Friday, July 28, 2006

Into the Woods.

First of all, I hasten to point out that Pepper is resting comfortably here on the linoleum as I write this. Meanwhile, his 'mother' -- or 'master', or 'owner' hasn't been returing my calls, which I imagine is probably a bad sign. I've been scanning the online obituaries of the Florida newspapers, hoping to stumble upon an item to shed some light on her inattentiveness. I mean, I'm not hoping that the guy dies, but bad information is better than no information. It's the same reason I am constantly attracted and re-attracted to dangerous activities. Like gambling. It's not that I necessarily want anything bad to happen to me. It's that I can't stand the prospect of nothing happening to me.

So I am going to the card room tonight for the first time in a couple of months.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Where Did You Roam?

About two weeks ago, I was given the task of looking after Pepper, a terrier of unknown lineage. Pepper's true owner was going to Florida for an indefinite period to spend time with her father, who was dying of cancer. I didn't think to ask her which kind or where the cancer was. People seem fascinated with details like that for some reason. For instance, when I was forced to explain to the superintendant (also, incidentally, of unknown lineage) the reasons for the barking emanating from my apartment, his first follow-up question concerned the nature of the cancer.

"Lung? Brain?"
"I don't know, I didn't ask."
"Prostate, probably," he concluded.

Rather than giving me the keys to her apartment, Pepper's owner seems to have decided that it would be more prudent to bring me the dog and have him stay with me rather than the other way around. I can't say I blame her. She offered some altruistic pretexts -- "Oh, I think it will be nice for you to have some company around your apartment, right?" "Having him around will make your place more 'homey.'" "This way, you don't have to come all the way out here to look in on him." And on the magnanimous charade went.

"Charade" because I halfway suspect that the real reason was something more along the lines of, "I can't be certain that you won't loot my house, pawn everything, and then blame it all on a band of opportunistic burglars." She knows vaguely that I've had a bit of a problem with money and self-control. But that she would entrust me with her dog, but not, say, her DVD player, is utterly beyond my powers of comprehension. But I couldn't really argue with any of her reasons and so I didn't bother trying.

On Tuesday afternoon, I got home from another satisfying job interview ("Seriously, why would you want to work here? You're a college graduate") and Pepper did not greet me at the door as was his custom. I couldn't find him anywhere in the apartment. But I did notice that the kitchen sink, which had been dripping incessantly, had stopped dripping. And one of my dish towels had some grease on it, in the vague outline of a wrench. I put the pieces together: the super had come by to fix the sink, he was careless about the dog getting out, and now the dog was gone.

I immediately took to the streets and began my canvass of the neighborhood. Finally, a reason to leave the house.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Sister I Never Had.

I whittled that five hundred down to a more manageable sum. How? I foolishly tangled with 5-4 offsuit with my measly AA. The ace that gave me trips gave some stillborn Lithuanian gentleman his five-high straight. That got me down to about $200. I remember getting some lap dances. At the club, inviting a police officer (who later turned out to be an exotic dancer -- apparently the cop outfit was just a costume) to a little coke party my friends and I weren't having at a beach house whose whereabouts (and keys) eluded me. I nonchalantly referred to it as "blow", which I figured would give my offer what lawyers call "additional indicia of reliability" The scary thing is that it worked. At about 4:45 in the morning, my phone rang. It was Officer Andrea. She was in a cab and was coming to pick me up. Yikes. We rode around in a cab for a while.

"Do you remember where the house is?"
"Hmm, not really. My friends don't have their phones on. It's late."
She looked exasperated.
"Do you want to get a hotel? I can't go to my place. My boyfriend is there."
"Sure," I said. "Will there be any vacancies? Oh, I don't have any [drugs] on me."
"That's okay. I have some."

She got on her phone and was told by the operator at the Showboat Hotel and Casino that, for $79, a room could be had.

Something was amiss here though. She was far too willing. Yet completely blase, given the fact that the ostensible aim of this adventure was to find a hotel room in which to have cocaine-fueled sex. We weren't acting as though we were anything more than co-adventurers. We could have been siblings, each of us slumped in the back of the cab, vaguely insolent ("Are we there yet?") All of the sordid, tawdry promises in the club seemed ridiculous and neither of us bothered pretending otherwise.

We arrived at the Showboat. I gave the cab driver about half of my remaining dollars. Now I had to pray for a miracle -- that somehow, one of my four maxed-out credit cards would be accepted at the reservation desk. No such luck. I made up some bullshit excuse, and she was all set to pay cash on the condition that I pay her back tomorrow. She was too insistent about the whole repayment thing. I didn't want to owe her anything. I wanted out. Immediately.

We discussed our predicament -- can you believe the nerve of my bank! -- at the hotel bar.

"Buy me a drink."

Then she excused herself and went to the ladies' room again. To do some blow. Again. I paid for the drink and walked as quickly as I could toward daylight, toward freedom. It must have been 20 degrees out there. I didn't have a coat on, just a hooded sweatshirt. The sole of my left shoe was worn out and becoming detached. It made a ridiculous flopping noise with every step I took on the Boardwalk. I had $14 and some half dollars in my pocket.

The sun came up over the Atlantic Ocean. It was New Year's Eve.