Autumn came and leaves fell from the trees. I saw friends, drank at bars, and told stories about Paris. Their laughter proved that time transformed tragedies into comedies.
The night before Halloween I was sitting on my Triumph before Madame Rosa's Bar near the Holland Tunnel. The rest of the 6th Street bikers were scattered around the alley. The walls were tattooed with graffiti and piles of trash cluttered the gutter.
A yellow taxi rattled down the cobblestones and braked a foot from my bike. A blonde in a black leather cuirass and steel-strapped girdle emerged from the Checker. The Devil would have been proud how this sadistic apparition paralyzed every man on St John's Lane. Her unworldly eyes trawled for prey and settled on me.
For a second I thought the sadistic mirage was Lisa, but the blonde rearranged the wig and I said, "“Elana.”
“I’m happy you have not forgotten me.” She threw a leg over my bike. “Let’s go. Anywhere.”
I kickstarted the bike and my heart thumped through five gears. Within minutes we were on 10th Street. Twenty seconds after my apartment slammed shut, we were naked. It was like our first night. Neither of us held anything in reserve and the pleasure became a pain, which I quelled with a shuttered ejaculation.
As I strained to regain my breath, Elana explained, “You throw me out. These punks from the park live in a squat. We live as animals and are animals with each other. Not washing and eating food we find in the trash, fucking like savages. Soon the men only want me. The other women hate me. One day I meet this woman. She and I perform dominatrix shows for businessmen. They love us. We are the best. This girl and I start a business. I have a loft and a beautiful girlfriend. I thank you for throwing me out.”
“You didn’t come to tell me that.”
“No, the old senorita told me she had placed a curse on you and the only way for it to come off was for me to make love to you.”
"You fucked with me, but didn't deserve that."
“Why the stories? About Danny? About the man in Madrid. About everything? Did you really love Danny?”
“Yes, and you too. You both only wanted me for sex and I gave myself freely, but not anymore. Men pay me $500 for an hour. There is no way even a thousand free orgasms can add up to an hour, but life is way too long not to fall in love and I have that with this woman. The sex is good. Everything else is so much better. Maybe you helped me to understand that. Maybe you didn’t, but I’m almost happy now. Happy to be me and not a fairy tale for someone else like your stupid movie THE APARTMENT. Your friend Sherri told me to watch it, but it was just a movie. Nothing else and you’re not either man in the movie. You’re not bad and you’re not good. You’re just you and no one else.” She attached the leather and buckles and clips with the care of a samurai suiting for battle and slowly counted out $400.
“I owe you that.”
“Where are you going?” I felt more like me than I had in a long time.
“Uptown. A priest needs a succubus to a ritual crucifixion.” She offered a full view of her body, as her gloved hand reached for the door. “Do I look like a goddess ready to die for her sins?”
“You’ll have a million worshippers.” I was one of them. Saying I love her might change everything. I said nothing instead. She already had someone to love.
“I’ll be seeing you.” She went to the door.
“I hope so.” This was a good an ending as I could hope for the both of us, although for weeks afterward I searched the Daily News’ police reports without ever reading about the discovery of a crucified woman matching her description. Elana was still out there, but none of us saw her again. Not me. Not Danny. Not the old lady across the hallway. At least the chicken bones vanished from my doorstep and this said Elana was fine.
I started looking for a woman. I had been a fool to love a woman who didn’t love me. A greater fool to not love someone who loved me. Six years was a long time to learn this lesson, but I was happy to know in the future I would be a fool again. Any sinner will be as long as they’re willing forget the past, forgive the present, and live for the future.