Adam Ash

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Monday, May 29, 2006



He didn’t even know she was a singer. But she knew he played the saxophone. He had told her. But she hadn’t told him. She was full of surprises. Like that fight they had. He had never realized she was such a hardheaded, stubborn little Christian.

He had to get the upper hand over her, somehow, even if he was at present in the weaker position, needing her more than she needed him, because he knew he was in love, but he didn’t know how she felt about him. He had to find a way to assert himself and dominate her. In the end, he could love her only if he was the dominant one. That was the Christian way, and the male way -- his way.

Should he worry that her emotional timetable was lagging behind his? No, why should he? It was traditional for the man to push, and for the woman to be on guard. She seemed to enjoy herself terrifically in bed – could hardly stop to talk before drawing him down to a horizontal position – so why wasn’t she as forthcoming with her self as she was with her body?

Yes, he would go and see her singing in her club, and he would take his saxophone along, as she had suggested when she invited him. Sure, he would sit in with the band if they didn’t mind. But why had she waited this long before revealing such a cardinal fact about herself? Couldn’t she tell he had fallen in love with her? What was she up to?

Eve had invited Adam to come and hear her sing, and perhaps play with her band, because she felt guilty about a number of things -- besides her guilt about destroying Adam’s child, the child of the angel. She felt guilty about being with Ezra, being Esther’s secret agent, and playing Esther and Ezra off against each other. She had sworn loyalty to Esther, but was ready to jump to Ezra’s side. She was ready to marry Ezra. She was ready to ditch Adam.

After leaving the hotel bed where she and Ezra had joined bodies, she felt two contradictory things: sullied by the non-spiritual physicality of the experience, yet remarkably free and elevated for having cheated on Adam and broken the rules of their contract with the Bureau of Behavior Design and Management. She felt infused with independence, because she was the mistress of her own climaxes.

She also felt she had acted with the insouciance of a Blessed, because she had gone against all the rules that bound Beloveds. She had been given a license by Esther, and she had used it, and enjoyed using it, and enjoyed this adventure in power and betrayal, but the act itself, of being in bed with Ezra, had plunged her into conflict.

The fact was, she was still a Beloved, and therefore still within the reach of a Patriot Board, and above all, bound by the rules of the Bureau of Behavior Design and Management, the very body in which she hoped to rise now that she had, courtesy of Esther Todd, completed her first Orientation.

But if she were to follow her ambition, and marry Ezra, then her desire to blend Eros and Christus -- the very philosophy that she wanted to instill into the Bureau’s value system -- would be gone. She would not be able to use her own example as an example for the rest of society. Her program would be hollow at the core.

Sex with Adam took her closer to God, and sex with Ezra took her away from Him. Ezra’s electricity took her away from God back to her body.

Adam was late; she was already on stage, singing, when he walked in. She thought he had stood her up, and that she somehow deserved it. But there he was, and she felt relieved. She signaled at him to come over after she had finished singing. Her band played on in that half-hearted way they had of tinkling meditatively between songs, as though they were making musical doodles.

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” Adam said. He was overly apologetic, she thought. It didn’t make sense that he was apologizing to her. She needed to apologize to her angel by apologizing to him.

“I brought my horn,” Adam said. He opened the case, took out his horn and softly blew on it, along with the band. The piano player looked up from his keyboard. He smiled at the man who stood with Eve, saw him blow into the saxophone, and invited him up.

As the melody built, Adam started to play with the notes, turning them this way and that, until it got to a point where he held the tune between his teeth, and twisted every last molecule of sorrow from the song. The saxophone sobbed, moaned and wailed, caressing a nothingness in the air like matter searching for a void to hide itself in. His saxophone was protesting: he loved Eve, why did she not love him, or at least say so? Why was she keeping him on tenterhooks? Why was she keeping his heart at bay?

His saxophone took a mouthful of bittersweet notes, and blew them like feathers from a broken pillow all over the audience. Then he chased after the biggest feather with his sound, and blew harder and harder, more happily now, to keep that feather up in the air, till he blew it all the way to where she stood, waiting for her to catch the feather in the cup of her lovely hands.

Eve felt nailed where she stood. She had never heard the band play for their own pleasure so freely and spontaneously before, improvising like some Non-Sanctioned jazz trio. They never played for themselves; at best they did a low-level tickle between her songs, a little musical bridge from one number to the next, only getting vigorous on the choruses of her upbeat hymns. But now they were being themselves, a thing they hardly recognized, playing together as a unit for themselves, and being downright secular. The husky sound of Adam’s saxophone grabbed her, and held her, and fondled her. Her body arched where it stood, bending to the dark syrup of his timbre. Her thighs squeezed together as his horn ran through her, in her, and over her. Her lips parted. A soft moan floated out. She felt as though his saxophone was between her legs, playing her center, blowing a hush of spiritual touch – a flapping of angel wings – into her, lifting her in feathery arms to fluffy clouds where white-clad prophets met and sang the joy of the world unto God’s ears.

Adam looked at Eve as he blew. His saxophone spoke of his love and his fear that his love would remain unrequited, of the joy in her body but also the ache in his heart. She heard that voice, loving her, and asking her to love him back.

Then a change came over his playing. His instrument began to play him. It guided his emotion. He was caught by the instrument itself, helpless in its hopelessness. He wasn’t its master anymore. The horn was in control. The saxophone was blowing him. It stuttered its lament in one melancholy phrase after another. It breathed out a grand suffering in long, curling notes of tenderness and hurt. With infinite sorrow, it spoke of deep despair, crashing through regret into the darkest pit of anguish. A creation of mournful beauty hung in the air, tracing a last pattern of complete understanding and loss between them. It asked: why don’t you step into the fire with me? We have shining moments in the sun, moments of resplendent lovemaking. We’re blessed by our bodies. We’ve stepped into the fire. We are the fire. But now you stand outside it, along with all the other spectators, shaping their histories outside the flames, in that more temperate zone most of us call our lives. Why don’t you come in and stand with me?

Adam had no idea that he was an angel inside Eve, a representative of her heavenly creature, a link to heaven, the vessel via which she came face to face with the divine. He didn’t realize that she treasured him as an instrument in her own faith: that he had instilled in her an entire new philosophy of sex, and that his body was the one thing that bound her to him: the agility of this tongue on this horn was the lever that connected her flesh to her soul. It was something more than love she felt: he was her bridge to heaven.

He was right to feel left out of her affection: she reached past him and over him to the divine. He was there for her as a path to walk over to the other side. He was necessary to her, not marooned in irrelevance, as he thought, but he was not necessary for himself: he was as necessary as a bow was to a violin, to stroke away the violin’s silence, but it was the violin’s sound that she was after, the echo of the divine coming out of its wooden curves: the bow was simply a stick rubbing the strings, the stick that she happened to have in her hands now, while it was the violin – her angel – that was worthy of her caresses. She did not caress the bow, she caressed the violin. Adam was correct to feel that he was included in something that also left him out. He did not know he meant more than love to her, which was all he wanted, and nothing she needed, because she needed the divine, which he was not, only its conduit.

He was caught between love and despair at his love not being returned, and anger that her hold over him made him the supplicant, when as a man, he should be the master, and she the handmaiden. He wanted to smash her into submission. If he had known that he was her cord to God, he would’ve tried to strangle her with it.


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