Time it was and what a time it was; it was a time of innocence.

--Paul Simon, 1968

Things are different now than when they were kids. They are different in many ways that all boil down to one: Art was the leader when they were young.

Perhaps it was that knee-jerk deference that's given to those of greater height by those who have yet to learn to separate a visceral response from a cerebral one. Perhaps it was the significance that kids are wont to give even the marginal seniority of a few months or weeks. Regardless, the dynamic was so obvious that their teachers used to joke that Paul was the Leopold to Art's Loeb.

Although Art never saw any humor in the comparison.

Whether it was where to go on their bikes, what radio station to tune, or what to do after school, it used to be Art who had the final say. Paul never protested as long as he could make his music--which he could anywhere and doing anything--and as long as Art sang along.

Which he always did.

One of Art's therapists de jour had said that once established and cemented, the leading dynamic of any intrapersonal relationship never changes. Art decided the overpriced castrati of a quack must have overlooked puberty, for it was when Paul discovered girls that everything changed. From then on, plans had to be made around whomever Paul was into --crude pun intended--and it was up to Art to face being left behind or to tag along.

Which he always did.

It wasn't all bad. Paul had big dreams. He was the one who got the record scout to hear them play as Tom & Jerry at that dance junior year.

"We're in!" Paul virtually knocks Art over with the force of his victory embrace. "They want us to cut 'Hey, Schoolgirl' and something new for the B-side. I told you that one would be big!"

"Can I come?" Beverley asks. She's practically bouncing out of her cheer sweater, not that that would be a bad thing. She'd thought it would be cool to date a rock & roll star. When she realized that meant she'd be left alone at all the dances that Paul played, the fantasy had started to lose its glitter. But now things were looking up.

"Sorry. Talent only in the studio." Paul gives Art another backslap and a humongous grin.

That night Paul and Beverly broke up, and Art was in a better mood than he'd been in weeks. Of course Paul assumed it was because of the record deal.

Oddly enough, back then, Art did too.

Winter was the easiest time for Jewish kids. Sundown on Saturday nights came early and with it, several extra prime weekend hours of freedom. In high school, it typically started with a double date in a basement room of the JCC, Paul making out with his flavor of the month, and Art with some overeager friend of hers who thought it would be cool to date a fellow with a record deal.

They necked and pawed and groped on makeshift furniture until the boys risked personal embarrassment or until one of the girls finally said no and said it like she meant it. Usually the night ended up with a consolation prize sing-along or Paul jacking off in a boy's room stall while Art waited and stood guard.

Or, most often, both.

Senior year--probably out of nostalgia for his lost youth--Art's dad let them take the Nash, although like most teenage boys they had nowhere in particular to go and no particular reason to be anywhere but where they were. But like most teenage boys, none of that had occurred to them yet. They'd dump the girls off at home at a respectable hour, and the rest of the night was theirs.

Art had tried it once, then--late at night with the remains of a six-pack of Schlitz Light on the Rambler bench seat between them, nothing better to do, and nothing else to distract him from the deluge of testosterone infused desires that swamped his forebrain those many months with ever more persistent intent.

His head reeling from the buzz, his left hand down his own slacks, he let his right roam free. It moved on its own volition until it lit over the taut denim of Paul's basket, making him drunk on the heat--the feel--leaving his mouth half-crazed to take its place.

The play for Paul's zipper proved to be too much. Like the girls who'll tell you under the bra is ok, but any try to take it off violates some kind of tacit rule.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

"Knock it off," Paul says. He snatches himself to rights and looks away. "We'll end up doing it for real if you keep that stuff up." He sounds a bit annoyed, but mostly as confused and bored and horny as Art feels himself. Or at least that's what Art decides to hear.

"Yeah." Art pulls himself together even though he aches, the physical not being the least of it, but the only component he can comprehend. Voices and visions swirl all hazy in his head. He wants to take Paul down, nail him to the seat. He wants to cover every inch of his body with hands and lips and his pecker. He wants something else that he can't quite put his finger on, but more than anything else, he just plain wants to come.

He tells himself it's the beer and the boner talking, and it will be all better when they're both gone. So he takes another swig of lukewarm beer to clear his head. Hey, that made sense at the time. It had gone flat and tasted like cat piss, but he didn't know any better and he finished the can in two swallows.

Teenage boys simply aren't that bright.

They cut two more singles before high school graduation. Big Records liked Paul's stuff okay, but it was Art's voice that really caught their ear.

"Bee-bop singers are a dime a dozen," they said. "But you. When you sing, you soar. You carry people up with you. You take them up in the air with you and never let them down."

They offered Art a standard studio musician contract for back-up vocals. Good money. Maybe label credit depending on the who and how much.

Paul told him to take it, if nothing else for the contacts. There's no such thing as a bad opportunity to break in, Paul said.

"I sing with you or not at all." Art's response is straightforward--almost bored. Like it's not any kind of decision or impact of emotion, but just a fact--the way things are. Like he might say two plus two is four.

Which, for him, it is. He doesn't need the money, and it's not like singing has ever been some great love of his.

Paul says he'd give his left foot for an in like that.

Art shrugs it off. "So we're different. So what?"

Paul shakes his head, but lets it go. "You're crazy, but I sure am glad you're crazy with me."

All through high school they talked like they'd be together always. They'd both applied to Queens. They'd both gotten in. Paul's folks insisted on a backup degree if he wasn't going to drop the pie-in-the-sky music nonsense that had almost led Paul's father to starve before his family responsibilities knocked some sense into him. And Art, well, Art just plain liked to be in school. School was easy. All you had to do was answer most of the questions right, not get caught smoking, and everything would come out okay.

Paul had a place a few blocks away all picked out for them. They could afford it as long as they got three or four paying performance gigs a month. It had two bedrooms, both big enough for queen sized beds with space to get in and out on both sides and still close the doors so they could have girls over without the necktie on the door trick. It was styled like contemporary tenement, but Paul's girl Shirley was in art school. She said she could fix it up nice.

They were on the way up in the world, Paul said.

It was Art who dropped the bomb three weeks before they were supposed to sign the lease. He'd applied to Columbia U. and gotten in. His parents were paying, and for a place in The Village too. Those were two moves he knew Paul couldn't afford to make.

Art got high before he told Paul. It was good stuff, Jamaican or maybe Hawaiian. He wasn't a connoisseur back then. Floating, he mumbled something about their world-class math program--which was true--but it didn't sound true by the time the words came out.

"You can't do this," Paul says. He paces the cracked concrete of his father's basement in ever more agitated strides. "Pre-law, I'll be working my ass off as it is. With you in Manhattan, we won't have time to jam. What about the recording deal? We were in this together, man. How can you just…scatter?"

Art shrugs. "Things change." He closes his eyes and lets Paul's anger waft away. Some things you can't control, but some you can, and he's on a mellow cloud. He sees no reason to blow a great high that way.

That was the day Tom & Jerry died.

They couldn't stay apart any more than those black and white Scotty dog magnets could (or are those the kind that repel when they get too close?) Law school landed by the wayside, and Paul moved in with his guitar, big talk of stardom, and not much else.

The songs were different. Paul had changed. He wrote almost exclusively in minor chords; he said it suited Art. That he sounded more genuine, more honest that way.

Tom & Jerry might be dead, but from their ashes, the purified Simon & Garfunkel was born to light.

Gone was the high-school bubble-gum beat. What he wrote now was rife with longing and some kind of deeper, transcendental meaning that had little to do with the dictionary definitions of the words he sang.

Paul wrote about Caanan although he'd never been overseas. He wrote about a sparrow, although he was not a bird. He wrote about pain and injustice and killing years before he knew anyone who'd died.

These were the songs, Paul said, that were real for real people in the real world. Art wondered how he knew that when Paul had never been farther away than Hersheypark.

But then, most of what Art believed he knew about the real world came from when he was high.

One night Art scored some reds and it came together all at once inside his brain in a synesthesia of color and smells and sounds that spoke to him of the meaning of life. He woke up Paul, and naked and cross-legged on Paul's bedroom floor they penciled it down. 'The Sound of Silence' was perfection itself. The most profound thing any man ever wrote, thought or sang.

"Silence like a cancer grows." Like a mantra, Art repeats the words. He's not the songwriter, but he wrote that. "Everyone has to know, has to get that, or we're doomed."

"We're going to tell the whole world," Paul says. He shakes a fistful of music sheets in the air. "I'm going to tell the whole world, and I'm taking you with me." From behind, Paul hugs him close, and bare body still clammy and warm from the guitar to Art's bare back, and Art feels like he's one with the universe at last.

At last, he's going to be heard.

When the album flopped, Paul went to England. Something wasn't working, he said. He didn't know what it was. A songwriter is what he lives, so he wanted to flush everything old from his senses. Get an entirely fresh start.

Despite Paul's reassurances, the conversation left Art with the uneasy feeling that the something that wasn't working was him.

"I don't know," Paul said every time Art asked the same question. "However long it takes for me to get it right."

Art had never mustered enough energy to be the jealous type, but for the first time realized he hated Paul's talent, his drive. It was the force that was supposed to bond them, blend them together for all eternity--not only on man-made vinyl but in waves of sound that wafted through the air, the cosmos and beyond.

Now that very force was carrying Paul away.

