Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 117 in February, 2009.
Jarvis told himself that what he was going through right now was like the crazy spell of weather that had been unleashed on New York these past ten days or so: you knew it was going to end any time now -- and then, when it did, things would go back to being the way they used to be.
Yes, the situation would work itself out all right. It was just that it was taking so long about it.
And meanwhile, Jarvis would come home from the bank, where he worked as manager, pour himself a large one, and sit looking out the windows of his apartment, which really felt much too big for his needs now that Karen was no longer there to share the place with him. Of course she’d be back soon, he told himself, and everything would return to normal.
He kept telling himself this, but somehow the words ceased to mean anything.
Jarvis was a thirty-eight year old, fit and healthy American male; he bought his suits at Brooks Brothers, down on Madison Avenue, and ordinarily he would have changed into jeans and T shirt when he got home, at this time of year, but now, with the exceptional weather, he was wearing shorts and sandals. His hair was a chestnut-brown, his eyes a greyey-blue, and one or two girlfriends had flattered him, in the days when he was still single, before he’d met Karen, into believing that he really did bear more than a passing resemblance to the young Harrison Ford. He’d been married to Karen for five years, and she had suggested that they start ‘trying for a baby’ around two years ago. They ‘tried’ for a while and nothing happened, and then all of a sudden it did, which is pretty much the way these things happen, and the pair of them were both swept up in a great wave of emotion and excitement. But then the wave that had picked them up spewed them back out onto the desolate beach of despair, when Karen miscarried, back in October, 2001. The following month, Jarvis was working in a second floor office at the World Trade Centre on 9/11, and he managed to get out OK in time – in time, that is, to watch the people who weren’t so lucky jump from higher up the building, where they’d been trapped in.
Jarvis began to have nightmares after that. In these nightmares, he would be standing there, on the ground and out of harm’s way, watching helplessly as people jumped to their death. Then the nightmares stopped abruptly, and now something else seemed to be taking their place.
Jarvis wanted very much for him and Karen to get their marriage back on track, only he wasn’t quite sure how to do this. What didn’t help, when it came to knowing how to go about fixing what was wrong, was the fact that he wasn’t too sure what it was exactly about their relationship that needed to be repaired.
And now Karen was over in London, visiting her parents, and Jarvis was a little worried that if her mother, who was very sick, were to pass away -- as seemed likely, from what Jarvis could make out -- then Karen would want them to go over there to live, so that they would be able to keep her father company and take care of the old boy. It seemed that there was no question of her father coming over here to live with them, in New York. Karen came from old money, as they say, and her father was in many ways your quintessential well-to-do Englishman, so that he couldn’t have contemplated life without having his club to go to, a place called White’s, which was somewhere down by Hyde Park, if Jarvis remembered correctly (Jarvis had only been there once and hated it). And as for Jarvis going and settling over in London, well, he was an American first, and a New Yorker second, so the mere idea of moving to dull, boring London – as he thought of the capital city of England – left him cold, so that he was only too happy to be able to tell Karen that he’d love to move there if doing so wouldn’t mean the end of everything he’d worked so hard all these years at the bank to achieve. And so they had reached a stalemate, with Karen left worrying about what was going to happen to her father if her mother passed away, and Jarvis worrying how all of this was going to affect him, as was only natural.
And, as if he hadn’t been through enough these past couple of years, what with the miscarriage, and 9/11 following hard on its heels, Jarvis now found himself in this new predicament. He didn’t really see it that way, though. No, the word predicament didn’t quite fit. Besides, it would probably all pass over soon enough. Karen would come back and the thoughts that had been troubling him would simply go back to wherever it was that they had come from. It would happen any day now. Just as the weather would change any day. The freakish autumn weather that everyone was enjoying so much, but which embroiled the entire city in a strange, febrile fantasy that you saw reflected on everyone’s faces.
My, she sure is beautiful, though, he thought, as he saw her come to the window there, which was directly across from his, once more. She had the most gorgeous body and all of it was there on display for Jarvis to goggle at. That’s what I call a woman, he thought, and he was struck by the word woman. Somehow he’d never noticed before quite how much he loved it. He said the word aloud to himself over and over: ‘Woman. Woman. Woman.’ He laughed at himself. If only anybody could see me here, talking to myself, they’d think I’d finally lost it, he thought. And me a bank manager, too. I’ve got to get a grip, he told himself. But he knew only too well that the thing he really wanted to get a grip of was the woman whose gorgeous naked beauty he was feasting his eyes on right now…Last night, he’d taken his binoculars out and watched as a strapping blond guy had pushed her against the wardrobe and fucked her with a kind of desperate urgency. And as he’d watched, Jarvis had felt that same desperate urgency growing within himself, until he’d taken out his dick and jerked off. He’d felt ashamed and ridiculous afterwards. Anyone’d think I’m in love, he thought.
