Saturday, October 14, 2017


About a decade ago I moved to a country. My friend was my boss, my boss my friend.

I could get sued for this because of the nondisclosure agreement, but fuck it, me and Rose McGowan.

Unlike Harvey, she, my harasser, was very pretty.

When I arrived, they were still putting the finishing touches on my house around the corner.  Or so I was told. In retrospect.... So I stayed with her. The way her house was set up, my bedroom was a respectable number of yards away from hers, but there was a back path between them that the staff couldn't see.

It gives me shivers to remember it.

We would have breakfast, then sit on the veranda underneath a spinning fan working Sudoku, swimming every 45 minutes, playing. ("Shep! You have a good body!") We would drink beer on ice beginning at eleven, and watch Bollywood movies in her bedroom, the shutters drawn against the perpetually 82-degree sun.

She taught me how to dance the men's parts.

By night, she would start touching me. People might have come by, or we'd have been out to a Western dinner with them, but the song remained the same. I didn't want to touch her, or to be touched, for many reasons. But I played a fool rather than walk the path back to my bedroom... until 7am.

I was attracted to her, which showed, in all of the ways it always does. But I was also a world away from any power I'd ever had, and behaved like a very dumb version of myself. At this point, I had decades of defending myself against comparable situations. Just not with bosses, nor women.

There was insistence that I spend the night in her bed. I was weak enough to do it a couple of times, strong and canny enough not to do anything but put my arm around her until she fell asleep.

None of this would have happened if I'd been Robert in New York. None of this would have happened if I hadn't abandoned that guy in search of experience that I erroneously determined would be good for me psychologically and professionally.

Elegant as I thought I was about it all... Catastrophe.

It took months to play out, but I did not have the job anymore once I made it clear that my arm was all that was available, my willingness to dance like Saif.

Every story that comes out about established power vs. striving power will make me think of Kemang. Understand that you don't think of yourself as weak, just sophisticatedly navigating an untenable situation. You. Are. Not.

Manners, disbelief, and self-respect conspire to allow it.

It is only afterwards that you see it for the insanity it was. It's only afterwards that you are sad.

Forget about your house of cards
And I'll deal you mine

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

You Say You're Changing: Madison

I am in the only spot in Madison where my computer steadfastly refuses to connect with the WiFi. This place is ur-Wisconsin. I don’t dislike it.

Everybody’s changing and I don’t feel the same.

Outside, the weather dismal. Light rain, dark and grey and cold. No amount of smiling co-eds can overcome the gloom, can warm me.

It was 90 and humid when I arrived three weeks ago. So, a seasonal shift.

I’ve worked a week landscaping an intractable plot of land around a cursed wooden ranch house in Middleton, which is apparently a place of its own, Madison also being a place of its own that is not Milwaukee or Green Bay.

I am, today, a waiter in a pub that has not a healthy thing on the menu. But cheese curds and a thousand kinds of aioli.

It is pretty here. The lakes and the architecture, and despite the insane amount of University wear, the kids. They are as gorgeous as in Ohio and Michigan, and mostly well behaved.

I have no idea, beyond landscaping and waiting tables, what the adults are up to. I hear they are fucking up politics?

The pretty and kitschy Capitol looms over us all. Not my first time at this kind of merry-go-round, rodeo, other accepted metaphor.

The music is great, I’m always Shazam-ing, and the beer is decent.

There is an element of tabula rasa that I appreciate.

Bars have gaming machines and electronic dart boards. The former not something I’d ever do; I have been to Vegas five times and never played so much as a slot machine. (There are empirically more enjoyable ways to lose money.) The latter profoundly unsatisfying, for the boards aren’t cork. You don’t even know how much darts were part of my life in Jakarta, swatting away potential Indonesian wives to beat Baba at cricket.

It's a couple-mile hike to Trader Joe’s, but I take it. It’s a drab drive to Middleton in Roger’s truck, all strip malls and lousy roadmates. But I take it.

Am rendered absolutely filthy. Recover surprisingly well from muscle ache.

Madison IS a place, which is all I ask. There are lakes on either side, M one lake and M the other. There are old theaters that get all the good bands and comedians.

Not everybody says, “I’ve never been to New York,” as they do in San Francisco (still) and Portland.

Friday night I am going to man the door at a “club” with “dueling pianos.” Your guess as good as mine.

