The Don Quixote Piece
"You stall, my Beth," Lucia the French girl uttered at last.
The menthols were stubbed out. Lucia and Beth sat facing one another, at the window table, in the cafe, their four elbows planted, their torsos leaning forward, a tension betwixt them.
"It has nothing to do with anything but him," Beth reiterated. She treated Lucia's challenges as baseless, dismissible, wielding against them her one overworn defense. "In his eyes fidelity has nothing to do with being true to me. It has to do with being true to himself. You would have to do more than merely lure him away from me. You would have to lure him away from himself. And, as I said, as you know, I have no doubt that this cannot be done. I know him. I know what he's gone through. And it's made him stronger than any pretty face."
Lucia the French girl shook her pretty face. "Do not make yourself so defensive, my Beth. You say "you" as if I wanted to seduce the man. This is for what we come here, no, to discuss these things, to escape all those vapid gossips of the dance, to converse truly over subjects that merit discussion. Look, it is just that I am not able to convince myself that there exists a man like the man you describe. I know Jacob, too, you know. I know him. And well, while it is true that I have not read his work in the same manner that you have read his work, with an equal perspicacity--Yes, I have read his work. My Beth, whatever person, whatever artist that is capable of writing with that passion, and is capable of demonstrating it with such liberality as I see him demonstrate it to you, my Beth, that person, that artist is vulnerable to being attracted away from this "equation" of which you speak. He has imposed upon himself this discipline, as you call it, in the name of beauty, no? So it is beauty itself that is his debility, I believe--that can defeat him. He, in his own words, calls this its paradox, no? I understood that correctly, no? If I understood this well, you see, I believe that to ignore this fact is nothing less than blind denial. Without some evidence, without some test, all this that you defend is nothing more than ideas-- Groups of words and thoughts. And ideas are not equipped to resist an alluring combination of facial features, or a skin vibrant and alive...or...a liquid figure, some liquid figure that pulses with the heat."
And the two women sat, unmoving, facing one another, at the window table, in the cafe, their four elbows planted, their torsos leaning forward. A quiet sparkled as Beth groped for further rebuttal. But all she had was the one. All she had was the repeated and reiterated and reworded faith in Jacob. There was no proof.
Lucia the French girl's flattened mouth creeped toward a devilish smile. She had won this round.
"You don't really know him," Beth muttered lamely.
"No," Lucia agreed. And then, without quarter, she added: "But neither do you, I believe."