Noah appeared in Peter’s doorway that Friday night. He stared at Peter through hazy, mystified sapphire eyes like a silty spring. His grin stretched all the way across his face. He swayed a little. Noah wrapped his arms around Peter and rested his forehead on Peter’s. He exhaled a faint mist of vodka soda. Peter tried to freeze the moment in his mind, but before he had the chance, Noah slipped down the stairs and through the bathroom door, telling Peter he’d be right back.
Time passed. Peter opened the bathroom door and found Noah collapsed in front of the toilet, a look of frustration bleeding through the pale nausea on his face. Noah looked at Peter sheepishly and began to apologize profusely. He hadn’t thought he was this drunk! He just needed to get it out of his system and he’d be fine!
Peter sat cross-legged on the tile floor and held Noah’s hand as he wretched to no avail. Time passed. The silence between them grew audible, even over Noah’s guttural croaks. Then Noah began to cry. It was a crying, Peter knew, that had nothing to do with the current debacle. It was a much larger crying. This crying that lived far off in another realm of Noah’s life. Noah sat on the floor of Peter’s bathroom crying, and Peter sat beside him holding his hand.
Eventually, Noah rose. He walked into Peter’s bedroom and stumbled onto his bed. As far as Noah was concerned, his own inebriation was all the consent required. Peter stood beside the bed and finally crawled in beside Noah and lay looking upward. Peter sighed and, while it broke his heart, he realized that he could go on without Noah.
Samson and Delilah lived in a balloon now and talked to one another in words that began in one’s mouth and ended in the other’s. The ArchAngels watered the small Mason jar garden they’d begun to grow. Snow had begun to fall again. Peter sat in his room and read comfortably in relative silence interrupted only by the crisp turning of pages.
Time passed. It passed like a car on the highway in that it never seemed to stand still. It passed like an illness in that it never seemed to plague Peter for very long. It passed like the expression of a person. It appeared so crucial and integral to everyone’s lives but lost all significance in the dark embrace of his bedcovers, his butterfly-like wings folded beneath him and his heart beating softly beneath the sheets
Gospel According To
Peter wondered if the ArchAngels would ever understand their power. They could save and they could destroy. A life had fed and weaned off of the warmth of their halos. But they were not yet nurturing. They were spiteful. They could not forgive. They could only pretend to forget. They could barely grow thyme in a Mason jar.
Maybe one day it would all be written into scripture, and the ArchAngels would know the power they possessed. Then perhaps Paradise would be whole again.
Put your arms around me. Tell me I’m a problem.
Peter sat on a bench by the Charles and watched the river flow by. He could hear in its quiet burble its length and its power. He felt the power of the earth running alongside it. But he was no longer envious of it. It was cold, and he wrapped his arms around himself the way no other could. So much lay ahead of him, so much that was under his influence. He did not feel like God. He felt like a person.
He watched the river and thought of the hurricanes in Japan that the beat of his wings might create.
CAST OF VEREIN PLAYThe cast for "Peter Squentz," one of the plays in the Deutscher Verein production this year, has been chosen as
Art Without Depth in Cunningham’s Latest Novel
Remembering Peter GomesOnly words mattered, spoken or written, but always in full, grammatical sentences, beautiful to read and even more beautiful to hear. For all his love of object collecting, Peter knew that only his words would survive him.
The Keys to the Kingdom"While Samson and Michael were searching for poster gum, Peter snuck into the bathroom and twisted the nozzles of both showers. Water flowed plentifully, to his giddy delight, and he kept it running for a few minutes. It was wasteful and eccentric, but he wasn’t in California anymore, Toto."
MomentumTheir coats were gone from their hangers. They’d taken their mugs from the shelf. The calendar had been torn off the wall. Their bedroom doors were closed, locked. Peter had never known such a violent silence.