by Paul Kay
That night in the Tempest Tavern the place was swinging like never before. Hip Brooklyn girls with their eyes on the stars. Drunk guys with their eyes on the girls. Mike was there along with 50 others. A few brunettes were dancing on his lap while he spun his wheelchair around.
“Keep going baby, spin us faster. It’s not fast enough,” one said while riding him.
Strange stares came my way as I walked through the doorway. A cool calm-bomb look entering the drunken ceremony. “Come our way, come handsome, come play.”
The girls on pills were crazed like rats running through a maze. Kissing each other’s boyfriends and suited till morning.. The bouncer sat outside smoking a joint with a couple minors who wanted to get in.. I wasn’t drunk at all and looked like an outsider till several shots later.
Death was dead in the Tempest Tavern on those Friday nights. We killed him with high hopes while shouting “go die death!”. Crazy kids running along while the dollar a song jukebox kept’em under a spell. The ritual going on at the tavern is religious, but far away from the house of god.
I sat at the bar overhearing all the small talk and watching Mike dry hump a transvestite on his wheelchair. He’s having way too much fun (till he realizes it’s somebody’s son).
Oh baby you got pretty eyes, dance with me. You got a cigarette? Let me buy you a drink. Do I know you from somewhere? I swear I’ve seen you before. Are you an actress? I shouldn’t drink gin anymore. Pour me another. Don’t stop till you drop.
I fist saw her at the bar sipping out of a fish bowl sized margarita. A fish out of water drinking the bowl because it’s not big enough to jump into. Her eyes sparkled and dazzled with a strange familiarity. She wore designer clothes and could have jumped right out of a fashion magazine.
“That’s one hell of a drink,” I said.
“Thanks, my friend left me here with it. We were going to share, but she went into the bathroom with that guy in the wheelchair. Want some?”
I put another straw into the bottomless bowl
“I hate to ask a really personal question, but is your friend a transvestite?”
“It really depends on the day,” she said.
We talked about baseball, we talked about the Beatles, the sun, lust for life, lust for sanity, humanity…the role call of things you can’t usually talk about before the sun and drinks go down.
Chitter chatter back and forth through the coarse of our visit led to the unknown. The unknown happiness coming from a talk between two strangers drunk in a bar at 2 am. Happy nights paid for by dreary days stuck inside doors wanting to run out and play.
If only we could hug and kiss strangers while boarding the subway trains. Just jump on each other randomly, moaning and groaning out “I’m afraid to. I’m going to die too. I love your eyes, let‘s talk.”
We are all headed to the great unknown so why shouldn’t we get to know each other before we get there? The girl’s name was Eve and she agreed that we had to do something about this problem in society.
“Fuck it, Paul. You’re right. We should love everyone and express it everywhere we go. It shouldn’t have to take drinks in a bar to get to know people,”
“I completely agree! Let’s start a revolution,” WOW I’M DRUNK.
She grabbed my hand and put it on her breast.
“Do you feel my heart?”
“Yes” I said.
“It’s the same as yours. And the girl you last slept with. And that bartender’s over there”
“Exactly! Why do people think they’re all different? It beats the same”
She grabbed my arm and we bolted for the door. I wasn’t sure where we were headed but I didn’t care. Riding the tides of hope and whiskey out the door, splashing our wave at the bouncer stoned and dancing on the floor.
We bolted across the street into Penn Station nearly getting hit by couple cars but we knew there was no way to kill us. We were riding so damn high, flying above the common ground.
Penn Station was flinging around everything you could think of. We ran fast through the main concourse, past the bums and hookers begging for paper love. She pulled me onto a subway platform and began kissing me. A cop strolled by staring at us and we stopped for a moment.
“Are you paying for that kid?” he asked.
“Okay, have a good night”
He took off searching for hookers as quickly as he took off. Only in New York. The city I love more everyday. The city of searchers ands seekers. Drifters and tweakers. Lovers and saviors. All sharing the same bathroom.
We continued sharing each other in the damp deserted subway terminal. A symphony of sounds surrounded us. Rats, dripping water, crying bums, and laughing drunks played in the background of our waltz. About twenty minutes of sweet subway sex the cop came back and told us we better leave.
Outside of Madison Square Garden we said our goodbyes.
We held each other. She kissed me and I smothered her. The New York City sidewalk was sparkling from the light rain. The sparkles looked like angel dust coming down to celebrate our love. The heat of our souls together was enough to keep the whole city warm forever.
“Goodnight, Eve. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Promise you’ll still love me tomorrow?”
“We will find out.”
I watched her cross the street leading onto 7th Avenue towards the train station. A certain skip went to my step on the way home. Beatles songs were playing in my head and everything smelled like Penn Station. I called her the next day and her roommate answered.
“Oh you’re the boy she met in the bar last night?
“She left a message. She said she will see you again in dreams.”
“Wait, what happened? Where did she go?” I asked.
“She had to go away. I’m sorry, I got to go”
And that was the end of that. She did visit me in my dreams and seems to always be on my mind. I’m not sure what happened to her but that night will always remain a high note in my life’s song. Want to sing along?
We go through life so quickly and forget that the run will soon be done. We must have fun. One bang and nature puts out our flames. The bang that is sure to come. BanG with a capital B and G as it will end just as it had begun. It can happen at anytime, whether we’re loving life or moaning in our own strife. That’s why we must keep moving and improving. BanG. With a suave beat of motion making yourself at peace with the world‘s commotion. Keep writing instead of fighting. Fighting yourself and let it all be. Let it all hang out and let go of melancholy.
In the late spring of 1939, Weldon Kees, his wife Ann, and his parents, John…