Louche, in a shopping cart, legs adangle, forearms at rest on the metal rim, in an empty megastore at midnight, being pushed up and down the aisles by a pair of twins (adult, male) who have not fully realized who they are pushing, since, on their part, certain substances have been recently inhaled (glitter, newborn star-matter).
Pensive, in a DMV (department of motor vehicles) office, thumbing through the dollar bills in his wallet, sure he has forgotten something, while a small fire is roiling in a waste paper bin behind the counter, sending up a reed of smoke.
Joyous, in the cathedral of light that is the forest on a spring day, green light and beams, bluebells, birdsong, oh, and trembling susurrations in the canopy, he goes roaming on his long legs like a cryptid and the sight of him, a mere glimpse, brings gladness to the hearts of ramblers, and they in their part will never raise their phones or their cameras to record his passing, so as not to pierce the air of precious calmness this vision has laid down upon their hearts.
Irrepressible, in a room full of dust—a ballroom in a formerly sealed up castle in France, untouched since the war—as he walks up to the mantelpiece (precise footsteps, watching them make their mark in the years’ gray sediment) (a wide floor, a few sad velveteen chairs and end tables with empty champagne glasses perched on them, a window out onto the decrepit estate) to stare a moment in the tarnished mirror (gilding, scrolls of ivy and grapes), slowly a smile breaking over his face, as he puts his head down lips first on the surface of the mantelpiece and goes “bllllrrrrrppp,” blowing rolls of dust away, getting dust on his nose, which he claps off with one quick hand, turns, and chugs away through the room, kicking up as much dust as he can on the way out (with a giggle? Yes, if you’d like, a giggle).
Desperate, in a white, denuded landscape, checking his watch as the horizon begins to close down on him, as day begins to get lightheaded and the sounds of whispers take up in the reeds beside the river (he is walking by a river, he thinks it is a river, but it could also be the long train of a dress).
Lusty, at the top of a mountain, wearing goat legs, throwing his arms up, up, as a huge spring tide full of fishes and catastrophe splashes over the world.
Sympathetic, as he sits alone in a theater watching a play on its opening night (he knows, its only night), a play about a man who has been all things to everyone but has also been trapped in a painting for many years unable to, as he very much would like, wink at his favorite occupant of the house (a charming but lonely individual named Firdy who always wears gloves and communicates in warbles).Lusty, at the top of a mountain, wearing goat legs, throwing his arms up, up, as a huge spring tide full of fishes and catastrophe splashes over the world.
Severe, as he addresses an audience at a university graduation ceremony, telling them, each, individually, of the futures they can expect for themselves, not sparing any detail of a sorrow or wrenching moment of self-abasement, and granting each graduate, after telling them their fates before everyone, there in the graduating hall, a tight dry hug and a respectful nod.
Restless, as with tears in his eyes he stands at the racetrack willing an errant fly (which has been caught up in the tumble of the horses) to be the first across the line, poor little beast, though he knows as soon as the race is over he must run, even before collecting his winnings (if indeed the fly wins) to catch the train waiting to take him onward through the blue snows of a vast, impersonal northern country.
Boorish, sitting on the steps outside a diner in the drizzle, pummelling fistfuls of fries into his mouth, watching people go by on their business (such as it might be at two in the a.m.), occasionally throwing fries in the hopes that one person or another will catch one and spin on their feet, and yell back, “You’ve no idea, Jeff Goldblum, how glad I am I passed you by!”
From The Goldblum Variations by Helen McClory, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2018, 2019 by Helen McClory.