Wherein We Meet My Friend Ray & Monica ( Jesus) Falls Into Che’s Arms
After the shock of losing my only true love—and knowing that, even though I deeply wanted it, there will never be another, I wished that Che had blown my freaking head off. Two things, though: he wouldn’t, of course, have blown my freaking head off, he’d only have put a bullet or two through the damn thing—assuming the little bullets could even get through my massive head; and, two, there really, of course, will not be another love like the one I had so briefly with Monica. I may find someone else, or she may (I’m not going to tell you what happens, and yes, this is foreshadowing here—or is it prolepsis?) return to me, but it will be different, I will be different, the world of the exposition will have changed after many denouements, and with it my (our, your) consciousness (-es). It works out sort of like death. I mean, even if there is life after death (loves after Monica), it will be so different from what we have become experienced to on this earth (our love), in this dimension, that it will be no different from the shock of nonexistence—both are unimaginable. Unlike my love for Monica, life does end. There’s that idiotic Kansas song “Dust in the Wind” that my idiotic parents listen to—eyes closed, fists rolled in emotion—that says “Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky…” Well, guess what, not even the earth and sky last forever. Even they will go. Kablammo. The world is going to blow up when the sun starts to die and as it does it will expand and eat us all up in a giant fucking angry fireball. Dust in the wind, my ass.
That’s how I felt, I was dying, exploding outward, and I wanted to kill some things in my dying wake. I was dying and that was good because I was angry, like the sun will be. Angry at how stupid I am, angry at my fucking head, angry at my stupid fucking stubby-ass fingers. Getting drunk just made it worse, too. I became angrier and more depressed. Oh, well. Oh, well. White dwarf. The sun’s going to become a white dwarf. That’s how I felt, like a white dwarf. Like a little white insignificant dying helpless useless pitiful little spent force. Just that instead of a dwarf, I was a water head. Still am.
During this period of my convalescence, my friend Ray popped in to get high with me. He brought a nice little bag full of buds and after a toot or two we were fucking tripping. Ray was everything I was not: tall, muscular, and incredibly good looking. My one advantage over Ray was, of course, my being white in a society that privileges that race.
Like me (As I?) and a lot of other Catholic kids on the block, he’d attended Fordham Prep, and that’s actually where I’d met him. It wasn’t normal for black kids to play with white kids on the street. In support of this de facto apartheid policy, we became friends in the austere egalitarian grounds of the Jesuit prep school. We lived only a few blocks from each other, but it could have been a continent, in some respects.
As I said, he was a blend of a finely chiseled face and rock-hard arms (which he, of course, displayed proudly with tie-dyed Guinea T’s), large hands, meticulously manicured nails (one of which was sometimes painted), and eyes that could look through you—deep into your soul. He was black, very dark, an African black, showing much ancestral luck in avoiding white blood, but he spoke not with the deep bass of James Earl Jones (THIS IS CNN; JOIN THE DARK SIDE, LUKE), nor with the European elegance of the colonially educated African he appeared to be. No, he was the son of the Bronx and his soul was grounded there; his language, like mine, like everyone on the block, was the nasally, Eastern European-influenced idiom of E. 187 th St. He spoke with his hands, pulled at his bare shiny pate as he dug ideas out of his mind, and nailed da dee’s and doe’s and earl for the car with the finesse of a Bronx street poet. He loved the fucking Yankees and hated the fucking Mets, and whatchu talkin’ ‘bout? Cha motha, I kick her fuckin’ ass.
It was nice to see Ray, I hadn’t seen him in a while.
I told him of my love story, but in vague terms— There’s this girl, and Che stole her away from me, etc., and he smiled a huge strong smile. “Let’s go kick his freaking ass,” he suggested.
“No,” I said, waving away the thought.
“Kick his freaking redneck ass.”
No, no, no.
“That punk ass owes me two hundred dollars, too. I’ll kick his ass, then turn him upside down and shake the money out of him.”
“No. No. It’s as much me as it is him.”
“And then I’ll kick his mother’s ass.”
I sat back on the couch and stared at a suddenly incredibly interesting spot on the wall. It made me happy to look at the shadowy patch—it was a smeary cross (sunlight + window frame), and I started thinking theologically about the twisted nature of Christianity and history and our knowledge of God. I made a connection that I had missed for years: the cross connects us to God through Jesus, through death, one line in the cross being life, the other line being death…
“Punk ass bastard.”
Where was I? Oh, yes. “Oh, he’s okay. No girl wants to stay with me,” I said, clearing my head.
“She didn’t leave you, right? He made you break up with her. He was going to shoot you, right?”
“No. The fucking guy—“ He slapped his knee. “This girl Monica. She’s blonde with a beautiful little face? Kind of yuppie, sweater-y, you know fuckin’ pearls and shit type?”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “That’s her.”
“I seen that fucking guy.”
“Che, man! I seen him with her freaking yesterday! I seen ‘em down Amici’s! Fuckinay!”
Oh, Lord. I was so heartbroken.