After that, Art did a lot of weed and concentrated on math. Those were the only two things that made anything in his head make sense. His math professors said he was a natural, but mostly he just found it soothing. In diff. eq. there was an answer for everything if a person looked long and hard enough. Math was clean and solid and predictable and made him think that if he just looked long and hard enough to find the right formula, the universe and his place in it might actually make sense as well.

Paul was with a lot of different people in Europe. A lot of different bands. A lot of different producers. A lot of different tours.

He recorded an album there and sent Art a copy. It was pretty good. Art listened to it once then put it away. Way, way back in a closet. Paul recording without him just seemed wrong, and it made him mad, but there was no reason he could fathom for that. It's not like fame and fortune were ever his thing.

When he got drunk or high or just plain lonely, he'd pull Paul's record out, but he tried not to do it when he was high. When he was high, he couldn't lie to himself; when he was high, he knew he did it just to hear Paul's voice.

His mother said her psychiatrist said that was the main difference between men and women: men don't analyze their feelings. Or can't. Art thought the psychiatrist must be an idiot if he discounted the difference between men and women that lay between their legs, but his mother stayed with that guy for years.

That might have explained more things about his mother than about men and women, Art thought.

When The Sound of Silence topped the radio charts in early '66, Art tracked Paul down in Denmark. That wasn't an easy task. It took twenty minutes with an international operator, and even then he never got around to asking about the cost.

"You've got to be here," Art says. He puts the speaker close to the phone and presses a button on his nearly new reel-to-reel tape deck. Imperfect home audio of Dick Clark playing their song to cheers and applause began.

The sounds in from Paul's end were so odd, Art blamed the static of the connection.

"It's good. They like us," Paul says. It's unclear if that's a question or a declaration for his voice wavers, distant and surreal over the transatlantic line.

"It's like wildfire!" Art says. It was good. They were good. There had never been anything wrong. Until...

"Packing now," Paul says. His voice sounds stronger now, but then the line goes dead.

If I took all the girls I knew when I was single, and brought them all together for one night, I know they'd never match my sweet imagination. Everything looks better in black and white.
--Paul Simon, 1973

"So, you had a girl in England?" Art spent over two hours on trains to meet him at Idlewild. Citing the luggage, they splurged for a taxi back.

"Girls," says Paul. "They're crazy for Americans over there."

"Anyone special?" Art asks for the same reason some people bite the sore bumps on their tongue, not because he wanted to hear.

"Not hardly," Paul laughs. "I just write better when I'm in love. Look." From his satchel he pulls sheaf after sheaf of music out and spilled it onto their laps.

Juggling arrangements and voices in his head, Art leafs though the songs. He hears their voices harmonizing as he skims over Paul's hand-scratched notes and words, and it is perfection incarnate. He hears an entire album in his head before they reach the Whitestone Bridge.

His yogi says hearing voices doesn't necessarily mean you’re crazy. Ideally, it happens when you're in touch with the Chi and therefore connected to every transcendent soul in the universe.

Art would like to believe him, but his yogi drops an awful lot of LSD.

Art was the one who said if they were going to live in The Village, they should live The Village. They started eating Thai and Indian and Lebanese, acting like they had no money, spending evenings at Nobody's, dressing like Jewish hippies, and following the anti-war. Most days Art took to smoking weed. He said nothing is real until you actualize it in your head, and weed was a tool to make your head bigger, to cram all that actualization inside.

Paul embraced the Bohemian, far past the point where his parents would fail to recognize their middle-class Jewish son. For him it equated with a freedom absent from Europe still laboring under the onus of recovery from the war. It was people living their subconscious. It was the common denominator of life--and therefore song. "If I'm going to write the universal songs, then I have to live the universal life," he said.

He tried the grass, but for him it fogged, not clarified. "We are what we live. We have to be open to all of it, because part can never be an entire truth. I need to know every kind of life and pain and love." He took from the varied realities of the people around him. Every mother, every kid, every factory worker, every prostitute, every businessman trapped in a life he never asked for himself, Paul read from them and took from them and assimilated them into the pantry of ingredients for his songs.

In the throng of The Village, he imagined himself an island, though he had hardly been alone a day in his life; he imagined himself a tailor, though he bought all his clothes pre-made; he imagined himself a sparrow, a swan, a snail.

He imagined himself a bookend although he was only twenty-three.

Columbia Records was riding them hard for a second album, but Paul liked to be ridden hard, and Art liked the way it felt to have Paul passionate around him again.

They worked from night until early morning amongst scribbled papers, empty beer bottles, sticky origami cardboard takeout boxes, guitar picks scattered like rose petals across the multivariate stains on the shag carpeted floor.

"That's it!" Paul says as the last chord ghosts away. The 'Dangling Conversation': so close to 'The Sound of Silence' that it couldn't be anything but a hit.

But it didn't matter because they were done. Paul is sore and tired and his fingertips hurt from fretting for hours on end, but they had made music and he had seen that it was good.

With Columbia behind them, nothing could keep them from the top.

Paul peels off the guitar; most of his shirt comes over the head with the strap. He pitches it all aside and lies back on the carpet amidst the mess. "Damn, man, you and me--we're good. We are so unbelievably good like this." He throws out his hand, and it bangs Art in the chest in an exhausted casual camaraderie that he hopes will make do instead of words.

Paul's used up all the good words he has in him for the night.

But Art has some kind of short-circuiting where his nipple is hooked directly to his nuts, and he can't help it anymore than he can stop it or analyze it as the feeling floods over him full force. There's an ingrained sense that it's not right, but there's a greater sense that in this moment here, there's no such thing as a wrong for the two of them.

It could be the high of the hash, or the music or just sheer being too tired to care, but Art lies down and kisses him.

It's a long while before it penetrates the jumble of his senses that Paul is kissing him back.

When Art imagined this it was slow and tentative. He imagined savoring every detail, making it magical, memorizing every detail, every sound, every smell. But like usual, the truths in his head have little to do with the truths beneath his hands and they're both coming all over their future Billboard hits almost before Art realizes it's finally real: they are finally making love.

An hour or so later, they make love again in bed. This time Art processes and remembers it all.

"I write better when I'm in love," Paul said, and so he did. Art's therapist said that sexuality is a spiritual thing. When we're most connected to our bodies-- our selves-- is when we're closest to our maker, our God.

Paul wrote everywhere: in bed, on the trains, on napkins and the backs of paper placemats at the diner, on the grass with Art's head in his lap at the park. It's a little known fact that 'Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine' was written while Art was fellating him at a dilapidated drive-in theater in Queens.

It was the summer of love, everyone was doing it. Everyone was feelin' groovy...or at least they thought they ought to be.

"At first you think it's an everyman coming of age story, then you think it's a storybook romance, then you realize you were right the first time." That's how Mike Nichols explained The Graduate to them. " But the score is going to be the thread that ties it all up. Where ever you're from, where and however you grew up, music is the language of seduction. You'll be the voice inside our hero's head."

Paul agreed to do it on the spot. Folk music was born for the coming of a new age, for a whole new take on love and making love. He liked that the idea of taking a love that could shock and offend, and making people see that it should do neither.

Of course, Art said yes as well. Not that he much cared about doing a movie, but he certainly wasn't going to let Paul do it without him.

Mike wanted two-tiered music. The old stodgy stuff for Ben living his father's world, the Simon & Garfunkel folk sound for the new world that was just within Ben's grasp.

They disagreed on the seduction scene. Mike called that the transition point, but Paul adamantly disagreed.

"He changes, yes, but not because of sex with her. He changes when he has sex with her and realizes that hasn't changed a thing. Except maybe cost him his first and last chance at love. The seduction is part of the old world, not the new.

"Our music is for people growing better, more together, more in tune, not less."

In bed after the screening, Paul and Art argue over the end. Art says Ben really loves Elaine, he's just misunderstood. He's not a demonstrative guy. Paul says no, he thought he did, but love's mercurial and won't be held to circumstance. That's the whole point; love's greater than Ben and Elaine or anyone. You have to keep up with it, not the other way around.

And anyway, it doesn't matter. It's just a movie, but 'Mrs. Robinson' is going to be a hit.

Paul agrees with the last part of that, so he mumbles something to indicate as much. He sees no point in arguing the rest. Instead passes on the joint and tells Art he shouldn't smoke so much, consider his vocal cords. Or at least don't do it in bed.

Art gets up and takes it into the other room. He burns the joint all the way down to the roach. By the time he comes back to bed, Paul's asleep.

"Modifiers are always relative, never absolute," one of Art's teachers told him once. "There's a big difference between 'a good knife' and 'a good knife for stirring paint.'"

Art is a romantic. Paul is a romantic songwriter. Those two may intersect for a while, but that doesn't mean they're the same.

"August: die she must." Art was the one who wrote that line. Paul wanted to cut it. He thought it too sing-song, too trite a rhyme, but when the song came together, they both thought it worked just right.

They might make love. They might--they do share love, but that's not being in love, and no matter how Art reframes the inequation, it always comes out the same.

Paul's barely written since Bookends wrapped. Art knows why and he's sure Paul does too, but Paul says he's just burnt out from three records due out so fast. What ever else you say about him, Paul is kind, at least to him. Art supposes Paul will always love him in some way. He hopes that way is big enough to be enough.

Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove
And he called her by name pretty Peggy-O

--Traditional, recorded by Simon & Garfunkel, 1963

"Hi, Art. I'm Peg." Smiling broadly in their living room, she sticks out her hand. Art takes it with a strange sense of psychic disconnect. He knows that this is the woman who was born to break his heart.

For Paul was writing again.

Art had hoped until now that it might prove to be a hopeless, star-crossed love like 'A Place in the Sun,' albeit maybe without the intrigue, drowning and death.

But looking at her, he sees that Peg feels it too. Wrong movie. This is 'A Summer Place.'

Sail on silver girl, indeed.

And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.
--Paul Simon, 1965

Art takes Mike Nichols up on the acting job when he offers it, partly because it's something different, partly because Paul won't be in it, but mostly because Mike's shooting in Mexico. Art thinks he can't wait to get away, but when it's time to go, he discovers that he was wrong.

Catch-22 is the title of the film.

If Art were a funny kind of guy, he'd laugh.

He calls home less than two weeks in.

"I wrote you a song," Paul says. He tightens the E string, and at three dollars a minute, he begins to play over the line. 'The Only Living Boy in New York.'

"What do you think?" Paul asks as the last chord fades.

"I love it," Art says. He's glad that there's no one there to see him cry.



"I miss you," Paul says.

"I miss you too."

At three dollars a minute, they trade banalities back and forth until Art's trailer mate comes back and it's time to hang up the phone.

Regarding sound, Mike was taking a completely different tack on this film. There's practically no music, just a lot of gunfire, painful twisted humor, and swarthy, sweaty men who wander about mostly unclothed when they're not in costume on the set.

He asks Mike about it after wrapping one night. If he was going to add music-vocals--later. If he wanted Art to do some. After Mike's discourses during The Graduate, Art thought he knew how Mike's mind worked.

That had been one of Art's problems all along. He was an artisan, not an artist. An eerily precise singer--a mathematician to boot. Despite a lifetime of immersion, protean nature of the creative artist's mind continued to elude his grasp. Or even that there was a difference. In math, everyone worked things out the same way.

"It's not like that," Mike tells him as they pass a blunt. "I can't use music to spoon-feed people how to feel. They have to decide it for themselves or the crux of the story's lost. If I can't trust the script, the direction, the audience to get it right, then the whole film isn't going to work.

"Music's manipulative; it derails your emotional free will."

Art agrees with the statement, but not the implied conclusion that makes it a bad thing. For him and Paul, that had been the point of it all. Or one of them, at least.

Besides, free will's not all it's cracked up to be. They don't tell you that when you're young.

Two months later Art calls home and gets the news.

"We're getting married," Paul says. "She wants August, but I told her only if you're back."

"I dunno," Art lies. "We're running behind. I'll probably be shooting into October."

"You've got to be there." Paul sounds very far away. "I want you to sing. And how can I get married without you? Mike'll let you off for a few days."

"I don't know." It's the most that Art can manage.

"You've got to be there. It's the biggest day of my life. It won't be the same with out you."

"I don't know," Art repeats. "I'll see. I gotta go." That's another lie.

Art hangs up and rolls the biggest joint he can manage.

Bridge over Troubled Water is on a deadline, but Paul's not worried. He's been writing up a storm, and Peg says it's great. He's sure they can cut it in less than a month when Art gets back from Mexico.

He and Art work like a well-oiled machine.

Art comes straight from the airport to Paul's. He looks surprised to see Peg there and all but ignores her. He says it's the music he wants to see.

It's good. It's really good. He hears it all in his head and knows this will be their best album yet.

"I write best when I'm in love," Paul says and squeezes Peg's waist.

Art gets up and leaves the room in a racket of chair legs scraping over the floor.

"Where you going?" Paul calls after him. He wants to get at least three arrangements finalized today, and it's already after two.

"Bathroom," says Art.

"That guy's got serious problems," Peg says when she thinks Art's out of earshot.

"Don't we all?" Paul's nonchalant answer comes.

Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
--Paul Simon, 1968

Art meets Linda in the park one day. Her dog wraps around his ankle, so he kind of has to notice her. If not for that dog...

Life's funny like that, Art thinks.

Linda's fun to get high with, and she makes Art feel great in bed. "Why don't we get married?" Art asks one lazy afternoon.

She laughs at the idea, but Art's ok with that. Truth be told, that's about what he thinks of the idea as well.

Where Art's not laughing is with Paul. The few times they talk, they fight over everything and nothing to do with the record. They carefully never mention what the real conflict is.

Still, when they lay down tracks, their music soars high and sublime in eerie opposition to their spoken words. They've never been a better fit. Perfect vocal harmony is a living, growing thing, its roots shaping to the exact form of the container, it's tendrils interweaving, filling in all the holes, gaps and spaces in the other voice until there is no room left to fill. It take years to reach maturity, for each to learn the other until they speak and move and respire as one.

Art stretches out the recording sessions because he can. Every time they merge voices, each breathy high, it's a form of making love.

The psychiatrist he just fired told him to accept that all things end, but Art figures that as long as they haven't yet, nothing's carved in stone.

He drags his feet on every decision and hits a bad note on purpose more than once. "Sorry."

From the sound booth, Roy, their engineer sounds tired. "Let's do it again," he says.

I don't know what is real; I can't touch what I feel, and I hide behind the shield of my illusion.
--Paul Simon, 1964

The wedding is strange. Art is high, but in his opinion those two facts have nothing to do with each other. It's at some Presbyterian church off of Houston. There's no parking, but it's charming in that dichotomous crumbly-yet-solid way that weathered stone can be. It's an example what Art finds most evocative and beautiful about daytime old New York, and it's big enough that in addition to Paul's contacts, half The Village can come.

It would have been Peg who picked the place. Art wonders with wry humor if Paul has ever been inside anything Presbyterian before, and yet it looks like the two of them. The vaulted ceilings inside surprise, and the 20-foot tall stained glass depictions of the life of Jesus that are supposed to convey the deepest reverence, piety and wonder, well they're exactly the sort of thing that would inspire Paul to write a song.

The best man is Tom Paxton. He accepted after Art refused. Art answered in a monosyllable-- neither reason nor apology offered up. Not that Paul felt in lack of either, but Peg said it was unfathomably rude, and that Paul still needed someone to fill the Best Man's role.

To Paul's surprise, Art did agree to round out the six groomsmen, probably because when he called to ask, Paul phrased the question as if he expected the answer "no."

If Paul had been more clever--or perhaps simply paying more attention--he would have thought of that before.

Paul sings to usher Peg into the sanctuary: 'Something So Right.' When he's done, she'll take the aisle and the wedding march will play. Maybe it's because he's high, or maybe it's because with Peg not in the room, Paul's mostly looking at him, but either way Art can't shake the sense that the words are aimed at him.

Art doesn't remember much after that. He'd splurged on some imported Dutch for the occasion. It wasn't every day your erstwhile childhood friend got hitched.

Art does the solo after the exchange of vows and rings. Something celestial and heartfelt with soaring runs that Paul wrote especially for his voice. He does it a cappella and nails it. The notes fly around the ceiling and then drift gently down to fill the room. "The voice of a melancholy angel" is how it's put by someone pumping his hand afterward.

A week later, even when he tries, he can't remember what that song was or how it goes.

He sings at the reception too. Half the guests (Paul's side) do, but mostly as a giant jam. Peg asks Art to do a special one for them: Paul Yarrow's wedding song. Technically, she asks him to do it with Paul. "It would mean a lot to me, and Paul," she says.

"It's a solo piece. It doesn't work as a duet," Art says, although he's yet to find anything he couldn't rearrange.

Paul doesn't argue, but he borrows Jack Elliot's guitar and slings it over his head. He tweaks the E string, sets the capo low on the neck, and he begins to play the rolling chords in that signature high flat minor that few human voices can make work.

Art begins to sing, and the whole room is mesmerized. When they're done, there's a smattering applause mostly from Peggy's Upper East Side friends and family who have the idea that's the right thing to do.

But performing a man's own song better than he ever did lends a certain awkwardness to the occasion, even amongst friends.

Once the last note fades, so does the mood. Tom Paxton and Kris are riffing something new off each other now, and people are dancing again.

Paul kisses Peg with the expected wedding day enthusiasm, then he passes Jack's guitar back.

Paul embraces Art with a hard squeeze across the shoulders, and a smile that looks wide enough to hold almost everything Art has ever wanted to hear him say.

"So, what's next on the plate for you?" is what Paul actually says, and Art resets some silent calibration inside his hopes, aspirations and dreams. He supposes everyone smiles like when they've just married the person they want to be with forever.

"You've rehearsed that," Paul accuses.

Art hadn't.

"Does this mean Peter, Paul and Mary's is about to become a foursome?" Paul's breath is warm with the heady odor of champagne as he whispers conspiratorially in Art's ear. Paul's voice is light and friendly, but his arm is still warm and tight around Art's back, possessive as if he had some ingrained right to assume that even in a split they always had, always would be friends. "Peter told me last year he was going to woo you away from me, but I didn't believe it then. If I owe him an apology, I'll take my lumps like a man."

It's supposed to be a demi-joke or maybe an expression of rue and regret mixed awkwardly with admiration and thanks, but that part flies right over Art's head. He only hears what he expects to hear. It's an interesting choice, his father had said, in reference to someone else. It means you don't have to spend much time wallowing in being wrong, but the trade is you have to pass up a lot of truth.

