Chapter 73

“Inner strength drawn from
other persons and sources
crumbles inside out.”

“Careful, careful…”

“Will do…”

“Nice and slow…”

“Yep, easy does it…”

“Steer right in there, straight and true.”

Nothing spilled, little more gained. We had blown out of Casa Cossala faster than Luke and Leia off the Death Star, though not before I’d suggested we double back for another hand grab of Chocolate Decadence, addictive as it was. That gooey cocoa mud, are you daft, Sydney spouted, tightly cinching the belt of her black velvet safari jacket. A red blush filled her cheeks as she blew another curly strand out of her eye. In all, she was a portrait of decomposure in the foyer’s stained glass light. “I can’t let my friends see me like this!” Like what, I’d assuaged, you look perfectly… presentable. To you maybe, but I’ve never felt so mortified in all my life, was her reply. So off we went, Syd finding little solace in the prospect that her prized ‘Bridge to Goodness’ painting commission was now all but hermetically sealed, payed forward, etched in proverbial stone.

“That’s it, take it deeper, then nudge a little to the right.”

“Enough?”

“Bit more, squeeze right in there, shoot for chute, close as you can get.”

“Can’t get much closer…”

A fierce ocean gale had powered over the Divisadero ridge, down through Steiner gulch, then back up Broadway like Playland’s Big Dipper ride. I had wondered about the windbreaker panel outside Casa Cossala’s front door, whether Alberto had taken the cut glass motif too far. But it quickly proved another directorial masterstroke, what with these staccato, fog-laced gusts hammering its rose-petaled panes and leading like mallets against chromatic xylophone bars. Not that it made our half-block walk to Syd’s Audi any less blustery, slacking valet parkers be damned. As for the ride back to her apartment, we steered away from Fillmore’s 24-percent grade as though the Hill were still clogged with its clunky counterbalance cable cars. So down off Broadway, Franklin Street’s sequenced green lights couldn’t change quickly enough to hit home, her glorified halo and hair coils having come all unsprung.

Which was why I had ended up behind the wheel of her cosmetically repaired Audi Fox, dodging and weaving through threads of molten conversation between traffic snarls with the evening’s guest of honor. I only wanted to ferret out what had actually happened up there on Cossala’s stage, what was said or left unspoken, why her joyful basking had so suddenly turned to quaking earshot eruptions of smoke and ash. Don’t even want to talk about it, Syd bristled, as we coasted over the Green Street hump through Union Street’s intersection. She scraped tearful hydrocarbons and street grime off her contacts, dipping them in a tiny plastic lens bath atop her opened glovebox door, cursing at the mirror image on the shotgun side sun visor. Come Lombard Street, she slammed both to an A.M. tune, namely ‘Gold Dust Woman’s Make you break down, shatter your illusions of love—pick up the pieces and go home’ –before steaming, “get me back to my place fast as you can.”

So we couldn’t hit Chestnut Street soon enough, at least without banging into her building’s Genied, Roll-A-Door garage, the Jilters’s ‘Around the Bender’ now blaring from the dashboard tape player/radio. From there in, I did all the tight turning, the gas tapping and brake pumping, the angling and straightening required to maneuver between and around all the wooden pillars and posts supporting these stucco soft-story, Marina bandboxes.

“And watch out! Whatever you do, don’t sideswipe Roz Dorfman’s car,” Syd pointed at an orange AMC Pacer tucked between the garbage chute and a 4×4 load-bearing redwood beam. “She’s my best new neighbor, stenos in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers, right outside Harvey Milk’s office, for criminy…”

“Gotcha, I’m easing on in with some room to spare,” I toed the accelerator ever so slightly as ‘Around the Bender’ faded on her Audi’s radio, the KYA jock back announcing/I.D.ing a set of Nick Lowe’s ‘Cruel to Be Kind and this last, oddly timed rocker hit. “What’s supervisors?”

