Saturday, March 28, 2009

from The Possible by Anthony McCarthy

A kitchen in a small inland town in Maine. Two men past 50 at the end of an uncomfortable but civilized discussion before going to work.

> is a native Mainer with a genuine Oxford County accent. He’s shorter and thinner and a little more rustic than his partner. He is self-employed.
- might or might not be a native. He’s got a less distinct accent. He’s taller and wearing a suit like a school teacher might. He teaches math.

- .... you know what I mean. If you could have him back, would you trade our relationship? (After a long, nervous pause) You don’t want to answer the question?

> He’s dead, he can’t come back. The question’s meaningless

- But would you rather have him back if it meant you’d never have met me?

> [sighs and looks up as if to beg for deliverance]

- We’d never have met if he was still alive.

> (dug in for the long haul now) I can’t rather have what wasn’t possible so I can’t want it more than what’s possible now. It wasn’t that way, it didn’t happen that way. We did meet. Isn’t it enough to say we met and got together?

- I don’t get you.

> It’s a waste of time wondering about something like that. It won’t ever happen. I don’t think about it.

- You don’t think about things like that?

> No. (a pause) You don’t seem satisfied with the answer.

- It wasn’t really an answer.

> (after some consideration) Well, is a question about something that’s impossible a real question? It can’t have an answer.

- You’re the most aggravating person I know sometimes.

> (Looks surprised, then laughs) He said exactly the same words. (they both laugh) You want me to be different? That’s a question about something possible.

- I wish you would just answer a simple question like a normal person.

> It’s not a simple question. You’re asking to compare you to someone who’s dead and asking me if I’d rather have him back than be with you now. It can’t be done.

- It’s simple. OK, which one of us did you love more?

> (thinking he’s not out of the mine field yet) I didn’t know you when I knew him and he’s not here now that I know you. I can’t tell you.

- Can’t or won’t.

> Won’t because I can’t. You don’t have to be so jealous of him. I don’t keep his pictures all over the place. Have I ever called you his name?

- I’m not jealous of him. That’s not what this is about. (Trying to keep it going a while longer) You don’t have pictures of anyone all over the place.

> I’m in most of those pictures, you think I want to be reminded of how old I am? (With a half smile) Besides I haven’t noticed you’ve put pictures of me anywhere.

- You won’t let anyone take a picture of you.

> Exactly.
We’re together now. I want to make the best of that.

- Right. Guess we’re stuck with that.

> Don’t think you all of a sudden have to be so agreeable on that point.

- I’m going to be late. You need me to pick up anything on the way home.

> No. You getting back the usual time?

- Might be home early.

> Good. (After reconsidering) There’s your answer.