Remember Harry Krachtnikov? The weight of the man: slow paced, with a huge head and long thick strands of hair the colour of straw bursting out over his forehead and above and below his mouth.
Trixie and Harry walked arm in arm. Neither of them believed in fidelity, and the pavement might have been Italy. There was sunshine with an added blueness that comes from the reflection of a wide expanse of water. Sea, but also north. Adriatic: a jumping off point, and the shadow of the double-headed eagle. Trieste. Or a river. Danube.
The weight of the man. Pure history.
Harry carried the wrinkles, and there were speckles of dark sun spots on his ageing face. He was by far the older of the two but as they walked it was Trixie who was leaning harder on his arm. Dark glasses and a silk paisley-patterned head scarf, her chin raised as if light starved head tilted back.
People pressed around them. Always the crowd. Always the streets. The market-places. Raised voices. Wooden barrows. Stalls of abundant produce. Mountains of cardboard boxes, jute sacks, plastic bags. Rectangular sheets of newspaper trodden into the pavement, the jetsam of living green. Spilling over the curb. Flower petals floating in wetness. Awash.
The street cleaners were hosing clean.Viewed from below.
Trixie had eventually recovered her underpants.
After the unexpected excess of the weekend singing Bach, with men who mostly wanted to have a conversation with her. Not that was what they really meant. Though none of them would hurt a fly, polite and generous to a ‘T’. That most of the men were bentoverseventy and dribbled from their mouths didn’t make any difference. Their eyes that had undressed her. The bleak lower and bleaker lower eyelids. Then slowly her knickers had come off too. The menmen had regretted none of it. Pleasure of the chorale. So that even when it came to the doubled Motet she had acquiesced to their imperatives.
Nobody gets hurt really, Harry said. Even after bad sex.
Masks. Why did they wear masks? Trixie asked.
You are welcome to create as many versions as you like, he replied, But aren’t you forgetting Dio?
Dio the boy.
The man, Harry had said, Or the boy if you prefer.
Trixie had called him the boy too. Effeminate to the menmen. Queer.
Inter, inter, she said, Mid.
Mid. American or Atlantic. Or Europe. Mid-European. Was that right? Trieste. Or the river Danube.
Get hold of the stay, Harry said.
Harry had overouzo’ed too. Watermelonwithouzo. And old men always cry more anyway. Wet as the streets the cleaners had now finished hosing.
Another tendril of flower headstrundled by overhead. Harry -’ed and then steadied his eyes.
Business is brisk today, he said.
The worst man happened to be the one that Trixie had first sat next to at the very beginning. Old and small and harmless looking like the rest but with staring eyes. Unlike most of the menmen he had refused to talk.
Hello, Trixie had said but he had instantly looked away.
Once they started singing, she knew she was in trouble. Note metronomic perfect. Rows of red roses. Continuo – or continuity perhaps. His voice. Whatever, it represented the worst of a kind of heartlessromantic idea how all the menmen intended to live out the rest of their lives.
Cornered Trixie had lost her knickers. Picked off.