I was at my office.
"Hi. This is Cessair Sullivan." The greeting would always be the same, but later when it became regular she would drop the Sullivan. The times of the calls would begin to cluster, certain days of the week, hours of the day. A dense network of self-replication building. Always at the office. Are successful patterns outcomes of rapid adaptation, nature's way, or are we precoded with these remarkable capacities for dissimilation? I have always thought that children already know how to talk. Just give them the word: Ma ma. I would call on alternative Saturdays. We never spoke of the arrangement.
"Oh Hi, Cessair. How are you? I've been walking the creek lately. Our conversation had provoked some thoughts." I was delighted at the call, and I wanted her to know it. Reward the behavior. There was a little silence.
"I haven't been down there. I gues I've been preoccupied with other things."
"You're missing important things. Just the other day I was thinking about the padres' coming there, right down to where we were standing. Seventeenth eighty, I think it was. Baptizing the indians. The next morning I read that the Pope is going to beatify Father Serra. That means make a saint of the man."
Oh I know."
"The campaign is being headed by a monk named Noel Francis Moholy. He's raised a million dollars for the cause by selling medallions struck by the U.S. Mint. He got Serra's likeness on an air mail stamp, and he's promoting a tour package which includes a visit to Serra's birthplace in Majorca. Sixteen hundred and fifty dollars for the package."
"I just can't. Maybe next year."
"Student loan payments?"
She laughed. "You've got it."
"Plenty of time for that."
"I was wondering whether you'd like to have lunch. I've been thinking about my career. Graduate school and so forth. I might be interested in engineering." There had been no pause between the invitation to lunch and the career explanation.
"Sure. I'm not known for promoting engineering and I try to avoid giving advice, but who knows, something interesting might evolve. What do you have in mind?" I had confused myself, attempting to disguise my interest with disinterest, one of those habits that life should teach one can be countereffective.
"Well I could just ask you a few things on the phone."
"No, I like the lunch idea. I just meant that I'm not sure I
have all the answers." I noted with
irony that there was no normal pause between the "I like the
lunch idea" and the weak "I just
meant." I was aware of already losing control. Even then I knew
that thee were going to be complications in both of our lives
now. Even now I wonder whether there can be blame assigned. Even
now I think that no mind is able to outwit the imperative of it.
My father used to call it the war between the sexes.
Copyright 1996 Kirribili Press. Return to Ignatius Donnelly and the End of the World | Index | Chronicle of the Late Holocene