Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Love this song

Jesse Malin doing Hold Steady's "You Can Make Him Like You."


Laurina was a girl I met in New York in the program. She was dark, jaded, beautiful, and damaged. Naturally I fell for her. She made it clear upfront that she wasn't looking to date. And for once I accepted something at face value and we became good friends. We'd hang out with each other. Talk on the phone, Text one another. When Melissa pulled away, Laurina was there for me. I'll never forget a cold night in New York when my heart was broken and she and I roamed around the East Village and hung out for hours. I needed human contact and she was there.

She wasn't much on the compassion front and certainly wasn't really ever a good listener or a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. She had her own baggage and her own demons and I guess us together made us forget ourselves for just a little bit.

Laurina disappeared before I left New York. She was always struggling with her writing and trying to make ends meed in various temp jobs. Laurina was not cut out for office work. Her dream was to be a writer in the mountains somewhere. I guess she got a little down and took off for awhile either to Maryland where her brother was or Massachusetts where the rest of her family lived. Either way, I didn't see her before I left for Los Angeles.

It's not like I didn't try. I emailed her. I sent texts. I left messages. I even called her friend to try to get in touch with her. And since I've been out here, I tried too. I never get a response. I know she's back in New York and back in the meeting we used to go to. I wish she'd get in touch with me. I'm through trying. I used to get angry about it. But it's her, not me. It's not personal and she is probably completely unaware how much it hurt that she never responded to my efforts to get in touch with her.

I sometimes wonder if I confuse my feelings for Melissa with Laurina. I went for Melissa not long after Laurina had passed on my offer of a date. I think I was hungry for something and the someone didn't matter so much. If you had to say on paper who I had more in common with and who I had more of a connection to, it would be Laurina hands down.

But I don't sit here pining for Laurina. I'm writing about her just because she's someone who was very important in my life for a short time. She was someone who probably helped me more than she'll ever know. And I guess if she doesn't know, why should I be surprised that she could move on to a world without me without a missing a beat.

I think I attach too much to people. I probably think too highly of myself in all this too. Tonight I'm worried that it's been now a full 48 hours since I was with this girl Courtney and we fooled around a lot. I emailed her a little while ago, but I wonder if after you've been in between their thighs you're supposed to call, not email. I sit here and worry that she's thinking less of me when in reality she might be perfectly fine with everything Maybe I'm the sensitive one. Or is that another copout.

Anyway, I've gotten distracted. Tonight I hope my pal Laurina is doing well and maybe one day I'll cross paths with her again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Up!

So rather than look for some Internet porn or watch a rerun of Big Bang, I thought I'd try to hammer out an update.

I'm not ready to resume my fiction efforts but am getting close. Was reading a story I was working on to a date the other night (I know, what a cheap romantic ploy) and it almost got me inspired to start working on it again.

A friend asked if I had lost interest in this. I haven't really. I guess I just am kind of worn out when I get home and either surf the net, do Twitter or watch TV. I need to just do this. I need to disconnect from the world every now and then and this is probably my best way.

Of course, in the course of writing this I distracted myself with Internet porn for ten minutes. Are my thoughts so scary I can't be alone with them without any diversions? Apparently so.

So other than my porn habit still raging out of control I'm fine. Hard to believe I've been here eight months. Frankly 2009 is hard to believe. I went into it thinking I'd found the girl I was going to marry only to have that explode in my face two weeks into January. I let that knock me on my ass. It ultimately led me back to Los Angeles and journalism. A girl I'm dating right now who asked me about my last relationship had these wise words for me about it that I'd thought I'd share.

"When you lose someone, the pain often feels twofold. That's because not only do you now have to mourn the loss of that person, but, and this is what gets us, you're mourning the loss of your dream for who that person MIGHT have been in your life, and what they might have meant for you (a perfect future, happiness, love, etc). That second loss is often more painful because it was so beautiful and perfect ... and unreal. Honor that. And try to let it go."

She's absolutely right, especially the loss of my dream for who she might have been in my life. I hope I can learn from that. I hope I also recognize that anyone with that much insight is worth pursuing. I like her a lot. I'm just not sure my walls are ready to come down yet. She seems very patient and has plenty of walls of her own too and neither of us are in any rush. I like her and if I can get past my own shallowness then who knows.

That said, I really don't want to rush into anything. My history has been meet girl, sleep with girl, have relationship. Basically, I'm the guy who walks on the lot, drives out the first car he sees without checking the transmission or realizing that the guy who owned it before me really fucked up the interior.

I want to test drive lots of cars.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Everyone else seems to keep on blogging (BTW, Tourguide, you got the Badlands lyrics wrong, but appreciate the sentiment, I've never understood why people think Bruce should stop singing about what he knows just because he got rich) so i will try to as well.

But now I need to go to sleep.

Things I like about LA

Driving the ten with no traffic at twilight when the palm trees jet out over the hills.
The full moons here are incredible.
My neighborhood, which is so cool.
Funky buildings.
When the traffic is moving, I love driving.
Cool nights like tonight.
LAX even if the experts say it is the worst airport in the world. I love landing there and knowing I'm home.

I was given a job offer recently and the position they wanted me to take was back in NYC and my gut clenched so tight. I know I made the right choice.

If I go anywhere after here, it'll be DC.

Your Call

Can decide when you walk out the door but not when you come back.
So take that first step and know it might be your last.
Can lay yourself to waste or try to keep that grace.

Gotta Get Back

Sorry. I know it's been a long time between updates. I've been busy at work. Really busy, but that's not an excuse. If I'm going to write then I really need to do it.

I know that I also need to do it outside of the home. I can't do it here. I'm powerless over Internet porn. Maybe if I write I'll realize it. Until I deal with it though, it's tough for me to work at home. On the one hand, I guess an almost 45 year-old man who can get off four times a day isn't so bad. But it is a time sucker and I know it's not about sex. It's about taking myself out of myself.

There is this real cool coffee shop just a few blocks away. I could even walk there if I wanted to not worry about parking. I need to just start going there and trying to write. Especially on a night like this when I don't have anything going on. I thought I might have a date tonight, but not the case. I'm OK with that too. I've been dating this one girl for about five weeks and it is going fine. I like her but am not in any rush to jump into anything. I don't feel I'm head-over-heels but then again the last few times I've gone that route it really hasn't worked it out so well, as we all know.

She's pretty, in her late-30s, never married. She's slightly damaged, which is good for me. She's in between careers. Good sense of humor. We're going very slow on the physical stuff and I'm OK with that too. The minute you sleep together, it ups the ante and no need to jump into anything.

I have a date with someone else tomorrow night. It's a second date with this girl someone in the program set me up with. She's much younger, 30 or 32. My friend didn't realize what a geezer I was.

I don't really want to date multiple people, this just worked out that way. The one I'm going out with tomorrow is nice but I'm not sure. I figure this next date will decide if I want a third and really complicate things. Of course, the first girl and I have no agreement and we've hardly fooled around besides some making out so really, not doing anything bad here.

I got a raise at work! I took a pretty big pay cut to come back to journalism and this raise is nice. I'm not back to where I was nor would I expect that to happen. But I'm now making the most I've ever made as a reporter and the raise I got was 30%!!

Going to DC next week. My brother is having a heart operation. It's not major. I mean anything they slice you open and play with your heart, it's major. But this should be fairly routine. Nonetheless, it is important to go back and show up. It's what I do.

I'm really glad I'm back here in LA even if I'm at home on a Saturday night. It's the first Saturday I've been alone for a long time so really is not that big a deal.

I will once again pledge to try to write more. I only have four or five of you readers so I should at least do this a few times a week.

By the way, Pandora is a great music site.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Left for dead.
Finished at 21.
Wouldn't know it to see her today, but she had to pay.
If I can have half her grace maybe I'll find my place.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sense of Humor

I wonder what a normal second date is like.

I'm guessing it's not like the one I had tonight. There was nothing wrong with the date I had tonight, mind you, but I wonder what normal is like.

So what happened? Nothing dramatic. We went for Thai food. She ordered something I certainly wouldn't have ordered. Then we went to Groundlings show. It was actually kind of funny and I was enjoying myself. It doesn't happen too often. She left to go to the bathroom and then informed me at intermission that the meal wasn't exactly working for her.

We left, which is fine with me. Then we talked for awhile on the street about different things. I am probably way too open. It is a combination of years of therapy and recovery and, frankly age. I simply don't care anymore. I am who I am. I don't hide myself anymore. I'm an open book. I don't know how to make small talk. I think it is a good thing, but I know it is also disarming.

That has nothing to do with anything. Just sort of talking here. Anyway, she told me that she had quit her job to care for her mother who was dying of cancer. She hadn't really shared that with anyone yet (I mean in dating) and she is still trying to find her way back and get past grieving, etc. I feel for her, I really do. Of course, the last girl I dated broke up with me because her sister had cancer (or so she said that was the reason, a month later she was dating someone else, but I'll go with what she told me) so the irony of now dating someone who is still trying to recover from such a loss is, well, funny. I can see it now. I'll date her for three weeks and start to fall for her. She'll then end it, saying she's not ready and then a month later be with someone else. That's what I do, I help people get to the next stage. It's a tremendous sacrifice on my part but I'm glad to be of service.

Sarcasm aside, I like this girl and would like to know her better and see where it goes and I will certainly ask her out again (which she seems surprised by given her bad stomach and candor). But I'm going in with eyes open. If she's not ready, I'm not going to force anything. I need to protect myself. And if I sound like a jerk here so be it. I've spent my life not taking care of myself first and it hasn't really worked out too well.

She already knows all my history (like I said, open book).

