Gypsy Death & You - The Kills
Covered by Amelie Andrezel
OK now that I have a good version I promise to stop posting this song :)
Cabbages Are Lame - Shaun McGyver (feat. Amelie Andrezel)
Guitar and Lead Vocals: Shaun McGyver
This song is the result of a Tumblr collaboration with the very talented Shaun McGyver. I’m responsible for the production, mixing, arrangement, and backing vocals. It’s a wonderful song to start with, and I think this version turned out great. Have a listen.
Oh, and go follow Shaun… he’s awesome :)
She moved from the interior window, setting the shears on a pile of books and making her way toward the noise coming from outside of the open balcony. The protesters milled about on the avenue like colorful eddies on a swirling current. Their signs bobbed on the tide; the scuffing of their boots on the pavement made the sound of water over stepping stones. Some of them rested against the stoops of houses on the opposite side of the street, sharing stubs of cigarettes between them and passing newspaper articles back and forth on the wireless. She recognized a few of the youngest, barely more than boys. Only months before, she had smuggled them into Greifswald. How changeable, she thought sadly, we could be. Then again, she knew that one body often harbored two people, diametric opposites sharing lungs and veins and ventricles—but not lives. It was our nature. How could she begrudge them that?
(Amelie Andrezel, Mementos of the Fall)
(by Amelie Andrezel)
I walked for a very long time among the winding streets, steps silent against the sound of humanity going about its usual business.
I walked and I walked, eyes wide open and hunger in my belly, looking for something on which I could not put my finger.
There, in the middle of a city humming with a language I did not understand, I realized the depth of the silence of my own mind. Long years I’d spent as a student of syntax, studying the comings and goings of people, measured out neatly in letters and lines.
Yet how simple was I then, confronted by the savage sound of words? How lonely was I then, standing in rooms of feverish tongues, waiting for meaning but hearing only music?
A baby cries after hours of babel, but not from exhaustion. My feet were sore and my head was heavy. I had come to darkened shores.
Ideas here were islands, majestic and secluded, separated from one another by icy straights of deep, blue water. So hostile were the spaces in between, so wild and so fathomless, no structure built from words could hope to span them.
I had come to the place before language.
It was alien and pale, but as old as time and fundamental; cold and grey and ripe as the virgin moon. I had been here before, I reminded myself. We began here.
How did we forget?
Riding the bus past the station, a young man got on with a woman he was collecting from the train. They sat together in the seat beside mine, reciting breathless phrases, pledging pledges in voices strained by excitement. I do not know what poetry it was they swore by. Perhaps “Hello.”
He bent his head down over hers, hunching his shoulders, his body cradling her in a cocoon. Piously, he cupped his hands around her thin brown hair and pulled her toward him so that their mouths could meet.
She was lifted into him, her body elevated with gentle desperation. They clung and clutched and heaved, bodies arching toward the confluence of their lips like branches blindly reaching for the sun.
They got off the bus by the waterfront.
Through the window I watched as with kisses they were devoured, the head of the snake and the tail of the snake lost in an endless circle, one perfect ring of light.
Welcome, I thought, to the city of no language.
Ours is a language of no words.
(by Amelie Andrezel)
“Should I pay for your coffee?” Jane asked at last. “I imagine you’d like to leave as quickly as possible now that you know you’re in the company of a lunatic.”
“No,” Paul said, “Not at all. In fact, I’m considering a second cup. But you can pay for that too, if you’d like.”
“Free refills,” Jane reminded him.
“Of course,” Paul said. “How gallant of me.”
He lit another cigarette, his first now resting in its own ashes.
“Were you really going to hide out in the museum?” he asked, replacing the lighter in his pocket.
“Yes,” Jane said.
“You weren’t bluffing?” he wondered.
“How do I know you aren’t bluffing now?”
“It’s my show,” Jane admitted.
“The show in the museum,” Jane said and laughed. “The one whose opening you were attending. I have keys.”
“The photographs?” Paul asked with great interest. He sat back into the booth incredulously. “They were yours.”
“They were,” Jane said.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked with amusement.
“You didn’t ask,” Jane said. “In fact,” she added, “You specifically asked me not to tell you.”
“So I did,” Paul agreed. “And the book store?”
Jane shrugged. “A job.”
Paul looked out the window and smoked his cigarette. Turning back to Jane, he asked: “Are any of your long-lost friends on the wall in the museum?”
