AN: Inspired by the prompt over at truedetectiveprompts on Tumblr, "Marty really likes it when Rust speaks Spanish."
All poems by Federico Garcia Lorca.
Love Poems for Men Who Aren't In Love
About a year after Marty brings Rust home from the hospital like a wayward dog from the pound, they're in South Texas, in the drive-thru lane of a Mexican fast food restaurant when Rust leans his head out the open window of his truck and says into the intercom,
"Quiero el numero seis, con la salsa roja, sin queso. Solo el arroz en el lado, por favor, no frijoles. Tambien, quiero el numero diezinueve con las salsa roja, y un Coke mediano."
Marty blinks at him in wonder, as the drive-thru guy responds.
"Quiero el arroz y los frijoles con el diezinueve?"
"Si," Rust says. "Y los frijoles negras, por favor. Tiene ésos, verdad?"
"Si, si. Nada mas, señor?"
Rust straightens in his seat again and looks ahead at the car in front of them, currently at the window.
"You speak Spanish?" Marty says.
Rust looks over at him. "Yeah."
"When the hell did you learn to speak Spanish?"
"Took some classes in college. Got fluent once I became a cop here. Figured it'd come in handy. It did."
"You've been fluent in Spanish the whole time I've known you, and I'm just now finding out?"
Rust doesn't quite shrug his right shoulder, his wrist resting on the top of the steering wheel. "Well, it's not like there's a whole lot of cause for a guy like me to speak it in fucking coastal Louisiana, Marty."
Marty shakes his head, looking through the windshield as the car ahead of them starts to pull away. You think you know a guy after eighteen years. "You speak any other languages?" he says.
"Basic French, enough that I get the gist of conversations had between the people who speak it in Louisiana. Used to be pretty good with German but I haven't touched it in years, so I wouldn't bet on myself passing any tests."
Rust pulls up to the window and nods at the Mexican kid standing inside when he slides the window open.
"Cuanto te debo?" Rust says.
"Quince dólares con cincuenta y seis centavos," the kid says.
Rust digs his wallet out of his back pocket and hands over a twenty dollar bill. The kid gives him back the change and then passes Rust Marty's Coke, followed by the bag of food. Rust tips the kid a couple bucks, then drives back into the road.
They don't speak for a few minutes, silence in the cab of the truck because the radio's still switched off. Rust leaves his window open, and the wind comes in, other vehicles whipping past them every few moments headed the opposite direction. Marty glances over at him in the dark, holding the food on his lap, and wonders about all the things that he doesn't know about Rust and all the things he never will know.
This trip was Rust's idea, one that he announced out of the blue but must've been mulling over for a long time in private. He didn't tell Marty why he wanted to return to South Texas or what he intended to do there, but Marty still volunteered his company, not asking if he could tag along so much as acting like it was a given. Truth is, neither one of them goes much of anywhere alone anymore. At first, the constant togetherness was about the fact that Rust was going through a slow recuperation from his physical injuries and needed someone around to help him out or at least be available to help. But even once Rust was pretty much back to full strength and feeling as healed up as he was going to get, they remained each other's shadow: working together, living together, eating together, hanging out together, name it. The question of Rust moving out and moving on never really came up, beyond him bringing home a couple boxes of stuff from his old room behind Doumain's bar one day and taking over Marty's guest room without asking. Marty didn't complain.
As they made the long, all-day drive from Baton Rouge to Uvalde, Marty wondered if Rust was going to go back to the house he once lived in when he had a family, to the street where his daughter died, to Sofia's grave that maybe hadn't received any visitors in years. And he tried not to worry about Rust having a breakdown in any one of these places, asked himself silently why he hadn't tried to discourage Rust from this trip in the first place, and wondered how he was going to handle the situation if the other man did completely lose his shit. On the highways that carried them West through endless stretches of desert and empty fields, Marty also wondered not for the first time about those years Rust spent undercover here. He wanted to ask him if they were passing by the places where Crash had been, but he was afraid of dredging up those memories, not on his own behalf but on Rust's. There were a lot of questions Marty wanted to ask, ones he hadn't really cared about during the seven years of their police partnership, but it just never seemed worth the risk of triggering Rust's PTSD.