Still, maybe soon I'll have an ordinary date. You know, the type where you talk about your favorite food and how you like museums and hiking and long walks.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Can you be Twitter stalked? I just want to know why someone who broke my heart can't seem to decide whether to follow me on Twitter.

I know this sounds really stupid and trivial and it is, but put yourself in my shoes. Someone plunges a knife in you. Your response is to respect that. You don't pursue them after they've dropped you. You don't humiliate yourself or make them think that you are going to try to win them back even after your own path has brought you back to the city you left ten years ago that she happens to live in. She even goes out of her way to make clear that she's not interested by sending you a note letting you know she's with someone else. You wish her happiness and move on.

Except every few months she starts following your stupid twitter feed. Then she disappears. Then she comes back. Then she goes. Then she asks why you don't follow hers. You explain that for your own protection you just don't really want to, etc. She claims to understand and then later stops following you. And now she's started again.

I shouldn't care but it is annoying. She doesn't need to do it for work. Yes, we're both reporters covering the same business but frankly all my stuff gets put out on Twitter through another feed anyway so....

I'm going to see her next week (I know this because we will both likely be covering the same event) and I will again resist the urge to ask what the fuck is up with her and my Twitter feed. I'm tempted just to say I don't care one way or another but could you just make up your mind. Of course, any gesture on my part is giving up the power. Not that I have any, but she doesn't need to know that.

Yeah, this was a waste of six paragraphs but I just had to get it out of me. And yes, I could just block her but again that seems trivial.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shoot first, aim later

Guess it's time for real update vs. a chapter in a story that maybe I'll do something with sometime.

Passed the six month mark at the job and in the port of last resort. It's a slow Friday and I'm being lazy. I should be working on a story proposal but I just don't feel like it right now. I need to chill.

The bloom is off the rose. I don't regret anything but now that the first six months has passed, the newness with it is gone. Yes, I'm back. Yes, I proved I could still do it. The game has changed a little since I left. Lot more shoot first, aim later. I still have game. Move over, Brett Favre, I'm back. All that shit.

And it's still not enough. I'm passed four years without a drink and almost three years without a smoke. I sometimes crave the latter, I'm doing fine without the former.

I've been on some dates since I've been out here but nothing took. There were two that I liked but they didn't go any where. Next weekend, in a most un-Rambler move I am going to New Mexico for a few days to reconnect with a friend/lover who will be there for a conference or something. I need to get away. The job is very draining and I'm as hard on myself as ever.

Still doing the AA thing. Meetings here are different but I'm not going to bore you with all that crap. I still go five-to-six times a week and am gradually getting to know people. It's not easy. I had risen pretty high up the ranks of the recovery chain in NYC and now I'm at the bottom again.

I am reworking my steps and was doing my inventory or resentment list as it is sometimes known and I think I'm my biggest resentment. Yes, I still hate myself.

And, if you've been paying attention, I've been trying to do some more creative writing. That last effort is not finished but for now I need a break from it. I have an idea for another story that isn't quite so tawdry.

On the family front, life is creeping up. Got a brother who is having heart surgery and a mother who has seen better days.

That's the update.

One of those days

Saturday, October 24, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble XIV

They say you can control if you go out. You can't control if you come back.

Now I know what they meant. I had often wondered how I'd go. To be honest, I always figured I'd have coke-induced heart attack after a night with a whore, porn, phone sex and loneliness. Then I'd rot for at least three days before someone would come looking for me. Hopefully there'd be enough food in the cat dishes so they wouldn't start chewing on me. And until the toxicology came back, my mom would think I just had some undetected heart defect. I was usually pretty good at cleaning up the scene of the crime after my binges.

Then I got sober and the grim reality that I might actually live a long time started to sink in. We all keep living longer and I'm not so sure it's such a good idea. We're not built to take care of all these 80 year-olds. I'd rather go out while I was still in control of my shit.

And now I wasn't in control of anything. I was the wrong place at the wrong time guy you always read about in the New York Post. There would be a page one story in The New York Times when this was all over about how the lives of two New Yorks converged in one bloody night in East Harlem. Some 25 year-old chump would write the story I dreamed of writing that would win the Pulitzer. He'd feast off of our wrong turn. Hell, it would probably become a book and then a movie.

On the plus side, everyone who thought they knew me would be blown away at how I went out. Every girl I'd ever been with would suddenly reevaluate every minute we were together to see what signs they had missed. They'd count their blessings and instead of some sarcastic asshole who couldn't be faithful that they'd wasted a few years with, I'd become their cautionary tale. Their brush with danger.

"Did you know he was into all that?," their friends would ask.

"Well, he definitely had an edge to him," the girls all say back.

Yes, I was about to die and this was the kind of shit running through my head. Audrey was on the couch with her head resting on her knees. Jake's eyes were closed and he was talking to himself and holding Audrey's hand. I was still in the kitchen looking at a half-empty beer calling my name. Fuck it, if I was going out I must well have some more beer. I reached out and grabbed the bottle and chugged it down. Victor turned and looked at me and didn't say anything. In fact no one was saying anything. Lucia was passed out or in shock. Tino had wrapped her hand and at least stopped the bleeding. I don't think that finger is getting back on her hand. When Victor looked away from me I slipped the bottle into my pocket.

"Can I have a cigarette," I asked Victor.

"Fuck, I don't care, have your last cigarette," he said.

I reached into my pocket and grabbed a fresh pack and opened it up and lit a smoke. Audrey looked up at me. I shrugged and tossed her the pack. She took one, lit it and handed the pack to Jake. Pretty soon the whole room was smokey. Victor opened up the window, the one I had almost climbed out of earlier for a smoke. The one with the fire escape.

I didn't know what my plan was, but getting that window open was definitely part one. Part two somehow involved the bottle and the knife that I was still carrying and part three would have something to do with that stash of money.

While I was busy fantasizing, Ricky walked over to Hector and whispered in his ear.

"Shit man, I don't care. Do what you want," Hector said.

Ricky then walked over to the couch and grabbed Audrey.

"Get off of me."

"Come on honey, time to have some fun."

"Don't do this," she pleaded.

"Don't fight it," he said.

He pulled her from the couch and dragged her to the bedroom. Audrey grabbed her purse. Jake and I sat there like pussies. To be fair, there wasn't much we could do and honestly, it was now two against two.

I looked over at Jake and tried to make eye contact but he was still in another world.

"Jake, you OK?"

"No, I'm not OK. I'm not OK at all. I don't even know what I'm doing here. I don't even know you. An hour ago I'm sitting in a bar minding my own business and now I'm about to die. I mean, what the fuck?"

"Yeah, it's messed up."

Just then there was noise from down the hall. Audrey was screaming and then there was a loud crash.

"Now shut up already bitch," Ricky said.

I could hear him tearing at her dress. I looked out the window and in the building across the way but no one looked back.

The bed in the other room begun to squeak. Audrey was crying. Ricky was breathing heavy. The bed begin to really crash into the wall. All of a sudden the noise stopped. I looked at Jake and then at Victor and Hector. Then the bed started to move again.
I grabbed another cigarette and had just lit it when Audrey screamed again.

"No, don't please."

There was another crash and Audrey screamed again.

Victor nodded at Hector who went down the hall to see what was going on.

Hector knocked on the door.

"Ricky, what the fuck?," Hector said.

There was no answer.

I could hear Hector start to open the door. Victor also moved towards the hallway. I reached into my pocket and got the bottle out. Tino watched me and nodded his head and grabbed another bottle.

Hector opened the door.

"Ricky? Girl what the fuck did you do. Fuck"

Now it was time for Hector to scream. It was more of a gurgle. He came staggering out of the hall clutching his throat as blood spurted out on the floor and collapsed into the living room

Not wanting to waste a moment and having no idea what the fuck was going on I threw my bottle as hard as I could at Victor and got him in the back. Tino then smashed him in the head with his bottle and shoved him to the ground, grabbed his gun and pumped two bullets into him.

Audrey came out of the bedroom covered in blood.

"Are you OK."

"No, I'm not OK, I'm pretty fucked up. But that mother fucker's dead."

"I think everyone's dead," I said.

"Except us."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble XIII

The butt of the gun clipped me on the side of the head. It hurt. At least it wasn't a bullet. Small favors.

If that wasn't bad enough, the impact of the hit sent me flying into the wall and then I hit the ground and landed right on the empty bottle in my jacket, which promptly shattered sending glass fragments into my chest and stomach. Audrey screamed and Jake turned around and ran back to the door. The guy who hit me went after Jake, got him by the back of his jacket and threw him to the ground. Another guy came out of door two with a gun drawn. Audrey's ring was definitely not worth all this.

"Where do you think you're going?," he barked.

"Uh, I was ... "

I rolled over on my back and said, "He was going to put another quarter in the meter."

That got me a swift kick in the ribs which had the dual effect of reminding me about restraint of pen and tongue and driving a few more glass fragments into me.

"You think you're funny?," our host asked. "Who the fuck are you anyway."

Audrey, the public relations expert decided this would be a good time to explain our presence and try out her

"Hi, I'm Audrey. We were here earlier and left something here and came back to get it," she said in her calm voice.

"Oh yeah, what'd you leave?," psycho number one asked.

"I left a ring here," Audrey said. "I'm Audrey, by the way, what's your name."

I was still on the ground and in pain or I would've rolled my eyes.

"I heard you the first time bitch." Then he looked down at me and Jake, who was also still on the ground.

"And who the fuck are these two?"

Audrey introduced us. Shouldn't someone say what a lovely evening and would we like some tea?

"Get up," psycho number one said to me and Jake.

Jake hopped up. Me? I took a little longer. Too long I guess because the next thing I knew psycho number two was grabbing me and pulling me up. Then we were escorted down the hall and into the living room.

