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a novel in progress

Month: September, 2016

Excerpts From a Diary 27

[Summer, 1985]

Looking out the window in the big break room at the law office – everyone is still arriving – the parking lot next door is still filling up – I’m watching a guy walk by on the sidewalk downstairs – some homeless dude going to or coming from the City Mission – which is a few blocks away – work boots, baggy olive green work pants, maroon jacket, red & white baseball cap – then a black kid walks by, so pigeon-toed he has trouble walking in a straight line.  He keeps fading to the right.

Jesse just called.  Now that Doreen’s pregnant again he’s calling me all the time again.   I haven’t seen him alone since before New Year’s & whenever I do see him, it’s only when he comes over to do a deal with Teddy – they’re “all good” with each other again – of course they are – there’s money to be made, isn’t there.  Oh – I’m in one hell of a cynical mood today!  But even though Jesse calls me all the time, it’s not like he ever makes time for me – it’s the same fucking dynamic as Jon – he’s got a woman at home but he calls me to fool around on the phone.  Ya know – fuck that noise, man!  That’s not what I need – idiotic talk – I need to get really pounded – I haven’t gotten laid in forever.  But – I just found another dollar in my pocket.  Now I’m trying to figure out if I should spend it on a new record for the jukebox or have a drink with Mo or forget the money & call Jesse back & see if he wants to get together.  Ya know – he just might.  I’m just not sure that I’m in the mood for Jesse.  I would almost rather have a drink with Mo.  I don’t know what’s the matter with me today.

My moon’s in Libra today.  You can certainly tell – I keep weighing desires & things I might want to do & can’t make a decision!

***

Oh my God!  I lost my notebook!  I was dying!  Like – where’s my security blanket –

***

I’m tired.  I’m still recovering from the weekend.  I got annihilated at work on Thursday – plus I had a stag that night – I was sick all day on Friday – I even called off work at The Canteen – only my second time in three years.  I couldn’t stop throwing up.  I had to drag myself downtown to the law office to get my paycheck – I looked & felt like a junkie.  At the bank – I was in line to get it cashed & I had to go outside to get sick in a newspaper.  Naturally by late afternoon I felt good enough to snort more coke & party again.  On Saturday I had three stag parties – two of them ended in fights.  Neither of them involved Teddy or me but they stopped the shows.  When I told Paulie about it the next morning, he said it was the full moon – he said that there’s always triple the amount of arrests on a full moon.  Sunday night I had another stag – with Gigi, Havana & Oralie.  They were all turning tricks.  Listening to them talk, I learned a lot about the everyday, nitty-gritty mundane business of tricking.  Like – johns expect your house to be clean or else they won’t pay as much.  I had never thought of that.  Of course my house is always clean so that’s not even an issue in my life.  Also Havana makes her johns use rubbers!  That flipped me out!  I mean, yuck!  Rubbers suck!  But on the other hand, it makes sense!  You never know what these guys might have – if they’re fucking these girls, they might be fucking anyone at all.  It made me really think.  Like – who is Jesse fucking when he’s not fucking me?  Ya know?   I don’t mean Doreen – she doesn’t count.  I mean – are there other girls?  Is that why I hardly ever see him anymore?

I didn’t get to bed until 2:30 a.m. Monday & I had the alarm set for 6 a.m.  I remember it going off – but I passed right out again – waking up at a quarter to 8 & panicking.  Teddy & I both ran out the door.  I felt tired & achy all day – my stomach hurt – just burned out after a weekend of intense partying.  All my weekends are like this.  I just wish I didn’t feel so burned out for days afterward.

***

Here I am, sitting at a table in the lounge at the law office, with a cup of tea – making out a list of things I need to do after work & I want to cry cuz it seems unfair that I have to work so hard to get a few days off & why do I have to feel so yicky when there’s so much to do!!

Ah, but this first sip of tea is so soothing – on my nerves as well as my throat.  The decongestants are kicking in – at least I’m not blowing my nose every 3 seconds!  But I still don’t feel like working.  I would like to stretch out on the couch or in bed & somewhere & maybe fall asleep – just shut off for a while.  Eventually be seduced.  Slowly. Sweetly.  Sincerely.  I wonder if I call Jesse – would he want to get together later?  I wonder if he’s working?  Probably.  But maybe he’ll take a long lunch.

***

At The Canteen.  Why am I so anxious?  What’s the matter with me?  Is competition eating me up or is there really a reason? – I know there isn’t.

I was eating a ham & cheese sandwich at the bar & Gigi did a swimming pool act & I felt terrible!  I watched & thought – I can do it 10 times better than that!  More sensuous.  More serious.  Well not always – sometimes I laugh just like Gigi did.  But I felt bad – I know I’m a better dancer than she is & I’m certainly way more beautiful than she is – she’s pretty but she’s fat –  let’s face it.  Guys love her giant tits but she’s got a giant gut to go with them.  She’s one big girl all the way around.  Big body – big boobs – big laugh.  She’s a bump & grind type of dancer & of course I can do that, too.  But Gigi can’t do the subtle stuff.  She can’t dance to Linda Ronstadt’s covers of “What’s New” or “I’ve Got a Crush on You” – she can’t move her body in that slow, jazzy way.  It’s beyond her.  Actually – I don’t like using props – like the swimming pool – I only do it because John Canton likes that kind of thing – I think it’s a pain in the ass, actually.  I don’t mind doing floor routines – I bought myself a big blue blanket for them – but as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing sexier than a slow dance – even if you never take anything off at all.  You do it all with your eyes.

Oh – what is the matter with me?  It sounds like I’m a petty & vain kind of person.  I’m not that kind of person.  & everyone knows I’m the star.  Why am I acting like this?

Any other dancer would have left town by this point.  Gone to Canada – gone out West – most of the dancers I started with are dancing somewhere else.  Of course most of them were biker chicks & it’s easy – when your old man is with a motorcycle club – to pick up & leave when he’s on the road all the time, too.  All those girls travel light – they don’t have hundreds of books like I do – they don’t have a home like I do. How am I supposed to leave when I have Teddy – & Jesse too?  & girls like Leandra – she’s still in town but she just had a baby – Teddy & I went over to her place the other day to pick up acid for camping at Stoneybrook State Park & she had the little guy on her lap – David, his name is – she had a new tattoo of his name in Harley wings on her chest – he was naked & as we sat & talked, he got a little hard-on & started to pee – & she held out her hand & caught the stream of pee in her cupped hand.  I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Katie – “Kitty Kat” – graduated from college & nobody’s seen her since – I ran into Margie tending bar at a small Riverside tavern where I was doing a stag one night & she complained bitterly about how Katie “abandoned” her after she became a computer programmer – “Like she didn’t know me at all,” she said.  “We were best friends.  We roomed together, we were on the circuit together, traveled all over the country together.  & now she won’t answer my calls – she changed even changed her number to an unlisted number!”

I heard Stormy was murdered in a knife fight in a strip club in Pittsburgh – I don’t know if that true – it is definitely true that Misty was murdered by her boyfriend but he got off – since she was “just” a dancer & a prostitute – never mind that he turned her out & made her stay out until she made so much money a night sucking cock & beat the shit out of her if she didn’t produce.  Laura Lee got her nursing degree & is working at Buffalo General but she still comes around & parties.  Kendra went to San Francisco with a rich older woman.  & I’m still here.  Charlene had her baby & hooked up with a Erie County Sheriff & moved out to North Collins.  I’m still here.  & like I said – I would leave – but I can’t.

