We met, again, for the first time, in a gift shop.
She was gliding through the aisles like a robin searching for just the right twig.
“Do I know you?” she asked.
Long seconds passed, painfully. Nothing? I couldn’t come up with even one syllable?
“Sorry, I guess…” she was about to fly away when I grabbed her by the wing. Softly.
“We met once, briefly, at that picnic at the house…”
“On the lake in Connecticut, of course! I don’t think we spoke though. You were sort of being the silent cowboy loner type. I guess like you are now. I wanted to speak to you then but I guess it wasn’t the time. I’m still not sure that it is now.”
“Oh, I think it could be,” I said, “celestial lovers; intertwined for art eternity in shimmering gold.”
“What? Oh, wait, yes of course, the Kiss by Klimt hanging in the lake house living room.”
“Good memory,” I said.
“I revel more in the garment than the people,” she said, “that magic robe cloak-bubble of immortality that will never age, wrinkle, get allergies, quarrel over money, or forget to eat low-carb as long as that gorgeous sheath…”
“I know what you mean,” I interrupted, but not really, for she had paused long enough.
“You know that I mean I want to wear Klimt’s robe? All the time, to protect me from life?”
“Yes, because the realization struck me recently that the reason for my gambling addiction was that I had somehow gotten the idea early on in my teens that there really was a way to beat the system.”
“You’re a gambling addict?”
“Not anymore, well, recovering, you know.”
“Yes, I know, all too well, but do go on about your realization.”
“Life was the system I thought I could beat. Just another way of saying be protected from all that is awful, like the robe. But nothing “outside” can “beat” it.”
“So, what? Be the robe?”
“So, who’s kissing who though?”
“The lovers in the robe are not there beneath the robe- Klimt knew what he was doing- we know what he was doing we just can’t explain it- other than to say- we like the Kiss by Klimt- who doesn’t? Look for the robe without the robe.”
“You’re not making any sense,” she said.
“I’m creating a new style of fiction writing. Something that will revolutionize literature as we know it. Joycean really, with a twist of Gravity’s Rainbow and shot of Hunter Thompson.”
“Well now you’re just dropping writers’ names. And here I thought we might have a future as art historians. But if we move in together and buy a Klimt you might lose it gambling,” she said, playing along nicely now.
“I would never gamble with the robe, as long as you were in it with me.”
“Well, that deserves the gift of a kiss.”
And she did.