I WAS IN MY OFFICE ROLLING HALF-N-HALFS. Pretty sure it was a minute past from the tower bells, which, although they’d ceased, still pealed in tonal echo over my animal brain while the frontal end burned in dulling fractals of concentration.
Hell— that's all animal brain.
Which is why I jumped so bad when the fone rang. An interloping tone. Letting it ring out — staring down at the cell vibe across my desk while I sparked — a very cherry decision. I was all in the right when Molly came through on the other end near my tepid-rainbows-growing verses heavy-smoke-nausea narratives of exhale. The cloud blooming on the ceiling.
Until she called, it was a night full of titles threatening to become writing. You know the bogus code. Regular expression-type blue usuals of rehashed dreams. Red-inked asterisk nightmares re-resolutioned to normal. Half-manic sub-contracted semi-colon chat-room mattress warmers of lines…
Yeah. Like that. Terrible. I was about to get out my typewriter too, and you know where that leads. Obvs: scotch. Like a river to the sea, so all modes of expression lead back to the Faulkner thrall.
About to not-beat-it-but-join-it finally, when she threatened: "Don't make me hold your hand. I've cleaned the loo, the ice-bucket is full and I'm just target for a charming night to get worse if I don't see you in thirty."
Yes ma'am and many thanks. Like that I was keys-up lights-out and off to the All-Nite for liquor and incense.
PEEK MY NOSTRILS IN A PARKED SIDEVIEW. Then I had one of those freeze-and-check-yr-pocket moments on the way to hers where I pulled double-take on her flat. Had she moved? Couldn't remember, probably not, whew no, thankfully.
Same illicit snugglebatch of a twentieth floor condo (#2020), complete with long shag rug and recess-lit china hutch, vaguely recalled from the ‘comet party.’ A pre-Halloween confessional sexless dysfunctioning millennial closet jerk of a soiree two-and-a-quarter years back to which I brought my typewriter. Pfft, this dummy and his clackity-clack word machine as his date. I’ve taken a cue since. People living in the sky don’t need words. They just take their shirts off.
That party, however: not enough debauchery for such a singularly inconspicuous destination by my standards. By turns Molly's standards as well. The clientele manifested monthly yoga passes and no cutting scars. I blame the Israeli she was dating at the time. You can never be too nice if you're, well, too nice.
But hey, you won't find her in volume one. The real Molly comes later. She is a Burmese built from sharks. An exclusive regatta on the lakefront of ideational beauties.
She came to the door in just a skirt. "When was the last time you read Anaïs Nin?" Swung her fishbowl margarita aside for my entrance. I gripped the black plastic bag containing more goodies than I anticipated purchasing.
"I want to be her." She swooped and snatched the sundries, spinning on a singular stockinged toe.
People living in the sky don’t need words. They just take their shirts off.
"I want to be Henry Miller. But I'll have to settle for Samuel Beckett instead." I leaned on the kitchen doorframe and scowled. Our eyes met for the first time that evening. She challenged:
“I want to be them too. And Joyce.”
Smiles cracked full up into our staring contest after a sizzling minute. We cackled like mental patients leaning over medicated punch lines.
"Ah, Jeremy," she signaled when her breath caught, passing booze at me. "I missed you so. Come see the window."
The view was a favorite game. Time stopped and nothing changed if you had the view. I was jealous all over again. Her bedroom closet was bigger than half of my apartment.
When I could ignore the double nipple reflection — two Mollys, four tits — I thought of the future and caught my breath.
When you have to ask yourself if you're still high, you probably are.
"SAW A CAR ACCIDENT THERE IN MEDITATION." She pointed at an indeterminate northeast locale below. Nodding up at me in the pause as if I didn't believe her. "That's right, over coffee. I always stand right where you're standing for about fifteen minutes each morning while I break off a piece of the hottest joe I can possibly do, watching an interminably slow rush hour. The frustration is… transporting.“
"Must be nice to get some action for all that loyalty from time to time, right?" I could feel myself turning silly off and smarm on while I let her study me. Such a spoiled booty-calling brat in her lush cocoon. I couldn't wait to turn on her hi-fi and spank her while we smear-danced off the Avión.
Once the surf rock was en-swing and all our groovy-weird dance moves took full effect, I closed my eyes and had a moment inside myself to actually enjoy the comedown. I made myself be Molly- want for nothing. Free to be in all four seasons.
Our private party could stay. It was good to be back in Lotusland. That marvelous repeating scheme of states. A strata of pleasure petals bending out of the modern age and down toward all the razor edges of life.
A few lights dimmed. Others went off. Sirens pleaded pianissimo and eddied their red toward a vast black horizon.
Molly pulled on a loose sweater. I pulled her single stocking off. On the sofa we touched foreheads and whispered. A clock in the other room struck. It was an hour but it wasn’t.