***

The day after my 25th birthday.  We came home from Stoneybrook State Park late Saturday afternoon – I did two stags Saturday night & two last night.  I didn’t want to go to work this morning but Teddy ragged at me so much that I went & I ended up being very glad that I did.  Anna brought in a cake that she made, a nice card, a tape she made of new tunes & two large photographs of me she took several years ago.  She’s a really good photographer.  & the tapes have some tunes that I happened to hear on the radio when we were camping – two by this band called Lone Justice – I really like “Ways to be Wicked” – I want to add it to my set.  I also love Alison Moyet – “Honey for the Bees” is exactly the kind of tune I want for my set!  I’m so glad – I needed some new music to pump up my sets.  Teddy is always telling me that they’re fine “the way they are” but I think that you always have to be changing things to keep them interesting.

In all I received lots of nice presents – but it was a much quieter birthday than previous ones.  Last night at work, they opened a bottle of champagne for me & we were all doing shots of vodka gimlets.  But I really took it pretty easy this weekend.  I was so deliriously tired – especially Saturday night.  No cocaine – the first weekend in months.  I never realized how much I depended on it to keep going.

***

No joints!!   I’m going nuts!  Bouncing off the walls!

***

At the law office.  Anna’s late – or maybe I’m early.  I couldn’t believe all the green lights I got on my way here.  Anyway, I’m standing by the phones on the second floor, waiting for her.

***

Last week I started to write but things got in the way – this is the first moment I’ve had alone in a while – at least that I felt like writing –

I’m sitting in my car – Teddy s getting money to get some weed.  We’re on a lovely gravel dead-end road off Niagara Falls Boulevard – very rural – houses along the canal.  It’s a warm day – sunny.  Buttercups growing along the side of the road.

I was in a poetry reading at Neitzsche’s last week Thursday – Jon called & said that Harry G. was trying to get in touch with me.  I called Harry & left a message on his machine & later he got back to me, inviting me to read.  I loved it & I think I was well received – I wore tight jeans & a black lace t-shirt & my red pumps – nothing like what anyone else was wearing – I sipped a vodka gimlet as I read – oh here’s Teddy.

***

Oh – I thought I would have to buy a new notebook but thank god last week Lynnette picked you up & yesterday she gave it to me when she came into The Canteen at 5.  I was so happy – I felt so lost all week without my notebook.  Even if I barely write at all, I want to be able to carry it around – my security blanket.

Lynnette was the best person to pick up my notebook – she write too & she respects privacy.  Although it really wouldn’t have mattered if she had read it – this diary has very little writing & mostly lists.

Teddy & I had a really excellent weekend in Sherkston – camped at the edge of the beach – but here in town we’re arguing again.  He says it’s my drinking – it’s gonna break us up.  I didn’t say – but I think it’s true – it’ll only happen if he lets it happen.  His temper is as dangerous as my liking for vodka – although I do like vodka & soda, I don’t drink as often or as much as he says I do –  he makes it sound like I binge everyday – sun-up to sun-down.  I couldn’t do that if I tried.  My body can’t handle that.  I get drunk on Thursdays – that’s really it.  He says he’s “only reacting” to my “actions” but I call it over-reacting.  He’s just sick of me partying with the boys – flirting & doing shots.  Well I don’t blame him there.  I’d rather party with Teddy than with anyone else.  But what the hell am I supposed to do in that bar all day?  Who sits in a bar & doesn’t drink?  & it’s what I’m paid to do!  When we’re at Sherkston, it’s drink drink drink – but Teddy says that’s different.  Well, of course it is.  It’s ok if I’m drinking with him.  He just doesn’t want me drinking with anyone else.  I don’t see the fucking difference.  Drinking is drinking.

***

Searched at the border – coming back into the US.  With Teddy’s record, delays are inevitable.  But they never found the joint I had nestled in between my labia lips – in a baggie, of course – although they patted me down.  They checked us out pretty good – searched the entire truck – separated us for questioning – the whole 9 yards.

Flew into town – got Teddy’s paychecks – went to Wegman’s – filled the truck with gas.  Now we’re at Tom’s – for cocaine & weed – whoo-hoo!  We have to go to the meat market, Consumer’s, Doug & Danielle’s, TripleD International, Bernie’s, Jesse’s – make deliveries & pay off our debts while we have money – then fly back to Canada.

***

Tired.  Burned out.  Getting off on acid.  Everyone’s at Wayne Johnson’s wedding except Teddy & me & Doug & Danielle’s dog Daisy.  I really wanted to go but everyone is here at Sherkston & someone had to stay here with all the campers & with the dog.  Teddy doesn’t mind but I do – I love weddings & I do like Wayne – I worked his stag a month ago & I would have loved to have been at the wedding.  It seems like I’m at all the underground events & never get to go to the real ones.

I’m so horny – I’m depressed – I woke up in tears after dreaming about sex all night.  I’m feeling better now that I’m getting off although I’m hornier than ever.  I know I won’t get anything from Teddy – it’s been months – of course it’s summer & Jesse is working all the time & so I don’t get to see him either.  Although every time he comes to the house, he makes it plain that he wants me.  I mean – big deal if you can’t or won’t make it happen, ya know?

Last night was really stormy.  I saw some fabulous bolts of lightning over the lake.  I was so tired though – I had worked at The Canteen– after a night/day of total delirium & little sleep.  I did well though – $50 in tips.  My horniness always pays off – onstage at least.

Today is windy – cloudy – sunny – thundering in the distance.  The weather report said to watch for a huge storm late this afternoon.  I hope so – I love storms – then I hope the weather calms down for our last night here.  I have a stag tomorrow night.

***

Twilight – the hills across the lake are deep purple – shrouded in lavender mist – the lake, faintly rippling, reflects pink, gold, lavender, several shades of blue – everything is calm & expectant before nightfall, darkness, the full moon.

***

The beach at its height.  I’m really sad we’re leaving cuz here we are in the midst of everything – heat, oiled bodies, cool cars, a hundred sound systems playing a hundred different tunes – it’s great.

On the other hand – I’m homesick – plus I have stags tonight & a family picnic at Letchworth State Park tomorrow – Mom & Bob are up from Cleveland – so as great as it is here – I’m always happy to go home.  I need a decent night’s sleep before I see everyone – Jesse – & Doreen with her giant belly – brings back that I can’t have children because of my dancing career – as much as I would love to have them.  & Jesse & I would have such beautiful children!  Our bone structures are compatible – unlike his & Doreen’s.  Zach is a sweet child but he looks like a cabbage patch kid.  I mean – I guess that’s ok if you like cabbage patch kids – but I don’t personally find them particularly endearing or even very cute.

Also I can hardly wait to see Gigi – I’ve really missed her.  I want to tell her about Tom – our new coke & weed guy – I’m really into him.  I would so like to fuck him!  But I never will.  It’s not good business to fuck a connection.  But it’s fun talking to Gigi about  it!

***

Sitting at the bar at Murphy’s, having a beer before I go next door to work.  Ruthie behind the bar – Marian sitting at the other end.  Mo’s already next door.  We always meet here to have a drink before our shift.  Ruthie worked with Mo years ago – they were both dancers – back in the late ’60’s, early ’70’s – they both say it was a much better time to be dancing than it is now.  I believe it.  I think it was a much better time back then in general.  Marian is almost 70 – she’s a really great old babe.  She’s here every day at opening for her morning martini.

I saw Marian one Saturday night – Teddy & I were going from one stag to another – travelling on Delaware Ave. & at the intersection at Hertel, Marian was crossing – totally drunk, dropping something & trying to pick it up without falling over – “Hey, I know her,” I said to Teddy.

“That drunk old babe?” Teddy grinned – or grimaced – not bothering to keep the disdain out of his voice.