But that was last night, and Jarvis had forgotten by now all about how ridiculous this obsession of his was. All he could think about was how gorgeous she was. She had no client with her at the moment, and he supposed that, in a technical sense, at least, that must mean she was available. Perhaps she was waiting for a client to arrive, though. Perhaps whoever it was was on his way, fighting through busy traffic, his foot on the accelerator and his dick singing up a storm. This thought was enough to make Jarvis catch his breath, and there was his dick up and pulsing away again, singing up a storm of its own.
Jarvis picked up the binoculars to get a better look at her. Wow, how he’d love to run his hands over those luscious curves of hers, and bury first his face, and then his dick, in her black triangular mat. She seemed so mysterious to him. As if her body were some kind of chalice which held all of the world’s secrets. He wanted her, and yet he hated himself for even thinking about cheating on Karen. Not only that but he was acting like some kind of creep, like one of these pervy voyeurs, dammit. From the way he was behaving, anyone would think he was trying to sabotage his own life and everything that he’d worked so hard for, just as the terrorists who put a hole in the heart of New York’s business community had done back in 9/11. What the fuck’s wrong with me? Jarvis wondered.
And no sooner had he asked himself this question, than his heart did a double-back-flip as he realized that the girl had spotted him watching her through his binoculars…Now she was smiling over…She was running her hand over her breast, down the sheer slope of her belly, and she brought it to rest down in her jungle undergrowth, her Amazonian rainforest, while she raised her other arm and made a welcoming gesture with her index finger. It was like she was saying, C’mon over and all you can have all this…It’s all here waiting just for you.
She seemed so slutty, he thought, and he despised himself for being turned on by a woman of her sort. But then he realized that it was precisely her sluttiness that so appealed to him. Or at least, that was a part of it, anyway, even if there was more to it than that. She seemed somehow to represent the danger of the rainforest, and the poverty of life in the poorest of barrios in Latin America, where life was cheap and small children learned to worship the god cocaine before they could write their own names. Jarvis had never really given much thought to the lives of children whose lives were blighted by poverty; as the manager of a bank in Manhattan, he spent his days occupying himself with work whose ultimate goal was to make the rich richer, and to make a decent living for himself into the bargain. Poverty was something that took place out there, beyond the limits of Manhattan. It was something that Jarvis had never had anything to do with; yet he sensed that poverty must have played a starring role in the life of the girl in the apartment across the way. Of course she was no doubt raking the money in now – indeed, she’d have to be earning quite a bit to be able to afford the rent on an apartment in this area; but the fact that she had chosen to sell her body as a way of making a living suggested that other options had most likely not been open to her, and that her beauty was the one and only thing she had to sell. Jarvis had been brought up to feel a natural, healthy disdain for the poor, and yet he felt like he would gladly have accepted death without a qualm, just for the chance to fuck this woman, whoever she was.
But then it struck him: there was no need for him to pay with his life for the pleasure of fucking her, when all he had to do was get his ass over there and a one-hundred-dollar bill, or maybe two, would surely cover it…
The only thing stopping him was, he didn’t know the number of her apartment.
And as if she’d read his mind, the girl disappeared for a few moments; then when she came back to the window, she was holding up a piece of A4 paper with a number written on it in large, bold print...
The girl opened the door to her flat and said, ‘I been wondering what was keeping you.’ She moved aside and invited him to come on in, and he did so. The place had an open-plan design, so that he stepped into a large room with a leather sofa and comfortable chairs at one end and the dining area at the other.