Once in there we were greeted by the sight of Lucia and Tino bound and gag to their chairs in the little kitchen and a third psycho standing by them. Lucia and Tino looked at us and each other.

"Who are they?," psycho number one asked Lucia and Tino.

Psycho number three took off Tino's gag.

"They're nobody man. Just customers," Then to us, "Audrey, what the fuck are you doing back here?"

"I came back for my ring," she said.


"Yeah, that one stole my ring."

Tino looked at Lucia who rolled her eyes.

"That's it, they're customers?," said psycho number one.

"Yeah Victor, that's it they don't have anything to do with this shit so let them go."

I resisted the urge to say that sounded like a good plan.

Victor looked us all over and then looked at Audrey.

"Where's this ring you came for?," he asked.

Audrey looked at Lucia and pointed.

"It's on her hand," she said.

Victor looked at the psycho number three.

"Ricky, get this bitch her ring back from that bitch."

Ricky walked over to Lucia and without hesitating pulled out a knife and cutoff her ring finger and tossed it, ring attached at Audrey.

"There's your ring bitch, " Ricky said while blood spurted out of the base of where Lucia's ring finger used to be and she bit through her gag and screamed. Ricky grabbed a beer from the table and poured it onto Lucia's wound.

"That'll keep it clean babe."

"Aren't you going to take your ring Audrey?," Victor asked.

Audrey looked at Lucia's finger on the floor and threw up.

"Whoa, you better not puke on me bitch," Victor said. Then he bent over and picked up the finger and put it in Audrey's face.

"Now take your ring back. You came all this way for it."

Audrey reached out and took the ring off the finger and then started to run down the hall when psycho number three grabbed her.

"Let me go, I'm going to throw up again."

"Let her go Hector, it's OK."

Hector let Audrey go and she ran in the bathroom and we all got to hear her barf into the toilet.

I looked over at Lucia whose eyes were moist and her skin was pale. She was still bleeding profusely and looked like she was going into shock.

I looked at Victor, who was still holding Lucia's finger.

"Can we at least put the finger on ice," I said.

"What?," Victor said.

"It could still be reattached."

"You care about her?," Victor asked me. Then he threw the finger at me, took out his gun, walked over to Lucia and pointed it her head.

I caught the finger and staggered to the kitchen. My head still hurt but I wasn't bleeding. My chest was cut up from the bottle and blood had soaked through my shirt, but I was OK. I opened the freezer and put Lucia's finger on ice.

"Victor, don't," Tino pleaded.

"What? You think you have any say in what happens to her, Tino. You're next you don't give me what I'm after."

"I told you, I don't have it."

The toilet flushed. Audrey came out and walked back towards us.

"You feel better honey?," Victor asked.

Audrey kept silent.

"Hope you at least brushed your teeth. I don't want to be tasting puke later."

Audrey started to back down the hall but Hector grabbed her arms.

"Just stay there," Hector said.

I opened the fridge and grabbed a beer and twisted the cap off.

"What the fuck are you doing?," Victor asked. "You just open up someone's fridge and take what you want? Who the fuck raised you?"

"Sorry, I'm thirsty."

"Put the fucking beer down and get over there and sit down. Hector, put the other two over there."

I sat in a chair at the table by the kitchen while Audrey and Jake were shoved on the couch.

"You're awfully quiet big boy," Hector said to Jake.

Jake sat there. His eyes were tearing up.

"Don't kill me," he said.

"Yeah, it's a little late for that," Victor answered. "You're all dead."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble XII

"So Jake, what's your story," I asked our guest.

"Uh, what do you mean," he said.

"I mean, what do you do in our fair city?"

"Oh, I'm an actor and a personal trainer."


Damn. I thought for sure he was some Wall Street douche bag or lawyer. I felt a little guilty about dragging some struggling actor into our little drama to be a backup in a fight he doesn't know he's about to walk into. Oh well. When you're on the way down, you take hostages.

Our cab moved pretty fast. We were already at 105th Street.

"You been in anything I would've seen?" I asked. I don't know why I was so chatty. I hated people.

"I don't know. I've done some commercials and theatre, nothing big."

"Holy shit, I know where I've seen you," Audrey suddenly chimed in.

"Where?," Jake said.

"You were in that commercial for Tratorria's. You're the `try the gnocchi' guy."

Tratorria's was this cheesy restaurant chain that made Olive Garden look like Rao's.

"Yeah, that was me," Jake said excitedly.

"That ad's been on for like, what, three years?," she asked.

"Something like that. I still get a check every now and then."

I finished Jake's beer and handed Audrey the empty.

"What am I supposed to do with this?," she said.

"I don't know, put it in your bag."

"Fuck you," she said, tossing it on my lap. I grabbed it and stuck it inside my pocket.

"Hey, you got any more beers," Jake said. "I barely got any of that one."

"Sure gnocchi guy," Audrey said handing him one.

"What about me?" I asked.

"Suck on the empty," she said.

"I do something wrong," I asked.

"You know what you did," came the response.

"No, I know what I'm doing and I know what I didn't do so I don't see the problem."

"The problem is that it shouldn't have even been an issue in the first place."

Great, I failed the man test without even failing it.

The cab pulled was stopped at 112th. I looked down the street and saw a group of people hanging outside a church having a smoke and drinking coffee. Audrey and Jake watched me watching them.

"What, is it bingo night there or something?" Jake asked.

"Yeah, something like that," I said. Although this was out of my neighborhood, I thought I actually recognized a dude there from my lunch meeting. A crackhead named Edwin who kept going in and out. Looked like he was in tonight.

The light turned and the church disappeared from view. About a minute later we were at 116th. The cab stopped. Audrey paid and we all got out.

"Hey can I get a swig," I said to Jake when we were on the street.

"Sure," he handed me his beer.

I took a sip and handed it back and lit a cigarette and looked up the street at Tino's building. There were still people hanging on the street but the stoop itself was clear.

"We going to call first?," I asked.

"We don't need to," Audrey said. "You know Tino. We can just pop in."

"Great, I'm sure drug dealers love the pop-in as much as us regular folks."

Jake laughed a nervous laugh.

"Don't worry, Jake. He's just being a jerk and anyway, you're a big guy."

"Yeah, Jake you'll be fine. I'm going to get a pack of smokes."

I turned and walked to the corner bodega and bought some Marlboros. I don't know why. I had a pack-and-a-half in my jacket and she had at least a pack.

While I was pulling out my wallet I looked in the mirror above the register and saw four guys in the back just hanging out. They caught my glance and I looked away and when the cashier handed me my change I hustled out of there. I'd made the fatal New York mistake and made eye contact with strangers and I don't know why but those guys gave me a bad vibe. Actually, I did know why. They looked like bad guys. The last thing I needed to be was an appetizer for whatever their big meal was.

"OK, boy and girl ready to roll?," I said when I hit the street.

We crossed the street and headed to Tino's building. Audrey tried the door and it was locked. She started to hit the buzzer.

"I thought the buzzer was broke," I said.

"Maybe you should call," Jake said.

Audrey kept pushing the button when all of a sudden the door buzzed and I grabbed it.

"Well, I guess it got fixed," she said.

We started the climb up the stairs. It was quieter now. I was in the lead with Audrey next to me and Jake behind. It was not the order I would have chosen.

We reached the top of the stairs and I knocked on the door, which was slightly ajar.

"Come on in," a new voice said.

I looked at Audrey and raised my eyebrows a little. Her eyes said "what?" back at me.

I rolled my eyes and pushed the door open and walked in with Audrey and Jake behind me. The long hall was dark as was the living room but there was light coming from the kitchen.

"We're in the kitchen," the voice said again as we proceeded into the hallway. The door had just shut behind us and I was getting ready to say something when I felt a breeze as door number two suddenly swung open I turned quick enough to see the gun, but not quick enough to get out of the way.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Of You

Caught a whiff of you tonight.
Missed the scent and the pain I know so well.
Chased after for a little while.
Then opted for a fresher hell.

Searching for a new wound.
Something else to lay me out.
Some other blood ready to spill.
Some other pain to break my will

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble XI

"Can we at least finish our drinks first," I pleaded with Audrey.

She grabbed hers and chugged it and slammed it back down on the bar so loud that even the bartender looked up.

"Done. Let's go."

"Look, we need a plan. We can't just go barging back in there."

"You're right. I'll call, tell him that bitch stole my ring and I need it back and he'll come right down here with it."

"Sounds good, lets do that."

"Look, I'm going up there, you coming or you going to let me go up there by myself."

I love when women whip out that one. She's about to do something stupid and if I don't go along I'm a pussy who won't fight for her honor. I've been there before and when a girl thinks you won't go to the mat for her you're done. Once years ago this guy kept grabbing my date's ass. We were all sitting together and he was drunk. She could've moved her seat but didn't. I, of course, offered to say something and she said no. The point was that I shouldn't have offered, I should've gotten up and punched the guy out.

And she was right. I should've and that was among the five moments in my life I'd like to do over again. I'll tell you the four other ones later although I have a feeling that one of them is about to be replaced.

"Why can't you call Tino and see if he can get the ring back," I asked.

"Hello? Did you not figure it out? She runs the show. He's afraid of her."

"So am I," I said only half-kidding.

"Anyway, I don't think she took it to keep it, she's going to sell it so we need to move."

"What, is it worth that much?"

"It's not worth a ton but she doesn't know that."

"See, I don't think she took to to sell. I think she took it to get at you," I said.

"Fine, I don't really a give a shit why she took it or what her deep psychological reason for it was. I just want my mother fucking ring back. I told you, my dad gave that to me before he died."

That sealed it. Yes, we were going back to 116th Street.