“No,” she said.
He leaned back into the booth and smiled knavishly, the cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth.
“Well,” he said, “Don’t I look like an idiot? Are you sure you don’t want me to pay for your coffee?”
“No one needs to pay for anyone’s coffee,” Jane assured him.
“But buildings,” Paul said suddenly. “Why on earth did you decide to photograph buildings?”
“I could never get people to sit still long enough,” Jane said sarcastically.
She looked at him with a complete dead-pan until he started to laugh. The way his whole body participated in the gesture, like a young tree shaken from the base of the trunk, was too much for her. She smiled.
“In all seriousness,” Paul asked, “Architectural photography seems a little, well, stiff—if I’m being honest.”
“Maybe it is,” Jane said.
“I mean,” Paul continued, “Don’t get me wrong, the time lapse concept was brilliant. I think it was amazing photography. It’s just not what I would have picked, now that I’ve met you.”
“And what would you have picked?”
Paul leaned back into the booth. His dark eyes were wet and intelligent, his hair fell haphazardly about his face. He took the cigarette from his mouth and caressed it absently between his thumb and forefinger as he studied her. Jane waited patiently, half-expecting some kind of mythical pronouncement, something she had always known about herself but never had the words to say.
“Not architecture,” Paul said at last and smiled.
Jane shook her head. There was a silence.
Paul looked down at his hands and picked absently at his finger nails. Jane drank her coffee and looked out the window.
“I’ve read your book,” she said at last.
“Have you?” Paul repeated.
“I have,” Jane said. “It’s very good.”
“Well,” he said, laughing derisively, “That’s the trouble, isn’t it?”
“It sets a certain standard, you see,” he explained.
“Are you afraid you’re a fraud?” Jane teased him.
“No,” Paul said, thinking purposefully and smoking again. “But there’s more to it than that, anyway.”
“More to it than what?”
“Well,” Paul began, “It’s like life. When you’re a child, you do marvelous things at play: you tell epic stories, you paint wild fantasies. You’re ferociously brave; you run fast and fall hard and laugh like a bandit loading his gun for one last, glorious stand. Because when you’re a child you know, without any doubt, that every day you do beautiful things.”
He stopped and looked up at Jane.
“That’s all that matters,” he said, “You do. You are.”
Their eyes really met for the first time. He smiled, but not the debonair smile of his irresistible mouth. This was a cautious smile, a real smile, in the little muscles to the sides of his eyes. Jane grew so still, she was sure she could hear the blood pumping in her fingertips.
“Then one day,” he said, “Someone gathers together all your heroic deeds and poignant thoughts and says, ‘Here, make a life.’ You sit down face to face with your future and after a long, hard look you realize life is more than talent. It’s more than hard work.”
Jane said nothing.
Paul leaned across the table. “Have you ever been running to catch a train,” he practically whispered, “When someone playing a violin for change in a hat stops you in your tracks? Or read a crumpled diary page on a library floor that would make Hemingway blush?”
He sat up a little straighter.
“I have,” he said. He took a long smoke.
“People are so beautiful,” he continued when he was done. “So fucking beautiful. Full of ability and desire. And look at us, letting it go to waste.”
He looked out the window the same way he had watched the pages burning in the parking lot. As if he might die of longing.
“But you’ve made it now,” Jane said to console him. “You don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
“No,” he said, running his hands nervously through his hair, “Quite the opposite, really. When I wrote my first book, it wasn’t just a story, or a piece of art. It was the entirety of my future life: all the potential and uncertainty and ecstasy and fear wrung from me and dripped across the pages. It was my chance to speak. There was no guarantee there’d ever be another one.”
He shook his head and slumped into the booth.
“And now?” Jane asked.
“Now I wonder,” he told her, “If I’m empty.”
“I still see things,” he explained. “I still say things well enough. Skill grows with time, wisdom broadens, but desire?”
The question sat stubbornly in the air, filling the space between them.
“Maybe I’ve said my piece,” Paul concluded. “Maybe those pages belong to someone else now.”
He removed the cigarette from his mouth and rested his wrists against the table, just staring at his coffee.
