FROM THE FINALLY DEVELOPING
darlingS & monsters
Part of the Return Section,
the long long opening...
The opening of the CEECEE section.
Part of the Return Section,
the long long opening...
The opening of the CEECEE section.
(when done D & M will be app. 500,000 short! I have one fifth, it's a triple memorial, two rememberances converging on a present writing & incorporating a parallel memoir ALWAYS THE WRONG PEOPLE)
A hell of a lot of sex in the beginning, it is set in the Tribeca/ Soho of the 70s and 80s & makes contact with the then
HEART OF DARKNESS OF NEW YORK.
let me know what you think, on the comment section or via facebook or e-mail
The cab stopped smartly at the front of my loft building in Tribeca, in downtown Manhattan, as I continued to chat with the driver, who was from Madras, and as I was tipping him, generously, as I did even when I was broke, which I was not then: I had a small stipend subsequent to the recent catastrophe that allowed me to analyze all that had gone wrong. The driver, Ahmed, who was from Madras, and I had had a lively chat about Mumbay which had been much safer, as had Karachi, when I had visited fifteen years earlier and where I had walked, in horror, through Falk/ Fuckland Road and its cages full of whores and admired the Zoroaster’s consign their dead to the tops of trees where vultures fed on the flesh, leaving nothing but skeletons. The vultures, so I had read, were in trouble, the eggshells were breaking too soon, fragile, DDT, or one or the other carcinogen, the flesh rotted and liquefied and dropped down on passersby on the bluffs. I had also been with a whore, which I did not mention to Ahmed, which whore and I had picked each other up along the fine Mumbay quay. However, I had gone completely cold in her barren but clean room and been unable to perform as I had had a powerful urge just a short while before. Nothing that the attractive girl did to revive the recent ardor had the least effect: the more she tried the colder I felt, an onslaught was impending, a major intestinal event of what in Mexico was called Moctezuma’s revenge, but for the sake of my presence in India I called “the Raj’s revenge.” I felt that I must have picked up the bug in Karachi, the Hellenic Splendor’s previous port of call, or shipboard; this was my first day in Mumbay and I hadn’t been with a woman since the day of the freighter’s departure months earlier in Brooklyn, specifically with a new young girlfriend. ...
It was early on a Sunday morning in June and it felt quite idyllic at the spot I stood on with the sun shooting through the streets and glistening all around and the early morning cool breeze from the Northwest, and so before entering my building I decided to take a look around, to take a deep breath, to re-orient myself in what had been my immediate visual sphere for so many years, and I put down my bag. The building opposite mine of course deserved the first look of recognition that, reassuringly, it still existed and not only in my imagination, that nothing appeared to have changed during my absence: its façade still a first rate example of turn of the 19th century American mercantile architecture with certain requisite doodads as it could and can still be found in nearly all American cities that had been a city of some kind during that time, and I continued to be proud that I was hip to the fact that the Ganymede - the building’s name stenciled in protruding sandstone lettering above the entrance - was a mere twenty feet deep, that it was mostly façade, that it was a three-quarters-of-a-block wide six-story tall lady that, as it were, had a substantial shelf but a very flat ass! And flat-assed Robin of the many years ago came to mind. And no eyes out back to the West, windowless! The other, fourth quarter of the block, its northern section, was now a parking lot – who knows what it might have been at some time was a thought that flitted through my mind at each of the many holes in the street scene downtown - whose attendant doubled as the Ganymede’s super, my friend Egbert Romain, a Trinidad-Tobagonian, evidently of both British and French slavery extraction with the physique of Sugar Ray Robinson, an idol of my American bantam weight youth when my stepfather, noting excess energies, had put some boxing stuff up in the garage and I had started to watch boxers on 50s television. There had been a time that I had planned for Egbert to be both body guard and chauffeur and conversationalist if the well-dreamed fantasies of grand success and buying the Ganymede and the printing shop on its third floor, had materialized, Egbert was a delight to talk to, his pidgin was sweet and if things had gone really well I or if the partnership had held – we had even planned to acquire the Elysian a few blocks north on Hudson, a chunky square Florentine four story job, painted battle-ship grey at present, with stairs leading up from left and right to a small balcony platform entrance perfect for holding forth and mounting the Blakean flag of the enterprise, at its center the swimmer who, however, reaches the water and does not drown as the enterprise did in a sea of debt and corruption and thievery and endless lawsuits - one of the great messes, one of those complete de-constructionist, insides turned out affairs that reveals everything, and what an everything it was. Just now there was no sign of Egbert or his relief man, a cousin of his, who always wore one of these knitted rainbow-colored Rasta caps no matter the heat and whose exotic ancient