I never, never hit her. Not once. Never raised my hand, never raised my voice. Never thought a single time about taking that beautiful face and slamming it against the wall, about grabbing her slender wrist and wrenching her arm up over her head. I never thought about shoving her to the floor and kicking her in the ribs until she was curled up into a weeping little ball on the floor. I never thought about taking the big chef’s knife from the wooden block on the counter and thrusting it into her pale, smooth stomach. I never once thought about wrapping my hands around her throat until her tongue was hanging out and her lips had turned blue.

I never thought about what she had done with her days before I came around. I never wondered how many of the books on the shelves in the parlor she’d read over the course of long, languid afternoon. I never thought about why she chose to paint the walls of the kitchen pale pink, the walls of the living room deep blue, why the bathroom had the ornate tub big enough for a half dozen people but no shower. I never thought about why she had spent so much time planting rose bushes along the path to the front entrance when she only went in and out through the patio door in the back of the house. I never even began to contemplate why her wardrobe was comprised of nothing but tailored dresses, high-heeled shoes and elaborate lingerie. I never asked what she’d named her cat.

I mean to ask her things, when I jump the wall next to Little Gate and head back to her cottage, but I forget to, once I see her. I grab her up and carry her to the sofa or to the bedroom or just take her, gently, down to the rug on the wooden floor of the foyer. Her clothes fly off, she smiles, I sink into her and my mind is white noise and bliss. She’ll make a snack and we’ll eat it together, feeding each other tidbits, smiling, giggling. I tell her that she’s beautiful, tell her that she’s wondrous, tell her that I love her, that I will love her unendingly. Immortally. Endlessly. She strokes my cheek and kisses the corner of my mouth and smiles and falls asleep in my arms. It’s a pristine moment, every time.
And then that’s it, that’s all. She sleeps and I hold her, feel her warmth, stroke her strong back and listen to her breathe. The cat twines around our feet and settles in to nap, purring. Sunlight, moonlight, the light of the burning logs in the fireplace, it plays across her features and I watch as a flicker catches the line of her jaw, the swell of her cheek, the strands of her thick black hair falling across her brow. Going over her inch by inch, every millimeter of skin and hair, my eyes roving, coming to rest on every angle they find. Luxuriating in every swell of her body, every smooth curve, every kissable, lickable angle of her. She’s flawless, perfect. Sculpture. A portrait made of flesh.

She’s, Jesus, she’s everything I despise. Everything I’ve railed against since I was a boy. She’s every fashion model, every debutante, the hope and dream of every vain woman who went under the knife for high cheekbones and pouting lips and perky d-cups, she’s the goal every time someone turns on a liposuction vacuum, slides into a tanning booth. Every woman that’s ever walked into a beauty salon and said ‘Make me beautiful!’, they meant Mags Verbosa. Every fashion show in Milan, every beauty pageant, every twelfth-grader hoping for Prom Queen. All the lip discs, the neck rings, filed teeth, tattoos, piercings, the endless parade of hairdos, corsets, makeup, fashions to bolster and conceal and accentuate, it’s all down to attaining that perfection. That flawlessness. That pristine, absolute beauty. Mags Verbosa, the template against which women place themselves, without even knowing that she’s out there, without ever knowing that they haven’t got a chance in hell.

And she’s mine. And once I’m spent and drained and watching the light play over her remarkable face, once the drowsy, blissful afterglow has passed, I can’t stand the sight of her.

And so I walk away, past the rose bushes, through the desert, jumping the wall at Little Gate, walking into The Broken Promise and waving at Breven to line up shots of whiskey along the bar. Drinking myself stupid until the Sheik shows up and takes me away to shoot machine guns at damned souls and drive fast cars down open highways and bang strippers in the ass in the alley behind the club. And he’s grinning and telling me that I’m better off without her, there’s a million fish in the sea, blah, blah, blah, and I’m thinking about her the whole time, remembering the curve of her hips, the play of shadow in the hollow her neck, about a bead of sweat sliding down one perfect breast, slithering around her erect nipple, trailing down her stomach to fill the cup of her navel. Knowing that I’ll go back, knowing that it’ll be just the same, that it will be perfect and wonderful and that I love her and that I’ll hate her and that I’ll be back at the Promise in a week or a month downing shots and waiting for the Sheik to take me away to jump dirtbikes in the desert or whatever and that this is what I’ll be doing for now until I die, because, God, how can I stay away?

How do you walk away from perfect?


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