(by Amelie Andrezel)
Ferdinand walks down to the beach. The morning is clear, reverberating with the sounds of the dig above on the cliff and the laughter of his friends in the water. Konrad and Jordan are playing in the waves. Konrad is in his underwear, but Jordan wears an ankle-length linen shirt-dress over top of her scarlet-colored lingerie. Marcus lies peacefully on a blanket a few yards from the water’s edge. He looks at a book through the dark lenses of his sunglasses. Ferdinand takes a seat beside Bürger Wohlhändler. He stretches out his legs along side of his friend and leans back on his elbows.
FERDINAND: Good morning, Wohlhändler.
MARCUS: Good morning, Your Excellency. Did you sleep well?
FERDINAND: Better than yesterday.
MARCUS: All that exercise must have done you some good.
Ferdinand turns to face Marcus.
FERDINAND: You’re a lucky man, Wohlhändler.
MARCUS: I am.
FERDINAND: Professor Lindt is a good man to have as a friend.
MARCUS: I’ve been blessed with many friends. Carl and I have been close for years.
FERDINAND: There are many things about your life I envy, Marcus.
MARCUS: You’re a good man. Someday, you’ll be a Chairman. That’s a rare coincidence. Don’t wish it undone.
FERDINAND: For now, we’ll have to settle for the good deeds two good men can accomplish on a beach in the middle of nowhere, whatever those may be.
Out on the water, Jordan laughs and dives into the waves. Konrad jumps after her, looking vital and carefree.
FERDINAND: I’ve never seen him so happy.
MARCUS: She’s good for him. The island is good for him. With Jordan, there are no borders; all lines are blurred.
FERDINAND: Did you love her?
MARCUS: Did I love her? I love her every day.
FERDINAND: What about Constance?
MARCUS: You find me untrue?
FERDINAND: It does seem unfaithful to profess your love for another woman.
Wohlhändler shades his eyes and looks more directly at the Vice Chairman.
MARCUS: Do you love The Company, Vice Chairman? Or the Republic? Do you love the men who laid the foundation of our culture, or the land beneath our feet? Does that love detract from how you feel about Helena? That’s how it is for me, with Jordan.
FERDINAND: Why did you leave her?
MARCUS: She likes to collect lovers, but isn’t sure how to keep them. It’s nothing malicious, but she doesn’t recognize the effect she has, especially on men.
FERDINAND: She seems perfectly aware to me.
MARCUS: She knows people respond to her, but I don’t believe she understands why.
FERDINAND: You were willing to be her butterfly under glass?
MARCUS: She would have kept me, no doubt; perhaps we would have even been happy. But I couldn’t stand the thought of being there, tucked in her pocket, with her heart strung out like a kite, riding the wind. When I ran out of string, I let her go.
FERDINAND: You might have been good for her.
MARCUS: I’m forever in her debt. But I was selfish; I couldn’t bear the sacrifice of the one commodity that would have repaid her.
FERDINAND: Don’t be ridiculous. You would do anything for her.
MARCUS: Not enough. Why does it matter to you?
FERDINAND: I worry about Konrad.
MARCUS: Jordan will be careful.
MARCUS: Your opinion matters a great deal to her. She knows how upset you’d be if she treated him unfairly.
FERDINAND: I hope that you’re right.
Jordan calls to the Vice Chairman and the statesman from the water. She waves her hands in their direction.
JORDAN: Come in!
Ferdinand and Marcus hesitate.
JORDAN: What are you waiting for? Come in!
The two friends jump from their seats on the blanket and rush into the water. There, they play ferociously in the cool, shallow bay, reflecting in intensity the decreasing time they have left in the Wild. When they are exhausted, they rise out of the sea and towel off on the shore. Konrad and Marcus are in a hurry to see the monolith before sundown, and race up the cliff, leaving Jordan and Ferdinand alone on the beach.
Jordan stands silently at the edge of the water after the others have gone. Lying on the flat of the larger stones on the beach, Ferdinand watches as she looks down at her reflection in the water. All of her imposing grace falls away, sloughing off like a sheet of rain from her shoulders. Her wet locks are coiled at the nape of her neck, her slender hands twisted in fists at the small of her back. The white of her clenched knuckles contrasts with the blue tinge the chill casts over her exposed skin. At once, she is small and vulnerable; Ferdinand can see her as the fragile and fading woman that she is, without the spell of super-human will and charm that she casts around herself. She is dying, but Ferdinand realizes he can only see it now because she sees it herself. Consumed by the truth of it, starring her in the face, she cannot sustain the outward illusion she so masterfully projects.
