No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Look beneath the pie-crust
Catherine knew this, of course. In emotional terms, the ferryman must always be paid: many a mickle makes a muckle: you can’t fool all of the people all of the time: be sure your sins will find you out: all that.
It was a shame, she thought, that relationships began so much better than they ended. William (for that was his name) had promised so well, and he was playful, attentive, desirous. He knew stuff. And Catherine liked the fact that you could vary his name: William, Willy, Bill, Billy. Guillaume. He liked her, she made him laugh. And once, standing on a plain, he narrowed his eyes and said: “what’s that over there, a long way off, coming this way? I believe it is happiness.”
And so it was. For awhile anyway. He was such a good lover, and was tender as well as vigorous. But he began to fear her. She was too this, too that, not enough this, not enough that. He worried that she had not been as forthcoming as he thought, and he became watchful for inconsistencies in the stories that she told . And Catherine in her turn felt judged and watched, and ultimately disregarded. The direct gaze was now slightly askance: the little gifts were priced up somehow. And what had been a pleasure turned into a piercing pain. They were not honest with each other any more.
What was the solution? It had all turned on the newel of appetite, swinging easily like a door in the wind. Well then. Let it end with appetite too. Catherine prepared a banquet for the two of them, and for the centrepiece of the table she made two huge pies, whose crusts gleamed in the candlelight. She was a good cook, and had taken care.
William’s pie contained things like looked like parts of Catherine. Okra looked like her little fingers, mangoes looked like her large breasts, octopus rings looked like her vagina (though withered from its former splendour). Angel-hair spaghetti stood in for her shiny locks. And Catherine’s pie contained William-like fragments: a frankfurter for his manliest part, some small bananas for his agile hands, an avocado for his aquiline nose.
They ate steadily on into the night. There was no pudding, of course. Finally they both pushed their plates away, and said in unison: “I’ll never eat so much again.” They were done with each other. William got up rather unsteadily and walked away from her without saying goodbye. But Catherine, as she sat there in the darkness, could just about imagine that she might be hungry again. Another year, another Bill.