The tale that I am about to tell is one of fear. This fear is not of the type that one experiences while riding a ferris wheel, but of the sort that renders decisions impracticable. Of course, anyone who has been faced with the decision of whether or not to ride a ferris wheel again will be fairly placed to sympathize with the sentiments of the male protagonist in the tale that I am about to tell.
The tale was recounted to me by a man to whom I can be no closer or intimate with. In complete confidence, he told me the horrid details of his trial in the very room, while seated upon the same sofa, where the majority of the incident took place. Knowing my enthusiasm for details, he told me about the event in such a manner that I could not help but feel as though I had lived through it myself.
Dear Reader, the fear of which I will soon speak should be made all the more palpable with the knowledge that the events to be retold, for your amusement and learning, actually took place. With little embellishment, I will share with you the details in as great detail as I can remember. Given the gravity of the situation, and the apparent discomfort with which it was recounted, it would have been irresponsible of me to take notes outside of my own, admittedly discontinuous, memory.
Before I begin the retelling, please let me introduce the characters, whose names have been changed, and a brief about the setting, so that I should not need to provide a context during the exposition. There are three, and only three, characters in this story. Like all good stories about fear, there is a man, a woman, and a cat.
The male protagonist will be called “Al”, for it is a name that he is affectionately fond of, but refuses to associate himself with. If you were ever to meet him, you would never know that this tale of his, which you will soon know, is his to be told, precisely because he has distanced himself so greatly from the name “Al”. I cannot think of a more appropriate name to use to protect the identity of Al than the name “Al”.
The female protagonist of this tale will be called “Cinderella”, because she left the scene but one single minute before midnight. Incidentally, upon arriving at Al’s place, Cinderella was offered a pair of slippers to wear. This last detail, however, is only tangential to the telling of this tale; the slippers were, and still are, not made of glass, and she was able, without any apparent difficult, to place them, from a standing position, squarely on her feet without any assistance from either Al or the cat.
The cat will be called “Riel”, because that is the cat’s real name. Protecting the identity of a cat, in the retelling of a tale about fear, seems childish and inconsequential. Besides, the only appropriate pseudonym for a cat in this tale is “Lucifer”, and we can all agree that such a name would be unfit for a character who plays so heavily into the pleasures of Al’s life. Although, “Lucifer” does have an air of egregiousness about it. Yes, let’s call the cat “Lucifer”.
The setting for this tale is Al’s apartment. While small, it does offer all of the comforts necessary for pleasant living. After much tactful persuasion, I was able to convince Al to allow me the opportunity to take a picture of the setting where the tale that I am able to retell took place. It would have been completely possible for me to recount the events without consideration for the setting, as much of it took place between two people, and a cat, largely irrespective of the location in which they found themselves. As a rule, any number of people cannot meet nowhere. Even a man or woman who meets him- or her-self will find him- or her-self in a setting, however profound. With this in mind, below is a photo of the sofa, with a centre table in the foreground and a dining table in the background.
When I met Al, after he called me over, which is as rare an occurrence as Halley’s Comet, he was sitting on the left side of the sofa (pictured above), and Lucifer, his cat, was sitting on the right side, where once Cinderella sat. Of course, there is no correct side of the sofa to be seated on; that he was seated on the left is no indication of what once was, and that she, Cinderella, was once seated on the right should not foreshadow the outcome of this tale. There was a large bottle of beer on the table behind the teapot, with enough condensation on the outside to indicate that he had been working on finishing his drink for some time, even though it was an especially warm and humid evening. He had shaven that evening, evidenced by the absence of any stubble on his face, clearly indicating that he had just been through an occasion of some import. The only light in the room emanated from a single desk lamp, the bulb of which produced full-spectrum light, masking only some of the transparent darkness surrounding the gravity of the affronting situation he would soon tell me about.
Before beginning to tell me the tale that I will soon retell to you, Al offered me a bottle of the same beer that he was drinking, which I accepted, so as not to be rude, as well as to create an atmosphere of solidarity. I would encourage you, dear Reader, to do the same. This tale is better heard by those whose will and resolve has been hardened through any means. The romantics among you may do well to turn away now, and resume a discussion about the influence of Romanticism on the Pre-Raphaelites. The bold and adventurous of you will surely read on, but I urge you to tread lightly upon the trails of one man’s trial.
After quite some time of quiet, while we listened to an eclectic indie R&B playlist on Songza, Al finally began to tell me the tale that I will now share with you, for I feel as though you, dear Reader, have been sufficiently prepared to understand and empathize with him.
Paraphrastically, Al began his account, which he had certainly repeated to himself a few times over, by saying that Cinderella sat right there, to his right, not an arm’s length away, especially for his lanky arms, for nearly three hours, as they, he and she, were engaged in good conversation and playful banter. He then shared that this was the fourth time that he and she had met, adding that they were fairly resolute about maintaining contact through written conversation while apart. He could see desire in her eyes, he remembered, despite the fact that he could not see past the fear in his own. He straightened himself out, and while sitting erect, he asked, “Why the fuck didn’t I kiss her?”
Dear Reader, The Game suggests that a woman will engage in coitus with a man after only six hours spent together, which he and her had exceeded by nearly three times. Yet, he, Al, a boy among men, still did not know the comfort brought about by the interlocking of fingers, let alone the entanglement of supple lips.
To his question, I responded, “Cheers!”, because it is rude to take your first drink without a salutation to your company.