War Story

Nov 05 2013

Jennifer hadn’t predicted This Final Outcome as a likely contingency. It had been something that she had considered fleetingly, but now that it has come to pass, she senses her consciousness to be engulfed in a surreal state of detached horror. What has routinely happened before now has been that she, Jennifer, had been doing something stupid, and that John had rescued her. However on this occasion she has not been doing anything stupid, and John has as usual been performing according to the governance of his flawlessly sensible character, and the fact that John is now distinguishing his inherent heroism in a pool of the slick mess of his own rapidly approaching demise seems to bear no relation to anything that they have been doing in their immediate past, either as a team, or independently. The current situation is drifting in liberty of any causative bonds through realms of chaotic unmeaning. A dangerous projectile that has been mechanistically propelled with intention to cause death or at least grievous bodily harm shrieks on its deadly course overhead.

Now, “I can’t feel my legs,” John is saying, as the majority of his torso reclines on a slight elevation, with his head resting on Jennifer’s bicep. Her side is pressed against his and she is breathing on his mouth and looking at his eyeball. What will John’s girlfriend feel, thinks Jennifer in a panic, if she finds out about this? She’s going to feel robbed of John’s last moments, so I must need to invent some story to explain why I had not been with John, that will make it seem as though John was thinking of her only. But then she might worry more about John having died alone.

“What about Jane?” says John at this moment, relieving Jennifer of her anxieties, “I’m leaving Jane,” and he grunts, and his eyes roll around a little bit. He can’t feel his legs because he doesn’t possess legs. It isn’t like one of those eloquently pristine dramatic scenes delineated by a few slipping entrail solids and poetically flowing blood fluids. John’s disintegrated pelvis is all over the place, and Jennifer fears that part of it is on her face. It’s probably too late for the med team to get here, thinks Jennifer, irrationally. “Talk Jenny,” says John, “Tell me something.”

“Um,” says Jennifer, “OK John. There’s this woman and she’s an artist.”

“Is she hot,” says John.

“Maybe, I don’t know, she’s a normal woman, sometimes she’s hot if she wants to be, or depending on who’s looking at her, but other times she might not be.”

“What’s her name,” says John.

“Jane,” says Jennifer, without thinking.

“My Jane,” says John.

“Ah, no, different Jane, but they know each other, wait maybe, don’t think so, no not sure. Anyway she’s an artist, she’s a painter, and very clever with her paint, and really knows how to paint. And she can’t wait to paint every day, and go to the studio and work on her paintings. She paints something I don’t know, landscapes, nudes, still lifes, something like that. And then, the wet paint too, it’s excited to work on the paintings too, the wet paint. It’s wet inside the tube, and it wants to get out of the tube, and get onto the canvas, and get to be a painting. It’s excited the same way Jane is, to work on painting, it thinks of itself as an artist the way Jane thinks of herself as an artist. But then by accident one day it gets a bit of itself on her, on her breast through the neck of her shirt, and she gets annoyed, and it gets embarrassed, and she washes it off and down the drain, and then it’s mainly water and it doesn’t know anymore. But then although it was embarrassed because of getting itself on her it realises that it got excited too, and it wants to get on her, in this kind of pervy way, because even though she pretends she doesn’t want it to get on her, she keeps coming back to work with it. And then it’s worried because if it dries it won’t be wet paint anymore, it will lose itself, and it’s worried because

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