“City Hall, noodnik…wait, the Jilters, isn’t that one of Josh’s bands,” she asked, car alarm set, new Coach bag and car keys grabbed, forcefully guiding me upwards of the lobby stairs. “Speaking of which, where’s that package of his?”

“Still working on it. I’ll have it for you any time now…” I followed dutifully, for I’d just anal retentively added her extra key to my rawhide band, ostensibly for safe keeping.

“He called me from L.A., you know,” she said over her shoulder at the first landing. “Told me it’s gotten important that I dig it up, super important, and let him know ASAP.”

“Well, it has to be in my car somewhere…”

Was fortunate to barely miss a bend in the garbage chute, given that Syd so spontaneously erupted into a synopsis of how she had recently moved her studio after the Art Institute had reclaimed Athren Guildersol’s space, then convinced her current landlord to let her remake an overhoarded rear garage storeroom at nominal monthly cost. Live/work—that was current thinking in The City’s realty circles, and as usual she was brushstrokes ahead of the curve. Two stiff flights of thick, floral-runnered stairs, along with a pitch-by-pitch recounting of her negotiating tactics, and we were keying double tumblers into her apartment: she rebounding, me frazzled and still thoroughly confused.

“That raunchy old Volvo,” she snickered, not without a degree of careworn concern. “Where is your clunker, anyway?”

“Oh, not so far from here,” I said, dodging among other things a clawfoot coat rack crammed with red and yellow slickers, rain hats and long, hook-neck bumbershoots, gathering nothing but dust these relentlessly dry days. “That’s why I was able to walk on over to meet you here.”

“You’re not sleeping in that wreck, are you?”

“I’m not sleeping in it,” I huffed. Tossing and thrashing, maybe, but certainly not sleeping.

“Wherever, I can just picture what kind of neighbors you must have these days. You really must upgrade the sort of…people you associate with could be that park killer, for all I know. You’re smarter than that, aren’t you? So just find me that box from Josh.”

“Yeah, well, then think I’d better split,” I glanced about, out Foxed—realizing she’d taken possession of my keys in the car. “It’s getting late and I’m about ready to crash…”     Syd's new apartment

“Which parking lot tonight, Kenneth?”

“No, hey, I…damn, screw you,”

“What do you have in mind,” she asked coyly, digging through her ample, gold buckled bucket bag. “Just stay a while, I don’t want to be alone right now…”

Sydney’s place now looked even fresher than before, with a new overstuffed sofa and coffee table—basic Ethan Allen with a designer flair and scattered Crate & Barrel embellishments—fitting even more nicely with her latest stage of creative evolution than when I’d been booted out the time before. Overall, the composition seemed right, the tone and texture—it just read well: Dolled up walk-up studio, retro-mode Murphy bed with a salmon shaded comforter, wicker nightlamp hanging overhead, casting a soft ivory canopy glow over her nearly queen-size throne.

And woodwork—lots of re-stained redwood grain—the Murphy headboard, her closet doors, all the way around her baseboards, framing the right bathroom door through to the kitchen nook, even that cute little hutch now positively overrun with her colorful menagerie of oogly ceramic creatures and creamers. Two-and-a-half rooms, mucho sunlight, brightly repainted kitchen cabinetry with built-in ironing board and that convenient garbage chute: Not bad for an ambitious single gal nursing her neurotic mood swings and feeding her creative urges. Then again, there were all the added family photographs.

“If you don’t mind, I’ve had my fill of what you want or don’t want for one evening,” I muttered, looking away at those walnut framed glossies as best I could.

“Honestly, Kenneth, just make yourself comfy a second,” she smiled, pointing toward a deep seated wingback armchair over near the foot of her unfolded Murph, beside a small, cluttered writing desk. “Like what I’ve done with the place lately? Just move those sweaters, I’ve got to check my answering machine.”

“Nuke that damn machine,” I muttered, as she ducked into a large walk-in closet behind her bedframe casing.

