StreetLegalPlay by Kyle Thomas Smith

A Sorcerer on Montmartre – (Chapter 10 – Part II)

Posted in Uncategorized by streetlegalplay on June 27, 2014

Washington Square

A Sorcerer on Montmartre

By Kyle Thomas Smith

© 2013

Tenth chapter from the novel I’m writing

(Click the following for Chapters 1234, 5678910 (p. i)10 (p.2)10 (p.3)111213)


Cockatoos (Part Two)

So Simon stalled on the night of the party. He worked a double and, after knocking off at about eight, proceeded to walk through Greenwich Village. He shambled along the sidewalks in the dark and squinted to read all the plaques on all the buildings and houses where all the famous authors and artists had lived. He pretended the streets made up a gigantic, open-air museum, a rarefied sanctum, even as people came spilling out of jam-packed bars or lined up to get into restaurants that were too in-demand to accept reservations. He sauntered in zigzags across cobblestones, splotched with streetlights, from the West Side Highway to Waverly and MacDougal, all in an attempt to run out the party’s clock.

When stopping to contemplate Washington Square, Simon’s love of literature was still too new and his education too rudimentary for him to have discovered the likes of Henry James or Edith Wharton, but as he bided his time on a park bench and looked over to the Washington Arch in the flood of night, he imagined some pretty important people must have lived in the area and written about the place. He wasn’t so green as to think he could be the first to discover it. After all, it already had two statues of George Washington, so at least one founding father must have dropped by at some point, and then there was the likeness of some Italian guy from the nineteenth century who must have done some pretty important stuff too, hence the statue.

And across the park was New York University, which seemed to have left its stamp on all the buildings surrounding the park. Simon thought about what a treat it must be to get to go to school there, how it probably grooms you to be as good as all those people whose names get their own plaques. Simon knew working at Chelsea Night & Day or anywhere else with just a high-school diploma wouldn’t put him through school at NYU. As it was, he couldn’t afford to lay his head down anywhere else but on Robert O’s tent-bed. But he began to consider that maybe he too could be up there with the names on those plaques someday if he gave it a good-enough whirl. He could hang out in cafes like Beauvoir and Sartre, or like all those serious types wearing scarves and suit coats at the al fresco tables on MacDougal Street. Maybe it was a good thing he couldn’t afford school. Maybe you get too cozy on your laurels once you get out of your cap and gown and the band stops playing “Pomp and Circumstance.” Maybe you start thinking you know enough already. But Simon was already beginning to envision the city as a much bigger, better and more constant classroom that could teach even the best and brightest a lot more than they think they know.

Simon leaned back on the bench in Washington Square. A whole tribe of men of all colors banged on turned-over plastic tubs with drumsticks. Others were playing chess at the stone tables. In a little amphitheater, some black guys had corralled a whole crowd of spectators—people from all over the globe, a more dressed-down version of the United Nations—for a street show that included improv, break-dancing and audience participation. There were all sorts of things the city could teach you if you let it in, thought Simon. There were all sorts of things the city could teach you, but Simon didn’t know quite what yet. He’d just have to wait and see what.

One thing was certain, though. The night wasn’t getting any younger and Robert O wasn’t going to wait up much longer, so Simon made his way home to Clinton Street, though without too much hustle. When he reached the building, he could hear the party thundering from all the way up the walkway. When he reached Robert O’s door, smoke from cigarettes and sundry drugs was pouring out and disco-diva crooning blared over redundant, high-octane techno beats. Simon had heard too much of this kind of synthetic squall whenever Robert O was home. To him, it always sounded like a cat getting dragged by the tail through some souped-up spaceship. He never knew how anyone could stand it if they weren’t already on something, and Simon had never been on anything, his lips had never even touched alcohol. Robert O’s had touched plenty of it that night, though, and much harder stuff, which was all too apparent when Robert O confronted Simon as he walked in.

“Where the fuck you been, bitch? I been callin’ your ass ’n’ callin’ your ass.”

“You called the restaurant?”

“Where else?”

“I told you not to.”

“And I told you to get your ass home. With actions come consequences, Ms. Liza.”

“I might not have a job now. I already got warned when you called the first time.”

“So what? Not like you make enough there to pay me rent here anyway.”

“Belinda said we didn’t have to.”

“Everything’s got a price, baby. And now, you gotta get your ass in a shower and into the outfit I got hanging up.”

“I, I might not have a job now, Robert O.”

“Baby doll, I can get you a much better hook-up at this party. So long as you don’t fuck it up.”

“Where’s Belinda?”

“Workin’. Now move!”