This is the kind of shit I did at 24, and I am doing it again at 54, and I’m game. It’s exhilarating in a low-key kind of way.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Riding the Rails

I want to be William Holden in Picnic, jumping on trains and going to places like Iowa. Disrupting other people's lives. (Not that I'm aiming for Iowa. I was in Davenport once when I was young.)

Truth is, it has been that romantic for three or four months. Hostels, motels, people's homes. In San Francisco, in Portland, in Seattle. I know my way around -- not that there is much to know -- a Motel 6. I know how bad the coffee will be, and the fact that there will be a fighting couple in the parking lot. Someone crying.

A very small sampling of friends I have made, for a day or two or possibly longer: "Retired" gentleman who spends his day in the nicest hostel in SF; lovely older Danish woman with whom I went to the farmer's market and walked up Telegraph Hill, then down the other side for beers at Mario's; various charming French women, all with advanced degrees; young Dutch boy and young English boy in a dorm room at the edge of the Tenderloin, both sweet and uncomplicated and fun to hang out with; kind divorced father with a plain-Jane small clean home in St. John's, Portland; smart couple in another Portland neighborhood (can't remember which), she having gone to Kenyon of all places; Aussie biker guy who couldn't fix his motorcycle so sold it at a loss, terrific at beer time; assorted oddballs in Seattle plus another Aussie guy who'd gone to Burning Man and was... unexpected.

Crushes, fascination with other people's stories. Dinners. It's a world of that. At 54, you can go years without meeting anyone, learning anything new about people.

I love it.

If there were still a culture of hopping trains and picking up yard-work here and there, I'd be set for life.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Canard (with asterisks)

One time I went to Paris* and met a guy named Patrick.**

Patrick insisted that we go to this one restaurant for this one dish. Magret de Canard.***
Like if you ordered a steak, but it was duck instead.

I could still find that place in The Marais. The magret was tremendously good, and it was an enchanted evening. Just drunk enough, candlelight, this kid from Toulouse.

The next morning, in my hotel room, Patrick took a bath. There was no shower. I took a photo of him in the tub (chaste, of course).  Belmondo.****

He had to go home, I went back to Amsterdam and then New York, but we wrote each other. In French. He spoke zero English. And while I speak decent French, I am not a good reader or writer of it. On Jane Street, I'd get these letters on international mail paper,***** and pull out my dictionary and respond. A lot about his entretien. A lot about missing me (after a 24-hour fling). I missed him too.****** J'ai besoin de toi.

So Patrick came to New York on vacation.  No.  He came to see me. I can't even imagine how he got the money together. I suck. , but I greeted him at the airport and then with a bottle of Champagne and a ride to Staten Island on the ferry, because I'm just that kind of guy.******* Then dinner at the late, lamented Savoy in SoHo, or NoLiTa, you pick.

It was a terrific night, although we were really too drunk to eat.

Patrick stayed with me for a week, and I had to take a business trip to Chicago, so bought him a ticket to tag along. This is unimaginable now, but I told my client he'd be coming with me, at no cost to them, and they were fine. We served Remy Martin sidecars together, and there is an amazing picture of that.

We did not fall in love. Well, I didn't. He was a kid. I seriously do not know who I was then.

In New York, prior to this, Patrick came to my office in jean shorts, and although that was normal empirically, I was very embarrassed.  Keep in mind, this was a handsome handsome masculine guy, but too young, wide-eyed, and never been to the city.  I have some finesse, so wasn't rude or anything: just aware that the people who worked for me were like what?!  Maybe we don't have to respect you so much anymore?  Maybe we have leverage?

Anyway, Patrick called me at the office from my apartment, because land lines. And he wanted to make me magret for dinner. I have no idea where he even found it. But he needed pans. I owned maybe two. We had an incredibly long conversation in French about pans, found no understanding, and I went Bed, Bath and Beyond (my nemesis) and bought everything.

He made me a lovely dinner.  As good as Paris. He was a truly beautiful guy (yes, inside as well as out).  If we'd had less a distance in age, and if my French had been better, who knows?

Some years earlier, my friend Anne from Georgetown came to stay. It's all baffling, but Anne and I sat in my SoHo studio -- terrible place -- and watched a made-for-TV movie starring Melissa Gilbert.******* And out of nowhere, in the heat of an argument, Melissa said "canard." Anne and I immediately burst out laughing.  Anne had a great girly-haughty laugh.

I still can't think of "canard" without laughing.

I miss Anne, and I miss Patrick.

Canard is an accepted truth that is in fact untrue.********

Ring any bells?

