Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Life

He hated to see this, he didn’t get out much now but when he did he remembered how it was at night and he emerged only during the day. Now, in daylight, when he was stopped by a young girl asking if he’d like to have a date, he had to look twice to wonder how old she was and then to say no. He couldn’t understand why he was surprised. Had he been inside that long? He’d lived here years on end, Angel was like a daughter to him when they first met, and the kids were always out here selling their budding little bodies for next to nothing. It made him fucking sick, still. But now he found himself intrigued; anyway, who was he to be the moralist? He’d sold his ass for years. He was a whore even now–the body and the money were equivalents here, objects of capital exchange in action . . . We are model entrepreneurs, he thought, at any age. No unions needed. The cops, or pimps, would bust them up anyway.

He was walking on, dreaming of Marx, Engels, and prostitution, when he reconsidered and retraced his steps, asking her how much, paying her what he knew was bottom dollar for a turn in the alley. She swallowed. He took her for a walk, telling her how he got into the business. He liked to think there could be brothels here since there had been whorehouses in Seattle in the old days, the local Indian women and the white girls shipped in from out of town. He believed in brothels for the girls. The boys were outlaws like the girls who made it with other girls. In a house there was no need for pimps, only madams and the men they hired to keep order. She said she had no pimp. He told her to watch out. When he left he knew her name, Jacqui, and her age: she looked sixteen but said she was twenty. He didn’t know the life now, not like he had when he was out here every night after the day with the typewriter.

He went to the café to see Dee, who wasn’t there; he slept days usually, was out all night: no wonder he was mistaken for a ghost. Beasley wondered how he could keep going like he did. He read Poe and talked about him endlessly . . . when he talked. From “Annabel Lee” to Eureka, “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and the unfinished Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. When Dee was up to a talk, he rambled endlessly about Poe’s life and times, his poems and prose. In his room, Dee had the complete works, purchased when he was a boy diving deeper each year into himself until he found his metier, the world of Poe, and for him there was no other. Once Beasley tried to interest him in Shakespeare, reading to him the sonnet “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,” following it with “The expense of spirit in a waste of shame.” Dee preferred the first one, considering the second too judgmental.

(25 April 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

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