"Little Birds." I said. “That’s the last Nin, for me. Couldn’t tell you when.” She nodded once. It had been ages. It had always felt like ages.
Gripping her fresh toddy she pointed "Collages. So good." I remembered that one too. All wrapped up with senior thesis and coffee and the library and never seeing the sunrise until graduation day. But there was always time for poetry.
"There's a sticky spot on your foot," I pressed into her 5.5 instep. A single mark of red polish left on the big toe near the distal end.
"I'm tracking from the kitchen. Not sure what got spilled."
“St. Germain? Bourbon vanilla graham cracker ice cream?” I posited. “Hey, I love that we're whispering."
“I’ll put another record on." She squirmed and smiled and cocked her face so her hair curtained down over her left eye. Her deft hands addressed the turntable.
"I’M NOT SORRY I HAVEN’T CALLED YOU IN A WHILE, JEREMY. But I am a little sorry too. I had to get rid of Rossi." She’d been reading my thoughts.
"Rossi was a blank cheque you could cash any time. I don't blame you for that."
“It does get predictable after awhile." She started to use tone again and her voice was like wind chimes dipped in molasses. My legs shifted like a Freudian slip.
"Let's not talk about Rossi. When was the last time you saw Clive?" Her brother, a writer like us, only for the screen. Back and forth to Los Angeles. A place in which neither Molly nor I had any interest.
"A few weeks back. But I don't want to talk about him either." We chuffed. "All he's ever wanted was an honoris causa from UCLA and to find a woman with a series of bad habits to share life with, preferably a dermatologist, and he's discovered minor success in the latter. The struggle, Jeremy. It's the struggle that keeps us interesting." She and Clive were a year and change apart, the shared cross they bore did not solely extend to academia.
I nodded with an eyebrow up, folding my hands.
"That. And when the last time was that you read Anaïs Nin." She grinned into her tall drink. I continued. “Listen, if some people can't stay cool because their keys are hanging off the end of the moon, then so be it. At least they can see them. You and me, Mollycoddle. We worry about when we cease to be able to hear jazz. And if the dictionary of the future is just packed with emojii. The abstract.”
This last part didn't make her laugh as much as I wished it would. She shrugged in thought next to me. Drifting like a lazy mermaid in her massive sweater.
"What are you writing about these days?" She inquired innocently. The question letting the air out of my reserve energy balloon; attention’s easy focus losing quorum.
"Molly, I'm just an idiot." I admitted. "I've written and I write and neither gesture defines me except when I am doing it and to know that I've done. I don't miss school." The confession was bringing me back. Action was required; I took her other foot between my hands. She opened her mouth but I cut her off.
"I don't wish I had your life, but I truly enjoy knowing you. That there are complex and beautiful flowers like Mollys in the world who care to have me around from time to time."
The struggle, Jeremy. It's the struggle that keeps us interesting.
Getting awfully philosophical, but it was beyond late. All the heat and beauty around here were begging to be let out to pasture. Lotusland’s engraved invitations are stray cats in reverence of the long hours.
"You're growing up." She mugged happily. "Must be nice. I don't envy your life either and I'm glad we've never tried to be serious. Honestly I would bore a visionary like you. I don't flatter you by saying this. The weight of the world shifts shoulders. Of course, some shoulders are tougher than others."
I kissed her foot and put the unpolished big toe in my mouth. A little gasp, but no pull back. I wanted to close my eyes and keep sucking, but I'm a gentleman.
"How would you like to die?"
Oh Molly. Ripe with persistence. Out with something else like God's cure for insecurity or boredom. I started to answer without thinking.
"I don't know. Probably in traffic, spectacularly. Quick. A bus. A train. Scotch is too slow. You?"
Leaning over I watched her shift gaze elsewhere to think and realized for the first time that we have the same eye color. A milky hazel, the kind that turns sea-green in the sun.
"I'm with you on the spectacular thing. But it's got to be for a cause. Like, I would want to go down in a worldwide cataclysm. A battle that wages across seasons and claims countless lives yet still manages to have not occurred in vain. You know? Is that too much to ask?" Her deflated laugh is ambrosial.
I feel the desperate bubble that is my heart expand wistfully in my chest while I watch her throw her hair back. Punch drunk tumescence of spirit manipulating even the good feelings. She launches up to change the music.
It's then that I want more drugs, and don't want them. I almost have to say my name out loud, or do something dumb to solidify this night in my memory, because I've decided right now despite my exhaustion, I want it. I want tonight to be forever retrievable in the annals of my reaped reality; my tetrahedron-paradise magic-rolodex of what can be relied upon to make me intensely happy — preamble to when the stubborn hours shift again and I reach for her so we might adopt recreating with lust instead of talk, veiled in ASMR derived from indulged foreplay — all else growing dark as a new moon. unnoted, unwasted, completely welcome.