Summers with Seven just below this is pretty good. The Wombat has me on a strict writing schedule so I probably won’t be posting much for awhile. Esoteric Wombat is one of the more elegant writers on the blogosphere. Elegant yet masculine. Nice combo.
I put my O rant on the sidebar.
July 13, 1977
The East Village
“We have to get out of here,” she said after they finished a marathon love making session. Though they had installed ceiling fans, the sixth floor tenement walk up was beginning to stink of hallway smells: pee, cat pee, Lysol and cabbage.
He was more reluctant to leave. Panama Red made him all complacent and wanting her.
“Here,” she said, “I give you Dixie beer,” as she handed him a bottle. “We can go to the Grassroots. Need to get out.”
“Why Gena Leigh, didn’t know you liked it.”
His voice dripped Southern honey. She had no idea why people liked honey or sweet things at all. Gena Leigh Feinman was a jalapeno pepper person. She didn’t think the new Szechuan restaurants were spicy enough. Gena had liked Garrett’s New Orleans accent for about a month one day three years before.
She wasn’t going to tell him that the juke box was about the best in town. The Grassroots was large and strategically located on St Marks, just a few blocks from the East 6th Street tenement she had lived in since she was 18 and with another man.
It suited Gena to walk in with Garrett. Tall, dark curly hair, only his Paul Newman blue eyes separated him from every other boy she had ever been with. He liked to pretend her name was Jenna Lee and behind the golden hair, Elizabeth Taylor lavender eyes, and huge smile lived a Southern princess. People thought they made a magical couple. There was magic alright….
“You’re wearing that dress?” He frowned as she motioned for him to zip the faded gray and rose colored vintage rayon bustier dress.
“He doesn’t kill in the city. Anyway, you’re here.”
She watched him pump with pride, and resisted telling him that he made her feel as safe as a cockroach about to walk into a wall primed with Chinese chalk, the natural and only way to kill them. Gena almost walked out without turning off Dr. John on the tape machine. Just once…just once she would like to see him do anything, but smoke, drink Dixie and practice his guitar. Somehow Garrett’s group, Magnolia & Thistle, got regular gigs at Max’s and CBGB’s.
Gena had named the group for Garrett’s voice. It was a joke everybody took too seriously.
They bumped into the landlord in the tiny lobby that was in serious need of tile blasting.
“Oh, Ms Feinman, you look so pretty.” The fat Ukrainian landlord glared at Garrett and then asked her for the rent.
“oh god, Mr P., I’m so sorry. It’s the first time I have been late in nine years.”
The landlord nodded. “You I never worry about, but….” He stared at Garrett who just had to answer:
“Hey, I’ve been living here three years and the rents never been late.” Garrett gave his guaranteed to charm the pants off all straight women smile. Didn’t work with landlords. Especially with East Village used to hippies, Ukrainian old men who loved girls like Gena but couldn’t understand why they weren’t living with their parents or better were married.
“I can’t believe that you didn’t pay the rent.” Garrett sounded angry as they walked to Second Avenue.
“Excuse me? You can’t believe I didn’t pay the rent? Who the fuck has been keeping us going? I have paid the rent, Con Ed, the phone, and for food, ever since you moved in. You haven’t once. And I kicked out my roommate for you. He paid half the bills.”
She pushed her hair back. The night was hotter than most she could remember. There was some heat lightening.
Garrett pushed her into the brick outside a building. He put his arms on her shoulder blades:
“You don’t get it. You never have gotten it. You can’t fathom that I’m going to be a big star someday soon, and you Gena Leigh will never have to work another day in your life.”
“Garrett, grow up. I don’t care about someday. I care about now. And I care that you pay some bills. You’re working pretty steadily now. I can use the help.”
He punched her cheek. “You, f….” she began to scream as the lights went out all around. For a second she thought he really hurt her.
People began coming out of buildings. Second Avenue, already crowded, was packed. People were laughing. Transistor radios were playing. The city and suburbs were all affected. Somehow she didn’t think this was going to be fun like the one that happened when she was a kid on Long Island. Dr. John, strange things always happened when she listened to Dr. John, the blackout had to be because of that.
They saw some people they knew. “Hey,” Gena tried talking over too many voices, “come to our house. I have some shrimp that might go bad.”
By 11:30 about 50 people were in Gena’s two bedroom tiny apartment. Everyone was sweating. Somebody had walked up to the Diamond Ice Company on East 24th Street and brought back tons of ice that was beginning to melt.
They had enough liquor for a liquor store, more Dixie Beer than any place outside of New Orleans, enough weed to supply a small town, ludes and some coke.
Gena flirted with Max who she had a crush on freshman year at NYU. She had been living with Simon then and Max had a girlfriend.
Garrett glared at her before he passed out. The party went through the night and through the next day.
Garrett spen most of the next couple of day passed out or so drunk he was talking about going to Regines, a fancy uptown disco he normally wouldn’t be caught dead in.
Gena let Max tell Garrett he had to leave. For once she didn’t want to be the strong one. They waited six months before moving in together–a loft in Soho–and six more months before they were married. They played some Dr. John when the band was taking a break. She was a bit scared but had to break the curse of Dr. John.
When their daughter Lacey was sixteen, and just out of goth, asked Gena for details on past loves, Gena tried to be real honest:
“First there was your Godfather, Simon. We were meant to be friends, nothing more, nothing less, just took us six years to realize that. Then there was Garrett. Last I heard, decades ago, he was trying to make it in Memphis…”
I realize that I made Gena Leigh totally unsympathetic. First she’s not based on any relatives or friends or both that might have a similar name. My uh cousin Gena is wonderful. And does have a great name.
I have a hard time showing the sweet side of women who become abused. It’s much easier for me to write about before or getting out. That’s one of the two million reasons I like blogging. It lets me see what’s lacking in my own thoughts.
It’s easier for me to show a bit of the charming side of the men because they usually are and I have known so many. Charming men and women who act bitchy because they want to retain their dignity. Not saying she did. This was just an exercise really for dialogue and I loved the words. “Fathom” is so Bone.