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Marlene, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Mar-lene: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of twosteps down the palate to tap, at two, on the teeth. Mar-leen.

She was Mar, plain Mar, in the morning, standing five feet five in one sock. She was Marley in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Marlene.

Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Marlene at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Marlene was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.

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