As usual, Rust said fuck all about what he was up to as they drove to Uvalde, growing quieter in general the further west they got. Ever since they arrived three nights ago and checked into their hotel room, Marty's wondered if Rust is remembering things about his old life here, walking around in a dream state as he moves like a ghost through the setting of events he tried so hard to forget. He seems all right, seems his normal self, but Marty isn't dumb enough to take Rust's word for all right, to believe that the surface of Rust Cohle is everything.
Now, as they watch TV and eat their Mexican food in the hotel room, Marty steals glances at him from across the room and tries to catch sight of some twinge in Rust's face. But nothing's there. Rust looks over at him eventually, with those world weary eyes of his, and doesn't say anything. He shaved off the mustache months ago, and he looks about ten years younger for it. But there's no taking away that weariness.
"What?" he says, voice flat as he stares at the TV and cuts himself another piece of his burrito slathered in enchilada sauce.
"Nothing," says Marty, sipping on his Coke.
They eat and stare at the TV in silence for a few more minutes. It's some kind of reality show about hillbillies brewing moonshine.
"Why the hell are we watching this?" Rust says, sounding disinterested in the answer.
"You're the one with the remote," says Marty.
Rust looks down at the remote lying before him on the bed, next to his Styrofoam box of food, like he forgot it was there. He looks back up at the TV and tips the lip of his beer bottle against his mouth.
"You ever speak Spanish in Alaska?" Marty asks, on the next commercial break. "After you left, I mean."
Rust side-eyes him the way he does whenever he thinks Marty's said something stupid. Which irritates Marty now because it isn't a stupid question at all. He's never been to Alaska, so how would he know what languages people speak there?
"No," Rust says.
"Who would I speak it to? Myself?"
Marty imagines Rust talking out loud to himself in Spanish, bitching about the cold in the privacy of whatever sad and miserable hell hole he probably lived in up there. Then imagines Rust talking to himself in Spanish in the unsettling silence of that God damn storage unit shrine to the Yellow King murders. It's the kind of thing Marty can believe that Rust would do, whether for entertainment or just to make sure that the language was still there in his brain.
"I dunno, man," says Marty. "You coulda talked to the bears in Spanish, it's not like animals are fucking partial to one human language over the rest."
Rust just gives him that look again and drinks more beer.
"Well, how are you still good at it, then?"
"How the fuck do you know I'm good at it, if all you heard me speak was enough to order food at a fucking drive-thru?" Rust says.
"Well, you didn't sound like you had to think about what the words were. You didn't pull out a dictionary."
Rust shuts his white takeout box and gets up to smoke a cigarette on the balcony. He slides the glass door open and shut and lights up one of his Camels, looking out at the town he once swore he'd never step foot in again. The air feels good on his face, and the night sky, something between pitch black and the darkest midnight blue, comforts him.
Truth is, he didn't know he could still speak Spanish fluently until tonight. He tried it just to see if he could.
Rust's a little more than halfway through his cigarette when Marty joins him. He can tell that Marty's unsure whether or not Rust wanted to be alone out here, but Rust doesn't care too much. Marty sits in one of the rubber chairs and looks out at the view through the metal bars of the balcony sides.
"Kinda sounds nice," he says.
"What?" says Rust.
"When you talk Spanish. Probably because I have no idea what the fuck you're saying."
Rust smiles a little, with the side of his mouth that Marty can't see.
Rust used to speak Spanish to Sofia. French, too. He used to point out the stars to her and say, "Estrellas." Used to give her one each night, grab at the air with one hand like he could pluck them from the sky for her. He knew one lullaby in French and he'd sing it to her, swaying barefoot on the deck on mild spring nights and looking at the fat full moon, most of her baby blanket hanging over his arm. He taught her how to count to ten in Spanish, what the Spanish names for colors were, taught her how to call dogs, cats, and birds in French and Spanish. He used to tell her stories of his childhood whenever Claire left him alone with her, and the parts that were hard to talk about, the parts that he thought maybe she shouldn't understand, he told in Spanish. She would look at him sometimes, once she got to be one and two, with eyes that belonged to a much older being. She understood, he thought. Even when he spoke to her in Spanish, she understood.
