my hangover is terrible. i broke my rule of no straight, hard booze and was drinking the powers after the gig last nite. it was fun. there were a couple of young girls interested in talking to me. i was flattered and let the good times roll. we drove over and closed small’s. they were from out of town. they were staying close by in the same hotel room. they were very young and it all seemed too impossible. i left with my dignity in tact - not hitting on them and playing the gracious gentleman.
now i can’t remember where i parked my car. i have a dry erase board right on the fridge but i forget to use it sometimes. i got home at 5 but at 11 i’m up and done sleeping. i pad around my tiny apartment in a daze. bananas, strawberries, yogurt, blender and i’m getting a pulse. i do some dreary business on the computer, smoke a couple of bonghits and consider going back to bed. i take a shower instead. my roommate likes to smoke in the shower and that sounds real good. but i don’t have any cigarettes, thankfully. i only think it would make me feel better, more awake. but it would make me feel shittier, like the greasy chinese food i always crave after i’ve polluted my body in this manner. why? i dry off and step into my sandals. my roommate likes to dry off outside the shower. we tried a rug but that just got damp and disgusting, moldy. same thing with a towel, except you could wash it, which i always ended up doing. i’ve learned that just because i like to dry off inside the shower and step into a pair of sandals doesn’t mean everybody else should. so i went online and found this bathmat/platform made out of japanese hinoki cypress the resin of which is bacteria resistant and prevents mildew. i’m not surprised. i’ve been to japan a few times and it is the most fastidious place i have ever been. they would not be having water on the floor of the bathroom after every shower. it’s worked well for us.
i go into my bedroom which is really a walk-in closet. it’s funny in new york what they classify as a bedroom. if it fits a bed, it’s a bedroom. never mind if that’s all it will fit. so i sleep in the living room on a fold-up couch. i’m getting dressed and i catch a glimpse of myself in the nice full length mirror i bought after my divorce. the frame is walnut and curves gracefully from top to bottom. a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, it’s a little like a fun house mirror without the visual distortion. my gut sticks out but if i suck it in, i don’t look too bad. i finish getting dressed and go into the living room and fold up the bed. it’s a couch now. i get my bag together - extra pair of socks and underwear and tomorrow’s meds - my girlfriend is apartment sitting in hell’s kitchen and i might stay there tonite. almost forgot the phone charger. can’t forget the phone charger. i have a class at long island university at 3 and i have to find my car and maybe move it so i leave a little early. turns out the car’s right outside in a monday spot. cool. sometimes all you need is that first thing to go right when you leave the house to make the whole day turn out good.
the class goes fine. the piano, a decent yamaha. i know the teacher from years ago when i used to play there but the department was so badly managed i had to quit. her name is donna and she is now the head of the department. i always liked her. when i ask her how her summer was, she tells me,
'shitty. i got a hip replacement.'
damn. she is young, too, for a hip replacement. the life of a dancer. i never got ballet, really - the foot binding pointe shoes, the mostly demeaning pedagogy of never being able to do it exactly perfect. and the women look so thin. but donna has a sarcastic teaching manner that keeps it not too serious. and she laughs easily when i play the theme from star wars for battement.
i leave liu and take the subway to union square where i transfer to the L and go to williamsburgh to pick up the hard drive my new record is on. i need to eat. i feel like shit. i stop outside this tiki bar. looks good. dark. empty. i tell myself a glass of fernet wouldn’t be drinking. it’s medicinal. it doesn’t look like the kind of place that would even have fernet so i keep walking. ever since i learned that chef’s drink fernet to get back in the game when they have a bad hangover, i only drink fernet when hungover. or i won’t drink at all. not because i should give my body a break and not drink but because there is no fernet available. i am smart and retarded at the same time. i get a chicken taco from a truck and stand on the corner of bedford and north 7th eating it. all kinds of people pass me by - not just the messy headed, tattooed, pierced and bearded i associate with this part of williamsburgh. i finish my taco and go across the street to a liquor store telling myself if they have fernet minis, i’ll get one. they do. so i buy one to wash down the taco. what am i doing? i’m meeting cha at small’s to give him the hard drive and pay him for last nite’s gig. but i have an hour to kill so i get back on the subway and go back to union square.
on the train, there is an old mexican dude playing accordion and singing. i’m not really listening but i notice a few riders exchanging glances and smiling. the guy’s singing is awful and everybody seems to be realizing it simultaneously. two black guys are sitting across from each other and they start trash-talking the guy.