"OK, fine. Let me get one more beer and give me some fuel. If I'm going to get killed I don't want to feel it."

"Fine," Audrey said, reaching into her purse and handing me a pack of a cigarettes. "It's in there."

"Just like I used to do," I said grabbing the pack and heading off to the bathroom.

I walked to the back of the bar and stopped by the jukebox.

Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I started out for God knows where
But I guess Ill know when I get there

I listened to Petty until the end of the song and when it was followed up with Journey I went into the bathroom. Fuck. There was no lock on the door. I'd have to hit the stall and be quiet. Oh well, I was a pro. I went into the stall just as someone else came into to use the urinal. I waited until I heard a flush and then used the noise as a cover to do a couple of bumps. I got that nice quick jolt and an almost instant drip. I flushed my toilet and walked out of the stall. The other guy was at the sink washing up as I walked up, still sniffing slightly.

"You carrying?," he asked.

"Huh?," I said pretending not to understand what he was saying.

"You got any you can spare. Just say yes or no, but don't pretend man, I could hear your teeth grinding from outside the can. I just need a little hit."

He didn't look like a cop and I had to think that a cop would have something better to do then hangout in some wannabe Irish bar busting Upper East Side douche bags. On the other hand, if I were a cop that's what I'd want to do. Plus if I did get busted it would get me out of going back to East Harlem.

"Sure man, help yourself," I said, handing him the smokes.

"Wow, thanks man, appreciate it. I'm Jake," he said holding out his hand.

I shook it and introduced myself. He went into the stall and got a fix and came back out.

"Thanks again, good shit."

"Yeah, it's fresh. Not cut up with crap," I said.

"You got any you want to sell?"

"I don't, but I know someone who does if you want to take a little trip."

"Where?," he asked.

"116th Street?"

"Uh ..."

"Hey, I know, but it's for real. I'm not trying to rip you off. You found me. My girlfriend's at the bar and we were just going up there on a run so if you want to come feel free. It's safe," I said.

He thought about it for a few minutes and then said, "fuck it, lets do it."

The two of us headed out of the bathroom and I led us over to Audrey who was already by the door.

"Audrey, this is Jake."

Audrey looked at Jake and me and Jake again.

"Uh, hi. You two know each other?"

"Not exactly, but Jake wanted to go with us on our little errand. Seems he needs some supplies. Tino won't mind us coming with some new business, right?" I asked with what for me passes for a wink.

"No, that should be just fine," Audrey said giving Jake a once over.

"Who knows, maybe we'll get a discount for the referral," I said getting a laugh out of her and Jake.

The three of us headed out into the street and started to look for a cab. Jake looked just a tad apprehensive.

"You good?," I asked.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm cool," he said nervously as the cab Audrey flagged pulled up.

"I told you, it's fine. You want a beer? She has some in her bag."

"Sure," he said.

The three of us piled in with Audrey in the middle and I asked her to hand me a beer.

I opened it, took a swig and handed it to Jake. Then I grabbed the magic pack of smokes and tried to make myself feel more indestructible. Audrey grabbed the pack and did some and handed it to Jake who poured some on his hand and snorted it up. Audrey then took his hand and licked the residue off. Maybe she was practicing getting her ring back.

"Sorry, I just didn't want it to go to waste," Audrey said with a wink.

"Uh, yeah OK," Jake said.

I wasn't sure if that move was her being fucked up, a flirt, mad at me or just crazy. But whatever it was, it kind of turned me on.

I grabbed Jake's beer and took a swig as the cab started to race back up First Avenue.

"What I'd tell you man," I said taking out a Marlboro lighting it and rolling down the window.

"Nothing but fun here."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble X

So here we all sat in East Harlem. Me, the 40-ish event planner on night one of his relapse. My hot co-worker who I finally had sex with and now wishes I hadn't. Her drug dealer who may actually be sober and his hot friend or boss or partner who definitely wasn't.

Oh, and the mystery behind door number two. Yes, it was turning into quite the Friday night.

You ever have one of those nights where you feel like you are watching a movie of yourself? You know this is not going to turn out well and yet you can't stop. You have to see how it ends rather than walk out now in once piece. That's how I felt. This was not going to turn out well.

Tino sat back down and watched us drink. I suddenly had to get off that couch, at least for a second.

"I have to go to the bathroom, is that all right?," I asked in my best Michael Corleone.

Tino pointed down the hall and said, "sure." I was kind of disappointed that he didn't say, "you gotta go, you gotta go."

I got up from the couch and walked down the hall. The bathroom was in between door number three and door number two. I walked quietly down the hall, went into the bathroom and shut the door as quietly as I could. There was no lock on the door. I put my ear next to the wall but couldn't really hear anything from door number two. I heard a lot of clicking. A video game? Maybe. At least one person in there though. I unzipped my pants and started to take a loud piss. I even grabbed a cup, filled it with water and poured that down the toilet. Then I opened the window, which was too small to climb out of and there was no escape there anyway. There was a tiny ledge.

Then I looked in the medicine cabinet. I saw a bottle of pills. It said Xanax. I grabbed three and put them in my pocket. I'd need them for the come down later. I flushed and jiggled the handle and then, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I opened up the top of the toilet. I don't know what I was expecting to find. I was probably hoping for a gun or a big bag of blow. Every few months you'd read a story in The Post about some homeless guy finding a kilo in an abandoned couch. This was better. Sealed up in plastic bags were stacks of bills. I'm not crazy. As tempting as it was it would take them about seven seconds to figure out where their money went.

I washed up and came back to the living room. Lucia was now sitting next to Audrey looking at her jewelry and Tino was on the other side of Audrey. Great, I was being squeezed out. I took Lucia's chair, picked up the tray and did a line. Then I took a swig and lit a cigarette. I did all this too fast and started to dry heave a little. I was starting to remember why I gave this shit up. The self-loathing. The coughing and puking. The finding yourself in scary apartments with drug dealers. Yeah, good times.

"You OK, sweetie?" Audrey asked.

"Yeah," I said gasping a little. "Just went down the wrong way," I added before taking a swig of beer.

"Really?," Lucia said. "You know how to go down the right way, because I haven't found a boy yet who does."

I swallowed my beer, laughed and said, "I don't get too many complaints."

Lucia turned to Audrey and started stroking her hair.

"What about that honey, does he do you right?"

Audrey's body tensed to Lucia's touch.

"Damn girl, chill. I'm not going to bite you, as much as I want to."

"Sorry," Audrey said, "that's not my thing."

"Don't be sorry," Lucia said. "Night's still early."

Audrey looked at me and grabbed her purse.

"Bathroom's down the hall right?" she asked. Tino nodded. Audrey got up and headed to the bathroom.

"Why you gotta fuck with everyone like that," Tino asked Lucia as Audrey shut the bathroom door.

"Fuck you, that bitch is too uptight," she said, before turning to me, "no offense."

I finished my cigarette and smiled. Lucia grabbed the tray and fueled up and handed it to me. I knew I didn't need anymore but does anyone ever turn it down when it's right in front of you? I did a tiny bit, not wanting a repeat of the heaves.

Then the toilet flushed and a few seconds later Audrey came back into the room.

"Well, we should probably be going," she said, putting her arm on my shoulder and squeezing hard.

I started to get up and grab my jacket.

"Do we have everything," I asked.

"Yes, we're good, " Audrey said.

She walked over to Tino and hugged him good bye then she extended her hand to Lucia, who shook it and then put her other hand on top of Audrey's hand.

"I'm sorry if I freaked you out honey," Lucia said.

"You didn't, but thank you," Audrey said.

"Good," Lucia said before leaning close and whispering something in Audrey's ear before gently biting and kissing it. Then she let her hand go.

"Well, on that note...," I said.

We started to walk down the hall, past door number two and the front door.

"Come back later, if you get bored, Lucia said.

"Sure thing," I said.

"I didn't mean you," she said.

Audrey gave me a slight shove to the door and we exited and made our way back down the stairs and into the street.

"What now," I said.

"I think I want to go to home," Audrey said.

The way she said it made it clear that she meant by herself. I didn't press. I should be grateful. We got out of there in one piece. Audrey did have the baggies though and if we were splitting up then I'd need to get my consolation prize.

"You want company?"

"I want a drink."

We walked up to Second Avenue and flagged a cab.

"85th Street please," Audrey said.

"Hey do you still have those beers in your bag," I asked.

"Yes," she said, reaching in to grab one for me.

I opened it up and took a swig and handed it to her.

"No, I need a whiskey."

The cab pulled up to 85th. We got out. I finished the beer and tossed the bottle into a can and we into a little bar.

"Get me a Jack and Coke," I'll be right back, she said as we entered. The place was packed with preps and Bon Jovi was blasting out of the jukebox. Nothing like hearing frat boys singing "Living on a Prayer."

Audrey walked to the back to the bathroom and I ordered her drink and a beer for myself. A few minutes later she appeared with a definite bounce in her step.

"Feeling better," I said.

"I am now," she said, sniffling a little.

"Well," I said, handing her drink to her, "here's to adventure."

We clinked our glasses together and I took a swig of my beer but Audrey just kept staring at her glass.

"Mother fucker," she said staring at the glass in her hand.


"That fucking cunt."


"My ring. That fucking cunt lifted my ring."

Audrey took a big gulp of her drink and slammed it on the bar.

"That mother fucking cunt." Then she grabbed my hand.

"Let's go."

"Go where?"

"We're going back."


"No," she said not letting me finish. "My father gave me that ring and I'm not going to let some skank dyke rip me off."

