This time she will win, no matter what. Mikhail turns on the TV, switches to the wrestling channel and turns up the volume all the way until the aggressive lines of the wrestlers sound like they are being screamed out loud in the living room. Mikhail is falling, despite the eardrum-shattering volume, in and out of sleep.
Noé has her eyes closed ‘cause it’s just easier that way, more like actual death. Another hard thing given the heat and sweat is for Noé not to scratch herself. It’s like her body would like her to admit that she is still alive, it’s like the silly, fucking body doesn’t have a clue what this game is all about.
After about two or three hours Mikhail gets up again. It is shortly after 10pm, Noé’s officially accepted munchies interval. He’s preparing her favorite dish for this particular type of appetite: microwave macaroni, covered in Tabasco, cooled down with splashes of soy sauce. He wolves down the late night dinner sitting right next to her still, recumbent body. She tells herself that this time she won’t loose though she can smell each single, mouth-watering ingredient. It’s a good time to stop breathing again.
– Oh Noé dear, this time you’ve really died on me, haven’t you? Would that you were still alive to savor this macaroni with me, pass this silver fork betwixt you and I.
Her smile stays down in the belly and doesn’t even come up anywhere close to her face. Mikhail is a fierce competitor when it comes to playing dead. He looses to her in everything else, even chess which he plays much, much more frequently than Noé.
– I should probably just check to make totally sure she is indeed dead, shouldn’t I? After all she is… she was my fiancée.
Noé still doesn’t know for sure where and how Mikhail Fletcher acquired the syringe from but even as he pokes it into her upper arm, deeper and deeper, she manages to keep her whole body perfectly motionless the way she will do once again, at a hopefully far point in the future when she is really dead. The first time he did this she’d been beside herself but then later, upon days of reflection, she told him it was o.k., that after all it was a game of life and death.
As far as being punctured by the needle, it are always her eyes and mouth that yearn for some type of twitching action the most. The TV is still on but has been quieted to a survivable volume. The female anchor is melodiously enunciating
– According to AP reports, yesterday, in South-Western Somalia’s Darfur region, 78 villagers are reported to have been killed. Among them 56 women and children. The Government-sponsored Janjaweed troops have been blamed for the bloody attacks while officials in Mogadishu have denied any… [a little later] …will be excited to hear that Basketball Superstar Dwight Rose has announced that he will sign a multi-million dollar extension with his team […]
Noé thinks that it is an unjust world where people get gunned down while others can play at being dead but that at the same time this means there is some hope yet afoot. Trooping the forests and cities and alluvial planes. People still know what it means to play: perhaps one day everybody will step a step back and stop taking their roles so goddamn seriously. She means: 7 billion method actors on one planet is just not a very sound proposition.
Mikhail has stopped it with the needle. He must be taken aback by her tonight’s stone-cold performance of deadness. Noé, meanwhile, is wondering if she could pull off rigor mortis but as she is simply laying down flat on the couch, the feat would go unappreciated. Like when she tries to hint at a certain highly recommendable chess move by quoting a French philosopher, say Badiou, by heart and all Mikhail does in response is gnash his teeth and stare down at the checkered board, mumbling:
– Fuck those Frenchies. All I need is a bit of Socrates and I’m good: To be or not to be, that is the question?
None of this he is saying is in jest. It is one of those statements that makes Noé squirm and wonder if she will ever truly, truly love him or just always be left with this affectionate glow of the likably familiar with which one can part only at great emotional peril. The chance that something in her might remain dead.
Mikhail pops two beers [Leinenkugel honey] and they are both getting a bit sleepy now, especially Noé, just lying on her back, eyes closed, breathing very slowly, etc.
– Well, it doesn’t make much sense now, to keep a corpse in a place called the ‘living room’, does it? Time I get you out of here before you begin reeking up the whole place and I can never take anoter date back home ever again.
Sometimes Noé wakes up in the middle of the night, covered all in sweat because she doesn’t know what is her motivation for playing this type of game with Mikhail. It seems like an opportunity for him to say whatever he wants, a bit like shooting somebody from a rooftop, and a chance for her to find out more about who exactly she is sharing her life with. It would seem this is good for a relationship, good and extremely terrifying, like Janjaweed on their horses with rifles, riding into the living room.