*It was accidentally for Europride: truly, I didn't know. It was really fun.
**I am only allowed to meet people named Patrick or Mark.
***I am not Googling any of this. There may be factual errors. Untruths.
****I have pictures of him, on FILM.
*****Do you remember how exciting this was?
******We were at least ten years apart in age, maybe more, but there is precedent for that in my family.
*******I've lost control of the asterisks.
*********I was very handsome at the time. The point of being good looking is to attract people, but it all goes haywire.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Henry's Taiwan Kitchen

Happens to be next door to the Seattle hostel where I am staying and couldn't cook up the pasta and tomatoes I meticulously selected at Pike Place Market today, on account of other hostel residents making elaborate meals. Henry's has the usual accolades in the window, always suspect, but the price point was irresistible and the menu reassuringly not too wide.

What I got was noodles with slivers of fried egg and chives and bean sprouts and perfectly small nuggets of pork the way I like it. I had to go back and ask if it was pork... just small crispy chewy bits of protein. But the key to the dish was the conversation I had with the man I ordered from.

I said, "I want it spicy."

He said, "Light, medium, strong, or maximum."

An old hand at this, at being cheated out of heat, I said, "Maximum."

And it delivered. Look, I don't want heat for the sake of heat. I want flavor and contrast and textural finesse too. But I want heat! It always sounds like bragging, like Bourdain worldliness, to say you want authentic Asian spiciness. But I do! It's just in me. It's in no one else in my family, but they enjoy witnessing what happens to me; what happened, alone, tonight: It starts out without incident, and then some sweat forms on my forehead, and then I'm wiping moisture out of my eyes, and then taking a napkin across the back of my neck, and then my hair is soaked through.

One time, in Jakarta, I ate through a delicious Indian lunch and the people at the table were like why are you sweating? I said I don't know I think it's the green beans. They seem spicy.


There were no green beans on the table. Just incredibly potent peppers as a condiment, which no one else had touched.

Next post I'll give you a food picture, because there aren't enough of those going 'round.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


This is an essay without a thesis or a conclusion. Which is to say a bad idea. It is also depressing, so please skip it if you are not in the mood. I am rarely in the mood.

I simply walked some blocks I hadn’t walked before, and can’t shake them.

For a month plus, you curate your San Francisco experience, relish the weather and views, walk so much and wonder at the mildly attractive completely uninteresting younger people who travel  in packs.

To an East Coast person, it’s always such an arresting combination of paradise and provincialism. The 65-year-old woman behind the register at Duane Reade on First Avenue has easily a more sophisticated grasp of life than 90% of San Franciscans. And a more genuine smile. (Cuz I got all the good jokes at Duane Reade.)

I’ve taken lovely photos here, often misleading photos.  Can you feel guilt about photography? Yes, and also writing the way you do.

Today I had a beer I didn’t want to watch Federer on grass. I looked up best tacos in SF – you’d be surprised how poor the quality of Mexican food is here – and set a course that led me through the Tenderloin.

There were no people who were not deranged by mental illness, drugs, alcohol… no people at 12:30 on a peerlessly sunny day walking a reasonably straight line. So many in alleys, filthy camps blocking sidewalks.

This is one of the most notoriously bad neighborhoods in the world, a referendum on America and certainly a referendum on the dumbassedness of the city by the Bay.

You grieve being there, and you flee. I went quickly to Market and got on a streetcar and ate tacos instead at an old haunt in the Castro. Remembering that more than twenty years ago it was the same, knowing that San Francisco has never solved its problems, just gotten richer to the point that it maybe never will.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Independence Night

Playboy Bunny Angle

You were ungodly
in the hazy neon light
and I was dumbly dressed

Badlands, fourth of July
fireworks finished
and business begun

On first pass I was daunted
then sped back unseen 
what was it on that screen?

Mad at myself, circled round
and stared in my cool way
which was not very

Where had all the boys gone
from the Kennedy Center roof?
at which you smiled, less aloof

Than I had taken you for, though
no less lovely in affability, the kind
of calculation I made at twenty-two

You liked my Mardi Gras beads
and didn’t hate my lime green tee
I liked everything about thee

Drinks with limes and lemons
vodka, gin, cranberry
precious little to say

I was surprised how quick and easy
I got the best man, like
that time at nineteen with Lee

Parting the crowd on the way out
my hand on your back, proprietary
or maybe your hand was on me

Logan Circle, newly charted territory
nicer than it needed to be
handsome, spare, a curiosity