Never bang a daddy's girl.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Four Years

I'm probably supposed to say something bold or dramatic right now. Tell you how I climbed out of the dark and into the light. Or thrill you with some tale of debauchery from my past. The truth is none of that shit matters. It's been four years since I drank a beer or put a line of coke up my nose. The self-loathing that came with it still runs deep but it won't knock me down. I can sit here and look clearly at where I was and what I did and the time I wasted and the pain I caused to myself and others and move on.

If you told me a year ago that I'd fall in love, have my heart shattered, quit my job, go back to my old career, leave New York, come to LA and basically blow my life up, I'd have said no fucking way. But if you told me I'd do all that without a drink or a drug, I'd believe you. That much I know. Nothing out there so bad that a drink will make it better. Nothing so horrible that a line of blow won't make worse.

Was on a subway once wishing I was under it when a guy I didn't know looked at me. He said three words that only meant something to him and me. He made me remember what mattered. That guy doesn't know it but he may have saved my life. For him I'm grateful today.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble IX

We made our way passed the guardians of the stoop to the buzzer. They were too busy trying catch a peak up Audrey's dress to bother with me too much.

"It's busted," a voice behind us said.

"How do we get in?," I asked.

"You don't," he said with a laugh. "You wait for someone to come out."

"You don't want to just open the door," I said as Audrey tightened her grip on my hand.

"I don't know you, for all I know you're the man."

I resisted the urge to say that I was the man, just not that man.

"Who you here to see?," he asked.

"Tino," Audrey chimed in.

"Shit, that figures," he said. "Drop into our little world to buy your poison and then forget you were ever here."

Was this guy a punk or an activist? One minute he thinks were cops and the next he's moralizing.

Just then someone came out of the building and I held the door open as he walked past and Audrey and I went in.

"Yeah, go get your high on yuppies," our philosophical homie shouted after us.

He didn't really say yuppies did he? I resisted the urge to yell back, "true dat" and headed up the stairs. This whole scene was turing into a cliche, but then again my life was a cliche so why should this night be any different?

We begin to climb the stairs which were not as dirty as I thought. In fact the building looked about as clean as mine and I'm guessing the rents were one-third what I was paying. Hmmm, couldn't wait to see what the inside of Tino's place looked like. Even on a drug deal in East Harlem New Yorkers are still obsessed with real estate and who might be getting a better deal. Plus, if I was going back out, didn't it make sense to actually have a dealer in the building? You can't usually get those sorts of amenities below 96th Street.

Still I'd be lying if I didn't say a part of me was a little disappointed. I was hoping Harvey Keitel would be kicking down a door. Visions of Lou Reed passed out in a doorway had filled my mind. Yes, I was a little bit obsessed with the bad old days. I missed that New York. I caught the tale end of the 70s here, albeit from the comfort of Montclair, New Jersey. Still, I'd come into the city to visit my father and he'd take me down to Greenwich Village. Someone back then used to draw chalk outlines of bodies like the ones you see in crime scenes. Everything felt dangerous then. Now most of the city felt like a strip mall. Thank you Mike Bloomberg.

We got up to the fifth floor and knocked on the door. There was music from the other side but it wasn't Kanye West or Jay-Z. It was, I strained my ears, yes, it was The Stones. I could hear "Miss You" coming through the wall. Who knows, maybe I'd get my seventies night after all.

There was some shuffling and then a voice.

"Who dat?"

Well, it wasn't "true dat," but it was close enough.

"Tino? It's Audrey."

The door opened a little and the kid from the hotel stuck his face out.

"Who's he?," Tino said looking at me.

"He's my friend."

"You look familiar," he said.

I shrugged.

"I know you?," he asked.

"I don't think so," I said, hoping he didn't really see me at the hotel earlier that afternoon. He might assume that I was stalking him instead of her.

"OK, well we were only expecting her but come on in."


He swung open the door and we walked into a railroad apartment. Tino led us down a long hall past three bedrooms, all with the doors shut, and a bathroom. At the end of the hall was a living room and the kitchen was next to it. In the kitchen around a little table were three kids filling baggies.

"Great, I get to see the sausage get made," I muttered to myself. Audrey dug her nails into my hand.

"Hey, grab a seat," Tino said pointing to a ratty looking couch against the wall of the living room next to a window that opened onto a fire escape.

"You want something to drink," he asked.

"Got any beer?," I asked.

"Cerveza," he barked to one of the kids at the table who got up went to the fridge and grabbed some bottles and brought them to me and Audrey. It was Bud. Might as well have asked for water. Even after four years clean and dry, this would still be weak.

"Thanks, " I said to the kid who just turned around went back to the table and picked up where he left off making little baggies.

"So," Tino said, "how much you want? As you can see I've got a sale going on."

I looked at Audrey and shrugged. Audrey held up five fingers.

"You got it sweetie, be right back."

Tino walked down the hall and went into the middle door. I heard some voices and a few minutes later he was back out. I wondered how many people were in this place right now.

He handed Audrey five bags and she handed him a wad of bills.

"You mind if I smoke," I asked.

"Well, can you go out on the fire escape?"

Great, a dealer with kids working for him selling crack was worried about second-hand smoke. The tobacco lobby really needs to kick it up a notch.

I got up and opened the window and started to climb onto the escape.

"Shit, it's alright man. Just smoke in here," he said.

"Thanks for the change of heart," I said.

I sat back on the couch.

"If you guys want to party a little here that's cool," he said.

"Well, we don't want to be in the way," Audrey said looking at the kids.

"You're not in the way, we're wrapping up for the evening anyway," he said before barking something in Spanish to the kids that sounded suspiciously like clean the shit up and get out. Well, better that than you hold the guy down while I fuck the shit out of the bitch. The kids begin to grab the baggies and throw them into a box.

A few minutes and a few bills later the kids were out of there. Now it was just down to me, Audrey, Tino and whoever was behind door number two. I almost wanted to ask but also realized it's probably best not to inquire.

Tino walked to the kitchen, came back out with a tray and straws and put it down on the table in front of us. I got the feeling that leaving without dipping in was not an option. I don't think Tino was quite yet sold on me.

Audrey started to open one of her bags but Tino waved his hands.

"Keep yours honey, this is on me."

"Thanks, that's sweet," she said.

Sweet seemed a weird thing to say but with Audrey everything was always sweet. I reached for my beer and another smoke while Tino put some powder on the tray for us and started to make some lines.

Just then, door number three opened up and a girl with nothing but a long t-shirt on came walking down the hall.

"Yo, what's with all the noise mother fucker, I need my beauty sleep."

She looked at Tino, then us, then the drugs. She bent down, dipped her finger into one of the lines and lifted it to her nose and inhaled it.

"Fuck it. I'm up now."

She sat down on the chair across from us and stretched her legs on the table, the shirt came down to about mid-thigh.

"I'm Lucia, who are you?," she asked.

Audrey introduced us while Tino went to the kitchen.

"You two together?," she asked us.

"Uh, yeah, at least right now," I said.

"You fine," she said.

"Uh, thanks," I said.

"Not you, her."

Maybe I wasn't going to be shot after all. Maybe I'd finally have the threesome that I was too cheap to pay for and that would never happen in AA. Sober girls tended to have gotten all that out of their system. Of course, I had a knack for finding girls who had already gotten their threesome out of their system.

"Those are some nice shoes," Lucia said.

"Thanks," Audrey said.

I noticed just the slightest bit of tension in Audrey's voice. Funny. Coming over here to score, not a big deal. Sitting here with Tino while the munchkins made baggies. Whatever. Some chick eye fucks her and she freaks out.

I looked back at Lucia who had shifted her legs to a most un-lady like position. I was drawn to the tattoo on her inner thigh.

"Nice ink," I said, regretting the words as soon as they left my mouth.

Lucia looked down at her thigh and lifted it up to give a better view.

"Thanks," she said.

"Did it hurt?," I asked.

"Felt good," she said.

I could feel Audrey's eyes burning into me but fuck it, a hot girl with a t-shirt on was flashing and I wasn't going to look away.

"Yo, Tino what the fuck you doing in there? Bring me a drink bitch."

"What about you two, are you together," I asked. Suddenly I was mister chatterbox.

"Fuck no," she said.

"Oh then ..." I started to say when Audrey jumped in.

"Hey Tino, can I have a beer too?"

"Beast of Burden" started to play as I grabbed my cigarette and took a deep drag.

"You got one of those for me baby?," Lucia said.

I reached into my pack and handed her a cigarette. She grabbed it and put it in her mouth and stared at me. I stared back and after a few seconds she looked down at the matches and back at me.

"This cigarette isn't going to light itself," she said.

"My bad," I said not believing I really just said "my bad."

I grabbed the matches stood over her and lit one and held it up to her cigarette. While I was doing that she shifted her legs and gently brushed her foot against my calf while she inhaled. I stepped back and sat down hoping my response to her little tease wasn't noticeable either in my pants or to Audrey. The former seemed fine, but the latter gave Lucia a look. While that look might have worked on some upper east side girl flirting with your boyfriend, to a girl like Lucia it didn't even register.

I'm delusional, but I didn't think for a second that Lucia had any interest in me. This was about everyone else in the room.

Tino came back out of the kitchen with a beer for Audrey, what looked like a margarita for Lucia and another beer for me.

"You not having anything," I asked.

"I don't drink," said Tino.

"Never?," I asked.

"It stopped working for me," he said.

Great, I found the only sober drug dealer in the city.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble VIII

It had been dark for awhile when we hit the street. My gut told me this was a bad idea. I knew I should just bail. Call a pal and forget this night. Whatever was ahead was not going to be as fun as what was behind me.

At the same time, I was too wired to just sit around. The beast was awake.

"How much you have on you," she asked.

"I need to hit a machine."

"Me too."

"There's one at the Americana. Then we'll grab a cab."

"What's wrong?"

"What do you mean?"