After Sofia died, every language he knew felt useless. He hated the world for expecting him to make any sound other than a wail, a scream, a moan or a growl. Words were little more than receptacles of memory painful to his tongue. She was in them, in the most common and innocent words. She was in the sun, the moon, the stars, el cielo y la lluvia. She was in red, blue, and yellow; verde, gris, y rosado. She was in yes and no, in los caballos y los osos. He didn't even want to think in words. He didn't want to think. He wanted to go wherever she was, into the silence.
It wasn't until he was Crash, nomad associate of the Iron Crusaders dozens of counties away in Southeast Texas, that he spoke Spanish again. To drug dealers and gang jefes, to bag men and mules. To Mexican prostitutes on both sides of the border. To his Mexican-American handler who spoke perfect English without an accent, whenever they met in public places or when Rust called him from pay phones. In Crash's mouth, the language became ugly—crude and violent, just like the world he inhabited and the man he'd become. It wasn't the Spanish he spoke to his daughter, and he took comfort in that.
He watched a lot of telenovelas at North Shore and in the months after his release, before he scored the transfer to Louisiana. He listened to the Spanish but deliberately didn't translate it in his head, the words washing over him like white noise. He never spoke it when he was a patient at the mental hospital, so everybody assumed that watching TV in a language he didn't understand was just one more weird quirk of Rust Cohle's, the man who never said much of anything to anyone unless he had to.
When he finally got around to cleaning out the storage unit he'd rented out just before going undercover, he got rid of most of the stuff that had belonged to Rust Cohle, husband and father, along with everything that had belonged to Crash except what fit in that red foot locker. He kept only some of the books, including the Spanish poetry.
As the end of their week in Texas comes to a close, Marty has to try his hardest not to ask Rust what the hell the point of this visit was. Rust hasn't gone anywhere without him, and there have been no cemeteries, no suburban cul-de-sacs at the end of a long street, no peeking into someone else's living room window, no police stations. They've just been bumming around town, trying different restaurants, going to the movie theater, playing pool in dive bars, and wandering through shops. One night, they drive out to an empty field with a cooler full of beer for Rust and iced tea for Marty and just sit out there in the truck bed, legs dangling over the end, alternating between periods of impersonal conversation and comfortable silence. They spend an afternoon walking through Memorial Park, sitting in the grass along the Leona River and looking at the fountain. They buy hot dogs from a cart, and Marty tells Rust his best fishing stories, at Rust's request. Rust, his narco nose as sharp as ever, tracks down some good grass—doesn't tell Marty he's going to buy some, just comes back with it after disappearing for an hour—and they get high on the balcony, laugh so hard they end up crawling back into the room in tears, then go on a food run and end up with a bunch of Stouffer's macaroni and cheese from a 24 hour convenience store because that's the only fucking thing open after 10 PM on a weeknight that isn't a bar. They cook the mac 'n cheese in the little communal kitchen on the first floor of the hotel and try not to act stoned as they do.
Their last night in Uvalde, they come back to the room from dinner with two bottles of wine and drink in the bathtub together, their legs hooked over the side. Marty's cell phone is playing music on the toilet lid. Rust starts smoking a cigarette about halfway through his bottle.
"You know, this has been a good time and all, but I gotta ask why the hell you picked Uvalde, Texas as a vacation spot," Marty says, face ruddy from the wine. "I mean, I don't know Texas, but I'm pretty sure there are better vacation destinations, Rust. No offense."
Rust taps the ash off his cigarette into the tub drain, his other hand wrapped on the neck of his bottle that's clasped between his thighs. "It wasn't a vacation," he says. "Not really."
"If you were getting sick of our part of the world, all you had to do was say so," Marty continues. "We could've planned something. A tour of Texas or whatever. Could've gone to Florida. It's pretty nice this time of year."
Rust doesn't reply this time, staring into space with those sad eyes of his, the smoke from his Camel creating a haze around them.
"I guess what I'm trying to ask, Rust, is why we came here in particular. If it was just for the hell of it, that's fine. But you're not the kind of guy who does things for fun, so I figured coming here was about something."
"Like what?" Rust says, somber now as he turns his head to look at Marty.
"I don't know," says Marty, after a pause. "I thought maybe you had some personal business you wanted to take care of. Family things."
