I returned to Manhattan committed to finding solace as a bachelor. Life was comfortable. My job at a nightclub paid my rent and more. Friends were fun. No highs or lows. The sameness of the days could last forever in most of America, but not New York.<
In late April I was driving the Triumph down 3rd Avenue. The asphalt was slick. It had just rained and was promising more. Not many people were on the streets; a trio of addicts on 14th Street, two junkie whores working the car traffic of 13th Street, and at 12th Street a raven-haired girl in a long leather trench coat struggling with a bald man in denim.
When he slapped her, I jammed on the brakes and the bike skidded on the wet pavement to halt a foot from the couple. Her assailant unbuttoned his jacket. A gun was tucked into his waistband. Any sane man would have roared away like an A-4 jet slingshot off an aircraft carrier deck, instead I warned, “Don’t touch the girl again.”
“You want a piece?” He wrenched apart her coat. She wasn’t wearing any clothes underneath. A vee of pubic hair fluffed below the pouting belly. The pimp forced her forward by a shank of hair.
“Sometimes we have force them into what they like?”
The streetlight hit the face.
“You’ve met before?” The bald man relaxed slightly.
"You really do get around."
"Fuck you." Elana dug a high heel into his foot and she jumped on my bike. “Go, go, go.”
We burned a red light at St. Mark’s and she snuggled against my spine.
“You happy to see me?”
"Take me someplace."
I drove to a bar far from 3rd Avenue. The three old drunks on the stools straightened their postures for Elana. I ordered two beers from the bartender and led her into a dark corner. Lifting the tail of her coat, Elana sat on my lap and her rounded ass settled into my crotch.
“I liked your lips in Paris.”
“I haven’t forgotten yours.”
“We weren’t so lucky that night.”
“Where’s Danny?” I had to ask. He was a friend.
“Danny and me go to Brest. His boat comes in. He says to meet him in two months. I wave good-bye and cry. I work in a dance bar in Amsterdam.” The intonation on ‘dance bar’ meant a strip club. “I make money. You like my dancing?”
“Who can I forget?” Her dance at the Reve was acid-etched in my retinas.
“Never I hope.” Elana wriggled sinuously, as her reptile tongue slithered into my mouth and I fell without any safety ropes to haul me from the chasm. Finally she released her hold. “Many men love me in Amsterdam. I meet this bald man and he buys me a ticket to New York, so I can find Danny. We arrive this afternoon and this night two friends visit his place. They want a ménage a quatre. I refuse and he beats me.”
Elana pressed my fingers to the raised welts on her belly. The story was simple and they always are, if the worst parts are left out. My muscles tensed into knots. She opened my fingers and guided my hand underneath her coat to her vagina. The lips were wet.
“That doesn’t matter any more. I need you. You tell me where first.”
No man can retain his sanity after hearing such a confession, but I only had time to lose half my mind, for the bald man shouted from three feet away, “You bitch.”
How he found us was unimportant and I shoved Elana at him. She scratched his face. Her attack opened his defenses for a hard-swung beer bottle. Blood spurted from a gash in his forehead and he fell to his knees, pistol in hand. One kick to the skull and he flopped to the floor. The bald man had paid more for the sins of others as well as his own.
Elana deftly rifled the man’s pockets. The bartender shouted he was calling the police. Brandishing a wallet and keys, she jumped to her feet and grabbed my hand. We ran to my Triumph.
The bike started with a backfire and we roared away from the bar. My temples pounded faster than the pistons of the 650cc engine and I wondered if the entire episode had been a cheap thrill. A glimpse over my shoulder revealed the bald man wasn’t a joke.
“We go to his place, get my clothes, and then you can have me any way you desire.” Elana directed me to a decrepit three-story building in Chinatown. The streets were empty and she slipped off the bike.
"I’ll be a minute.”
The door slammed shut and my hand revved the gas. When she emerged with one bag she smiled, "I half-expected you to be gone."
"I'm not going anywhere this time."
"So this is a raincheck?"
