BILL’S LAST STAY
Bill’s a regular. He and his girlfriend are practically weekers at the Triborough. I, being the desk clerk, reach under the desk and hit the buzzer opening the door which allows Bill and some lousy fucker entrance to the office. A forced joviality accompanies Bill’s usual wired state of urgency. I hate his restless, coked-up chitter-chatter. Makes me nervous and throws my concentration.
I grab the lousy fucker’s cash for a short stay. The guy leaves the office with key in hand and retrieves his girlfriend from the car.
I change the registration card and direct it towards Bill. He waves it away. “I already got a room.” He watches the couple as they enter their room. “I just have some time to kill. Thought I’d say hello…I got a line if ya want it…”
I think about it. Change the subject, “You know, your girlfriend called. Said her car was missin.” The same car Bill drove into the parking lot.
“Yea!? She forgot…I borrowed it…I got a joint too…c’mon.”
What the fuck – it’s slow – a few tokes, a couple of lines wouldn’t hurt. Keep me going. “Sounds good…we’ll go into one of the empty rooms.”
Locking the office door behind me, we walk through the horseshoe parking lot. Bill keeps chattering on as I look into the pink sunset sky and remind myself to turn on the motel lights when I return to the office.
“Room 10.” Bill follows me in, waving a joint. “Here! Light it up. I’ll be right back with the coke.” Bill opens the trunk of his girlfriend’s Nova and fishes around beneath a blanket. I exhale sweet reefer smoke out the bathroom window as Bill returns with a tire iron.
“Bill – what the hell are you doin?”
“Give me the keys,” Bill says, hands gripped tight to the tire iron.
I take another toke, laugh a bluff, “For a moment I thought you were serious.”
“Seth,” he says looking me in the eye, “I am serious.”
“Don’t do this,” I beg.
“GIVE ME THE KEYS!” Tire iron raised.
“Okay.” Bill has the master keys.
“Now lie on the floor!”
“LIE ON THE FLOOR!” he shouts, eyes bulging, iron waving.
“Can’t I lie on the bed?” I ask, eyeing the door. Unable to get out the door, I figure the bed will at least cushion a blow.
Bill’s white knuckles pull back on the tire iron – “LIE ON THE FLOOR!”
Unable to get past him or overpower him – wanting it all to go away – I lie on the floor awaiting unconsciousness.
“NOW DON’T MOVE!”
Bill walks out, closing the door behind him.
I rise to a crouching position in front of the window and watch Bill leave the office, pass my room, open the door to his girlfriend’s Nova, throw the tire iron into the backseat and drive away.
I walk back to the office. I stare in disbelief at the opened and emptied drawer. My mind races. I wonder what to do. I call my boss and get his kid’s voice fooling around on the answering machine. Cute. I hang up the phone and call up Frank. He works at the motel with me. I tell him what happened. I tell him it could have happened to him.
“I don’t do drugs,” Frank says and tells me to call the cops.
“What? Bill’s off his rocker. He’s a crazy crackhead.”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“I’m in the phone book!” I protest against his straight sensibilities. “He knows my car! The bars I hang out at! He’s a crackhead! It’s best to get rid of him. Otherwise he’s trouble on the run or on bail. Don’t matter. I don’t want no drugged lunatic on the loose threatening my existence.”
I hang up the phone and figure the damage to be only 220 bucks.
I redial Frank who agrees to bring me a $220 loan.
“After all,” I tell him, “It’s my fault for being fooled by such swine. Filing police reports and answering their questions wouldn’t catch him…it would get me fired.”
I let Bill ride…
Johnson University stands on Harmony Hill. Uninitiated students moving from safe suburban streets to Harmony Avenue learn fast. They become prey: harassed, mugged and sold beat drugs. Their apartments are broken into and ransacked. Women asleep in their beds aren’t safe unless all windows and doors are locked. Harmony can be harsh and violent.
And that’s just where I’m headed.
Snore just got himself an apartment on Harmony Ave.
On his corner prostitution reigns. Biological women work one side – across the street transsexuals strut their sex – both harboring the disease. Makeup conceals lesions and needle marks.
Habits are fed two blocks away at the projects.