"You sound ... I don't know, not happy."

"I'm not happy."

"Why? You just got high and fucked and now you're about to do it again. What's the problem?

"I'm afraid I'll only get fucked this time."

"Would that be so bad?"

"Not what I meant."

"What then."

"Forget it."

I resisted the urge to tell her my story. Somehow telling someone you just had sex with that you tossed away your sobriety on them didn't seem like such a bright idea. But inside I was beating myself up. As soon as we got in the cab I was popping open one of those Coronas. I needed it bad.

At the deli I headed to the cooler and grabbed two of those big bottles of Corona while Audrey hit the cash machine. I watched her dig into her purse and pull out her card. Her dress was wrinkled and she definitely looked a little fucked up but still hot. I tried to will an erection. Anything to stop the rage that was racing through me making me want to run out in front of Broadway and get run over or go for some cop's gun and hope he'd shoot me.

I walked over to the money machine and took out $300. Actually it was $302.50 with the bullshit service charge but anyway. Audrey was at the register buying smokes.

"Get me two packs of reds, sweetie."

"OK honey," she said in a voice dripping with sarcasm.

I joined her at the register, plopped my beers down and bought a little bottle opener and threw it all in the bag. The guy behind the counter who had been making my cheeses steaks, fries and coffee for the past few years smiled at me.

"So, big night?," he asked.


"It's been a long time since you've bought any beer or smokes. Thought you'd turned over a new leaf."

I could feel Audrey's eyes on me as I waited for my change for the beers and the opener.

"Well," I said looking at her and then him, "sometimes a strong breeze comes in and blows the leaf right back."

"I hear that," he said, giving Audrey the once over.

I put the beers in Audrey's bag and headed out the door.

"What was that about?" she asked.

"What was what?

"What he said about turning over a new leaf."

"I don't know. Go to a different deli for awhile and someone looks for deep philosophical reasons for it."

"Uh huh," she said. "You're a bit of mystery mister, but I'll solve it."

"Tie me up and burn me and see if I talk."

"OK, but after we run our errand."

"We could skip it and just head to your place," I said hoping to change her mind about our little crosstown jaunt.

"If you want me to tie you up then I need fuel to make it worth your while."

I gave up. Frankly I didn't even want to be tied up. I was now officially going through the motions. Audrey was no different than everything else in my life. I always looked for someone or something to fill what was missing in me and never realizing that didn't work. Now that the chase was over there seemed to be little need to keep her around. For a split second I even thought of bailing. But this was like some bad movie that I was determined to see through to the end since I'd already thrown my money away.

We walked down Broadway towards 100th when a cab went by. I handed her the bag from the deli, hustled ahead and hit the trunk and he pulled over. Then I opened the door and Audrey climbed in, slid over put her bag down and crossed her legs causing her dress to ride up a little which was enough to remind me that things could be worse. I got in next to her, shut the door and told the driver to take us to First Avenue and 116th. Then I grabbed a beer from the bag, popped it open and took a swig and kissed her neck.

"Nice, but I'd rather have a sip," she said reaching for my beer.

"You want one?"

"No, I'll just share yours."

"What about you?," I said to the driver who, of course, was babbling in some Middle Eastern dialect on his cellphone. If Subway sandwich shops were Al-Qaeda sleeper cells, than the cabbies were the couriers spreading the word.

As we headed east and into Central Park I grabbed the beer from Audrey and kissed her while sliding my hand up her dress. I was half-expecting to feel flesh but she had indeed put her panties back on. I worked by hand under and started to tease her a little. Before I could progress the cab went into skid and nearly clipped a bus as came out the other side of the park.

"Sorry, sorry," the driver mumbled.

"I got an idea. Why don't you hang up the phone and focus on the driving," I said.

"Shhh," Audrey said punching me.

"Sorry, sorry," he said again.

"Are you even talking to me?," I asked.

No response and soon we were heading down 96th Street towards First Avenue. Traffic was light and it wasn't long until we were cruising up First and the neighborhood got uglier with each block. Lots of noise on the street and people hanging on stoops. This doesn't look like the Upper West Side anymore, Toto.

It's not like I'd never been here before. My past had included many visits to assorted projects and slums and in the grand scheme of things the outskirts of East Harlem wasn't the worst I'd seen.

But I knew now just how lucky I'd been. I put myself in some very stupid situations in pursuit of blow and broads. I was supposed to be smarter than that now.

I looked over at Audrey and she was putting on lipstick.

"Making yourself pretty for Tino?," I said sarcastically.

"You've worn out my lips honey, I just want to make them pretty again."

The cab pulled up at 116th and First.

"What's the address?," I asked.

"I have it in my bag," she said.

"Well, find it now. I don't want to be walking down the street looking like we don't know where we're going."

"OK, OK, jeez, you'd think this was your first time buying drugs."

"That's the whole point. I don't want us to look like it's the first time we're doing this. They smell that."

"Who is they?," she said.

"Don't go there," I said while handing the driver a twenty.

"OK, I got it. 110 116th, apartment 5R,"

I looked around and saw the even numbers were on the other side of the street. I spotted the building. The front was covered in graffiti and there was a welcome wagon hanging outside on the stoop drinking and smoking. Up and down the street were what looked like lookouts but maybe I was being paranoid. I had just watched Serpico the other night and this building could've passed for the one he got shot in.

We got out of the cab and started to cross the street. Audrey reached for my hand and I pushed it away.

"Nice. You'll make a great boyfriend," she said.

"Holding hands in strange terrain makes you look vulnerable," I said.

"No, it makes you look like a jerk."

"Fine," I said, grabbing her hand.

"Much better, hope for you yet."

I had a feeling at this point there wasn't much hope for us at all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble VII

Somewhere after her third orgasm and my first we rested for a few minutes. The sex wore down the coke and while my heart was still racing, my eyes were at peace and even my usually grinding jaw was keeping quiet. Audrey's head rested on chest. She rubbed her hands slowly up and down my now sweaty legs and stomach, dragging her nails lightly across the inside of my thighs. If she was hoping for an encore she'd have to wait awhile.

"Really? You need more," I said.

"Oh honey, I always need more."

Those are words one usually likes to hear, but I was actually hoping to just pass out and wake up in a few hours alone realizing that it had all been a dream. Already my usual case of buyer's regret was settling in even as Audrey's sexy nails started stroking me lightly. I couldn't tell if this was my standard post-orgasm guilt settling in or if the magnitude of the years I'd just tossed away was starting to hit me. The only thing I knew for sure was I wasn't going to figure it out right now.

I delicately moved her hand off of me and started to slide out from under her.

"Where are you going sweetie?"

"Just need to use the facilities, I'll be right back."

"You better, I'm not done yet."

This was the problem with being good at it. A luxury problem it's true but still.

I went to the bathroom, shut the door and sat down for a second. I turned on the water to shut out the voices in my head. I rubbed my nose which was hurting big time and then sniffed loudly. Nothing was coming out of me so I flushed and went to the kitchen for a beer. For a second I thought lets stop now. It wasn't the worst slip in the world and you got laid a voice inside me said.

I was just about to put the beer back on the shelf when I heard another voice.

"I'll take one of those too."

I was so lost in my head I hadn't even heard Audrey coming out of the bedroom. She cozied up to me and wrapped her arms around me. I handed her the beer in my hand and bent down to grab another one for myself while she bent a little to grab me.

"Baby, I am not from Havana," I said, quoting "Blazing Saddles."


"Never mind, will you open these?"

"Sure honey," she said, grabbing them from me and putting them on the counter. "Go rest on the couch, I didn't mean to wear you down so much."

I turned, grabbed her hair and pushed her against the wall. I started to kiss her neck while grinding against her. She started to push back a little and I put my arm around her waist and worked my hand between her thighs. I found the spot and rubbed. She started to moan as I worked a finger inside while my thumb worked her. Her breathing quickened and she let out a soft sign of approval.

I kept it up for about another minute and could feel her getting ready to finish. Just when she was about to I pulled my hand from between her legs, smacked her ass, grabbed the beers and headed to the couch.


"Just letting you know who's in control," I said plopping down on the couch and grabbing a Marlboro. I fired one up, took a deep drag and blew the smoke out of my nose and winked at her.

"That was the worst wink in the world."

"Yeah, I know. I never really knew how to do it."

It wasn't even really a wink, it was more like someone just squeezed a lemon in your eye. Real sexy."

"Sorry, I'll work on it."

"Oh honey, if you haven't mastered it by now..."

I took a swig of Corona and another drag off the smoke. Audrey came over and stood over me for a second while taking a sip of her beer. Then she leaned down a little and let the beer dribble out of her mouth and onto my chest.

"That could've been your cum but after that last stunt that'll just have to stay a fantasy."

"What makes you think that's my fantasy?"

"It's every guy's fantasy."

"And how many times have you fulfilled it."

"Ha, keep digging reporter boy."

I took another drag and remembered another plus to sobriety -- not having to put up with drunk and high chicks. It was one thing to endure it to get laid, but after it was cruel and inhuman so I did what I used to do under those circumstances. Get more wasted.

I grabbed the powder, cut myself two pretty big lines and snorted them up. The drip was almost instantaneous. I took a swig of beer and a drag off my smoke and could already feel the coughing and puking fits that I thought I'd left behind start. I exhaled quickly and took another sip in the hopes that if I kept everything moving I wouldn't dry heave right in front of her. I'm pretty sure that wasn't her fantasy.

She took a swig of her beer, walked around the table and sat next to me on the couch. She put her beer down, grabbed one of my cigarettes and a pack of matches. She lit her cigarette, leaned back on the couch and stretched her legs across the table and accidentally kicked the bottle which then tipped over and spilled out all over the blow.

