Friday, July 3, 2015

FROM CHAPTER 50: THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE



I was like Hachiko, the famous Akita who stood for nine years, in the snow and the rain and the days and nights at a train station waiting for his owner to return. Vigilant. Not moving a muscle. I staked out a vantage point where all the deplaned passengers had to pass and I waited. I’d asked four or five of those pilgrims whether this was flight number two twenty two from Canada? Yes, they nodded.
Something must have happened. Could she have gotten sick? Cold feet? Last minute jitters? Someone in the airport lounge in Canada swept her off her feet? Decided against it? Goddamn. At least she could have called. Fuck…I’ll use the candles to make the place smell good—before I burn down my fucking pad.
What a drag…especially since I’d gotten up with the roosters that morning. Unable to force myself into unconsciousness, I gave-up around five and bounced out of bed. I didn’t mind. I wasn’t tired. I was up…up…up. Put the coffee to perk, shaved—without taking off the top layer of my face, took a shower making sure I scrubbed every inch of my body—that I could see…and get to. If I could have bleached my asshole, I would have. And even though my hair was cut so short you barely could see that I had hair, I shampooed and conditioned it as if I’d be photographed on the red carpet. I took my time, but kept my eye on the clock: Hell, I only had eleven hours before I needed to be at La Guardia.
Most of those hours I spent picking specks of lint off the floor, going out to purchase fresh cheeses and finally, flowers. The cheap Korean store bouquet that cost five bucks would not do. I went into a real flower store on the next block and bought every kind of flower, damn the cost. They came from Henry Miller’s regions: Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn: African Moon and African Tulip, the Blood Lily, Frangipani and a Blue Orchid. I stopped short of having The Botanical Gardens transplanted to my pad. However, I couldn't quite bring myself to take some with me to the airport. Doing that, I decided, was not cool. And so I decided to shower her with colors and scents once she came into The Palace.
At three o’clock I was smoking a cigarette on my corner waiting for the black limo I’d arranged to take me to the airport. At three-twenty I was at the airport smoking another cigarette and wondering how I was going to kill the two plus hours until her plane touched down? I shoulda brought a fucking book, I said to myself. What was I thinking? Fuckit, don’t worry about it. Just make sure you got the right terminal and the right gate.
People at airports all look like they’re going nowhere. Their gazes are blank, pitiless. It’s an existential petri dish of “marking time.” The space is shapeless, defined only by the bodies slumped or slouched or curled into fetal positions. We’re about to move from space to space from here to there and once there wonder what there is there? But as long as we have a destination, we are not lost, at least to the future, while here are waiting to be found. When I first got a driver’s license, I would take my young self and my young dates to the airport. We liked the idea of going somewhere on a Friday or Saturday night. Imagining us waking up in different countries in different beds under different suns. It was easier to imagine those things fifty years ago, having a grown-up cup of coffee and dragging on a cigarette. There was a certain romance in hearing the jet engines revving for takeoff. Even the pilots and stewardesses looked exotic in their flight regalia. They were chiseled like Charlton Heston and Grace Kelly beautiful. You wanted to fly with them. Now, there are machines that dispense hot water colored brown and boxes of M&M’s. The flight crew are dressed as if they were staying home and the pilots very often don’t know what country they’re in, let alone where they’re going.
There were still a few stragglers coming down the stairs from the flight. None of them looked like her. I took a few steps forward and a few steps backward; I stepped to my left and back to my right. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an elevator that I’d missed in my recon endeavor, open. A few people got out. My stomach dropped. But then there she was! I wanted to run over to her, but held myself back. I wanted to spy. Her eyes surveyed the scene. I stared at her. I waited. I knew she’d know when she saw me…and did. We locked. Now, it was time.
I pushed off from the wall I was leaning on and walked toward her. She stayed where she was. I became aware that I was breathing for the first time in nearly an hour. We stood in front of each other. I leaned toward her and she moved closer. The kiss was gentle. I held her lower lip in mine and slightly pulled on it.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi,” I said.
Without saying anything more, I took her carry-on bag in one hand, put my other hand through the crook of her arm and led her from the terminal. It wasn’t far. The doors swung open and a rush of cold air greeted us. She moved closer to me.
“Would you like a cigarette?”
“Love one,” she said.
I pulled out two from my pack and gave her one. She leaned her back against the airport luggage carriages and I stood, feet spread, in front of her.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” she said.
“Me neither. I almost thought after seeing nearly everyone get out, you’d either changed your mind, or fell in love with someone on the plane. You had me going, my dear.”
“Never, she said.”
Both of us, I knew, were the kind of people who look for inconsistencies; we’re gatherers of evidence. And so when I saw her eyes taking in her surroundings I had to remind myself that she was a visitor in this town for the first time and needed to get her footing. Still, I didn't wait long before I bent over to kiss her again and this time her hand found the waist of my jeans and she pulled me inside of her coat.