'damn. that is some sad shit,' one guy says.
'oh man….' the other one says laughing and shaking his head. we are all laughing now. the mexican dude has his eyes closed and is belting it out, loud and proud. it's really astonishing how bad it is. is he tone deaf? the second black guy says,
'hey! come here old man.' and he takes a dollar out of his wallet. 'i'll give you a dollar to stop.'
and the first guy takes out a dollar, too. ‘yeah, me, too,’ he adds.
and three other people are taking out dollars to give the guy.
he collects the money, smiling, ‘muchas gracias.’
my stop comes and i get off. i’m not giving a dollar for that shit.
it’s going to storm and i’m dressed up for my gig tomorrow. it was too warm for a rain coat so i need to buy an umbrella. i want a nice one. one that won’t break after i use it twice. i go by filene’s and consider going in but there are too many people. i can’t handle it. so i keep walking. on university i come to a housewares store that looks pretty empty, so i go in. there is a collection of umbrellas and i find one with a lifetime warranty for only 20 bucks. i ask the cashier if this umbrella really has a lifetime warranty. he takes it from me and examines the tag and without looking up tells me,
'that's what it says.'
i go outside and continue down university toward the park, opening and closing the umbrella. seems like a well designed item. i head west on 10th st and pause at the corner to wave to fazio mohammed. or is it mohammed fazio? he is the super in the building the joffrey school is in. his name is on the directory next to the elevator, but it’s hard to tell which name is his first and which is his last the way they are arranged on the board - ’SUPERINTENDANT’ on one line then ‘FAZIO’ on the next line and then after the ‘FAZIO’, ‘mohammed’ in smaller case letters. europeans capitalize all the letters in the last name when addressing an envelope, but the first name still comes first. the directory is not an envelope and this is new york. nonetheless, i’ve never been sure in the last couple of years that the joffrey school has started hiring me again. i suppose i could’ve asked him any time but i don’t want to disrupt our little routine. see, fazio or mohammed looks like elvis - the hair, the sideburns, those gold glasses with the holes on the sides. most days when i arrive at the building for my shift, fazio mohammed is standing outside opening the door for all who enter. i imagine it gives him a chance to smile and be friendly with the pretty, young ballerinas. every time he opens the door for me i pause, look at him directly, make my lip snarl and say in that low elvis voice,
and without seeming to get my joke he says,
'you are welcome,' in a broken english reminiscent of andy kaufman except that mohammed fazio is brown complected.
filipino or indonesian? i don’t know. dozens and dozens of times we have played out this routine, he always seeming to never get that he looks like elvis and i’m imitating elvis - a brilliant straight-man or a dumb-ass. he isn’t usually at the door when i finish my shift, but one time recently he was. he opened the door for me. i stepped outside, raised my lip, popped my collar up and pointed at him,
and mohammed fazio said in his high-pitched heavily accented voice,
'you are leaving the building!'
as i cross 6th avenue he sees me waving and waves back. i continue down 10th and decide to sit down on a bench outside a little cafe. i pull out my glass one-hitter that cha thinks looks like a crack pipe.
'have you ever smoked crack?' i asked him.
'well, i have. once. and while that doesn't make me a crack smoking expert, i do know a crack pipe when i see one and this is no crack pipe.'
as i’m putting a pinch of herb into the end, i notice this guy coming toward me. i notice him because he’s wearing these enormous, black, horn-rimmed glasses, the kind artsy types often wear. as he passes i get a good look at him. his hair is short on the sides but grey-streaked and wild and thinning on top. he’s got grey stubble that makes him look haggard and older than the 60 or so years i’m guessing he has lived. holy shit! it’s f. murray abraham!
'f. murray!' i yell after him. he looks up from his phone. 'you are great! thanks for all the great work.'
he puts his phone in his pocket and takes a couple steps back toward me. he is smiling the perfect teeth of an actor.