Drunk old babe?  Will I be that way?  I hope not – but who knows.  I like to get drunk & getting old is inevitable.

***

Labor Day weekend.  At Sherkston.  Storm time.  It was cool & cloudy when we woke up – we took a tour of the park – smoked two joints & bought a paper – all the while noticing the every-darkening clouds & the ever-growing raindrops.  Now it’s really coming down.  No thunder or lightning – although you can hear it on the radio – the static it creates.  We haven’t had a decent thunderstorm all summer.  I mentioned this to Janice – the girl camped next to us – & her husband – of 13 years! – Dwayne.  They must have gotten married when they were in junior high or something, they’re so young.  They have 3 kids.  They’re from Fort Erie, although Dwayne’s originally from Buffalo.

Time to make breakfast – pancakes, Canadian bacon, apples, coffee, tea.

***

I just woke up a little while ago.  After breakfast I got a horrendous migraine – the left side of my head was totally throbbing with pain – so I went back to bed.  Teddy puttered around – cleaning up around the trailer – the cooler – killing a bunch of troublesome bees.  He was getting really lonely & bored by the time I woke up.

I still feel like I’m sleeping.  We just had a sandwich & a joint & now it’s time to go out in the new rubber raft, which we bought at Washington Army Surplus downtown.  Teddy’s wanted one for years.  & of course Teddy gets what Teddy wants.

***

The moon just appeared – big, bright, deep yellow – a true harvest moon.  All around it are wispy clouds.  It’s certainly a lot clearer than last night.

Last night was fun.  We partied with Dwayne & Janice – rather, they partied here with us – we have the fireplace – & their friends from Buffalo – Brian & Mel – showed up.  Tonight Brian reappeared with two large bottles of vodka, a bag of weed & 12 ears of corn.

Teddy has the football game on the radio.  The wind seems to be shifting directions & I’m getting smoke in my eyes.

***

Labor Day.  Naturally the nicest day all week is the day we have to leave.  I have everything packed up & in the bed of the truck or stored in the trailer.  We have only to finish cleaning the trailer, collapse it, smoke a farewell joint & go.  Teddy’s stalling, puttering around.  He wants to stay until 4 p.m. or so – I’m dying to get going.  I can’t help it – I love it here & I’m sad to go but I can hardly wait to get home & get unpacked & into the tub!  I feel so yicky – I haven’t washed my hair or shaved since Thursday – I’ve been sponge-bathing & washing my face with Seabreeze – & I feel so yicky & awful I could die.  My hair has long since stopped feeling like hair – I’m not sure what it feels like – soft, tough straw or something.

I’m just tired – tired from camping – tired from partying day after day – tripping – too much alcohol – cocaine – a million joints – I need some quiet time in my bathtub – the water as hot as I can make it & nice soft soap sweet & fragrant.

***

It’s so good to be home – we finally arrived about 2 ½ hours ago – I made tacos then finally got into the tub – it felt so good!  & washing my hair – I was in heaven!

I brought calendar up to date – within 45 minutes of being home, I booked two stags for September 21.  The phone must have been ringing off the wall all week.  We’ve got to get an answering machine!  It’ll pay for itself!  A better investment than all these stupid drugs!

***

Almost 3 p.m.  Man, I’m pissed!  I took the laundry to the Laundromat – put in two loads – then went to the store.  When I returned, they were both done – except one was half-full with water.  I told the attendant & she asked, “Did you put any more money in?”  I said, “I don’t have any more money.”  I mean, I had to scrounge up the 75 cents per load as it was.  So she came over & re-ran it.

What a colossal waste of time!  I ran home & put the one load into my dryer & put away my groceries & I’ll have to go back to get the other load later.

I’m sick of this shit – I wish Teddy would get my washer fixed.  I’m so sick of running to the Laundromat every week – spending money I’d rather spend on singles for the jukebox & lottery tickets.  I’m sick of the fucking inconvenience.  I just have too many things to do & not enough time to do them.

***

Earl’s been transferred to Fort Worth, Texas – today we had lunch for the last time – we went to The Eagle House on Main Street in Williamsville – & then went to Isle Park across the street & drank a bottle of champagne – which honestly tasted like apple cider – then I went to The Canteen & finished off the drunk I’d started – Mo was mixing up killer whiskey sours – I’m really gonna miss him – he’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

***

At the Canteen.  Sitting at the bar.  Teena’s not here – she called at 11:30 to say she would be a half-hour late, which was over an hour ago already.  Darcy’s all pissed off but only because I doubt we’ll get extra pay for dancing extra sets while Teena’s not here – I’m not happy about it either but so fucking what.  I mean, that’s life.  I think Darcy’s really upset because she’s fighting with her man & Teena being late has nothing to do with it.

Shirley’s here – time to put the notebook away.  She gets really pissed when she sees me writing at the bar.

***

I had an interesting little conversation with my boss, Edmund Durant – the second of the three partners.  In the course of talking about writing, the subject of my dancing came up & he was quite interesting – well, he’s a man, of course he’s interested.  Unlike the other two partners, he’s never been to The Canteen & never seen me dance.  He wanted to know if I would dance for the law firm – like at a partners’ meeting & a few select “special” clients – he had to be joking – adding to his proposal, “Unless you would be embarrassed.”  “Not especially,” I answered, laughing, “but you might be.” “I don’t think any of us would be,” he replied. “Well, I’ll give you my card,” I told him.  “You do that,” he answered.

Later, when I was leaving, he was standing by the back door with a lady I didn’t know – his wife? – & he reminded me about my card.  But I have yet to give it to him.  I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.  I mean – since I’ve started here – 2 years ago – the subject of my dancing has never come up.  Anna – my direct supervisor – knows about it, of course – because I have to change my schedule at times to accommodate my changing dancing schedule & because if I know I’m going to be out late doing a stag, I call off “ahead of time” because I know I won’t be able to make it in the next morning.  That way, I can arrange to make up the hours ahead of time & it’s no big deal.  So the department knows ahead of time & nobody is put out.  The whole thing is to get the work done & get it done well.  I don’t know if I like the idea of mixing my dancing career with my job at the law office.  I really don’t think it’s a good idea.  I like keeping my various lives separate.

***

My car is in the shop – I don’t know what’s the matter – something with the steering – or the front right wheel – it feels like I’m driving a bumper car in an amusement park!  & I hate the bumper cars!  It just started doing this today.  But I can’t drive it – it’s unsafe.  So tomorrow I have to drive Teddy to work – then drive downtown – then leave at 1 p.m. & run back out to Tonawanda & pick up Teddy – run run run –

***

Beautiful weather lately – mid to high 70’s – sunny – nights cool & excellent for sleeping.

I’m having a glass of milk & a joint – getting ready for bed.

***

At the law office – I’m early – I left the house early partly because I was ready & partly because traffic has been really heavy lately so naturally today it wasn’t!  I took a little cruise down Fillmore Avenue – up Smith Street – all around that neighborhood.  There are some old, old buildings there.  I could cruise around & look at buildings all day.

I have to write a note to Anna explaining next week’s schedule changes.

***

At The Canteen.  In the dressing room.  Not my normal shift – no one to talk to!  All my regular customer are afternoon people – if we weren’t going to Watkins Glen tomorrow, I wouldn’t be working – I worked yesterday too – 12-5.  I’m not used to being here so early in the week.

I’m working with Lena & “Rock’n’Roll” Sue – real nice girls but typical dancers – light on intellect.

