I accuse everyone, I accuse everything.
I accuse Blair’s long neck, which she appraises smugly every time she looks in a mirror, a neck which makes her think that an infinite stream of increasingly perfect men will forever be queuing up to date her. I accuse her differently colored eyes, which ensnared me the first time I saw them at that party at director Hector T’s. I accuse director Hector T, whose security for said party was woefully inadequate. I accuse the cultists, who exploited those woeful inadequacies and attacked the party like a contemporary Manson family, thus creating a climate of hysteria in which my relationship with Blair was birthed, presaging an unsustainable level of intensity and instability between us. I accuse the Republican Party, whose willfully ignorant policies of environmental deregulation and non-redistributive taxation led to a literally and figuratively overheated climate in which the cultists’ attitudes soured, fermented, and then spread like mold.
I accuse Blair’s father, who gave her so much money, and so little love. I accuse Blair’s mother, who gave her so much love, but so little direction. I accuse Blair’s sister Evelyn, who gave her too much direction, and the allure of whose Macy’s-window-display life ultimately proved to be too much for Blair to resist. I accuse that okapi – or zebra, or bushback, or ibex, or whatever creature of the savannah it was – for bleating so loudly when I was trying to liberate it from the zoo. I accuse the zoo’s security guards for Tasing me in the parking lot. I accuse Fingerbone, which attracts an irresistibly exotic and oversexed clientele and waitstaff. I accuse Destiny, my former girlfriend, the most exotic and sexually adventurous shot girl of them all, who last week asked me to give her a breast exam, and who before I could reply pulled off her shirt and unfastened her bra.
I accuse Violet of seducing Blair in Paris, and perhaps even more I accuse Paris, that city-shaped aphrodisiac, which was the efficient cause of the seduction, along with its summer heat and un-airconditioned flats, its boulangeries and cobblestone and July aromas – delicious and trashy at the same time.
I accuse Judge & Jury for oversalting Blair’s vegan scramble and for having no parking lot, which put Blair in a foul temper from the beginning of the meal. I accuse Judge & Jury’s DJ, who spun nothing but kitschy breakup songs all morning: “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Maggie May,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” Willow Smith covering “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” I accuse our waitress, who chose today to wear the world’s snuggest blouse, so sparsely buttoned that I could’ve shot my hand through the gap that framed a crescent of breast, moon-white and shiny with sweat, a sight no straight man’s eyes could successfully have avoided for an entire meal. I accuse Marisol Chan, who as I brushed past her snarled, “If you do the same thing over and over again, how can you expect to succeed?” – a question that filled me with a feeling of such fatalism and déjà vu that I nearly collapsed into her spherical child, who wore a yin-yang T-shirt as tight as a balloon. I accuse Marisol Chan’s spherical child, who smirked terrifyingly.
I accuse director Hector T, who chose for his current project not his usual lurid high-budget bloodbaths, but instead a nearly scriptless, Altmanesque guerilla-style thriller with handheld cameras about a girl captured by the cultists who learned of their plot to set off a doomsday device before escaping. I accuse Hector T’s assistant director, who failed to secure permission from the city or Judge & Jury to film outside it. I accuse the glare, which prevented me from seeing the red-haired girl as I shouldered outside. I accuse the red-haired girl, who picked exactly the wrong moment to stop on the sidewalk, obstructing my passage, thus making me a stationary target. I accuse the Beretta Corporation, for making such an accurate weapon.
Blair says, “Something’s not working.”
I say, “With your Niçoise?”
Blair’s neck is as long as a commute. Sometimes I wonder: how many scarves could you fit around her neck at once? Probably a lot.
I say: “When did this start?”
She daubs her green eye. “Don’t you remember? At that party. The one where everyone was doing reiki that turned into an orgy? The one where when we were all naked and defenseless and spiritually attuned, the cultists attacked?”
When I first saw her at that party, I thought: Von Dutch. Half an hour later, when I first saw her naked, I thought: Crossfit. I say, “No, not when did us start. The not-working. When did the not-working start?”
“Where does a wave on the Pacific begin?”
“Probably somewhere near Japan,” I say.
She herds hunks of tuna around her plate with a brass fork. “Prosecco?” I ask. She nods, and as I pour her some, I add, “Did it hurt your self-esteem and sense of womanliness that I gave a breast exam to a co-worker with bigger breasts than yours?”
“Of course not. I’m glad you gave a breast exam to Destiny. I think you should give breast exams to every woman who asks. Breast cancer is the fourth leading cause of death for women in California.”
“What are the first three?
“Heart disease, homicide, and fire.”
“So, then, why is it we’re not working?”
“I don’t think we’re not working. We’re functioning. We’re functional.”
“Then why are you breaking up with me?”
“This isn’t a breakup. This is a gradual uncoupling.” She shakes her head. “Even that sounds too definite.” She pats the back of my hand. “Every relationship is like a star. I don’t want ours to end in a supernova.”
“So you’re saying you want our relationship to collapse and then linger on indefinitely, just much smaller and much colder?”
“Exactly.” She smiles, for the first time all morning. Blair has excellent teeth.
“Does this mean we can still sleep together?”
“Cool.” I stand up.
“Don’t go!” she yells.
I sit back down. “Should we rethink this?”
“No, it’s just that I just got an update.” She taps the Bluetooth in her ear. “A semi jackedknifed on the 10, westbound. And you can’t take Pico to Venice: Apparently just outside the Museum of Jurassic Technology, robo-ants attacked a truck of strawberries. Both lanes are closed. The cops are considering using an EMP. And black panthers still control Exposition.”
“Like, men in black-turtlenecks-with-Afros-and-Kalashnikovs Black Panthers?”
“No, like literal black panthers. Tony, it’s not safe out there. Stay with me.” She touches my hand. “They’re screening Sunset Boulevard at 2 at OTIS. We should totally go.”
I wonder how many of the other couples at Beaches & Ennui are, like us, a dying star. I wonder if hell is breaking up over and over again but never quite actually breaking up. “Don’t worry,” I say. “I’ve got to go visit Destiny. She found a lump in her other breast. She lives in South Pas, and I was going to take the 110, but I think I need a little time to think, so instead I’ll take the 710, then veer left on Fremont and follow Huntington in. Besides, I think the neo-Nazis up in Debs Park are still sniping people on the 110, so the 710’s probably safer.”
Blair nods, relieved. “Let Destiny know that I think that she has lovely breasts, but that mastectomy is sometimes the only way. Cut out the cancer at its roots.”
I nod, stand up, and leave, bumping into a woman who would not look good in Von Dutch, a woman holding hands with a boy who could definitely use some Crossfit.
Outside Beaches & Ennui, I see a red-haired woman worrying over her phone, and my first thought is: She could use some bronzer. “Hate to bother you,” she says, “but I can’t find the button, the one that will tell me where to find the guys who will make the bad guys go away.”
“You mean, the police?” I say, just as the woman who would not look good in Von Dutch rushes outside, shooting bullets of accusation at me from her mouth. Before I can tell her to take an Ambien, I hear a man’s voice through a megaphone shout, “Cut, cut, cut!”