Jarvis wasn’t particularly interested in the apartment or its décor, though; it was the girl he’d come to see. She’d put on a white shirt to come to the door; it was a man’s shirt, and now she allowed it to drop from her shoulders down to the carpet, and Jarvis caught his breath. She was tall and slender, but filled out wonderfully in all the right places, and her long and beautifully sculptured legs were made of the stuff that men dream about. Her wavy black hair came down past her shoulders, and there was something about the look in her eyes, and the thing that she did with her mouth, that drove Jarvis to the point of distraction. He felt a dryness at the back of his throat and tried to swallow but found that he couldn’t. He told himself that he was a married man and that he’d never been unfaithful to his wife until now. I must be crazy, he thought. He felt as though all the blood had rushed to his face and, although he supposed that what he was feeling now was nothing more than a fit of lust that would no doubt disappear just as soon as he’d done what he’d come here to do, just as the fine, crazy weather would break any day now; despite all this, he couldn’t help noticing that he was trembling slightly all over. It was as though he were in the grip of some huge and all-powerful emotion. He felt as though all the joy that it was possible for a man to feel in this world were at the very tip of his fingers, and to experience that joy all he had to do was reach out and touch this wonderfully mysterious woman, who was standing there a few of feet away from him and utterly naked. Jarvis was a man who had no real feeling for the arts, a man who had never really understood how others could be charmed into a state of rapture by a melody or the beauty of an idea, or a turn of phrase; and yet he now felt as though he had music that it was beyond the powers of a Beethoven to create coursing through his veins…Had he been in a mood to reflect on his current state, then he would surely have had cause to wonder as to just why a man who was happily married – or who had been so until not long ago – could suddenly be so inordinately affected by a woman who, when all was said and done, was just a common prostitute, a slut, a harlot…But Jarvis was in no mood to reflect on these questions, precisely because his blood was so hot with the electric heat of passion. We may surmise that the deleterious effects of his wife’s miscarriage might have had something to do with all this. And then again, there was the fact that, at thirty eight, Jarvis was, perhaps, just entering that phase in his life when a man senses that he is beginning to lose something very special and of great importance to him, something that he would do his utmost to retrieve, if only he could identify what it is exactly that he feels himself to be in the process of losing…And then, of course, we should not discount the effects of the weather, which was so freakishly good for the time of year. But beyond all of these factors, there was something else that drew Jarvis to this particular woman of all the other tarts whose services he might have enjoyed, if he’d had a mind to; and by this I don’t just mean that she happened to live in the apartment across the street from his, and that she was in the habit of making an exhibition of her naked body in the window of her apartment, there for all to see – although it is true that these factors all no doubt played their part in bringing him to where he was right now; but if we are to ask what it was that made Jarvis, a married man of thirty-eight, pant and catch his breath at the mere sight of her like this, then we would have to conclude that something else was at play, and that something else can perhaps only be explained by the fact that this woman possessed a particular kind of beauty that worked some peculiar form of magic upon Jarvis; it was as though she, more than all the other women he’d met in his life, possessed the secret key to his heart, or, at least, to one part or facet of it; as if she possessed the kind of ideal feminine beauty for which some primitive gene of his had begun to yearn right from the onset of puberty. And so here he was, finding himself face to face with a woman who was both a common tart, a slut, on the one hand, and the woman of whom – perhaps without even knowing it -- he had dreamed all his life, on the other…Jarvis found himself in such a state of throbbing rapture that he was unable to speak or move for a moment.
The woman smiled – or was it a sneer? – and said, ‘Happened, honey? Cat got your tongue?’
Jarvis continued to gawp at her like some stupid, panting dog. Then he swallowed and said, ‘What’s your name?’
She waited for him to say something, and then when she realized he was just going to carry on gawping at her, she said, ‘Say, what is it with you? You always like this?’
‘Huh?’ He seemed confused, surprised.
‘You always like to stay outside gawping at the merchandise, honey? Don’t you ever get around to entering the shop, once you got tired of your gawping, check out the stuff they got in there?’
She seemed a little mystified by his behaviour, suspicious even. ‘The hell is it with you, anyway? You sit over there watching me with those fuckin binoculars’ve yours like it’s a film you watching and I’m the star, so I tip you the wink to come over, and when you do it’s like you ain’t really here at all. You wanna go back home’n get out your binoculars again, honey?’
‘Sorry?’ Jarvis was feeling utterly stupid, clumsy, and enraptured.
‘I get it,’ she said. ‘You’re the type likes to watch, that it? One of these voyeurs -- am I right?’
When Jarvis failed to respond, she said, ‘Or’re you a cop?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘No…I work in a bank.’
‘Work in a bank, huh?’
‘That’s nice,’ she said. ‘So what’s with the binoculars?’
‘The matter, you don’t hear so good?’
‘I’m afraid I’m not used to this sort of thing.’
‘What sort of thing?’ she said. ‘You afraid of women, that what it is?’
Jarvis shook his head. ‘No, I’m married.’