And Shirley’s in her usual charming mood – you know –

I really would like to take my notebook out to the bar & sit & write but if I did, some customer would sidle up to me & want to know what I was writing – like it was any of their fucking business!  Oh I supposed you shouldn’t sit at the bar with a notebook –especially if you’re a star like me – it’s just – even if I don’t write – don’t even open it up – it’s like sitting with someone friendly – a good friend – sitting with my notebook –

But.  It’s nice seeing Lena again – she just got back from Reno & other places out West – she & her sister Mira went out there more or less with Rick James – I know they were both seeing him years ago but I didn’t know they were travelling with him – Lena said that Mira is still out there & making “loads” of money in the clubs out there – I don’t know why she came back – if there’s so much money to be made out there, why would you come back here to make no more than $10 an hour plus your tips?  But who knows.

***

At the law office.  Boy, I got pretty wasted last night – came home & pigged out on tacos & chocolates!  I’m amazed I feel as good as I do today – I hope a hangover doesn’t creep up on me or something.  My head does feel kinda fuzzy – but that’s not unusual!

Today’s the day we go to Watkins Glen!  I get out at 11 – run a few errands – then home to get ready.  It’s supposed to rain – I hope we can get the trailer packed before it does – or gets too heavy.  I hope it doesn’t rain all weekend but with Hurricane Gloria moving up the coast, I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t.

Well, no one’s here yet but I should get to work anyway.  Work makes the time fly!  Well – usually!

***

Watkins Glen Racetrack.  Hurricane Gloria moved up the coast last night from North Carolina, hitting Virginia Beach, Atlantic City, New York City – New England’s probably getting it now.  It started raining last night around 1 a.m. – it poured all night – it’s still raining now, although not as hard.  The wind’s really wild.  Our awning is valiantly hanging in there.  I expected to find it torn off this morning.

We went into town for breakfast – it’s supposed to rain all day & I figured it would be good to get out.  Also we wanted a newspaper.  We ate at Savone’s Family Restaurant.  It was OK – not great – they used cheapo margarine & the sausages weren’t cooked enough.  We read the Elmira Daily – published by Gannett – & was amazed at the junkiness of it.  One article in particular – a front-page story about the hurricane – could have been written by a sixth-grader.  There is no way that writer could ever be hired by the Buffalo News.

The cars are flying around the track.  I love that sound.  They look so cool with the rain streaming behind them – “rooster-tail,” Teddy calls it.  Actually – although we’re camping & it’s raining – two things that really don’t go together too well – it’s really a nice day.  The sky is totally intense & the wet leaves look ten times as colorful & bright as they would normally.  But the day is really a drag.  Stuck inside the trailer all day – ultra damp – chilly – Teddy can’t get the furnace going because of the wind.  I would read but Teddy won’t shut up & I can’t concentrate.

Teddy got the furnace lit – I went outside & held the pizza pan over the vent so no air could get in.  Now we’re sitting inside – getting warmer – while the storm rages outside – the Grateful Dead on the radio – “Somebody likes me,” I said – Teddy’s measuring a half a gram into the vial.  Talk about driving that train!

***

The rain stopped & the wind died down somewhat.  All afternoon we sat in Bernie’s coach, playing Trivial Pursuit with Bernie & Ariana & Bernie & Tina – Bernie & Ariana’s guests.  Teddy & I won.  We’d never played before but it was easy to catch onto.  Because of my constant reading of everything I lay my hands on & Teddy’s knowledge of sports & automotives & all things machinery, we blew the other two couples away.

We’re making a fire.  Doug & Danielle should be getting here soon.

***

Saturday morning at Watkins Glen.  Sun already totally warm – they’re saying a high of 75.  We’ve got Formula-Ones flying around the track – the two Bernies on top of Bernie’s coach – spectators lining up in front of me.  This one group – looks like Ma & Pa & their grown-up son – Ma looks like Mrs. Methodist Church – she has on a white crocheted hat, navy blue pants, a quilted nylon coat – she has frizzy hair & silver glasses – not what you expect a racing fan to look like – but she’s watching each car go by – nudging her old man, making remarks & pointing out the merits of each car.  The husband & son are each wearing brand new Camel GT baseball caps.

Boy, when the sun goes behind a cloud, it gets cool real fast!  I have to get my jacket.

***

What a beautiful day for the races.  We’re all on top of Bernie’s mini-home, watching the cars go by – smoking joints & drinking.  We put on of the stereo speakers up here so we could hear the broadcast but when one or more cars go by, it’s impossible to hear anything anyway.  Last night we all drew two car numbers out of a hat – one of my cars #2 Porsche Marche – hot pink – collided with Ariana’s at the beginning of the race – reappeared for a lap – all patched up – & hasn’t been seen since.  My other car – #22 Chevy Marche – also hot pink – is also missing.  Teddy’s cars are doing well.

It’s such a lovely day.  Since 10:30 this morning – when I took my shower in Bernie & Ariana’s coach – oh, what a joy to wash my hair – I’ve been wearing shorts but I just changed into jeans since in the last half-hour the wind’s come up a little – enough to make it a little chilly.  I packed all our clothing & toiletries.  Now all I have to do – whenever I feel like it – is pack the foodstuffs & kitchen wares.  I like to do my work in little bits – then there’s never a lot to do.

Got quite a nice buzz on.  Teddy & I are saving the rest of the coke for the ride home since I remember last year – falling asleep on the ride home – both of us totally wishing we had saved even a quarter gram!  No – we have even more than that this year & even money!  We’ve come up in the world!

Well – we have.  We’ve both been working our butts off.  I’m the focal point of the business, of course! – but Teddy’s influence is not to be understated.  I couldn’t do it without him.  Well – I could do it – but not the volume – not the quality.

Lord – the sun feels nice!

***

As soon as the race was over, the whole area thinned out almost immediately.  Our suppers over, Teddy & I are almost completely packed up.  I have to help him take down the awning.

A minute later.  I know as soon as I get into my writing here, he’s going to want me to do something else.  A campsite nearby is playing Marshall Tucker tunes – from over the hill, I can hear Heart.  There’s still a lot of people here – mostly packing up but still partying – it’s the day crowd that’s gone.  Myself – I can hardly wait to leave.  I can’t help it!  Long way to travel tonight & unpacking when we get home.  I wanna get to it!  Before I tire out!

***

Very late at night.  We just got home.  Our answering machine is blinking & it’s filled with messages.  I knew that this thing would pay off.  I sit & listening to messages & jot down phone numbers & names as I hear them so I can call guys back – of course they’re all guys wanting to hire me for parties – tomorrow.  There’s quite a list & I feel really good about that.

The last message on the machine was from Jesse.  “Hey Cori, Teddy – Doreen just had a baby girl – call me when you get in – ”

I decided I would call him in the morning.  The very first call.

Excerpts From a Diary 26

[Spring, 1985]

I have been sick all winter.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this sick – sick in body -sick in heart -sick in soul.  I haven’t been able to shake it.  I have gone from cold to flu to bronchitis – I had to start taking antibiotics – which made me sick to my stomach – it’s been never-ending.

I’ve been terribly depressed.   I haven’t wanted to continue living, honestly.

We went to Florida for Christmas – Teddy said he didn’t want to spend Christmas in Cleveland with the family & Jesse & Doreen & the baby & for once, I agreed – although I really didn’t want to be in Florida for Christmas.  There is nothing Christmasy about Florida.  But it was a nice trip – we drove down – taking back roads & having a nice time – Teddy got a pile of coke & a half a pound of weed before we left & we had the cooler in the back seat so I could mix drinks whenever so it was fun.  The Corolla got over 40 miles per gallon – amazing!  I love that car!  When we arrived in Naples, Betty met us with screwdrivers, made with fresh-squeezed orange juice from oranges from her own orange tree.  I don’t even like screwdrivers but these were fabulous.  & we had bloody marys on Christmas morning – it was a pretty drunken trip, actually.  I was waking up really sick every morning & on the trip home, it occurred to me that my throwing up wasn’t because of being hungover – I was actually pregnant.  I knew it had to be Jesse’s – Teddy was still not making love to me & Jesse & I had been together a few times in December.

