They had a room they sat in.  In their upstairs apartment in Soulard.  Bethany decorated it.  With mirrors and paintings.  Little knickknacks in the window sills.  Pictures in frames and hanging plants—a green fern.  There was a red chair and a yellow chair.  Bethany sat in the red chair.  It creaked when it rocked, and they both knew it would be soothing to the baby.  The yellow chair was gnawed on by a dog.  The point of one arm rest left with teeth marks and exposed wood.  David would let his hand hang over it as he sat there, gripping it sometimes for the feel of it, his fingers imagining a guitar—that feel—that feel you have for the strings…  Between the chairs was a record player.  That’s where the music came from—between them as they sat in that room.  In the way that it sounded.  Sometimes a wall.  Other times a window—a connection.  And their eye contact depended on it.  With some music David couldn’t look, and his eyes rested on Bethany’s belly.  Some music made Bethany look away, and she turned to her needle and sew thread.  But no matter what there was always the music—between them.  The between in between when they talked, as one song ended and another began, when it was time for a record change.  They talked as lovers do.  When they know they are waiting.

“Do you love me, or is it just convenient?”  Bethany looking.  She knows why she says this even though David does not.   “I mean which do you love more.  Me or your music?”

If he wasn’t tired from working in his father’s pawn shop all day maybe David would say something different.  But instead he says, “You know I love you more…”

And it becomes a mausoleum for a moment.  No sound from the record player.  Bethany reading his face—David’s gestures—the way his hand strokes the gnawed wood.  And for a moment it becomes clear—that truth.  The truth a woman knows of a man she knows.  The deliberation.  To give openly or be mean in the easy manipulation.  What’s sincere also a trap.  For it makes the other person sincere.  Believing.  What you say then the opposite effect of what you want.  If you want them to care you tell them they don’t give a fuck.  If you want them to not give a fuck you tell them they care too much.  Reverse images at play.  In any and all conversations.  In what you want the other person to know and what you don’t know they know.  And you succeed or fail by this.  In what you read in other people’s faces and what you want them to read of you later as they ponder in that quick after moment.  That brainwashing.  That con of good and evil.  When all that matters is if you take a look at yourself and whether you listen or not to what someone wants you to see…  You get old enough you even see it as a business.  A convenient store you stop into once and a while for the things you need.  What makes it a mausoleum in that between in between songs the realization a man gets with this, with a woman he’s loved but now that love’s in question.  Haunted by what you can’t pretend never happened and unrelenting time.  What David Threnody realized in that room with Bethany.  Tired from his mindless labor and his world upset that soon a child would need him.  His fears as a man and a father.  The mourning of it coming now.  The truth that no matter what—a woman is always older than a man..  For they know what love is and why they love.  Not saying a man doesn’t know this.  But the woman knew first.  Bethany knew first.  She knew before she ever met David and heard his father’s words…