Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nature Boy, Chapter Thirteen: Spangly Remnants

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Spangly Remnants

He wakes to an iron railing, to pedestrians in the sky, to Delilah’s voice.

“…me this, Jerry. Do you have the social networking lined up? Tell me you have the social networking lined up. Do not make me one of those people who goes around stating the obvious. You checked out the targeting, right? You have a killer niche, Jer, but you have to hit it hard or it’s nothing.”

Skye swings his legs off the couch and finds a tall woman in blue jeans, a teal blouse and long black hair.

“Okay. Call me tomorrow and we’ll run your honey-do list. I need my daily dose of kicking your rear-end around the block. Thanks, sweetie. Ciao!”

The woman with the black hair slides her phone onto a table, sees her guest and smiles.

“Well! It’s my morning Skye. Sorry about the sidewalk view. That’s the price for a basement apartment. If you are still on the program, I will need you clean and pretty in half an hour.”

Skye creaks to his feet, fighting the vertigo, and wanders into a tiny bathroom. Once the shower has activated his cerebellum, he slides the tiny window and sees a street sign that says Christopher, which sounds like the Village.

At a time approaching noon, they hop the 1 line to Columbus Circle, promenade along Central Park South, turn right on Fifth Avenue and loop around to the Museum of Modern Art. Delilah takes him to the entrance.

“Delilah!” says the guard. “Come on in.”

“Are you Holly Golightly?” asks Skye. “Are you Auntie Mame?”

“I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

They stop in front of a Klee drawing. Delilah taps a finger against her nose.

“I’m going for best effect.” She takes his hand and walks him along the hall. “I want you to amuse yourself with the exhibits until one-thirty, at which time you will go through that tangerine door, find the third room on the right and enter very quietly. Got it?”


She musses his hair. “Such a good boy.” She gives him a kiss and leaves him with the enviable task of watching her walk away.

An hour at MOMA is eminently killable. Skye follows a thousand Haring figures to the third floor, where he finds himself surrounded by the gargantuan canvas of Monet’s Lilies. Soon thereafter, he skids to a halt at Picasso’s Damoiselles d’Avignon. The next room offers one of Duchamp’s fountains (which seem to be at every museum in the world) and a Chagall, a breathtaking portrait of two lovers checkerboarded in yellow and blue.

He keeps making discoveries until he spots 1:32 on his cell phone and dashes downstairs. When he slips into door number three, he finds an airy, brightly lit studio and a circle of painters, hemming and hawing at their easels. Delilah kneels naked on a cushioned platform, reaching back to hold an ankle in each hand. She gives Skye a hint of a smile.

Somehow they are in the Rainbow Room, finishing their BLTs. Dark-haired Delilah chews her last bite and reapplies her lipstick, very much like a woman who’s about to leave.

“I know I promised to lead you around by the nose, but could you get lost for a couple hours?”

“May I say something first?”

She considers the question and nods.

“You have a magnificent body.”

She smiles, but not deeply. “It was a gift from my parents.”

“But I don’t mean as just an object. It’s the way you carry yourself. I have yet to see you make an ungraceful move.”

Now he gets the real smile. “Damn you, you’re being original.”

“I apologize. And yes, I will get lost. In fact, that’s the reason I came to Manhattan.”

“Thank you. My next venture happens to be my day job, so I need to be serious.”

“What about that conversation this morning?”

“With Jerry?”

“Sounded like a day job.”

“No. In a previous life, I got a business degree. I still have some associates who like to use me as a sounding board.”

She folds her hands together. “Gotta go. You – wander. I will text you with instructions.”

He buys a bag of hot cashews from a street vendor and strolls toward Fifth Avenue. He’s enjoying a paint-bucket drum crew in front of the Plaza Hotel when he spots F.A.O. Schwartz. The greeter is a twenty-foot-tall robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex with steam coming out of his nostrils. After wearing himself out with a virtual Frisbee game, Skye relaxes on a bench bordering the park. He’s checking his Facebook page, replete with messages regarding his disappearance, when a text buzzes in.

I am back on the road. Molly insists that I leave her and infest the eastern U.S. with my shitty music.

Skye texts back: You have found yourself an angel.

He checks Peter’s website to see where he’ll be in three weeks. Another text rolls in.

Radio City Music Hall. 7 p.m. Ticket in your name at will call. Meet me after at entrance.

