The next morning Tammie found a prescription in her purse. “I’ve got to get this filled,” she said. “Look at it.” It was wrinkled and the ink had run.

“What happened here?”

“Well, you know my brother, he’s a pill head.”

“I know your brother. He owes me twenty bucks.”

“Well, he tried to get this prescription away from me. He tried to strangle me. I put the prescription in my mouth and swallowed it. Or I pretended to swallow it. He wasn’t sure. That was the time I phoned you and asked you to come over and kick the shit out of him. He split. But I still had the prescription in my mouth. I haven’t used it yet. But I can get it filled here. It’s worth a try.” “All right.”

We took the elevator down to the street. It was over ioo degrees. I could hardly move. Tammie started walking and I followed along behind her as she weaved from one edge of the sidewalk to the other.

“Come on!” she said. “Keep up!”

She was on something, it appeared to be downers. She was woozy. Tammie walked up to a newsstand and began staring at a periodical. I think it was Variety. She stood there and stood there. I stood there near her. It was boring and senseless. She just stared at Variety.

“Listen, sister, either buy the damned thing or move on!” It was the man inside the newsstand.

Tammie moved on. “My god, New York is a horrible place! I just wanted to see if there was anything about the reading!”

Tammie moved along, wiggling it, wobbling from one side of the pavement to the other. In Hollywood cars would have pulled over to the curbing, blacks would have made overtures, she would have been approached, serenaded, applauded. New York was different; it was jaded and weary and it disdained flesh.

We were into a black district. They watched us walking by: the redhead with the long hair, stoned, and the old guy with gray in his beard walking behind her, wearily. I glanced at them sitting on their stoops; they had good faces. I liked them. I liked them better than I liked her.

I followed Tammie down the street. Then there was a furniture store. There was a broken down desk chair out in front on the sidewalk. Tammie walked over to the old desk chair and stood staring at it. She seemed hypnotized. She kept staring at the desk chair. She touched it with her finger. Minutes went by. Then she sat down in it.

“Look,” I told her, “I’m going back to the hotel. You do whatever you want to do.”
Tammie didn’t even look up. She slid her hands back and forth on the arm rests of the desk chair. She was in a world of her own. I turned and walked off, back to the Chelsea.

I got some beer and took the elevator up. I undressed, took a shower, propped a couple of pillows against the headboard of the bed and sucked at the beer. Readings diminished me. They were soul-sucks. I finished one beer and opened another. Readings got you a piece of ass sometimes. Rock stars got ass; boxers on the way up got ass; great bullfighters got virgins. Somehow, only the bullfighters deserved any of it.

There was a knock on the door. I got up and opened it a crack. It was Tammie. She pushed in.

“I found this dirty Jew son-of-a-bitch. He wanted $12 to fill the prescription! It’s 6 bucks on the coast. I told him I only had $6. He didn’t care. A dirty Jew living in Harlem! Can I have a beer?”

Tammie took the beer and sat in the window, one leg out, one arm out, one leg in, one holding on to the raised window. “I want to see the Statue of Liberty. I want to see Coney Island,” she said.

I got myself a new beer.

“Oh, it’s nice out here! It’s nice and cool.”

Tammie leaned out the window, looking. Then she screamed.

The hand that had been holding on to the window slipped. I saw most of her body go out the window. Then it came back. Somehow she had pulled herself back inside. She sat there, stunned.

“That was close,” I told her. “It would have made a good poem. I’ve lost a lot of women in a lot of ways, but that would have been a new way.”

Tammie walked over to the bed. She stretched out face down. I realized she was still stoned. Then she rolled off the bed. She landed flat on her back. She didn’t move. I walked over and picked her up and put her back on the bed. I grabbed her by the hair and kissed her viciously.

“Hey.... What’re you doin’?”

I remembered she had promised me a piece of ass. I rolled her on her stomach, pulled her dress up, pulled her panties off. I climbed on top of her and rammed, trying to find her cunt. I poked and poked. It went in. It slid further and further in. I had her good. She made small sounds. Then the phone rang. I pulled out, got up and answered it. It was Gary Benson.

“I’m coming over with my tape recorder for that radio interview.” “When?”
“In about 45 minutes.”

I hung up and went back to Tammie. I was still hard. I grabbed her hair, gave her another violent kiss. Her eyes were closed, her mouth was lifeless. I mounted her again. Outside they were sitting on their fire escapes. When the sun started to go down and some shade appeared they came out to cool off. The people of New York City sat out there and drank beer and soda and ice water. They endured and smoked cigarettes. Just being alive was a victory. They decorated their fire escapes with plants. They made do with what there was.

I went straight for Tammie’s core. Dog fashion. Dogs knew best. I whammed away. It was good to be out of the post office. I rocked and socked her body. Despite the pills she was trying to speak. “Hank . . .” she said.

I came finally, then rested on her. We were both drenched with sweat. I rolled off, got up, undressed, and walked to the shower. Once again I had fucked this redhead 32 years younger than I was. It felt fine in the shower. I intended to live to be 80 so that I could then fuck an 18 year old girl. The air conditioner didn’t work, but the shower did. It felt really good. I was ready for my radio interview.

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