Monday, March 02, 2009

The Streak - 18

Evan walked into his apartment on East 87th and dropped his bag right near the door. He saw the clock on the kitchen wall. Twenty-five hours until game time.

He walked into the living room and fell heavily on his new, white sofa. Everything was new. This is where he'd been living since Denise. He marveled at how much money he'd spent on furniture only to have the place look like the set of a porn movie. When he found the place, he was living at the Parker Meridien in Midtown. He told his personal assistant, Julie, to spend about $25,000 on it.

"What do you want it to look like?" Julie said.

"Jesus, I don't know. Make it look nice. Kind of nice."

"Kind of nice?"

"Kind of nice."

"How much nice?"

"You have $25,000. I don't want it to be the be all."

"What style?"

"Edwardian."

"Really?" Julie exclaimed.

"I'm kidding. C'mon, style. I want you to do it in the style of a dissolute, divorcing baseball player in the late afternoon of his career."

"Ha. Sofa, chairs?"

"Sofa, chairs, TV. Big TV. A bar. Some shit for the walls. Some art shit."

"Some paintings?"

"No, no. Some of those fucking posters. You know, those Picasso at the Louvre, May-September type posters."

"The Louvre doesn't show modern art."

"Jesus, you know what I mean. Picasso at the MoMa. Some of those posters that college chicks and dentists like."

"I know exactly what you mean."

"Framed."

Evan got just what he asked for: Big white couch and matching chairs. Glass coffee table, fancy modern lamps. Big, black shag rug. Rothko at the Tate on the wall. Big-ass TV. There were three coffee table books on the coffee table that he'd never bothered to open, let alone to read. He wondered if there was anything more depressing than the book at the bottom of the coffee table pile. The one on top was 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography. The one in the middle was Beautiful Wineries of Wine Country. The bottom one was landscape style, the spine pointing away. He had a feeling it was about trains. Old-time steam locomotives. Not that he'd ever seen it. The book pile was in place, just like everything else, the day he moved in. He thought maybe no one had touched it since Julie placed it there with the care and precision of a food stylist. Maybe the cleaning lady touched it. Or maybe she just dusted around it, respecting its purely sculptural purpose. It was the coffee table book pile, not a pile of books on the coffee table. So he thought it was a train book and he was about to find out. He thought about how crazy it would be if he was right, if it was a book about fucking trains with a big, black steam engine on the front. The Great Steam Trains, maybe. If the book had a picture of a steam engine coming at you and it was called The Great Steam Trains, Evan would shit himself right then and there. How crazy would that be? And how much crazier still, now that he was thinking about how crazy it would be? Now he was thinking about how crazy it would be to be thinking about how crazy it would be to correctly intuit that the coffee table book on the bottom of the coffee table book pile he never touched was about steam locomotives. Evan thought about what he'd do if he uncovered the book and it said The Great Steam Trains and had a big, black train chugging at him. Black smoke billowing from the chimney into a deep blue, Western sky. He pretended he was sure that it was true and it was not hard to let the conviction swell within him until it was sincere. The degree of how crazy it would be if it were true, now that he had decided it had to be true, had become nearly incalculable. But a creeping doubt set in: had he seen the spine one day and registered the title subconsciously?

Tremblingly, Evan turned the pile around to see. It was Ballet in the Dirt: The Golden Age of Baseball.

Evan turned on CNN and went to the bar to pour himself a scotch. A picture of Mick Jagger appeared onscreen. A picture of a picture garlanded with lilies and white roses. Mick onstage, bare-chested, in a sequined leotard, mascara, sparkles. The camera pulled back to reveal a throng of solemn mourners, keeping vigil in Hyde Park. The crawl said:

    SIR MICK DEATH MYSTERY

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