"I told you, I only sing with you." Art shakes off the embrace and arguably everything that is offered with it.

Paul goes back to Peg and twirls her. It is their wedding day.

Art's not much of a drinker, but someone's passing with a tray of champagne and Art takes one because it's something to do and it's easier than trying to decide for himself what the hell he should be doing next.

More stuff happens; there's more champagne. Not long after that, Art leaves.

Art wakes up on a worn leather couch in sweaty shorts and ruffled shirt, collar open to the chest. One cufflink's gone missing; the tuxedo jacket he sees draped across a chair that isn't his. The vest and cummerbund he finds crushed beneath him.

There's a long-haired cat staring at him from atop the trousers with impassive eyes.

The sawdust in his mouth warns him to brace for a headache when he sits. It was right. His shorts chafe stiff with dried semen over much of the front. Art's pretty sure it isn't his. Art has a hard time coming when he's high, much less drunk.

Although it does mean he can last for hours. That's one of the things Linda loves about being with him.

Come to think of it, Paul used to love it too.

Art needs to wet his mouth, and he needs to pee, and he'd like the swarm of bees to leave his head. He spies a kitchen sink, but that would only put him one for three. One, not two. One.

Even sick, high or hung over, no one will say that Mrs. Garfunkel didn't raise a son with more class that that.

There's snoring through an interior door. There's probably a master bath. In the midst of the architectural considerations, Art forgets about the cat and his pants.

He's right. Master bedroom--master bath.

The flush of the toilet wakes the unfamiliar guy in the bed. "Hey," the guy holds out sleepy arms to him.

"Hey," Art says back. He rummages madly through his brain for a name, but there is none. He stands his ground in the bathroom fluorescent light.

"Okay." The guy drops his arms and stands up. Naked. "How 'bout breakfast? I'm a decent cook--vegetarian--or there's a diner around the corner."

"Nah," Art says. He feels more exposed than the naked guy. Now he wishes he'd thought to grab those pants. "I gotta--" he nods his head toward the window and the street below. Soho maybe? Manhattan for sure. The building across the street looks like one where an old girl of Paul's used to live.

"Sure," the guy says. He looks like he gets the message. He nods his head. "Just so you know, I had a lot of fun last night. If you're ever in the neighborhood..."

"Yeah, thanks. All right." Art hastens out, and the guy's smart enough to crawl back into bed.

Art corrals most of his things, but the cufflink is still MIA. He thinks for a moment about leaving a note with his name and number in case, but he decides to let it go. They weren't valuable, just a token, Paul's gift to his groomsmen in fact, and chances are he'll never wear French cuffs in this lifetime again.

They are now three weeks past deadline. "We're barely at thirty-eight minutes," Roy says. "Thirty-eight minutes is not an album. Eleven tracks. An even twelve might buy us a psychological pass on the length, but we can't call it done like this."

"It's done," Paul says.

In his time at Columbia, Roy's discovered that musicians seldom sound definite about anything, but anyone could hear that Paul is definite about this.

"What am I going to tell Clive?" Record company presidents, on the other hand, almost always do sound definite, and Clive said twelve tracks--forty five minutes. Producers who let Clive down typically don't go far, and like Paul, Roy's got bigger plans in this business too.

"Tell him anything. Make it up," Paul says with a bitter laugh. "Tell him Art and I couldn't agree. Deal breaker. Impasse. Tell him we almost came to blows. Tell him if I say the sky's blue, Art says it's gray and he won't agree to cut anything that I don't hate."

"You think Clive's going to believe you'd ditch a million dollar deal over something that could be fixed with a coin toss?"

"You tell me. You think that's less believable than the truth?" Some days human nature tempts Paul to laugh, but he tries to bottle up the insights and save them for his songs.

Roy runs damp fingers through his hair. "The truth.... We just need to lay down one more, Paul. Anything. Filler. It doesn't even have to be good."

Paul looks transiently offended, but he lets it pass. That's not what at the forefront of his mind, and he's always been a pretty focused guy. "It's not going to happen. You don't know him when he gets like this. Push him harder, and he'll quash the whole deal just to--" Paul shakes his head. Even now he won't speak ill of a friend.

"We've done our last session together. Press the album out of what you've got, or don't press it at all."

Is the proper word "nonplussed?" Roy is that and more. Or is it less? Paul might not be as brilliant as Art, but he's not stupid--certainly never about music. Roy can't believe he'd be foolish enough to walk away from something as big as this.

"That's it? Best thing you've ever done, and you're going to blow it over your pride? Whatever the spat is, it can't be worth giving up a Billboard number one." He bangs the mixing board to punctuate his point. "What have we been doing for nine months? Don't you even care?"

"I care," Paul says. "That doesn't mean I can change him." He's looking at the wall, the far one, at some point beyond Roy's left ear.

Roy picks up his headset and goes back to his boards. He's not unsympathetic. He's been married for twelve years. No one has to explain how that works to him.

He supposed that no matter what they do behind closed doors, there's some common denominator where all men are pretty much the same.

"I'll talk to Clive, but it won't be pretty, I'll tell you that."

Paul gets up to leave. He knows it won't. He doesn't need to hang around to have someone tell him that.

It's not the sun you're trying to find; something else is on your mind. You need a little space and time to break away.
--Art Garfunkel, 1975

Ironically, it's not until after the split that rumors start. The level of bitterness and animosity they exude can only stem from love. At least that's how one widely-read columnist puts it in The Times, and speculation sort of burgeons out from there.

Art can't believe the hack gets paid to write that kind of tripe. In 1970, that kind of innuendo is not good, but since he won't even agree to stay in the same room, it's rather a moot point.

Regardless, Bridge is a smash success. During a TV interview Paul pulls out the "I write best while I'm in love" line, and before he can segue into thanks for Peg, the interviewer has observed that the tracks are almost all songs of wistfulness, loss and heartbreak, and he makes the obvious marriage joke.

Paul assures him that that's not it. He makes some lame analogy about a boom season for a farmer leading to slaughter of thousands of healthy animals, but to the farmer it's the best and most productive year he's ever had. What's 'good' is entirely dependent on one's perspective, Paul says. That's the way it always has been and always will be. That gets him the predictable barrage of letters from animal activists (and farmers), and in retrospect, it wasn't the best idea, but what was really on his mind, he couldn't share.

In England, a mentor had told him that to the best songwriters, every single thing around them is expendable as fuel to the craft. The compleat songwriter would, when stabbed and dying, pluck out his own bleeding heart and pin it to the staff paper with all the ebbing strength of his last ragged breath.

Paul took that advice. He believes it still. But you can't say that on TV, not with the censors and Peggy and Art watching, so he goes with the farmer thing because he's got to say something and it beats his honest thoughts.

Then he assures everyone that he and Peg are fine, thanks her on air for everything she does and blows her a kiss.

It doesn't make up for the animal slaughter comment, but his fan mail statistics indicate the female fans thought that kiss was really sweet.

1971 is the first year the Grammies are televised live, so everything is big and splashy for the cameras. The plan was to enter the Hollywood Palladium together, but Paul's brought Peg, and so Art won't do the red carpet walk with them. He just won't. He offers no excuses, no comment, he just refuses to budge, and so the cameras roll as Paul and Peg wave and smile without him.

It's considered a given that they'll win something for Bridge-- if not all the big ones-- so they're given three seats together and up close. With amusement Art watches from the back of the auditorium as Paul and Peg rearrange several times. He hopes that means they are both as uncomfortable as he is, and he vows not to make it any easier.

In the end, it looks like they opt to put Peg on the inside with the aisle seat left for Art and Paul second to the end. Sensible. Practical. On might even think there's nothing else at play but ease of access to the stage. The one catch is that Art's actually been assigned the seat that Peg is in. He could be a stickley asshole about it if he liked, make a scene, make her give up her spot for him. It's got a certain appeal, and he plays out the possible outcomes in his mind.

Just before lights out, he slides into the end seat and stares straight ahead. He's careful not to let his elbow bump with Paul's--or Paul's careful not to let his bump with Art's. Either way.

The time on stage together is painful, and by the time it's over, Art's glad they didn't win for 'group.' And if one more person makes a "bridge over troubled water" joke, he swears he's going out to buy a gun.

Flushed with the wins, it's clear Paul doesn't feel the same. He throws his arm around Art, touching him for the first time that night.

"Artie, come on! Let's go celebrate. I booked a room at the Melrose." He squeezes Art's waist in a manner so familiar that it hurts.

"I can't," Art says. Again, he offers no further explanation than that.

Paul's exuberance dims visibly. "It's our night. Come on. For the old times if nothing else. We earned it together." Don't make it all be for nothing. Don't throw it all away.

"I can't," Art repeats.

He bypasses the phones and row of limos to walk back to his hotel. It's over six miles away. When he gets to his hotel he packs, calls the airport and changes to an earlier flight.

He calls Linda as soon as he gets back to New York. This time when he asks, she says yes.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend.
--Paul Simon, 1968

Things go easier once Art's engaged. He calls Paul and Peg, brings Linda over whenever it's convenient for all four of them. See, I can do it too.