colonial British name eluded me at the moment - it was altogether still too early in the morning, though I would not have minded to hear the sweet laid-back reggae sound of Toots and the Maytals. And there, from the fourth floor fire escape railing, still dangled, in the breeze, the remnants of the South-American rope bridge that at one time, briefly, connected that fourth floor of the mercantile façade to the fourth floor roof of the so very obscure building opposite whose loft and roof was mine. That rope bridge had made for a fine and famous photo on the front page of the Post the day we strung it up and showed it to the world. How unfortunate that the city would prove humorless and made us cut it down in short order. Things hadn’t worked out as planned, as envisioned, as dreamed - and I punched “You can’t always get what you want” in the Juke Box in my mind and assured myself I wasn’t going to be grumpy, was I now, after all I had gotten what I really wanted, my kitbag of experience that I had lacked, a past a real past, and rather more of it than I could have dreamed and what an ”egg of experience” I now had to brood on and … wasn’t that one of our downtown space cadets floating high up in the breeze? a left-over from the Saturday night that had been. Magdalena? Was she, the so bereft after she and her boyfriend Zejlko had split up against all our odds that this couple would hold forever, still in space-cadet mode? No, on a closer look it was just a balloon, with furles; my fantasy was just a tad too vivid.
From my fourth-floor corner office in the Ganymede I had always looked forward to this first slither of the sun shooting in from the East as I got to work, after a swim in Mr. Woolworth’s marble swimming pool in basement of the eponymous Woolworth Tower, just a few blocks over, often taking my swim in company of the mayor of the city who dog-paddled and politicked, aquatically greeting fellow swimmers, body guards on either side, before dashing across City Hall Park to his office. Noticeably, the mayor, a man with a surprisingly small head for such a tall frame, never lost the makings, modest pregnancy of a pot belly, and I attributed this phenomenon to his needing to consume a lot of chicken during civic luncheons. Pregnant with chicken fat he was, looking a lot like Jack Perdue a purveyor of chicken on T.V. At about seven in the morning in summer the sun shone directly into the two east-facing windows of my office… I quote my analytic friend, Rose Reich-Habsburg's description: "Yugi sougt to get to his office early for all the obvious reasons, because the few hours before the office opened, and the hours after closing, after a late afternoon nap, was when "the real work," as he called it, “my work,” got done; so-called normal working hours consisted of fragments, interruptions, distractions that left him frazzled until he took his afternoon nap. It was a sunny morning and the sun glinting along and half through the edges of the louvres of the two large East-facing windows seemed to electrify the motes especially at that time of day, also in my head; but the sun, or rather the earth's incline to it, would soon be concealed, first by the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] cantilevering box diagonally opposite, severely, eliminating even sun aura; by the 70 story Woolworth Tower towering over the IRS and then by the huge slabs to the south. One wonderful Southwest shaft reappeared briefly late in the late afternoon through the south facing windows, a shaft that shot in between an ATT tower on Greenwich Street, to the west of the North Tower, on Greenwich Street, and yet another hulk, shooting in through the two south-facing windows of Yuri’s office and back out through the ones that faced East across the street, but to draw dim reflections from the unwashed windows on the loft opposite, on the other side of the streer. At those moments the light played quite enchantingly in Yuri’s big, square high-ceilinged room. I always looked forward to that last sudden slither of the sun. In winter the sun existed as an absence. But because the sun shone directly into the two east facing windows at this time, around 7 of the morning Yuri, and often I, who visited him in my capacity as his friend and shrink, could not make out what if anything might be transpiring at the top, equivalent fourth floor in the building opposite, and even if the sun had not blinded Yuri, me, us, its double-insulated windows unwashed outside since the day Lincoln had spent a night in the half of it that had been a hotel during the Civil War, all I might have been able to make out was whether, possibly, one or the other light had come on to dispel the there gloom. So I presumed that Yuri’s somnolent 'Roos, who were over-staying their welcome by a year, were, as was their custom, sleeping through the finest part of the day, to start hopping, tentatively, out from under their drugged states sometime around noon, readying themselves for another drug filled alcoholic nite, another romp with “Dancing Matilda.” “My 'Roos." Yuri said, " are a Maoist theater troupe, Night Shift, led by an actor who was great when he rode a horse called horse, and an Aussie Revo who cultivated the cultivation of marijuana plants under the influence of neon, in the crawl space, beneath the stairs that led to Yuri's small bedroom on top of the loft, sort of like a captain's bridge, anyway that's how I thought of it, or referred to it when describing its, Yuris sometimes nighttime location.