Suddenly, like a swan princess in a ballet, she turns, realizing that Ferdinand is watching her. But the terrified flutter of limbs lasts only a gesture before she draws back her composure around her like a cloak. With the regale-most of smiles, she addresses Ferdinand.
JORDAN: I thought you had gone with the others.
FERDINAND: You were mistaken.
JORDAN: It would seem that’s becoming a habit.
She walks to where the Vice Chairman is sitting on the grainy beach. Her wet gown clings limply to her body, projecting the impression of a ghost, dragging heavily in her purposeful wake.
JORDAN: Are you enjoying your respite from civilization, Your Excellency?
FERDINAND: I appreciate wild things more than you give me credit for, Mademoiselle.
Jordan pushes damp hair behind her ear. She wrings her hands absently about her knees.
FERDINAND: Marcus cares very much about you. Does it matter at all that he loves you?
JORDAN: He can do what he likes. I do the same.
FERDINAND: Do you collect men like Marcus because you like the way they look, mounted in your curio cabinet? Do you think that you can preserve them like butterflies, with chloroform and hairpins? It won’t work, you know. You can’t bottle time; it’s beyond even you.
Instead of being angry, Jordan turns her head so that she is looking Ferdinand squarely in the face. Her blue eyes flash with a passionate but layered emotion.
JORDAN: Why did you punch the policeman, that day in the square? Was there something you were trying to accomplish?
FERDINAND: It seemed like the right thing to do.
JORDAN: I think you were afraid. You’re always more afraid to do wrong than you are motivated to do right.
Ferdinand smiles and skips a stone out into the water. It’s devoured by the waves at first contact. It plummets into its frothy resting place.
FERDINAND: It seems you know me well. How easily you could mold me into something useful, given half a chance.
JORDAN: Stop being a coward. It’s very convenient for you to play the victim, but it’s childish as well.
FERDINAND: My restlessness is nothing in comparison with your own. And for what? When I fail, a country fails with me. What is the consequence you’re so afraid of?
JORDAN: Fair enough.
Ferdinand looks extremely puzzled. He was expecting Jordan to retaliate.
JORDAN: I loved Marcus very much. I don’t know how I would have survived growing into a woman without him. But I loved him because I loved the person he made me; I didn’t know how to separate him from that. A fire only burns so long as some of the fuel remains. I had to put out the coals or I was afraid there would be nothing left to burn.
FERDINAND: I can’t imagine you, afraid.
JORDAN: I’m frightened all the time.
FERDINAND: Of what? No, on second thought, I don’t want to know. I have enough of my own nightmares, I don’t need to borrow yours.
JORDAN: What do they feel like, these nightmares of yours?
FERDINAND: Nothing at all. Just numbness, and the dread of something about to happen that never does. It’s like the empty taste of winter air, the moment you remember what warm, wet summer air feels like. It’s the space left in the void left by a forgotten memory.
FERDINAND: Time is like that, inside of The Barrier. In there, we wallow in the vacuum left by the collapse of another world. We expand as quickly as we possibly can, but we can’t fill the space. But out here, something is different.
FERDINAND: Close your eyes.
Jordan looks skeptically at Ferdinand. He looks back with great seriousness.
FERDINAND: Close your eyes.
He puts his hands on her shoulders and sits behind her. They both close their eyes. The wind blows against their faces, gently but steadily.
JORDAN: My eyes are closed.
FERDINAND: Put your fingers in the sand.
Eyes still closed, Jordan frowns and does as she is told.
FERDINAND: Do you feel it?
JORDAN: What am I looking for?
FERDINAND: Don’t look. Just tell me what you feel.
Jordan purses her lips and digs her fingers more thoroughly into the sand.
JORDAN: I feel the warm sand, protected from the salt and the rain by a barrier of pebbles.
FERDINAND: What else?
JORDAN: I feel the wind, pressing against my face, hoping to wear me down into another grain on the beach. I feel the world, grinding and cementing my body to rock.
FERDINAND: Will it succeed?
JORDAN: Someday, when I’m willing to sit still. But for now, I’m too impatient to wait for it. I feel the emptiness of the sky and the solidarity of the ground and my fingers itch to move.
Ferdinand gently squeezes her shoulders, then relaxes his fingertips.
JORDAN: What about you, Your Excellency? What do you feel?
FERDINAND: It’s difficult to describe.