He has exactly ten minutes. He power-walks around the corner, nabs his ticket and lands in the third row precisely at curtain. The orchestra begins with a sultry reading of “Summertime” that kicks into “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” There’s always a strange sameness to the dancers – tied-back hair, pseudo-military outfits – but judging by height and leg-length, he’s fairly certain that Delilah is the third Rockette from the right.

It’s a brief show. Skye heads out to 51st. He imagines he’ll have to wait for a while, but then he gets a text: Get a cab. Now!

He executes a fair impression of an actual New Yorker, and quickly lands a taxi. He’s instructing the cabbie to charge him for the wait when Delilah comes flying out of the entrance. She whips off her overcoat and slides in.

“Lincoln Center, the opera house, back entrance on Amsterdam. Thanks.”

“You’re still a Rockette,” says Skye. The cabbie pulls into traffic.

“Not for long.” She unzips the side of her skirt and pushes it down her legs.

“Hey,” says the cabbie with a Pakistani accent. “What is going on back there?”

Delilah responds in a voice full of Brooklyn. “You’re complaining about a woman taking off her clothes? Seriously?”

The cab driver smiles. “You make an excellent point. But no hanky-panky!”

“Haven’t got time.” She rolls down her panty hose. “Skye, be a dear and hold my coat over my coochie. Wouldn’t want our driver to lose his license.”

Skye follows his orders. “I get the feeling this is some sick boyhood fantasy come to life.”

“Well, if you’d like some more, unzip me in the back.”

He does, and she whips off her top, revealing small breasts spiced with nutmeg freckles. The cabbie laughs and turns right onto Tenth.

“Hey, watch the road!”

“So sorry.”

Delilah brings her coat up to her neck like a blanket, then pulls Skye’s hand underneath to a nipple. He gets the idea and gives it a roll.

“Ooh!” She takes his hand back and gives it a kiss. “More later. I promise. I knew I was crazy to try this – but then, I think you’ve figured out I’m crazy.”

“So far.”

They pull into a loading zone behind the opera house. Delilah wraps herself in her coat and hands him a plastic bag from Sak’s Fifth Avenue.

“Please gather my Rockette clothes, pay the cabbie and I’m sorry I have no time.”

She kisses him and trots off to a backstage door. Skye gathers Delilah’s spangly remnants and pays the cabbie, including a healthy tip for his troubles.

“Thank you! You are a lucky man, sir!”

“Thanks.” He stands on the wide walk to gather his breath. A minute later, he realizes he will have to find some way inside if he wants to know the end of the story. He skirts the southern wall of the opera house, comes out onto the grand plaza and heads for the box office.

“Hi. I need to get in.”

The clerk, a weary-looking woman with white hair and spectacles, gives him a discerning look. “You realize that I will have to charge you full price.”


She gives him a slow blink and scans her monitor. “I can give you standing room, or… we also have a lower balcony cancellation.”

“How much for the balcony?”

“Three hundred.” She expects a reaction; he gives her his card. She swipes it through and hands him his ticket.

“Do hurry, sir. Second level, go left off the staircase, all the way to the end.”


The intermission crowd is nearly gone. He jogs the grand staircase and heads up the left hallway. They’re just about to close the doors when he dances through and shows the usher his ticket. His is the last seat in the front row. He is dangling over the lip of the stage, with a bird’s-eye view of the string section. The conductor strolls out to accept his applause, and Skye turns to the elderly woman in the next seat.

“I’m sorry. Could you tell me which opera this is?”

The woman gives him a look halfway between offense and laughter, but decides to simply show him her program: Aida.


The music is huge, dazzling, a bed of magic, but he’s too distracted to truly enjoy it. A couple of small scenes are followed by a grand processional for the returning general, Radames. The parade is enormous, with all the trimmings of a circus: jugglers, gymnasts, trumpeters, stilt-walkers. He expects to see Delilah among the dancers, but he can’t seem to find her. The procession ends with an elephant led onstage by a quartet of burly men. Straddling the elephant’s back is a woman with caramel skin. Her legs are covered by diaphanous veils draped from a spangled belt. Her breasts are covered by nothing. She holds her free hand above her head, waving it back and forth like a palm in a slow breeze, and she wears a Broadway smile.

He meets her at the fountain. She’s clad in a white pantsuit, made from light material that settles around her body as she moves. She greets him with a kiss, very pleased at her little stunt.

“You keep extra clothing backstage at the Met.”

“Ha! No. A lovely gay wardrobe assistant rousted this up for me.”