“Are you all right?” a voice interrupted me, my reverie. “Oh… ” I said to someone I instantly recognized as a commuter who must have just stepped out of the nearby Hudson Tubes. “You had your eyes closed and were just standing there, starting to sway.”
“You didn’t see a dog falling off the roof, did you?” I said to him, associating this Jersey commuter with one just like him who had been frightened out of his wits when one of my and Elle’s one-year-old German shepherd mix puppies had fallen off the balustrade of my loft roof and landed on the sidewalk, barely missing him.
“Dogs falling out of the sky in Manhattan, I’m going straight back to Jersey,” had been that commuter’s memorable words. That dog’s fall, that dog accident, that accident due to an impulsive leap, or to too fast running, to that slip, had been a sign, symbolic retrospectively, of Elle’s and my love for each other’s impending crash, doom, the first sign that I could put my finger on: I was over-extended. The dog had broken one leg and limped off, dragged himself to the landfill, to our beach, a hundred yards further West where, tracking his blood spoor, I found him and had carried him in my arms to the animal hospital where they were amazed that he had survived a four-floor fall and had only one broken leg to show for the experience. They said they would also check his internal organs, that there was no bleeding. It was pure chance that I had encountered that commuter these years ago. The dog had fallen off while I had been walking down the stairs, the commuter was standing right next to the blood-stained spot where Wolfie had landed.
This commuter now gave me a very strange, somewhat frightened look as he stepped back and said “have a good day” and hurried off. I now turned around and was glad to note that nothing seemed to have changed on “my” building. Its ground floor had a pizza joint, at the corner, and the pizza joit was still a pizza joint, opposite the modernistic maroon and greenish glass multi monstrosity the third generation modernistic IRS building on the side street corner. The pizza joint adjoined a now girlie lounge that occupied what had been the Boar Head, a restaurant, which had been frequented by the merchants that had once dominated the area and that I in my fantasy future had turned into the Central Europe that served Leber-knoedel Suppe, Goose; and other central European specialties and where chiefly writers and editors and artists hung out. In my fantasy I had even imported the chef and his family from Prague. Next to the Girlie Lounge entrance was the now metal door entrance to “my” building which was such an obscure dark grey lady she might actually - to a certain kind of observer - become noticeable for her very obscurity, certainly for no other reason, as though she were trying just a bit too hard to hide but going about it in too obvious a manner. What she is hiding is that she is bifurcated, that she is two buildings of very different kind that were joined at some point early in their unheralded past, that one of her shoulders is higher or lower than the other, that she is askew, and you used the staircase, the marbled stairs from the southern half or two thirds, that was once a hotel, that dated back to the civil war era, rumor fantasy had it that Lincoln slept here, perhaps even in the same perch that I now occupied. Marble, of course, is about the last component you expected as you looked at that considerable expanse of black and gray paint, those uninviting surfaces with placards that people kept pasting there.
