One Fucked Up Day
What I’m about to tell you is all true. Just don’t judge me.
I’ve already judged myself.
It’s six a.m. on Thursday and I’ve just had an all-nighter that was supposed to last two hours with the new Latin meth head/fuck buddy of mine. (See, when you’re retired you can play all night and not give it a second thought.) Handsome with wavy black hair and a bushy beard like one of Cortez’ conquistadors and a hairy, beefy body to match, Hernandez’s just moved a few weeks ago from D.C. and is still looking for a job. Any job. I mention in between us playing that I taught college writing and could redo his resume for him if he’d like. He mentions he has one problem, though, a six year gap. No problem, says I, as long as you come up with a legitimate sounding reason like taking care of a sick parent, or retooling.
Out of curiosity I ask what he was doing those six years for money, and the man of few words replies: “Drug dealing.”
He told me later he was making three to five thousand dollars A WEEK. I didn’t ask why he suddenly departed D.C. Was he wanted by the law? Was some competing dealer out to get him? All l I know Big Money Handsome was now living in some flophouse surrounded by low lifes, with no car. No car in South Florida is like trying to fuck with no dick.
The previous night – Wednesday – as we were warming up, I mention I’d like to score a buy to have some shit on hand in case I get a hit from some PNP hottie who wants me to fuck him all night and looks to me supplying his drugs as the deal closer. Hernandez says he has a contact just twenty minutes away, a middleman, not like he was in D.C. (“I don’t want anybody fucking me up.”), and sets the buy for Thursday morning at 11. For his troubles, l offer Hernandez fifty bucks of the shit I’m buying for two fifty. (Nice guy, ain’t I?) Given the way he uses, that should last him about four hours.
So, Thursday, a.m., I drive him back to his boarding house across the tracks, and tell him to text me when his contact is ready. Meth Middlemen operate on their own time zones and 11 could very well turn into 5:30.
In the meantime, I need to get some sleep but end up vacuuming the house. The eternal Type A, I figure if I’m up I might as well get something accomplished.
Quarter of 11 I get the text from Hernandez: “He’s ready now.” So I grab some shorts and a tank and head over back to Hernandez’s shithole. But just as I’m about to leave, a group of four Bible totting Jehovah Witnesses are approaching my door. The women, all older and buxom, are well dressed in their Sunday best and are holding their black umbrellas up to shield themselves from the brutal sun. (Did anyone ever tell them black absorbs heat?) Leading the flock is a tall, skinny man with a faint white beard and straw hat who makes the approach.
I try to be nice.
“Sorry, but I have a doctor’s appointment and I’m already late.”
The man smiles benignly. “Well, can I leave this with you?”
“Sure,” as I place his flyer next to the cans of dog food on one of the shelves in my carport.
“It’s all right there in God’s Word,” he adds. He doesn’t know that I have three bibles gathering dust in my bedroom, relics from my days as a Lutheran Sunday school teacher.
“You know, after sixty, everything starts falling apart at the same time,” I quip as I open my car door.
They laugh and meander to the next house. Blissfully naïve in their own little world, I envy them. If they knew where I was really headed, they’d hold a prayer vigil right there in my driveway.
As I approach Hernandez’s block, a beehive of flashing cop cars engulf the street. Of course, my first reaction is: was there a bust? Was Hernandez part of it all? I pull over into a nearby church lot and call him to tell him I can’t get through and he instructs me where to pick him up two blocks down. I’ve got an envelope with two hundred fifty bucks in cash I just got from the ATM sitting on my passenger seat when an older black guy dressed in a running suit with bulging eyes taps on my window. I try to look cool.
“So what’s happening?” I ask.
“Something at the school,” he says.
“One of the church schools?”
“No, that one’s run by the county.”
I expect him to hit me up for money at this point but he just gives me a “have a nice day,” and walks on.
“Of all fucken times to see cops,” I say to Hernandez as we drive to 2031 NE 14th Avenue, less than ten minutes away.
“Take your share out of it while you’re there,” I instruct him and I sit in my car as Hernandez walks into the non-descript duplex. If you’re gonna do a buy, you need a guy like Hernandez who’s street smart. He always checks the shit before he hands over the money. “Good stuff,” he responds and we make one more stop at the Metro PCS store in the nearby Target’s shopping mall, so he can pay his overdue eighty dollar bill and get all the data back on his phone that they apparently held hostage
All I keep thinking is how alien all of this and broke white boys like Hernandez are to the middle class professional life I once knew back in New York.
I drop him off at his place, then go back to finish my housework when I see there’s a message on my landline phone, reminding me of my appointment at two that afternoon at Dr. B’s for the insertion in my butt of my biannual testosterone pellets. Just then, I pull the stash from my pocket – about the size of a packet of Equal – and hide it in one of the drawers of my sainted grandmother’s ninety six year old Singer sewing machine that sits in my living room as an end table.
Wouldn’t she be pleased how enterprising her grandson had become.
Dr. B, who’s also going to give my face an Artefil touch-up today, is a fifty something Cuban who has the looks and body of a 25 year old, and I chide him when I arrive for my double whammy dose of the fountain of youth for taking all his own potions. He introduces me to his new medical technician, Frank, a short, very Italian looking guy in his forties, who as soon as he opens his mouth has Bay Ridge, Brooklyn spilling out. He’s surprised and says I’m only the second person to ID him like that since he came down to Florida a year and a half ago. But it doesn’t take much for me; G, my partner is a fellow Bay Ridge boy, and Frank also lived for a time on Staten Island where G and I had our home, so we have much to talk about as he takes the “before” pics of my sorry face. A electrician back in New York, Frank is married married – to a woman – with three kids, and came down, like the rest of us, for the good life, but found work hard to get and ended up retooling.
After all of Dr. B’s poking and prodding, I turn to Frank with a smirk, “So how does it feel working with all these homos?” Two thirds of Dr. B’s clients are gay as is he.
“Hey, no problem,” he replies with a characteristic New York shrug.
“I know on homophobic Staten Island, they’d be stringing us up.”
“You got that right,” he laughs.
It’s almost 4. I devour the left over cold cuts Subway sandwich I bought yesterday, and crash.
It’s after 8 when I open my eyes to the world again. I know I should just turn over and not disturb my dogs in bed with me, but hell, it’s Thursday night in Fort Lauderdale which means Leather Night at our local sex club, Slammers. I’m wooed into action like the Sirens wooed Ulysses.
For a change, the parking lot is two thirds full when I arrive and within twenty minutes – something of a record – I’m blown and out of there. So I meander to the Albi where it’s Iced Tea Night and you can get plastered for three bucks. The place is brimming with young twinks old enough to my grandsons. I feel ancient but really don’t give a fuck. “Hey Hot Daddy,” quips a young couple as I zigzag through the crowd.
At just before 11:30, I make my final stop at the Ramrod for a night cap. Compared to the festive Alibi, the place is practically empty, but as I’m turning to leave, I feel a swift kick in my butt. It’s Danny, the tall skinny hairy kid with the Amish beard I tricked with over a year ago and who I used as the basis for the lead character in my novel, “The Czar of Wilton Drive.”
“So what did you think?” I ask. I had sent him a Microsoft copy of the book a few weeks before.
“It’s bad,” he laughs, “in a good way.”
My inclination as I walk back into my house is to check the hook-up sites one more time. But shit, I’m running on empty and even an asshole thrill seeker like me has his limits.
Besides, that’s why God created tomorrow, and as good old “Gone With The Wind’s” Scarlet philosophized:
“Tomorrow is another day.”
P.S.: Two weeks after all this happened, Hernandez texts me to tell me they were cutting him in on the action and that he will soon be a supplier. I warn him to watch his back, that he doesn’t know the territory yet like he knew D.C. and who to trust, but he’s too high on dope and the prospect to listen. Three days later I get a message on my phone from the Broward County Correctional Facility, asking if I can confirm the address of a said Hernandez Santiago, now in custody. Technically I can’t and I don’t. Obviously he was set up.
You can’t say I didn’t warn him.