“So part of the naked arrival was so they could body-spray you?”

She smiles. “Not just nude – efficiently nude! Are you hungry?”

“God yes.”

“Splendid! We’ve been invited to a soiree.”

They stand to go. Skye looks back at the water.

“You know, I almost proposed to someone at that fountain.”


“Perhaps if I had, she would have said yes.”

Delilah takes his hand. “Perhaps that’s why you didn’t.”

“Good point.”

They cross Ninth and Broadway, and proceed east on 64th. They pass an awning that says O’Neal’s and take an elevator to the fourth floor. The door to the party is open; Delilah takes him into a high-ceilinged living room centered on a large stone fireplace and a grand piano. The room has a human center, as well: an elegant middle-aged blonde commanding a ring of admirers. She stands in the crook of the piano, exactly where a singer would stand during a recital, wearing a pair of bronze corduroy pants and a white cardigan that falls to the floor. She spots Delilah and gives her a charmed smile, her eyes flashing a remarkable green.

“Elephant girl! I have no idea how you do what you do.”

“It’s a hell of a lot easier than what you do! Allow me to introduce Skye Pelter. Skye, this is the whitest Aida I know…”

“Maddalena Hart.” He takes her hand. “Your Song to the Moon makes me weep. And I’m not even Czech.”

“Thank you,” she replies. “It’s a good thing that song is so difficult. Otherwise I might get tired of it.”

“Maybe that’s true of things that we love.”

Maddalena gives him an offstage smile. He has broken through to the second level.

“Didn’t realize you were dating poets, Delilah.”

Delilah takes his elbow. “You can’t have him.”

Maddalena releases a taffeta laugh that fills the room. “That’s all right. I’ve got one of my own.”

A trio of newcomers approaches, and Maddalena shifts her focus. Delilah takes Skye to the kitchen, where they find a table covered in sandwich makings. She slaps together a pair of turkey-provolones and hands one to Skye. He is grateful that a diva would serve real food. They hide at a small table in the corner and eat in silence. At their very last bites, they’re joined by Betany, a bright-faced mezzo.

“What does it feel like, having all that power beneath you?”

Delilah gives Skye an appraising look. “I haven’t really found that out yet.”

“Delilah!” Betany scolds.

They’re joined by a man in a leather jacket. He has soulful blue eyes and patches of gray at his sideburns.

“I hate to break up the Benny Hill skit, but I heard we had a cigar smoker in our midst.”

“That would be me,” says Skye.

Delilah jumps in. “Skye, this is Mickey. Go smoke with him while we talk about you.”

“Yes, ma’am!”

He leads him through a sliding glass door to a rooftop garden, lined with tall cypresses along the railing. To the left lies a vast darkness that can only be Central Park.

“Maddie likes to compare this with the garden scene in Figaro. I don’t recall that one having pigeons.”

He pulls two dark wands from his jacket and clips their ends into a rosebush.

“Excellent fertilizer. That’s a thing I like about stogies. You are smoking a leaf – no plastic, nothing artificial. These are maduros. Do you like maduros?”

“Good, but strong,” says Skye. “If I start to feel dizzy, I may have to quit mid-cigar.”

“No problem.” He fires up what looks like a tiny propane torch and lights Skye’s cigar, then sparks up his own and sends a stream of smoke toward Times Square.

“So I hear you’re a journalist. I did a little of that myself, before I became a professional husband.”

“What’s it like being married to a diva?”

“I am always in a bit of a shadow, and that’s exactly how I like it. It’s one hell of a ride, but I imagine men with larger egos couldn’t handle it. Sort of an extended version of your situation.”

Skye chuckles. “I haven’t had five minutes to consider my situation. Not that I’m complaining.”

Mickey leans on the railing to look out over the street. “Delilah is a marvelous creation. I love her passion, her daring, and she is never, ever boring. However. You strike me as a balanced soul, and I think you’ll know when it’s time to get off the carousel. Perhaps when you start to get dizzy.”

Skye eyes his cigar. “I’ve never smoked an analogy before.”

“Did you read the label?”

He angles it toward the light. “La Traviata.”

“The Fallen Woman.”

“Delilah wouldn’t like that. She’s afraid of heights.”

“No shit!” Mickey looks inside, where his wife has joined Betany and Delilah. Maddalena laughs and holds her ribcage, as if she is literally trying to prevent her sides from bursting.