"McGovern called," Paul says over fettuccini one night. "I donated, and he called me up himself, wondered if I'd do a benefit concert. Well, it's more like he wondered if we'd do a benefit concert. I told him I would, but I couldn't speak for you. Of course, we'd bring in a lot more together than I could with a solo gig." Paul thinks about stopping there, but decides it's better to drop his trump card before it's too late.

"He says if we do it as Simon & Garfunkel he could get us the Garden." Paul sees Art's eyes widen and decides that he did good. Whereas Art never cared about fame or fortune--or really even music--his love for New York City and its icons runs soul-deep.

"I think you should do it," Linda says. "McGovern! You could do a lot of good just by doing what you do."

"I'll think about it," Art says, but in his mind he knows he will. He likes to make people think he's not as easy as all that, but he's yet to realize who being reflexively difficult really hurts.

"Great. Great. That's more than I expected." Paul nods and lets his appreciation beam through. Then he goes back to eating, face focused firmly towards his plate. He's seen enough of Art's expression to know that it means yes.

But if he lets on he knows he's won, Art will change his mind for sure as shit.

I don't know a soul who's not been battered. I don't have a friend who feels at ease. I don't have a dream that's not been shattered or driven to its knees.
--Paul Simon, 1973

Their marriages crumble at about the same time. No, that's not true. When Paul and Peg separate, things go downhill for Art and Linda then.

"What have I done wrong?" Art asks as Linda packs the same bags over again, but differently. This time they both know it's going to be for good. "Just tell me what's changed, because as far as I can tell, I'm the exact same guy you married."

"Nothing's changed. You haven't changed one bit since the day I met you."

"Then what--?"

She looks at him as if she can't believe that much stupidity can live.

"Jesus, Art. If you don't get it by now, every second I stay is just more wasted time." She closes the bags and picks up one in each hand.

He stands on the hardwood in his underwear, unsure of what to do.

"Don't help me." She motions to him. It's that paradoxical irony that has always eluded Art's esoteric grasp. Giving up, she swings a scarf around her neck with flair. "I'll send my sister over for the rest."

Art's sad, but not as sad as he should be. Not nearly as sad as he has been before. In fact... He knows that says things about him that many would consider unpalatable, but his new Rabbi (reform) says we were all created according to His plan, and Art believes in his heart that he is okay.

He's been trying very, very hard to reach and maintain that belief.

It's easier when he's walking. Just him and his body, its rhythms like a mantra. When he's walking, it's easy to be in synch with himself.

With Linda gone, there's no reason to be home. He makes impromptu plans to walk to Niagara Falls. He's never seen it from the Canadian side, and Mike Nichols had all these theories about water and being reborn. He'd stuffed The Graduate chock full of water scenes and imagery and bored their ears off explaining why each time. He wanted a Niagara scene in there at the end somehow with Elaine and the wedding dress, but could never figure out how to make it work, so it got scrapped.

He made sure there was no water anywhere in the desert of Catch-22. In war, when you die you're dead, he said.

Art never bought that psychobabble, but it had stuck nevertheless. And it's as good a place to go as any until he figures out what it is he's trying to find.

At an uptown opening, their eyes meet across the proverbial crowded room. It's 1976, and after SCAATY and Rhymin' Simon, Paul's bigger than John Lennon was when he was bigger than Jesus, so Art hadn't expected to see him at a piss-ant little thing like this.

Art's still pissed, but he's still in love. His overpriced therapist says that he's still pissed because he's still in love. That until he gets over the latter he'll never get over the former. Art has no interest in doing that, so he supposes he'll stay pissed a long time.

He sees Paul get the message in Art's carefully neutral face, take some girl's elbow and steer her the other way. Art's heart drops. He wishes he could be a little less pissed.

He's really got to get a new therapist.

Instead, he puts down his Bitter Lemon with a twist, goes outside and walks the length of Manhattan until dawn.

"Kathy, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
--Paul Simon, 1968

Art meets Laurie in a TM session. She's pretty, makes him feel like a man, and she might be the only woman he knows who isn't looking for anything from him. It's funny how that makes one almost desperate to give.

It takes him a while to figure out that she's kind of messed up. It might be because his yardstick for 'messed up' is off, or it might be because the deeper you fall in love, the more it puts you out of view of the outside world.

By the time he figures it out, he's already smitten beyond the reach of practicality or common sense. Again. It's like the Dalai Lama says we're destined to live until we stop repeating our mistakes. Art assumes he'll one day be a very old man. He assumes it will be with Laurie, and he's actually looking forward to that. He burns less weed these days, but she's doing more pills.

Pills are easier to do without anyone catching on.

His yardstick for happy is a little screwy too, but Art thinks that he is, and nearing age forty, thinking you're happy and being happy are close enough to the same for him. Once he said that to a guy he was getting stoned with, and the guy pointed out that that was from Catch-22, not from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, like Art said.

Art had pinched it from one of his own movie scenes.

They'd laughed, and it was so funny that Art hadn't bothered to say that the scripted lines had been about being in love, not happy.

It was close enough to the same thing.

Still, Art's is a good life. He wishes that someone could go back and tell himself at age fifteen that this was something that could be his. He thinks back then if he'd considered it even a possibility, things would have gone a lot differently for him.

In a way he'd like things to have been different, but in a way there's nothing he wants more than things to stay exactly like they are.

After Laurie dies, Art gets a card in the mail. He gets lots, of course, but there's one he turns over and over in his hands, keeps by his bed, wants to read more into than he should, especially considering the circumstances.

It's quite plain, the powder-blue star on the white background with all the traditional Hallmark sentiments on the inside right and a Hebrew verse on the left. He ignores them both. God is dead, and Laurie is dead and therefore so am I, he thinks.

It's the words at the bottom in Paul's own hand that he clings to. Through it all--even now--Paul has been the one who understood him best. The words don't say much, only what you'd expect, far less than you'd think for a poet of the age. They're a little clumsy even, but they're real words, all for him, not for show or money or to seduce the clamoring masses. They are a part of Paul that no one else has and so he tucks it into the nightstand to read every night before bed.

When he's lost all else, at least he will have that.

In between reads it lies in the drawer, in the dark, pretty much right under the picture of Laurie that sits in the metal frame on the top.

There's not enough space or time in the world to walk this off, so Art doesn't even try. He knows he should move because of the memories here, but he stays for them. Even the worst memory is better than the risk of having none.

Paul's faded from Art's consciousness through the years. Things repeat. That means Laurie could--would--one day do the same.

That's the thought that is just too much to bear.

Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph. Preserve your memories; they're all that's left you.
--Paul Simon, 1968

They say that history got recorded wrong: that the sixties really happened in the seventies. That left the eighties dangling free and floundering to find its voice. Because disco, really, who'd want to do that over again?

The sound of The Village though, that was the summation of souls coming together to cry out to a higher power as one. That was a sound that would work though the ages. It was a sound any era would be proud to keep.

In 1981, it's been more than five years since Paul has had a number one song. He's in demand for projects, more so now than ever. He likes to think there's a causal link between how busy he is behind the scenes and not on the charts--that it's not an "in spite of" or "hope springs eternal" situation.

Truth be told, he hasn't had the same drive since Peg left. That temporal connection he prefers not to think of as causal, but due to something like the maturity of satisfaction with his achievements, or investment with his children or some other healthier facade.

That's hard to do: 'Father and Child' reunion just doesn't have the same ring. As always, the truth is found in his music even when nowhere else.

And Paul misses the acclaim as badly as any addict ever missed any drug.

When the Central Park proposal comes up, Paul's ready to leap, but he tells them to hold off on Art's end. He'll call Art himself. Maybe it's because he's become a cocky ass who assumes that Art is still needy and lovesick enough to take his calls. Maybe it's because he's world-weary enough to realize that he rift between them is too close to the soul to be bridged by agents or offices.

Either way, he's right.

"Do you want to come over?" Paul says. "It feels strange talking to you on the phone."

The line stays quiet but for soft crackling.

"Or I could come over there," Paul amends. "Whatever you like. But I've got a sound studio at the house; I thought it would be fun to play around."

"Just you and me?" Art's surprised when he recognizes what he feels. It's hope. A hope he'd thought was long-since dead, although he still couldn't articulate whatever it was that he was hoping for.

Paul gets it, even if Art doesn't, but that's not something you can tell someone else, not even--especially not--a best friend of thirty years. "Yeah, yeah. I told them I didn't know if you'd have any interest and to leave you alone until you made up your mind. Just you and me. No suits."

"All right," Art says. "When?"

"Your call."

"I'm free now."

Paul's hears it, and he wonders if Art does too. They're going to be Simon & Garfunkel again. He's careful to keep from laughing into the phone, something he knows Art would misunderstand. "Sure. I'm at the New Haven house. It's…"

"I know where you live." Art hangs up the phone and stuffs a bag weed into his pocket.

Paul answers the door in baggy cargo shorts and a paisley satin shirt that looks like it belongs in porno film. Still he looks good. Older, but really good.

It doesn't seem like that long since Art's seen him, but time has a way of, well, flying by.

They try a tentative embrace, which is neither easy nor nearly as uncomfortable as either had feared. Like riding a bicycle, they say the body remembers even that which the mind wants to think it's outgrown.

Paul gives Art the ten-cent tour, ending up in the basement studio. It's modeled after Graceland down to the carpet on the walls, but it's twice as big, and it has every electronic gizmo known to man. Paul says the deep pile shag is mostly just for looks. There's some space-age acoustic reverb preventing foam underneath it that does the serious work.

