Route 7 Review - Page 136

Blake?--to the center and replaced it with a card that simply said ...brute, brute heart. “Plath, right?” she asked. “Who the fuck knows,” Jason Karl squatted off the stool and moved the cards to their original places.  “You can undress behind the curtain.”  A bed sheet was nailed to the adjacent walls of a corner. “I’m not--” “I imagine you are and aren’t a lot of things.”  Jason Karl clutched the small of his back with both hands and stretched.  “You made the necessary arrangements with Barbara?” She nodded.  She’d never met Barbara. Jason Karl strode away, peeling off his t-shirt, his back the same pale moonscape as his head, patches of white shoulder hair like ash.  He swung an apron over his head and flapped his arms in front and behind him, a swimmer in the blocks. “My mother--” she began. “I’m seventy-eight years old.  There have been hundreds of you.  There is only one of me.” His tone was plain; it was a fact, not a threat.  He fixed his gray eyes on her and waited. She turned her back and dropped her purse beside the stool, then shrugged off her coat and stepped out of her slacks and panties.  She unbuttoned her blouse and unsnapped her bra and let them fall to the pile.  She turned to face him, waited a beat, two, then bent to the cards on the floor and moved the Blake and Plath quotes once again. “Where do you want me?” she asked, straightening. Jason Karl dug a pack of Pall Malls from his pocket and stuck one in the corner of his mouth.  He cracked open a Zippo and said, “You’re fine where you are.” “Did you meet him?” asked Nina’s sister that April.  Nina was loading the dishwasher, scraping the leftover pilaf into the trash. She considered lying.  “It was pleasant,” she said.  It had been six weeks; she’d been back eleven times times, promising herself at the end of each sitting that she’d confront him the next time.  Jackson thought she’d picked up volunteer work at the library. She’d avoided Erin’s calls, but Maria’d answered the phone before she could stop her. “He was receptive?  He was able to process the information?” “Are you reading from a textbook?” “Huh?” “He has a dozen kids.  What’s one more?”  It was true.  Jason Karl had dropped enough baby batter to field a full little league team, according to what she’d read in an old Vanity Fair article. “I wonder if you’re being a little cavalier about this,” Erin said. “Cavalier, huh?  It’s not a fact, it’s a suspicion— your suspicion, actually.” “So, you didn’t tell him.” “I wanted to be sure.  I wanted something solid to show him.”  She had the letter.  It’d never occurred to her to bring it with her to his studio after the first visit.  She forgot where she’d put it at this point. “I think it’s pretty concrete, Nina.” “Well, I’m glad you’re satisfied with the evidence.”  Nina looked out the window, at the swing set.  Her kids were too old to play on it now.  It looked tired, not from overuse, but the lack of it.  Like sitting in a meeting all day, or holding a pose for Jason Karl, for hours, which she was starting to get the hang of—flexing and relaxing, little tweaks that kept the blood flowing.  It’s good for me, she thought, like yoga, even though she’d always hated yoga and the morning after each session with Jason Karl made her ache like she’d fallen off an overpass.  “I went on a lark.  Either way, I’m not curious anymore.” “It would change things, though.” “No more than finding out I’m a year older or younger than I thought I was.  Some people never really know.  Are their lives different?” “Yes!  And that’s not even as profound as what you’ve learned.  What’s one year?” “Tell that to Mom.”  Nina wasn’t sure whether she meant it as a dig on Sara’s vanity or current condition.  Mostly, Nina just felt like being churlish. “Harsh, Nina.  This is working on you.  Something’s changed.” Nina took the phone to the foyer, looked at herself in the mirror.  Same sweat suit, same ponytail.  Boring.   Jackson, certainly, would appreciate an effort.    If he even noticed.   Her daughter ran by with the iPad, watching some show on Disney, the