I saw my doctor & he confirmed my worst fears.  He said he didn’t do abortions – he’s Catholic – but he referred me to a Jewish ob/gyn & on New Year’s Eve morning, I went in for an abortion.  We were broke from the trip but Earl was nice enough to give me the money for it.  The abortion in 1978 was $120 & this one was $300.  I told Earl I could pay him back when I was  back to work but he said not to worry about it.  “You don’t owe me a dime,” he told me.  He’s truly a mensch.

When I had the abortion in 1978, I remember going out with the anesthesia & coming back & crying – sobbing – but this time I don’t think I ever truly went out – the doctor gave me Demerol intravenously – & I looked at the modern art paintings on his wall but I really never went out – maybe for a moment or two.  It seemed so very dreamlike – it was over in a minute – so maybe I did go out.  But I never cried.  It almost didn’t even affect me.  When I went back out to the car, Teddy had two bumps of coke ready for me & when I got home, I got drunk on red wine.  Teddy went to CVS to get Lortabs for me – the doctor gave me a script for pain – & when he was gone, I called Jesse – “It’s over,” is all I said & hung up.

It was New Year’s Eve but for once we didn’t go anywhere – we stayed home & I fell asleep before 10 p.m. – I was so tired.  I suppose the combination of Lortabs & red wine probably had something to do with that.  I woke up on New Year’s Day & I thought about how it was Jesse’s birthday.  Teddy was sleeping & I got up & went into the living room & looked out on the falling snow.  I was bleeding & finally – I was crying.  I never felt so terrible in my entire life.

I was supposed to be taking it easy but we were broke.  I went back to work at The Canteen a few days later – with a tampon in – another no-no – & I started hemorrhaging onstage.  I ran off the stage & into the dressing room.  I was holding a towel inbetween my legs & Shirley came in.  She generally doesn’t work the daytime shifts but she was there that day.  She demanded to know what was going on.  “My period started & it’s real heavy,” I lied.  “That’s no period,” she said.  “What’s really going on?”  Shirley can be a real bitch but I realized at that moment that she really did care.  “I had an abortion on New Year’s Eve,” I admitted.  “I guess I came back to work too soon.”  I looked up at her.  “But we’re broke, Shirley.  I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t need the money.”

“I don’t care if you owe the mafia & the IRS both a million dollars, you’re not gonna work in this condition!” she snapped in that bitchy way she has.  But her eyes were warm & worried & I knew her nagging voice wasn’t expressing the way she really felt.  “Get your stuff together & get your ass home & get the rest you need!  You just had surgery!  You need to recover!”

So I went home & spent the rest of the day on the couch.  Later that evening, Shirley’s son Ronnie – who is the new bouncer at the club, since Ramon joined the Army – although Ronnie is diminutive & really not the bouncer type – came by with $75 in assorted bills.  “They passed the hat for you,” he told me.  I burst into tears.  “Ma said you can’t come back to work for two weeks,” he said.  “Two weeks!”  I cried.  “I’ll be homeless!”

I did go back to work at the law office & one day I walked over to UB & I registered for spring classes.  Teddy was adamant that “we” couldn’t afford for me to go to school but I told him point blank that I was going to lose my job at the law office if I didn’t continue my education.  I took my science requirement – Women’s Biology – & a women’s poetry class.  The things I have been reading have really helped me with my own writing – I have been rewriting almost all the poems I wrote last year & even the last several years – really working hard at them.

I have been trying not to keep a diary since I didn’t want Teddy to read it anymore but it’s so hard.  But since I haven’t seen Jesse since the middle of December & he & Teddy have had a long talk – apparently patching up their long-time friendship – both personal & business – Jesse hasn’t been chasing me at all.  He hasn’t been coming to the club or calling me or anything.  Which is terribly depressing.  &  – Doreen is pregnant again.  Isn’t that lovely.  I aborted my child & she’s gonna have hers.  Of course.  But I couldn’t have my child.  I have to remain slender & beautiful so I can dance every night & make money so we can pay our bills.  So there you go.

But no matter what – I am determined not to let anyone know how terrible I feel – my spirits – which are so moody – a rollercoaster, Teddy says – but with a new resolution to be cheerful & mellow – always in a good mood & cool to be with.  Kinda like I was before I married Teddy & dancing & stardom & perfection!

***

Sitting at the bar at The Canteen – in my corner, blissfully alone, until who knows when – there are several customers who would like me to sit with them – they’re giving me “the look” – but hell – they haven’t bothered to actually ask Cissy to send me a drink or anything – & I managed to walk across the floor without noticing them – but that’s quite easy for me nowadays – I am a star – the star of the club.  If I don’t want to notice a guy, I don’t.

On Tuesday, I stopped down here after working at the law office & John Canton gave me a vibrator.  More about that later.  But when I was here, I asked Frank Dormer if he would loan me $10.  He said he didn’t have it on him at the time, but he would on Wednesday.  Great, I said, I’ll stop down tomorrow.  So yesterday, I arrived at 1:30 – Kenny was here, so I sat & talked to him for a while.  2:00 passed – no Frank – 2:15, 2:30.  I said to Kenny, “Let’s go next door & see what’s up.”  We walked next door to Murphy’s Bar & there was Frank, walking to Jack Murphy, the owner of the bar.  “Hello!” I said brightly.  “Hello old man,” Kenny said, “Murph, get us three a drink,” but Frank declined saying, “I’m going next door for a taste.”

“You’re going to be there for a while?”  I asked.

“Oh yes, a half hour or so,” Frank assured me.

“I’ll see you next door then,” I said.

“We’ll take care of it then,” he promised.

Kenny & I only had one drink at Murphy’s – we spent no more than twenty minutes there – if that.  Yet, when I went back to The Canteen, Frank wasn’t there.  “Mo,” I asked, “has Frank been in?”

“No,” she said.  & the bar was empty – it wasn’t like she could’ve missed him – as if Mo would – she & Frank are best friends.  Of course she could have been lying for him but Mo is one of my best friends, too.  & what the fuck – I only asked him for $10 – it’s not like I want to borrow $100 or even $50.  It’s a stupid $10 that I’ll make in the first hour that I work tomorrow.  & if he didn’t want to loan it to me, he could have said so.  Why are guys such idiots?

Anyway – the vibrator.  John said to use it in my act but I’m not sure about that.  Teddy would probably have a fit if I did something like that.  Although I could probably double my fee.  But I took it home & wow!  It rocks.  It really gets me off & it’s a real nice thing to have – especially when you have a husband who doesn’t seem to like sex.  & a lover who doesn’t seem to want to love anymore.  All I have to do is keep it filled with fresh batteries.

***

I’ve been cooking a lot of great stuff lately.  Teddy got me a copy of Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook for Two – I found a fabulous recipe for beef & vegie stir-fry & another one for stuffed peppers.  The stuffed peppers recipe I changed a little – I used rice instead of bread – it turned out really great.  I started a personal cookbook.  It’s a 3-ring notebook & I either type up recipes or print them out on notebook paper & put them in there.  I love thinking about new ways to prepare food.  I really wish I had my shit together in high school because I really love to cook & I think I could have been a really great chef.  But oh well – that’s life.  Anyway, Teddy looks through my cookbooks & picks out a picture & that’s how we decide what to have to dinner.  We’re really into shopping, too.  We go to Wegman’s – we spend a couple of hours there!