FERDINAND: I feel whatever it was that brought the Romantics here, so long before the Fall.
JORDAN: Have you been back to the monolith?
FERDINAND: No, but it’s not just that. I mean, there’s a sensation—an impression, if you will—of the generations that stood before us, the echo of their humanity, the commonality of our dreams and shortcomings, but I also feel something deeper than that.
JORDAN: Deeper than the bonds of humanity? Be careful, Vice Chairman, or you’ll be mistaken for a religious man.
FERDINAND: All of those generations that have walked on this beach have left their monuments, and not just the monoliths and the artifacts that Lindt brought back from London, but the unintentional testaments to their existence, like the guardhouse or the smashed pavement.
JORDAN: We leave a lot of rubble in our wake.
FERDINAND: On the contrary. You said yourself, when you are gone, the land will grind you down and turn you to stone. I’m beginning to think it’s a shame we’ve done away with burial—our bones are all this world has to remember us by.
They look away from one another. Jordan tosses some pebbles into the waves. Ferdinand pensively smokes a cigarette.
FERDINAND: It has no use for us at all—this Earth. We’ve done everything we could to hurt it—like petulant children desperate for attention. We set fire to the ground, detonated the sky, buried poison in the rocks. Sometimes, I think we would boil off the seas, if it meant we’d made an impact. We’re so desperate to have mattered, so determined to be remembered. But none of it changes anything. When we’ve finished with our tantrums, the Earth will fold them away. She’ll swallow them into her churning furnace like one more failed experiment among many. Our legacy will sink for millennia in the warm belly of the rocks until it dissolves completely in the basements of Hell. On the surface, it will be some other creature’s time. That’s the punishment, I suppose, for losing our grasp of Heaven.
JORDAN: Do you hate her for it?
JORDAN: The Earth.
FERDINAND: No. I think her independence makes me love her more. Under The Barrier, I have the illusion of control, but here, on this beach, I can hear her laughing at me, daring me to make an impression. Women who don’t need you are impossible not to love.
JORDAN: Why, Your Excellency, I think you’re going Wild.
FERDINAND: Don’t tell Helena.
JORDAN: What on Earth do the two of you find to talk about?
Ferdinand smiles and rises from his seat. He holds out a hand for Jordan, who takes it. Standing fully in the wind, she shivers slightly. Ferdinand rubs her shoulder.
FERDINAND: We’d better be going. The others will wonder where we’ve been.
The friends gather in Jordan’s drawing room. The red velvet curtains are closed; night has fallen. Constanz and Marcus sit in one corner; Babic and Ferdinand in the other. Konrad leans against the secretary’s desk, looking pensively out the window. Jordan goes to the liquor cabinet. She removes several bottles of fine scotch whiskey. She turns and smiles sadly to the group.
JORDAN: There’s no reason for the whole evening to be a disappointment.
Ferdinand returns his own characteristic sad smile. He takes the bottle from Jordan, who returns to the cabinet for the cut crystal glasses.
FERDINAND: “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.”
Marcus takes a glass from Jordan. Ferdinand pours him a large portion of whiskey.
MARCUS (subdued): Here, here.
All of the friends have their glasses filled. Konrad raises his to the ceiling.
KONRAD: To the Republic, such as it is.
ALL (save Ferdinand): To the Republic.
They each take a large drink. When they have finished, Ferdinand downs his glass alone. He begins to refill the others’ glasses. Jordan meanders toward the turntable that sits on the curio table. She selects a record from the modest collection on the adjacent shelf: “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. She puts down the needle. It plays softly. Marcus takes a swig of his second whiskey and offers his hand to Constanz. She accepts. They hold one another close and shuffle around the dim room. The others disperse to scattered chairs. Jordan slips momentarily from the room. Babic and Ferdinand strike up a conversation.
FERDINAND (grimly): Keller isn’t going to like this one bit.
BABIC: And why should he? The man has a business to run.
FERDINAND: I suppose you’re going to tell me that I, of all people, should have some sympathy for his plight.
He lights a cigarette and smokes it nonchalantly. Babic hesitates, as if he were unsure of whether he should speak freely.
BABIC: From the onset, this was a risky business—unnecessarily so. To continue under the current conditions is, if I may say, madness.
FERDINAND (thoughtfully): “I am but mad north-north-west.”
