Friday, November 12, 2004

 

D'entre les morts

It's very late somewhere in Queens, forty years ago. Ol' Bob Hamm and I are in a graveyard drinking cheap wine. Bob's telling me about his friend Joe, whose girlfriend is a drag queen named Nicole. Much undefined sexual tension between Bob and I (despite a furtive unsatisfactory blow-job one night so very long, long-ago), never really relieved -- save for the drinking. For it's this period -- mid-sixties, when I was in college -- that drinking had somehow begun to replace sex. No, take that back. They ran on parallel tracks. If I couldn't get laid I'd get drunk. And sometimes vice versa. A desire to "lose myself in the dark" was the common denominator. Cemeteries were welcome spots for the application of cheap wine to an already hazy mind and troubled soul. (There's a great cemetery scene in the film version of A Home at the End of the World )

One night Bob took me to visit his friend Joe and Joe's girlfriend Nicole in their apartment on the lower east side. A singular experience. Joe wasn't gay, by any standard I knew of then or now. And Nicole certainly wasn't a woman. Yet they fulfilled roles that redered them "boy" and "girl" in the accepted sense. Joe was just another junkie -- flegmatic and funny. Nicole another mark -- quiet, self-contained. How Bob (possibly the squarest hipster I've ever known) came to meet Joe I never found out.

The image is beginning to fade just now. Probably wasn't meant to last, hazy as it was even at the time of its conception. Like a jazz refrain played on late night FM radio whose title I never quite learned. Something by Eric Dolphy -- "You Don't Know What Love Is." It begins to fade like the identity of someone who also lived on the lower eastside who I used to drop by and fuck in the afternoon around four. Up the stairs, knock on the door, fall on the floor with him -- without so much as saying hello. The fuck was the hello. Smiling, giggling, grabbing at the buttons and zippers, coming rather quickly too as I recall. Some talk, some tea-- and then out.
Gone now, all gone. Buried somewhere down there (points to ground ), or up here (points to head.)
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