Journal » Trout 10 » An Infinite Loop [Margarita Meklina]
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An Infinite Loop

to Vrej Baghoomian

Margarita Meklina

He said he would start his story mid-sentence and he already knew a dramatic end. It was he who said that they should write about their meeting at a car dealership where he occasionally worked at the time, pathetically reading one page a day from an art book, and where she, in her twenties—an age that comfortably fit into his as a part of a triptych, 20, 20, and 20—came to buy a car with the money she received from an accident which destroyed her career in music. The car aged in her eyes and lost its glamour when she realized that it was him who with every new minute looked better and younger. She immediately lost any interest in the transaction of currencies, in that strange business that connects continents and fills people with pride or a fever, when she realized that she was entranced by this man with very soft hands which, she thought, probably were meant to mix paints rather than open car doors for customers. What she found out about him later proved her guess true: he was an art dealer (a profession that she was even less able to understand than dollar-$$$$s driven, caffeine-boosted car salesmen's routines) who had to leave his gallery in New York and move to California in disguise. She came to the dealership one more time and, under a pretense of an interest in art, asked for V's phone #.

When they met again, V. said that he couldn't grasp any of her writings, which she sent him a day before by e-mail: ‘Instead of scribbling down stories about "black holes that emit radiation," you'd better write about the Sun and the Moon, simple things.’ His favorite writer, a dashing fellow from Lebanon who praised chastity and nobility, while drinking and throwing himself into fits and fist fights with his wife, was like that: he devoted separate chapters to Love, Buying and Selling, Reason and Passion, and each sentence of his was an infinite loop of distilled wisdom, a sea shell with a pearl. His favorite author wrote exactly that type of moralistic, mentoring, sweetened with a dieting sugar literature that she despised. At one point V. almost threatened her by prohibiting her to write about his life: "There are people in New York and in some other places—here and there—a Shah, Afghan rebels, couple of artists, whatever—who are after me. You must not write about me. Only fiction. Subtle. Well-veiled." Resisting him, she wrote six pages which, along with a description of his soft hands laundering money and swiftly touching a plush (safe) fabric of car seats, had a line from Roland Barthes' article on Cy Twombly, ‘The Wisdom of Art’: "Greeks knew five different types of events: what happens is a fact (pragma), a coincidence (tyche), an outcome (telos), an action (drama), and a surprise (apodeston)," and she was wondering which one of these terms could be applied to their "chance meeting." She started experimenting with the idea of the death of the author which Barthes was so famous for: an author (she) would disappear from a story, but the text, like the keys of a mechanical piano, would continue to linger and move.

V. said it would be nice if they sent each other pictograms on e-mail—some little signs with which they'd come up. He made up some symbols and was upset when she told him that they already existed, being an international code among computer geeks: smile, anger, surprise. She told him that she felt the same way when she found out that a story she was working on once, already had been written and published: it had the same title, The Gift, as hers, and masked itself under the same folds of style. Not understanding what she was talking about, V. said: "Yes, that's how it happens: somebody opens a page in another person,—a page that already exists,—and there is no need to slice a window open and shout out everything written there to strangers" ("they can easily happen to be undercover agents, policemen…", added she and he grinned.) "It all should be simple, he said, as simple as 100 sentences which Jamie Lee Byars composed"—whimsical sentences which curled into themselves, which had an end where they had a beginning, which played a curious joke on time and a mind. ‘How come the more time passed, she wanted to ask him, time measured by a metronome of unspoken words, the lesser distance remains between you and me? How come when you said ‘Moscow’ and then you said ‘Spasskii’ (with whom, she found out later with a surprise, her father played chess in 1957 in S-Petersburg), I feel that we know the same words? How come the text I want to write about us fades when I realize that a reality could bloom bright?’ He said "simple" and quickly drove away in his "Mazda." On his "Mazda," there was a small circle enclosed into a bigger one, and on hers it was an ellipse with a check mark in it, as though noting a passing event or beating drums.


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