leered at her she suddenly turned and her left breast jumped from her loose blouse. It stayed uncovered for countless moments and then she adjusted her blouse and covered it again, never calling attention to the sudden display; it was nothing to her.

She spoke to me at one point after the appearance of her lovely mammary. “I know you,” she said a chilling voice. “You are so very familiar.”

“Really?” I said, convinced she was mistaking me for someone else.

She looked at me as if she really recognized me or that is what I wanted in my shadowy desires but something about her expression made me feel, at least, that she believed she knew me from somewhere. And just where is somewhere? What dark metropolis? What outer rim of Caucasian-ville? What fresh hell?

“I know,” she said after another long suck of wine. She placed her glass on the table.

I could hear the cackling of words and sounds up and down the rectangular table but she had my rapt attention. “You know?”

“Fifty-seventh Street and Seventh Avenue. Manhattan.”

“I went to college on that corner,” I said.

“I don’t know that, I just know that you bought coffee at the Chock Fulla Nuts shop on the northeast corner.”

“Yes I did,” I was silently shocked.

“I remember you. I used to see you there and I always noticed you.”

Breathless, I said, “You noticed me? That was a decade ago, maybe more.”

“I don’t forget certain things.”

I was a certain thing; I was a thing oblivious to a gypsy angel who recalled looking at me after years of every imaginable sensation of life going through her mind and body.

Under the spell of Paris I strolled through my violent enigma, the concoctions of the dramas I was born to decorate with my imagination and that part of the brain I figured few others ever employed. She further described the scenes on Seventh Avenue when the hoards of the ordinary and the extraordinary meshed during weekday working hours and rubbed shoulders and brushed packs of flesh in the daily burlesque and travesty shared for reasons no one truly accepted. She felt almost satisfied that I didn’t recognize and perhaps never saw her at the counter or anywhere else in the necropolis of New York. It was delightful, I supposed, that she was able to turn the tables on so many men who gawked at her endlessly by finding one in a million or a zillion, one who never so much as stopped to glance at her. I was special without moving a muscle, saying a word, writing a poem, smiling or breathing. How I never noticed her was not available to my consciousness and I doubted if I would have forgotten such a vision had I seen it, no less a decade or so younger than its Parisian form, which defied fault.

Her presence, nothing else, made me drunk that night, en route to the greatest hours of sleep I had up until that point in my life. Jet lag left, like Kelly said it would and staying up accounted for my meeting her and discovering my violent enigma was a life force, fuel for a will to survive. Even though my attempts to seduce her after that night fell upon the streets of Paris like a homeless wretch (she was married but that is not what stopped further contact with me because married people acted in Paris differently than dictated by vows and, as well, their dogs were allowed in restaurants of any caliber) my embracing of the violent enigma led me elsewhere, to other brief encounters that always made me remember that I would never know anyone else and neither would anyone else know me.

But everyone is watching and sometimes in the violent enigma, a glimpse of hope survives.

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