...Arlechino and Betty Lou pushed against one another, pulling each other close. Arlechino whispered into Betty Lou’s ear as they moved.
“Don’t talk,” she said. “Please. Just keep going.”
But talk he did. He told her beautiful lies and horrendous truths. She couldn’t tell the difference, and perhaps neither could he. The truths were so fabulous and the lies were so seamless that the universe, always a sucker for a tall tale, believed them all and believes them still.
He told her about her cats, and why they have no word for faith but hundreds for truth. He told her what color shame smelt like to dogs. He told her why humans believe that something isn’t important unless they feel pain, and he bit her ear for emphasis.
He told her about her mother, about the day she dove into a Venice canal to follow curious, bub-bling laughter and was discovered hours later, nearly drowned and with a belly bulging, though no one rea-lized before that she was pregnant.
He also told Betty Lou about their son and whispered that his words would be the only picture of him she would ever have.
He told her so many things. Betty Lou begged him to stop, even as his hips continued thrusting in-to hers. She knew if she took in his fantastical stories her life would change forever. Even disbelief would transform her. She prayed for silence even as she furiously grasped onto his wrinkled back with both hands and forced him to pump into her with such ferocity that their bodies were like two boulders pounding into one another.
But he still spoke. When he had spent himself and collapsed in a sweat atop Betty Lou, he told her the secret of creation. It began, he said, not with a bang, but with a snowflake on a mountain of motionless snow. The snowflake began to roll, gathering others as it went, until it amassed itself into a humungous snowball.
“And here we are, senora” he said, “tumbling around with everyone and everything else, waiting to see what happens when we get to the bottom. That’s where the real secret is. God is not the cause,” he whispered, “but the result.”
On the morning of Bernard’s thirtieth birthday every news station was abuzz with reports that Venice had sunk into the ocean.
Oceanographers, seismologists, and anyone with a few letters after their name jockeyed for camera time with eager reporters; but it was clear that no one had an explanation. All decided to save face by passing the blame onto other fields.
The seismologists blamed the oceanographers. The oceanographers blamed the architects. The architects retaliated and blamed the oceanographers, but the oceanographers called no tag-backs. The architects tried to blame the seismologists but got flustered and blamed the epistemologists, who turned around and blamed the ontologists. The ontologists blamed the tautologists. The tautologists blamed the tautologists. Eschatologists blamed everybody. Everybody blamed the scientologists. The scientologists blamed the Church, and the Church blamed the General State of Corruption and Decay in European Values.
The General State of Corruption and Decay in European Values was not available for comment.