INTRODUCTION TO THE STORY
We’re continuing with another part of Gail, an eight-part series of audio posts. Named for one of its two major characters, the story is told by a middle-aged man named Warren. One night at a bar Warren quite unexpectedly runs into an old woman whom he used to know when he was a young boy and whom he hadn’t seen in decades. The chance encounter turns into a very powerful exchange of emotions and kind words. By the time they say their goodbyes, Warren find himself much richer for it, as does Gail, apparently.
The story, under the title ‘The Moor’, was part of a This American Life show. More importantly, it was featured in Angels on the Roof, a book of short stories written by Russell Banks, who also provided the narration. As in many other audio posts, I am aware I’m committing a copyright infringement by posting the audio and text versions on this website. In my defense, not much can be said, really.
gail (7) white lies
I hold on for a few seconds. The waitress, and the new kid, and the bartender have all left and only the Greek is here, perched on a stool in the bar, watching Nightline. I could tell her the truth or I could lie. Or I could beg off the question altogether. It‘s hard to know what‘s right. Finally, I say, yes, I was. I was a virgin when I met you. It was the first time for me, I tell her.
And she sits back in her chair and looks me full in the face and smiles, as if I‘ve just given her the perfect birthday gift, the one no one else thought she wanted, the gift she never dared to ask for. It‘s a beautiful smile, grateful and proud and seems to go all the way back to the day we first met. She reaches over and places her small crackled hand on mine. She says, I never knew for sure. But whenever I think back on those days and remember how we used to meet in your room, I always pretend that for you it was the first time. I even pretended it back then, when it was happening. It meant something to me.
beg off a question … vymluvit se z otázky
break a spell … zrušit kouzlo
crackled … popraskaný
dare … odvážit se
hold on … počkat
Nightline … this show
perched on a stool … posazený na vysoké židli
shove off … odejít
For a few moments, neither of us speaks. Then I break the spell. What do you say we shove off. They need to close this place and the snow is coming down hard. She agrees and I help her slide into her coat. My car is parked only halfway down the block but it‘s a slow walk to it because the sidewalk is a little slippery and she is very careful.
When we‘re in the car and moving north on Main Street, we remain silent for a while. And finally I say to her, you know Gail there‘s something I‘ve wondered all these years myself. Is there? Yeah, but you don‘t have to tell me if it embarrasses you. Warren dear, you reach a certain age, nothing embarrasses you. Yeah well, I guess that‘s true. What is it? Ok, I wondered if, except for me, you stayed faithful to Frank. And before me.
No hesitation. She says yes. I was faithful to Frank before you and after. Except for my husband, you were the only man I loved.
I don‘t believe her but I know why she‘s lied to me. This time it‘s my turn to smile and reach over and place my hand on hers.
gail (8) driving home
Here is the next bit. Listen for yourself and see if you can understand Warren’s monolog with just a little help from the vocabulary:
armory … zbrojnice
curving … plná zatáček
dismiss … propustit (nechat jít)
it’s all I can do to … jen tak tak že (jen s největšími potížemi…)
lean … naklonit se
Moor … Maur
plain … nezdobený, obyčejný
porch … veranda
You’ll get to read the complete script of this part soon, probably next week.