‘Hope wifey don’t know you’re here?’
‘No, of course not. She’s abroad, in England, right now.’
‘She coming back, though, I suppose?’
‘So you there all alone and got to feeling lonesome, so you start watching little old me, that it?’
‘And I saw you’n wiggled my finger at you, so here you are.’
‘That’s it,’ he said.
‘You always run after women when they wiggle their finger at you?’
‘What makes this time so different, honey?’
‘You’re different,’ Jarvis said.
‘What’s so special about me?’
‘I don’t know.’
She seemed suspicious again. ‘You’re one of these deep types, ain’tcha?’
Jarvis didn’t say anything.
‘So what is it, you like the look’ve me, huh?’
He nodded. ‘Very much so.’
‘Very much so, huh?’
‘I think you’re beautiful.’
‘I bet you tell that to all the girls.’
‘No,’ Jarvis said. ‘I promise you I wouldn’t’ve come here otherwise…You see, I’m happily married…You wouldn’t…I mean, my wife must never find out that I’ve been here.’
‘Listen, honey, guys that come here, they leave their lives behind the moment they come in that door, you dig? That’s what they pay me for, right?’
‘So how much do you want?’
‘Give me a couple’ve hundred dollars’n we can have ourselves a real nice time, honey. Take our time about it’n get to know each other a little, y’know?’
Jarvis brought two bills out of the back pocket of his shorts and handed them to her. ‘I’d like that,’ he said. ‘I’d like it very much.’
She took the bills from his outstretched hand, then said, ‘Oh you’ll like it, honey. Believe you me, they all do,’ as she crossed the room and put the notes in the top drawer of the long walnut sideboard that ran along the wall. The window was open slightly and you could hear all the noises of the city going about its business outside. It was getting dark out, the sun having gone down a short while ago, and Jarvis could see his own window in the apartment block across the street.
Jarvis couldn’t believe that he was actually here doing this, and yet he was filled with longing for the girl as she came back towards him. She asked if she could get him something to drink. Perhaps he’d like a cigarette? ‘Or’d you just wanna go into the bedroom and get straight to it?’
The latter proposition was rather what Jarvis had in mind, but he was scarcely in the habit of being so openly blunt about his desires in the company of women, and so he found himself blushing like a schoolboy as he said, ‘I could do with a lie down.’
‘Can’t we all do with one, honey?’ she said. ‘’Specially after a hot day like today, huh?’
Jarvis’s heart began to race in his chest again, as he realized that his dreams were about to come to fruition, and he found himself panting like some dumb beast. At that moment, there was a noise – it sounded like somebody was turning a key in the door – and then Jarvis realized, a split-second later, that this was precisely what he’d heard, because the door burst open and a tall, Puerto Rican-looking guy with a slim, wiry frame walked in. The man had a nasty scar on his cheek, and he was wearing a brown suede suit. He had a mean expression, and Jarvis could tell just from looking at the man that he’d never held down a regular job in his life. The man looked like trouble. Jarvis sensed it. And as if he was on a mission to confirm Jarvis’s first impressions, the man strutted over to the girl, Carlotta—if that was her real name – and grabbed her by the arm. ‘Listen, bitch,’ he said, ‘I hear you been holdin’ out on me.’
The girl said, ‘No, Ramón, that ain’t true,’ but the man was in no mood to listen and he slapped her hard across the face, sending her reeling across the room, so that she fell down onto the sofa.
‘You owe me, bitch,’ he said.
Seeing that the man was clearly intent on hitting the girl some more, Jarvis felt he’d better do something. ‘Hey,’ he said, ‘that’s no way to treat a lady.’
The man appeared not to hear Jarvis – or perhaps he merely affected not to have done so – and he lifted Carlotta from where she’d fallen and slapped her across the face again, hard, so that she screamed out in pain.
‘Hey,’ Jarvis said, ‘leave her alone.’
This time the man – Ramón, as Carlotta had called him – turned to look at Jarvis, and he grinned like he’d just heard something that was funny. ‘The fuck’re you, mister?’
‘I don’t see as that’s any business of yours.’
