Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Ends III: from The Man Who Stopped Time, farsical, by John Cairns

The Ends:

from The Man Who Stopped Time, farsical

What do I want? If he got into bed with me. If that’s what I want, I should ask. I’m too embarrassed to ask. He knows it’s what I want. He should do it. Why should he? To please me. He’d do it if he loved me to please me. I’d know he loved me then. Would I?

He wouldn’t just lie there would he, beside me in bed without doing anything, would he? I’ll ask and find out. Why don’t you lie beside me in bed? He’d do it. I know he’d do it. Why? Because I asked. All I have to do is ask.

Since you’re there, why don’t you…? I can’t ask that! Why not? If I ask he does. He’d do it! All I have to do is ask! That’s wonderful. I’ll ask, and when he’s done it I’ll know he loves me. He’ll have loved me; he loves me. He must love me to do that. He wouldn’t do that if he didn’t love me. If he doesn’t love me, why else did he do it? I asked! He did it because I asked. He didn’t do it because he loved me. I could ask that: did you do it because I asked or because you loved me?

Can I answer the old man’s question? the lady asked. Both. He would have done it had you asked because he loved you.

The old man made to turn round to where the lady’s voice seemed to come from. There was no one there, of course. The lady froze in expectation he would see her at the other side of the bed.

“He would do it if I ask because he loves me,” the old man muttered, recalling his thought as best he could.

“What?” the boy asked.

“Do you love me?”

The young man smiled, stood up stripped off and got into bed. He took the old man in his arms. Oh, he’d forgotten to pull the bed clothes up. Without quite releasing the old man he pulled the covers adequately enough over them. Then carefully and gently on top of the old man he made their love.

“What can I say?” the old man said afterwards. “You’ve made an old man very happy.”

The boy started to laugh and couldn’t stop. Between laughs words could be heard. “I’ve finally made my old man.” Once he stopped laughing, he got up, dressed, went upstairs, packed and left.

The lady couldn’t help but wonder what or whom the boy had on his list to make next. It might be her, so she hurried off home. She never did find out how the film ended. She sincerely hoped she hadn’t broken her contract. The young man didn’t turn up. Her brother did and he was affable enough but she didn’t like to ask how the film ended. He might offer to show her the rest and really she wasn’t interested, though she loved his films, to see part of one she knew she wouldn’t appear in. For her the film ended with her exit through the blank wall – with THE END stamped across her exit.

When she sat down her brother disconcertingly laughed as if she’d sat on something on the lounge chair or done something on it. She hated being laughed at. It made her feel such a fool, as she was if she’d missed seeing something he saw or didn’t understand what she saw aright. She checked. There was nothing on the seat except her seat. With dignity she resumed her thinking.

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