THE DATE PART V: BECAUSE MY LOVE FOR YOU WOULD BREAK MY HEART IN TWO
Who Am I? Who Will I Be Now? Rhodes Cardell or Will Makepeace? Those questions haunted him as the day of the date came closer and closer like the waters from an on-rushing river. A week and a half had seemed a more than enough time to make up his mind, to get a handle on his feelings, to calmly compose himself, but he soon discovered that such was not the case. There was something almost farcical in his attempts to delay; he found himself going to bed later and later as if this would somehow slow down time; Rhodes Cardell’s frantic schedule of clubbing picked up though the music didn’t elevate, didn’t move him, while alcohol and drugs had never appealed to him, partly because he feared losing control but mostly because he simply didn’t like them; when he finally made it to bed the worries that scoured his mind and heart were so ludicrously intense that sleep eluded him for hours. And his dreams… His dreams were strange and involved, yet he couldn’t remember them when he awoke and was ashamed to find his cheeks were wet.
What was happening to him? Was anything worth this? Then came the realization that it was crippling *love*, that it *was* worth it. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t thought himself in love before, and he had experienced two serious, intense, if brief and disastrous, relationships when a younger man before the Rhodes Cardell shell had fully formed. But this was different. Even though it seemed impossibly adolescent, fantastical, he had felt an instant connection, almost a communion, with Isabella. Her loveliness seemed permanently strobe-lit as if illuminated from within by her intelligence, personality, warmth, her deep *true* beauty – a beauty far surpassing the physical. Isabella’s wit was satisfyingly cutting, sophisticatedly mock-vulgar but didn’t obscure her sensitive core. There was something about her, an “I don’t know what it is”, existing apart from and beyond all the wonderful qualities he could enumerate.
He felt enraptured by her in a way that was almost embarrassing but not, because of its truth and purity. She was a living breathing human being, heir to all the flaws of human beings; he knew that and it didn’t change a thing, because in his eyes her even her greatest “flaw” was as nothing. Underneath it all was the sense of danger that was leaving him wracked with worry and stress. It was dangerous because of his fear that he wasn’t worthy of her; it was dangerous because he was so unconfident that he, whether thinking of himself as Rhodes or Will, could possibly hold her attention with his own qualities, such as they were; it was dangerous because he could imagine the date turning into a calamitously slapstick disaster that, even if it might seem hilarious from the outside, could leave his heart in as many pieces as glass bowl hurled from the observation deck of the Empire State Building to the street below.
So he delayed and delayed and delayed, pushed thinking of the entirely ordinary date out of his mind while, in truth, being unable to. Then when he couldn’t do that any longer he found himself hatching fumblingly juvenile and craven plots to extricate himself from the thing for which he longed; perhaps he could get one of his assistants, Pedro (real name: Pete Armbruster from Schenectady) or Ramona, to call and say that he’d had to go on a shoot in Rio de Janeiro on short notice, or that he’d suddenly been taken ill, or, no, had *died*! Yes, *that* would work, he had died tragically – slipped on a banana peel and gone right under a subway train… Tragic, indeed. The only *slight* problem that he could see was how he would explain the fact that he quite transparently was *not* dead… Eventually he calmed his jittery nerves, and halted his desperate and comic imaginings, as the reality crashed in upon him and brought him to obvious revelation: not to try to be worthy of Isabella was unthinkable.
Even though he was riven with uncertainty the alternative was now beyond him. The change that Isabella Arden had unknowingly wrought on him was too powerful, it really did have the force of *divine revelation* or soul-deep epiphany; this painful and undeniable realization that he had been running or dancing away from real life, that the notion that his Art and Work was *enough* had been a self-protective fallacy, that the real enjoyment he had felt as Rhodes Cardell was, in truth, flimsy, ephemeral, a fragile facade. Having met Isabella, there was no possibility of slipping back into that stasis, that *meaninglessness*. There would be nothing but darkness if he did so. He finally realized that he had been frustrated and depressed by the life he had been living, the performance as Rhodes Cardell had become worse than unsatisfactory. He had been looking for something, for *someone*. And until he met Isabella he had had no idea, but now he had there was no denying of it, of *her*. It would be impossible to turn away now. *Impossible*.
