I called Earlene Terri. She got off work and I drove her downtown,
but ran out of gas on Queen Anne Hill. The cab driver said, Put out your cigarette.
We were on the last leg of our round trip, the gas can full, my wrist watch collateral.
Terri chided me, You want to blow us up? And moving closer, We're just starting . . .
We paid the cab, emptied the can in the tank, drove down to the station, time passing
waiting there. I wanted to show her the city Wall had shown to me. Beasley welcomed us.
I had not seen him since the dance after hours under the street. He was the writer
Wall said he was and never asked me to read his work. He talked about it only when asked.
Terri embraced him, a white Southern girl embracing a black Midwestern homosexual.
He spoke of Minneapolis, she of New Orleans. The floor show began, or was it ending?
I remember only the female impersonator with python wrapped around her neck
like a stole. She was very tall, slim, a redhead, her mane looked real though Terri said
it was a hairpiece. She performed with the grace only the outcast can bring off.
She danced to music I recognized years later while watching Bob Fosse's film Cabaret.
The python slithered across her shoulders with her sinuous motion across the stage
and back, balanced perfectly on her five-inch heels, for all this world looking the part
of some Marlene Dietrich, a kind of doppelganger modeled on Blonde Venus.
Terri kissed Gerry Beasley on the lips and held him close a moment, her lips with his.
He and I shook hands like brothers sometimes do, I have heard.
Terri wanted to go somewhere to make love. I suggested Jim and Marge’s place.
They were no longer reading Sophocles, like they had in their downtown
hotel room whose window faced the brick wall while sharing Oedipus Rex;
they lived now below Aurora, where she turned tricks and he was dealing dope.
Marge showed us the back room, behind the curtain for a door, a mattress
on the floor, clean sheets, she said . . .
We left very early, the rain falling slowly like always. Driving back she moved closer,
put an arm around me, and kissed my neck, then began unbuttoning my shirt until
I asked if she wanted to go to my place before going home. What we had been unable
to do below Aurora, we completed on my couch across the street from the Hasty Tasty.
When I drove her to her place on the hill near Hotel Congress, she looked in on her son,
that sweet boy with his club foot and how many dreams to be dared and lived and
. . . I do not know what happened to his dreams after they left Seattle to return
to her home outside New Orleans, where she wrote to me until she married again,
and after that silence, though I lurch ahead too far ahead . . . Jim said he and Marge were
awakened early, before dawn, three cops came to arrest them, and sitting in his cell
he claimed he did not know why.
I never returned to The Golden Lion, never saw Beasley again. Wall said he heard he died.
I often wonder if he ever completed his Hamlet Western and if so, what form it found.
(29 March 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander