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Lying on my back on the bed, I dangled the phone a little above me in the air, so I would have to
strain to hear the words. It was more interesting that way.
"Do you miss me?" she asked. The voice was far away. I brought it to my ear. "I asked if you
missed me," she repeated.
"Of course," I sighed. "I've been a bit distracted, that's all."
"Are you getting your work done?"
Long sigh. "No."
"So come join me."
"I'm not in the mood."
"You used to love to travel," she said plaintively.
"Not to Sweden."
"I thought you thought it was the greatest country in the world."
"Conceptually. To be honest, I'd probably rather live in South Africa." A longer silence. "Are you
ill?" she finally asked.
Although I'm sure she'd rather I be ill than prefer living in South Africa to Sweden, I said no.
After a long silence, she asked about Esmeralda. More than once we had reverted to "pet"
discussion in preference to argument.
"She's fine." I got Esmeralda and held her ear up the phone. "Say 'hi.'"
Esmeralda squirmed and I put her down. I listened for awhile as the current mouthed inanities
about "being a good girl.. .not knocking over the water bowl... .not scratching the couch," etc.
"People sound so stupid when they talk to their pets," I said.
"Fuck you." She hung up.
This little show of independence made me like her better, though not enough to call her back. But,
lying on the bed, I thought about it, with the same kind of enjoyment I got on hot summer evenings
when I lay in bed thinking about whether it was worth it to get out of bed, stumble over to the air-
conditioner, and fiddle with the controls.
I decided it was a bad idea, as it would only reinforce her hanging up on me when she was angry,
an action which, although I rather admired it at the moment, would over time become melodramatic
and tedious.
I burrowed through drawers until I found an old baggie with bits of dried twigs and leaves in it. My
tampons now came encased in plastic, and it had been years since I had rolling papers, so I took a
pencil and wrapped aluminum foil around it, leaving some extra at the end which I fastened into a
little bowl. I stabbed the bowl several times with the point of a knife, then, having placed some
twigs and leaves into the concavity, and discarding the pencil, held the hollow tube to my mouth
and lit a match. After which I inhaled the only illegal substance the government had ever managed
to get even somewhat under its control as demonstrated by the extraordinary sum I was forced to
pay for my quarter ounce.
It felt pleasant, as if I were a criminal especially because I was not in some East Village dump, but
in an expensive loft most people I knew would kill to be in.
But although they would kill to be in it, if they were here they wouldn't have smoked dope with me,
as most of them were in programs to help keep themselves free from various addictions (but not
from the addiction of the programs themselves).
Nonetheless, because they still lived in the East Village, because in years or decades past they
had staggered down the street, because they had woken up swathed in vomit in the apartments of
strangers they did not remember meeting, they still thought of themselves as criminals and me as
bourgeois, though in truth probably the only criminal thing they had done in years was underpay
their income taxes.
But what poor person can underpay their income taxes as much as lean?
I realized I was humming "Mr. Soul" under my breath. I searched for it among the records we hid in
the closet for just such moments. I had not played it (or perhaps any record) in years. It was
scratchy and full of hisses. I reminded myself there had been a time, not so long ago, that I could
listen to entire stacks of records filled with scratches, I through a 25 watt amplifier hooked to
speakers that cost perhaps a tenth of what mine (ours) did, and enjoy it utterly.
Such philosophizing helped me to enjoy it (if not utterly), but I made a mental note to buy the
compilation CD the next time I went to Tower Records.
Thus it is that Capitalism encases us in its chains. Does not every phone call the TAD records,
every program one buys for one's computer, every hunk of frozen meat one feeds to one's
microwave, serve to enslave us further?
But if I were not enslaved, could I want anything?
I realized I was hungry, and made some tuna fish.
15
Before leaving the apartment, I put the various notes I had received, along with the Village Voice
ad and receipt for the P.O. box and the East Village address to which I was shortly going, in a 10"
x 13" manila envelope which I sealed and left by the front door. On the front I wrote in a thick black
permanent marker "In case something happens to me." I wore khaki twill shorts, a new
shortsleeved offwhite shirt of an astonishing weave and price, and expensive sandals with molded [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]