“Do you know that my wife’s actual job title is ‘drama queen’?”

Skye laughs. “I know a girl from Utah who does that for free.”

Mickey’s gaze is stuck on his wife. Skye indulges his friend’s distant worship by focusing on his Traviata, which possesses a lovely caramel edge. Looking away from the park, he realizes that he can see the most leftward arch of Lincoln Center.

“So what’s the next item on our agenda?”

Mickey tips his ash into a brightly painted vase. “Oh no. Half the fun of being a hostage to Delilah is the surprise. But I will give you a hint. If that cigar is a Traviata, our next stop is Bohème.”

At some magical tick of the clock, the remaining six members of the party begin to pull on their jackets. Delilah seems to have found a fur coat of some silver-pelted creature. They pile into the elevator and watch as Mickey inserts a key into the control panel.

“It’s just like Willie Wonka,” he says. “Only we’re not going through the roof.”

They descend for quite a while. Delilah titters with nervous energy. The door opens, and they exit into a garage containing a black limousine.

“It’s a 1940 Cadillac,” says Mickey. “Used to belong to the owner of O’Neal’s Bar. When the bar went belly-up, we bought the limo and the parking space.”

“It’s great for shuttling guests around the city,” adds Maddie.

Diva and husband take the front seats as their guests pile in behind. The back area offers facing bench seats as big as living room couches, the interior panels done up in perfect white upholstery.

Mickey works the motor to a baritone rumble and looks back. “Everybody in?”

“All set!” calls Delilah.

“Okay. Don’t be alarmed.” He presses a remote, causing two things to rise: the platform beneath the limo, and the wall behind them.

“It’s the Batmobile!” says Skye.

Maddie smiles into the rear-view. “We don’t generally try this at peak hours. The limo drivers of Manhattan should all get medals.”

Mickey backs the limo along an alley all the way onto 65th. He heads for the park, takes two orbits of Columbus Circle before settling on Broadway, and soon they’re pulling into Times Square. Delilah and Betany stick their heads out the moonroof, and Betany decides it would be an excellent idea to sing the Habañera in the voice of Ethel Merman. A pothole sends them tumbling back in, each woman landing in the lap of the other woman’s date.

“What the hell is going on back there?” roars Mickey.

Mickey takes a right on 42nd, tools around the block and ends up at the Barrymore Theater on 47th.  Maddie skips along the running board into the embrace of a beautiful Asian woman.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Suzy Nguyen the Vietnamese princess, and she has agreed to be our coyote.”

“Okay, you troublemakers,” says Suzy. “You will follow me and you will behave yourselves, or I will force you to see ‘Cats.’”

Betany’s husband, Joseph, delivers a not-so-secret whisper to the others: “It’s like she knows us!”

Suzy takes them into a hall that runs the left side of the theater, then downward into a backstage room with racks of wardrobe. She splits a pair of British redcoats to reveal a narrow door.

“Okay. Be very careful. These steps are old and eccentric, and the lighting is not good.”

The steps are concrete, but look like they were erected by trolls. They run beside a concrete wall, edge to the left along some ancient brickwork, then take another left into open space. The last flight offers a rail, fashioned from pipes, but the way is lit only by a dim yellow bulb in a wire cage.

Maddie tries out a Dickensian cockney: “Is this where the Phantom of the Opera lives?”

“Yes,” says Suzy. “And he eats sopranos for breakfast!” She aims her cell phone toward the darkness. “Oh God, I hate this part.”

Suzy disappears through some kind of portal. The sound of a pulled chain brings a flood of light. The visitors pass through, one by one, to discover a room fifteen feet by ten. The walls are smooth concrete, painted a glossy white and covered by dense graffiti. A large black pipe runs along the ceiling. Maddie’s the first to give the graffiti a closer look.


“Yes!” says Suzy. “But please don’t look at them yet. First, I want you to know where we are. It’s called Pandora’s Box, and in the mysterious subterranean infrastructure of Manhattan, we don’t really know its original purpose. Subway storage? Power station? Jail cell? Whatever it was, it was adopted by the performers as a retreat, makeout spot and, most importantly, a sacred location for opening nights, closing nights, weddings, wakes and retirement parties. It became customary for star performers to autograph the walls. I now release you to play treasure hunt.”

The guests scramble to different sections, chattering and yelling out discoveries.

“Patti Lupone!” calls Delilah.

“Alec Baldwin?” asks Betany.

“Streetcar Named Desire,” answers Suzy. “In the nineties.”