Paul's done well, no question. But it's a million miles removed from the way they thought they'd change the world back during Vietnam.

It must have been something Paul said while showing off his stuff, for the same thought hits them both at once. They see ghosts hover in each other's eyes.

Paul lifts a rueful brow and takes a seat. "I want to do the show," Paul says. "No other agenda. I want to do Simon & Garfunkel again. I've…we've finally got the platform to get global attention for that early music. I want to do it.

"You?" Paul lets his expression inquire for him. Often with Art, extra words only confuse the matter more.

"I don't know," Art says. It's not strategy or obstinacy this time, but true position. He almost feels like he's come here to find his truth, and he's in no shape to try to offer one out yet.

"You know where I stand," Paul says. "So, let's just go from there. Tell me what it is you want."

Art hadn't planned on going there. In his deepest heart of hearts, he hadn't. But as day spawns night and summer spawns fall, the question spawns one inevitable answer that rises up in his throat unbidden and takes the form of a bitter scoff.

He looks away to spare himself--for no other reason. Paul knew. Of course he had to know.

"I can't give you that," Paul says very quietly. "I will give you whatever is in my power to make this deal work, but I can't give you that. It's not in me to give. It never has been. And if you're still the same obsessively reflective guy I grew up with, then I think you know that. And always have."

Paul leans over and lays his hand on Art's leg, too high to be a reassurance between old friends, but not high enough to sever options. "So I'm asking you, what would it take--what would you want to do this show?"

The hand on his thigh is so warm, so real. It caresses in a tender, visceral way that Art has learned from experience that you cannot fake.

At that moment, Art knows. It dawns not in gentle pastels, but like the abrupt flicking of a switch, dousing the sleeper in an explosion of fluorescent blaze. With the same certainty that he'd ever known anything--which albeit isn't great--Art knows that Paul would bed him right here and now, or at whatever place and time he asks. Paul would do it for the concert, to make his music, or for old time's sake or for a friend--for him.

And it might even be fun again.

It is a catalyzing moment, like it must have been when the burning bush appeared and spoke.

It is a revelation--an epiphany. After twenty-five years of believing all would be right if he could only be right here like this, here he was, but the feeling wasn't there. All the therapists, all the temples, all the courses, all the holy men and here he sat seconds away, his destiny in his own hands, and it wasn't what he wanted at all.

What did he want?

He reached way back to the happiest times, when they were kids. No money, no fears, only hopes and dreams (none of them yet dashed) and Paul's guitar and voices that blended like all the raindrops ever fallen filtering through the earth and poring seaward to do it all over again.

He wanted to be that boy again.

In a sudden lurch, Art stands up and paces away, abandoning Paul's hand and whatever else it implies.

"I want to do it," Art says. "We put in at least three of my songs, and I'll do it."

There's a pause of accommodation. "Great," says Paul. "Great!" He sounds more assured the second time.

He wraps Art in a chaste embrace. "I've missed you. I've missed--" He flounders, but there's no better word. "You."

Since everything in him screams to stay, Art does the only thing he can and shakes away. "You set it up. I'll sign it. Call me when you want to rehearse." With his long legs he's at the door before Paul catches up, but Paul does.

"Artie?" The door's open. There might be neighbors, cameras, tourists, press. Connecticut's not that big, much less Paul's estate. But what the hell, it's out now; it might as well be all the way out.

"Artie," Paul calls after him again. "You've spent all this time searching for answers. You tell me. If you'd been in my position, what would you have done?"

Art smiles and laughs. It's genuine this time, and it's a joy to see. "Don't you know? I never found any answers," he says.

"Call me," he adds, from the flagstone walk. Then he turns his back and wanders away.

Outside, he rolls and burns a blunt on a bench in Paul's topiary garden before hopping his car service ride home.

Their first rehearsal session lasts fourteen hours. Not because there was so much to relearn, but because neither one wants to break it up. Art remembers why he only sang with Paul, and Paul remembers why he wishes Art had never left.

"The best years of my life were the ones with you," Paul says.

Art knows he means musically, but it doesn't matter. For Paul, it's pretty much one and the same. Or if he does separate, it's always 'musically' that comes first. And Art knows Paul's sincere. He always is when it's about his music.

In Art's current headspace, that's good enough for him. He holds on to those words and pulls them out like the sympathy card and memories when he doesn't know what else to think.

The more you near your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away.
-Paul Simon, 1977

The best ten--twenty--nights in their heyday could not compare with the phenomenon that was the Concert in Central Park. Art doesn't believe it's because they've grown better with age. He figures there's a whole lot of people become half desperate to recapture something in their pasts they missed the first time around.

They can't give people back their youths, but they can sing their hearts out in the attempt. Like Tinkerbell, "I do believe in fairies. I do; I do; I do."

The population of New York City is not quite 6.5 million. Over 500,000 attended the Concert in Central Park. That's not including the international television broadcasts over the years. To call it a success would not begin to cover it.

The pre-production was not quite as black and white.

Three days before the show, they're still fighting over two of the numbers. Paul tells the co-producer not to worry. "That's just Art's way," he says. He can't function at peace; he draws his strength from conflict. If he doesn't have one, he'll create one usually internally but sometimes without.

"Better the program than something more self-destructive," Paul says. "That'll be a non-issue in a few days."

The show must go on, and there's a contract Art can't afford to break, so it does. There's tension between them; the camera doesn't lie, but the voices shine unscathed. They harmonize clean and bright and true. Perhaps it's not in spite of what's unsettled between them, but because. Everything that's good and pure and real is poured into the voices. Perhaps the dross and imperfections of mortal man need somewhere else to go so they may rise untouched, unsullied by any dark or baser aspects of the soul.

Once the concert is over, so is the fight.

It's hard to stay angry with run-away acclaim like that. It's hard to be anything but on cloud nine.

"Come celebrate with me," Paul says. Don has booked the penthouse at the Four Seasons off Madison. Flying over the city, the crowds, their fans to the rooftop helipad, Paul says it's the most perfect night of his life.

Art says he doesn't believe in perfection in this plane of existence, but he looks happier than Paul has seen him in a very long time.

Perhaps he has point, for the problem with perfection, Paul thinks, is then what do you do next?

The party doesn't break up until almost dawn. Around five, Paul says goodbye to someone and realizes it's down to he and Artie. Not so much plain alone, but having been discreetly left alone by tacit agreement of the last of the die-hard stragglers. At least that's the sense Paul gets.

Art goes to grab his jacket. "Me to," he says.

"You can't go out on the street," Paul says. "Not after last night. You'll be mobbed."

"It's no big deal," Art says. "They think I'm some weirdo yuppie hippie wannabe with Art Garfunkel hair."

Paul laughs. He reaches up and cards fingers through the maze of bristles. "I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to do that," he says.

Art closes his eyes. It feels so familiar, and it feels so good. His jacket slides past his knees as it falls to the carpet between their feet.

It breaks the spell. Art jerks away, then bends down to get it, but by then Paul has the same idea and bends down too. Their heads bang in the middle. Art goes to ground and pulls Paul with him in some kind of a graspy, floundering, flail.

Head to head, they lie on their backs on the carpet and laugh. Art's not a drinker, but he's been drinking tonight. The room spins like a merry-go-round memory dredged up from the depths of his preconscious mind.

"Well, this is familiar." Paul says when the humor has worn itself out.

Suddenly it's 1964, and they're back on their living room floor with the sheets of staff paper and the dirty laundry, and the noodles smashed into the rug.

Art reaches an awkward arm around until it finds Paul's head. "Yeah.

"I don't want you to go," Paul says. He wiggles his body around until they are lying side by side. He puts a hand to Art's nipple and fondles it in the way that always used to make Art hard. "I think about it too, you know."

Art is on top of him in a flurry of hands and lips and limbs, his fingers already peeling away Paul's pants.

Paul's hard as a rock, bright with a desire he hasn't known in twenty years. The need to orgasm is so keen he feels he might die, but he doesn't so he decides there must be something past perfection after all.

Fame and fortune have left Paul unaccustomed to not getting what he wants. He murmurs to Artie to roll over, lift his bottom, spread his legs.

Art's waited so long to hear those words again, he doesn't think, he doesn't hesitate, he just does.

Paul's moving against him, over him, the friction of skin against dry hair more painful than pleasant, but Art's wanted this too long to even consider stopping.

They both have too many miles to be comfortable on the carpet, so soon they make it to the bed. With Paul's weight pinning him, Art feels that he's finally safe--finally stable. When Paul swells inside of him, Art feels that he's finally, once again, alive. He's finally in touch with the only plane of reality he's ever known or cared to know.

Art crushes the pillow into his mouth, his nose. The low oxygen is making him dizzy, making him high. Somewhere in the mix he's climaxed, but Paul's not done. He's still thrusting into him, murmuring nonsense words, "I've missed you; I love you; oh, God!"

Art's erection's gone. He's beyond that now. He's beyond any convention of sex. Everything just feels good. It's down to him and his body finally in harmony with the universe.

If he could live in one moment forever, it would be this.

Art moans into the gag of feathers as the burn inside him intensifies. The stretch, the pressure on his gland is almost too much to bear. Paul used to swell to almost twice the size in the few seconds just before he came.

Apparently he still does.