pages 345-347 of 539: THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE

© 2015 Norman Savage

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015

JULY 3, 1995


CHAPTER V

The July 3rd sun burned through her bare windows like it was filtered through a magnifying glass. I looked at my hand expecting to see smoke rising from it. Lilith was sleeping; her mouth was open like she was expecting to catch flies.
What went on for the remainder of last evening, I couldn’t tell you with much clarity. We must have hit two or three saloons before pressing the elevator button in her building and stumbling into her pad. The last thing I do remember is her saying that this was the tail end of her period to which I responded that it didn’t mean anything to me. And then I was down there. And then I woke up thinking that my hand was on fire.
She had a wonderful shower, the water, strong and hot. It came at me from six different directions. Her bathroom contained all the fabulous and sensual odors that women, even women of much more moderate means, had, but her means bordered on the extravagant. I used notions on my hair and body that I’d never heard of before just because I’d never heard of them. By the time I stepped out of the shower--smelling like an expensive French whore--I noticed an intense smell of bacon, intermingled with coffee, coming from another part of her pad.
“Are you almost finished?” she hollered.
“Almost. With all the shit you have in here I don’t know whether to douche or not?”
I heard the sound of her laughing. “How do you like your eggs?”
“Scrambled, soft.”
The apartment filled with a string quartet by Beethoven, an early one full of youth and promise.
“I put a robe on the bed for you.”
“Thanks,” I hollered back, and went into the bedroom where a thick, deep blue, terry-cloth bathrobe lay. It was incredibly soft on my skin and, from the look and feel of it, nearly new. I felt like a bit of schmuck wearing it, but walked toward her voice nonetheless.
Lilith heard me padding in from the bedroom and turned toward me, spatula in hand. “What a night, what a night. My god, you got me absolutely crazy!” She came over and gave me a kiss, forcing my mouth open so her tongue could find mine. She stepped back to administer to the eggs.
“Sit down,” she said, “make yourself comfortable. It’ll be ready in just a sec.”
I turned to pull out a chair from a long rectangular oak table like something you’d see in a magazine devoted to French Country furniture. It was then that I saw it hanging on the wall. It was jarring. An oil painting of her face, almost seven feet by six feet, challenged the viewer to engage the beast. Well, I’ve engaged the beast more than once in my lifetime and here was another one, a live one, as fearsome looking as any and all of them ever were.
It was Gorky’s mother; it was Neptune devouring his children; it would have made the steely spine of a burglar, unaware of its presence beforehand, choose a different pad to ransack. Her face, almost the size of the canvas, in three-quarter view, was as severe as any monomaniacal persona I’d ever seen. Her deep, brown eyes were positioned so well that her concentration never wavered between what she saw, how she interpreted it, and her defiance, denying the viewer access to anything but fearsomeness within and outside her skull. Her skin, while luminescent looking, had a sickly shade of barely discernible yellow running through it. But it was her mouth, specifically her two front teeth, that gave me the most pause. Though her lips were thin and tight, it bared her teeth in perfect form except for those front two. It was almost as if the white enamel a dentist uses to bond a tooth had slipped while applying it, spreading the white film onto the next front tooth. The sloppiness which this presented was left as was, giving the impression that those two teeth were actually one very large, very strong, and very lethal weapon, or desire.
“My ex painted that,” she explained nonchalantly.
“He did, huh? Well that clears it up. I thought at first it might have been someone whose family you destroyed, perhaps eaten.”
“Yes, not very flattering, I must admit, but he is--was--a very good artist. I don’t know what he’s doing now with his new girlfriend.”
“Let’s hope it has nothing to do with small children or animals.”
“He’s a wonderful father to Hubert,” she said quickly.
“Oh, I believe he is. I was only kidding about that. It was a bad joke,” I replied, then asked, “Hubert? Who’s Hubert? I thought you had a daughter?”
“Hubert’s a she. I took the name from my father who’d recently died and gave it to her.”
“I see,” I said, but didn’t.
“I know, I know, I know, it’s kind of weird, but we all got used to it, including Hubert.”
“Well, I’m happy about that.”
“I nursed my father all during his illness, (my mother never could be there for anyone), and I just couldn’t let him go. Keeping his name alive might be the best gift I could give him.”
The bacon hissed and spat grease from the pan it was frying in. She lowered the flame, waited for a second and shut it off, putting the bacon on some toweling paper nearby. Then she poured the eggs into the same frying pan, stirring them ever so gently. She came over to me carrying a whole decanter of coffee, large cup, and some milk and placed them near me. She glanced at the painting of her.
“He really is a wonderful father,” she said again, “I really don’t know why I hung that painting. He painted so many portraits of me that are so much better; it’s a mystery why I decided to hang that one.” She turned and went back into the kitchen.
I thought for a moment, then thought better of it. “Let’s eat, baby, I’m starved. You must have depleted my entire system last night.”
“And you, me, my dear,” she said as she placed the food before me. “The bacon is from Dean & DeLuca. The butcher told me they get it from a farm in Wisconsin. It’s supposed to be the best there is.”
“Smells delicious,” I said, and took a bite. “Tastes delicious, too. Where are the eggs from?”
“D’Agostino’s.”
“Just kidding, baby, just kidding.”
We greedily ate our food, prompted as much by our bodies need for replenishment as for the taste of the food itself.
“I’ve got something you might really like for later,” she said, with just the right amount of promise in her voice.
“Oh, yeah, what might that be?”
“A bottle of Grand Marnier that’s one hundred and fifty years old. Very few are allowed to be sold in any given year.”
“I can imagine. I don’t think I’ve ever drank anything that was older than me,” I chuckled, “just to be crude, how much does something like that cost?”
“Don’t ask, just enjoy.”
I looked at her with a mixture of curiosity and dread. “Pass the butter, would ya?” I said, and turned my attention to the bread gotten, I was sure, from a Sicilian grandmother in Sicily and flown in just for our morning’s enjoyment.

