I took L to a motel near my place. I held her black hair and rubbed it against my cold nose. She was Vietnamese.
I like it when it rains, I said.
I don’t like it when I can’t hear the rain against my house, I said. I can’t hear
the rain against my house except when it rains hard. I could hear it when I lived
in another house. The gutters had leaves in it.
I don’t understand, she said.
Do you have a boyfriend, I asked. I didn’t know what to do with her. I was
suddenly distracted and disgusted with myself. I wasn’t sure I would be able to have an erection. I pitied her for having misled her.
I will pay for the room, I said. Do you want to look at t.v.?
She didn’t say anything. I turned on the t.v.. Israel was bombing the Palestinians to
kingdom come. A Palestinian boy was killed playing soccer on the beach. It was what enemies do who live in close proximity. They killed innocent children.They engaged in street fighting. They retreated to borders and tunnels.
It wasn’t clear how American as a nation would address having tortured folk. It still
hadn’t adequately addressed slavery. I had been hearing the phrase “let’s have a conversation” repeatedly. It was inadequate to meet these problems with a conversation.
There should be a tax to compensate every torture victim and his family, I thought.
It should be like the person water boarded  wins the lottery. It was a depressing thought but these were depressing times in America.
I would die if something horrible happened to one on my loved ones, I said.
Yes, L said. L’s hand fell gently on my neck. The painfully beautiful twenty five year old had braces on her wide teeth. Her eyes were porous and black. Her lips were parted.  My pressure headache and nausea were abated. I felt safe. Our lips met. We held them together and breathed. I thought she had a smile.
I’m used to hurting people, I said. I don’t want to hurt you.
You hurt yourself, she said. You can’t stop hurting yourself. You’re sick.
Our legs were entangled. L’s neck was a small silver snake. It made its way over my mouth and eyes. I rested. I was happy. I had that this is forever feeling. I heard the rain drum on the roof of the motel. I wanted to know about her life in Vietnam. I would like to go there with her and disappear.
I like to go to the mall, L said.
The one with the ice skating rink in the North East, I said.
I like to ice skate, she said.
I didn’t know how long she had been in Portland. She had an accent and she
was taciturn. It could be that she had grown up in America.
I want to have fun, she said.
Me too, I said.
We can go ice skating if you like.
I’d like that.
It’s funny I can’t have fun without being serious.
What do you mean, she asked. You’re not too serious.
You’re lonely maybe.
Yes, I said.
You are beautiful, I said.
You are bored, I said.
I’m married, I said.
I know.
You know men do the craziest things not to be bored, I said.
Are you in love with me, she said.
I like you.
I like you too.
I like your wife also.
You know her.
Yes I have seen her come in and out of the store, she said. She’s very beautiful.
I don’t understand men. They don’t know what love is. They destroy their
families and sometimes even nations because they are ignorant.
What kind of a man are you, I thought to himself. You don’t care about this woman.
You only want to make her fall in love with you. You’ll never be
able to love anyone.
I don’t know why we do what we do, I said. We do what we have to do, I guess.
You like to paint, she said.
Yes, I said. It’s my hobby.
You come in every week and spend forty dollars she said.
I can’t help it.
You can’t help painting.
No I come to see you.
I thought you came to see my sister.
She’s mean.
I didn’t think I would come with you to this room.
I didn’t either.
You’re a selfish man.
We’re fucked up.
No don’t say that. Maybe we can help one another.
I want to fuck you.
My boyfriend wouldn’t like to hear you say that.
I turned off the t.v.. I was sick of the bloated dead white bodies in the middle east. I knew that when I looked at the news again in a weeks time the two sides would be
back to diplomacy.
There used to be an art to war, to rape and pillaging, I said. Nowadays war has no face.
L was bored. She yawned. She licked my penis with the back of her head turned to me. I felt ashamed. She was sucking my penis without me.