He limps only because he walks with that cane, which impedes his gait. A sight to behold was he. The Emperor of San Francisco. A dusty navy blue uniform hunched on his body, two inches too large in the areas of give. Adorned with tarnished and cockeyed gold epaulets. He is bent over meticulously inspecting the sidewalks of the city. Up the hill he climbs, then back down again.
"Oh fucking rubbish." I take my pencil and I tear into the paper. I’m in my under shorts. I see him from my hotel window and I think to myself he must be nuts. It’s 2 P.M. and I take a pull of something heavy and noxious that tastes like turpentine. Im no longer certain because I made a tedious hobby of peeling the label off. Anxious habit of mine, tearing up coasters and labels into exponentially smaller squares. I hope it’s not turpentine, as I take another pull. Here I am, there he is. I begin to question which side of 'nuts' he and I are on respectively.
I have lived in this city for 5 years and I still feel like a stranger here. A tourist. Perhaps its my profession. I only take up residence in hotels. Or as a guest in another’s home. Somehow I fell into the role of understudy. It’s only a little weird on occasion. To look and act in some small degree like someone who I never knew, but has passed away, and to be incorporated into a group of friends simply for this coincidence. It’s like getting a job not based on your own merit, but on your prestigious surname. It doesn’t bother my conscience any though, because I have no real merit of my own. I never needed to. I get paid to chronicle the merit of others. I have never been and will never have to be anyone or anything, everyone else does it for me. To this end, I never consider myself apart of anything, I merely narrate.
I look around my room. It’s 2:15 and I have one window. I’m fortunate enough to see the street. Nothing more depressing to a writer than a window over looking a weathered brick wall. Still the room is dark, the sun is behind the Cartwright hotel. My room is five bodies wide by ten bodies long. Rates are cheap and sheets are clean. There’s a bar next door to the hotel. They have cheap wine. Drunken, everything’s more beautiful, not just women. It makes the world a lot less ugly. That’s only because you can’t focus then. With focus comes clarity, and with clarity comes instantaneous death. Some anesthetize themselves with religion, some fill themselves with liquor, some with junk. I’m not ready to die yet, so I fill my veins with the stuff that kills you slowly.
I get up from the chair. Taped at its joints, it creaks to the beat of the city sounds. It’s discordant. It’s life, it’s soul, it’s rhythms, it’s jazz. The window is open and screenless. Flies and gnats come and go as they please, when I realize they converge not for old food left on my floor, but because of me, I shower. The shower is down the hall. it’s a despicable set up, being unable to shit in peace. I find myself tensing my buttocks whenever I hear foot steps go by. A decent five minute shit takes me nearly twenty minutes.
I slide on my pants and smell my shirts. Varying degrees of clean are illustrated by their placement on the furniture. Clean is on the bed against the wall. I don’t use all the space of a full bed. Worn once lays across the back of my chair. Worn and a few days old on the seat of my chair, sat on. Dirty rests on the floor. Soiled in the sink. I try not to soil myself too often. It’s an occupational hazard.
I take the four flights of stairs down to the lobby. The elevators been broken for six months. At the front door I forget why I left my room. I think maybe I had to shit. That will have to wait. Once I’m down, I stay down till I’m drunk enough to crawl up without bitching and moaning. Most of the streets in San Francisco are hills, the last thing you want to do is climb stairs. I always buy new shoes. Well made hand crafted shoes. You can never spend too much on a good pair of shoes. I will forgo drinking for a spell, to afford a new pair of shoes.
I head to the bar next door. I have a hole in my right pocket and I hope the money that was in it is on the floor of my room. I may have spent it. In my left pocket is a a check for seventy dollars from a publisher in Utah. I wrote a story about loving Christ. I wanted to write a story about loving thy wife. He paid by the word, and I could have clean up nicely.
In the breast pocket of my t shirt is a five dollar bill. A drink is 5 minimum. Never stiff a bartender. They may drink as much as their patrons on their off time, but they have memories like steel cages. It’s a trap I want to avoid. I decide to try to hustle. My hearts not in it. I haven’t gotten laid in months neither. I half ass it out of necessity, but my dispassion for it shines through. No one wants anything to do with someone who isn’t passionate about what they want. That’s why evangelists, though wrong as they may be to any logical mind, have the impact they do. They want and believe it so fervently. Same with the jokers who dog women in the bar. Sleazy and obviously undesirable, women go home with them because of the persistence, the passion they have for pussy. They want it that bad. It could be admirable.
A woman sits next to me, she has a nice jaw. I can’t make out her body due to the drink in me. I still have drink in my room. If only it weren’t four flights I’d go back. She has her guard up. Having been a salesman, a soft sale expert, I have insight in this instance. Never approach when they’re milling around. You have to wait for an opening or opportunity. Optimally, when they’ve done something to embarrass themselves. If you can enter at the right angle, they are usually humbled at this point. As long as you don’t make them defensive. When they drop something, knock something over, displaying an idiosyncrasy they’re self conscious of. Whatever lowers their guard, and breaks the character of cool they’re trying to facilitate. When the facades are down, we’re all on a level playing field. Something I learned from being a writer, is make them care. Engage them, don’t speak at them. Never try to impress. That’s a hard close, makes more work for you. That’s for the small percent that no matter what you do, you could not win. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
She pulls out a cigarette to light it. It’s broken. After the third broken cigarette I head in.