“Say again?” she shouted out, clicking through some Code-A-Phone messages.

“Uh, nothing, lots more closet space now, huh?” I dropped half the multi-hued cashmere stack. “I mean, for your humongous wardrobe—not hanging from the rafters like in your old place…”

“That from a guy whose closet is probably the back seat of his car,” she cracked, having pushed forward on one of her Dolby CrO2metal cassette mix-tapes. “But ah, yes, good ol’ Edie’s place aeons ago… how about I make us some coffee?”

“No, really, I best mosey on along,” I said, particularly avoiding the full frontal family portraiture prints, while admittedly sneaking Faithful glances at her au naturel young mom.

“Relax, toots, what’s the big rush,” Syd re-emerged from the kitchen with a stoneware plate of wheat crackers and cheese, mainly Gouda and Gruyere, placing it beside me at the end of the bed. Drowning out the gurgle of her coffeemaker was the bouncy stereo sound of Karla Bonoff’s ‘I Can’t Hold On’.

I could but stare at her for several seconds, her sphinxish move, the green satin pillow she placed beneath her platter, then wonder where she had secreted my keys. “I dunno, what am I supposed to make of this, Syd? Just clue me in on what the hell’s going on?”

“Hmmm, that’s up to you, now isn’t it,” she said in passing. “Here, dig in, antidote to the Chocolate Decadence. I’ll fix us the coffee…creamer?”

“Which one, the Truckee cow or Salt Lake City’s,” I asked into her kitchen. Panning after her, my eye was tripped up by a newly mounted photograph on the opposing family wall. It looked to be a Mendel table gathering at a Seder or something, Moon and then hubby Lester smiling widely in the frame.

“Your call, my latest faves are from the Bel-Air in La-La Land and Chicago’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel,” she said, meeting me in the kitchen doorway with a small Tosca tray and two earthenware critter cups from some crafts barn sale up by Dogwood.

“Nix on the latter, already been that route,” I grabbed mine by the curlicued tail handle, flashing on Studs, Michigan Avenue and FBC. The worrisome spectre snapped to mind again that Syd was still intent on keeping me hornswoggled out here while her family effectively worked their wayward daughter-in-law back into the Midwest fold…maybe getting to be time to be making that call… “Sugar, too…”

“Sugar, sure enough, tell me about it…” She maneuvered her way dead center onto the Murph, setting aside the coffee tray to don a tassle-trimmed pink afghan.

“No, you tell me all about it, Syd,” I rather took safe place in that armchair at the foot of her bed, gripping tightly on the mug. “I mean, one minute your chin’s dragging down to your kneecaps, next minute you’re making like Wonderwoman, flying around the room…”

“Haven’t the vaguest what you’re talking about,” she sipped, the overhanging ivory light glowing aura-like about her afghaned head and yoga toned shoulders, that sappy Bonoff cut, ‘If He’s Ever Near’ tracking in, real piano spooky like.

“And then there was that yo-yo act at your party,” I stirred away. “Melting down at the podium with that pompous Laine guy, what was that up there?”

“No big thing, Kenneth, she nibbled at a Wheat Thin. “Just let it be…”

“What am I doing here, talking to the walls?!” At first gulp, I singed the hell out of my upper lip.

Otherwise, her walls said quite a lot now. About Sydney, the new Sydney and her work—which at this point was essentially her life. She’d matted and framed an array of her Art Institute studio efforts on each remaining surface, straight and true to her priorities. There hung her paintings, and the sketches leading to her paintings, and thumbnail paintings of the sketches themselves; tracing paper sketches of her doing the sketches and paintings, and photographs of her rough sketching the sketches and her paintings. Then there were exploratory montages of Mondrian, Rastadada, Cubist, Picasso-esque stylings, impressionistic collages of Matisse, Manet and Duchamp—all neatly counterpoised with the sketches and paintings themselves, contrapositioned with that familial wall of fame, young Faith there still pretty as a Petty girl.

