There’s always that elusive air when you're trapped in a metal box following someone else with a car, she thought I’d know something about how to do it slyly, “I’ve never seen anyone with your eye for detail,” she said, and she was right, I’d never actually done this before but it seemed simple enough. You vary your distance, stay to the rear, to the right, and never more than a few cars behind. It was all about patience, percentages, perfect timing, like an allegorical symbol for life. I never expect her to call or contact me, but after that night at the bar…I guess anything is possible; what are the chances she’d need someone followed the proceeding week? She made the sun shine, but it was always the rain I waited for. 

The target—a redhead with oceanic waves for hair—suddenly slowed down; if you get too close, move into their blind spot. I thought I lost her—ha ha, very funny—for a second off a weird U-turn and then an immediate left turn, I assume if you lose them, just keep moving, hope for the best, all roads lead to the same place. 

On country roads, distance is subjective, you can let the target ride into the sunset like some fairy tale…as long as you know their patterns. The redhead went inside some apartment. The waiting was the hard part, and I could imagine she was thinking the same thing in the passenger seat; my thoughts escaped me, wondering what it would be like watching my own life from far away.

After a while we tailed the redhead into the train station, and I had to follow on foot, I told my…partner or client to get into the driver’s seat and keep the engine running. On foot it was the same: distance, patterns, anticipation. If the target doubles back, never react. Whatever you do, don't get too close, and never, under any circumstances meet their eyes; that was the real challenge for me personally. There's always something waiting at the end of the road, if you're not willing to see what it is, you probably shouldn't be out there in the first place. 

Following the blood haired maiden on the dull rural road, I remembered hearing a speech once about what it meant to be an active and informed philosopher, and the man who gave this speech talked about the struggle to control civilization; how we're always fighting the same battles, using the dark ages as an example. He talked about how on one side you had the pragmatic king who was greedy and power hungry: basically taking advantage of people whenever he could. And on the other side you had the idealistic church forcing everyone to follow the same rules, believe the same thing, etcetera etcetera. Neither the king nor the church was ever completely right or wrong, both sides just ended up doing horrible things to get what they wanted, atrocious things to the sheeple. Anyway the point of the story was that this struggle from the dark ages has been going on forever, and the church and the king might take on different philosophies but they will always fight each other: pragmatists and idealists, and at most times, you're better off standing on the sidelines, letting them duke it out center stage without engaging in the slightest, but every once in a while…one side decides it might be better just to blow up the whole world just to get its way and then you can't stand on the sidelines any more. You have to pick a team. So for tonight anyway, I was serving the king, or queen, in this…Humean experience. 

Eventually on this long road my pupils dilated to the purple sunset. It was quite unsettling to me to have to look away from the beautiful smoky sky over the metropolis in my rearview, with its gaudy lights and inky shadows and stunning tints that illuminate fluffy clouds and murky waters, then to suddenly find myself staring at the grim harshness of a cold stone building flashing a 'Vacancy' sign with a wealth of breathing misery. I’d found myself at some third-rate hotel with the woman of my dreams, spending the night in the room across the redhead. Like every other event I’d scraped out of with my body, but not always my mind intact, I was between two babes, who each in their own way, deserved the universe. It was yet another example, not that I needed one, that life isn't fair. The place itself was a little eerie, hotels are naturally creepy places. You look at the room and wonder: how many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were ill? How many in love? How many have died since?

My dream said hotels are about enigmatic, refreshing comforts resembling things past. It was an eloquent line, but I wondered whether they were really about heartening platitudes, some…ordinary sense of repetitive routines. “Yes…I’ve been here before. I feel safe. I trust it. It’s just like home,” Dorothy wouldn't agree. 

There was a couch, a laptop desk, an antique armoire, basic off-white and yellow wallpaper. Carpet was in immaculate condition, except for a questionable stain beneath a thrift-store cheap knockoff of Picasso’s Woman Sitting in Armchair. It was done in the predictably benign fashion of DeSerres. The second painting across was Ingres’ The Betrothal of Raphael and the Niece of Cardinal Bibbiena—another forger’s masterpiece—of a man of God elucidating some measure of divine love between two gifted souls…it did possess a somewhat irksome air. The third and final painful knockoff-painting was Corot’s Dante & Virgil, with the latter pointing to the hurricane of skulls in the background as Dante backs away from a rabid hyena and hungry tiger at his feet. If what they say about the banality of evil is true, then I was in the seventh circle of hell. At least my…present company left nothing to be desired, excluding herself from this rather depressing and morbid thought-process I found myself in while emptying the minibar like any good writer or philosopher with a day-job ought to do. Was this desolation but another link in the chain of doom that seemed to draw tighter around my neck? God, devil, or all Gods and devils at once, it mattered not, I had to fight them all at once, and I fight to win, if not to survive.

Although I’d be an even bigger fool than I admittedly was if I didn't admit how incredibly sexy my forlorn love looked with a bath towel wrapped around her captivating body, but unfortunately…I wasn't here for that, even if I wanted to be.

Dante and Beatrice.  John William Waterhouse. 191

Dante and Beatrice. John William Waterhouse. 191