'thank you…..thank you very much.'
refined. articulate. i reach into my bag and pull out the cd i always have with me.
'i've enjoyed your performances. maybe you'd like to enjoy one of mine.'
he takes the disc in his left hand, extending the other and we shake.
'my name's dred. nice to meet you. can i call you f.?'
he laughs and says, ‘murray. everyone calls me murray.’
'right on. so murray, i was just about to smoke a little weed.' and i motion to the space on the bench beside me, 'care to join me?'
he laughs again. ‘i have a rehearsal later. i better not.’
'right on. what are you doing?'
'oh, it's nothing.' and i can tell he wants to move along.
'well, if it's nothing, it probably pays pretty good.'
he laughs again. what a friendly guy.
'it's not bad.'
'well, put an eye out, then,' i say.
he looks at me quizzically.
'i prefer that to break a leg.'
'oh,' he says, 'that's hilarious, i've never heard that one.'
'you can use it if you want.'
'thanks, i will,' he says turning to go.
'have a good one, murray.'
he turns and smiles, ‘you, too,’ and holding up the record, ‘and thanks for the cd.’
'my pleasure,' i say. and he walks on.
i try to hit the one-hitter but it is hopelessly clogged. again. i just cleaned it a couple of days ago. i hold the flame up to the end and suck hard. nothing. maybe it is a crack pipe. i get up and cross the street and go into a head shop. i buy a little glass pipe, tossing the crack pipe into the garbage on the way out.
i put some weed in the bowl, duck into a doorway and have a hit and feel my hangover start to finally recede. i continue down 10th, looking over my shoulder for the pigs and duck into another doorway for another hit. i’m not too paranoid. it’s been a long time since i heard of anyone getting busted for smoking weed on the streets - not like when i first got here 10 years ago. dude would go out to smoke weed on the break at the gig and never come back.
i cross 7th and approach small’s. mitch is sitting outside on a chair playing the violin, as usual. i step to the curb facing him and tap my umbrella to the ground, bringing the orchestra to order. i raise it like a baton and mitch stands up. i conduct him ceremoniously, cuing imaginary sections and quieting others. i cut the orchestra off with a furious wave of my umbrella/baton and point to mitch.
'cadenza!' and mitch saws furiously on his fiddle. i cut him off after awhile and bring the orchestra back in, singing the coda,
'5-1…….5-1………..5-1-5-1-5-1-5-1-5-1….5….1…..5…..1 and a 1, and a 1……and….a….onnnnnnnnnnnnnne. one!' thank you mozart for showing us all how to wind up an audience at the end of a tune.
i turn to the street and bow. i turn to mitch and extend my arm. he bows. two people on the sidewalk across the street are applauding.
'thank you. thank you,' i say. 'we're here all week.'
'nice playing,' i say to mitch.
'people say the conductor is a figure head, a vassal with no real power. but a good conductor can really shape a performance if the orchestra is receptive to guidance.'
'yeah, man. totally. i'm meeting ben at 6.'
'nobody down there but the tuner.'
'oh, ok.' and then i say like the terminator, 'i'll be back.' and i walk away.
i go over to the 55 bar against my better judgement. last time i went to see brian mitchell there, some chick was at the door outside.
‘i’m dred. i play here with jay collins and frank sellman. i used to play with sweet georgia brown and the wollesens, too, back in the day.’
‘oh, nice to meet you dred. c’mon in.’
i almost said, ‘and what’s your name?’ but somehow didn’t. it bugs me when you introduce yourself to someone and they don’t tell you their name. i go in and kirby is at the door inside.
‘hey, dred. it’s 20 bucks.’
i was with a friend so i said, ‘how about i just pay for my friend?’
‘can’t. we’re charging the musicians these days.’
‘that’s like charging the bus driver to ride the fucking bus!’
‘i just work here,’ kirby says and shrugs.
‘fuck that,’ i said and left.
the 55 bar has not been the same since cueva took it over and turned if from a dive bar into a faux-dive bar. just after buying the bar, she hired some british makeover chick to refashion the place. the first time i played there after the big change (which so far had involved firing my favorite bartender, sheila and cleaning the mirror behind the bar) this woman jumped into my car after i had brought my keyboards into the club.
