Thursday, July 2, 2009

THE BATHROOM AT SLUGS'

in the far east,
on third, between B & C
was hot. It was over thirty years ago
that even taking a piss in there
fucked with your imagination. It smelled
of sex, quinine, morphine, reefer, body odor
and wastes. Before sets, inbetween, and after
there were lines. Sometimes singles, often times
couples of the same or different orientation.
There was a kind of understanding: sometimes
it took longer to get hard, or find a vein,
or role and fumble with a stick, and so you waited.
The ones with priority were the players. They needed
to do their business and get the hell back. Besides,
in truth, that’s why most of us came to Slugs
in The Far East. The other joints where cats could work
ideas into riffs for weeks or a month at a time,
like The Five Spot or Half-Note,
were already dead.

One night late Lee was on the bandstand blowing hard
sweating into the collar of a stained white shirt that had
pin-pricks of dried blood in the crook of his arm
when his common law entered. She walked up, opened
her purse, took a gun from it, and shot him dead
during his solo. She turned, walked calmly back,
placed the revolver on the wood-scared pock-marked bar,
and ordered a drink---scotch, I think. And waited.
The bartender, Frankie, served her without saying a word.

After awhile people started to breath, some whispered, and others
went back to the bathroom.
“That no good motherfucka sonofabitch deserved that killin’,”
an older chick nearby said, “that junkie bastard usin’ her bread
for his vein was bad enough, but his bitch’s vein too, that’s even worser...
someday he be back though, hope he learned his motherfuckin’ lesson.”

The ambulance came, and so did the cops. They took out one living
and one dead; which was which I couldn’t say.

I don’t know if Lee ever did come back. I do know this:
men will be men,
and women women; that is the task,
and that, my friends,
is the terror.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 1997

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