"Shit, shit shit," she screamed, grabbing the bottle.

It was too late. What was on the picture frame was now soaked. I didn't know whether to be grateful I'd just done those lines or pissed because I was sure to want more soon.

"Was that all of it?," I asked.

"Fuck," came back at me.

"Guess that answers that question."

She grabbed the matches and scooped up what little dry powder was left. I handed her a CD cover to dump it on.

"Thanks," she muttered. Then she grabbed her purse, fished around for a minute and came up with a little bag that still had some life in it and dumped it on the CD case as well.

At this point we were both thinking the same thing. Who was going to get more of this. Technically it was hers and I already had just bumped up. But this isn't how addicts think. There wasn't enough there for both of us to get through what was left of the night and we suddenly went from coconspirators to mortal enemies.

She chopped herself up a couple of small lines and did them. Then her bag started to vibrate.

"Shit, whose that," she said reaching in for her phone.

"If it's for me, I'm not here," I said.

"Yeah, your cuteness is really starting to wear off. First you don't let me cum and now I'm out of coke. Way to pick them Audrey."

"Hey, you knocked over the beer, not me. Don't pull that shit of blaming everyone other than yourself for what happens."

The phone continued to vibrate.

"Text," she said with a sigh of relief. "It's my Dad's birthday tomorrow. I thought it might be my mom calling to remind me."

"Uh, I thought your Dad was dead."

"He is," she said, "but that doesn't mean I don't have to deal with my Mom about it. Why do you think I'm blowing off all this steam tonight?"

She found the phone and opened up and smiled.

"What?," I asked.

"It's my friend. He's just come into some good stuff and wants to know if I want dibs. What perfect timing."

"The guy you just saw at the hotel?"


"Does he do that often?"

"Do what often?"

"Call you on his own? Most dealers I know don't call their customers, they wait to be called, especially ones they just sold to a few hours ago."

"I don't know about that. I'm sure he's called me before. Anyway, who cares we need him now."

I couldn't argue with that logic. She started dialing and then waiting. I grabbed the straw and the CD. She gave me a look.

"What? We're getting more," I said as I scooped a little into a straw and gave myself a bump.

"Hey Tino, it's me," she said on the phone. "Good timing. I was just thinking I should stock up." She paused for a minute and then turned to me and mouthed, "what's the address?"

I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote it down and handed it to her.

"Can you bring it to 323 W. 100th Street?," she asked. There was silence and then she said, "oh, well how long then?" More silence. Audrey started shaking her head. "Well, where are you, maybe that'll be easier?"

Then I started shaking my head.

She gave me a shut up look. Then she grabbed the pen and paper and started writing.

"OK. I'll be up there in an hour or so. Thanks, baby."

There was something about the way she said baby that had me wondering whether Audrey always paid with cash but anyway.

"Looks like a road trip," she said while throwing her phone back in the bag.

"Where's he at?"

"116th and First."

"Lovely. Why can't he come here."

"He can't get away for a little awhile. He's waiting for someone else to come by for their package."

"How long have you been using, what's his name, Tino?

"About three years, he's totally safe."

"Oh yeah, these guys always are."

"So don't come then," she said getting up and going into the bedroom.

"Where you going?"

"I thought I'd put my panties on for the trip across town."

"Good, I was worried about that."

"Fuck you."

I finished my beer while she got dressed. Then I chopped up what we had left and headed to the bedroom as well to get dressed.

She already had a dress back on and was sliding into her heels. I wouldn't have minded a shower.

"After we get it, maybe we can go down to my place," she said.


I put on my pants, grabbed a black t-shirt and leather jacket and hoped I looked at least a little intimidating. I went into the kitchen and into the silverware drawer where I had a butterfly knife my brother had given me years ago. I'd never used it or even fully mastered how to open it. I had no idea what I was thinking but I jammed it in my pocket.

Audrey came out, walked over to the table and noticed the nicely cut presentation I left.

"Oh how nice," she said before snorting up six of the eight lines.

"Thanks for leaving me some," I said before finishing it off and licking the case.

She grabbed her jacket while I grabbed some bottles of beer out of the fridge and threw them in her purse. Then we headed out the door.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

No Dog Did That

My first home in D.C. was Woodley Park Towers, a big apartment building with two wings, long halls, a huge lobby, and even a gym and steam room. It was right near the zoo.

We moved there from Jersey in the summer of 1979. One night I was taking out the trash and in the garbage room on my floor I found a copy of Penthouse. The light bulb in my head immediately went off and I begin to search the garbage rooms on a regular basis. This was no small task. Each floor had two garbage rooms on either end and the building had something like eight floors (D.C. has pretty strict zoning laws on height so for the nation's capital it was a huge place).

There was also the trash compactor room in the basement to scrounge through as well. This was pretty much what I did every night. Every now and then I'd find a Playboy or Hustler but most of the time the best I could do was a Cosmopolitan or Glamour. Don't laugh, there was plenty of whack material in there for a 14 year-old boy. I still remember an issue of Cosmo with a pictorial on how to have a midday quickie.

One night I'm making the rounds and I'm pretty far from my apartment when nature calls. This was not about taking a leak. Something much more severe was brewing inside my stomach and intestines and needed to get out. My mom was never much of a cook and who knows what she whipped up but I calculated the odds and quickly realized there was no way I would make it back to my apartment in time to do what had to be done. Not only was I on the other side of the building, but for all intents and purpose there was only one bathroom in our place. My parents bathroom was off limits and I shared a room with my brother. My Dad also made free use of our bathroom too so there was no guarantee that even if I did get back there with clenched cheeks that I'd be home free.

I was near the roof though. I grabbed some newspapers from the garbage room I was in and headed up the stairs. There was no alarm on the door (ah, sweet seventies) but it did lock from the outside so I jammed some of the papers in the door and kept the rest for myself. I walked out on the roof, found what I thought was an appropriately secluded place, crouched down, and did what had to be done. Then I cleaned up as best I could and headed back to my apartment.

A few days later I'm walking through the lobby and one of the security guards I was buddies with motions me over.

Me: "Yeah, what's up?"
Guard; "You been up on the roof?"
Me: (acting surprised) "No, I don't go on the roof."
Guard: "You sure you weren't up on the roof the other night."
Me: No, I haven't been on the roof. Why?
Guard:" Someone took a big shit up there."
Me: (trying to hold back laughter) "What?"
Guard: "You heard me. Someone to a shit on the roof."
Me: "Well, it wasn't me, I swear."
Guard: "That's nasty man."
Me: "I'm telling you it wasn't me. Maybe it was a dog."
Guard: "No dog did that."

He had a point.

Alas, while that was the first time I had to take my business to the outdoors, it wouldn't be the last. Next time I'll tell you about the time I had to pull off a Laurel Canyon onto a side street and hide behind my car after the coffee at the party I was at worked its magic a lot faster that I thought it would.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Long Time To Burn

Always been there if I needed anything
Never knew how to ask if you were OK
Now you've got darkness ahead
And I can't do a thing

Never been as close as we should have been
Together alone but not alone together
Doesn't mean the blood isn't there
And when yours spills, I'll feel it too

Know you're scared of that knife
Too strong though to be stopped now
And when the wounds close and heal
We'll be there too because that's what's real

Don't know how to love
Never really learned how to live
But I know who has a light in their heart
That still has a long time to burn

Friday, August 21, 2009

So Why Aren't I Writing More?

Got no excuse for keeping the words inside. Yeah, I work hard. I start writing for work at 5:30 every morning. By the time I get home, it's usually 8:30 or 9 p.m. I eat, watch TV, waste time on the Internet (yes, you know what that means) and then crash. Then I do it all over again.

I've also been working the past few weekends too. For a guy in midlife crisis I still have something left in the tank.

But I need to be doing this shit too. I need to decide what happens to Audrey in the story. Does she get held for ransom by some Washington Heights dealers. Does she OD? Does she just disappear and leave our protagonist to the wreckage of his soul (yes, I'm quoting an old CK commercial!). Where is this story going to go? Only way to figure that out is to actually sit and focus.

And I will. I promise. I'm reaching that point. Doing this stupid little post before I go to bed is a good sign that I know what needs to be done. Of course, I'm also trying to date. Nothing much to report there yet, but maybe some news coming up. Social life is also fairly active for a workaholic who only moved back here four months ago. As I've said before, definitely glad I'm back and no regrets about leaving NYC.

OK. Going to bed but I'm thinking of you and the words and the story and life and love and hate and death and escape and everything that can be thrown at me that doesn't matter and the few things that do.

Rambler out!

I'm Still Here

With some thoughts to share...

Just have this moment to hold
The rest will have to be let go
Can't keep chasing what can't be caught
Won't let my life be for naught.

Long days bleed into short nights
Try to get strength and find light
Someone there to make me tick
Or is it up to me to provide the fix

Sunday, August 2, 2009

She's Nothing But Trouble VI

As we walked down 100th and approached West End Avenue I saw a kid get into a car and take off down the street. The car stopped about half-a-block later and the kid got out and started walking back towards 100th Street.

"See Audrey, that's how you do a drug deal."

"What are you talking about, I didn't see anything."

"Exactly," I said.

"You're weird."

As we crossed the street I saw the Americana delivery guy peddling up from Riverside.

"There's my beer," I said letting go of her hand and walking faster.

"Wow. Hold my hand or run to meet the Dominican delivery boy with beer. That was a real tough choice for you, huh?"

"He's Ecuadorian but anyway."

It wasn't the first time I'd heard that one although the last time I had heard it I had vowed it would be the last time I'd heard it. Oh well, so much for vows.

I caught up just as he was locking his bike to the fence in front of the brownstone next to my building which once had been a brownstone but had long been converted into something uglier.

