Across its plain white front was a bold black Nike swoosh that, on second look, was seen to be tipped with an F117A Nighthawk fighter, converting the swoosh to an airstrike trajectory. On the back it was lettered:
Just Do It
As we rattled back to the terminal, I murmured in her ear, "This train is bound for glory." She had the goofy, quizzical look of a Euro-traveler after a fifteen-hour passage to the New World, and something else distinctly hers.
"You love Wesley Clark?" I asked politely.
"Of course. He is my supreme commander. I love America to produce such a man. I love my greenhorn lover to come from such a place that produced such a man."
"Quierin, I'm honored."
"I see you in him. Men both of thought and action. Men of ideals. Elliot, that is who you are."
Supreme commander? I could live with that.
"And what a magnificent airport!"
"Don't go overboard."
"I love going overboard. I love going heads on top of heels!"
We reached Boulder at twilight, 1 A.M. on Quierin's clock. Places like Colorado impress the Dutch. Like Scotland, Switzerland, Tibet, Peru, Bosnia. Places that aren't flat. As we crested the overlook above the city, she went overboard again.
At the house Quierin plopped her handbag on top of the headless pedestal. I showed her around. "The house of Kathleen," she observed. She poked a finger in the silverbills' cage. A weightless fluff ball clasped it like an outlandish feathered ring.
"Not Kathleen's anymore." I opened two beers and warmed the meal I'd prepared, a meal of actually cooked food. I presented my chocolates. She trumped them with Leonidas Belgian bonbons for me. We talked, less overboard as time passed, jet-lag dreamy. "The virtual life isn't worth living," I said.
"Dead lovers aren't worth loving."
"Live bodies make better lovers." A taphonomist's bumper sticker?
We came to a not exactly awkward moment, a pause—what next? I went to where she sat and kissed the top of her Indo hair. She nosed her face into my shirt. I felt her fingers at the small of my back work their way around my hips to unbutton my shirt, unhook my belt and fly. Kissing my stomach, she slowly came to her feet.
In the bedroom I undressed her and was allowed a look before she switched off the light. Curtains drawn, we were blind, haptic, feeling our way. Perfume pervaded the darkness. Quierinworld. We held on in bed as if to ensure we would never be separate again. She breathed the way she had at Ovcara. I touched her neck and back. I ran my fingers everywhere, rediscovering her buttocks, calves, thighs, stomach, breasts, nipples. Her eyelids, scarred cheek, Mona Lisa lips. Finding her asymmetries. Kissing her face to thigh. Breathing her in. Murmuring, she explored me with her magic touch, the heat of her mouth. And when she finally clutched so deep and strong that my spine seemed to stretch, the surges poured ecstasy but also reconciliation and release. Absolution, for leaving, for staying. Afterward, slack and damp, fingers clasped, I thought, this is the single thing worth living for. Not sex but this. Quierin's touch. Then I said it out loud. Then I thought it again.
After a time in bed in silence, Quierin went to the window and drew the curtains apart. She stood fringed in moonlight, turned, came back to bed, and we held each other again.
"I saw something today," Quierin said, all time sense lost to lag. She rolled to her back, the wandering black eye catching moonlight. "The airplane is over the Arctic. First you see icebergs. Then ice stars underwater. Then colors change with ice underneath. Then layers and layers of ice, transparent, translucent, solid. Blue, green, white. Then endless white floes forever, from seven miles high. The pure beauty of the earth.
"Idealism," she said, "is true to the earth."
Wrongful Death, pp. 220–224.