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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Solace

Sunday January 15, 1984

Solace.

On Saturday morning, the second weekend of the new year I make a trip up by taxi in the wet squelching snow to the office of Charles Gomez, my accountant. Once a year I do this.

He's moved office a number of times in recent years, now works in a building opposite one of those giant hanger-like structures built by the army, for the National Guard. A year ago Gomez's office was opposite a giant air-inflated tennis court.

Gomez himself is tall, always taller than I remember. He has very black skin, but short curly grey hair. This Saturday, as if noting the snowy conditions outside, he wore a red-checked wool flannel shirt.

It's a ritual we go through. How are you Mark. Fine Charles. Thank-you for your Christmas card. I think you were the only one to send me one this year. Can you hang on a moment, and I'll be right with you.

This is all part of it. I make use of his Xerox machine to copy my tax notes. This year I am organized. Everything Charles will need is typewritten onto one piece of clean white paper. In past years I've had to sit at an empty desk in his office for an hour, adding long lists of numbers.

This year I talk with his secretary about Weight Watchers. She lost twenty pounds, a lifetime member.

Come on in Mark, I'll just get your file.

-:-

Outside, Lexington Avenue is quiet. People walk carefully in the snow. Vehicles move cautiously along. I turn down toward Gramercy Park, and pass by the entrance of the old hotel. Ruth and I were there once. We went up to check the room that her parents had reserved and were going to stay in. We put some flowers and magazines on the bedside table. She took her underwear off and we made love for a little while. Then we locked up the room and took the key back down to the front desk.

Another time I sat in the Park sifting gravel through my hands, lying in the the sun with Sean. She lived at the Woman's Evangelical Residence on Gramercy Park. It was a home for good girls and single women, run by the Salvation Army. A tall building, many floors, it resembled a hotel. Men were excluded. An imposing woman with a white uniform sat at a desk near the front and stopped me and called up. I met Sean's father in the waiting room. We sat and talked, then he went on his way. Her parents were divorced.

One Sunday morning Sean and I went up to an empty lounge in the Residence, and recorded dialogue and sound effects for Jim's film "Jane Austen in Manhattan". I had a Nagra tape recorder and a long boom microphone. When I asked her to do footsteps I kept picking up the sound of her bluejeans rubbing together. So she very nicely took them off. She was naked. I was very nervous the matron would come up and see her and kick her out of the Residence. We were just recording sound.

We went a couple of times to the movies, and almost became good friends. I was madly infatuated with her, though, and she knew it. I must have also been impatient. We stopped seeing each other. I left messages for her but she never returned them.

Slowly down through the snow and puddles of slush to Fourteenth Street. Hey man want some sesamia? What's that? Smoke man, smoke!

No, I don't want any smoke.

Snow. Peace. Time. A yearly event. Gomez's gravelly voice was filled with that ease that comes after a winter's rest. Each year his office is littered with construction equipment, never ending improvements. He stopped bugging me about the projector he wanted me to buy. I wonder if he sold it.

Last night Barney came down to Mott Street, and shouted outside my window. On his way to Paris again. We ate a quick dinner at the Milon Indian Restaurant on 1st Avenue and just made a showing of Hitchcock's "Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt". We were the last ones they sold tickets to. The theater was jammed, but we found a great spot against the wall. The girl who played the part of Charlie, and was almost murdered by her uncle, was beautiful. We wondered who she was.

Red Bar. Got talking with the waitress there. When we came in she said "Rolling Rock or Becks?" I figure she's said it about a million times. "Hey that's an Austrian hat isn't it?" she said to Barney. "How'd ya know?" he asked her. "I've been to Austria once, with my mother." She told us all about her two week trip through Europe. In all she was only three days in Vienna. Her powers of observation must have been tremendous. She told us about her parents, hoarding things. Boxes filled with shoes, floor to ceiling. Her brother's about to become a priest, he's studied in Rome since he was fourteen. In a bus in Rome she said, "Mama, that man's rubbing himself against me, I swear." Italian ladies brought them food when they learned they were a mother and daughter travelling together.

Chris came in. We'd arranged to meet him. Barney and he started making drawings of paintings by Diebenkorn. Our waitress friend supplied them with some index cards to draw on.

Barney and I left to go check out the Pyramid Club. Freezing night, people standing in line to get in. A girl emerges from the club, high standing blonde hair, leather cycle jeans cut away at the back, leather cycle jacket, see-through lace panty hose, nothing else. Image of her luscious ass on that freezing night, with everyone else shivering in the snow.

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