Snore believes he is in heaven. He’s a five-minute walk from a bag of dope. He knows the deals and the dealers by name. Since the dealers are his friends, Snore’s house-warming party is open to the hood. Junkies, whores, and dealers are welcome. They pop in. Use the bathroom. Scope out Snore’s friends. Encourage business.
Snore’s friends fit right in – eccentric weirdos, artists, flaming queens, musicians, and bartenders – many sharing the same addictions while others only indulge on weekends. It’s Saturday night. In dark corners of the living room drugs and cash are exchanged.
In the bedroom…who knows? The door is shut.
Aurora, beautiful Jewish/Wiccan painter, Goddess of the Night, sits in the bright kitchen with an odd old friend named Tommy: a skinhead nazi guitarist for The Nihilists. Tommy sits at the table with his cock out. “I have to piss.”
Tommy’s new girlfriend – he always has a new one – gets down on her knees, drinks his fleshy fountain.
Aurora laughs in disgust and belief. Tommy’s capable of anything. She knows that.
“Aurora can laugh,” Tommy says. “She’s a Jew. And I hate Jews. We all know that! But she’s different. Somehow she’s gained my friendship.” Tommy smirks, “No lampshade or gas chamber for her. She can be my sex slave.”
“That Will Never Happen!” Aurora shouts out loud. Her nervous laugh acknowledges that if Tommy’s Nazis were in power, she would be her on her knees.
“You wait, my dear,” says Tommy with a menacing smile.
“FOREVER!” Aurora yells.
The bedroom door opens. A bare-chested blonde exits. Someone’s fucking on the bed. A naked brown-skinned woman is on top. Her back to us as she moans and rides upon milky white thighs. Closing the door, the blonde pulls her tube top over her large breasts and sits at the kitchen table. She preps her glass pipe and watches Tommy’s girlfriend, still on her knees, giving head. Snore’s German shepherd stalks, sniffs. Tommy’s girlfriend pulls back. Smiles as the dog licks Tommy’s cock and walks away. The girlfriend continues.
The busty blonde lights up the rock. Exhales, “I’m pregnant.” Takes another hit.
I grab a beer from the fridge.
“Can you get me one?” asks the new mother.
Hands go up. I grab a five-pack but its empty plastic ring and put it on the table. Five beers pop open.
The blonde mother shakes her head, “Damn – that guy in the bedroom offers me a tip, right? Just wants to suck my ‘big titties.’ I say okay. And he gets a mouthful.” She drinks her beer. She hits the pipe…exhales. Blankly stating, “I’m lactating.”
Tommy’s girlfriend stands up. Wipes her hand across her mouth. Swigs a beer.
Tommy begins his usual barrage about the superiority of Aryans Cursing “the scourge of our nation: niggers, Jews and spics.” It wouldn’t surprise me if Tommy gets jumped by the Brothers standing by and listening. That’s happened before.
I grab my beer and walk out on the second floor porch for some fresh air. Jeff, trombone player and only white dude in the reggae band Respect is very pale, sweating profusely, swaying as the boom box blasts the old Supremes tune, “You Can’t Hurry Love.”
“Oh man,” Jeff moans, leans over the banister and pukes…
“Heads up!” I yell.
“I don’t feel too good,” Jeff confides.
“Done heroin before?” I ask.
Jeff weakly shakes his head, removes his T-shirt and wipes his sweating face. “I’ll be okay,” leans over the ledge…pukes.
I back into the apartment.
“Yo!” Doctor Crucial, the Cuban coke dealer with doctor bag, calls me over for some lines…nostrils numb…everything rings true, “Amazing.”
The Doctor laughs, “Nooo credit.” He’s high and as usual in his own movie.
“I’m gonna buy a beer. Want one?”
“My boy,” Doc says snorting another line.
I head for the fridge.
The crack mom is pushing against the bathroom door. “Hey let me in.” She leans in sideways. Looks down, “Hey! This guy don’t look too good.” She backs up and gestures me over. I lean in and take a look. Snore is blue-lipped, ashen, passed out on the floor.
“Hey! I Need Some Help Here!”
Two of Snore’s junkie friends rush in – “Don’t worry! We got ‘im” – Snore is raised up and sitting on the toilet seat.
“Shit!” The guy says, fingers on Snore’s wrist. “No pulse…better call 911. On second thought,” he whispers, “we’ll take him around the corner.” Gives me a hard look, “Gotta be done sometimes.”