‘i’ll just ride with you while you find a park place.’ i look at her. she is severe looking but cute. i am attracted to her. she gets right down to business.
‘dred, as you may notice we’ve made some changes and we’re going to make more.’
‘i noticed you fired sheila.’
‘sheila was not going to conform to our way of doing things.’
‘oh? and what’s that?’
‘we want to make a place that’s brighter, cheerier - a place where women feel comfortable going.’
‘well, you might want to start by not having so many fusion guitar players. girls hate that shit.’
i see a spot halfway up the block of a one way street. there are no cars coming so i roll past the street and back up.
‘is this legal, what you’re doing?’
‘did cueva hire you to give me driving lessons, too?’
‘oh, no. just to straighten up the bar.’
she straightened things out all right. that was the last time i played there with my spooky funk band i named groovula, after dracula. maybe my support of sheila put me on the wrong side, a trouble maker, an insurgent. in the coming years, the 55 bar came to signify the number of times one needed to call to get cueva to call you back about a prospective date - 55 times. i finally gave up. and then she died. and then her son took over. he seems like a nice guy, but owning a bar does not seem to be his dream. he’s asked me to bring my band back in a couple of times but i don’t know. so far i haven’t taken him up on it. i still play there with jay and frank and it’s ok. the staff is all real nice. but i miss the cookies sheila would bring the musician’s every nite and the way cecil taylor would show up around 1 or 2 in the morning, holding court at the end of the bar till it got light out. most things once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. that’s all it is. i don’t hold much of a grudge because here i am, the only one in the place except kirby and a young kid setting up the drums. i am writing in my notebook and having a scotch. they are having a conversation about the current state of jazz. the kid says,
'yeah, man. i think jazz is going to make a comeback.'
'really?' kirby says.
'yeah. my generation is the most marketed to generation in history and we are fed up. we want something real. something we can touch. like an lp.'
'wow. that would be great.' i know kirby is a big music fan. i like him but he's acting kind of aloof toward me, probably remembering our last encounter. he shouts down from the other end of the bar,
'dred, you need another drink?'
'sure. why not?' and i go back to my notebook. when i look up, he is standing in front of me with my cocktail. i notice his gut and notice his t-shirt has some sort of family gathering commemorated on it. the kirby-somebody family reunion. i never knew 'kirby' was his last name. i ask him about it and he tells me a fascinating story of how his family came over as slaves and he can trace his ancestry back to the place in africa where his family came from, how they got here, where they went and what happened to them.
'yeah, we have to wear these shirts cause there's like 300 of us at these things.' he tells me.
'wow,' is all i can say. my mind is racing with all the stories of the lives lived out along his family tree. i don't feel like a spiritual person but hearing about kirby's family makes me feel there is some kind of imprint we make that if connected to other imprints makes a spiritual resonance of some kind that ripples through time. my phone vibrates and it's cha. he has arrived at small's. so i pay for my drinks leaving an extra big tip and thank kirby for sharing his family history with me.
'it's not as interesting when it's your family,' he jokes and we laugh.
'catch you later.'
inside small’s, erin is slicing lime’s and benny cha cha and jimmy katz are busy running mics around the stage.
'you want something, dred?' erin looks up from her cutting board, smiling.
'for you, i am.'
erin is a no-nonsense blonde, with a pony tail and a flannel shirt. she looks like somebody’s sister, wholesome and pretty. i have a drink and then realize it’s 7 and my girlfriend is off work.
'got to run, everybody. thanks.'
i say goodbye to mitch on the way out and walk over to sheridan square where the 1/9 is and take it up to times square.
my girlfriend works as a producer for the new newlywed game show and the office is at times square on 49th so we had agreed to meet at sofia’s in the edison hotel on 46th. she was house-sitting in hell’s kitchen and they have a t.v. so the plan was to meet for a couple of drinks and then go watch t.v.
we have a few instead. all the regulars are here - guy-who’s-always-here guy, the downtrodden, entertainment lawyer guy, the gay guy has a very gay white sweater with pastel stripes around the shoulders and nick the metal-head bartender is setting us all up. matt ray’s trio sounds great and one hour turns into three. when we leave, we are feeling pretty good.
we are walking up 8th avenue and the subject of cunnilingus comes up. my girlfriend thinks that while i am skilled in this particular love art, the frequency with which i go down on her could definitely increase.
