part 2: a knife and a fork

At which point does mere bickering simmer into something more heated? At which point do raised voices – agitated, rattling tea-cups – boil over into something actionable? He said things. She said things. He did not want her to leave with their baby. He did not pause to consult a barometer, let alone measure degree.

She is present in court when I arrive for the hearing. 5\’9\” in stockinged feet. Arranged on a pedestal of sorts overlooked by the benches.

Two solicitors are engaged in a preliminary examination of the evidence. Peering up at her over the glittering rims of their glasses. Nodding at one another.


Unsettled by such close scrutiny, my wife raises one arm protectively. Covering her breasts. Since she is quite naked, save for knee length socks, the gesture prompts much chortling from the gallery.

The sheriff calls for order.

The younger of the two solicitors produces a set of tweezers from his waistcoat pocket as if bent on grooming his moustache. He wears a signet ring on his middle finger, lurid and yellow like something in a pawn shop window. A natural showman, he reaches out and teases a sprig of hair on her belly. Pincers it. Holds it aloft for his counterpart to appraise.

On the strength of an immediate assessment of one pubic strand\’s resistance to tensions, those existant special conditions of bail may or may not be removed.

I want to call out to her from the dock. But we are permitted no dialogue. I calculate the solicitor\’s brazenness to have caused a maximum of distress, to any reasonable person, but of course he is immune to all charges.

I remember my wife once arranging herself on unvarnished floorboards. Those long legs stretched out in front of her, sneakers and tights tossed under the sofa. Up to our ankles in winter.

You have beautiful feet. What ? Your feet. Are gorgeous. Beautiful.

The pocket-book allows me the luxury of revisiting the scene of the accident, all intersecting trajectories, but does not afford us protection.

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