He says it carefully, with that expert Southern delicacy. It makes Rust want to call him on his bullshit, to say that he's a grown man and his daughter's been dead for twenty-five years and he doesn't need to be coddled. But he looks at Marty, the two of them pressed together side to side so that they feel each other's warmth and solidity, and he knows that Marty means well. Rust thinks that there's no more fitting epitaph for Martin Hart's gravestone than "He meant well," and almost snorts about it.
Rust looks away, into his lap, and says, "You wanna hear some Spanish?"
Marty blinks and says, "Sure."
Rust takes a long drink of wine, sucks on his cigarette, and says, "This is a poem by Lorca." He clears his throat and begins to recite the lines slow and steady, as if he wants Marty to catch every word.
"Esta luz, este fuego que devora,/este paisaje gris que me rodea,/este dolor por una sola idea,/esta angustia de cielo, mundo y hora..."
He stops and swallows, smokes and runs his tongue between his lips before continuing.
"Este llanto de sangre que decora/lira sin pulso ya, lúbrica tea,/este peso del mar que me golpea,/este alacrán que por mi pecho mora,/son guirnalda de amor, cama de herido,/donde sin sueño, sueño tu prescencia/entre las ruinas de mi pecho hundido."
He pauses but doesn't sound finished.
Marty looks over at him and sees that Rust's face is tight with emotion he can't identify, the line of his jaw hard. Rust takes a breath, and Marty waits for him to speak again, not wanting to interrupt.
"Y aunque busco la cumbre de prudencia/me da tu corazón valle tendido/con cicuta y pasión de amarga ciencia."
Rust stops and drinks more wine, obviously finished. He still doesn't look at Marty, and Marty watches him for a minute, not knowing what to say. He doesn't have any idea what Rust said, but he gets the sense that it was sad. And he's pretty sure he heard the word for love somewhere in there.
Wounds of Love
This light, this fire that devours,
This gray landscape that surrounds me,
This sorrow for one sole idea,
This anguish of sky, world, the hour;
This lament of blood that adorns
A lyre now without pulse, lascivious torch,
This weight of the sea that pounds me,
This scorpion that dwells in my breast
Are a garland of love, bed of the wounded,
Where without sleep, I dream of your presence
Amid the ruins of my sunken breast.
And although I seek the peak of prudence,
Your heart gives me a valley spread
With hemlock and passion of bitter knowledge
The guest room may have become Rust's room unofficially—with his books stacked on the right side night table and lined against the wall on the dresser top, his clothes in the closet and the drawers, an ash tray always almost full on the left side night table, a metal lock box on the shelf in the closet, a desk he bought secondhand that's covered in ink drawings and notes, a familiar cross hung on the wall above the bed—but the truth is, Rust only sleeps in that room when he's pissed at Marty or when Marty's snoring wakes him up in the middle of the night. They've been sharing Marty's bed since the stitches came out of Rust's belly, and before that, Marty was on the couch or the air mattress in the living room. It was just one of those things that they didn't need to talk about, although Rust had pretended at first that he found Marty cuddling him in his sleep to be a nuisance. Just a little. He told Marty that just because the man couldn't keep a girlfriend to save his life didn't mean Rust should be living in his house, never mind sleeping in his bed, and although Marty looked hurt, he still called Rust's bluff.
Most people would guess that it'd be Rust who would most comfortably accept whatever their friendship's grown into without asking questions and that Marty would have a totally unsurprising sexual identity crisis or feel the need to punctuate ever touch and physical intimacy with disclaimers about still only wanting screw women, thank you very much. But Marty was the one who touched Rust first, the one who asked if he could join Rust in the bed instead of kicking him out of it, the one who didn't complain about having to wash Rust's hair and back while the stitches were still in, the one who started coming up behind Rust when the skinnier man sat at the kitchen table and massaged his shoulders without being asked. Marty was the one who grabbed Rust in a hug one night, in the middle of the kitchen, not long after the stitches came out, and held onto him like Rust was the only thing he had in the world. Rust was the one who took a minute before hugging him back.
Rust believes it's a combination of intuition and knowing each other well enough, that they understand without conversation their mutual lack of interest in fucking each other. That they aren't a couple in the romantic sense nor secretly hoping to be, but that they are partners—pretty much the way they've always been, except with a lot more closeness and affection. Their partnership has grown out of the professional sphere and into the personal, the domestic. Each man quietly realizes that neither one of them is fit to be with anybody else, that they're both damaged fuck-ups who have torched everything else in their lives to the ground, and this resurrected friendship of theirs is the best either one of them can hope for in the time they've got left.