...

From: THE TROUBLE WITH DREAMS
© 2015 Norman Savage

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

NAKED ON THE BORDER--Part of: THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE


The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

You can stay inside a hermetically sealed room, and it will find you; you can look both ways before crossing the street, and something will fall from the sky. You can eat right, take a walk, exercise even, not smoke, not drink, not shoot, not snort dope or use narcotic suppositories; you can use a condom, not even fuck nobody, and pray to the gods or God religiously, give your money away, work soup kitchens and give the homeless steroidal birds on Thanksgiving, and a renegade gene is gonna get your ass.
Purchase a Medico lock, a Fichet lock, Fox lock, and one of those Dead-bolt locks; in fact, put a few of each of them in, go ahead, I’ll wait…and it’s still gonna get in, to get you: Danger is either at your door, or coming on cat's paws.
And I have to admit: I was fucking bored. The well-balanced life, is nowhere.
Then, from these invisible umbilical cords all tangled up with each other the world over, a note found its way into my inbox. It appeared there, with the desired affectlessness of letters on a page: a name: A. Lyssa…an email address: a.lyssa@feverpitch.com…a date and time…and a title: “Bad Diabetic.”
If there ever was a time to remember that old cowboy trope: It’s quiet here, said the first cowboy. Yeah, too quiet, said the second. But I didn’t remember shit. I didn’t see a “Skull and Crossbones,” I didn’t see “Poison” with an X drawn across it; I didn’t even see a “Handle With Care,” warning; all there was was, “Bad Diabetic”—how could I not open it?

pgs: 272-273 of 539

© 2015 Norman Savage


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FOURTH OF JULY--EIGHT YEARS AGO