Pimms and soda on an elegant bench, 
your foot rubbed my foot ardently

You told me about the dairy farm
toy truck stenciled with your name
and your abstract aspirations lame

Cooking at a hotel joint
a joint and some cocaine, but
the night remained abundantly sane

Harnessig heritage with heresies,
dairymen, ministers and attorneys
paintings, oil cans and keys

Your Texas drawl, the arch of your foot
your elegant recline

My tennis tan, the arch of my foot
my muscles defined

We smoked cigarettes
talked all night
and slept in your boat of a bed

July nights in Washington don’t dip
below eighty, so you placed fans
inches away as we worked out plans

I’d had girlfriends
and a senior-year thing with a guy
with red curly hair

I accidentally slept with him 
every night
of spring semester

But you I loved instantly

Not knowing about the paddle boat
or the hammock
or the telegrams to come

How much I liked kissing
and holding hands

Or the fact that you would
spend the rest of your life
with my best friend

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Play Right

As a pedigreed bodysurfer, it was embarrassing to have misjudged so badly.

When he was a kid they called it getting scrambled, being hit so hard by a wave that you were tossed around like a rag doll, no sense of which way up, limbs spiraling then washed onto the sand like a starfish or a dead crab. Thrilling.
But in Montauk, he wasn’t thrilled. There was a steep drop-off from beach to water, a shelf really, and he slammed into it, not knowing where air was, plus an added complication of a flare of pain from the base of his neck to the small of his back. He thought about Rich Havermeyer as he pushed away from the bank and tried to determine what the hell was what.

Then, out of his nowhere, a big arm reached around his waist and pulled him to the surface. Such amazing sunshine above; he’d forgotten how beautiful the day was.Sam hauled him to the shore and they climbed out like athletes in a sport yet to be invented, 56 years of exercised biceps and triceps between them, collapsed on their backs on the meager slip of high-tide beach.

Gasping, dying, but somehow still alive

“That was… stupid,” Jack said through heaves.
“We didn’t… know,” said Sam through his.

They panted, panted, panted some more, then rolled and kissed.  They’d known each other two hours.
When sturdier, they climbed the steep stairs back to the party, stood by the pool, the only men with shirts off and wet bathing suits. They drank drinks someone handed them. Vodka and cranberry juice, a ridiculous punch, Pimm’s and soda? Jack had no idea; it wasn’t working anyway because of his adrenaline. 

Somehow still alive

He couldn’t talk, so stood focused on the doubles match. Sam’s shoulder was against his and he said, “You should go play.”
“They’ve already got four.”
“They’ll let you in.”
“I don’t have a racket.”
 “They’ll give you one.”

So Jack went to the court and they did gave him a racket and let him play. He was erratic but elegant, had no volley to speak of but an excellent serve. They seemed to like him. He was handsome and friendly too.

It did the trick: he calmed down. An hour later, back poolside, he had another something and was instantly drunk as hell. Sam’s arm half around him, his palm on Sam’s back.
Guys were talking the South Fork. Silly stuff about Southampton as the only place that mattered, Wainscot and Sagaponack byways, East Hampton Hollywood, Amagansett rusticity. Everyone agreed that Montauk was where to be in this gorgeous instant, where their host was the most famous playwright going. Where he had almost drowned.

Jack’s contribution, met with silence: “Harriet the Spy lived in Water Mill.”
Maybe not his crowd.

They weren’t allowed in the house. The host was inside with his aversion to sun and his distaste for parties. He loved his boyfriend but did not love his boyfriend’s friends.

That night, though, he came to their party. Six shared a very pretty, shabby, salt-soaked shingled house off Main Street in East Hampton, backing up to ye olde farm. Jack had just been along for the ride, sleeping on a couch, but was now upgraded to Sam’s room. He showered with him, laughing into his good ear. Sam was half-deaf and had a kind of funny voice because of it. He worked out more than most, had an impressive chest. Later that night, Jack learned that Sam thought sex meant fucking, which was not part of his repertoire.

Not a good volleyer, nor fucker.

Sam and Jack put on different polo shirts and different Bermuda shorts. New and improved, and still alive.

It was a true old house with crazy staircases where you didn’t expect to find them and at least three levels on any given floor. It was very easy to get lost. After a couple of drinks of whatever anybody handed him, Jack was finished with small talk and so just wandered around. He was thinking about his friend in high school who had gone away on a weekend fishing trip and never come back. He was thinking about Havermeyer, his friend in college who missed his final semester because of a bodysurfing accident, paralyzed, airlifted from Florida to Ohio.

