Told Between Puffs

In which our hero awakens from a one-night stand
by Verily Veritas

Had all the ships that had embarked from Mycene been diverted from the lofty walls of Ilium, swept aside by rogue Borean blasts, and had instead sailed blind into the confines of V.V’s inner mind, only to cause turmoil unrestrained, clamor beyond provocation, pain beyond comprehension, then perhaps V.V’s head would have been less aggrieved and not so drastically racked by anguish. Oh how it would throb and convulse with daemonic fervor, whirl as a Bacchic chorus!

V.V opened his eyes. “Aqua” was his first thought. He craved it as the wayward Odyssean exile, through desert and dust, yearns for the relief of his parched throat. For it was dry, drier indeed than most of the week’s lectures, whose tedium had driven him to seek refuge in inebriation.

Again, V.V opened his eyes. Blurry shadows emerged from the darkness as V.V began to regain consciousness. (Cogite ergo est.) Shadows gave way to colors, colors to shapes, shapes to forms. Water! It was there, atop the lacquered Ming Dynasty table that V.V kept close to his bed for its pleasing smell. Oh, how Mallory strove for Everest, how Moses drove for the Promised Land, how Xenophon fought for the Sea—all such efforts were nothing but crumbs under V.V’s paisley neckerchief.

V.V lifted up his hand and stretched it outwards towards his be-lacquered prize with elegance akin to Sistine Adam. But his quarry, at the most potent moment of its imminent possession, was wrenched away. Another hand, soft, delicate, surreptitiously plundered V.V’s beloved aqua. V.V shed a heroic tear for his dispatched comrade—not even the slaughter of Patroklus bore Achilles such grief—until he realized with discordant alarm that the other delicate soft hand was in fact not his! An intruder, could it be?

V.V flung off the covers. Fire was his eyes, tempests were his brows; what righteous retribution was he about to inflict, not even the Muses could sing. Once before, he had encountered an intruder whilst hunting tigers near the Euphrates. That poor man, that damned foe who stepped in our hero’s path, was smitten down to Tartarus, hurled as Hephaestus off the snowy peaks of Olympus to land in dolorous mire.

But V.V’s anger suddenly melted, the ice of his cold veins softened into lustral streams, the odious clench of his fist relaxed; for what was before him was indeed a maiden, a beautiful Prosperina clothed in all the glory of Egyptian cotton. How on earth? V.V was a charming man, he knew (all women knew), but this wasunexpected. For her beauty was indeed a pleasant shock. The stricken maiden, meanwhile, startled with the speed of our hero’s cover-flinging and the aura of his command, was taken aback and blushed an orchard of wildrose.

This was the man who, the night before, had serenaded her with stanzas of “Prufrock,” who explained to her the ancient Mayan sport of Techquetlin, who had, from the inner works of his breast pocket, revealed a species of exotic bird thought long extinct. How impressive was he now though dampened by headache and lack of slumber. The pair locked eyes in magnetic attraction, stared through each other past all superficiality, past all things flesh and blood; they stared at each other beyond the confines of Plato’s cave. “Verily?” she asked; “Verily,” he affirmed; Verily it was.