You think you’ve seen it all; every kind, every side, every vantage, every lousy everything and all the beauty there is to behold; and then one day you see Babe.
You don’t melt for Babe, you don’t go blind over her, you can’t even see her at first, there on the southbound A train, there in the Dirty Bubble Laundromat, there on a swing in the park halfway swung this way or maybe halfway back, but always all by herself looking as ordinary as miracle can look. You don’t know what it means, what it feels like to be mesmerized by Babe, because it feels like the middle of all the things you ever felt - that is to say, barely felt, but felt so often it’s what makes up most of your being, most of what you need to survive.
Babe is the better after your sick, the nothing after the pain, the dark empty space between your nose and the ceiling after a nightmare. Babe is what you love but take for granted.
You should never take Babe for granted.
Gus had Babe by the wrist. Instructions, threats, flirtations, that order. If you’d asked her, standing right there, how many times she’d been manhandled like that she couldn’t have told you. If she ever thought about why she became everything to everyone she ever met, she never let on about it. You knew her, you know her, she’s there next to you, somewhere along the line: Absent-aged thirty-three, brown-haired, rusty, black-dyed-blond with every rough change in between just over full shoulders, full face, delicate nose, big sleepy eyes, worn around the edges and just this tall, right about here – strong legs, sexy as hell from behind if you ever thought to look back but never would until you did, by accident and wondering how you missed that…
Babe pressed herself against him, a plush thigh, full breast, the hips on her shifting just the right way, just enough to put a small lightning-bolt through any working nervous system. Gus mistook the action for affection. His hand let loose immediately.
“Just play it and keep your mouth shut,” he hissed. “And keep yourself decent!”
But he didn’t know why he felt it, the jealousy, the attraction, the pain in his chest every time he stood near her. Didn’t know why, didn’t care, just knew it pissed him off, whatever it was.
Babe wiped the tears from her eyes and checked the door, that guy’s door, watched the dark, vertical slit appear, felt his eyes on her, knew what he was thinking, something similar to what Gus was thinking.Jesus Christ, these fucking men, she was getting tired of them all, finally: and this - all this, without Babe uttering a single word, a single piece of her own mind. Not a one. Just fucking typical.
end of part 5