Amanda was seventeen when I first met her. Perfect cute in a tight blue sailor's suit.
It was a company function and she was the boss' daughter. Thirty years younger than me.
But that was hardly an issue. After all, I was gay.
Shivering outside, white fluffy film glossing over Bay St., cigarettes glowing in the financial tower dark, only taxis and city trucks about. Waiting for our ride.
What a laugh she had. Whirling Dervish intense. We hit it off instantly.
I was rebounding and needed company.
She was a gal who liked to be around a guy in a Hugo Boss. Take him to clubs. Wanted him nice and old. Wanted to be sure he would never try to touch her.
Since my ideal mate was Wendel Clark at the time, no danger.
Dizzy drunks, doing lines in the too hot condo, beginning and end of night.
She absolutely fucked the sleaziest looking guys. Pubic beards. Grunge band wannabes.
At the time I guess any lad looking like Kurt Cobain made 'em all breathless.
She would scream and moan and all that noisy shit, while I was often on the sofa praying not to puke from tankloads of tequila.
When I met Paul I settled down, but not Amanda. She went roaring on.
767, engines loud, coming in to land through a light summer rain, rivulets trailing off the wing. Tired, business trip gone bad, no deal, now fifty-eight and feeling every decade of it.
Airport terminal was airport terminal white and airport terminal bright.
Dragging luggage along, tie loosened but still on, people criss-crossing, journeys either at beginning or end.
Standing in the shelter, limousines advancing and there is Jack. Amanda's dad.
I had left his company eight years gone by.
Adam, so good to see you, thought about calling.
How is Amanda?
It seems she wasn't well.
It turns out she had hit the needles after I had known her.
Even with the new drug treatments she was dying.
Western Hospital, a brown, bleak colossus, stark and Stalinist against a humid, melting sky.
Down long depressing corridors to room 401.
I brought a potted plant.
What the fuck was I thinking?
She was so frail. So weak. The life all but gone.
She still had that in imitable smirk. That special curl of the lip.
I hear you became a social worker. Did so much good for so many.
For all the good it did her.
Hand held out towards me, fingers still so long, so lovely, curled with mine.
Can't imagine why, but I made a promise.
Two years pass, me in jeans, Paul playing at host, pouring infinite cheap wine into plastic cups.
Community centre finally open. People filing through sliding doors. The mayor thanking me during an informal speech.
It was all misplaced. I was never the one...
It was her, a portrait hanging on the wall of my new, very tiny office. Right between my old brass crucifix and my framed copy of her favourite Degas.