*by someone who did the best he could*
(frankie leone, just a man)
*she’s my first assistant in a place of bright lights, devious dancing, and ill intentions. a night club. i need her to help me pack a table of drunk beautiful people to create a spectacle for not-so-beautiful people spending exorbitant amounts of money to drink around us. i’m a night club promoter and she’s my sub-host.
i chose her because her beauty is beyond describable. tall, thin, and powdered white angled features overtoned with an exotic ethnic twist. there’s this, and my biggest rival at the club has blacklisted her from his parties too. she’s a beautiful switchblade in my hand jabbing into his side.
i never asked her her age and won’t find out for some time to come. the driver’s license in her wallet says she’s twenty-one and from pennsylvania. i don’t care if it’s the truth or not. she’s enough.
her eyes are post-mortem. i can tell she’s had a hard life. this makes me feel deep affection for her immediately. she doesn’t speak much but when she does it’s loud, fast, and portraying a nervous persona i easily recognize. this endears her to me and makes me thirst for who she really is.
as we drink, dance, kiss, and serve our purpose at our employer’s club i don’t suspect my twenty-seven-year-old-new-york-born hustler self will fall in love with this beautiful nineteen-year-old from kentucky.*
*our first night hosting together goes well. we pack the table. we get our models, pretty girls, and gay men obliterated drunk and dancing on top of the tables. our employers are pleased. my rival, a tall thin gay man with a firm stranglehold on the promoting angle of the club is displeased. i see him whispering in the managers’ ears. i overhear bits of conversation passing the whispering duos to get more alcohol or request drink straws from the bus boys.
“he’s an ex-convict…
“he has not morals and will sleep with anyone…
“he draws other promoter’s people to his parties and has no ethics…
“you should fire him.”
the manager’s look bored. they occasionally look into his contorting features hearing a voice sped to light speed by a mixture of cocaine and vodka waiting until he finishes. then they return to business they consider important.
then he approaches her. i’m bothered. he puts his arm around her and gives her a kiss on the cheek. over the blaring hip hop and house music the club’s dj have chosen i hear him charming her.
“i have no problem with you…
“why would you join forces with this thuggish scum…
“let’s hang out soon…”
she looks happy and thrilled. i’m jealous. i’m going to lose her. i decide to handle this business after the party.*
*as we walk out of the night club at the night’s end i sweep an evil eye over my rival. he’s smiling from one side of his face to the other. he knows he’ll play the gossip and political angle of nightlife until i’m out of a job.
i tolerate gossip. i tolerate thievery. i tolerate most aspects of shit behavior some human beings put into action. however, i’m italian. please don’t touch my money or my woman.
his boyfriend walks sheepishly to the side of him. i tell him, “you better get your man in a cab and out of my sight. he’s not safe right now.”
my rival laughs and giggles with a maniacal fearlessness provided by narcotics and alcohol.
“don’t worry sweetie, he isn’t going to do shit. even this baboon knows i run shit around here.”
he continues to walk with a group of people down 10th avenue towards a club down the street to an after party. he thinks he’s safe in his group. he’s wrong. i chase him. none of his friends follow us to help.
he flails his arms running down a deserted 10th avenue. he screams, “he’s crazy! call the police. he’s trying to assault me.”
he’s right. with his face pressed against the hood of a car outside a gas station and convenience store i give him a harsh lesson on messing with a man’s income and woman.*
*she misses the action. just hears all the screaming. i’m walking briskly away from the scene of the unpleasantry.
“what happened,” she asks in a frightened tone.
“i handled business,” i reply in a soft voice, “let’s hail a cab. the cops are on their way.”
she looks terrified but follows me to the corner of 9th ave and 13th st to get in a cab. we hail one and i slump low in the seat before giving my brooklyn address.
“baby,” i say calmly, “i chased him to talk to him and he fell down drunk and high. that’s the story. understand?”
a line of police cars with sirens seizuring head towards the scene of the unfortunate incident. we pull away to brooklyn.*
*we have sex. she doesn’t seem fully present as we fuck. this disturbs me. still, i’m fascinated with her. i want to know her story. i want to take care of her. i don’t know it yet, but i want to love her. i sense my pain behind her vacant eyes. her pupils are often pinpricks. i know what this means- heroin. i try to turn off my emotions when i see it. someone so sublime deserves better.
she lives in greenpoint with two gay men. her mattress is on the floor without a frame. the two men are cruel to her. they’re active drug addicts and leave notes knived to her door expressing displeasure with roommate behavior they dislike. they keep the dishes hidden in their rooms so she can’t use them. whenever i leave her place all i can think about is how i can save her from herself.*
*i don’t have much money but the clubs pay me ok. one of my greatest pleasures is taking her out to eat. my favorite place to take her is the cubana social club on n6th street and berry street. sometimes during our meals she’ll answer her carefully passworded cell phone. an older man’s voice is audible through the turned up speaker. she keeps her responses brief and cold while making plans to meet him.
i know it’s her sugar daddy. she’ll lie about it for quite some time. it crushes my insides into broken glass. i want something better for her. after the third or fourth time i witness these calls i decide it’s time she moves in with me. she has to survive in this city but i can’t leave her with certain animals of our concrete jungle. i decide i’m the better of two evils*
*she moves in and we start something wonderful. i hold her and kiss her. we begin telling each other our love for one another. she starts smiling. she starts being there during sex. she finds a job. our lives intertwine and she becomes more beautiful every day. i force her to leave heroin and her sugar daddy through tears and fight and strife.
one night she tells me, “i’ve never felt loved before. ever since i was a little girl. you’re the first person to make me feel loved. i used to hug a pillow when i was young hoping some day a man would hold me and love me. you’re that man. thank you so much.”
i shed tears of joy silently as she drifts to sleep next to me. i’ve never been happy before.*
*i’m never able to trust her. the history of our early relationship made it impossible for me. i never know whether she wants me or just needs me. i’m jealous when she talks to other men. i’m constantly paranoid her sugar daddy or someone similar will come back into the picture. i work six nights a week and get little sleep. the only moments i savor are the ones with her. holding her. watching movies with her.
i start losing my mind.
italo svevo said in zeno’s conscience the two biggest indicators of love are jealousy and obsession. our relationship proves this correct. i watch her read culture blogs and correspond with friends on facebook. paranoia overwhelms me each time i see this her text on her phone. love, lack of sleep, and an uncontrollable killer instinct to protect her from the world she’s left drive me insane.*
*she leaves me. i have a nervous breakdown. the sky burns. my insides rot.*
*(ALREADY CONTINUED, prequel: “-musician-”
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