Robert O turned Simon around and pushed him over to the bathroom. Robert O barged in on two guys who were making out by the sink. They both had their shirts off, their belts and zippers undone and each other’s cocks in their hands. They both looked up. Robert O pulled Simon into the middle of the bathroom. “Strip,” he told him. Simon looked every which way. He stared at the two guys who had just stopped their carryings-on. They stared right back at him. Simon looked at Robert O who came over and started unbuttoning Simon’s shirt, “You heard me. Strip.” Robert O walked over to the shower and turned the knob all the way to hot. “You still smell like that stank-ass diner. That cannot be. Not on the night of your little ball, Cinderella.” Simon noticed the two other guys still hadn’t zipped up but now they seemed to be enjoying this disruption. Robert O stood and blocked the open doorway. It was clear this was that kind of party, so Simon thought it best to comply with orders. He took off his clothes and walked into the shower.

Simon pulled the shower curtain closed but Robert O came right back over and threw it open. For the better part of a second, Simon covered himself but Robert O continued holding the curtain back, so Simon got busy lathering himself up with Lever 2000 soap. “Get every part,” Robert O insisted, “Every part. Every part squeaky clean. And use shampoo.” By now, the two other guys had zipped up and put their shirts back on but they didn’t leave. They moved in closer and were still watching.

Simon held back from doing anything but what he was told, yet tears he never knew would well up, tears that hadn’t dropped since the last time he’d heard Menard’s shotgun, suddenly started tumbling down his cheeks. Soon he had to say, “Robert O, can I at least get a little privacy?”

“Oh, so now lil Liza’s into privacy? You didn’t gimme none of that shit when you came frot’ing up to me in bed that night.”

“Came what?”

“You heard me. I was in my hundred and something-th dream and all the sudden I find you beggin’ for some somethin’-somethin’ in the middle of the night—”

“I wasn’t begging.”

“Then why’d you get me in my sleep, bitch? Why?”

“I didn’t get you. Not like that. I…it…it was the first time in a long time we were home at the same time. I thought it was something you might like. You did it to me that way.”

“Because I can. Remember, you owe me, not the other way around.”

Simon continued soaping up. Robert O didn’t know the other guys in the bathroom. They came with friends. But they all introduced themselves and chitchatted with him while Simon rinsed off.

“¿Dominicano?” asked the Dominican.

“No,” said Robert O, not looking at him.

“Hablas como un Dominicano, vato.”

Robert O didn’t answer. He just went on watching Simon’s ablutions. The Dominican’s Puerto Rican lover put his arm around him, “El es un puertorriqueño autentico.”

Robert O said, “I’m from Texas.”

“Ah, Mexicano! ¿Pensé que eras bastante gente?,” said the Puerto Rican and the Dominican smiled along with him.

“Do I seem fucking quiet to you!” Robert O shouted.

The smile dropped away from the Dominican’s face and the conversation between the Spanish speakers in the bathroom stopped cold. Simon’s tears weren’t sexy to look at, and though his physique was taut and lean, it wasn’t a gym body, so the two spectators grew bored and left even before Simon was all rinsed off. Robert O came and brought a towel and, with the door still open and the party in full swing, Robert O dried Simon off. “See?” Robert O said, “How’s that champ? Feeling vulnerable? Feeling exposed? Yeah? How’d you think I felt?”

Simon said through a gale of tears, “I’m sorry, Robert O. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong that night. I just thought we were gonna do what we did before.”

“You ain’t goin’ out there all cry-baby and shit. Dry up them tears.” Robert O threw the towel over Simon’s head and moved him over to his room. Robert O locked himself in with Simon and walked him over to the closet where he had Simon’s new garb hanging up.

The outfit was something pretty spectacular. Simon even stopped crying once he got a look at it. It was a black light-wool suit with an embroidered white chemise. Robert O also got Simon some long, elegant black silk socks, which he could accessorize with the black Italian boots that zipped up the side, which Robert O bought for him on their shopping spree and had shined up special for the night. Simon put it all on and buttoned up all the buttons on the shirt but Robert O came over and undid the top five buttons and spiffed up his hair with some product from Copenhagen Essentials. “Now, look,” Robert O said, “There are people in there—kind you never met before. Where you’re from, people are pretty just for having teeth. But these people are a breed apart, which means…you gotta look the part.”

Simon said, “Why do you want me meetin’ ’em?”

Robert O dusted some lint off Simon’s lapel, “An initiation.” Simon stepped back. Initiation? That’s what kids back home, who were into Satan, put other kids through if they wanted to join up, and they had to do disgusting mutilation things to small, innocent animals and virgins. Robert O dragged Simon into the main room.

The impossible disco screeches were still sounding from an elevated turntable station, where a black guy in a tam was mixing disco, techno and house all together without rhyme or reason. A lot of guys, most of them white, stood around in tight shirts. Some were muscular and others wore Rolexes to make up for time not spent in the gym. Many of the guests grabbed the cater waiter’s asses at will or said things like, “This is a half-ass martini. Take it back.”

Kyle Thomas Smith is the author of the novel 85A (Bascom Hill, 2010). He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his husband and two cats.

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