“Arthur fucking Miller!” sings Maddie.

“Michael Crawford!” says Mickey.

“Jerome Robbins!” says Joe.

Skye stands in a corner, frozen. Delilah comes up to his shoulder.

“What’s the matter?”

“I just… Holy shit.”

“Well you’ve got to say it.”

Skye takes a deep breath and rumbles like a ring announcer. “Richaaarrd! Rodgerrrrs!” The rest of the group gathers around him like chickens after seed.

“Children!” says Suzy. “Settle down. If you settle down, I will show you two that you missed.”

They sit on a low bench of concrete along the right-hand wall. Suzy pulls a plastic crate from the corner and stands on it.

“Right here, next to our lovely black pipe, you will see the shy, unassuming signature of one Katharine Hepburn.”

“Ooh!” says Maddie. She turns to conduct the rest of them. “Ooooh!”

“What a bunch of hams,” says Suzy. “The next one is even sneakier.” She pulls aside a thin metal plate screwed to the ceiling, revealing a signature in bold, looping cursive. “That is our namesake, Ethel Barrymore.”

“Aah!” says Maddie, and the rest say, “Aaaah!”

Suzy returns to the ground and folds her fingers. “Now’s when I get my revenge on you jokers. For it is written, that all first-time visitors to Pandora’s Box shall present a brief performance in a genre that is not their specialty. The order of performance generally goes from oldest to youngest, so…”

Maddie jumps to her feet. “I am the queen cougar! Also, I came prepared.” She pulls a piece of paper from her coat. “My husband is a poet, and I can only hope that some of his talent has rubbed off on me.” She reads in a half-song, giving the words a precise attention and diction.

How to Sing

Catch the vowel, plastic wonder.
Extend. Spin to the realm of
vibration, incarnation of breath,
trick of tone

Pop the consonant, Shakespearean
neutral, crack another egg,
open to the lips, toothcarve,
tongueshift, ceramic wind,
sonic floret, bouquet, filigree

Puzzle the syllables into streams,
meander, slice the clock into
boxes, lay them inside.
Push the edges. Swing.
Sustain. Work the quiet.
Erupt. Goof around.

Reasons we do it:
erectus matesigh,
a shout carried long,
a sob lifted.
It seems to make us
human, takes the prison of
self and flares it
across the landscape.

It’s possible to connect the
song to a thing we miscall
the heart, but you need to
close your eyes and
briefly give up your life.

Have a drink. Have two.
Fill your lungs with sky.
Draw the spectrum across your
larynx; you are a stringed
instrument, gorged with overtone,
rimmed with bellstrike, a
cellular call to the
oscillating world.

One day, when the green flash
gives way to a blue moon,
you may find that the
song is singing you.
You may then call yourself
a singer.

After a round of glowing adjectives, Mickey stands and clears his throat.

“I give you the natural rebuttal: the singer writes, the opera critic sings. Or at least tries to.”

Mickey lifts his eyes to the heavens and releases a workable baritone – a nervous flutter here and there, but otherwise resonant and vested with feeling. The piece sounds like an Italian folk song, adorned with balletic leaps. Skye catches the word “donne,” the word “cor,” which he takes for “women” and “heart.” He finishes a second verse and closes with a smile, but abruptly cuts off his applause.

“No! This is your chance to boo an opera critic. I insist that you boo me.”

He is greeted with a veritable windstorm, which fades off just as Maddie shouts, “You suck!”

She pats him on the shoulder. “Nothing personal, honey.”

Mickey winds up his voice like a game show host: “And now for the melody we go to our trombone player!”

He points to Delilah, already bouncing in her seat. “Oh! Oh! Gershwin! Um… ‘But Not For Me.’”

“Yes! And the lyrics? Joseph?”

Joseph touches his fingers to his thumb, like someone doing figures in his head.

“The health of your marriage could depend on it,” says Mickey.

Joseph mutters a line of Italian and says, “Cherubino! Marriage of Figaro.”

“Yes! ‘Voi che sapete.’ An aria that your wife sang last night, I might add.”

Betany gives Joseph a kiss on the cheek and he pantomimes great relief.

Suzy looks around. “I’m guessing… Skye?”

“I should hope so,” says Delilah.

Skye stands. “Do we have any rocks? I need three rocks.”

“What size?” asks Suzy.

“Doughnut hole? Tangerine?”

