He didn’t like mirrors. Had never liked them, because something drew his eye deeper, more fixed, than was justified. His grandmother had had a floor length oval mirror that she kept in front of a tall window where her velvet curtains fell in whorls on the floorboards, and the beveled edge of the looking glass caught the play of shape and shadow across their edge. He had been caught in front of it one too many times, without an explanation or excuse. Movement from the corner of his eye, indescribable flickers of things remembered were better left in silence than confirmation of their fears.
Traffic hummed down the hill and he listened to it between Saul’s quiet breaths. He had thrown his coat over the mirror, but something moved behind the tails, padded on soft feet just out of sight in the low light from the streetlamp. He didn’t like sharing a bed either, come to it. The hard clean demarcations of the end of history appealed to him, materialist realism, solid and clean as a marble inkwell. The party was at least less interested in his affection for men and women alike than it was in his potential as a clean cut figurehead of respectable intellectualism.
Saul didn’t wake up when he rolled out of bed, walked naked to the kitchen and lit a cigarette over the sink, palms braced against the tile edge of the counter. The clothesline jittered in a soft breeze from up off the Pacific, but it was still warm in the house. He jumped at the clock chimes from his office, and ash fell onto his knuckles and a dirty milk glass plate. The witching hour, his mother used to say, is at three o’clock.
Someone whistled from down the block, soft round notes of a song he knew without remembering. It sounded again, and he shook his head, pushed his hair back out of his eyes. But he dressed anyhow with the quick grace of plenty of early morning goodbyes, padding down boarding school halls and down summer house staircases. Wind ruffled his collar, and it smelled of hill scrub and azaleas, mingled with the faint decay of the shore. It was dark between the streetlamps, and only a few windows were lit down the hill and in the grand old houses that were now private clubs with a bay view.
She had black hair in a Veronica Lake, and her coat collar was turned up, lambskin in spite of the warm night. She tilted her face up and whistled again, but the corner of her mouth turned up a little and he knew she had noticed him.
“Have a light?” He asked, and she turned toward him. Her face was too angular in the streetlight, she reminded him of a Kazakh girl he’d met in Odessa, but her mouth was softer.