Opening of a tale in prose

You can hardly put one artist together without him falling apart. Why Providence put two artists together in that house on the corner, all veneer and shade, I’ll never figure out, but after they died I left the neighborhood for fear that voodoo may a force of one’s own mind rather than a force of heathen religion. They impressed onto me themselves, their images, their silly monarchy, by virtue of my friendship—with those artists jubilant and baleful, by my conversations with them, my dinners and drunks with them, and—that particularity of which I won’t or can’t just yet divulge myself.

It began with a long meditation on the bodily sensation a good man calls relaxation and a drunk calls drunkenness. I was a casual friend of the husband, whom I met through work, when I labored for my daily bread. He was too intent on removing that social membrane that divides and defines strangers; and through this alembic he gradually befriended me. I learned of their troubles how a boy learns of a library. I had known him for one year before I was invited to their house for dinner and drinks. I had intimated little but a catalogue of their domestic warfare, intimate and evil, loving how the beasts that perish do, genial at once, thence cruel and inseparable.

Bohemia had left the couple dispirited but hung up on spirits. Paradise found no entrance there, in the living room which a poor man might think grand, unless that paradise be artificial and confined within the brain stirred turbulent. The husband was fond of chiaroscuro and a particular whiskey made from wheat extract. The wife had other diversions to which she exerted herself how a runner exerts herself in training for a marathon: any art save that of effort, whether mankind or the canvas or the wine-stained page.  They drank themselves to stupor and argued in my company violently—ever violently and volubly, to delight the partial observer—about the merits of Phillis Wheatley, about the French 18th century, about the Jewish 8th, about the lovers they had in high school, about the drug budget, about the baby she lost one furious night.

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~ by Jeremy on May 13, 2013.

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