"Good.” Her arms curled around my chest and she nipped at my ear. “Let’s go to your place. Fast.”
We reached East 10th Street in less than two minutes and climbed three flights to my apartment in thirty seconds. I opened the door and she scampered into the unlit bedroom. Shucking her leather coat she fell on the mattress to become a carbon-black shadow on the white sheets.
“Come to me.”
I knelt between her legs and she locked her ankles around my hips to guide me deep inside her, saying, “Oh, yeah.”
With each orgasm Elana shape-shifted from vivid temple whore to virginal lover to hardened streetwalker to an aging courtesan, and finally an old lover telling a dirty bedtime story. There was no bald man, no Danny, no New York, no Paris, no anything. When I tried to roll off, she held on. “Stay in me longer.”
She aroused me once more with a stroke of my thigh. Her fingernails feathered the tight flesh behind my testicles and her teeth scrapped my foreskin. She hadn’t learned this technique at dance school.
“You bitch.” I grabbed a length of hair.
“I’m whoever you want me to be.” Her hands peeled her ass cheeks and I followed her darkest wish, this time for an hour and the next time to dawn and sleep.
I woke in bed alone, but Elana was no Cinderella. The water was running in the bathroom. Elana rested under a steaming surface with her black hair fanned on the curved edge, so she resembled a fairy-tale princess in slumber. With closed eyes Elana asked, “Do you have a girlfriend?”
“It matter, if I did?”
“Not this time.” She lolled her head and I pressed my thumbs into the taut muscles of her neck. Her sibilant moan verified if I didn’t have a girlfriend, I did now and she stood up in the bath.
“Are you scared?” Elana was five foot-four and weighed a hundred pounds.
“I can deal with you.” I wrapped her in a towel.
“You know that story I tell you about that man. I go look for him everywhere last year. In the end I find is you.” She let the towel fall to the floor. “I will kiss your skin and kiss your heart. I will kiss your body.”
I could have asked why. There had to be more than one reason. Maybe more than two, instead I let her fulfil this promise during the next three days in bed. The number of times we spoke could be counted on one hand. Truthfully words would have rotted the bonds of flesh. On the fourth evening Elana dressed in a black plastic dress and a matching coat.
“We’re going for a ride. I’ll tell you where, when we get there.”
The night air was warm and the trees were budding bright green leaves. My bike sped us downtown to under the Brooklyn Bridge. Elana tapped my shoulder and pointed to the concrete bumper encircling the Manhattan support tower. Upon reaching the concrete causeway to the bridge tower, she ordered me to stop.
“I have a special place to show you. It was in this movie WOLFEN.
“WOLFEN had a scene on top of the bridge.” I had seen the urban tale of werewolves several times. “There’s nothing here.”
“Only you and me.” She crawled through a breach in the chain link fence and walked out on the corroding concrete bumper. A tug hauling a barge blew its horn and its wake lapped at the pier. Traffic hummed overhead on the bridge’s steel gratings.
“I saw this pier in the background of the movie.” Elana placed her hands against the tower’s base. “You can feel the power of the city in the stones. Vibrating with a hum. Feel it through me now.”
“Here?” No one was in sight.
“Now.” Now had one meaning and afterwards she said breathlessly, “I have some more places to visit too.”
Elana was wild and I had no intention of taming her.
Out on a fire-twisted Hudson pier we coupled with total rejection of self-preservation. Inside an elevator stopped between floors with the alarm blaring I brought her to orgasm with my tongue. During a downpour we fucked against a post office wall, her skirt pushed above her hips and shirt opened to the waist. Neither of us noticed the passers-by. Once we were joined together, nothing and nobody was pulling us part. After a handful of such episodes I understood that Elana’s insatiability was destined to break me and I was beyond caring whether the wreckage was my body or soul.
The word ‘love’ was forming on my lips and other people loved Elana too. The homeless people on Avenue A called out her name. She always had a spare change. The police cars whooped in passing. She flashed her ass. The kids in the park loved to see her dance. She befriended the old Puerto Rican lady across the hall. They would sit in her kitchen and laugh at the Latin DJ’s jokes. Whenever I asked what was so funny, they laughed harder.
