A Legacy for the Mad

A man, Rupert, and a woman, Senta, sitting on wooden chairs inside a room lit by moonlight, speaking of themselves and of each other in the third person, recall, in A Legacy for the Mad, their on-again off-again affair, a recollection that grows increasingly bizarre.  Rupert says that her apartment smelled sometimes of cigars and that he could smell her perfume in his room months after she had gone.  He speaks of making love with her against a wall of the zoo, the “greatest experience of his life,” but says that she then refused to return his phone calls for months.  Senta shifts to the first person, saying, “I was in Spain. . . .”  When he says that as a boy he gathered mushrooms his mother would cook and serve with lamb and green jelloSenta says that her husband loved mushrooms.  Rupert says that “after some years” he felt that she trusted him enough to share her memories, although he was never certain whether she was inventing them.  One night she took his hand and told him how her husband had died when a wagon turned over and he struck his head on a stone.  She says that he left all his money to an insane asylum, with nothing for her or the children.  When Rupert, now speaking directly to her, asks about children, she says she doesn’t have any, and Rupert says he doesn’t believe anything she’s said.  Senta says her husband was a Swedish ventriloquist who once made love to her at the zoo, “the greatest experience” of her life.  Rupert says he loves her.  She says that the owls have come to devour them, and Rupert, reverting to the third person, hopes that the zookeepers will be bringing green jello for lunch.

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