I had seen the destruction of Lower Manhattan starting in the late 60s as Danny Lion photographed it and it was amazing that of all the buildings that had survived the wrecking ball was this gray corner once Civil War hotel with its barge of a roof and ships construction that swayed and creaked when the Arctic Northwest Express hit in Fall and Winter, and when it hit the Wall, the wall of downtown sky scrapers, it broadsided them, slammed into that Wall and the Wall turned the Express around, compressed it, from a Northwesterly into a South to North jet exhaust (like the Subway right below) that swirled garbage and garbage cans through the narrows of West Broad as high as the fourth floor of my office and the top floor of the loft on the way North uptown. Memorable, no? N’est pas?
I finally picked up my bag and felt hunger pangs and put my keys away and turned to the adjacent Greek Greasy Spoon, the buildings only other ground floor enterprise, a six-foot-wide sliver, twenty feet deep, too, its one big window steamed as it had been always all these years at this hour, a steam bath of a breakfast joint, just as always, who made excellent eggs and home-fries. I had been looking forward to having a few goodbye breakfasts there and decided, for old time’s sake, to have one of them right there and then. The aging Greek, all wattles, looked cooked blonde-white like his noodles when they came steaming out of his pressure cooker or steam-bath or whatever that enclosure was, offered a grunt of recognition for a greeting. No “long time no see” as I had expected. Time must pass differently for him I concluded and said “the usual” and he failed to ask what my “the usual” was – it had been a few years - but poured the usual tepid coffee and turned three eggs into the fluffiest of scrambles that I spread across my toast, and toasted the fries just right. It was then that I could feel it taking hold, the past, I was starting to enter it, I was eating it, I had entered the past, someone who had not had a past, who had written himself out of his European past in college, and who had written the childhood out of himself, now had his American past to step into, if only for a time, and not just any past, but a past that I was already writing about, a fairly recent past yet also one that I had felt I had put behind me. A past during which I felt I had done it all or at least a lot of it wrong – Always the Wrong People, the title of the memoir of my twenty five years in New York – and I well knew that the equation “wrongness” involved me, moi meme, that I was one side of it. Yet: “No over-berating yourself,” I told myself, “no satisfying whatever tad of disgusting heroic masochism might reside in you, a cool assessment is what is needed,” but enough wrong, just enough to make difficult success even more difficult. “Always the wrong people” it had been, wrong women too! And far too many! I had succumbed far too often! At least half the time, and that was bad enough. And not been discrete. Live and learn, never live long enough! – was another truism for which my internal jukebox lacked a melody. I recalled the wounded shepherd puppy dragging its broken leg to the landfill to nurse himself! Moi meme! But pretty well recovered now, just a tad of a limp! The dog that had slunk away to nurse its broken leg, just like myself when the Ganymede Elysian field dream had imploded. I had been a shmuck I concluded. My experience of the city that had glistened and still glistened so temptingly if seen from the distant cliffs, it had singed the wings of this moth while it itself had turned into a glittering pile of garbage. I pulled out my medium-sized three ring note book with the legend “Always the Wrong People” & the Roman numeral “I” neatly inscribed on a label pasted in the upper right hand corner of its plastic cover and started to read its opening and make emendations:
I grabbed the phone: it wasn’t Elle as I had feared Elle who for reasons that were entirely beyond me despite having been multiply unfaithful and leaving me and then having been kicked out of my life had decided - while trying to entrap her current boyfiend! - to pursue me after she and the Heartache Kid had been through a breakup that lasted seemngly forever until I told her I wanted her out of my life. „Kiss me through my panties!” „Spank me!” Whew!
