Mark St. George
The house on Larrabee was just north of Sunset. There was no real view, but from the front second-level window, framed by massive deodars, night lights along the Strip peaked in a band of surreal glitter.
"You don't really have to go."
"We've been through all that."
"No there's not time. It's tricky, even now."
"Maybe the best reason not to go."
"Change your mind?"
"Yeah, just like you."
"I've only changed my mind because of you."
"I know better than that, and so do you."
"Really? Fine, then I won't go."
"That's not what I'm saying."
"What are you saying? That I should go, or I shouldn't go?"
"It's not really my choice, finally, is it?"
"Sure, that's the problem. I get to choose, and you're out of it."
"I didn't say I was out of it. How can I be out of it?"
"Just how are you 'in it'?"
"You mean now?"
"Yes, I mean now. What's it got to do with you, anyway?"
"I'm in it because I'm here. Just like you're here."
"I don't know what that means."
"It means…we're both here."
"Oh sure. We're both here, but it's not the same thing, is it?"
"Why not is because you can walk out of it, and I can't."
· · ·
They drove past lamp-lit shadows along Santa Monica Boulevard, through wispy Beverly Hills treescapes and Century City curtain-wall hi-rise dominos, past Beverly Glen and the Mormon temple into the westside and the edges of Santa Monica. She, silent as a tomb, reviewed the storefronts gliding by. He guided the vintage Austin Healy roadster like the last survivor slouching toward some dubious finish line.
"All we have to do is U it back to West Hollywood."
"I don't think we can do that now."
"Why can't we?"
"Because we're almost there. Can't turn back the clock."
"It's got nothing to do with the clock. We can do whatever we want to do."
"Oh? And what's that?"
"Just turn the car the hell back…"
"Fine. Go ahead."
"Turn it around. Let's see you do it."
· · ·
The Austin Healy continued, traffic lights blazed in an echelon of green ahead. He slowed, stopping along the curb in front of a Computer Sales and Repair store.
"You want to go back?"
"It's what you said wasn't it?"
"D'you want me to do it?"
"If you want to do it, do it."
"Do you want me to do it?"
"I'm just going along with what you said…"
"Do — you — want — me — to — do — it…"
"Do it. Go ahead."
· · ·
The Austin Healy stopped in the dark small parking lot. They had driven the last few blocks without speaking, the condos and lo-rise apartment buildings like totems in the night. The blur of a 7-11 sign winked from beyond tall yucca trees. She went inside while he waited in the car.
Afterward, they drove back to West Hollywood without stopping for dinner. All during the shadowy drive they listened, without any lingering conversation, to her favorite CD selections, mostly Cat Stevens and James Taylor and Brahms violins. The house on Larrabee blazed with lights. They walked together down the short hill to the Strip and had drinks at the Viper Room.
"Well, que sera, sera," he said.
"Probably the best way, all things considered."
"Right. All things considered."
"One thing you should know."
"It's your loss, too."
"I want you to know that."
"I know, I know."
"It's something I never want to do again."
"No, I guess not."
"You should know that."
"All right, that's understandable."
"If you're not sure about it, then now's the time to say so."
He sat motionless.
"OK — we'll both let what happens, happen."
"I just said it."
She formed a languid smile. "I'll remember that."