Thursday, June 29, 2006

It rained and it got warm before the rain quite ended and then it got sunny and quite hot.

People on the subway read their papers warily, just a bit distracted. Like they are waiting for something to happen that never does.

When I was playing with George and Joe in Washington Square Park the other day. As usual a clutch of derelicts, head cases and addicts gathered 'round us. And some marginal cases too – quiet guys, some with guitars, suspended from the bearings of a dull and cozy life. Sitting amidst the cigarette butts and the trash, watching, listening. Smiling strangely.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jury Duty - 9

I went to an Italian restaurant outside of space and time. Giant potted plants, and tablecloths, and napkins. An easel with a chalkboard, specials written in pink chalk.

I heaved myself up to the bar like a shipwrecked man to shore.

I ate pasta and meat sauce, drank Chianti. I listened to some rich old lady prattle on. To her husband and their friends. The put-upon bartender, who wore red.

She wore a long coat and a scarf.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Somewhere in the world it's raining hard and I like to think about that.

One night I fucked a girl on the L-shaped sofa in my friend's parents' living room. Some drunk, young girl I kind of remembered from high school. Everybody upstairs.

I didn't ask, but she said the reason she let me fuck her is: She likes guys in bands.

After some exertions I came into the unfathomable darkness inside her. At once I evidently was despondent and remorseful, and said or acted to the effect.

I recall realizing she might perceive this as a slight and so steered my melancholy musings toward the abstract.

And that's when she was moved to ask me.

Did I think I would ever do anything bad to anyone. Do I think about doing bad things. She asked.

She seemed quite concerned.

With my softening cock inside her still I reassured her best I could.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Jury Duty - 8

When the first phase of laborious and faltering rationalizations, supplications and concessions ended we were dismissed for lunch. A period not to exceed one hour and one half.

We tromped out of the box and out the stately door.

The defendant, froglike, sunken in his chair and neck, examined us with jaundice.

If ever he leaves I bet he takes the back door out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Jury Duty - 7

During the course of his preamble the judge said: This case is a racketeering case. It is a case, you will hear talk of the Mafia. You will hear talk, la Cosa Nostra. The defendant's name is Gregory DePalma. Here he is now, sitting before you. He is an elderly man. He is in very poor health. He is an ailing man.

And he recited the charges against this man, a garish hodgepodge of loan sharking, bookmaking, assault, intimidation, embezzlement, payola.

And more.

His candor had a rhythmic, mesmerizing effect, as of some litany or chant.

Mafia. Cosa Nostra. DePalma.

Bookmaking. Loan sharking.

He duly introduced the prosecution and defense.

Then, one at a time our numbers were selected by the languid black girl from some ancient, hallowed tumbler. It was six-sided, I think, all nicely wood.

Number 27 please. Take the first seat in the box.

I was the third juror.

There began the litany of excuses.

I have a house reserved in the Hamptons. It's quite expensive.

My son is graduating and I can't miss his graduation. He's graduating.

My wife requires medical attention and I am afraid no one will look after her.

Some tearful.

I for one saw no reason to reject my duty though I felt as though I were sliding inexorably toward something strange and new. Bewildering.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Jury Duty - 6

They opened the door and we filed in processional. Tomb quiet. Maybe fifty of us in all.

It was startlingly, remarkably cold in the courtroom. Colder than the moment you were born.

The court clerk, a young black woman with a languid posture, told us instructions. Sit in these rows. We will be calling your name, your number. We will call you to sit in the box.

A door somewhere opened and a black-gowned figure floated in.

All rise.

His honor So-and-So.

He welcomed us in the sternest possible manner. Yet I could perceive in him a trace of hard-won benevolence, a real thing, not put on nor imagined, that sustained him through these trials with their evidence of repeated, fateful failings of our kind.

I liked him.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Jury Duty - 5

We were told we would be moving. To another courtroom. The two officers in charge occasionally excused themselves to ascertain the preparedness of this next stage; of its judge, its officers, God knows what. They'd leave and say, Don't leave. They inspired in us solemn and unquestioning consent.

Finally we filed out into what, an antechamber. We piled into elevators in disordered, deferential sets.

When we had to wait we waited.

When we arrived on the 23rd floor the courtroom was, strangely, still not ready. We hovered in the lobby next to windows to the north. The windows looked upon Canal Street, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, the East Village, Chelsea and, looming in the midst, the Empire State Building.

For Christ's sake.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Jury Duty - 4

We sat for what seemed like hours in the deep mahogany pews of some courtroom on the what was it, sixth floor. Like schoolkids on detention.

We were each assigned a number and urged in the strongest possible terms to memorize it.

"You will be handed a card. Memorize the number on your card."

I received a card and memorized the number.

"Do not forget the number on your card. This number is your number. The number on your card."

I thought about my number. I liked my number. I thought about the number on my card.

My number was 17.

Vaguely I worried: What if that was not the number on my card?

What if the card said 19?

I pried the card out of my pocket, a card just like some business card. Of someone you met at a party or a bar.

It said 17.

I was 17.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Jury Duty - 3

I had a solitary lunch at a bar with a friendly bartender, she seemed to be from something like Wisconsin. She recommended the California Cab and who was I to refuse.

Back in court we waited. I drifted off to sleep on crooked elbow. They emptied the room in sets of three dozen or so throughout the course of that drowsy afternoon, sending them all up there to their fates as dispensers of justice. And then they said: Come back tomorrow.
Lightning blinked beyond the kitchen window. Home at last.

I walked a balance beam of asphalt across a puddle on the treed and tessellated sidewalk by the Park. Fifth and oh, 108th or so.

Fire engines were parked before the hospital, silent. Flashing.

Her theory was: Every man becomes my stalker. And it was nearly self-fulfilling.