“You’re a bit rough on those things aren’t you?”
I hand her one. I don’t smoke, but a gentleman always has matches and a cigarette on hand. Who knows how long its been in my pocket. Drunks don’t care.
“If you’re trying to quit, that’s a hell of a way to go about it.”
This time she laughs. “No, my purse is so cluttered. I think a big purse is too big, so I go to a small purse, then I get tired of the small purse and go back to a big purse. Never enough space no matter which way I go.”
“So you have a hell of a lot of purses and broken cigarettes?” “What is it you do?” I ask her.
“I work in child care.” That’s depressing.
“You?” She says as I hold a match up for her. She takes so long to get her balance the damn thing singes my fingers.
“I’m a writer.” I tell her.
She squeals. Like a pig on a poke. All the guys mouths water a bit. Their lips get glossy with saliva. “You should make me a character!”
“I don’t mix business and pleasure. Want to fuck?”
She can’t believe I talked to her that way. She requires a certain amount of respect. I thought I gave it to her. After all, I didn’t say I was gonna leave right after, especially if she had an elevator. I’d make breakfast and call her in a week or two. I’d wear out my good shoes to come see her. Isn’t that enough sacrifice?
“How about a drink instead for saving my ass.”
“That’s not all I could do with it.” I disengage her and stoop slightly over the bar to look at the well. I try my best to appear almost child like. Tempering my words with actions.
She smirks and raises her brows. A writer always opens with an attention grabbing spectacle. She motions the bartender over. So I haggled. I placed a high bid, in this instance, sex, and she countered with a slightly smaller bid, drink. Which is exactly what I wanted.
"yeah I'll have a vodka from the well."
"A shot?" The bartender is dumbfounded. Russians drink vodka straight don't they?
"A shot." He's generous with the shot.
"Salut" Our glasses clink and I discover why he was generous with the shot. It beats whiskey.
“Have you written anything I’d have read?”
“only for the pictures.”
“I’m a short story writer. I wrote one novel. Someone convinced me it was meant to be read. I didn’t even want to read it after I’d written it.”
“Sounds like an Origami How-To book.”
“It’s big in San Francisco, maybe that’s why.”
“What’s it about?”
“Ever read the Tempest by Shakespeare?”
“No one has. It’s based on that play.”
“Oh, high art?”
“No, it was my attempt to make myself a martyr.”
“You don’t seem like a martyr.”
“I‘m not very marketable. Who truly cares about middle aged white people? The only time anyone pays attention is when we get our hands dirty. It’s like cheering at a gladiator fight.”
“You talk a like writer.”
“Does it bore you?”
“No. I’m on my sixth scotch.”
“Nice talking with you.” I stand up and check my seat before walking off.
“Wait. I thought we could go back to my place.”
“I just wanted the drink.”
I know how that feels. You never expect anything when you buy a drink for a woman. You’d settle for good conversation. When you realize they were just using you to get a drink, you feel like you’re owed something. That’s when I say to myself And I didn’t even get to fuck her.
I decide to call Lena. I walk over to the pay phone across the street. There is change on the curb.
The thing about Lena
A lot of times during her lunch break. She lets her underbelly show, I stroke and poke at it till its sore and we fuck. She goes back to work and with it she takes my identity.
The way I hooked up with
All of a sudden my character was chosen for me. I was a damn knight in shining armor. Even I believed it. Then
I only fuck people I like. It’s a pretty straight forward principle I think. You don’t go bowling with people you can’t stand. Some guy you know might tell the best jokes but be a real cocksucker. You aren’t going to have drinks with this guy. Its as simple as that. Maybe laugh politely. Hitler was affable and intelligent, but a real cocksucker. Sure he had that “clit tingler” mustache. It drove Eva wild, but if you polled the women of the world, only a few would fuck him. Most of them are already married t o men in the
I like Lena better when she's confused than when she's feeling stable. Its most often a self imposed order and stability over her environment. She makes things fit and becomes blind to those that do not. It goes unseen by her, unseen or misinterpreted. I remember reading once that when the Spanish conquistadors first came to the new world, a shaman stood on a beach and saw ripples in the water. The Spanish ships were actually invisible to his mind because he had no reference for it.
I wasn't much younger than Lena. I don't like to think the fact she talked down to me was a sub conscious way of making her feel strong. She didn't do it intentionally, and it wasn't malicious. When I used to work as a manager, I fell pray to the same foibles. She was obviously attracted to me, and if we could of just put our private parts in a cabinet, let them fuck, and pulled them out and went on our way. We would of been fine. It doesn't work that way. Fucking is only half of the equation. Even Whilt Chamberlain will admit to this.