So, there he was the day of The Date, reservations somehow made, trying to stop his hands from trembling and ignore the tumult of thoughts tumbling through his mind. Everything now-wasmovingsofast. First he is agonizing over what he should wear; then he is washing, shaving getting ready; then he is in the limo; then he is walking to her apartment building… NOW, he is outside her door about to press the intercom buzzer… And he knows that he is Rhodes Cardell *and* Will Makepeace, and he can only be himself with her, he can only be True to her. He reaches for the buzzer…and presses it. In a few moments The Date and his new life will begin. And with that we must leave them with our tenderest hopes and imaginings. Good luck, Will and Isabella, good luck…
Thank you so much again for putting up my little scribble, dearest Vickie, “Baby, You’re the top!” 🙂
Ahhhh, Mr. Kaplan! I still haven’t been able to go back and read The Date from the beginning as that was before I had stumbled giddily into this wonderful gin joint. But I will…I will…looking forward to it…
Oh, Heather, you are so kind you bring a smile to my face. I hope the story proves worthy. Merci beaucoup!
Mr Kaplan 😉
Ach, Heather, I meant to start that reply with “Of all the gin joints, in all the world…” Bwahahaha! Obligatory Casablanca reference, hard to resist 🙂
I’m feeling anxious for poor Will. An internal conflict of that variety and magnitude can eat you up, and it’s so unnecessary! I hope Isabella is worth all the torture and will love Will for who he is.
If I could whisper a little something in his ear it would be, “to thine own self be true…” 😉
(Then, through the magic of fiction, I would go get some coffee with anxious Will, and reassure him of his greatness and worth.)
Your writing is excellent, per usual, Mr. Kaplan. It’s such a beautiful gift, George, it really is.
I apologize for not getting to it sooner- I’m trying to sell my house and it’s a lot of work to keep it looking staged, etc. (in keeping with the theme- maintaining a false front is always a bother and such an energy drain.) Yesterday we had some people from Toronto looking. Fingers crossed….
Wonderful!!! I look forward to the next installment. 😉
Much love and admiration,
Lisa, you are precious and beautiful as ever. Ah, if only I could live up to your superlative praise and emulate your gracious heart! Don’t feel anxious for Will, I’m sure he’ll be fine. The poor fellow can’t help but put himself thru the wringer, I’m sure he would be delighted to be so well thought of by you! I have a feeling that Isabella will be perfect for him, and he for her.
If you are ever in Fiction World I’m sure he’d love to go for a coffee with you. Perhaps it would be 29 year-old Will, or maybe him as he is now (hope he is still around) 😉
To be assured of his “greatness and worth” by an incredible and accomplished lady like you would make his fragile heart strengthen and swell.
Yourvwords on my “beautiful gift” are so wonderful, I appreciate them deeply and can only praise your own boundless gifts too.
I wish you all good fortune with the house, I am sure all the blessings you deserve are about to rain down uppn you, you strong, tender-hearted, marvellous woman! Never cease to believe in your purity and goodness. I am rooting for you.
Hugs, your admiring and grateful friend,
You Know George
The Dandy is rather hooked on Billy / Rhodes.The knot in his stomach is showing through the skin quite wonderfully in this prose.
Might I single out the phrase “Her loveliness seemed permanently strobe-lit…” for special applause, What an image. immaculate.
The Perfumed Dandy
I am butting in on George’s territory, but I was at a photo shoot once where the photographer was using strobe lights that were so bright and so quick firing I felt like they were pelting my skull. Who knew light could bash into your bones???
Vickie, I love that recollection. And “Who knew that light could bash into your bones???” Fantastic phrasing! The impact of the strobe!!!
A misspent youth that coincided with the arrival of ‘dance music’ means that The dandy spent more time gazing at strobe lights than was probably good for him.
Truly they can be bone crunching on occasion!
The Perfumed Dandy
I’m so pleased you noticed the “permanently strobe-lit” phrase, M. Dandy; I very much loved the imagistic impact of it when it struck me, it seemed a perfect description of how Isabella seemed as a person, and it’s a nice photography-related idea I thought. Also, it is drawn from life!
Thank you for your so-kind words… Ahh, what becomes of William/Rhodes? I will leave it to you to decide 🙂
Warm regards, George
There are more installments, right? You’re not leaving us hanging at the just-pressed doorbell!
Ohh, silverscreenings, I’m afraid so! :'( Just imagine how you’d like Will and Isabella to end up. It is all about the Mystery! I hope you can forgive it… I’m glad you liked the story, disappointing doorbellhanger ending aside, regards,
Well, George Kaplan, I’ve enjoyed this series very much and am imagining a “Happily Ever After” ending for Will and Isabella.
Thank you for sharing such wonderful writing, and for perfectly capturing these emotions.
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