The Pavlovian familiarity combined with the feeling inside and all around him is too much. Art needs some kind of release, but he can't orgasm. Instead it comes out as tears. He presses his face hard into the pillow, teetering on the cusp between a swoon and some fleeting ethereal plane as Paul empties everything he has inside of him. Paul fills him, floods him with some essential element his body--his very being--has, unbeknownst to him, been missing all along.

But like all ejaculations, paradoxically the completion siphons something ineffable away from him as well.

Paul collapses atop him chuckling, embracing, salting baby kisses across his back.

As Paul rolls aside, Art shifts the pillow and draws in fresh air. The oxygen floods his body and the realization floods his mind: he does not have the fortitude to live through emotion this intense again.

Art pulls the covers up, and they lie spooned, Art's back curled into Paul's front. He doesn't want to sleep, he wants to revel in every moment of being held, being warm and safe and not searching for any thing at all.

Paul's almost asleep--might be asleep. That might be the only reason Art asks. It's the question he's never mustered the nerve to ask the myriad of shrinks, the doctors, the Rabbis, the medicine men he has squandered time with throughout his life.

"Do you think it's a disease?"

"Is what a disease?" Paul's response is contorted by a yawn.


There's a pause, but Paul is kind enough not to pretend he doesn’t understand. He wraps one arm tighter. With his other he strokes Art's shoulder, his chest.

"I think the Earth is filled with billions of different people. The beauty is in the diversity of us all. It's the same as any other difference."

"You didn't answer."

"No. And I never did. Never." Paul kisses Art's shoulder, his neck, his hair, but Paul's lids are heavy. It's been almost a 24-hour day. He pulls Art as close as he can, cups one palm boldly around Art's sac, and allows his eyes to close.

When he wakes up in the morning, Art is gone.

I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If I never loved I never would have cried.
--Paul Simon, 1963

Paul waits a day before calling because it seems safer. It's weird, he thinks; it's as bad as dealing with a girl, but it's always been worth the effort, and that's true more than ever now He makes himself sound cheery, which certainly isn't hard. The press, the calls, the wires have been non-stop.

It's intoxicating being on top of the world again.

"Hey," he says, the receiver pressed tight against his cheek. "I missed you yesterday."


It's not enough to tell if that's a "me too" or sarcasm, or if Art is just high or bored or off on some other headspace. But it's not a hang-up, and that's something at least, so Paul says what he needs to say.

"Don's been fielding appearance requests pretty much 24-7. It's already too many to go through over the phone. Some of them are urgent. Carson wants tomorrow night. I thought we could meet at the house--"

Art interrupts. "Paul, I can't go through it again."

Still, the faint popping of an open phone line continues.

There can be no reasonable question as to what 'it' is, although Art and 'reasonable' aren't a terribly tight pair. Paul's not entirely sure if he's talking about two days or two decades ago, when it dawns that to Art, it's likely all the same.

At a root level, it's pretty much the same to Paul too, except that life has added infinitely more layers of complexity since their Village days.

"I think you're being unfair. Just because I don't feel it in the same way, doesn’t mean I don’t feel it as much. I can't change any more than you can."

Improbably, Art laughs, which wasn't the desired effect; it’s better.

"It wasn't a code," Art says. "I meant just what I said. I can't put myself through the whole cycle over again. I'm not coming to your house. I can't-- I'm not going to-- I can't--" The sentences jump abruptly and stick in limbo, like a record with a terminal scratch.

Paul suggests Don's office--a neutral corner--and Art agrees to that. Art tells Paul to say yes to Carson. His mother won't look at Rolling Stone, but she watches Johnny every night. If they do Carson, she might believe he's famous then.

Art's never liked talking about himself, but he likes being on TV and having people see him together with Paul.

"Aside from Scissors Cut, your newest, you've done several other albums."

"That's right."

Art's not exactly an easy interview, but Johnny has a job to do.

"All solos."


"Did you ever think about forming another musical partnership, seeing how well it worked for Simon & Garfunkel?"

"Oh, you can't just do that." Art shifts forward in his chair, engaged. "It's not like buying a new guitar or replacing a band member." Art becomes more animated with each word. "Interweaving voices is one of the most intimate things there is. You have to discover how to fill each others harmonic cracks, then you do it over and over, every single time, until it becomes a beautiful natural instinct. Paul and I are molded to each other. We grew into each other. You can't unlearn that. I only sing with Paul."

"Yeah, they say you never get over your first," Johnny quips with a quirk of his face, and the audience laughs.

Paul gives a token chuckle, but Art's grown quiet again.

Johnny turns to Paul. "What about you? You perform with other vocals, record with them: Alvin & the Chipmunks--" Johnny lets the joke trail off.

Paul's laugh is more comfortable this time. "No, not them. But, yes, since I've been able to, well, afford it--a big change from our days doing Wednesday Morning and even Bridge Over Troubled Water--I've been playing around with the studio sound including adding more voices--"

"So you don't agree with Art? Or are you just a musical slut?"

There's more laughter from the audience tiers.

"No, no," Paul rearranges in body language that is far more serious than seems to fit the general mood. "I do agree." He looks to Art. "I wouldn't ever try to create a duo with anyone else."

"You say wouldn't; he says couldn't." Johnny tosses that into the air.

Paul takes a breath, as if in preparation for the length of a speech he's made before, or at least planned out in his head. "I'm not sure there's a difference. I've made music with a lot of people over the years, and loved every minute of it, and I hope to do so for many more years to come, but our Simon & Garfunkel sound is the only vocal harmony work that's reached my ideal. I met Artie when we were eleven. I heard him singing, and something clicked. Something special. It's not something you can remake or redo. I've never met anyone else with whom I thought I could make it work."

Art's peering at Paul in that way that is typically considered poor social manners, but the camera is in tight on Paul. The studio audience are the only ones to see it.

Johnny decides to wrap it there. He cuts to commercial and shakes their hands good night. When he comes back, it's in the enormous turban. He and Ed launch into a Carnac set.

It's Art who leaps at the World Tour proposal. He's fallen a bit under the spell of the promoter's hyperbole.

After having done at least three himself (depending how you count), Paul hears it as four months of airports and delays, endless hotels, passport hassles, strange food, worse coffee, foreign languages and missing his own bed. "Sure," he says. "Let's move forward on that."

In private, Don tells Paul that's a decision against his interests. It would cost him projects here valued at three to five times what the tour would bring.

"It's not about the money," Paul tells Don for the umpteenth time in their association, which is not a surprise, except that it's never been in reference to a marathon tour before.
Eventually they settle on twenty-eight dates.

Relations on the tour go easier than either of them expected. Between the travel, the arrangements, the shows there's enough chaos and conflict to keep Art--or anyone else--from seeking more.

Paul catches Art looking at him on and off. Looking in a way such that what he's thinking is in his eyes. It's so much better now that they no longer have to pretend. It's flattering, and after a miserable grubby day Paul often thinks it would be a nice way to blow off some of the steam.

But Art scrupulously keeps to his own room and keeps his hands to his self.

It's a long strange trip for them this making music again with the intimacy of a couple co-mingled with the harsh realities that only decades of knowledge of another person can yield. It brings all the good memories flooding back, and some of the bad ones as well.

Art's puts his foot down at doing as many solos as Paul in every show. The managers assume it's some kind of artists' pissing contest, but Art just doesn't want to get left behind again.

I wandered empty streets, down past the shop displays; I heard cathedral bells, tripping down the alley ways…as I walked on.
--Paul Simon, 1963

There's something transcendent about watching a master exercise his craft. Listening to Art rehearse, takes Paul to a different place and time. It's both the splendor of the past and an inspiration for their future. There's no bars or notes or technical dissection. It's a pure, unpasteurized essence of music that has forever fluttered in the collective soul of humanity, searching for release.

Listening to Art sing, Paul wonders that he was ever young, cocky and stupid enough to have the balls to suggest they should be a pair. Paul's vocal work is competent enough, especially in this electronic age, but he knows he's been living a farce. The conventional wisdom is that Paul's musicality, his songs carried them I both, but Paul sees now--like he was too busy to see then--that without Art's gift, they never would have caught the public ear.

Art won't sing with anyone else, so he's always said, and so he's always made it true. Paul will sing with anyone, and he has sung with hundreds, but the only one he's ever ached to be singing with is Art.

Once you've made perfection, where is there to go from there?

In Atlanta, they start sound checks early. The stage manager barrels in around noon. "Carrie Fisher's in my office. She wants to meet you."

Jedi just came out, and Star Wars fever is running high.

"Are you kidding? Princess Leia? In that metal bikini thing?" Paul sounds like he's twenty-five and seeing Star Wars for the first time. "She doesn't know it, but we've had sex many, many times." Paul curves the contour of his hand and mimes a few tugs. "It sure was good for me."

"No bikini. That I can see. And I looked. Hard. Just her. Should I send her back?"

"Damn straight," says Paul. He checks himself in the mirror and tries to finger comb his hair to fall the way he thinks a superstar should look.

"Artie? Where you going?" He sees Art grab his jacket. "Carrie Fisher's on the way."

"I don't know," Art says. "I think I'll take a walk."

Two weeks later, Art pulls out of the album deal. Twelve weeks later, Paul and Carrie are married.

When Art's invitation arrives, he pitches it in the trash. At the time of the wedding, he is walking across Japan.

