a meeting of the baltic foreign ministers

ONE MORNING, I just got tired of it all and left the house and went out on the beach. Brynhild was there in her swimsuit, sunning her lonesome hourglass self, but with her head covered in one of those old-fashioned, big-brimmed hats, and her eyes covered with sunglasses, and her skin covered with cream, and her soul covered with unrequited love. She had given me everything, but I was always distracted. “It’s like you’re not even there,” she had said. I didn’t know how I felt about the thing. Sad, I suppose. There was just sadness. Gulfs, bays, and estuaries of the stuff. I told Brynhild that I had no time for her and that I had to go, and I left her behind too, sunning herself on that desolate beach. For a while I just walked on with the sun in my face like a hot blade, passing ice cream vendors with handfuls of chocolate and strawberry, sprawled tanned sunbathers, and little boys pushing copies of Le Monde. Finally, I arrived to the grand Krusenstern Villa and went inside. A meeting of the Baltic foreign ministers had convened and the hall was draped in the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian colors. The gloomy war criminal Russian foreign minister was there, though he looked sulky, droopy-faced, and mildly bored, as if he had been seated at the children’s table at a big Hollywood wedding. Linda was managing the catering. She’s involved in organizing almost everything in this town. She poured me a drink as soon as she saw me come in and tossed back her hair. We decided to go for a walk down the beach together and when we got tired we stretched out in the sands and I told her my story in all of its tawdry, inglorious detail. Linda is just a friend and she’s a lot older than me. Such had become my lot in life, to go from one woman to the next, like one of those pilgrims of constant sorrow they sing about in cowboy songs. “What all of this means,” said Linda looking at me with those blue eyes and tracing a finger across my chest, “is that all of your old relationships are ending now. When old relationships end, new ones begin. That’s what this all means.” My eyes followed her lips to her neck, and then down to her blouse and its white candy buttons that led beyond. It was as if she had the whole sun stuffed in her shirt, and I lost my patience with those buttons. I ripped them apart and soon was face deep in her topography. “There, there,” said Linda, “There, there.” “But what will the Baltic foreign ministers do without you?” I asked. “And the Russian foreign minister? He looked so grumpy today.” “There, there. There, there. The ministers are all having their coffee break now,” said Linda. “And after that, they will have chocolate cake.”

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