Leslie was not attractive. He didn’t want to objectify her in any specific way, but she was ugly, no question. Whatever part of him made inventory of physical characteristics and analyzed the data worked automatically. The conclusion was in his favor. The great worry he’d had was that she would trigger the hormonal crazy part of him that had been his personality at twenty, and because she wasn’t attractive, she was safe.
He had not yet started a conversation, or alerted her to his presence. The sculpture in the center of the square was a good enough hiding place for him to catch his breath. It was cube-shaped, on its corner. It represented modernism. His own place in the metaphor seemed less clear, though he supposed if he was hiding behind modernism, it would be some statement on self-awareness in media, or perhaps how modern art obfuscates more than it elucidates.
Leslie hadn’t seen him yet. She was smoking a cigarette, as was her custom, and he watched her take deep tar-filled breaths through her drooping beak. Though she wasn’t wearing a watch, she looked at her wrist several times while he watched. The twilight suited her, especially with the cigarette. She was like a Hopper, or a Norman Rockwell on an off-day.
She was waiting for him. He couldn’t believe she wanted to see him.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m not attracted to you anymore.”
She put out her cigarette. “Hi. I was never attracted to you in the first place.”
She hugged him like a belt. He didn’t know what to say. He never knew what to say. He was glad to see her.
As the train pulled into the station, Ezekiel thought about calling ahead, but it was best if she didn’t expect him. His plan depended on a certain amount of secrecy, if he had a plan.
He noted: he was the sort who made plans.
Before he talked to Leslie, he wanted to know what his objective was. He knew why he’d left the first time, and cringed as he remembered. He was certain that his infatuation was over, more certain, surely, than he had been at twenty-three that she was the love of his life. The insanity of who he had been then seemed unreal. The way he’d stalked her, engineered situations with her, tried to be her hero, all seemed like something he’d seen on late-night sitcoms. He’d nearly killed her trying to create an opportunity to save her. She had been more traumatized than grateful.
Once he stepped out of the underground, he would know what he was doing. Almost everything is based upon momentum, and as soon as he stopped thinking, he could proceed in the direction he was going. The escalators all went up. He walked toward them.
He had to use the bathroom, and noted: he was the sort of person who drank too much water.
The entrances to two opposite gendered restrooms were entirely symmetrical, and neither one had a door. Social convention dictated that he should enter the men’s room, but he resented that it said “MEN” so clearly on the wall. The women’s room was nowhere near as capitalized, perhaps due to space restrictions, but he felt a little oppressive using a MEN’s room, convenient as urinals might be.
He noted: he was a thoughtful person. He cared about rights. The thought satisfied him as he peed.
Amnesia wasn’t the issue. Ezekiel remembered the last five years down to the last detail. He had had jobs and relationships. That was all.
He was in an office now. Or he was undercover for special police. A reporter for a tiny newspaper in rural Arkansas. A bartender in a pansexual strip club. A line worker in a glue factory. He corrected a nozzle if it strayed off target. He was investigating a serial murder. He’d tell everyone. His boyfriend had no idea. His girlfriend knew everything. His gender-neutral playmate had no idea. His long-lost soulmate had no idea.
He had no idea.
A man on the train asked him, “Do you know how to get to The Glass Museum?” The man expected him to know, so he knew, but the man wouldn’t follow his instructions. Ezekiel repeated them slowly several times until they arrived at the stop where the man would need to leave. Ezekiel nearly had to push him out, but he wouldn’t find his way. The man was committed to being lost.
Ezekiel was more open-minded. He could ride the train, or he could ride the bus. He could ride a Greyhound bus to a place he had abandoned. He hadn’t had a job. He hadn’t had a relationship. He’d spent the last few years planning a better future, all alone, The Count of Monte Cristo without the money or moral imperative. He could get the money. He didn’t need justification.
In film, the screen blacks out and the characters return in the future, having done what they needed to do. The last five years were not forgotten. They were blacked out, and he would be whoever he had been. He would find out after the break.