“I said, I don’t want to talk about that,” Syd bristled, back sternly against the Murphy’s headboard. She set aside her bovine cup and folded her legs underneath her, resipping amid a more personal collection of little ceramic bulls and heifers on a consoled walnut shelf directly above and beside the bed casing.

“C’mon, what did he say to you? You totally wilted up on that stage…” I myself was heating up under the button-down collar, noticing a hardcover copy of Belva Plain’s ‘Evergreen’ littered with page markers.

“Back off, Kenneth,” she warned, then caught herself mid scream, breaking into a soothing little smile, the ivory bulb undershadowed her smoothly angled cheekbones, highlighting her spheral hair as if Avedon had constructed the pose. “Why not let’s forget about that—it’s really not your problem.”

“Hell it’s not,” I felt the makings of a caffeine rebound. “I busted hump to help you land that damn commission—then no mention, nada. But Laine baby, he’s your salvation, your divine inspiration!”

“Oh, grow up,” she stiffened again, as if concerned this wasn’t sticking to the script, either. “It was the bank’s ceremony, what did you expect me to say?”

“Don’t ask me,” I averted, her life’s work staring me down from every angle. “It was ultimately your gig. I just thought we were, you know, pulling together on this thing, like we talked about at Little Lucchio’s…”

“What? Like you wanted joint credit or something?  You going to help me paint ‘Bridge to Everywhere’ too?  That what you’re fixing to do?!”

“Christ, no, but you can’t tell me Daryll Loupon had any more to do with it than I did. Not even word one. I just thought we had an…understanding.

“It’s the game, Kenneth, the game!  Oy, you’re so godawful dense sometimes. Laine Blakely made the winning decision, Daryll linked me with him in the first place—simple as that.”

“So you were gaming me all along, too? Using is one thing, Syd, abusing something else altogether…” Cuing into the background was ‘Songs in the Key of Life’, namely Little Stevie’s ‘Wishing’ back to an earlier, more innocent time.

“Yeesh, you’re so sensitive, I can’t believe it,” she huffed, rolling several cheese cubes around in her palm. “That proposal thing was business, art is business, get with the program, will you? Not that I don’t see your help as a personal favor, of course.”

“Sure, but strictly business at heart, and maybe that’s the problem—your whole life’s turned into one big board game.”

“Oh, please. Even if it has, and it hasn’t, it’s my life. So what’s it to you, I mean really?”

“Hey, good for you. I just think I’m coming down in the loser’s column, here…” Wonderful, great time for ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet’ to be tracking in.

“You’re whining again, Kenneth. I hate it when you whine…”

“Bullshit, maybe it’s this city, making you cold and conniving.”

“Or maybe it’s not San Francisco, at all,” she sighed, tossing a cube in the air, aiming for her crimson lipsticked mouth. “Maybe it’s just you in San Francisco. You can’t get out of your own way around here.”

Propped firmly against her pillows and lemon-oiled headboard, she picked up on me like a light saber. She followed me as I set down my mug on the Chippendale-style secretary, then slumped back dejectedly into the armchair. Wrinkling her nose, she seemed to study me furtively a good, long while, keying on my every twitch and tremor. She should study her subjects so ruthlessly: As if sizing me up, taking my measure: had she misread me again? Had she driven her point home beyond question or too far? Had she provoked me to action or driven me away? Odd that Bonoff’s treacly piano hit, ‘Someone To Lay Down Beside Me’ began to thread across that Sony tape head.

“Anyway,” she continued undeterred. “Could be I’m turning out to be one of those persons who’s better off without relationship tangles, you know? Kinda like Erica in the ‘An Unmarried Woman’ flick.”

“You’d know better about that,” I muttered, casting about for that unfinished portrait of Monica, apparently packed off to Marin. Keep looking regardless, far preferable to eye-contacting Ms. Matisse here.

