--COME HERE. CLOSER. CLOSER. THERE.
“Don’t you think that’s a great lyric?” Yancey asked.
“’We were always one argument from death.’” Yancey says, crouched down near the stereo, amped up as usual. “I mean, it’s like the summation of our entire fucking relationship.”
“Why do you swear so much?” Mia asked.
“Why do you sound like my fucking mother?” Yancey shot back, grinning.
“Why do you smell like my dead grandfather who probably has maggots eating maggots out of his eye sockets?”
“You’re wicked sick.”
“Sometimes I just want to cut you open.”
“God, I love you.”
This was how it went, how it was, their modern romance.
Then one morning Mia was struck by a cab on forty-second street. It didn’t kill her but she became a paraplegic. She spent a short life in that wheel chair. She had been skinny before--a model wannabe. Now she had guns for arms.
“Fuck you’re hot. You’re fucking smoking hot,” Yancey told her.
“You like cripples?”
“I fucking love them.”
“Why do you swear so much? It impugns your intelligence.”
“Ah, come on; don’t fuck with me when I’m weak with all this motherfucking love for you.”
They got married on December 25th. It wasn’t a stab at Christianity, not that the pair were believers. They were just too frightened and too lazy to commit. No, they picked that date for unsound romantic reasons.
“No one gets fucking married then.”
“That should tell us something,” Mia said.
“It’s ours, ours alone.”
“If we could’ve had a kid we would have named him Jesus, you know, using the Hispanic pronunciation, although we’d understand, you and I would, the significance.”
“Are you a fucking Christian?”
“I fucking love you.”
Mia’s first modeling gig had been both a train wreck and a revelation. She’d got down to ninety-seven pounds. She was so weak and so frightened that she cried the entire length of the cat walk, all three runs.
She was certain she’d be fired, but oh contraire, the crowd loved it, her, the crying girl, shrouded in mystery. People wondered why she was sobbing. Weren’t all New York models millionaires with their own drug runners? Did she ingest a bad batch of horse or what, what was the reason for the tears?
“Do you ever dream about me normal?”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“I’m being serious. Don’t you ever wish I could walk?”
“Are you kidding? I lust after your withered limbs. I love them. I fucking love all of you, especially the wilted parts.”
Mia stroked Yancey’s head and his beard which was coarse but oily, with flecks of bread crumbs and bright elementary school colors she figured out were Fruit Loop flakes.
At the funeral Yancey howled and frightened family members moved away, making a shooing motion as they did.
The pastor walked over to him. “Son,” he said.
“You don’t get it,” Yancey said, “I fucking loved her.”
A day later the concerned pastor came to visit.
“I can’t do this,” Yancey said.
The pastor asked for clarification.
“Life, without Mia. I can’t fucking live without her.”
The pastor took Yancey’s hand and, against his cheek, tears streamed down. “There can be victory in death--”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“--so long as you teach us.”
“How to love like that.”