Where was the shore? Buddy died, Rich went on, Jack came to the Hamptons, to a Montauk party, to the beach with Sam. Unscathed, except for that persistent pain from head to lower back, dulled now by vodka and cranberry juice, or punch, or Pimm’s and soda.

Plunging down a staircase, he found himself in the kitchen, not as nice as you might think, and grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. When he turned around, the playwright was there. It was just the two of them, a bad song playing in the next room, maybe Billy Joel?

“Hello,” the fellow said. He had small lively eyes.

“Hi,” Jack said. “Thanks for this afternoon. I almost died, but otherwise it was a lot of fun.”
“I’m so glad you didn’t. That would have been inconvenient.”
“You don’t seem like the rest of this crowd.”
“I look like them.”
“Maybe, but angular. Anyway, I said seem.”
“I’ll take it as a compliment.”
“You’re with the big guy.”
“No. Not yet.”
“Trying it on?”
“I don’t know another approach.”
“Definitely different.”
“They all try each other on.”
‘But don’t admit it.”
“Maybe not.”
“You are a very nice tennis player.”

"My dad taught me. I’ve got old-fashioned strokes. I’m not very consistent. Sometimes I hit my backhand with two hands and sometimes with one. And I never know what I’m going to do until the ball is coming right at me.”

“You’re a writer.” Jack bowed his head. If he weren't so ruddy from the sun, his blush would have shown.“Film school, screenwriting.”
“Why would you do that? They’ll change your words.”
“If they ever give me a job, I’ll test the theory.”
“It’s not a theory, it’s the truth. But I hope they give you a job.”

Then Sam, of everyone, came into the kitchen.
“Hey.  Hi. What are you guys talking about??

The thing about Sam was that he didn’t really enunciate very well. He might save your life in the afternoon but talk indistinctly later. It was hard to say what Jack most responded to. Chest, saved life, speech impediment.He really wanted Sam to shine in the playwright’s mind. It was intolerable that… Anyway, Sam started talking about real estate and Jack reached in the refrigerator and got him a beer, and the night went on just fine. Except that when he glanced back after grabbing the Heineken, the playwright’s head was cocked, his small eyes saying I don’t believe that this is who you really are.

Up in bed at four a.m., Jack said buddy buddy buddy. And Sam said that Jack was making him feel like a pervert.

“I don’t think that.”
“You act like it.”
“I feel close to you.”
“You don’t act like it.”
“I just… I’m kind of basic. Hey, tell me about the time you were on the swim team.”
“I wasn’t on the swim team.”
“Oh? I was.”
“Go on.”

“I wasn’t good. I could only swim breaststroke, and even then just competed in the city meets. A lot of the guys swam state, even nationals. The coach was this very handsome man in his early thirties, a real asshole…”
“He threw kickboards at your head when you were slow. Which I was. All the time.”
Sam rubbed Jack’s head.
“I ended up quitting because my friend…”
Suddenly Jack felt emotional. It had been a very long day. But he regrouped. “This seems like a fake story,” he said. “But it’s not.”
“No,” Sam said. “Your fake story would be sexier.”
Jack laughed, then dove in:

“My friend died, drowned on a fishing trip. He and his father and another boy and his father. The drowning part of it didn’t really affect me. My mind. I just didn’t like the silence in the pool. When you are swimming laps, there’s noise, of course. You hear the water and when you’re taking breaths, the echoes in the natatorium. But you tune those out, so it just seems like silence.  Before, I’d sing songs to myself, but after I couldn’t get Buddy out of my head.”

“Buddy? Is that why you called me Buddy?”
“No, I just meant you’re my friend.”
“So, when I quit it happened that the coach was also my homeroom teacher. My morning warden. He sure as hell didn’t teach anything. And he said in front of everybody, “Today, Jack is going to move. He’s going to sit with the girls.”  For some reason, maybe natural selection, the guys were on one side of the room and the girls on the other.
“What did you do?”
“I moved.”
“What’s weird is that I don’t remember anything about him for the rest of tenth grade. Literally don’t remember another day in homeroom. Years later, after I’d finished college, there was a big scandal. Turned out he’d been sleeping with a bunch of girls, including my babysitter. She had to testify in the trial. He went to jail.”
“Man. You had it rough.”
“Well, I was pretty popular, and I guess that mattered more.”