‘In that case, keep your nose the fuck outta my business, if you know what’s good for you.’ With that, Ramón went to grab Carlotta again, but Jarvis grabbed hold of his arm. Ramón turned and swung at Jarvis with his right, and he hit him just above the jaw. Jarvis swung a right of his own, and failed to connect, and then Ramón hit him again, on the chin this time. He went down, and the next thing he knew Ramón was on him. Jarvis tried to move his arms, but Ramón had them pinned against the carpet with his knees, so that he was unable to move. Then Ramón reached into his back pocket and brought out a switchblade, and there was that nasty grin on his face again, as he held it up, taking his time about it now, like he wanted Jarvis to have a moment to think about what was going to happen to him. But then, instead of cutting his throat, Ramón fell forwards down onto Jarvis, who was frightened out of his wits by now and screaming to high heaven.
Carlotta helped Jarvis roll Ramón over onto the carpet, and then when Jarvis sat up and looked at her, she said, ‘I thought he was gonna kill you so I hit him with the ashtray.’
Blood was running from Ramón’s head and spilling down onto the carpet. ‘Shit,’ Carlotta said, ‘don’t say I fuckin killed the bastard.’ She took hold of his wrist and felt for a pulse.
Jarvis said, ‘He still alive?’
‘I dunno. You try.’
So Jarvis felt the man’s wrist -- and Carlotta must have read what he found there – or failed to find – from the expression on his face, because the next moment she put her hand over her mouth in a gesture of shock and horror. ‘Fuck,’ she said, ‘I really did kill that rotten bastard.’
This is all I need, Jarvis thought.
‘Listen,’ Carlotta said, ‘you gotta help me, y’hear?’
‘Help you? How?’
‘How’d ya think, you great dumb fuckin lummox? We gotta get ridda the body, destroy the fucking evidence, you fuckin comprende?’ The feelings of shock and horror that had assailed her only moments before had quickly given way to panic and the need to take action of some kind.
Jarvis hesitated for moment.
‘Listen, mister,’ Carlotta said, ‘your prints and DNA’re all over the motherfucker, you unnerstand me? You think you can just walk away from this? Cops come sniffin round the place, first thing I tell them, you don’t wanna help me, is you did it.’
‘Why would I kill that man?’
‘Maybe you got jealous of the guy,’ she said. ‘The fuck do I know the way you bastards all think? Why do any’ve you wanna come’n pay someone like me a couple’ve hundred bucks just to get laid? ’Specially when you got a nice little wifey at home that loves you? You’re all fuckin crazy, the whole fuckin lot of you guys. Tha’s all I fuckin know. Now’re you gonna help me get ridda the body or ain’tcha?’
Jarvis figured he didn’t really have any choice. ‘OK,’ he said.
So they put the body in a big sack and then they carried it down the back stairs, all twenty-two flights, and across the street to where Jarvis had his Mercedes parked, and they dumped the body in the back. Then Carlotta went and got into her convertible and they headed north, out of town, with Jarvis driving in front and taking care not to go too fast, so Carlotta could follow. They drove for a couple of hours, until they were out in open countryside; then Jarvis turned off the road into a little field, and he got out of his Mercedes and took off the number plates. Next he took out the can of gasoline he had in the back and doused the body and the rest of the car with it, then he struck a match and tossed it at the car and ran, and it went up like a beauty. Only Jarvis was in too much of a hurry to stay and watch. He ran and climbed into the passenger seat of Carlotta’s convertible, and they headed back the way they came.
They drove along in silence, and Jarvis found it hard to believe any of what happened had actually taken place…
When he got in, Jarvis checked his messages on the answer phone. There was only one; it was from his wife, Karen, to tell him that her mother had passed away hours earlier. Karen’s voice was obviously brittle, like she was about to break down, as she said that she’d be staying over in London to attend the funeral service, but she would speak to Jarvis about all this tomorrow.
Jarvis was a little apprehensive for a few days, and then, when there was no call from the police, he breathed a big sigh of relief and told himself that he could forget about the whole business. He talked to Karen every evening on the telephone, when he got back from work, and after that he’d watch a little TV or read before turning in for the night…Life would start to get back to normal again before too long, he kept telling himself, once Karen came home.
But then he started to have the dreams. They were always about Carlotta, and in them he knew that he would do anything just to be able to sleep with her.
If only Karen would hurry up and come back from England, he thought, maybe I’d be able to put Carlotta out of my mind onceandforall. But when he asked Karen how long she intended to be staying in London, she said she couldn’t put a time limit on it. Her father had taken it all very hard, she said, and he needed her right now, as she was sure Jarvis could understand.
Yes, of course, Jarvis said.
She wanted to get back to living with Jarvis, so they could get on with their lives as man and wife, of course she did, but these things just happened in life, she said, and when they did, well, what else could you do but change your plans in order to accommodate them?
