By the time he lurched into the Southernmost Beach Café the carefree attitudes of the walkers, wanderers and wayfarers no longer irritated him. Here, aided by the elixirs offered to him on his journey down Duval, he saw the truth. Escape wasn’t just good, it was right. These fools were not to blame. They were beyond helping themselves and to be pitied. He was a fool himself, but a wiser fool, one to whom the curtains hiding his folly had been pulled aside.
Just half a dozen pieces of fruit remained in his pouch. He’d handed it out along the way, his own personal Eucharist. Like a priest. The Priest of Duval, dispensing absolution. Forgiving the sin of caring. Driving out the demons of responsibility. He wasn’t as eloquent as Carter and found himself wishing his friend was there. He’d love it.
A middle-aged guy wearing a Salt Life t-shirt and smoking a cigar came by. A classic case. A walking cliché. Rudy extended a piece of fruit to this lost soul.
“Because there is one banana,” Rudy said, “we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one banana.”
And Salt Life Cigar guy took it, unaware of how lucky he’d just gotten. Others like him came and went, unable to see it for its fleeting nature. How good that none of them thought ahead to morning when the tequilas and beers that made them so perfect tonight would leave them dry, puffy and listless. Thirsting for tap water. When a departure time and a boarding pass would rule their lives. Rudy could see what was invisible to the sweet, mindless idiots streaming by with stupid grins on their sweaty faces.
Seeing what was invisible made him superior. But the superiority came with the curse of knowing. And the knowing brought Kak arcing into his head. Not the Tuesday Kak. That one told herself like a passing riddle and he’d walked away from her easily. Not Wednesday Kak, still confused and frustrating, trying to find her anger. It was Thursday Kak. The one showing up late with rum and slipping into the fur. God, yes. That Kak. He watched her in his mind, playing it over and over while the cup of coffee in front of him grew cold. How perfectly the fur fit and hung from her shoulders. Her hair just touching the collar. Her bare feet, small and smooth. Her chin up just slightly like a statue of Venus. Simultaneously submissive and dominant. A goddess, in the flesh, that wanted him as much as he wanted her.
She was silhouetted against the window, the moon backlighting her figure and streaming through the strands of her hair like thin blades that struck him. He, suddenly breathless, fumbling with his shirt buttons, his fingers grown thick and useless. She unbuttoning his shirt for him. Unhitching his shorts. His hands slipping inside the coat and everything that followed.
He pushed back from the table and looked down to find himself aroused by the recollection. Hell with it. He dropped a couple of bills to cover the untouched coffee and walked west on South Street not bothering to manage his uneven steps. In less than two minutes he was looking at the massive concrete buoy where South terminated and the only thing in front of you was ninety miles of ocean to Cuba. The Southernmost Point of the Continental United States.
He trudged past the long line of tourists waiting to pose for a picture with it, rankling a couple whose turn had finally come to get their photo because he was in their shot. The man asked him if he didn’t mind moving aside. It wasn’t that Rudy minded. It was that he didn’t feel like it. When he gave no response the couple shifted around counterclockwise to remove him from the background.
Rudy ran his hands over the smooth bulk of the monument. He was done here. Done in Atlanta. The Great Rudini would not escape from the trunk this time. Would not emerge from the water, cocky, triumphant, dropping the flaccid chains on the deck. Would not even try. This time he’d let the water rise over his head. It would finally be over. He’d be declared dead.
The last few days were an unsatisfying blur. Jammers and ashes and canceled insurance benefits. Champagne and Max and Pepsacola. Lili and carbon monoxide and a liar running with her eyes closed. And bananas. Rudy waited for his talented mind to do what it always did, to rise above the blur, to command it, to sharpen it into razor focus. Nothing came. Maybe it would never come again.
One thing was sure. It wouldn’t come with the distraction of a full bladder. He leaned a shoulder on the Southernmost Point to steady himself and unzipped his fly in a smooth flick of his wrist. The camera-toting onlookers and gawkers could be damned. He extricated the Southernmost penis and took a long and satisfying Southernmost piss.
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