They love each other, but they haven't spoken those words. They might not ever speak them.
About two weeks after they come home from Texas, Rust is sitting on the back deck in his fold out chair, smoking a cigarette and looking at the yard. It's a mild night, one of the last of spring, and soon, the air will be too hot and mosquito-thick to be this comfortable outside for long. He can hear the insects chirping and trilling unseen in the darkness. He feels a sense of peace that he used to reach for in other places when he was alone but never found.
Marty comes out through the sliding glass door with a couple cold beers. He hands one to Rust and sits down in his chair beside him.
The beer feels good sliding down Rust's throat.
"Beautiful night," Marty says, after a while.
"Mmm," says Rust and takes a drag on his cigarette.
"Hey, I was thinking. How 'bout we get a dog?"
Rust looks over at Marty and raises an eyebrow. "Are you fuckin' serious?"
"Yeah! Why not? I always wanted a dog. Besides, I think it'd be good for you."
"Good for me? And why's that?"
"Having animals around can be therapeutic, is what I mean," Marty says. "And God knows you need therapy."
Rust flips him off and takes a sip of his beer.
Marty holds up a middle finger in turn.
"If you want a dog for the hell of it, Marty, all you gotta do is say so," Rust says. "You don't have to spout this bullshit about how I'd benefit. This is still your house, last time I checked. Do what you want."
Marty scowls at him. "You live here too, asshole. I'm not going to make a decision that impacts your life without asking you about it first. That would be fucking rude. Just so you know."
They fall into silence and drink most of the rest of their beers. Rust finishes his cigarette and squashes it under his heel. Marty bitches at him periodically about leaving butts on the deck, usually when he decides to sweep them up, but Rust hasn't quit leaving them.
He gets up first and goes inside without a word, dropping his beer bottle in the recycle bin. Marty follows after a minute and switches off the backyard light when he comes in.
They brush their teeth in the master bathroom, one man to a sink, and climb into bed. Marty turns out the light, and they lie side by side on their backs, looking up at the ceiling, silent for a few minutes except for the sound of their breathing.
"How do you say 'dog' in Spanish?" Marty says.
Rust makes a noise that's half snort, half scoff. "Perro," he says, then rolls away from Marty onto his side.
It doesn't take long for Marty to fling an arm around Rust's waist, pressing his chest up against Rust's back. All the tension drains out of Rust's body, and he feels boneless, thinking not for the first time that if the only way he and Marty could've got to this was to go through those first seventeen years exactly as they happened, it was all worth it.
That night, he dreams he's in Alaska. It's springtime. Black wolves watch him from a field.
Marty drags Rust to their local animal shelter the following weekend. They take their time looking. Marty squats down on his haunches for just about every dog and seems to fall in love with all of them. Rust just watches him with his arms crossed, trying to make it as clear as possible that he's not interested. Marty doesn't pay him any attention.
Waiting in the very back, at the end of the long aisle of stalls on the right, is a male black and tan coonhound. He doesn't make any noise, jump around, or even wag his tail when the two men get to him. He just sits up close to the gate and watches them with a pair of honey brown eyes that hold both age and experience.
Rust sees him first, while Marty's paying attention to the dog in the stall opposite the hound's. He squats down in front of the stall and rests his fingertips against the metal wiring of the gate. The hound sniffs his hand, then laps at it with a big tongue.
Marty turns around and sees him.
"This one," Rust says.
They name the dog Bear.
In late June, a few weeks later, Rust's smoking and reading a case file in the bathtub one night. The top panel of the bathroom window's propped open, and he can hear the mosquitoes and the crickets twittering outside. He's been home alone all night because Marty had a dinner date with Audrey, and he's appreciating the solitude that he so rarely gets living here. The dog's lying on the rug next to the bath tub, snoozing or maybe just waiting for Rust to finish up. The whole house is quiet and still.
