Is it any wonder she fell for me? Among my more commendable traits are these: a belief in equality across the human tribe and the opinion that gals should be allowed to use the toilet in privacy. This took a lot of getting used to for Gillian during the inaugural months of our love fest: she wondered aloud why I wasn't suspicious or jealous, probing into her erotic past or inquiring into her whereabouts, where she went and with whom she went there and what clothes she had on in the process, times of arrival and departure and the number of gents in the vicinity. What really tossed her for a loop was the afternoon I handed her a hammer in the garage and asked for help in nailing together a new bookshelf. Apparently Marvin Gluck held the certain knowledge that women shouldn't handle hammers, for their own safety and the safety of others.
That afternoon in the garage she asked me, "Why don't you call me sixteen times a day? And why doesn't it bother you if I don't call back right away?"
"Darling," I said, "I've waited my entire life for you and along the way have learned the patience of Buddha."
Gillian no doubt expected to wake one morning soon and see Marvin's sultan face staring down at her. He'd say something like, "I've finally found you; we'll never be apart again," right before plunging a Civil War sword between her ribs. And how many times had I witnessed her twitch awake in the center of the night, startled by bad dreams of Pleistocene proportion? I'd clasp her humid body and wipe the tears with my T-shirt, asking her about the dream, knowing full well it was Marvin Gluck the vagrant hounding her through a Southern glade oozing with alligators, and my Gillian, wanting not to alarm me, saying it was simply stress from work. It was on one of these nights, at the black magic hour of three in the morn, that I understood, with every wisp of my brain and groin, that Marvin Gluck must be abolished.
But I ran into a mental snag a few days before I planned to leave for the South. I went for my yearly dentist appointment and as I sat waiting, I picked up a student's left-behind tattered copy of Macbeth. It belonged to one Amanda Jove, tenth grade, Alexander Hamilton High School. Her handwriting was exquisite, her name the stuff of chivalrous love songs. The play was familiar to me: once, as a sophomore at Central Connecticut State U, in between bouts of Hegel and some nutter named Marx — neither of whom could write a cogent sentence — I had puzzled through its pages and thoughtfully vandalized them, though Amanda Jove's made my marginalia look like the feral scratchings of Cro-Magnon's cousin. I started reading and for some reason could not stop; the thing made my upper lip wet. When that sorry man saw the dagger float before him, leading him down the corridor to his snoring victim, I looked up from the pages and will testify that I, too, there in my dentist's waiting room decorated like every dentist's waiting room in North America, saw a dagger before me, though it was actually Groot's knife. Amanda Jove had written in the margin, Important: guilt madness, and by her mere suggestion I thought I felt a scintilla of my own guilt and madness. She will no doubt go on to be a great scholar, heralded in headlines, heaped upon with medals and awards, glasses lifted in NYC.