"Hey I'll save you the trip upstairs," I said pulling out a twenty from my wallet.

"It's twenty eight," he said.

"You're kidding me."

"No. the cerveza was twenty and the smokes are eight."

"Jeez, the cost of excess has gone up."

I was met with a blank stare as I looked into my wallet and saw I only had a five left. The cab had cost thirteen dollars.

"Hey sweetie, you got ten dollars I can borrow?," I asked as Audrey walked up.

She fumbled through her purse and pulled out her wallet, fished out a $10 and punched me in the arm.

"You're some kind of catch," she sighed. "Leave me on the corner to run after your booze and then borrow money from me to pay for it. Can't believe you're not taken yet."

"Hey sweetie, I just can't be tamed." I couldn't believe I just used such a lame line but for some reason it seemed to work because then she ran her hand through my hair as she handed the delivery guy her money.

"Keep it," I said, picking up the bag of beer and cigs off of the sidewalk with one hand while I put my other arm around Audrey's waist and headed to my door.

"It's four flights up," I said.

"You're kidding. How poor are you?"

"What, because I don't live in some elevator doorman building I'm not worthy."

"I didn't say that, I just asked how poor you were?'

"Oh, well I'm pretty poor."

I actually wasn't. I'd manage to sock away a lot of money over the past three years. As much as I hated the job, it paid well. And since I'd stop blowing all my money on substances and women to do them with I'd replenished my savings account. My apartment was kind of dumpy but a good deal for this part of the city. I was thinking though that maybe I'd be able to buy something soon if the economy kept tanking.

But none of that was on my mind right now. I need to get upstairs and get this over with fast. As we walked up the first few steps, Audrey stopped, lifted up her leg and took off a heel and then did the same with the other. I grabbed her shoes and said they were going back on her as soon as we got back in the apartment.

"That's fine freak but I'm not walking up these rickety old stairs in my Gucci heels."

"Gucci? I thought the were CFMs."

"Not for you they aren't."

We got to my door and I put the bag down and then put her shoes in the bag and turned around to face her. She looked at me confused and I leaned in and kissed her. She kissed back shoving me hard against the door and biting my lip while I slipped my hand under her dress and up her thigh only to discover she wasn't wearing anything and was already a little moist.

"Wow, wasn't expecting that," I said.

"Just open the fucking door," she said grinding against me.

I turned around and got my keys out of my front pocket, which was trickier than it would've been a few minutes earlier. But soon enough I had the door opened and we walked in. My cats were eagerly waiting as always but as soon as they saw Audrey they disappeared under the bed.

Poor cats. After three years of tranquility it was back to the craziness.

"What are their names?'

"`Annoying' and `More Annoying,'" I said.

"Don't be a jerk, they look sweet."

"Their names are Leopold and Loeb."

"Oh you're kidding."


"What are we going to do with you?"

"We're going to sit on the couch, have a drink, get out your treats and hang out for awhile."

I led her to the couch. She sat down, crossed her legs and didn't seem to mind the way her skirt rode up her thigh.

I pulled the beer out of the bag, took out a bottle, a lime, and the smokes and put the rest in the fridge. Then i grabbed her bag and took out the whiskey and filled a glass with ice and poured her one. I opened my my beer, cut off a big slice of lime and jammed it into the Corona. Then I took the drinks to the table, went back to the kitchen -- a move that took all of three seconds -- and went into the cabinet above the stove and brought down a small picture frame that would serve as my chopping block. Then I grabbed a straw and an old ashtray from the silverware drawer.

I went back to the couch and sat next to Audrey. She motioned to the little white bag on the table and I opened it and dumped a bunch on the picture frame then went back to the kitchen to fish out the razors. This was a really tedious process but I was a man of ritual. I sat back down and started chopping up the coke.

"It's already cut," she said.

"Not enough," I replied.

"Sorry Tony Montana."

What can I say. It had been three years since I'd had blow and I wanted it just right. There was something about chopping that I enjoyed. Making the lumpy product finer and finer until it looked like flour rather than salt. I chopped, used a farecard to make piles and then I chopped again. I then made some little lines.

"Uh, they can be bigger you know" Audrey said.

"And they will be bigger, but I want to start a little slow. It's been awhile for me," I said.

"What's a while?," she asked.

"I don't know, a few months." Like I said, I didn't want her knowing about my clean living.

"What about you," I asked.

"Uh, this morning and it's going to take more than that little trail to get me going so spill some more on there cowboy. It's not like you're paying for it."

"I'll be paying for it in ways you'll never know," I muttered.

"What?," she said.

I"ll help pay," I said.

She grabbed the frame put the straw to her nostril and did all four of the lines, sniffed hard and put the frame back down. Then she took a swig of her whiskey, grabbed a Marlboro and lit up. She inhaled deeply and then blew the smoke out of her nose, which for some reason always turned me on.

"What are you waiting for?" she asked.

I was wondering that myself. I took a swig of my beer and it hit me hard. I fired up my own smoke and immediately my head was spinning. I sat back waiting for my head to settle. Audrey took that moment to lean back and stretch her legs across my lap. She felt my appreciation for that move and ground her barefoot into me slowly.

Well, it was now or never. I rubbed her leg for a second and then grabbed the frame. I looked at it and looked at her and then back at it. Then I grabbed the straw and stuck it into the pile and then dumped it onto her leg. I grabbed the farecard and made a long line between her knee and ankle. I then grabbed the straw and did the blow and followed that by licking the residue off her leg.

It hit me, but not as hard as I thought it would although the drip was already there. I took a drag of my smoke and the cigarette mixed with the coke and it was like doing another line.

"That was actually kind of hot," she said.

"Well, I'll be doing it again," I promised, putting the smoke back in the ashtray.

"Cool," she said, lifting one leg up for me to kiss again, which I did. And then I kept kissing, traveling north until I was between her thighs and she was pushing my face down into her.

She's Nothing But Trouble V

It didn't take long to get to my place. Once the cab got past the old Needle Park on 72nd where Broadway and Amsterdam converge it was smooth sailing.

Around 90th I called Americana Deli and ordered 16 bottles of Corona and two packs of Marlboros and then asked Audrey if she wanted anything.

"Uh, you mean that's just for you?"

"Well ... if you want some then of course but I just assumed you weren't a beer and blow girl."

"A beer and what girl? My we're feeling cocky."

"Not what I meant but anyway ... yeah they'll be some cocky feeling too I'm sure."

"Do you have any whisky at your place?"

I didn't have any anything at my place. The guy at Americana was actually surprised to hear me ordering beer after such a long layoff. When I first got clean it took about six months for him to stop asking if I wanted Corona when I would call in an order.

We got out at 100th and Broadway and walked towards 101st. I sent Audrey into the liquor store to get what she needed while I crossed the street to the little Korean deli to get limes. It was one of those annoying little inconveniences of living in the city. One deli had the beer and the other one had the limes. All I know is we had about ten minutes to get our shit and get to my place before the delivery guy from Americana would be showing up.

I brought a couple of limes to the register and spotted some old fashioned razor blades across the counter and asked for pack. I liked my blow real fine and got a kick out of chopping it up all nice and neat. I handed the cashier a $10 and waited for my change while listening to the classical music that the Koreans who ran this deli always had playing.

After I got my two dollars back I glanced across the street to see Audrey coming out of liquor store and looking up and down the street. I was about to cross when I heard my name.

"Hey man, what's up?"

Shit. It was Jason Hogue, an AA pal. The nightmare of every recovering addict was happening to me, I was going to get caught red-handed in the middle of a slip.

"Hey Jason, where you headed?"

"Down to 96th Street, you coming?"

That would be the 6 p.m. meeting at the little room on 96th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam. It was part of the church there and they had about five meetings a day. Unlike the other Upper Westside AA meetings which were full of beautiful upper class white drunks, 96th Street attracted a more urban crowd of crackheads and old time ghetto boozers. It was definitely good for a change of pace. If I were smart I would've dropped everything, figured God put Jason in front of me for a reason and gone with him.

But God also put Audrey and her heels and black hair in front of me as well and since she was the first hand that was dealt I figured I better play that one now and worry about the next hand after this one was done.

"Uh, yeah, no not headed there. Maybe I'll catch you tomorrow at 70th," I said looking at Audrey and then back to Jason.

"You ok?"

"Yeah, why?

"I don't know, seem kind of anxious."

"I'm always anxious," I said looking away for a second to see Audrey coming across the street towards me. Shit, I hope she wasn't thinking threesome. At least her booze was in the bag. Of course, at that exact moment I also saw the Americana delivery man walking out with my order but he also had a few other deliveries with him so hopefully I wouldn't be the first stop.

"Hey, did you get what you need," Audrey said as she approached the two of us.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm good to go."

"Hi, I'm Audrey," Audrey said holding out her hand to Jason's, who shook it hit while smiling to himself. Good, he just thinks I'm getting laid.

"Oh, I'm sorry this is my friend Jason."

"Nice to meet you, Jason"

"You too, Audrey."

I turned to Jason and smiled. He nodded although he then glanced down to the bag Audrey was carrying which clearly had bottles in it. Oh well, just because she was drinking didn't mean I was.

"Hey, I'll give you a call tomorrow and we'll do something," I said to Jason.

"Yeah, that would be good. Lets meet tomorrow," he said, putting the emphasis on "meet."

"Sure, sounds good," I said grabbing Audrey's hand and walking off.

"He was cute. Who is he?" she asked.

"Just a friend," I said, adding, "don't get any ideas."

"What ideas?, I don't know who you think I am but, I think your fantasy version of me is a lot more fun than the real one."

"We'll find out soon enough," I said as we started down 100th Street towards Riverside Drive.