CHAPTER III

You can feel New York City, on the verge of a holiday, begin to empty. At first, it’s almost imperceptible, like a slow leak in one of your rear tires. Then, after awhile, you began to notice. The car might pull a little to the right or left. Still not enough to get out and look, but slowly it creeps into your consciousness. Traffic patterns are off; pedestrians seem a bit more determined to get somewhere; there’s a slight suggestion that one or two people out of nine million are gone and suddenly a vista opens where before there were forms and flesh. The city becomes lighter; you feel lighter. Hmm, you say, somethins up.
Shit, of course, it’s the 4th. Am I stupid, or what? Get the hell out. Leave, and leave me my city. Mmm, Chinatown, the piers, ships, water, Chinatown, Cafe La Fortuna, espresso, cheesecake, mmm, yes. Life can be so grand. Fuck it, I’ll call in sick, fuckem, fuckit. Yes.
I felt “giddy,” if “giddy” was a word that ever could be applied to me. From the moment of my realization, to the moment of decision to call in sick, I began to cruise the streets of Manhattan without the usual compulsion and pressure that accompanied me. I had no particular destination, my eyes began to decompress and my breathing, aside from the heaviness of a lifetime of smoking, became easier. The passengers I picked up presented not a problem, even while their tipping conjured up images of torture and death of the worst kind, they were bracketed by my own good will and humor. Drivers still made the dumbest of moves, changing lanes without looking--almost as if they thought they were beyond physics and probabilities. (God bless them, I thought). They shot left hand turns from the extreme right hand lane. (Sure, go ahead); stopped in the middle of intersections and tried to creep next to the opposite curb before getting killed by some irate truck driver or greaser, (Good luck, brother); and then there were those whose heads barely came up to the steering wheel who were the most frightening. Am I in Florida? I asked myself. Connecticut, maybe? Death driven missiles going up and down the eastern seaboard and in dense, overpopulated areas-- but maybe not overpopulated for long! Yet nothing, short of a head on collision with death, would have altered the sense of joy I was feeling. Though, beyond the obvious, I couldn’t tell you why. Whatever place offered itself up to me because of this exodus, I knew I would be going and doing without the usual throng of New York City’s humanity.
I had just swerved to avoid a bike messenger who looked back at me like it was my fault. Maybe it was? It pushed me into the extreme left lane on Third Avenue, and into a fare. She was tall, a bit overweight, and fumbling with packages. She barely had her wrist protruding from her bags, but I saw her meaning easy enough. I glided to a stop.
“You want to put those in the trunk?” I asked.
“Yes, that would help,” she replied, a faint whiff of sarcasm in her voice.
I put my emergency flashers on, opened the trunk, got out and helped her unburden herself. The heat of the day had caused her to perspire to such an extent that her face glistened. Her blouse was darkly etched with splotches of sweat, mostly underneath her arms, and in the small of her back. I took one package after the next and put them in the trunk. She took one of her hands and shielded the sun from her eyes as she took me in. “Thank you,” she finally said, “not many drivers do that these days.”
I didn’t say anything as I closed the trunk, stepped around her, and got back into the cab. “Where to?” I asked, after she closed the door.
“Downtown, near Wall Street.”
“You mind if I take the F.D.R., it’s quicker?”
“No, by all means. Once we’re off the Drive I’ll direct you from there.”
“Sure,” I said. Even when I knew the address, I would much prefer them to direct me. This way, if there was traffic, construction, or anything that slowed us down, they couldn’t say shit. I was going crosstown, heading for the entrance to the Drive on 65th Street.
“Usually I have a driver. I mean, my firm does. But I forgot that this is the Fourth of July weekend and by the time my turn came, the big big bosses reserved them all.”
“I know, whatareyagonnado?” I replied. The more she talked, the less I liked her.
“You don’t look like a cab driver...Charles.”
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw her craning her neck to read my name off the license that every cabbie was required to post, facing the passengers.
“Yeah, well, The world is full of shipping clerks who have read The Harvard Classics.
“Mmm. I like that Charles.”
“Me, too, I wish I’d written it.”
“Are you a writer?”
“I’m a writer--when I write. When I don’t write, I’m a cab driver, or whatever it is I’m doing at the moment.”