'you should eat my pussy more,' was how she put it.
you know how when you pass someone on the street you sometimes hear little soundbites of their conversation? like one time i passed a guy talking on his cellphone,
'yeah, but you didn't tell me she was going to look like art garfunkel…..' was all i heard and he was gone. and another time right after i moved to new york i was walking by this guy talking in a phone booth and i heard him scream,
'i'll put his head under a fucking tire!!' i kept walking.
so this girl walking the other direction must’ve heard that one thing,
'you should eat my pussy more,' because she stops dead in her tracks and calls back to us,
'i love to eat pussy!'
we turn around to face her. she is short and brown. puerto rican. her bangs cover her eyebrows like a helmet. the rest of her hair is long and brown and straight down to the middle of her back. she has big, full lips and she’s smacking her gum and smiling a very toothy smile. she wears a tight t-shirt tucked into too tight jeans and i think she is probably a hooker.
'what's your name, honey?' my girlfriend asks.
she responds, ‘heyyy, i like your tattoos. got any more?’
my girlfriend has tattoos up an down both arms.
'yeah,' she says, 'a couple more on my back.'
'lemme see 'em,' the hooker says.
my girlfriend turns around and pulls down the top of her t-shirt revealing the paw pads tattooed on her back.
'oh my god, i don't believe it!!' and she has her hand over her mouth and is pointing at my girlfriend.
'WHAT??!!' we both say.
'i have a paw pad right here!'
and she unbuttons the top three buttons of her jeans and with some effort pulls one side down to the top of her thigh. and there it is, a single paw pad.
'wow.' we both say.
'what animal is that?' my girlfriend asks.
'i don't know. what's yours?'
'got any more?' i interrupt.
'no. but i got a nipple ring.' and she pulls her t-shirt up over her left tit revealing a torpedo shaped breast with a very large, oval-shaped areola and at the end, a stud in the nipple.
'you're coming with us,' my girlfriend says.
'ok,' she says, smiling. 'i just got to go down the street and pick up some more trees. i'm all out.'
'oh, we have weed,' i say. 'really good weed.'
'-and we'll pick up some beer,' my girlfriend interjects.
'nah. i don't smoke it. i just SELL it.'
'oh, that's good,' i say. 'never get high on your own supply.'
she doesn’t get it.
'you know….tony montana?'
'so how about i call you in a little while. where will you be?' she asks.
'we are staying around the corner on 54th,' my girlfriend says.
they exchange numbers. she splits. we go buy beer and go back to the apartment - a dingy, dark floor-thru filled with kitschy tchotkes - a lamp the base of which is the bust of elvis, a velvet elvis painting, little dr. evil and austin powers figurines, a spoon collection, more figurines of kiss, aunt jemima salt and pepper shakers, a naugahyde sofa and white shag carpeting. the back window is always open to accommodate a giant black cat who despite his massiveness can jump from the kitchen floor onto the top of the refrigerator where he likes to perch and take in the action, which at the moment consists of me trying to pick the right music - something a hooker might like. i suggest goldfrapp - kind of ambient, but there are beats.
'fuck that gay british crap,' my girlfriend says. 'put on some coltrane.'
'i think i have a love supreme in here,' i reply.
i shuffle through my ipod. hank jones, no. bobby timmons, no. schoenberg string quartets, no. high voltage, hmm, maybe later. there’s the coltrane…oh…
'how's bebel gilberto?'
'do you think you should call?' i ask.
'jesus. chill out, man. she'll call after she's made her delivery.'
and her phone lights up and rings.
'it's her!' she picks it up. 'hi! where are you?….outside?….we'll be right down.'
and i’m already out the door going down the short flight of steps to the building entrance. i slow my pace to a nonchalant saunter and enter the foyer. there she is, her back to me. i open the door and some guy is just getting a bag of weed from her.