“No, seriously, when I’m together with somebody, I don’t get any painting done. Just go through the motions. But soon as I break it off, zammo, do I kick ass. Like I get off on the unleashed energy. ”

“I’m beginning to think you don’t get off on anything but your own little cliffhanger, and it’s just not a movie I really see being part of…”

“Look, what do you want from me,” she erupted, arching forward off her pillow. “A pat on the tushie? All right, I know you had a hand in this, isn’t that enough?”

“Think that’s what I’m after? Laine can have the damn limelight. All I want is the Sydney I met pre-bullshit, the one who believed in us, who wanted to build a life together out here…”

“You’re still hung up on some dream, Kenneth,” she fell back against the headboard in dismay. When you know deep down there is no such dream anymore.”

“Of course, there is, dammit,” I cried, Stevie Wonder going on and on about ‘Summer Soft’. “I’ve given up everything for it!”

“No, Kenneth, that’s your dream, I told you, the one you shlepped back to Chicago, remember? But that’s when my dream really began—my vision. See, my art’s my dream. My art will never betray me…”

“Jeesh, sounds more like impaired vision to me…”

“Open your eyes, I’m talking about evolution, incredible personal growth, every single day. You don’t get that I need room, flexibility to explore all that is Sydney Mendel. I owe that—to myself as a woman,” she said, suddenly sprouting to life once again. “My total self, for instance, my Jewish roots…like how you went to Ireland and Scotland that once, right?”

Suddenly focusing up through the halo of her hanging light, lucid beyond herself, she went on to describe as how, upon returning to Chicago, she found her family caught up in the latest on a March massacre at Israel’s Coastal Road, because Daddo’s distant cousins lived in Tel Aviv. Fatah terrorists from Lebanonhad landed Zodiac dinghies just north of TA, Palestinian militants then methodically murdered 38 innocent Israeli civilians, wounded over 70 more in shoot-outs and firebomb grenades. It was called the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history, yet another Nazi-style atrocity against the Jewish people.
This, Syd piqued, in Israel’s 30th 
birthday year yet, aimed at torpedoing budding peace talks between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat—not to mention Israeli tourism—at a time when Golda Meir was ailing so. But Begin got the PLO back within days, all right, IDF commandos killing a thousand Arab foes in Operation Litani.

Couple that with her parents’ playing her zaydie’s klezmer records, then videotapes of the ‘Holocaust’ miniseries, she added, how that Weiss family suffered so much on the Road to Babi Yar and back—just for being good, prominent German JewsHow thankful she was her bobie and zaydie got out just in time, and somehow bought a waiting number, slipping her young Daddo into the U.S. after the Wagner-Rogers Bill. That they drilled into him why the Jewish people could never let anybody get over on us again, or ever let others forget what happened to us.

Then there were the current threats surrounding Israel in its volatile Mideast neighborhood, not least increasing Qum parades and protests against the Israel-friendly Shah of Iran. In all, these dire threats and trevails had made Syd identify with her Jewish heritage like never before, to where she said she longed to go kibbutzing her very own self, to till that sacred Israeli soil, cooperatively work its chicken coops and brooder houses, clean lean-tos and fertilizer sheds, cook kasheh and kreplach, care communally for the beautiful kinderlech like a zelig shainer yid. “One day,” she vowed, “sure as shooting…don’t you see?”

“Hey, I’ve been to Dublin and Belfast, understand that urge totally,” I said, blindly seeking common ground, after all that heavy lifting. “I’d want that for you, too. Painting, your art—I just want to be in there to help and grow with you. I’d do anything if you’d just square with me, give me some sign, some kind of positive sign…”

“Oy, you’re so good, Kenneth, oppressively good. But you keep trying to smother me with it, when what I actually need right now is more breathing room…”

“See? You’re using this whole freedom-lib thing like a goddamn weapon,” I jumped to my feet, pointing at her under that ivory halo. “You just keep running me in circles, I swear! Take, take, take: talk about sicko games!!”