Soaking in the bath has become a habit of Rust's, ever since he moved into Marty's house. For most of his life, he's only had access to a shower, and he always regarded showering as a necessary activity to be rushed through in fifteen minutes or less, before getting on with more important things. But when he still had his stitches in, Marty had to help him wash, so Rust would sit in the big standalone tub Marty bought special for the master bathroom a couple years prior and let him. Once Rust could take care of himself, he reverted back to showers but decided to experiment with the tub soaking. Now that he's in his fifties and his body's been beat all to hell, spending half an hour or more in a hot bath is the kind of comfort he needs whether he wants to admit it or not. Marty only teased him about it once, to which Rust replied that the bath tub big enough for a grown man to lie down in was there before Rust showed up.
Rust closes the file folder and drops it on the toilet lid, before settling back into the tub and resting his head in the groove of the lip. His arms are stretched out on top of the sides, and his cigarette gives off smoke in between the fingers of his right hand. He closes his eyes and just listens to the insects and the quiet for a while, until he hears Marty pull his Cadillac into the driveway and the faint sound of the front door opening and closing.
"Rust?" Marty calls from the foyer or the kitchen.
He doesn't reply, knowing that Marty will just wander through the house until he finds him. The other man's used to how quiet Rust is by now.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, Marty's knocking on the bathroom door and cracking it open to peek in. Rust opens his eyes and looks at him.
"Hey," Marty says.
The dog raises his head to look at Marty but doesn't get up.
"I'll be out in five," says Rust.
"Take your time. Just wanted to see what you were up to."
There's a silent pause.
"How was dinner?" Rust asks, puffing on his Camel.
"Good," says Marty. "It was good."
"You don't sound so sure."
Marty purses his mouth in that kind of reluctant frown he gets that pinches his whole face. "I guess I just thought that after a year of these biweekly visits with Audrey, things would be better between us. Better than they are, I mean. I'm starting to wonder if this is as good as it's gonna get."
"I'm the last person who should be giving relationship advice, but I'm pretty sure this shit takes time, Marty. Real time. It's not a God damn romance."
"What's real time?" Marty says, sounding a little bit like an impatient kid. ""Cuz I don't know if you've noticed, Rust, but I'm not getting younger."
"Yeah, and you're not about to check into the God damn old folks home either," Rust says, taking another drag.
Marty pouts but doesn't protest.
Rust glances at him and says, "You bring me leftovers?"
"I ordered you something," says Marty. "Leftovers are for Bear."
Marty shuts the door again when he leaves.
Rust lies there in the lukewarm water for a few more minutes, finishing his cigarette and thinking about daughters.
When he makes out to the kitchen, dressed in one of his wife beaters and a clean pair of boxer briefs, Marty's moping in front of the TV in the living room. Rust sees him but doesn't say anything as he inspects the takeout containers of food. He puts down the remains of Marty's dinner on the floor for Bear, who immediately scarfs it down in little more than two or three bites and licks the plastic container clean. Marty ordered Rust some kind of pasta with meat sauce, sprigs of basil, and what appears to be shaved parmesan. Rust sticks it in the microwave for a minute, then eats standing up at the kitchen counter, washing the food down with a tall glass of water. He still drinks but not half as much as he did before Carcosa and the subsequent hospital stay.
Rust waits to see if Marty will quit his moping and try striking up a conversation, but he clears out his takeout container without any luck. He rinses out the plastic before tossing it in the recycle bin, then calls to the other man.
"What?" Marty says, glancing over at Rust.
Marty looks at him again, this time a little longer, like he isn't sure he heard right.
"Turn that shit off and come're," says Rust.
Marty clicks off the TV and comes into the kitchen. He's still wearing the dark brown pants and white shirt he had on all day for work and his dinner date, but he took his shoes off, socks still on his feet.
"Sit," Rust tells him, pointing to one of the chairs at their little dining table next to the kitchen.
Rust moves to stand behind him and starts rubbing his shoulders, which immediately evokes a noise from Marty—something between a grunt and a sigh. Marty hangs his head and shuts his eyes, and Rust doesn't say anything for a little while.
"Wanna hear some Spanish?" he asks.
"Yeah," says Marty, like he forgot all about Rust's language proficiencies. "That'd be nice."
Rust thinks on it for a bit, flipping through different poems and songs in his head that he memorized decades ago. Something in his gut hitches when he finds the right one, another poem by Lorca he'd forgotten all about until just now. He reviews it in his head first line to last before he says a word and marvels at how fitting it would've been when Marty first brought him home.
