winter, 1975; excerpt from something bigger

Bob P. owned the apartment building I moved into, an okay landlord as they go. Second floor on the left, two rooms and a tiny kitchen. There were four of us living there. Me, my boyfriend Danny, Jim the Greek and his girlfriend who renamed herself “Free” after escaping a violent relationship. She was Hispanic, from one of the tougher neighborhoods in NYC. Free had a daughter in someone else’s custody, with whom she hoped one day to be reunited. Jim was a smart and literary alcoholic, who seemed to have come from a background that allowed him an education. He read poetry, plays, and classics, and was funny as hell. Too bad about the alcoholism; he might have been my favorite professor of English Lit, Contemporary Poetry, or Greek Theater. Jim later was shot in the stomach and spent a long time in hospital. Lived though. Not like some of us. He wore professorial specs and a Sundance Kid mustache, and baked amazing bread in that kitchen barely big enough to boil water.

The way we lived was spare. Clothes to get through the week, a pair of shoes, maybe two, and a few of our favorite books and records. No need for furniture. A mattress on the floor was plenty. No table, no chairs, we sat on the floor and read The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus aloud, each taking a part or two. I remember a few other people there. Alfie, a local playwright, Jed, a tall guy who cross-dressed and had a sister named Julia who threatened to call the cops on Danny if he didn’t stay away from him. Jed was a junkie, and Danny was an ex and future junkie, with a few clean years between states. Jed was flamboyant and loud, another drinker, and fun to be around. Once I saw him chasing a car down Tinker Street yelling, wearing four-inch platform shoes and a pink feather boa, carrying a glass of scotch. He was chasing his sister. I don’t know why.

1 comment:

  1. Send this to NPR short stories immediately.

    I am glued to my radio waiting to hear it read....