No, it was not darling ballerina Elle but CeeCee the biggest heart-ache prior to Elle! Well... anyhoo. During my twenty five years in New York! There had been others in adolescence and shortly after, and even earlier, I wasn’t called, people didn’t call me the Heartache Kid for nothing! The then, now biggest previous Heartache the Heartach Kid reminded himself right there and then. It had taken that trip on the Hellenic Splendor halfway around the world, of which I had just the briefest of deja vues, to heal the scratches - “Catskills skilled cats cats kill” had been the dream shorthand for CeeCee and my affair in those anything but comical foothills – the scratches she had administered to my vulnerable stupid heart, a heart that actually ought to have become scar tissued as only a muliply injured heart can! A wonder I thought to myself, thinking back, that until I seemed finally – I prayed – made myself invulnerable by seceding from the scene, fleeing – that I and my heart had actually lasted as long as I did.
CeeCee had been the constant and I mean constant deja vue, as Elle’s previous edition, especially during the analytic sessions with Enigma, during Elle’s and my break-up. That break-up had been well examined, that had proved really interesting to do that, dream by dream and step by step, as compared to CeeCee’s and mine that had been suffered in the ignorance of oblivion in oblivious ignorance, in acting out. I now could pride myself that I knew where my fault (s) lay in the break-up, my contribution. CeeCee and I had never lived together, not as much had become involved. She had not suffered from sudden neglect after a torrid opening, she had not been yet another of the „most beautiful woman in the world” who turned into my „emasculating governess.” The „hunk,” the apparent „it boy” by the evidence of how the pretty one were seizing on me, had not turned into... what? A sudden monk? That was a part of the problem that I brought with me to the proceedings of our Elle’s and my near marriage, well yes, and if I didn’t have an invariable Albatross a beloved never hated Albatross around my neck the revolutionary enterprise or work of some kind, and never enough money to run away for a permanent Wild Palms, my work, invariably an Albatross of some kind about.
And I had even had the dream -referring to my neglect of Elle and its dreadful conseqeunce - that said „remember that and don’t forget it!” Talking about talking super-ego dreams where I address myself! And then starting to write the book that would make all the ladies happy: The Well Laid Woman!
CeeCee’s and my affair had been the rehearsal for the far more calamitous, the catastrophe of Elle’s and my breakup – a break-up under analysis no less, ah what you can learn what you experience when denial is thrown overboard and a thousand eyes cry their hearts out at what they now behold.
CeeCee felt she always knew where I was, that we were in constant contact and communication, which played into a fantasy relationship I had had with my mostly absent mother, my conscience, that she knew what I was doing, it was spooky to find out how often CeeCee had been right. The first time I had made love to her in a bed she had pretended and wanted me to pretend, and I had, that I was her father, and when I made calm gentle love to her, diddling her clit to make sure she would come, it had been perfect for her. “Perfect” she had said, and my cock had felt awfully snug inside her cunt, well and snugly held, a memorably unique sensation, though the breach of the Oedipal order, if only as pretense, introduced a troubling note – musically forewarning, like the repeated opening of Mozar’s Haffner
- into my sleep, once we did get to sleep that night. There also had been humor. I had heard of I.U.D.s but never encountered or seen one. When I started to fuck CeeCee, after petting that she loved as much as I did, something inside her womb started to tickle my cock and I told her „What’s that inside you that’s tickling my cock?”, and she said, „Oh, that’s my I.U.D.” And I said, „it’s tickling me!” and CeeCee said „You’re not the only one!” Twenty six lover had been there – no, she had not had the good sense to get an I.U.D. prior to losing her virginity nor after I forgot whether it was her first or second abortion. CeeCee at age twenty six still dressed mostly in some variation of schoolgirl uniform but had been virginal only until age sixteen and had been gyrating and hot to trot as soon as she heard Elvis Presley at fourteen.
And here I was back in the Big Dark City and its Heart of Darkness, three of whose ventricles I had come to know, two of them via CeeCee or because she and I had worked together. You needed to work all night to penetrate the heart of darkness and the spiders of the dark and to stay awake at those hours requires stronger meds and the trail of that medicine might could did also led to one of the entrances to the heart of darkness, and I had shied back, that was too black and dangerous, I lacked resolve, that domain was too deep and wide ranging for me. Inadvertencies. Who goes to the Big City and looks for its heart of Darkness? As a cab driver to take you!