“Said, ‘Holy shit, what’s a respectable girl doing with a punk like that?’ They were at a little table all alone and shit and the waiter, the big guy, Bruno Patigliani, carded her. You remember Bruno from freaking Fordham, right, Hollywood? Smartest fucking guy in school. Straight fuckin’ A’s, dean’s list, kiss ass extraordinaire.”
“Yeah, big fucking guy. Yeah, he’s an old friend.”
“No shit. Yeah, now he’s a fucking waiter in fucking Amici’s.”
“It’s not like that, Ray.” I said. “He’s a made guy. That’s his uncle’s restaurant. All the made guys hang out down there.”
“Yeah. Yeah,” I said. “He’s okay, that Bruno Pitigliani. He’s an old friend. I know his family. He was always there for me.”
I remembered Bruno (a vision I’ll never forget) lifting this guy up who had been giving me shit about whatever—bigheadedness, stupidity—and then asking me if he’d made me mad. Yeah, Bruno, I said. He was being mean to me.
That’s not a good thing to do to my friends, Bruno had said. Then he drop kicked the son of a bitch like he was a two dollar fucking drugstore football. Old Bruno Pitigliani, he was all right.
My mind drifted back to Monica and Che and I became overwhelmed with sadness. I hated to ask, it just killed me, but I had to know. “Were they…holding hands?”
He thought hard for me. “Hollywood, I don’t know. I was so caught up with other things: the genius Bruno now being a waiter, good looking girl with Che, I was late for piano, I don’t remember.”
“Did he have his fucking gun with him?”
“Probably. He doesn’t go anywhere without it.”
I offered Ray a Heineken and dropped my Marlboros on the table in front of the couch.
“I tell you the truth,” Ray said. “That gun of his is going to be his undoing. It’s going to get him in big trouble one day. I tell you.”
Here’s how I imagined the discussion must have gone at Amici’s, the best restaurant in the world on 187th St.:
Scene. Interior. Dark restaurant – Night
A couple comes in escorted by a large stupid waiter. They are seated and the waiter returns with a bottle of –
Good Champagne! You are so romantic!
You make me so—incredibly happy, mah darling.
Tell me again about how you love me!
Can you even call it love, this feeling Ah have for you?
This thing we have is different from normal love—
Yes, mah darling. It’s insanity.
I want to make love to you. Right here!
Of course you do, everyone does. Wait, mah darling.
Tell me again about the idiot Hollywood.
He hates you and wants you only for your body. He’ll never know true love.
Oh, is there a place for us in this world? Where, oh, where, can we go, Che?
Let’s run off so that no one can find us. Far away.
Yes, just us alone!
Ah’ll guard you and make it so no goddamn ugly retards will ever get you again!
They rip off their clothes and Che pours the remaining Champagne across the naked body of Monica. They Then have sexual intercourse atop the table and we
FADE TO BLACK
I lost myself and returned again and again to snippets of imagined dialogue, rewinding and playing and rewinding and playing. I lost Ray for a few minutes there, he was talking about his brother who is a cop in the Bronx and some bank getting robbed or something…
No goddamn ugly retards…
“…So Howie grabs the his stick—he knows the guy’s a junkie because he had him sent to Phoenix House, I think, a few years ago—“
The thing we have is different from normal love…
“What kind of a thing is that to say to a cop? ‘I’m grabbing my stick to help you-- you know what I’m saying?—to save you from yourself—‘”
Tell me again about the idiot…
“I don’t know how he does it. People are so strange in this world, Hollywood.”
“Could you fall in love with her, Ray?”
Ray studied the beer. “Whatchu fuckin’ talking about, Hollywood, my man?”
“That girl you saw Che with. Do you think she’s beautiful?”
“Oh! Hm, well…” He thought hard. “Yeah, you know, she’s gorgeous. That’s what I’m saying about what the fuck is old Che doing with such a classy woman.” He opened his arms, like admitting a god into the room. “Woman,” he said.
“What, Hollywood? You what, Hollywood?”
“I love him, Ray?”
That came out wrong, but before I could correct myself, Ray was on his feet. “Ah, Jesus, now, Hollywood. A guy like that— He’s an old friend, but damn it, he’s a mean guy. There’s nothing wrong with being gay—“ He threw up his arms. “I ain’t gay. I am not gay, don’t get me wrong here! But I don’t care if you are, Hollywood, my man--“
“No, no, no, no, no! I mean Her. Her, her, her, her! Monica!”
“What do you mean?”
“I love her. Monica. I love Monica!”
“Oh, the girl. You love that girl, huh?”
Ray sat back down. “Well, I sorta figured.”
“We had a special—“
“Well, it doesn’t matter. We’ll just be on the lookout for our old friend. What is it with that guy? Stealing my money, stealing your girlfriend—“
“She was more than that, really—“
“Well, whatever she was—he stole it, the bastard.” He swigged down some beer. “Good dope?”
“Oh, yeah. Great.”
Ray smiled. “Good pot. Good beer. Good friends!”
“Hey, I didn’t mean to call you queer or anything, Hollywood.”
“Oh, I know.”
“Yeah, you know, I never thought you were, you know—“
“Okay. Good pot.”