First I took the subway south and then east four stops to Little Five Points where I walked half a mile to the house on Candler where I’d live with Hugh. He was the man in the gilt-edged book --- the one who, without knowing it, had taught me what it was like to be on the receiving end. It had taken me one summer to die of the heat and discover that painful as it is to love unrequited, to be loved unrequited is not much better. I lack the good manners necessary for such an advanced state.
A woman from the duplex next door was sweeping her porch.
“Hugh around?” I asked, leaning the shopping bags against an open Herbie Curbie.
“They moved,” she said, bringing her sweeping to the sidewalk.
“Oh?” Ho ho.
“Last fall, when Betsy was still pregnant.”
“Well,” I said. “Thanks.”
“Great,” I thought. “Now I don’t have to feel guilty anymore.” I rummaged through my bas and extracted the blue book, dropped it into the trash bin and waved goodbye.
Back on Moreland Avenue I waited for the #48 to Ponce-Highland, near where I’d rented a roach-filled, though air-conditioned studio on St. Charles after leaving Hugh. I left those books on the front steps and forgot them.
Then I walked the half mile east to Virginia-Highland intersection around which I’d lived off and on since 1979. I left the appropriate books on the front steps or backdoors of each apartment-now-condo that I’d rented, mostly alone. Finally, I made it to the last building where I’d lived with a friend who avoids me. I left three nothing books beneath one of the tulip-shaped lawn chairs flanking the property’s very straight path.
A passing #45 bus slowed down when I waved and I rode it through Midtown to Peachtree Street, transferring at North Ave., to the new north line of the MARTA subway and within minutes was up near Lenox Square and standing in front of the house on Prichard Way where, five, no six years ago, I had my downfall. This was the journal I wrote to keep sane, and the memory of it was in my bones now, not in my head and certainly not in this book. Ferocity is never written.
The leather-bound journal I buried in the wood across the street from the big old house was filled with the confusion of a love neither requited nor unrequited but simply and innocently attempted and ultimately aborted. I heard it crying after me as I hurried away, but I was now much too light to turn back.
With half the books returned, I was both high on the action and fearful of the consequences. I had never left more than forgotten pan or pair of curtains behind, and so almost turned back even this late to gather the books, but I was too tired and glad of it. I had sent my pages out to dry. Irrevocable action.