The gravity sand-washed from her face, cheeks flushing in that creamy light as she reached into her pocket for that plain white envelope. She kissed and waved the #10 like it contained the Academy’s Best Actress award, fighting back a sly little smile, her right eye glinting as if to wink with Talmudic wisdom.“That’s what you get for messing around with a rich girl.”

My face clenched tighter than a five-bill lift and tuck, about ready to haul my oats outta there. I clenched the coffee mug even harder, every impulse urging me to cock and fire. Instead, I simply swallowed and stewed over the mocking indictment, true or not, fighting back some acidic masculinity—point being, it was her time, her place, her verdict and bovine cup. “You’re too much, you know that?”

“Juuust joking, damn you,” she screamed, as I gave ground and moved for the door. She had no compunction, spinning around on her bed and hitting me squarely between the shoulder blades with a green velvet pillow. “If only you’d have stayed put, would stand up for yourself for once, and stop taking all my BS…”

I turned, picked up the throw pillow, then gently tossed it back, feeling about like Stevie did, no ‘Ordinary Pain’. Sheeit, now she’s throwing Dybbuk at me again. “That what Laine or Josh would do, Syd? That part of your EST training? Well, I’ve got to get beyond the blows and bruises. I mean, who needs the grief?”

“You pious bastard,” she snapped, deflecting the pillow upward, off her lamp shade, sending that cone of ivory light swaying like a storm lantern in a hurricane. “Wait, you can’t leave like this.”

“Oh, you think I can stay? Even I’m not that much of a wimpo…”

“No, I mean…please,” she said, leaning around her bedframe as I neared her front door. “You want to know what really happened tonight, don’t you?”

“At this point, I couldn’t care less,” I replied, which went a long way toward explaining why I turned, stopped dead in my path like a trapped weasel, backpedaling ever so unadvisedly to Wonder’s ‘All Day Sucker’ tune.

“Dammit, Kenneth! Laine told me never to do that to him,” she blurted, reaching to pull me back by my comb pocket. “Never to touch…make contact in front of those people. As if I have some kind of clap or herpes or plague or something!”

“Tell me you’re not telling me this,” I sighed, sitting down at the very edge of her Murphy bed.

“Nobody’s ever done that to me before. You know, physically… gorgeous as I am.”

“So he didn’t exactly dig your act, Syd, so what?” I tried to read her, the depth of her self-absorption, how long she could take it to me about some other guy. “I mean, you were starting to come across like Liza Minelli…”

“Oh, I know why he did it,” she caught me snap glancing at her mother’s cheesecake photo. “Sure as shootin’…I get it, all right.”

“Aww, don’t start in about missing out on your mom’s big bust again…”

“Mensch,” she muttered, glassy eyed, nibbling at a dice-sized Gouda cube. “He froze me out right after I laid mensch on him, really…”

“Huh? What’s that,” I grumbled, seeing no exit tunnel at the end of this enlightenment.

“Don’t you see,” she shrieked, pounding my shoulder as though she’d solved a Rubik’s Cube. “Laine offed me because of…you know, the whole Jewish thing.”

“What? That’s ridiculous…”

“No, I swear. Now that I think of it, I could feel it up there, like, visceral level!”

“Talk about sensitive…look at this a minute. Maybe he was just playing his game. The guy hands you a big, fat commission, so how’d it look to the other bank honchos, you two appearing to be too cozy. C’mon, that’s probably it.” Not that I could figure how she’d manhandled me into defending the arrogant rake.

“The classic Jewish snub…that snob bastard.” She was gazing right through and past me now, toward those freshly framed photos of her beachfront folks in the buff, to the dimming prospect of Laine and her standing so stylishly beside them.“Well, up his uppity keister!”

“Look, I’d better go,” I heaved, “before…”

“Oh, sure—you, too! Again, yet…”

“Hey, this was your idea,” I spouted. “I didn’t want to come up here in the first place.” Anger swelled in me like a stressed anneurism—rough, roily images of L.T. on a tear shuffled through my mind as I watched this cunning little cunt cave in to her vulnerabilities.