'ok,' she says to him, 'see you later.' and she turns to face me. she does have a nice smile.
'hi,' i say. 'want to come in?'
i hold the door open for her and she walks in front of me up the steps. i can see the top of her thong sticking out of her jeans. she has a beautiful round ass and it’s right in my face.
'you have a nice ass,' i say.
'thanks,' giggling as she hops up the remaining few steps.
'do you guys live here?' she asks as we reach the doorway.
'no, we are house-sitting for a friend.' and my girlfriend opens the door.
'hi!' she says putting her arms around our guest. 'c'mon in. can i get you a beer?'
'i'd do a shot,' she answers.
'all we have is beer,' i say. 'but i could go get a bottle of something. what do you like?'
i grab the house keys off the counter.
'i'll be right back.'
my girlfriend follows me to the door and whispers to me,
'take your time.'
the door closes behind me and i take a moment. i can’t believe it. when i get back there are going to be two naked chicks getting it on in there. i fly down the the steps and out the door and i’m on the corner. the liquor store is just two blocks up 10th ave.
twice on the way there i force myself to walk slower. i’m a fast walker naturally, so i feel weird walking like i have no place to be and not a care in the world. i go into the liquor store and grab a fifth of powers from the shelf but put it back. i’d like to remember every detail of this so i instead select a pint of jameson’s. powers doesn’t make pints. as i’m waiting in line i notice the selection of mini’s. i always notice the selection of mini’s. it’s like trying to get out of a grocery store without going through a gauntlet of candy bars around the cash register. these guys have a standard collection - $2 bottles of sky and smirnoff, $2 bottles of old crow, some fruity shit and a few decent bottles of scotch. when it’s my turn, i ask for the johnny walker black mini figuring it’s the nicest one and i’m celebrating. bukowski said it best,
'when something good happens, i drink to celebrate. when something bad happens, i drink to forget. and when nothing's happening, i drink to make something happen.'
the clerk puts the pint in the bag and i take the mini from him and put it in my pocket. i go out onto the sidewalk and pause a second. i may need a couple of hundred bucks depending on what’s going down or about to go down back there. i don’t think the hooker is that hot but i’ll probably be into fucking her once we’re all naked. $300 should do it. i see a chase a couple of blocks up and i am again glad i switched banks to one with a lot of atm machines. i hate paying that convenience surcharge when i can’t find my bank. almost as much as i hate calling the bank every time i leave town to let them know i’m going to be spending my money across state lines so they don’t freeze my bank card for my security.
i’m walking back to the apartment and up ahead in the next block i notice a commotion in the middle of the street. there is a lot of honking and the cars all seem to be avoiding a spot in the center of the street. like con edison has a manhole cover open and is redirecting traffic to either side - the mass of headlights coming up 10th ave together, dividing and then coming back together again. but the honking….what the-?
as i get to the center of the block i see i am now keeping pace with a woman pushing a shopping cart in the middle lane against traffic. she doesn’t look that crazy - except she’s wearing a house coat and a pair of slippers. she acts like this is the most normal thing in the world - just taking a little shortcut home from the grocery store. down the middle of 10th ave….against traffic. but i guess that’s what crazy is - when crazy seems normal to you. i think maybe i should do something to help her before she gets run over, but she seems to be doing all right. anyway, i’ve got to get back to the apartment. no telling what’s going on by now and i don’t want to miss too much.
i arrive at the corner of 54th and wait for the light to change. the woman with the shopping cart continues down 10th ave out of sight. i pull the scotch mini out of my pocket, down it in one gulp, close my eyes and savor the burn and toss the empty into an overflowing garbage can where it bounces off the top and into the street. i can’t stand littering and it pisses me off when i see other people do it. my nephew who is somewhat new to new york city swears he is going to fight the next person he sees throw something on the ground or on the floor of a subway car, but 10 years here have left me jaded in this regard. people are ignorant and i’ll never change that. still, i look around to see if anyone saw me. nobody cares.
i cross the street and go up 54th st. a few doors to the building entrance. there is a squinty, little dude with his shoulders hunched up nervously waiting outside the door. he’s shifting his weight from side to side like he has to pee, but i suspect he is jonesing. or just underdressed for the chilly weather. ‘the clevelander’ is what my mom calls it - when someone walks down the street, their hands stuffed in their pockets and their shoulders hunched up against the wind.