After Carrie leaves, Paul falls into a deep abyss. It's the kind of pit so twisted and deep that there's no glow of daylight, no hint of fresh air, no celestial twinkling to guide you out and home.

He calls Art one night, his tongue stupid with liquor and his words barely making sense.

"I'm so alone, Artie. Can you come over? If you love me, don't leave me all alone."

Art thinks of Laurie. How could any soul who'd lived through such a thing not?

Art comes, not because of the maudlin eighty-proof argument, but because finally Paul needs him more than the other way around.

The next night, they make love.

Can you imagine us years from today?
--Paul Simon, 1968

Lovers by night and partners by day. Living a double life proved not as difficult as either one had feared. Camouflaging one's affections is not difficult for neither the lifelong student of human nature, nor for the emotionally impaired.

We may not be what we seem at any given moment, but if we live the role long enough, it's what we will surely become what we pretend to be. Dress for Success got that concept right and made a fortune in the process.

It's not so hard to deny your lover in the light of day. The hard part is not coming to believe it yourself by nightfall. Or any of the subsequent nights.

They are in bed when Don calls. It's The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They're in as a duo, two decades after their last hit.

The Hall only admits those who stand the test of time.

"He wants to know if I can talk you into performing." Paul laughs and grabs Art's dick. "I told him I might have to twist your…arm. I don't think he even knows were not on the outs."

"Idiot," Art says. He lowers his lids and cedes to hazy fantasies as he lets Paul make love to him.

You'd think Art's time was finally here, albeit a quarter of a century late and second hand.

It's funny, though, how things don't work out like your fantasies, which is why "fantasy" and "aspiration" are two entirely different words. When Art was twenty-two in Mexico, he and another guy on the set (Marty Sheen?) had tried having sex on the beach. The movies made it look like the most romantic thing. They'd gotten sandburned on knees and back, and finally quit when the grains worked their way in to places even more delicate than that.

You'd think Art would have learned his lesson, but for poets and songwriters, dreams are the last thing to die.

"I love you," Art says at least a dozen times a day. Perhaps he senses he might not have the chance for long.

"Love is the condition in which your happiness is entirely contingent on someone else's." That's what Art's yogi had said a couple years ago. Art had fired him when he found out it was a quote from Robert Heinlein, but that didn't make it any less true.

And Paul is no longer happy with him.

All the gurus and yogis and Rabbis and flower children with guitars had it wrong. It was Walt Disney who got it right. "Once you pass its borders, you can never return again."

There's a nearly infinite spectrum of shades of being between "no longer in abject despair" and "happy." Art's intimately familiar with most of them, especially on the lower end. He's been good for Paul, he may have even saved his life, but Paul's not happy, and so Art can't be either. Not even when he gets high and tries to make believe the euphoria is coming from within.

Paul meets Edie, and Art's okay with that. He knows what's coming--he knows Paul better than anyone in the world. He's surprised it takes so long. Art figures Paul's dragging his feet out of fear of a blow-up like before, and that makes him both pleased and sad.

Art's sorry to have made Paul afraid of him. He's sorry about a lot of things--some which can be changed and some which can't. He starts dropping hints about how great Edie is and how lucky Paul is to have found her. How not every one gets more chances at love.

Finally Paul tells him that he can't do it anymore. Or won't. He says it's Edie's condition, and he says it in such way that Art's pretty sure that's the truth.

"It's not you," Paul says, "You know she's nuts about you, but with AIDS, I think she's kind of freaked. We're talking kids, and you know how women get when they're feeling maternal--" Paul reaches for the most distancing reason he can: kids, women--nothing about you and me.

"It's okay," Art says. They both know it's a reasonable demand. Normal even. Beyond normal. Their eyes concede as much.

"I love you." Paul voice is choked.

Art notes with some pride that he's not falling apart. He supposes like horseback riding, it gets little easier every time you do it.

"Don't forget it while you're changing diapers on those rug rats," Art says. He wants to say, "Be happy," but he knows that's not something you can just make yourself--or any one else--do.

This time Art is best man at the wedding. He gets a haircut, but he won't wear a tux. He comes in black slacks, a bolo, and a gold brocade vest with a slightly Asian look that he picked up on 37th. To his surprise, Edie's doesn't say a thing about it. In the receiving line, she hugs and kisses him with the same enthusiasm as does Paul.

Paul calls Art himself about the NY concert series, this time not because asking is such an enormous deal, but because it's hardly anything at all. Given enough time, everything old is new again, and talking with Art is again as easy as when they were fourteen and sharing dirty secrets about girls.

Edie doesn't want Paul going on tour--not with her pregnant and certainly not after the baby is here, so Paul's tied to New York for the duration. Art finds himself wryly amused to see Paul so at the mercy of someone else for a change, but Paul doesn't seem to mind.

Art wonders if that was part of the problem all along: if although Paul understood their situation, it had never occurred to him some people aren't built to handle it as well as him.

Art's not exactly what most people would call busy, but he's got some artistic irons in the fire again, and he was never very good at multitasking. It's not that he doesn't want to do it. In fact he kind of does; after thirty years there's still no place he'd rather be and nothing he'd rather be doing than making blended music with Paul. It's hard to pass up a chance to be publicly heard and seen with him. But with Paul's projects, everything is always so much more work than Art had in mind, and Art's always had a need for his alone time that most people can't understand.

"Half," Paul says. "I'll do half of it with my band. That'll be the lion's share of the rehearsals. You and I can hit it alone here and there. What do you say?"

"You don't need me."

It's the truth. Paul's a bigger name by himself right now. Simon & Garfunkel is a name that speaks of reliving your parents' days.

"I want to do it with you."

It's not much longer before Art says yes.

After changes, we are more or less the same.
--Paul Simon, 1968

One of the nicest things about getting older is that you learn what really matters. Things that don't just kind of gradually fade away. When the Recording Academy called about the Lifetime award, Art immediately says yes. When Paul calls to talk about what they should do, Art immediately says 'Sound of Silence.' That's what started it all. That's the one that will always be us."

"No argument there," Paul laughs.

Art has the uncomfortable but hardly unprecedented sense he's missing some cosmic joke, but then he and Paul have seldom been on the same plane unless they were making music.

And it's so good to be happy with Paul again.

It's a little rough on stage, on camera in front of however many million people making it all work anew. But the music comes through for them once again.

For Paul, on the most basal level, it's always been about the music. And apparently Art's found whatever it was he was looking for as well, so for now everything's all right.

Art's voice has changed a lot over forty years; it's harsher and can no longer hit or hold the high notes that came so easily before the uncounted and sundry smokes. Paul waits while Art slows the arrangement down and alters it subtly. There's no "I told you so" or holier-than-thou look. Paul's got his share of things he'd do over if he could as well. All good people do, they both know by now. Only idiots and assholes think they never make mistakes.

After the final run-through Paul slaps Art's thigh. "That's it! That's beautiful. It's exactly the same sound as the '64 cut."

"Stuff's changed," Art says. Paul's hand burns like a brand through the denim against his thigh. Fifty years and Paul's been the one Art can't stop himself from wanting through it all. "Once an addict, always an addict," is what they say at N.A. You can trade one addiction for another, you can say "I won't use right now," but you can never get it out of your soul.

"Not the important stuff." Paul's thumb begins to massage, and Art thinks that one way or another, he's about to go out of his mind.

Art's half hard and it shows, but Paul is looking straight into his eyes. Oh, the times Art had gotten lost in those eyes. He aches to move, to but he knows if he does, it will only make things worse.

One drink is too many and one thousand isn't enough.

Unbridled desire in a man's eyes might be the most erotic sight in the world.

Art knows beyond a doubt that Paul would. If he gave the slightest sign or even if he did nothing, he's virtually certain that they would end up coupled on the couch. He imagines it playing out in his mind. It's slow loving, tender, fun. And for an old man, the fantasy is almost as good as the real thing. No pains in the joints, no cramps in the legs, no kinks and aches in the back.

But the outcome is just as clear.

Art stands up and whisks his jacket off the chair. "I've got to meet Kim."

They say that real love can neither be offered nor accepted; that it just has to exist like gravity or sunshine or rain. Art was going to write a poem about that, but he's pretty sure that he read it somewhere else.

For the longest time he can't remember where. Then he remembers: it's one of the feel-good posters his dentist has thumb-tacked to the ceiling to distract people from the drill.

Paul's standing behind him now, saying something low that Art missed. His voice sounds like their village apartment, Thai take out and younger days. It's all too much and Art turns to him. They hold in a chest-breaking embrace, Paul's cheek warm against his face.

Art squeezes back hard, and he nods. "Good." It really is all right. "Then don't let me screw it up. I'll catch you tomorrow." He kisses Paul chastely on the lips, pulls away, and leaves.

The fans agree: they are back. There's a new concert series: Old Friends. There's a new generation of fans. Art's insistent that they sing it all live; he says he'll never let himself be tracked. Paul thinks that's ridiculous, but he's used to Art's quirks and the fans don't seem to mind. They cheer all the same.

The money's nice, but mostly they perform to feel the love.

It's a different kind of love: no yearnings, no demands, no highs and lows: just them. Art writes a poem about it and thinks that it would make a wonderful song.

He'll show it to Paul after the show, but right now it's almost time to go on.