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Posted on 2004-06-03 12:48:59 by Denver

It's 7:35am in the morning when the first tic of daylight flits through my
eyelids. I am lying on a foam mattress and a fan is blowing on my feet. I
live in a twelve by ten foot room with no toilet in a run down five story
tenement building on 14th street near Union Square. They call it an S.R.O.
which stands for Single Room Occupancy. The entryway stinks like urine and
my fat old Russian neighbor puts notes on my door like

Keep the bathroom kleen for everywun
Flush the toilet kan after you uze it

The man does not know how to use toilet paper. It is like streamers all
over the floor whenever I have to use the john.
My pupils track the sun climbing over the townhouse on the other side of
the block. Through the squinting haze of semi-consciousness I can make out
the profile of a squirrel shifting on the rooftop below my window. My
prick is heavy. So are my eyes.
Suddenly it's 7:55. .The puddle of stagnant rainwater on the rooftop below
me is reflecting a hot beam of light through my window. Stained blue
sheets are rubbing the hair of my legs raw. The bug bites on my knuckles
itch like crazy. I can't find a pillow that fits my neck, the strings of
muscle are pulling against the tether of my collar. Birds gurgle and are
drowned out by busses traveling down 14th. Metal garbage truck hinging and
hydraulic arms crash and bang against the street. My arm twists
uncomfortably. I am waking again. . Damp sheets clutched in my hand. slack
limbed and sleep deprived. I am so full of this.heavy summer heat it's
terrible. inside and under the sheet, it is good. Good. Softer and darker
under here.

Softer and darker
Softer and darker

My eyes close again but then an alarm clock rings in my skull-
You have to be at Citibank in your cubicle at nine o'clock.
I am working two jobs - secretarial support at Citigroup during the day
and catering at night. Last year I was unemployed, broke and working as a
scavenger hunt tour director, editor's assistant, soap opera extra, go go
dancer, music video actor, nude model, and caterer whenever I was lucky
enough to beat the hordes on Craigs List to a job. The catering and
secretarial work are the employment options I have at the moment. I'm
taking everything coming my way over fifteen an hour. I have a graduate
degree from Yale in theater management but the idea of building a
subscription audience at a non-profit theater is analogous to captaining a
pirate ship on Lake Michigan. While I know there is great skill involved,
it seems somehow obsolete.
I have to be on the subway at 8:25am in order to reach my desk in midtown
Manhattan by 9am. It takes me twenty minutes to shave, shower, gel my
hair, moisturize my face, and take my vitamins. If I can get off the foam
pad by eight I can even stretch my aching lower back in the shower. If I
get out of bed right now I can probably break through the emergency exit
door leading to the roof and find a receptacle for the stray cat that fell
over dead on my roof yesterday.
I have been having a dream about a tunnel- remembering the loose dirt and
easy give of the garden at my parents home in northern California- the
long plastic surgical tube inserted in the earth under the cement walkway
emerging overneath the tomato plant and spurting forth a fluid goodness.

Slowly the opening is closing and I am being sucked through it. I turn
over on my stomach and I feel a dampness on the sheets that is not
perspiration. It is blood red. I see a note taped to my computer. And that
is when I remember Armando.
Armando that dark skinned six foot cobra who slithered naked on top of me
last night after we came back to my place for a drink speaking like a
Caribbean dandy dressed in a tuxedo carrying his modeling portfolio
complaining about George W.
His tongue swished around my mouth, strange, what taste no taste. His big
tongue and his rubbery dick, too big for any surreptitious entry into
unsubscribed space. Can't dig a tunnel where you haven't watered the soil.

He kissed me. I spun his tongue in my mouth like a popsicle in grade
school. Soft, cold, pores lapped with feverous intensity. I could feel his
strong physical male urge. Then I was underneath this man and his legs
were pressing down on my thighs and his prick was long and rubbery and he
couldn't get my underwear off.

"Are you drunk?" he asked as he wet his prick with spit from his fingers.
"I'm not drunk," I said stubbornly, like a kid refusing to say uncle.
Can't believe you would let that guy get in your bed. Can't believe you
didn't want it. Can't believe you were that drunk. You're lucky...what
does luck have to do with it?
Don't tell pa about this.but must ask ma if it was..true?

I sit on the hard plastic seats and try to assemble the events of the last
evening in my head. A bunch of caterers who had just met that night got
drunk in an Indian lounge in midtown after a job at the Roseland Ballroom.
They were flirting with the waitresses and drinking champagne they had
stolen from the catering job under a table in the back. A manager
discovered them and gave them the boot. It was late, they were very drunk
and everyone went their separate ways except for Armando who tagged along
with me.
Why? He was attracted to me. Earlier I had given him my business card to
give to his friend Rachel who was working the job with us and had
disappeared without saying goodbye after I had flirted with her all
evening. My card in his pocket, my scent in his nostrils, he shared a cab
with me downtown and decided to have one final beer near my apartment
before he took the subway to Brooklyn. But the bars were closed and I
invited him up to my room for a drink. He was showing me his modeling
portfolio and then, in a series of mental snapshots, he was kissing me,
and then I was half naked underneath him, and he was trying to penetrate
My hangover is intense and I shut my eyes and try to block out the rail
screeching of the train tracks and the fluorescent lighting and the acrid
smells of a homeless man lying prone on the seats twenty feet away. The
air conditioning on the train isn't working this morning making it that
much harder to breathe. I try not to inhale the sourness of the
putrefaction. Except for the rotting man, I notice I am alone in this car.
It is like that English horror movie where a rage virus wipes out the
population of London. The train slows and comes to a halt on 23rd Street
and a man gets on at the far end. It looks like Armando. He looks at me
and tries to maintain eye contact but I look down and avoid his glance. He
is wearing a seersucker grey suit and a fedora with a red feather in the
brim. As the train picks up speed he begins to approach. Suddenly the
doors from the next train car burst open and the roar of the train
hurtling down the track jolts me further awake and a man approaches
mumbling some secret language and holding out a dirty baseball cap. I look
away from him and pretend to study the cracks on the warped vinyl floor. I
look up and suddenly the man who looks like Armando is sitting right next
to me. He holds out a business card and I take it. It is completely blank.
He looks at me like I owe him something. He makes a sign with his hand
that I don't understand. The man with the baseball cap addresses both of
us ferociously in deeply unintelligible psychobabble. The train is
hurtling down the tracks like it has suddenly become an express train to
Harlem. I am wondering why we have not reached Times Square. Suddenly the
brakes are applied, hard, and the Psychobabbler and I go lurching forward.
Armando does not move an inch.
The train is stopped at the platform on forty second street and the doors
will not open. Hundreds of faces are squinting through the windows and
squirming against each other to get closest to the lips of each subway
door. The sleeping, homeless man stirs from his slumber. Bacteria continue
to ferment on his flesh and clothing and the air becomes three degrees
hotter instantly. The throngs beating on the door don't realize they are
about to step into an odor chamber of intense decay and rot.
Finally the doors open and people on the Times Square platform swarm into
the car and sweep the homeless man and Armando away like lava flowing over
the landscape of a bad dream. A huge man with a walking stick plops down
and pins me against the side railing.

My train arrives at 53rd and 5th and a great exodus happens - a tremendous
convergence of human bodies, and then, two by two we ascend ark-like on an
escalator to the surface of the earth for banking and retailing purposes.
I am striding through canyons of banking towers along Park Avenue and they
have never looked so dark and foreboding or been such a welcome relief.
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