Heart in 12 parts

Simon Tegala leaned his back against the wall of the American Embassy and held her against him. It was an electrical event. Small voltages spread through their limbs. She said, Honey, that was a test burn. She heard his heart sounds: lub dup lub dup lub dup. She noted they were fifth in the queue for visas. Naomi was the Newton of atomic kissing; erotic radioactivity buzzed through her blackberry lips. They had been told to produce proof of identity in triplicate. Driving license, passport and a household bill. Naomi would not let Simon Tegala see the photograph in her passport. She said, Stop looking for me. I am here standing next to you listening to your heart sounds. He knew that her lips were the only country he wanted to be in.

Simon Tegala decided to throw the I Ching to discover if Naomi loved him. At that moment the phone rang. While his father’s voice disappeared into his answering machine Naomi walked into his apartment carrying something for supper wrapped in wax paper. When she asked him why he was so quiet and what he was thinking about, he said SHAKING. My father has Parkinson’s disease. They salted the chicken and cooked it in its own sweet juices while the phone rang again. His father’s voice said AMERICA and then it said DID YOU GET YOUR VISA and then he said other words which upset Simon Tegala. DON’T LIVE FAR AWAY. Naomi pointed to a red felt hat that hung on the coat hook in Simon Tegala’s kitchen. He told her it was a fez and she told him it was a chechia. What is a chechia, her boyfriend wanted to know. It’s a fez, she replied. And then she said, shall we go and visit your father and take him a cake?

Later, Naomi said to Simon Tegala, I want you to touch my body in the following order:
3. My ear
5. My belly
Simon Tegala’s heart is a biomachine beating hard and fast as he searches for the missing numbers.


Simon Tegala’s Heart In 12 Parts In Deborah Levy, Black Vodka, Bloomsbury USA (June 10, 2014)

Black Vodka

‘I am going home,’ she tells me. She beckons to a vacant taxi on the other side of the road and all the time the warm rain falls upon us like the tears in my dream. Her voice is gentle. Rain does that to voices. It makes them intimate and suggestive. While the taxi does a U-turn she stands behind me and presses her hands into my hump as if she is listening to it breathe. And then she takes her forefinger and traces around it, getting an exact sense of its shape. It’s the kind of thing cops do to a corpse with a piece of chalk. Now Lisa bends down and opens the door of the taxi. As she slides her long legs into the back seat, she shouts her destination to the driver.
‘Tower Bridge.’
He nods and adjusts the meter.
When she smiles I can see her sharp white teeth.
‘Look, you know that Richard is my boyfriend – but why don’t you come home with me and compare notes on those vodkas?’
I don’t need any persuading. I jump in beside her and slam the door extra hard. As the cab pulls out, Lisa leans forwards and starts to kiss me. Does she want to know more about my habits and beliefs and how I live? Or is she curious to find out if her sketch of Homo sapiens was an accurate representation of my body?
The meter is going berserk like my heartbeat while the moon drifts over the wildlife gardens of the Natural History Museum. Somewhere inside it, pressed under glass, are twelve ghost moths (Hepialus humuli), of earliest evolutionary lineage. These ghosts once flew in pastures, dropped their eggs to the ground and slept through the day. There is so much of the world to record and classify, it’s hard to know how to find a language for it. So I am going to start exactly where I am now. Life is beautiful! Vodka is black! Pears are naked! Rain is horizontal! Moths are ghosts. Only some of this is true, but you should know that this does not scare me as much as the promise of love.

Black Vodka In Deborah Levy, Black Vodka, Bloomsbury USA (June 10, 2014)