Continued from: Nocking the List: Part 1— The Pen is Mightier Than the Nag
Carl sat at his computer, staring at Klimt’s The Kiss on the screen. His mind was unable to abandon it. He was prisoner to the image since he’d huffed out of Stone’s office, and now that he had his own private Google copy before him, he couldn’t stop staring. The man in the painting seemed to be smothering the woman against her will. But the look of bliss on her face betrayed this idea. It was more that she was willingly submitting to the protective cocoon he shared with her. Carl played these diametric possibilities in his mind, wishing to be invited into the painting, to know their passion atop the apron of blooming flowers. The painting had the addictive allurement of internet porn, Carl staring at the image on the screen until his eyes got crossed up in the pixels. Carl had always resisted the simplistic ease of porn—just one more way to take a stoic stand against his apparent lack of sexuality. But this picture was different. Fine art porn. His fingers drummed beside the mouse along to a Clay Aiken song on the stereo, and he began to imagine himself in bed, a beautiful girl nestled in his arms like the girl in the painting, his lips nuzzled into her cheek.
Suddenly, as if his hand was independent of himself, he opened a new window on the computer screen, creating a new search for: SINGLE WOMEN DATING.
The instant infinite results on the screen were overwhelming. He could choose anything his fantasies required, from race to fetish to religion to political orientation. Comparability to works of fine art? He supposed this was not an option. And he began to wonder if he really wanted to put forth the effort of trying to build his perfect girl with a template of interests and desires on a dating site. What he really wanted was to find a diamond in the ruff, so to speak. Stumble across that perfect woman and fall into her arms as if accidently. He wanted to find Klimt’s passion, not try to manufacture that passion. His independent hands clicked on a link for Craigslist.
A menu of anything popped up on the screen. Anything from cars to furniture, to activities, forums, jobs, computers, haiku, diets, crafts, events, personals. He stopped. WOMEN SEEKING MEN. He clicked. Several descriptive taglines stretched along a sea of white. Some of them were straightforward and filthy, such as the amateur poet who proclaimed: “On top or from behind, they’re both all right, as long as I find that you can give it morning noon and night.” Others were timid and simple. “Searching for a decent man.” Carl wondered if Mandy would ever advertise on one of these sites. That would be a hoot if he responded and it turned out to be her. If You Like Piña Coladas-style. Yeah, a real hoot, he thought. That would probably be the day he shot himself in the head or jumped off a bridge. The day fate confirmed that Mandy was his one true match.
Carl spent a few minutes reading dozens of these posts before the perfect hook caught his eye. It read: “WILL BE IN TOWN FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS. LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO HAVE DRINKS WITH.”
Carl clicked on the link and read part of the message out loud—a new Clay Aiken song scoring the statement. “Looking for Someone.” The three words tugged at some deep-rooted part of him with breathtaking torque. Carl scrolled down to the attached photo. Another high-torque pull at that deep rooted part of him. The girl in the picture was stunning. Not the type of woman he expected searching for companionship on the salacious listings of Craigslist. Raven black hair, tanned skin, gray eyes. He stared at those eyes, almost convinced that she was looking back at him, and that they were sharing a moment in the digital universe. His mind began superimposing his and her faces onto the The Kiss. He imagined her falling limply into his embrace as he pulled her from the computer screen, rescuing her from loneliness. He absorbed her image for a while until the den became silent, the Clay Aiken CD ending.
After several minutes, Carl broke his gaze from the computer screen and he glanced around the den, his eyes shifting to the shelves of war memorabilia scattered about the room. What Mandy called his bullshit clutter. Carl then looked above his computer screen. A silver doorknocker in the shape of an eagle and swastika hung on the wall. A relic from his great uncle’s service in World War II. A hideous symbol with a funny story. Carl was suddenly filled with giddiness, and he found himself saying out loud, in a high, womanly voice, “Knock-knock. Avon Fräulein calling.” Carl clicked on the reply button to the Craigslist post, and he responded to the girl with the gray eyes, who would be in town for a few days and was looking for someone with which to have drinks.
The girl with the gray eyes would, in fact, be in town in the coming days. But at that moment, when Carl responded to her ad, she was in Connecticut. She was on a date with a man named Bob. Her name was Sophie Monroe. But Bob knew her as Shawna.
Continued in: Nocking the List: Part 3 — No Balls