"Esa guirnalda," he starts, leaving out the urgency he's supposed to use. "Pronto. Que me muero./Teje deprisa. Canta. Gime. Canta,/que la sombra me enturbia la garganta/y otra vez viene y mil la luz de enero."
He digs his thumbs into the back of Marty's neck, pausing to contemplate the next line before he speaks it.
"Entre lo que me quieres y te quiero,/aire de estrellas y temblor de la planta,/espesura de anémonas levanta/con oscuro gemir un ano entero."
Whenever he speaks Spanish, especially when reciting poems, his Texan accent thickens and the words roll off his tongue like honey running down the side of a jar. Slow and golden.
"Goza el fresco paisaje de mi herida,/quiebra juncos y arroyos delicados,/bebe en muslo de miel sangre vertida./Pero pronto, que unidos, enlazados,/boca rota de amor y alma mordida,/el tiempo nos encuentre destrozados."
Finished, he goes quiet but doesn't stop rubbing Marty's shoulders.
After a minute, Marty says, "You going to tell me what it means?"
"No," says Rust.
Sonnet of the Garland of Roses
That garland! Hurry! For I'm dying!
Weave quickly! Sing! Moan! Sing!
For shadow clouds my throat,
And again, for the thousandth time, comes the light of January.
Between your love for me and mine for you
—air of stars and tremor of plant—
A thicket of anemones rises
With a dark moan an entire year.
Relish the fresh landscape of my wound,
Break rushes and delicate rivulets,
Drink blood poured on honeyed thigh.
But hurry! So united, so entwined
Mouth broken by love and soul bitten,
Time will find us destroyed.
At the tail end of July, late one afternoon when it's pouring rain and the air's so hot and humid it almost feels like breathing in steam, Marty's dripping sweat onto the concrete floor of the garage. He's doing bag work, dressed only in a pair of basketball shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. He stops every few minutes to suck on his gallon jug of water.
After Carcosa, Marty decided to get back into shape. The punching bag was already hanging in the garage but had gone unused for years. He'd needed to replace his training gloves, which were cracked and peeling with age and use. He bought himself new workout sneakers and hand wraps. He'd even considered a gym membership, mostly to access all the free weights, but ultimately decided he didn't want to spend nights lifting what he could in front of young, sculpted guys half his age and younger.
He's looked at Rust in the past and envied the man a little for his naturally lean physique. Rust's the kind of guy who has to try hard to bulk up, and at this point, he is so far beyond giving a shit what he looks like that he's not going to regain the musculature of his youth anytime soon. Marty inherited his father's body: not prone to obesity by any means but he's gained weight with age and all of it pretty much goes to his belly. He's always had a healthy appetite, and it's only within the last five years or so that he's changed his diet for the better and minimized his alcohol consumption to almost nothing. After the divorce, he'd relapsed into heavy drinking, and left to fend for himself on the food front, he'd relied too much on cheap take out and microwaveable crap. Retiring from police work caused him to reevaluate things again.
The door to the house creaks open and Rust appears, leaning against the jamb with a bottle of beer in his hand and the other on his hip. He watches Marty, and Marty stops hitting the bag to look at him, panting for breath. His t-shirt's dark and wet in a V starting at the collar and under the arms. Sweat drips over his face and down his neck.
"What?" he says.
"You know, they got fans at Walmart," says Rust. "Them big box ones and the kind that stand up and rotate."
"If I wanted a fan in here, I would've bought one, smart ass." Marty picks up his water jug and drinks several gulps.
"You got someone to impress? New lady in your life I ain't heard of?"
"What? No. Why are you asking me that?"
"That's the only reason I can come up with for you shuffling around in here, trying to water some greens out of the fucking cement out of season." Rust pulls on his beer, sounding a lot more Texan today than usual.
Marty just blinks at him and wipes his forearm across his brow. "I'd flip you off right now, if I wasn't wearing these gloves," he says.
Rust holds up his middle finger with his free hand.
The garage door is open, and the rain is so heavy that it almost looks like the inside of a car wash. What's left of daylight is bluish gray, and it'll be dark soon. A few big mosquitoes hover inside the garage against the far wall opposite the door to the house, waiting out the storm.
"What do you want for dinner?" Rust says.
Marty shrugs and looks at the bag, debating whether to carry on for a little while longer or stop.