Sherri met Elana and the exchange of sordid tales was almost painful, except they were both so funny.
“You were made for the movies.” Sherri begged for Elana to come to LA.
“I’m happy right here.” Elana tore herself away from my cousin to sit on my lap.
“You got a good thing happening.” Sherri wore envy in her eyes, And don’t fuck it up by thinking of your ghost."
Ghost?" asked Elana.
About the blonde girl."
You know about her?"
Everyone here tell me about Lisa.
You're not the same."
"No, I better." Elana wrapped her arms around me as if they were made for my shoulders.
“I’m her prisoner.” And a happy one too.
Elana attended the dance classes at the community center opposite my apartment. From my fire escape I watched her lewd spinning around a pole. This move offended the modernists, until a lascivious gesture dissipated their resistance and they gathered around the heretic like moths in a maelstrom for a reward of raw abandonment to which I was no stranger.
Elana returned from these classes to perform Salome to the music from the movie, VAMPYROS LESBOS, an earth nymph to Joni Mitchell or a jazzy angel to John Coltrane. Sapped of her reserves, she would collapse on the sofa and softly beckoned to take her.
One night as we lazed in the sexual afterglow, she said, “You not love me for me.”
“It’s not that I don’t love you.”
You are scared I can hurt you.”
“Not be sorry. You wanting my body is fine. I want you the same way. One girl in the dance class has seen you spying us. I told her you were my boyfriend. She wants to meet you. Can you handle two women at one time?”
“I can satisfy you, can’t I?” I dragged her into the bedroom and my heart nearly burst through my ribcage to prove my ardor.
She was ready for more and said, “I win.”
The proposition was forgotten, although I remembered her questioning my involvement. I wanted more from her. Walks in the rain and fireside chats were becoming more appealing than sex.
I returned to the apartment with flowers and found Elana was underneath a heavy-bodied female. She reached out with a rehearsed lethargy.
Powerless I dropped the flowers on the floor and days elapsed with the decreasing need for what she was more than willing to give without my telling her that I wanted something else. We were locked in the language of sex. My fingers entered secret passages, my tongue explored caves, and my penis was swallowed to the root, then the phone rang at dawn.
It continued throughout her free-fall of orgasms and I tried to knock the phone off the hook. She blocked my hand and held the receiver to her ear. Hearing the voice on the other end she squealed with an unbridled joy. “I’ll come to you.”
The caller was Danny and I smiled to hide my heart turning to dust.
“Where is he?”
“Gloucester.” She stroked my side. “Is it far?”
“Far enough? When are you leaving?”
“Today, if you give me the money for a bus.”
I swallowed hard. “Not tomorrow?”
“No, I have to leave today.”
“Get packed and I’ll drive you to the Bus Terminal.”
She collected her few belongings and informed my neighbor about her departure. The old bruja kissed her forehead. “Buena Suerta.”
Driving to Port Authority I contemplated leaving her on the street, except too many women had vanished from the bus station and I bought a round-trip ticket to Gloucester, thinking one day she might use the return half. At the gate for Boston, she said, “You knew one day he will call.”
“But not this soon.” I got no explanation how Danny knew she was at my place.
“I had fun.” Elana motioned for the driver to wait a second.
“Laughs too.” I was deaf to my heart begging her to stay. “You better hurry.”
She kissed my cheek and boarded the bus. It pulled away in a choking cloud of exhaust. I panicked and ran to my bike. The bus route was straight up 8th Avenue. I arrived outside to find a Midtown cop writing a parking ticket and he wasn’t buying any love story. Back on East 10th Street I purged my apartment of scent-saturated sheets, soiled panties, stray stockings, lipstick tubes, make-up, nail polish remover, combs, brushes, and hairpins.
Within two hours my place was as devoid of female accouterments as a Trappist monk’s cell. Not the way I liked it, simply the way it was. For now and a long time to come.