Excerpts From a Diary 25

[Fall, 1984]

It’s been the craziest summer.  I don’t think I’ve ever worked this much.  The law office, the clubs, the stag parties.  Plus camping at Sherkston & doing whatever Teddy wants me to do.  It’s very exhausting.

& whenever Jesse wants me – I go over to his apartment on the West Side. It’s “our” apartment now. That’s obvious – he hasn’t rented it & he’s even gotten a few piece of furniture for it so we can hang out when we’re there.  Sometimes I fantasize that it’s our actual home – that we’re actually together – man & wife kind of together.   I can’t help myself.  I hate my life – I hate how I have no control over anything – I hate how I’m married to a guy who doesn’t want to fuck me – I hate how I’m in love with a guy who is never gonna leave his wife.

***

I’ve been writing a lot of poems – working on ones that I wrote last summer – mostly about Jesse – but also poems about dancers – one about that new girl, Charlene – & one about that girl Stormy, who was around for a little while & then moved on – like so many of the biker-chick dancers do – that poem needs a lot of work.  I’ve also been working on poems about other dancers – ones about Margie & Katie – “KittieKat” – but they’re not as good – it’s funny how poems are – either they work or they don’t.

Most poems I jot down in the notebook I carry with me everywhere I go but sometimes I use whatever I have at hand – bevnaps – bar checks – stationary from the law office – I stick them into my notebook & hope I don’t lose them.  Sometimes I stick them into an envelope – that’s a good way to keep everything together.

Most of the poems about Jesse are about longing to be with him – or about how wonderful it is when I am with him.  Although I think the longing ones are better.  It’s great to write erotic love poems but I don’t think they’re very good.  I feel the emotion but it doesn’t translate very well onto the paper.  Maybe I’m just not a very good writer.

***

Frank Dormer – one of the regulars at The Canteen – is having a party down at his hunting camp in Ellicottville – only a “select” group of people from the bar are being invited & I’m one of them!  Of course Teddy is going too – we’re taking our tent-camper down so we have somewhere to sleep – Frank said there wasn’t enough bunks for everyone – Mo & her husband Duke will sleep on the other side.  I’m giving up several parties to be down there that night but I could really use the rest.

We drove down there & it was the most perfect day.   Cattaraugus County is gorgeous in the fall anyway & it’s the height of the fall foliage.  We missed the road several times but finally found it.  Frank was already there & so was Tex & her doofus of a husband – Ron – & Ramon, the bouncer from the bar – he’s leaving for the Army real soon.  Mo & Duke showed up soon afterward.  I think there were more people invited but either they couldn’t find the place or they just didn’t show.

It was the best time!  Hamburgs & hotdogs on the grill & lots of munchies & I brought my homemade potato salad & brownies & of course we were all drinking.  Naturally, Teddy had plenty of weed & later on we dropped acid – not the usual “going to see God” amounts he likes to do but just enough to see trails & laugh a lot – like I like.   I had the best talk with Frank.  He used to be a Roman Catholic priest!  Ya know – he still dresses somewhat like a priest – always in black – although he was wearing a red & black Buffalo plaid wool shirt over his black clothes – but there is something very “man of the cloth” about him – I found myself confessing all about Jesse to him – I haven’t told anyone about the affair – although Frank told me that it was “obvious” that something was going on with Jesse & me.  I said, “Ya know, I really love Teddy but he’s more like my brother than my husband.”  “That’s not good,” he said, “not good at all.”

I asked him, “Why did you leave the priesthood?”

He tickled my knee. “I liked the ladies too much.”  He said he became a priest & was a Navy chaplain during the Korean War & felt like he was doing “good work” while he was in the service but when he became a civilian & a parish priest, he just lost his calling.  After he left the priesthood, he got married & had two sons.  He owns a printing press & his sons – both older than me – help him run it.  He’s read my poetry & thinks I should write a book.  “You’re a very talented writer,” he told me.

We were up almost all night & then next morning made breakfast over the fire & hung out listening to the Bills game on the radio.  It was a glorious day.  I really hated to come back home.  I love it down there.   Tex & Ron left early but Mo & Duke hung around & we really hit it off – I hope we can party together again soon.  I really like Mo – she’s really one of the reasons I stick around at The Canteen – most of the other girls are going over the border & working at the clubs in Canada now.   Supposedly they make more money up there – it’s all nude – but you have to get working papers & I don’t want to deal with any of that nor do I want to cross the border when I go to work.  I mean – it may be the friendliest border in the world but it’s still an international border.  & if you get in trouble up there, you’re in a foreign country.  & let’s face it – you party in a strip joint.  & that’s not exactly a safe environment.  I feel safe at The Canteen.

***

OH MY GOD.  I was in the kitchen after supper – just doing dishes – nothing special – & Teddy comes up behind me & tickles me, which I hate – if I have told him once, I have told him a hundred times, never fucking tickle me – & I swirled around & almost slapped him – but I didn’t.  I just laughed it off like I laugh everything off.  So then – he put his hands in the back pockets of my jeans – for who knows what reason – & I had a bar check in there with a few lines written on it – the beginning of a poem – just something I had been thinking about the other day – & at the bottom, I had written “I know a man named Jesse” – usually I don’t name Jesse in any of the poems I write about him.  But I was really depressed & I don’t ever expect any of my writings to fall into Teddy’s hands.

He was holding the piece of paper.  “Are you in love with Jesse?” he asked.

“He’s my best friend,” I hedged.

“I thought I was,” he countered.

“Well you are,” I said, “but so is Jesse.”  I went on, a little too hurriedly, “I can tell Jesse things I can’t tell anyone else.  There’s just something about him.  I don’t know what it is.  He’s easy.”

“& I’m not?”

“Well – not always.”  I hesitated.  “You’re demanding.  I mean – that’s a good thing, ya know?  Cuz you make me a better person with your demands.  But Jesse – Jesse accepts me as I am.  That’s a whole different thing.”

I don’t think he bought it.  & now I have to worry – worry – worry.

***

I told Jesse about what happened with Teddy.  “I knew something like this was going to happen sooner or later,” he said.  “I can’t believe we’ve gone this long without him catching on.”

“Or Doreen catching on,” I said.

“Oh she knows I’m seeing someone,” he replied breezily, “but she doesn’t know who.”

“Really.”  This was news to me.

“As long as I come home at night & pay the bills & don’t rock the boat, she’s not going to say a word to me.”  He sounded quite confident.

“I hope you’re right.”

“Oh, I know I’m right.  She wants a father for her children & she wants more children.  That’s really the only reason she wants to fuck, whereas you,” he pulled me to him with his strong arms, “you want to fuck because you are one passionate woman.”  & he started kissing me – which ended the conversation.

But later on, he said, “I’ve known Teddy a long time & he’s not going to stop asking you about me.  He’s like a dog with a bone.  You really should think about your options.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well – you’re not really happy with him, are you?  Why are you staying with him?  Why don’t you leave him?  You don’t need him.  You make enough money to support yourself.  You could rent this place from me & live by yourself & I could visit whenever I want – it would be the perfect set-up.  & then you could go back to school – get your degree – go to law school, get a real job – end this dancing business – it’s great now but you can’t do it forever – & honestly, I really don’t like the idea of all those guys lusting over my woman.”

I really liked the idea of Jesse thinking of me as his woman.  That made me feel really good.  It wasn’t until later on – much later on – when I was in bed, next to Teddy – who was dead asleep, quietly snoring the way he does – that I realized that I would be living alone – while Jesse was still living with Doreen.  I mean – what kind of set-up is that?

But maybe he means to leave her in the future?  & be with me?

