VERSIONS 1-4 OF HOW WE MET, NONE OF WHICH ARE TRUE
1) I was one of a dozen kids shivering outside the driving school in January snow. I was the one without the jacket. I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Then along she came. That sounds so matter-of-fact. Like, like a walk-on part in a black-and-white movie, or something. All I could see was her eyes. They were so dark I thought she was an alien. She wore this big old coat that, I later learned, a Turkish designer friend had made especially. Just for her.
"Here," she said, "I'll keep you warm," and unbuttoned the garment. I stepped inside. And for once I'd been right, she was an alien, and the coat was her own personal time-traveling device.
2) Rome, AD 38. She was watching a stoning from a balcony. There were three women: one being stoned, a water carrier, and her, watching from the balcony. I was Ethiopian, an enlisted Roman Centurion. I had some kind of overseeing capacity at stonings, which was pretty humdrum work. I liked the uniform and there was rarely any trouble, I mean...you know. There was an exceptionally big crowd that day. Women always drew bigger crowds, though they themselves weren't allowed to attend as spectators. And they didn't disguise themselves in beards to gain access to the restricted area. Everybody asks that. The stones fell like hard, hard rain. Tipping back the water carrier's cup, I saw her on the balcony. She winked a massively lashed eye. Right at me. Then she was gone, back inside. Nobody raised a whisper in protest at her observing the day's event. I suspected she had some connection with the victim, but my Latin wasn't too good, and I didn't ask. I died 12 years later from a burst appendix, without ever knowing.
3) Hollywood, 1913. We were on a movie set. I was a driver for the studio, and she was the new girl in makeup. A lot of movies were costume dramas back then, without meaning to be. I drove them all home, all the greats, Lloyd, Arbuckle, Keaton. The world was Helen-Gardner-Cleopatra-ga-ga. But I only had eyes for her. She was my favorite, I would have done anything for her, I swear it. I skived time, just so I could drive her home. "You're gonna be a huge star," I told her. Only she didn't understand American so good. It was just before the Archduke was shot in Sarajevo. After, I drove her all the way to NYC, so she could take the liner home. You should have seen that baby. It took us a month to get there. She never once paid for gas, but that was okay. We slept in the car -- her in the back, me up front. Everything above board, I never tried nothing, not once. But damn, I wanted to. I really liked her and thought that we were beginning to understand each other, despite the language thing. "America's full of foreigners," I told her. I waved goodbye from the pier. Maybe she joined the resistance, I don't know. She never wrote. Either way, I never saw that bitch again.
4) 1980-something. Howth is a small fishing village in the north of Dublin. I put a black slate roof on a pub there, The Evora Pub. The pub's been renamed, but the roof's still there. It was summer twenty years ago, I was only a kid. The beer taps never stopped as I nailed the slates on high. Everyone was hoping it would rain into their beer, but it didn' -- the weather was amazing. I was stripped to the waist and girls whistled as they walked by, no shit. I finished up around seven. My boss, Eddy, had to see a man about a dog and said he'd be back in an hour. I'm sure that's code for something -- man about a dog -- but I've never been able to figure out what. Eddy left me pondering at the bar and got delayed in traffic. That's Dublin, it's always going to happen.
"Wanna shoot pool? she said, from a void.
So we shot pool and drank. She was on Guinness, I was on Smithwick's. I hadn't developed a taste for The Black Stuff, not yet. She was 31 and I was 17. I won the third game on the black ball. Apart from that, she kicked my ass.