Curled in the Bed of Love

Curled in the Bed of Love

stories by catherine brady
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Curled in the Bed of Love
    Book Description:

    To read Curled in the Bed of Love is to feel the incessant tug between devotion and desire that can unmake even the closest couple. These eleven stories are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in true Left Coast style, Catherine Brady's characters are as resolute in evading middle-class conformity as they are in clinging to their illusions about love. And while they never shy from paying their dues, they can't help but wonder sometimes if their choices have at last accrued too high a cost. What lies in the bed of love, with women and men curled sometimes in repose, sometimes in a defensive knot, are failed dreams, reproofs, ambitions, and stubborn beliefs. Always, mortality threatens the lovers' embrace. In the title story, Jim and his HIV-positive partner contend with an illness that has fueled their love but also threatens to consume it. In some stories, an outsider exposes the frailty of a relationship. Claire, who's opted for a steady marriage in "The Loss of Green," is both stirred and repelled by the advances of her former mate Sam, a radical environmentalist with a predatory need to reassert his claim on her. And in "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord," Debbie, compelled to translate a brief affair with her cousin's fiancé into a profound transgression, comes clean on a sleazy national talk show. All of Brady's stories are gritty and unflinching in their gaze, yet lyrical and rich in the imagery of stasis and change--an empty house too long on the market, a pair of kayakers riding out a patch of rough sea, a greenhouse in which the orchid blooms only suggest the darting vitality of butterflies and birds. There is much to learn in these tales of flawed but good people working hard to hold their lives together.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4369-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. the loss of green
    (pp. 1-18)

    Every night, Sam makes Claire and Russell dance. He pushes the sofa and chairs against the wall, rolls up the rug, and puts one of the cds he brought with him on the cd player. In the three weeks he has been staying with Claire and Russell, he has abolished the neatness by which they live their daily lives just as he’s thrashed their habit of early evening hours. He filches more books from their shelves than he could possibly read at once, scatters books, maps, and unpartnered socks throughout the house, and marks his trail with plates and knives...

  5. comfort
    (pp. 19-34)

    I’ve forgotten how long I told them I’d circle the block before coming back for them. Now I’m stuck behind a truck that’s backing slowly into a driveway. I picture my customers standing on the corner looking bereft. Though they’re more likely to be irritated, impatient, checking their watches to count off the minutes I’ve stolen from them, I prefer to imagine them as little lost lambs. Most people who rent a limo by the hour splurge only on a special occasion like a wedding or a prom night or a twenty-first birthday. They’re usually so shy on finding themselves...

  6. nothing to hide
    (pp. 35-53)

    Hannah sings to herself without even knowing she’s doing it, sings in the bathtub, sings when she comes home from school and dumps her backpack on the floor, sings now as she loads the dinner dishes into the dishwasher. Sometimes she makes up the words as she goes along; other times she sings fragments of familiar songs slapped together haphazardly. In the faint wash of that trilling sound, I tug the clothes from the dryer in the basement. Any moment now, when her father brings her older brother home from his friend’s house, she’ll stop singing, shy of witnesses.


  7. honor among thieves
    (pp. 54-72)

    Three days after Daniel left Carrie, a tree came down against her house in a terrible rainstorm, crushing the front stairs and puncturing the roof. Carrie and her daughter, Anya, got up from bed and set out buckets, every last pot and pan in the kitchen, even piles of rags, to catch the water sluicing down the walls, dripping from cracks in the ceiling. Yanking the sofa and armchair away from the seeping walls, Carrie thought that it was just as well that Daniel had taken a lot of the furniture. In the morning she ripped the heavy water-soaked curtains...

  8. curled in the bed of love
    (pp. 73-86)

    Their friends are not dropping like flies anymore. Now twenty-five pills a day will keep death from the door indefinitely. And all the medieval horrors—the purplish lesions of ks mottling the beautiful curve of a young man’s calf, thrush growing thick as a furry pelt in a mouth that should have been kissed, a dark neck wound opening like an obscene portal—are no longer a daily fact of their lives.

    Sometimes Jim imagines that his and Jordan’s love has grown like the lush grass on all the graves they have each visited in the last decade. They met...

  9. light, air, water
    (pp. 87-105)

    When Vince and I lead Elena into the greenhouse, she stands still a moment, breathing in the calm. The air is thick as syrup—a wetness burdened with the acidic odor of the bark chips in which I pot the plants, the medicinal sharpness of pesticides, the idiosyncratic perfume of the orchids. Crowded on benches, the flowers hover on slender stalks, pale or brilliantly hued creatures poised for flight, their waxy petals flared like outspread wings, ruffled like intricate crests, or spurred like the elaborate tails of tropical birds. In this fantastic aviary, the orchids seem about to shift into...

  10. side by side
    (pp. 106-123)

    Wonder is not what Bill should feel after a truck smashes into his car at forty miles an hour, but he does. He is amazed that he could step unscathed from his crumpled Toyota, amazed by the way his body absorbed the impact. The stack of bones in his spine jumped, scattered, and then resettled, as if his bones had been momentarily freed from their tethers of muscle and tendon and ligament.

    Everyone, even the paramedics who came to the scene of the accident and assured Bill he would be in pain tomorrow, seemed as amazed as Bill. You escaped...

  11. thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird
    (pp. 124-142)

    I. When her son’s life begins in her, Katie is stunned, not sure she can have this child, not with Malcolm, not when her life is still so tentative. Malcolm does not share her astonishment. He does what he always does before a gig, shares a joint in their living room with the guys in his band. Even stoned, Malcolm has a sharp-edged way of moving, a way of tumbling words as rapidly and effortlessly as he strikes keys on the piano. Katie hungers after that quality, feels pinched in comparison. When she does her work, it is work: whatever...

  12. roam the wilderness
    (pp. 143-161)

    In the letter he wrote to each of them, he mentioned his brother’s death. He worked hard on the sentences that described his feelings, constructed them, even though the feelings were true. Sam’s car accident had cleaved Marshall’s life as abruptly as it had cleaved his brother’s; afterward he felt old, too old for the life he was leading. He applied to graduate school and gave notice to the park service, and now he has a few months free before he starts at the University of California in Santa Cruz. He has planned his trip according to who did and...

  13. written in stone
    (pp. 162-178)

    Hassan comes to me on Tuesday nights. He is having more difficulty than I am with our separation. I don’t know how other people manage to cancel one another out of their lives. I can’t. He can’t. Hassan can’t do anything by half-measures; he won’t be reassured that we remain friends unless I see him every week.

    He lets himself in—he still has a key—while I am at the gym, and by the time I get home, I can smell lamb in the oven, and the sauce, khoresht, bubbling away on the stove, seeping the scent of cinnamon...

  14. behold the handmaid of the lord
    (pp. 179-194)

    I cannot match what my hands are doing to any intention until I look in the mirror. When I look there, I meet my client’s eyes and we talk at each other’s reflection. Should the layers blend more gradually? Should we take more off at the sides? I check themirror again when I drag my fanned fingers through her hair to see how it falls. In one realm, my job is piecemeal, merely manual labor, snipping the difficult material of wet hair, tugging a comb through tangles, rolling strands of hair over a brush to blowdry it, and in the...

  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-196)