***

It gets better & better.  Teddy was waiting for me when I got home from The Canteen this evening.  Thank heaven I wasn’t really fucked up.  I was drunk enough & of course I had been doing coke.  But I wasn’t wasted or anything.  So I was able to think relatively straight.  Thank you, Jesus!  But he was in a rage.  Really bad – I’ve never seen him like this.  “You are having an affair with Jesse!” he crowed. “With one of my best friends!  With your own step-brother!  That’s practically incest!”

“But it’s not,” I argued.  “We’re not blood at all.”

“I can’t believe this is happening,” he moaned.  “Ya know, someone called me.  I don’t even know who.  But he was there today, wasn’t he?  Someone anonymous called me & told me that you were sitting with him at the club & it was obvious that you are very close.”

“So fucking what?”  I wasn’t having any of that.  “I sit with lots of guys – that’s my fucking job.”

“No no no no,” he insisted.  “You wouldn’t sit with anyone else.  You were turning down drinks from other guys & only sitting with Jesse – right?  Admit it – you’re in love with him.  Admit it.  Admit it!”

By this point – I was pretty pissed off.  I mean – I had worked at the law office in the morning & then worked an afternoon shift at The Canteen & then stopped at the B-Kwik & picked up some groceries & I was hungry & tired.  I wanted a hot bath & my bed & my book.  I lost it.  I really did.  Who the fuck was he – when I was making most of the money anyway – who was he to ask me any questions at all?

I should have said, “I admit nothing,” & regally gone off to run my bath.  But I was drunk & pissed off.  I said, “Yes, goddammit!  I’m in love with him!  I’ve been love with him for years!  Now leave me the fuck alone!”  I left the groceries on the kitchen counter & went back out.

I went to Falco’s.  I ordered two roast beef on wecks & got myself a Labatt’s Blue.  While the sandwiches were being made, I went to the phone booth & called Jesse.  “Please pick up,” I prayed.  Thankfully, he did.  “Someone – I don’t know who – probably from the club – called Teddy & told him that we’re having an affair & he’s super pissed off.”

“I know, he just called me,” he answered.  “He wants me to stop seeing you.”

“What did you say?”

“That I would.”

I thought that my entire life had ended.  I was totally shattered.  “Jesse – ”

“Cori,” he said quickly, “I had to say something.  & I don’t want to lose his friendship or his business.  I don’t want to lose you either.  Don’t worry.  We’ll figure something out.  I can’t talk right now.  But don’t worry, ok?”  He hung up.

I sucked down my beer & had another one & a shot of Crown Royal.  “Feeling ok, Cori?” asked Anthony Falco, who was tending bar.

“Yeah, I’m ok,” I smiled.  “Just a little stressed – it’s been a long day.  Thanks for asking.”

When I got home, Teddy was smoking a joint & he was considerably calmer.  “Well, I talked to Jesse & he said he’s going to stop seeing you,” he announced.

“I know, I talked to him too,” I answered.

He was immediately angry again.  “What, you go to the bar for sandwiches & you call him?”

“Well, you called him as soon as I was gone,” I countered.  “Listen Teddy, I don’t want to argue about this anymore.  It’s over – let’s eat our dinner & be friends again.”  I hoped that was the end of it.

***

Depressed.  Partly because of tripping & cocaine last night & Friday night but also because of pregnancy worry – I had to go off the pill because I was “spotting” all the time – I’m going to go back on another one soon but meanwhile I’m off it – & of course I’m still making love to Jesse whenever I can – I don’t know if my period is messed up because of going off the pill or if I’m actually pregnant – what will I do if I’m pregnant??  It would never be Teddy’s – we haven’t made love in forever – even though he is always trying to now – like making up for lost time or something.  & as much as I want Jesse’s baby – I really do – I admit I’m jealous of Doreen because she has his baby – but I’m a stripper – I can’t stop to have a child –  it would ruin my figure!!  & how would I make money while I was pregnant?  I’m not going to do what Charlene did & dance until I’m in my 6th or 7th month – I just won’t.  I know there are guys who are really turned on by that but NO.  & I can’t expect Jesse to support me.  & honestly – I’m just not ready to have a baby.  When Doreen & Helena sit around at the holiday dinners & talk about their babies, it’s not like I have any particular longing to have one & join in on the conversation.  I don’t think – oh, I can hardly wait.  The thing is – I can wait.

& I’m depressed because I’m longing for Jesse – I’m worried about hurting Teddy – money worries – cowering in the shadow of the choice I am going to have to make – worry, worry, worry!  & I, who hate to worry & refuse to do so – I am worrying!

I have to force myself to get up & do some housework – type up poems for publication.  I have no energy.  All I want to do is read, drink wine & smoke joints.  Escape.  Escape somewhere far away where I don’t have to think about anything

***

I got my period but I am still worrying.  Next week is my doctor’s appointment.  I can hardly wait to get back on the pill – regular periods – no worry – steady moods – everything OK again.  I can’t believe my doctor actually suggested such a stupid thing to me & I was so fucking stupid to agree!!  So what if I was spotting – it was really no big deal!!

I was bleeding really heavy yesterday – today was much lighter.  Yesterday was a very uncomfortable day anyway.  Jesse’s job was shut down cuz of the rain so he picked me up at the law office at lunch time & took me to “our” place – gave me a peanut butter & jelly sandwich & made me lie down while he rubbed me.  He was really sweet – & he wanted sex even though I was bleeding heavier than I have in years – my gynecologist said I would be bleeding heavier being off the pill – “Yin & yang, baby,” he told me, “the mixing of blood & semen.”  It was a mess but boy – it was great!  I said that Teddy never comes near me when I’m having my period & he laughed & said that Doreen acts like she’s “completely cursed” – “she even sleeps in a separate bed.”

He called me twice this afternoon!  Once just to tell me he loves me – I love it! – then again to ask me some silly legal question about real estate – I don’t know why he just doesn’t look it up himself.  I know he really didn’t want to know anything about real estate – he just wanted to hear my voice.

He wants me to leave Teddy & rent out “our” apartment myself – he says that I have to be making enough money on my own – just in the clubs – & with my job in the law office, there’s no reason why I couldn’t swing living alone.  & then he could come by whenever he was free.  I’m not sure I like that idea – I mean, he’s still married to Doreen in that scenario – & what about Teddy?  & what about the stag party business?  I mean – I really like doing stags.  It’s a different kind of show than in the clubs.  I hate how Teddy thinks he’s my manager but still – it’s fun.  I don’t know what to do.  Jesse thinks I’m wasting my time with dancing – I should be back in school – which I wanted to do this semester but I just didn’t have the fucking time – or the money – as usual, Teddy has our finances in such a mess that I don’t have a choice but to work as many hours at as many jobs as I can.  I mean – I’m working almost full-time at the law office & I have to go back to UB in January or else I could lose my job there.  & I really don’t want to lose my job at Truman, Durant & Randall.  I like working there.  It balances out my career as a dancer.

But of course – the thought of having my very own place & being able to write whenever I want & whatever I want & not have to hide anything & be able to openly love the man that I truly love – that is so alluring – I just can’t help thinking about it.  I have the apartment decorated already in my mind with my books & my plants & even a few kitties.  I would love a cat but Teddy always says no – we party too much – we’re on the go too much – no cats.

I feel guilty thinking about it – thinking about Jesse all the time – writing about him in my notebook – whether I’m journaling or writing poems – especially sitting here with Teddy smoking our after-dinner joint – but I can’t help it – I’m totally addicted to him & I don’t care.  I need him.  I need what he gives me & I want what he gives me &  –

At that moment, Teddy had an attack of emotional bummer.  “I need a hug,” he moaned, so I held him for a while.  Could he feel I was writing about Jesse?  Can he hear my thoughts?