'don't be a clevelander!' she would tell us. ‘put on a coat.’
i put the key in the door and the guy tries to follow me in.
'where you going?' i demand, stopping and blocking him from getting through the door.
'oh…uh. i locked myself out.'
'really. what's your apartment number?'
'uh…..4.' and he looks at the mailboxes and sees it's one of those buildings that has 'front' or 'rear' attached to each number. i follow his gaze.
'4 R!' he exclaims, smiling.
'nice try.' and i push the door hard and it slams loudly and we are face to face through the glass. i get a real good look at him.
'say something now, you dumb prick,' i think, but he doesn't say anything. he knows i've made him and he backs up, turns away and shuffles off down the street.
i bound up the little staircase recalling the hooker’s ass in my face and smiling to myself, put the key in the door to the apartment. i don’t go in, deciding instead to put my ear against the door. i hear nothing. maybe they are in the back bedroom. i turn the key and push the door open. it hits something and i can’t open it all the way. something is blocking it. i poke my head in and can’t believe my eyes. i see the hooker face down on the floor, her matted and bloody hair covering her face, the elvis lamp busted all around her head. i push the door open and realize it is her legs blocking the door so i give the door a good shove and she groans. my girlfriend steps over her and brings her knee down hard on the middle of the hookers upper back.
'shut up, bitch!' and the girl loses consciousness.
i enter the room and close the door, surveying the scene. the room is trashed. the shelving with all the tchotchkes has been ripped off the wall. austin powers is in the cat dish and dr. evil’s head is in an ashtray that was knocked off the counter, spilling cigarette butts everywhere but somehow landing upright on the floor next to the hooker’s arm which is bent in an unnatural looking way. the white shag rug is spotted with blood and there is glass all over the floor from the shattered t.v. i look up at the cat who is on top of the refrigerator nonchalantly cleaning himself and look back at my girlfriend sitting in her bra and panties on the naugahyde couch, smoking a cigarette.
'what the hell happened?' i ask. noticing my girlfriend has a bloody dishtowel wrapped around her bicep.
'are you o.k.?'
'fucking bitch tried to buzz her pimp in and when i tried to stop her she pulled a knife on me.'
i notice the knife on the couch; a very girly looking stiletto with a two inch blade and a pearly handle.
'she fucking cut me, but i took care of her.'
'let me see that,' i say walking over to her. but she's on her feet moving toward the hooker. she pushes me aside and stands over her.
'BITCH!!' slamming her heel down on the side of the girl's face.
'you better put some shoe's on. you're feet are getting all cut up,' i suggest.
'get her clothes on,' my girlfriend orders and disappears to the back of the apartment. i look around. i don't see any clothes. just a big fucking mess. something hits me and wraps around my head. jeans and a t-shirt.
'here they are,' my girlfriend says. 'if she wakes up, punch her in the face.'
i turn her over. what face? she’s just a bloody mess. her right cheekbone is crushed and her eyelids are fluttering.
'man, you really fucked her up,' i say.
my girlfriend can’t hear me. she’s in the bathroom and i hear water running. probably cleaning that cut. i get the hooker’s shirt over her head and with some difficulty get her twisted arms through the sleeves. she’s not coming around. i get both her legs into her jeans but there’s no way i’m going to be able to pull them up myself.
'hey. i need a hand here.'
my girlfriend comes out of the bathroom. she has a proper looking bandage around her arm. there is some blood forming on the outside of the bandage and she has some nicks on the backs of her hands, but she doesn’t look too bad considering.
'yeah. i don't think i'm gong to need stitches. pick her up.'
i comply, getting my arms under her armpits and pulling her to her feet. my girlfriend reaches down around the hooker’s ankles and pulls up her jeans to just below her panty line.
'jesus, these fuckers are tight!' and she pulls them up one side at a time while standing on the hooker's feet. she can't get them buttoned.