“Were you popular?”
“Umm… I had the hearing problem and had to take speech therapy. So got made fun of.”  Sam dropped his voice: “Saahhmm.”
“Aw, come on!” Jack kissed him.
“But then I got big, so they had to stop.”
“And I wasn’t smart like you.”
“I’m only okay.”
“What’s his name seemed to like you pretty well.”
“What does he know?”
Sam trapped his leg. “I’m not tired. How about you?
“Exhausted, not tired. What do you want to do?”
“Talk. Kiss.”
“Kiss. Talk.”

Of course they fell asleep right after that, mid-kiss, mid-word. Jack slept dreamlessly, his favorite way. When he woke up it was past eleven and Sam was snoring. Attractively snoring. Jack extracted himself from that that big lion paw and retrieved his clothes, surprised by how shockingly orange his Lacoste was.

He had absolutely no idea where he was in the House of Seven Gables, padded barefoot down splintery halls and tripped slippery stairs until he refound the kitchen.
There were three guys there, all smiling.
“Bloody Mary?” said one.
“Cajun!” said another.
“Coffee?” said Jack, and it turned out they had that too. With chicory; there seemed to be a theme going on.
“Hey, you’ve got a fan,” said the third.
“Good to know. He’s still asleep.”
“No, not Sam.”
The playwright had been singing his praises.
“He seems like a nice guy,” Jack said.
“Oh, the opposite,” said one.
“He’s really mean,” said another.  “We go because of Brian, and because it’s cool to say you’ve been, but it’s always the worst. It’s insane that you can’t go in the house. And insane that he stays inside and watches through the window.”
“But he certainly likes you.”
Jack sat on a stool and changed the subject. He was dense in morning fog and they were chipper, skittering around subjects like hummingbirds. There was a hummingbird feeder right outside the window, so Jack didn’t have to look very far for his metaphor.
Sam came down yawning and tickled his orange belly.
“Boys,” he said, poured himself a cup of coffee and sat on the stool next to Jack.
Then: “You, buddy, talk in your sleep.”
“What do I say?”
“Pretty much gibberish, but kind of singing.”
Later, Sam told him that he’d been working in a grocery store. And drowning.
In the kitchen they talked about oysters and gumbo and JazzFest, and ultimately drank very good Bloody Marys with spicy pickled green beans. The gents were gearing up for another pool party, but Jack was headed home and Sam was going to take the ferry across the North Fork to drive back to Connecticut. Jack was relieved about that, but sad too. Maybe more sad than relieved, which was promising.
Sam dropped him off at the station. They didn’t talk on the way there, just held hands, but when they got out they faced each other across the Audi trunk and said their stuff.
 “I didn’t expect this,” Sam said. “I mean, of course. But when I saw you yesterday I thought you were… “
“Not going to be somebody who liked somebody like me.”
“A snorer?”
“I do like you.”
“Great to hear. But.”
“Please don’t make me say more things.”
“I won’t ever make you do anything. But.”
“You can’t be embarrassed by me.”
There were mothers and children around the parking lot, businessmen headed back for the big week ahead.
“You are smart. You speak well.”
“And last night in the kitchen…”
“Last night in the kitchen, you were kind of embarrassed by me. Because I’m loud and my voice…”
“Sam. You don’t embarrass me.”
“No, really?
“Really. Nobody embarrasses me, not even my parents.”
“Cool. So I can fuck you?”
Jack smiled as big as he’d ever smiled.

Jack came around the car and kissed him, not even thinking about the parking-lot people, then got on the dirty train.

He drank a beer in the bar car and hung out in-between things, scanning potato fields. There were two teenage girls running around laughing, Manhattan private school girls, Chapin probably, Harriet the Spies, who seemed to think he was somebody, kept coming by him. He bummed a cigarette from a lawyer and stood staring at the flat land, smelling it, his addled mind mixing up Sam and Buddy and Havermeyer, wanting to be home again.

The Chapin girls kept coming out and singing a rhyme that made no sense. He rather hated them.
In the bar car, the lawyer was talking New York City. “This is what everybody knows but nobody will say. We are drowning. We are drowning in a sea of self-righteousness, of pandered children, of ineptitude. We are under water.”

Jack rather hated him.

But back in the Village, all was good again. There were porn stars headed to Julius, drug addicts under the trees, and Joyce in her usual spot next to his apartment door, in a clean white nightgown, brown legs outstretched, enormous melanoma still there on her cheek.
“Some people like to move around a lot!” she told West 10th Street. “But I like to stay in one place.”

Jack waved and went inside.