Jordan joins Ferdinand and her uncle. She’s changed into loose-fitting black trousers, which she has paired with a dapper tuxedo shirt and vest. Her hair is slicked back quite close to her head. The androgynous effect suits her well. She perches as delicately as one of her birds on the edge of an ottoman. Flippantly, she removes the cigarette from Ferdinand’s mouth and dashes it on the ashtray.
JORDAN: You oughtn’t smoke.
FERDINAND (gentle amusement): And why not? It’s perfectly safe.
JORDAN (slyly): That’s precisely the problem.
FERDINAND: You’d prefer they reinstate the tar—and the arsenic?
JORDAN: I am a firm believer in civil disobedience, Vice Chairman. But a man who willingly defies authority and shrinks at the consequences is little more than a petulant child.
FERDINAND: And I here I thought we were speaking of cigarettes.
JORDAN: Were we? I’m so easily confused.
BABIC (sadly, putting an end to their critical banter): Be kind, Jordan. He’s more than willing to jump, without you giving him a push. It won’t make him hit the ground any faster.
Konrad walks over to the little group.
KONRAD (kindly): Have you settled it then: all the world’s trouble?
FERDINAND (smiles): Not yet. But perhaps if you’ll join us…
JORDAN (changing the subject): Mr. Wittberg would much rather dance. We’re only talking nonsense, anyway.
She gets up from her seat and offers Konrad an eager hand. He smiles and sets down his drink. They join Marcus and Constanz in their dancing.
BABIC: You shouldn’t take it personally.
FERDINAND (thoughtfully, amused): I don’t. I think, perhaps… we’re friends.
Babic looks skeptical, but says nothing. Out on the impromptu dance floor, the two young couples sway in time to “Cathy’s Song”. Konrad holds Jordan close. His hands are around her waist. Hers are clasped behind his neck, her wrists draped on his shoulders.
KONRAD: You make him cross.
KONRAD: Ferdinand. All my life I’ve tried, but I don’t seem to have a talent for it. You’re almost as good as his father.
JORDAN: Flattery will get you nowhere.
She reaches up on her toes and kisses him. It is a long, slow kiss. The record changes to “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me”.
JORDAN: Why do they quarrel? Did something start it—or was he born that way?
KONRAD (snorts derisively): Ferdinand, or the Chairman? (Then, more seriously): Come with me to Edena sometime; you can see for yourself.
Jordan looks challengingly up into his eyes. Purposefully, she moves her hands down to Konrad’s waist. They mirror one another’s posture.
JORDAN: I think, perhaps, that’s a bad idea.
Konrad looks annoyed, but says nothing. They dance this way for a few moments. After a bit, Konrad moves Jordan’s hands back up to his shoulders. She moves them back down. Konrad becomes exasperated.
KONRAD (irritated, picking a fight): That’s a new vest.
JORDAN: You don’t approve? I find it charming.
Konrad runs his fingers over top of her slicked hair. He looks at Jordan with worried exasperation.
KONRAD (begrudgingly): It’s a lovely garment.
JORDAN: You can borrow it, if you like.
KONRAD: What I’d like is to understand why you feel the need to be so contrary.
JORDAN (curtly): Contrary?
KONRAD: Do you have any idea how much easier your life would be—without all of this?
He lets go of her waist and gestures toward her attire. They stand facing one another, no longer dancing. He clasps her hands in front of him at waist height.
JORDAN (annoyed): Of course I do! What, exactly, do you propose I do about it?
KONRAD (simply): Stop.
JORDAN (angrily, but with reserve): Why didn’t I think of that?
She shakes off Konrad’s hands. “Anji” begins playing on the turntable. She walks up to Ferdinand, who is still drinking with Babic.
JORDAN (adamantly): Vice Chairman, would you do me the pleasure of sharing this dance?
Without waiting for an answer, she grabs his hand. Ferdinand sets down his glass and Jordan leads him out onto the floor. Konrad slouches unhappily in a chair on the other side of the room. On the dance floor, Jordan’s hands are around Ferdinand’s waist. Playing along, Ferdinand, who is much taller than Konrad, rests his hands casually on Jordan’s shoulders.
FERDINAND: What did he say?
JORDAN (casually): It’s not important.
Ferdinand smiles and settles his forearms more comfortably on Jordan’s shoulders. Konrad glowers from his chair.
JORDAN: He’ll be angry with you, you know.