The streets and buildings whizzed by, dripping pellets of water from the air-conditioners that hit the pavement or bushes from on high. Soon we would be entering the Drive. Almost over, I said to myself.
“Bukowski wrote that, didn’t he?” she asked, but I knew she already knew the answer.
“Yes, Buk wrote it.”
“Which work was it from?” she asked, but I knew she knew that as well.
“It was an epigraph to a book of his poems, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck.”
“Oh yes, of course. I always thought he was a better poet.”
So did I, but I didn’t respond.
“My name is Lilith, by the way.”
“Nice to meetcha, Lilith.” I would have preferred to be quiet on this ride. The water and movement of the car was all I needed to relax for a few minutes. It gave me time to think about nothing in particular, and everything in general.
“Who else do you like?”
Her question brought me back from my brief respite. “Huh?” was all I was able to manage to say.
“Who are some of the other writers you like? Where were you just now?”
“I never know how to answer that--either question. I just like who I like...and been where I was.”
“Me too!” she almost shouted out. “Maybe we’ll get to that other question later. But let me guess, and not only limited to writers alright?”
It was too late; I was trapped. “Fire away,” I said. I was in the left hand lane, doing about fifty, easing my way around the 23rd Street curve.
She was right on the money with most, but some of the painters she mentioned I didn’t know who the hell they were.
I turned off the Drive, below The Brooklyn Bridge.
“Make a left here and then another left on Maiden Lane. I’m a few blocks from there.”
I took a left.
“How old are you?’ she asked.
“Sixty, plus.”
“That’s good.”
“For who?”
“Me, of course.”
“Really? Why’s that?”
“I could take real good care of you for awhile, then you’d die and I’d still be young enough to go on, find another, maybe not like you, but find another I would.”
“That’s reassuring.” Her conversation was making me nervous, but I wanted company of the female sort and, from what I could see from my rear view mirror, she was not at all bad looking. Now, if I could somehow stem her flow of words... She directed me to her building, a big apartment complex that fitted in with all the other concrete monstrosities in the area.
“O.K. my dear, that will be fourteen seventy, and I’ll help you with your packages.”
“Have dinner with me tonight? Don’t say, ‘no’ because I know you’re not doing anything.”
“How do you know that?”
“Are you doing anything tonight?”
“No, I’m not.”
“I’ll pick up the check, I promise, and not for any feminine power crap, but just because I’m in a position to, and you’re not. No strings, either.”
“Where and when?” I quickly said.
She gave me the name of the place, address and time, paid the fare with a healthy tip added on, and left the cab. I opened the trunk, but by that time her doorman had come to assist her. I stayed where I was and watched her walk to the entrance of her building. Flat Jewish ass, I said to myself, my mother had one, most of the Jewish babes I knew growing up had one, most of the Jewish girls I knew, period, had one. But she was tall, even if a bit overweight, good-looking in this intense Jewish way, and she was picking up the tab. Hell, what the hell?
I put my OFF DUTY light on, feeling as if I had just resigned--at least for the next four days--from the world, and made it back to my cab company where I told the alternate dispatcher that I wasn’t feeling too well and doubted that I could make it in tomorrow. He mumbled that he was sorry, which was all the commiseration I could expect from him, but he was quick to inform me that he couldn’t give me back my eighty-five bucks for the shift. I asked whether he could apply it towards next weeks payment.
“No can do,” he stated.
“Chinese, huh?” I replied, but didn’t wait for his answer.

From my novel, THE TROUBLE WITH DREAMS

© 2015 Norman Savage

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

HEMINGWAY'S SON


somewhat masochistic...

definitely narcissistic...

needs agent.

What else
to say?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SHE ASKED ME


to write her
a poem.
Ice,
I said,
warms
my winter
nights.
She leaned
back
on my couch
and opened
a button.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015

SOME PEOPLE


should never:
wear a thong,
or spandex,
Bermuda shorts,
bikinis, or Speedo's.
They should never
smoke a cigarette,
or drink anything
except milk.
Some,
should never
be allowed
to drive
a car
or anything
that moves.
Without a doubt
should never be
able to pull
a trigger
or anything else
that resembles a dick.
Keep them away
from the kitchen;
hide the pens
or pencils or
scrapes of paper;
they should never
graduate
to anything more
than the dark side
academicians
of tedium.

I say this
only in
passing.
Undoubtedly,
there will be
more important
musings, but not
today.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015