Part Two: Three Years Later
Hannah was 20 when she met Phil, arrested for driving under the influence, which she was but not very, she was patiently waiting for one of her mountains of lawyers to bail her out, she saw him leaving the precinct. At first she wasn’t sure if he was a perpetrator or a cop, but the close cropped haircut gave him away and as she rushed up she grabbed his arm and turned him all the way around. “Are you leaving?” she asked.
Phil looked at her blankly, it took him a coupla hours and more than a few drinks to get out of Robocop mode most nights after work. . “I mean now, you can wait now?”.
He assessed her fast and liked what he saw, wild enough to be interesting but nowhere nearly wild enough for the Sunset Strip, she had an inquiring smile and the snell of specialness sex and money and youth, he had found it on the job from time to time, but never pursued anything too much. She held his hand, an oddly intimate moment for two strangers, lacing their fingers together, and they sat together like that and she spoke, slowly at first, but then faster, stream of conscious, and he didn’t even think of answering. Hannah had one of those voice that could change from melodious rapture to scraping fingernails in an instant and it went from seducing to annoying Phil so quickly he couldn’t steady himself. But whatever her voice might be, the rest of her was very fine. “My friends think I’m wild,” she explained as they drove off, “but I’m not, like I have a list of every guy I’ve ever slept with and there are names than you’d think. Only four, five including you, if I sleep with you and I’m not saying but… Now kiss? Absolutely I’ve kissed loads of guys but not much more. I have this friend who says kissing is more intimate than sex but I say you can’t have one without the other and anyway, when was the last time somebody got pregnant from a little tongue?”
They drove off that night and it began the most intense sexual relationship either of them had ever had. Often tumultuous, but never physically violent, Hannah found Phil so quiet she couldn’t even tell when he was in a bad mood. Sometimes she’d pick him up after work and she’d be surprised to see him joking and loud with the other cops, a side of himself Phil never revealed, because he never could figure out how to reveal, to her.
She’d take him to her favorite rock and roll bar and plugged twenty bucks in the jukebox and blasted the Rolling Stones all night shooting black jacks and beer backs, till they stumbled into the back of her Porsche and fucked and fell asleep. When she awoke, Phil was there, shaking her by the shoulder, outside the gate of their mansion. “We’re here. We’re home” he’d say. She’d buzz the gates and he’d make the drive to the main house as the moon shone down on the monied classes. “I need youuu, youuu, yooou…” Hannah would sing as the clown with its head sliced down the middle and inky black blood running through it, revealed itself to just be the smaller tennis court.
Still a little drink they’d sing together to the Stones: “someone to love…”
It was on one such night that Hannah stopped kinda liking Phil and started to love him. She was both a thinker and a prattler and sometimes her ideas came out as prattle. “What if we’re in love and we get serious now? That would be an idea, it might work, don’t you think? We could be together forever, and quite happy. I love how you have such an important and exciting job, something you really love, and you don’t rely on me, because daddy said I never wanted a man who needed my money. He said ‘That’s bogus’? Who uses ‘bogus’? Only my dad, no one else I know. He said it would be bogus to have someone marry me for money because I’m so pretty. Good advice if you ask me. You are a real man, Phil. You are single-minded, you only care about what you care about. Do you care about me?
Phil stopped, he’d never really thought about it in those terms. Closeness was Phil, Dion and Cassie: a life and death, hand to mouth street level existence, and it was his buddies on the Force, the guys who would die by your side and also understood the rule of the streets. His street friends, those who knew him because they had to know him, because they were the same as him.
But Hamah? Hannah he took seriously but she didn’t have the slightest idea about his street life and was so self-involved she never even pursued the huge gaps in his life story, never really cared to know.
In fact, that isn’t correct, Phil misunderstood Hannah and he misunderstood money when he didn’t realize that Hannah knew about his father, knew he had been a street kid, she didn’t know about Callie or Dion: the actual tick tock she misread the way she misread his police work, but she had pieced together just how difficult his childhood had been and respected him too much to pursue it further. That tough mindedness, the sort it takes to just not survive the streets but to head ever forward, to become part of the other side, that took something her father would’ve appreciated it, and she appreciated, it took real guts. A toughness.
But it was a toughness Phil hid with a quiet intensity.
And they were sexually compatible, in that they didn’t fuck much. Hannah didn’t much enjoy it, her sex drive was much more theoretical, and for Phil? Phil didn’t care much, he’d seen it so much on the streets it wasn’t very exotic. Sex lacked romance and excitement for him: he didn’t really care. Between the two of them, they used sex as a means of proving to each other they were in an affair.
So Phil thought about Hannah and slowly it dawned on him that while he’d have preferred it if she hadn’t been rich, the money got in the way and they didn’t much need it, he considered Hannah the closest sexual partner he’d ever had by a far, and if he could never be as close to her as he had been with Callie and Dion, well, they were dead and he wanted to complete the first part of his life: the usual family stuff, a family of his own, somebody to love him and children to love him and the closeness of unit of family, a haven from even the force. It was to be the finishing end of the first part of his life, absolute proof he had made it, he had survived. All of this went through his head and he was so quiet that anybody but a Hannah would’ve thought he’d forgotten the question. “I don’t think the question is that, I think the question is if you can forgive me for being so damaged I can’t make promises. If wanting you is the same as loving you.”
He got up and walked away a little, lost in thought. “The vows of love we make, Hannah.” Phil said, “It is not something like other guys my age, I don’t marry now and decide later, I don’t love and change because if I know nothing else I know tomorrow can’t be predicted unless you are very strong and then at least you can predict this: that, to the best of your abilities, you will do what you say you will because everything but your vow, your word, is just up in the air, in the hands of fate or god or the breeze in the trees, but one thing isn’t….” Hannah wanted to interrupt him, it wasn’t in her nature to remain quiet, she wanted to tell him how much she understood even though she only partially grasped it, but she realized he may never explain himself this thoroughly again and if what she wanted was Phillip by her side forever, Hannah Verlierer, not that she intended to change her name, but if that was what she wanted now was the time to understand what she was getting herself into.
“The one thing I can control and you can control”, he continued, holding her hand in his, “is if we before agree to love each other and remain true loves to only each other for all time, the only way the future isn’t completely under our control is if one of us breaks that vow and if we did… you or I, I couldn’t take it. I’ve had too many of promises made and broken by everyone, Hannah, by the things that keep the world together, for me, they’ve never been glued by a trust in the security of the world. I couldn’t take another broken promise. I couldn’t live with it, so if you love me and want me and we want it both, then we will keep our word and remain true whatever tomorrow brings, whatever fate tries to take away from us we will always be here together, nothing can break us apart and nothing will. If you want that, if you can honor my fear of life, I want you too and I will love you forever.”
And that’s what happened and might have always been the same, Hannah might have kept her word and even if she hadn’t, Phillip might have never discovered it. Hannah excused herself in an act of abrogation: “Phillip played the Stones all the time, all the time. Hell, his Mom was a huge fan, Phil used to play the Singles box set and tell me about his Mom dancing round with her hand like a mic and Mick Jaggerring as they swung round and round and round the living room, his day scowling in the distance. What did he think I was gonna do. It just happened, though why like that?”
return to the top of country
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