CHAMPAGNE TANGO

Richard Humann in the “Champagne Tango” installation at the Lab Gallery, Roger Smith Hotel, January 2007“ 

“Well, what do you think?” he asks.

We are standing on the balcony of his vacant apartment, separated by the twilight shadows. I open my mouth but no words come out.

“I have to buy some things,” he says.  “I saw some champagne glasses I really liked yesterday…”

AYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

The face of my Love appears before me. He is so beautiful, my heart aches to look at him.  I lift my hand to my forehead, painfully aware of feeling faint, and have to grip the iron railing to keep from falling…”Alejandro, I am in love with you.” My voice echoes in the still of the empty apartment. “Laura,” he replies, after a long silence.  “I have to be honest with you.  If she takes me back, I will return to her.” I swallow and turn away from his cruel grin.  “I know.” The silence is near deafening—I can hear my heart pounding.   And then, a faint sound building to a frenzied climax.  Tango. He pours me some more champagne and showers me with poetry.   Passionate scribbling etched in a pen spilling with desire. For a moment, I forget about her and imagine it must be me that releases such emotion in him.  And then, I remember.  Stella.   Her name and face are everywhere… on his mirror…over his  bed…in his poetry.  He does Marlon Brando imitations, “S-T-E-L-L-A!  WHY DID YOU LEAVE  ME!” Words tumbling in anguish down the stairs. Maybe you should fight for her.” He shakes his head. Do you see her face when you make love to me? “Maybe you should go to her and tell her how you feel.” He shakes his head again.  He doesn’t want her back. Some affairs are best left in fantasy. The tenderness you shower on me, is this outpouring really meant for her?  And the cruelty…how clever of her to  escape while I remain to take the blows! I shudder and move to the windowsill where I wrap my  loose garment tightly around my legs.  My only shield —  and oh,  what a flimsy one — to my raw emotions. “I am so in love with you…it hurts,” I murmur, my voice nearly lost in whisper. He broods, the head bent over in silhouette, the expression lost in the twilight shadows. “Laura, you are only in love with me because I am in love with someone else.” The deep chord of a faint, familiar tango strikes inside me  and I clutch my stomach for fear it will cave in.  I cover my ears to shut out the sound.  My vision is blurred. A shadow has fallen over me.  His shadow! I put my hands on the bars and  try to lift myself up as I tilt my head to the side, listening…”Where is that tango coming from?” I murmur. “Tango,” says the shadow.  “What tango?” I squint, wanting so much to see.  Yet he is hidden in the dusk.  All except the curls of his hair.  Familiar, so familiar.  The cold iron hardness of the railing digs into my side.  I pull my jacket around me.  A raindrop falls on my cheek and I look up, suddenly aware that I am on a balcony, though I don’t know where or with whom. Trembling, I grip the railing again.  My knees are shaking. “I really must go now.” The shadow moves closer and I teeter on the edge.  A male voice stops me:  “Laura, is something wrong?” The face looms before me now and everything comes back at once.  I am in Buenos Aires, with a man I recently met, and he is waiting for his girlfriend to join him and just now showing me the apartment where they will live. I shake my head and realize how close to the edge I have come.  “No.  Nothing… I… I… really have to go now…”. Turning, I back all the way out the apartment and through the open door.  “Don’t forget tomorrow night” I hear him say as I leap down the stairs. A clap of thunder startles me as I enter the street.  The sky opens up and the rain begins to fall.  I am caught in a downpour and I run like a wild woman, through the streets, faster and faster, until I reach a familiar building I call home.

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