“What is it this time, Kenneth,” she jabbed me in the ribs. “A sudden case of Jewphobia all of a sudden? Your latent Celt bigotry shining through?”

“Jeesh, Syd,” I reeled, sliding further away, halfway off her goose-down comforter, closer to bed’s edge. Gastric acid test: the neo-cryptos were marching, goosestepping across the Marquette Park bridge, stiff as stormtroopers, that pike-eyed commandant leading his Chicago Lawn lemmings over the lagoon. “Me, of all people…”

“Then stand your ground, for once, do right by me this time!”

“Stop it, Syd. Stop before we say something we’ll both regret…”

“Same old weakness, you, James Winslow and Martin Kavalla,” she flung her snack tray off the bed, crashing against the sound of Bonoff’s ‘Falling Star’. “God, everywhere weakness. Millions of men, I draw nothing but weakness!!”

“R-r-right, some pillar of strength you are, whining here like Annie Hall.” I was furious at her, at myself, for being sucked in like this.

L.T. must have known such rage, stalking through Folsum’s cellblock darkness, after some Sydney of his he’d strapped and gagged...needs and hormones, stepping up, standing tall...I felt a nail clutch at my forearm, found her lunging across the Murphy bed, that Vuitton Noe bag spilling to the hardwood floor.

“Show me, then,” she demanded, “show me you can be more to me than that…”

“Syd, I said don’t,” I pulled away in a strained flush of arousal. Mixed signals, crossed wires, like having to piss a pair of six-packs when stiff as a ceiling joist, with wonder of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Saturn’ packing for rainbow snow and radiant rings, soaring on a celestial Cassini high.

“Show me, Kenneth, prove me wrong! Get into it, go for it,” she cried, pounding her sloshy coffee mug against the comforter like a bench gavel on appeal. “Come on, do me, screw me, like that Sunday nooner.”

“What’re you talking about…” I slid off the Murph entirely, jumping up to do my own variation on the genital stomp, stir frying the opioids and pheromones—worst in me—an eyedropper of more bilious misogyny seeping in. Needs and hormones…Step one was to jump her adorable ass; step two was to kick it madly around her self-aggrandizing room and squeeze tube her gorgeous little neck.

“Do me ’til I scream, goddamn you—fuck my fucking brains out ’til I beg you to stop!!!”

Lock nut, onrushing ruelette, last row drive-in double bill freeze frame. Cops rapping on the rear window misfire…phone call from the folks. Under the circumstances, neither aforementioned scenarios seemed particularly satisfying. I turned to her, there writhing, sobbing, sizzling on the salmon comforter like every Michigan Avenue taxicab snowstorm dream, ‘A Love Supreme’ by Coltrane overdubbing ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ through my mind. But how could it really ever be so good as that Sunday again? Then I fixed on the Mendel family photo with Moon up there, beaming away. Holy matrimony?! Had to do something, think things through—steadfast actions would speak louder than Dybbuked words, a little along those lines. Physics, see? Causer not a causee… sheeit, sneaky games, booty’s all hungry and horny as hell…Screaming Eagles, fucking insane, this was it was one of those crazy old nights. “Josh’s box…”

“W-w-what?” She asked, breathlessly, if not fearfully stunned, Karla Bonoff’s ‘Lose Again’ tape tracking out from the closet.

Super important, now more important than ever,” I mumbled, scooping up my spilled rawhide key band, turning blankly toward the door, nearly bumping into a new mezuzah on my way out. “Better find that sucker for you, no matter what…I’ll get it right back to…”

“K-K-Ken…Kenneth, please. For godsakes…what’s the matter with you?!”

It only figured I’d have opted for the words…

Care for more?

Chapter 74. After holding courts in 
the park, an appetite for finer fare
prompts a grilling thru the
grottos and gills…