Soliloquies 15

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When the glaciers receded, they left behind boulders that now rise from the middle of the river like God’s own teeth. Most are spread out, at least twenty feet apart, but some of them are impacted, jammed together, forming a cave the river flows through. We went to the cave that fall to make a movie. The script was inspired by an idle fantasy I’d had about a girl and the work of Jean-Paul Sartre. I mean, the fantasy was about a girl, and the other inspiration was Sartre-–his play ‘No 69 BLACK VULTURES Exit,’ the one with the line “Hell is other people.” I think I’ll talk about the fantasy first. Sex over Sartre makes a pretty good mantra, especially when you’re SHOSHANA WALFISH seventeen. 70 Let’s call the girl in the fantasy V. One drowsy morning, I imagined myself BOTOXIC and V naked in the cave. I’d been there once before with some other people– PAYAM MONTAZAMI -not V or the film club boys, Aidan and Nagendra-–and none of us had been naked. Still, I could extrapolate. 71 LE RECROQUEVILLÉ The cave was white with foam from the snowmelt-swollen river. “It’s like we’re standing on a cloud,”ERIC I saidSANTERRE to V while we still had our swimsuits on. 72 “It’s beautiful,” she said. DYPTIQUE 24A “Like heaven is really underground.” ADRIAN BRACISIEWICZ “That’s such a poetic way to describe it.” “If heaven’s underground, we’ve got to rethink a lot of other things too.” 74 III do we get to heaven? Is it by I leaned against the cave’s inside wall. “Like, II; how being good? Or,” I leered, “by being bad?” ALLISON MURPHY That stunned her with my edge. Sure, any asshole who hit the gym could 76 be a tough guy, but I had just shown her I could handle real hardship, the uniWINTER’S A BEACH versal questions of birth and death and how to behave in between. JESSICA SLIPP “Well,” she said. Her lips twitched upward and her gaze focused on my mouth. “By being bad of course.” Then I moved in for the kill by bringing up sin 77 and the ways we could commit CONTRIBUTORS it. Which we then did, of course, repeatedly and with great abandon. Of course, the fantasy never actualized. I couldn’t have just said “let there be sexual intercourse after a really weird philosophical run-up” and gone at it unless I spent my time sitting on a cumulonimbus, hurling lightning bolts and grinning through teeth as big as boulders. The script for the movie explored ideas of the afterlife and sin and V was in it. I conducted myself with the utmost decorum, however. I didn’t tell Aidan or Nagendra that my fantasy had inspired the film and I certainly didn’t tell V. When I pitched This Last of Meeting Places to everyone, I just said it had come from reading Sartre and Eliot, and V would be perfect for the female part. I mean, she was a talented actor. It was an unremarkable choice. My decorum was so absolute that I even had Aidan act in the movie, not me.

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