Yes, of course, Jarvis said.
And he continued to dream about Carlotta.
He stopped reading and watching TV of an evening, and got to watching her through the binoculars again.
And then one evening it got so bad that he just couldn’t stand it any more.
I don’t care if Karen finds out, he thought. I don’t care if the whole world finds out. I don’t care about anything…All I wanna do is fuck Carlotta once before I die. And he got up from the sofa, intent on going over to her place and making his nightmare come true.
Just as he was about to go out, though, the intercom rang. ‘Is that you Jarvis?’ said an unfamiliar voice.
‘Yes, who is this?’
‘My name’s Mike. You don’t know me, but I used to live across the way from you with Sally, an old colleague of Carlotta’s.’
‘Well, the fact of the matter is we need to talk.’
‘Sure, well what about tomorrow…?’
‘What I’ve got to say can’t wait, Jarvis.’
‘OK, well in that case shoot.’
‘But what I’ve got to tell you isn’t the sort of thing you blurt out over the intercom, either. I mean, we need to sit down and talk.’
Jarvis wondered what on earth the man could want with him. What could be so important? After all, the man was a stranger to him. He thought of Carlotta. She was over there, just waiting for him to go and ring her bell…His blood was on fire.
‘Yes, um, well, I’m sorry bud, but I really don’t know you at all,’ Jarvis said. ‘And so quite frankly I fail to see what it can be that you could possibly have to talk to me about that can be so pressing. Who did you say you were again?’
‘I live – or used to live – across the way from you,’ the man said. ‘Just under that girl that you keep ogling with your binoculars night and day.’
‘Look, you need to know that Karen’s not gonna be going back to you,’ the man said. ‘She’s coming to live with me.’
Jarvis was stunned. Who was this guy? Was he some kind of a nut? ‘But you said you’re married to an old colleague of Karen’s, I believe?’
‘Yeah, well that’s all finished. Karen and I are an item now.’
‘Listen, buddy, I don’t know who the hell you are, or who the hell you think you are…but Karen’s my wife, and we’re very happily married thank you very much, and she’s not going anywhere with anyone.’
‘It’s a bit late for that, I’m afraid, Jarvis.’
‘And what’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Like I told you, Karen’s not going back to you. She’s with me now.’
‘Now listen here -- ’
‘No, you listen to me, Jarvis,’ the man said. ‘You see, the way I see it, a guy like you doesn’t deserve a woman like Karen.’
‘And just who are you to say that?’
‘A guy who spends all his spare time ogling a whore like that Carlotta when he’s supposed to be married to a wonderful woman like Karen’s gotta be an idiot,’ the man said. ‘You’re scum, is what you are, Jarvis. D’you hear me? Scum!’
‘Now you listen to me --’
‘No, you listen to me,’ the man said, ‘and you listen good. I know a lot of people – real good, decent people – who died on nine-eleven. I’m talking about close friends of mine, who all they were trying to do was an honest day’s work, when along comes an airplane and crashes into their office, you with me?’
‘Yes, well I was there that day, too,’ Jarvis said. ‘But what’s that got to do with what we were talking about?’
‘It’s got everything to do with it.’
‘What the --’
‘You see,’ the man said, ‘I take exception to the fact that a piece of human scum like you should have got out of the building that day, when close friends of mine who stayed behind to help others weren’t so lucky. And what did the experience of coming so close to death and then being spared teach you, Jarvis, huh? To ogle whores like Carlotta through your binoculars, is that it?’
‘Excuse me, but --’
‘No, you listen to me. I’m the one that’s doing the talking here,’ the man said. ‘Fact is, I take what you’ve been up to as a personal insult both to Karen and to me, as well as to my friends who were killed on nine-eleven. Why, I’ve got half a mind to beat the living shit out of you, because that’s what you deserve…If I were you, Jarvis, I’d put an end to myself, do you know that?’
All of a sudden what the man was saying began to make a horrible kind of sense to Jarvis. He went over to the window. There was Carlotta, across the way, strutting her stuff for the entire neighbourhood to see. The guy on the intercom was right: it was shameful the way he’d become obsessed with a trollop like her. Shameful. He didn’t deserve to have the love of a decent woman like Karen. And neither did he deserve to be spared back on nine-eleven, when others, who were far more worthy than he, had been condemned to death…
In a flash Jarvis realized what he had to do.
He opened the window, stepped out onto the ledge, and jumped.