Acid and Ice

 

They sit in the front row as celebrating a hit.

Henry, my one time friend (who hopes to be a Broadway star) sitting with Jane, my one time lover, Henry stole from me.

I cringe when I see them because I know they have already read my review of his performance.

I should have thicker skin when it comes to artists I have savaged in print.

Perhaps I am, but not when it comes to Henry.

I usually like the fact people fear what I might write.

Perhaps Iím reading what I want to read in Henryís performance, and Iím embarrassed to look them in the eye because they know it, too.

Jane clearly thinks I have a lot of nerve showing my face in public after what I did to Henry.

Iím surprised the two of them arenít cowering in some hotel room, moaning over Henryís ruined career.

But theyíre here, like this, smiling even.

I know my knife went deep enough to draw blood and they are faking gaiety.

I work the room pretending not to see them.

I want to believe I really saw the flaws I wrote about, although at one time I thought Henry gifted.

I know if I look over Jane will give me that betrayed look, a look which says she thought we had all this settled and now look what I have done.

Sheís good at taking blame for things and during our time together, she claimed credit for everything good or bad I did as if for her.

Iíve always denied it.

I deny it now.

When Henry catches my eye and signals me to come over, I cave in.

Everybody in the room is watching, waiting to see what I do, ready to judge me if I continue to ignore him.

Bad enough I wrote ill of him, how can I not greet him now?

So I go over.

Jane is so chilly she could keep every drink in the room cold for a week.

Henry actually shakes my hand as Jane demands to know if Iím happy now.

I say Henry is young and will recover. Men less talented than Henry have recovered from worse.

Henry eyes me with a strange glint in his eye and orders me a drink.

He asks me straight up if I really thought he was as bad as I wrote he was in my column, and I say, yes.

For a long time, he says nothing Ė just stubs out his cigarette until it falls to pieces, finally nodding, and saying, Iím right.

I could kill him.

What good is revenge if I canít make it stick.

Damn him.


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