A panicky voice on the phone gives Snore’s address and plays dumb to questions. “I don’t know!” She says. “He’s passed out. Just get here quick.” She hangs up the phone, “Ambulance On Its Way!”
“And I’m on my way,” Doctor Crucial grabs his drug bag and heads down the stairs. “Me too,” says another.The exodus begins. Personal possessions are quickly gathered. Whores, junkies, musicians, artists, and flames flee as the faint siren grows louder.
Friends that stay scamper, cleaning the apartment of incriminating evidence.
Snore stays slumped over the toilet seat. A crying friend splashes his face with water. “I feel a pulse!” She screams. “C’mon Snore! Snap out of it!” She shakes him.
“EMS,” a white uniform walks into the bathroom. He rolls up Snore’s sleeves, sees the tracks. “Overdose,” he yells to his partner. Holding Snore’s head in his hands, he lifts Snore’s lids and stares into his eyes. “What drugs has he taken?”
No one says anything.
“Give us room,” sighs the EMS partner.
Snore is given a shot and strapped to the stretcher.
Snore slowly awakens, “Get me off this stretcher.”
“You’re coming with us, pal…You’re lucky to be alive.”
Snore pleads with me, “Seth, come with me.”
I sit next to him in the ambulance. Snore calls me close, “Not Johnson Hospital.” Makes sense. Snore works at Johnson Hospital. Snore whispers, “My name is Ted.” Winks, “Ted Freeman.”
“Take him to Saint Peter’s,” I tell the ambulance medic.
“I’m not driving,” the medic responds.
I yell up front, “Please take Ted to Saint Peter’s.”
The driver says nothing.
The ambulance pulls up to the emergency entrance at Johnson’s Memorial Hospital.
‘Ted Freeman’ is wheeled through the sliding and swinging doors and into a curtained partition in the ER. He is wired to a heart monitor and connected to a glucose drip. “You can go now,” Snore tells me.
“Yea. I’ll be out in no time. Wait for me at my apartment. Make sure no one rips me off.”
I walk out the swinging doors as Snore reiterates: “Ted Freeman…no insurance,” and gives a fake address.
I make my way back to Harmony – a vampire remnant of the night – the sun burns through my squinting eyes as I pass the open shops, the students, and the business-attired.
Inside Snore’s apartment the curtains are drawn. People have passed out from opiates and alcohol or stagger around in coke-induced deliriums. A dehydrated zombie asks from the white-crusted corner of his mouth, “Did you bring any beers?” In afterthought, he inquires, “How’s Snore?”
I shake my head, “He’s all right. He’ll be back soon.” I slump into a couch and wait.
A half hour later Snore walks in with a 12-pack of beer.
“You’re a saint,” a stoner gives praise.
The sleepy pin-eyed rally into the bright kitchen for a beer.
Everyone listens to Snore’s story: “There I was, hooked up to IV and monitors using a fictitious name, Ted Freeman…”
“The homeless dude at Johnson Park?”
“Yeah. His name just popped into my head. Sounded good at the time.” Snore takes a drag from his cigarette, “Then, thereal Ted Freeman walks into the emergency room.”
Snore nods, “I’m lying there on the stretcher when I hear, ‘My name’s Ted Freeman and I think I did too much coke.’ And then he starts goin’ on about his heart beating too fast and shit.”
“No way!!” says Tommy.
Snore puts his hand up – in oath – “I’m telling the truth.”
“What did you do?”
“I unplugged myself, threw my clothes on, and snuck out.”
“Get the fuck out of here!” a single shrieking exclamation of disbelief.
Snore raises his hand again. “I took the elevator up to the lab. Punched in. Told the crew I stayed at a friend’s house and bumped my head.” Everyone laughs. Snore takes a healthy swig of his beer. “Then I told them I had to go home to take a shower and change my clothes.”
“They were cool with that?”
“I’m here,” Snore says grinning. He raises his beer. We laugh and toast. “But I have to get back to work,” Snore grumbles towards the shower. Rushing out the bathroom, Snore grabs another beer and shuffles into his bedroom. Dressed in lab blues Snore yells, “Bye!” and closes the door behind him.
The beers are going fast. I grab another. Then slump back into the couch, very tired, thinking that today I better call in sick to work. Body heavy, exhausted, I finish my beer and fall asleep…