the book of embraces, chapter Adrienne
–or–
the girl who stole his job with Francis Ford Coppola and how he plans to revenge himself by ruining her marriage

He was in love with a picture he saw of a girl who stole his job. He was in love with the picture before he knew she’d taken his job. The humiliation and loss just made his love grow.

In the picture she has her left hand holding her face up. Like a caryatid that was built from a kit without looking at the instructions. He flared one word in ink below her face like a squid futilely attempting escape: “Wow!” But he wrote it in all capitals and the handwriting was prettier than the type.

He wrote her love poems. Passionate, insightful. He talked about nothing else with his friends.

He edited the poems for 72 hours like running agates in a tumbler. They were shiny and smooth. Semiprecious treasures.

Then he noticed that it was her left hand in the picture. It had a ring. Well, it had a couple but the ring finger was the one that bothered him. Married? he thought, She doesn’t look married. Then he thought what a stupid thing that was to think and he thought that maybe that’s why her left hand was in the picture. It would discourage young poets from writing passionate love poems to her. Then he thought that this might just be a trick like how some women put a ring on their finger when they go out with friends so they can pretend to be married and guys won’t hit on them and how guys put a wedding ring on their finger so that when they go out with friends girls will hit on them.

A movie person had tried to hook him up with Francis Ford Coppola two years previous. Coppola was going to start a literary journal. The movie person liked a short story he wrote about putting pictures of penises all over downtown New York. He didn’t call Coppola. He went to Italy and Korea instead.

When he got back he found his job had gone to some crazily pretty thing: her. She got the job on the basis of a blind letter. He had an introduction and tossed it.

He saw who had beaten him. He loved the enemy immediately. He had never dated a married woman. He saw the path of revenge clear before him. He was truly in love but the best part was that it didn’t matter how it fell. If he won the girl with his poetry that was fine. If he lost the girl that was fine too. He understood men well enough to know that he could get that boat rocking till she stood to stop him and fell right out into the lake.

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