"We got those baby shrimp in the freezer. I was thinking about ceviche."
"What?" says Marty.
"Ceviche," Rust repeats. "Cold dish of Spanish-Peruvian origin, now widely popular throughout Central and South America. Goes well with beer."
"Yeah, and you already started in on the beer part."
Rust lifts the bottle in the air in a toasting motion and sips on it again.
"Well, whatever," Marty says. "You want help?"
"I want you to wash up and put on clean clothes."
With that, Rust disappears back inside, the door not quite shutting behind him.
Marty looks after him, then shakes his head and grumbles. "It's like all the bullshit of marriage with none of the sex."
Between two and three in the morning, Marty wakes up for some reason—and he's alone in bed. He looks around him in the pitch blackness of the room, still half-asleep, then throws open the comforter and sheet and swings his legs out of the bed. He sits there for a moment, sighing and wondering if he was snoring again. As his eyes adjust to the darkness, the familiar shape of a man materializes in the bathroom doorway. Marty gets up and crosses the room.
Rust is leaning his left side into the bathroom doorjamb, just standing there with his arms crossed against chest, maybe looking out the window behind the bathtub. His hair's still in a ponytail but some of it's loose, the band slipped too low. Tendrils of hair hang around his face, ends curling before they hit his shoulders, like jungle vines.
It's still raining. The sound of it fills the house.
Marty comes up behind him and rests his hand on Rust's shoulder. "Hey," he says, quiet. "Did I wake you?"
Rust shakes his head and continues looking toward the bathroom window. "No."
Marty figures it's probably the truth. If he was the reason Rust woke up, the other man would've just moved to the guest room like he usually does. Which means Rust is having trouble falling asleep or he had a bad dream. Neither thing is uncommon, although he's a lot better now than he was a year ago.
Marty steps in and wraps his arm around Rust's waist, tucking his chin up against Rust's shoulder. "You all right?" he says.
There is a pause.
"Yeah, I'm all right," says Rust, voice soft and raspy.
"Wanna try sleepin some more?" Marty says, now resting his head on the other man's shoulder.
Rust just nods, and Marty slips away from him, going back to the bed. Rust follows and gets in on his side. He lies on his back, and Marty curls against his side, head on Rust's chest and hand on Rust's belly. They lie there in silence for a few minutes, Marty already beginning to doze.
"Wanna hear some Spanish?" Rust says, the sound of his voice rumbling into Marty's ear like horses thundering in the distance.
"If it'll help you fall asleep," says Marty, knowing it's going to send him into the deep.
Rust doesn't speak for a spell, like maybe he's trying to decide what to say.
Then he starts, talking like it's Marty he needs to comfort and not himself: "Tú nunca entenderás lo que te quiero,/porque duermes en mi y estas dormido./Yo te oculto llorando, perseguido/por una voz de penetrante acero."
Marty closes his eyes and starts to let go of consciousness, the sound of Rust's drawl and all those round, ripe words he can't understand swirling around him like gold flakes in a water globe.
"Norma que agita igual carne y lucero/traspasa ya mi pecho dolorido,/y las turbias palabras han mordido/las alas de tu espiritu severo."
Rust pauses again, and through the rain pelting the roof, Marty can hear the other man's heart beating close under his ear—an old horse wandering in the wilderness, no reason left to run.
"Grupo de gente salta en los jardines/esperando tu cuerpo y mi agonía/en caballos de luz y verdes crines."
Marty starts to pet Rust's belly, the long ridge of scar he can feel through the thin wife beater. Gentle, slow, almost not at all because he's falling asleep.
"Pero sigue durmiendo, vida mía,/Oye mi sangre rota en los violines./Mira que nos acechan todavía."
Rust pushes his fingers into Marty's, and Marty's gone.
The Beloved Sleeps on the Poet's Breast
You will never understand how much I love you
Because you sleep in me and are asleep.
I conceal you crying, pursued
By a voice of penetrating steel.
Norm that moves both flesh and morning star
Now pierces my aching breast,
And turbid words have gnawed
The wings of your severe spirit.
A group of people prances in the gardens
Awaiting your body and my agony
On horses of light with green manes,
But go on sleeping, my life.
Hear my broken blood in the violins!
Look, they are lying in ambush for us still!