'fuck it. find her coat. i think it's in the bedroom.'
i go into the bedroom and see the coat on a chair. i pick it up and go through the pockets - four little sacks of weed, a lighter, a phone. i put them in my pocket. free weed. cool. come to think of it, i could use a bonghit. i see the bong on the night stand. i sit on the bed, take the weed out of my pocket, pinch a little hit and put it in the bowl. i pull out the lighter and pause to examine it. a nice zippo, it is engraved on one side, ‘lizzington.’ i flip it open and light the bong. exhaling i notice the weed in not that good, but under the circumstances, i can’t complain.
'what the fuck are you doing??!' i hear from the other room.
'coming.' i pick up the jacket and walk back into the living room.
'here you go.'
'get it on her. we have to dump her and get out of here. i'll come back later this week and clean up.' she goes over to the cat dish, extracts austin powers and tosses him in the sink. 'i'll just fill up the cat bowl and he'll be fine.'
'i think i ran into the pimp outside the building,' i say.
'really? that's why we should get out of here.'
'he took off. he's a little dude. he won't be any trouble.' i'm acting tough.
'unless he went for help…….or his gun,' my girlfriend says.
'yeah, maybe we should get out of here,' i suggest.
my girlfriend looks at me. ‘i just said that,’ her eyes say.
we get the jacket on her. she’s not waking up.
'i think she might really be hurt,' i say.
'like i give a fuck,' and i think my girlfriend's going to hit her again but she doesn't. 'we'll drag her across the street into that playground and go back to your place.’
'cool,' i say.
'i'll go outside and make sure noone's coming.'
i sit down on the couch next to the hooker. her head is lolled to one side like a puerto rican pieta. my girlfriend bursts through the door.
'i think we can do this. pick her up.'
she’s light. small. we’re about to go through the door into the hallway when my
'wait!' and goes back in, grabbing the hooker's purse and snatching the pint of jameson's still in the paper bag off the counter. good idea. i could use a drink.
i pause in the vestibule. the hooker should be heavier. my lower back should be protesting. but i am probably pumped with adrenaline.
'wait here.' and my girlfriend goes out on the sidewalk, scanning the block.
'it's cool. let's go.'
we run across the street to the little park and unbelievably the gate is not locked.
'put her on that bench over there.'
i bend over and gently lay her down. my girlfriend takes the jameson out of the bag and opens it up, taking a swig. she hands it to me and i take a good pull off it.
'don't drink it all!'
like i could. my eyes are watering from the hit i just took as she grabs it back from me and pours the rest of it all over the hooker.
'what are you going to light her on fire now?'
'no. when the cop's find her, they'll just think she got wasted and got into trouble.'
'have you done this before?'
i don’t ask what that means. we stand there for a second looking at her. i don’t know why.
'let's get out of here,' my girlfriend says.
we walk up 54th towards times square going through the hooker’s purse. more sacks of weed, eye liner, lip gloss, a small vile of white powder that i sprinkle onto my fingernail and taste - meth - no thanks. we toss these things one by one under parked cars and i don’t think about littering. except the weed. i put the weed in my pocket. the last thing we pull out is a bill fold. we take out the cash and my girlfriend pockets it. hell, she earned it. we are about to toss the billfold but i say,
'lemme see her i.d.'
it reads ‘elizabeth maria ocasio.’ we toss the rest into a garbage can that is not overflowing and i think i might keep the i.d. for a souvenir but replay a dozen law and order episodes at once in my head and think better of it. i flip it into the street like a playing card and it makes it all the way across 7th ave before disappearing in a graceful arc down a sewer grate.
'let's take a cab back to your place. my treat.' my girlfriend smiles that smile i like. the one where i know i'm about to get laid.
we make out all the way back to brooklyn and my girlfriend wants to blow me in the cab but i put her off till we get back to my place. i don’t know why. i’ve let her blow me in cabs before. i guess i’m a little distracted. i can’t stop thinking about that poor hooker thinking she could take us like a couple of tourists and then getting a stone cold beat-down. i guess it serves her right. we get to my place and have crazy sex all over my apartment and finally pass out. i am exhausted. it’s been quite an evening.