Friday, January 30, 2004

In the cab on the way home I got the dizzying sense that I was headed downtown not uptown. There was a slight downward pitch perhaps and that got me thinking. The street numbers blew by with all their incontrovertible authority: 14th, 23rd, 42nd, 59th. Yet all along I felt I was heading downtown and I liked it that way. Heading down, down, down.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The wind is howling I can feel it in my bones.

Friday, January 09, 2004

There was a missed call on my cell phone the other day and I didn't recognize the number. In fact two calls. I figured I'll call  them back. And it was B's number, a number that once had been so familiar, a number that I'd nearly memorized but had since put out of my mind. I left her a message:

"Hi, it's Pat. You called me, so hey. Call me back."

My tone was measured, unsurprised. Cool but not unfriendly in the least. I wanted her to call back. Because. Because. I miss fucking her.

She never called back and I came to interpret her gesture as an appeal for me to stalk. I knew all along she craved that kind of attention from men, from the time she showed me the portrait in her study that had been painted by a jilted lover. It was a garish, life-size depiction of her with butterfly wings and a sort of Sherwood Forest tunic. Herself mythologized. And there were the pleading, desperate e-mails she forwarded to me from that idiot she went to New Orleans with but never fucked, saying look how funny, but really saying look how men debase themselves for me.

She collected stalkers and admitted as much, laughing, but of course she didn't think she did on purpose and maybe she was partly right. I never heard her so serious as when I asked her where she lived, when we were to meet up for one of our earliest dates. There was a pause on the phone.

"OK. I'll tell you. But I want you to absolutely promise me one thing. This is serious."

"Sure. What?"

"Promise me you'll never, ever, ever, ever show up at my place unannounced."

I promised. But again, I wonder if extracting this vow from men – for this was surely not the first time – was her signal to them to do just the opposite. If it was in fact the devious fusing of some emotional bomb and not a prudent plea for reason.

She wants me to call again. I can feel it.

Shaq is injured.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004


Joe had only ever met his new neighbors at the bus stop but they seemed nice enough. A rosy-faced blonde girl who looked to be right out of college, first job in the city. An older woman, mid-30s maybe, who wore rectangular glasses with green frames and a leopard-print fur hat.

Then there was the guy. His hair was fair and shaved real close, a number two maybe, and he was always a little underdressed for the winter, and he never really looked you in the eye, and he had the trace of a smile on his lips always, and he seemed sort of blank, like a being you could fill up with anything you wanted.

Often at night Joe heard moans of deep sexual excitement through the wall. There was the guy's voice, panting, going Uh! and there was a woman's voice, he didn't know which one, or maybe sometimes it was one and sometimes the other but he couldn't tell them apart. Maybe both at once.

The woman's voice, and the things she said, the sounds she made, Jesus Christ thought Joe. Right through the wall. He'd sit up on his pillow smoking and listening. She'd develop a groan from deep inside. It would start like a kind of industrial whine, unhuman, not even animal, and then grow louder and pass through entire taxonomies of cat, of bird, of unnamed beast before she'd climax and burst into thirsty gasping breaths of extravagantly human delirium. Saying YEAH UHHH YEAH YEAH UNGHHHH! UNGGG!

Joe was fascinated but it didn't turn him on. In fact at times he was plain spooked. The woman would sometimes suddenly break into articulation, interrupting a long droning moan with OH GOD OH GOD OH NO OH NO OH GOD NO as though she'd dropped a baby out a high-rise window. There was sometimes a terrible strain in her voice like she was lifting an enormous weight. And a hint of rage in her wailing frustration. Joe came to imagine her as a Sisyphus who succeeds. He could not think of sleeping before he heard her come. In fact he could do absolutely nothing but smoke in the dark.

Monday, January 05, 2004

New Year's Eve at John's was even-keeled and uneventful – no good drugs, no one had sex with a stranger, no one became spectacularly sick over the fire escape let's say, or even into a potted plant. The most raucous moment was when Sean knocked over a bottle of red wine. The clap it made on the floor cut through music and conversation, people gave a generous berth to the red splatter and gazed upon it with worried wonder.