FERDINAND (smiles): Why not? Everyone else is.
They attempt a dance step to add to the illusion that they are enjoying themselves.
FERDINAND: Your uncle thinks that we should put a stop to the smuggling, at least until the investigation is over.
JORDAN: My uncle is a clever man.
Their dancing pulls them apart for a moment. Soon, they are close once more.
JORDAN: Will you take his advice?
FERDINAND: The choice isn’t really mine to make. To continue would put them all in danger—you as well.
JORDAN (smiles genuinely): How convenient.
There is another pause in the conversation while they dance.
FERDINAND: Do you know, I rather like your hair this way. It’s a striking compliment to your profile.
JORDAN: Another diversion, Vice Chairman?
FERDINAND: I believe I’m well within my rights to compliment the lady with whom I’m dancing.
Jordan takes an obvious lead in the dancing. Ferdinand laughs.
FERDINAND: Ah, but of course. My mistake.
They dance in silence a while. “Richard Cory” now plays in the background.
RECORD: “They say that Richard Cory owns one half of this whole town / With political connections / To spread his wealth around / Born into society / A banker’s only child / He had everything a man could want: / Power, grace and style.”
FERDINAND: You know, I’ve never been sure: are we intended to feel sorry for Mr. Cory?
JORDAN (laughs): Do you find it difficult?
FERDINAND (smiles): He does seem the poor little rich boy.
JORDAN (thoughtfully): “We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.”
FERDINAND: And what, dear Jordan, does that say about us?
JORDAN: Only that a man requires purpose, Vice Chairman. Without it, he is lost.
FERDINAND (kindly, sincerely): Is that how you see me? A man without purpose?
JORDAN: I think, Vice Chairman, that’s how you see yourself.
Suddenly, Jordan loses her balance. She slips a little, but Ferdinand rights her.
FERDINAND: Are you dizzy?
FERDINAND: Rest against me. Maybe it will pass.
Jordan wraps her hands more tightly around Ferdinand’s waist. She rests her head against his chest. “April Come She Will” plays softly. They sway in silence, both surprised by the tenderness of the moment. At length, Konrad interrupts.
KONRAD (gently, their tiff forgotten): Jordan, my darling, are you not well?
JORDAN (proudly but feebly): I’m in need of rest, that’s all.
Konrad takes hold of her hand. She smiles faintly.
FERDINAND: She was feeling a little dizzy. Perhaps you should take her upstairs.
Konrad clutches Jordan close to him. She is righting herself valiantly with his support. Konrad sets his free hand on Ferdinand’s shoulder.
KONRAD: Thank you.
Ferdinand just nods. Konrad helps Jordan from the room. Ferdinand watches as they disappear on the other side of the door. When they have gone, he sits back down next to Babic. They drink in silence, watching as Marcus and Constanz continue to dance to the music that no longer plays.
God it was cold. There wasn’t much time, of course, but a lot was accomplished in the last breath and wandering thoughts of Odile Rogers. The cold was overriding; it permeated every pore and flash-froze her lungs so quickly she almost didn’t notice there was no air for her to breathe.
In the gasping and the groping, Odile was mostly struck by the sterility of the freezing “not-air” that passed her lips. It only shook her by how familiar it was, like the stale film of death and emptiness that fell over the winter days up North, when your eyelashes froze and all you wished for was the smell and the weight of life that hung so tangibly in the calm before a summer night’s storm.
There was so much life and electricity in the swirling, building clouds of those thunderstorms, so much tumult that you were sure that the sky was just as alive as the trees it battered with its blasting hot breath and pelting raindrops. But here, there was nothing. The deadness of Mars, for all the secrets it had revealed to Odile Rogers, was going to swallow her whole.
Like a sick thermodynamic law, she could sense the life rushing away from her into the void, craving equilibrium. But was there enough life in one small body to fill the universe, that gaping, infinite canonical reservoir? Or would she spend herself only to be lost in its vastness, all traces of her sacrifice buried under the weight of nothingness?
Odile Rogers let her thoughts linger as long as she could on the softer things in life: on the electricity of sex, on the sweat in the small of a lover’s back or pooled above her lips, on the burn of a drink, and on the warm lull of a dream. But unlike so many others who had clung to such memories in their last moments, Odile Rogers groped not for proof that she had lived, but that the world itself had.
-Amelie Andrezel, “I Dreamt of Africa”