We were hungover when we pulled into Vegas. It was around two in the morning. We had been caught fucking in the bathroom at Exxon in Kingman, Arizona. Some guy and his kid walked in. I had my hands on her hips, her palms were pressed into the mirror over the sink. I looked into the mirror over her shoulder at the guy and his kid. All I could think to say in the state I was in was, “I thought I locked it.” She started laughing out of sheer awkwardness, which made me laugh. The guy hustled his kid out of there. We finished and took a nap in the car. Bad idea to stop for a quick drink and a game of pool to wait off the heat. It became an all day drunk, and it led us to the gas station. Fast forward to Motel 6 by The Strip, we had been driving since Tucson, seeing her family there. She was crazy and fun, I think we were maybe twenty-four or twenty-five. We passed out long, and I woke up and walk to the am/pm for a jug of water and some food. It was grey in Vegas. She had never been there. When I walked into the room she was leaned against the headboard watching TV, “How’s Vegas in the daylight?” “An old whore without make-up.” I went to the sink and brushed my teeth, and while I did the entire novel I would later write, the one I am polishing now, proofreading, so on -the whole book front to end rolled out in my head while I brushed my teeth. I wouldn’t write it for almost 15 years later, because there were some parts missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was one of those ideas that just kind of wait patiently for you to put it all in place. I had fun with this particular book, Flotsam for Jetsam, because it’s pretty much a book where not a lot of heavy or bad shit goes down, not a lot of teeth kicking or blood pouring out, which is where I am most comfortable with my work, be it a poem about a fucking flower, or a novel about a kid becoming a man while driving homeless in a van across the states working odd jobs. But with Flostam, I lightened up a bit, and let some love and light and laughs in the window. It’s also sampled in the post “Far in advance” on this site. I am not sure when it will hit the market.
I was sitting at the table with Tom and Dave on Sunday. The Surrounders stopped in, had a glass of Chablis, lingered, then left. I shook my head and stared into my cards, “What a team those two make.” Dave nodded, “Dirty fuckers. That’s why gays are so meticulous, though. They’re organized, tidy, hygiene-obsessed neat freaks because they take it and give it up the ass. Pure compensation, transference at its finest.” Tom lit a smoke, “And they’re usually good with money. Think about being a gay Jew. You’d fuckin’ have it made, considering of course that fucking a guy in the ass is your thing.” The bell sang out. Christine walked over and kissed me, “Hello, hot pants.” Tom shook his head, “Hot pants.” She had a new one for me every time I sat with the guys. Dave leaned over and kissed her cheek, “Hi, doll. If you want a drink help yourself.” She poured a Chablis and sat next to me. I rubbed her knee, “How was work, mama?” “Made forty bucks in tips.” “Right on.” She snapped her fingers, “Oh! Tomorrow night, we’re going to Gary and Stephan’s for dinner.” She put her chin on my shoulder and looked at my cards. Dave and Tom stared at me. I saw the scene in my head. They went in, ordered twin lattes, talked to her, introduced their gay selves. Then she told them her boyfriend works at Dave’s. I reached up and put my hand on the back of her head. I started to say something, then Tom and Dave broke out laughing. She looked at them, “What’s so funny?” “I’d rather not go over to Gary and Stephan’s,” I said, “They’re customers. I don’t like worlds colliding.” She wrapped her arms around me, “Oh, they’re sweet. They’re making a huge dinner, good wine, come on. A double-date. They remind of my neighbors in Los Feliz. Please?” “Once. Tomorrow night. I’m not homophobic, mama. But I don’t want to buddy up with them. They’re sweet now because they’re sober. You’ll see.” “How bad can they be?” Dave nodded, “Horny toads. If they don’t propose an orgy I’ll pay off your car.” She slapped his arm, “They’re men, after all. They can still be my friends.” “Sure,” Tom said. Her phone rang. She looked at it then turned it off, “That’s Amanda. I’d better go. I was supposed to help her with the batters and salads for tomorrow, impulse display for the new case,” she touched Dave’s arm, “We’re not competing with you.” He laughed, “Thank you, hon.” She kissed my cheek and stopped halfway out the door, “Lover.” We watched her drive off. Tom trumped the book with the 3 of spades, “You got your hands full with that one, dude.” Dave took the next book with a queen over my jack, “Hands full like a fox. She’s a keeper, that one.” Tom looked at me, “What are the owners like, John?” I took the next book with a nine that walked, “Straight-laced, entrepreneurial, early risers. Driven and shit.” “Are they solid?” “I don’t know. I don’t think Billy would understand a whole lot outside of the box.” “Best neighbors to have,” Dave said. I took the next three books and handed the deck to Tom. He shuffled. I watched the table, “I can’t fucking believe we’re having dinner at the fucking Surrounders’ tomorrow night.” Tom looked at me, “And you know they’ll have the hot tub ready.” “Oh, they will,” Dave added, “hot tub, wine, the whole nine yards.” Tom closed his eyes and shook his head at me, “And you have to sit there and fucking take it.” He smiled. Dave looked at his cards, “Lest you be taken as a closed-minded gay basher.” “Be careful,” Tom nodded, “if those three take, become buddies, then your personal life will get surrounded. Next thing you know, you’re watching blocks of Will & Grace on the nights you two should be fucking.” “Not going to happen, Tom.” “You watch, man. You’re already like a puppy with a hard-on when she comes around.” “Bullshit.” “Bullshit my ass. If she told you to jump up in the air and take a shit and you’d say how high and what color.” I nodded as I shuffled, “Tom, someday when you become a man, you’ll meet a girl, too.” The phone rang. Tom grabbed it off the table before I could, “Pizza Guy.” There was a pause, then Tom assaulted, “Ah… HA! I got you, motherfucker! You’ve now spoken to me. You LOSE!” Dave laughed, “Give me the phone.” He told Mikey that Tom and I had switched shifts. We could hear him complaining to Dave through the receiver. Dave cut him off, “Mikey, quit being a bitch and come down to the shop.” He hung up.
Here’s the layout: Meats and cheese wrapped together. Sushi and olives. Quiche. A gorgeous beef roast surrounded by sautéed mushrooms and onions. Orange peppers and a bed of lavosh bread. Red and white wine. Candles and Mahler’s Fifth. I held my wine, “Mahler’s Fifth. Nice.” Stephan looked at me, “You know the work of Mahler?” Christine laughed. I slipped away and sat at the table out back. The Jacuzzi was going, alright. I looked at its surface and thought about the moon.
I hate to admit it, but dinner was excellent. And away from the oppression of the clock ticking, The Surrounders were tolerable, though they’d been pacing themselves with the wine and the leering. At least they had let me bring Lucy. She ran the yard and hardwood floors, ate from under the table, made out like a bandit. I didn’t want to sit in the Jacuzzi with them because I knew they’d had sex in it. When I’d expressed that to Christine on the drive over she laughed, “Relax. Not like it hasn’t been treated since. And if a chunk of something floats your way, just scoop it out like a June bug.” Not like they cared, but Christine brought a bikini. I stood and drank on the deck. “Get in, John,” Gary said. “No suit. Sorry.” Christine laughed, “Oh, god. You wear boxers. Come sit next to me.” The glow of the light beneath the water’s surface turned The Surrounders’ faces demon. Christine mouthed me a silent please. I set the glass down and kicked off my shoes.