She goes to a corner of the room where the concrete gives way to a strip of gravel and returns with several candidates.

“Thank you,” says Skye. He narrows it down to a trio and works them into a standard juggling pattern.

“Well!” says Maddie.

“This is what you learn when you’re second string on the baseball team.” He works the pattern to the outside, then flips one high, almost to the ceiling, creating a delicious pause as it comes back down. Betany and Maddie begin scatting some kind of circus song as he works the circle into intentional chaos, every pass a near-disaster.

“And now,” he says, “the big finish!” He swings his right arm behind his back, flips a rock over his left shoulder and fetches it back into the flow. This brings shouts. He calls “Two!” flips a rock behind his back, then another, and keeps the circle going. More shouts. “Three!” He flips one, then two, then misses the third as all three clank to the floor.

He raises his hands as if to say “Ta-da!” and accepts a mixture of laughter and bravos.

Delilah stands and pulls a piece of paper from her jacket. “I keep this on hand just in case a poetry slam breaks out.”

The difference in style from Maddie is not surprising: smaller, her voice fringed with quiet emotion.


Hector stands on the water,
thinking of Carmella,
who never quite came back.

She could pick a strawberry like
Segovia fixing harmonics.
She loved him, but only once.

He arrives at the pier,
ties his board to a piling and
climbs to his favorite table.

Carmella brings him a smile in
the shape of a rhombus,
a chowder that verges on majesty.

She says, Ask the question.
He says, Ever?
She says, No. Never.

Hector thinks back a tear.
Why do you do this?

She sets her hands on
his java shoulders.

On a night when the
moon was one-third gone,
three men took my youth.
My only sweetness is
telling you no.

He traces the outline of her
blood-red lips. In that case,
I will take the chowder.

The rhombus widens out to
one third of a moon.

A pelican bombs the harbor,
comes up empty.                                                                   
Hector says,                                                                           
Yes, it’s like that.

Maddie holds a hand to her heart. “Oh, Dee! Heartbreaking. Beautiful.”

Delilah mouths a “thank you” and takes Skye’s hand. A tear tracks her cheek.

Suzy waits an appropriate pair of beats and says, “Youngsters?”

“Can we do ours together?” asks Betany.

“Certainly,” says Suzy.

She and Joseph perform a tango that they learned for their wedding. The space is problematic, maintaining the requisite intense expressions nigh-on impossible, but all in all it’s an excellent finale. The non-dancing four contribute a hummed melody that turns out to be Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

“You have passed the test,” declares Suzy, “and are all honorary Pandorans. Now get the hell out of here!”

They stumble out, drunk with history, and exchange farewells at Mickey’s batcave. Skye finds himself at Delilah’s apartment at the moderate hour of three a.m. He returns from the bathroom to find her naked on the bed. She extends one leg in a ballet pointe.

“Woman, you are always naked!”

“Yes, but this time you get to play with the goods.”

Skye hurls all his clothing aside. Delilah smiles and hands him a bottle of lotion.

“Why don’t you begin at my feet?”

“Yes ma’am!”

At five a.m., he is two inches into dreamland but still talking.

“That poem. Devastating.”

She runs a finger along his ear. “Don’t put too much into it.”

“But… crying.”

She kisses her finger and taps it to his lips.

“That’s because I felt it.”

“Still…” And that’s all he has left.

At eight o’clock, he hears clicks and scrapes, followed by a hair dryer. He starts to get up but Delilah puts a hand to his shoulder. She’s dressed in a royal blue business suit.

“Don’t worry. Sleep in.”

He rubs an eye. “What are we doing?”

“Not we. Me. I’m dying.”

“You are?”

“I’m shooting one of those forensic-detective TV shows.”

“Wow! What’s the role?”

She snickers. “For about thirty seconds, I’m a stripper. After that, I’m a corpse.”


“No! It’s actually pretty cool. They made a life-cast of my body and added about thirty stab wounds. Anyways, I’ll…”

She trails off, gazing out the window, and kneels next to the bed.

“Remember when I asked if you could let someone else drive?”


“This is where you get off.”

He stares.

“I’m sorry, honey. My life doesn’t have much room. You had a good time, right?”


She rolls a hand over his hair and kisses him. “I’ll be gone till late, but sometime today, please leave. And… thank you.”

She stands, walks to the door and passes through. The lock clicks. He has known her for thirty-three hours. He lies back against his pillow, but he doubts very much if he’s going to sleep.

Photo by MJV

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