“The Cowboys” are on TV.  I love that movie.  I’m making popcorn – well, I’m in the kitchen – obviously I’m not making popcorn – I’m writing!  I’m waiting for the burner to warm up.  Anyway, Felix is stopping by soon – I’m so glad – it’s been ages since I’ve seen him.

9 p.m.  Teddy had to run out to pay George Conrad – we’re getting weed & coke off him – as soon as the car pulled away, I was on the phone – praying that she wouldn’t answer –

Jesse answers: “Hello!”

“Jesse!”

“Yes!”

“I love you!”

“You must have the wrong number!”

“That’s ok!  See ya tomorrow!”

“Bye!”

Hang up – Five minutes later, Teddy is back & Felix is arriving & it’s party time again.

***

He told me that Doreen & he were having an argument when I called last night – that’s why he was so gruff.  He said he really needed to hear those words at that moment.  I said, “That’s why I called.”

We both believe in karma.  We both believe that we are meant to be together.  “It’ll all work out one way or another,” he insists.

I was there at 8 a.m.  I had to be – I thought about him all night.  I drove like an Indy-car racer the whole way over – I lucked out on the lights – I flew into his arms.  It is so good to be held by him.  We smoked a joint – talked – looked at Christmas catalogues – then went to bed – made love again & again & again.  Intense heights – emotion.  I was in tears after an especially intense orgasm – Jesse wondering & a little scared – “I’ve never made a woman cry like that before.”  “Don’t worry,” I replied, “it’s just too much feeling – I have to release it somehow – ya know?”

***

Just finished a dinner Teddy praised to the skies – steak, hash browns, salad.  “You can’t leave me,” he told me, “I love your cooking too much.”  I smiled.  “I’m not going anywhere,” I said.  When I was cooking, Teddy was outside, putting a new side-view mirror on his truck & the phone rang.  It was Jesse.  He was hanging out at Muldoon’s, waiting for Doreen to get out of her doctor’s appointment.  “I’m in here with a couple of guys from high school I haven’t seen in years & it’s like a reunion.  I’ve smoked some joints & I’m really drunk.  I can’t believe I’m able to talk to you this long.  I was expecting to say I love you & hear you say, wrong number.”

“It’s our lucky day,” I laughed.

***

Thanksgiving.  I woke up at 6:30 – as usual – even if the alarm wasn’t set.  I finally got up at 8 a.m.  I’ve been watching “Bewitched” & smoking a joint.  Now “I Love Lucy” is on.  Teddy’s still in bed.

I should have been more careful – writing last night – because Teddy wanted to know what “secrets” I was writing.  “I have always had secrets to write down,” I said.  “I have notebooks full of them.”  I suppose if you’re writing secrets, you should write them in secret.

The trouble is, I’m so much in love with Jesse that I want to be with him all the time & writing about him brings him closer to me.

I still can’t admit to Teddy that I want out of the relationship although it’s harder & harder to assure him that I still want in.  He knows it, too.  “Do you think I can’t tell?  You’re different – you’re thinking of him – I can tell!  You’re always preoccupied!  I love you & I want to stay with you!”

“I can’t help it,” I answered.  “I am in love with him.  What can I do?  You can’t turn off your feelings like a faucet.  Be patient with me, Teddy.”

“I am patient.  I am more patient than you realize, I think.  But you seem to be slipping away more & more.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “Teddy, I wanted to have fun with you this evening & if we get all bummed out talking about this, we won’t.”

“Okay,” he said.  “Teddy bummer time is over.”  We made chocolate-chip cookies, watched the hockey game & passed out on the couch.

I should have told him that if he hadn’t been so stingy with sex to begin with, I never would have fallen for Jesse – so when Teddy tries to make love to me now, it wouldn’t be such an epic failure.  But what am I supposed to do?  I tried to tell him over & over again & it didn’t do any good.

& maybe it wasn’t about the sex.  Maybe Jesse & I would have fallen in love anyway.  I mean – I could have had sex with anyone.  Literally – I have my pick of any of the dudes in the club – in any one of the clubs – if all I wanted was sex.  & not just dudes – I could have women, too.  I could have anyone I want.  But it’s not about sex.  It’s more than that.  It’s much more.

Whenever I think of leaving Teddy for good, I think of our trailer & how we love to camp & how – if I’m with Jesse – I’ll never camp in that trailer again.  My “home away from home” – & then I think – why are you carrying this shell around with you?  But I think of how much it means to Teddy.  Somehow, the trailer seems to symbolize our entire marriage!  It’s just we’ve worked so hard to keep the payments up & – I can hear Teddy saying it – now it’s for nothing.  Or is it?  Didn’t we totally enjoy it when we had it?  & what about Cori? – bored shitless all summer at Sherkston – wondering why on earth were we spending all this money to camp there – isn’t there more to life?  Isn’t there a better way to spend our money?  Or even – gasp! – to save our money?  Worrying about making payments on a motorcycle we barely ride because we’re camping all the time.  & when we’re not camping, we’re working.  Worry, worry, worry – mostly money worries – ever since I married Teddy it’s been non-stop worry.

Oh well – he’s up now – I gotta make breakfast – then take a bath & get ready to go to Cleveland for dinner.  Three hour drive for a one hour meal.  & then the drive home.  But whatever.  Jesse & Doreen will be there with the baby – they’re spending the night – oh, this will be fun.

“Life was easy when it was boring.”    – the Police.

11:45 p.m.  I can’t sleep.  Listening to the Grateful Dead: “Oh the first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry anymore.  Cuz when life looks like easy street, there is danger at the door.”

Teddy’s in bed.  I can’t sleep.  I mix myself a drink, put on the Grateful Dead.  He rushes out & downs my drink in one gulp.  “I’m lonely.  Aren’t you tired yet?”  It hasn’t even been 5 minutes since he went to bed.

I say, “I’m gonna smoke this joint.  Stay here & smoke it with me.”

“No, I have to sleep.”

I have to piss.  I’m on the toilet & he follows me in & sits on the tub.  “I miss you in bed.”

“Honey,” I say, patiently, like I’m talking to a child, “last night I went to bed before you did.  Tonight I’m awake.  I feel like listening to some tunes & smoking a joint & having a drink.  & writing a little.  Unless I’m with you – if you want to join me, my friend the notebook will leave.”

I’m listening to this album & I really want to hear the rest – music really nourishes me so – the Dead especially so.  Like my piece of earth that I need to touch to be alive.  But I think of Teddy lying in bed alone, wanting me & it hurts – am I his earth?  It hurts so to hurt him.

He just came out.  “Wow, I’m fucked up, I’m peeing my brains out.”

“Oh honey, have a toke of this – ”

“No, smoke it, I gotta pee.”  He picked up the book he’s reading.

“Honey, I’m sorry I can’t sleep – ”

“Don’t worry about it.  Have a couple shots – ”

I sit here – toking on this joint which is now a roach on the hemostats – listening to Pigpen sing: “One way or another, one way or another, one way or another, this darkness gotta give.”

2:45 a.m.  Totally fucked up.  Teddy’s in bed.  Wishing for Jesse.  Listening to the Dead.  Wishing for Jesse.  Jesse.  Jesse.

***

I talked to Jesse early this morning – very upsetting.  I had to tell him that I wouldn’t/couldn’t see him anymore in order to save/endure my marriage.  & I was unable to do it.  Instead I told him I was going to “stay on my own” for a while.  He said he didn’t know how I was going to do that with Teddy around.  He said I would be better off getting my own place & not seeing either of us.  “But that’s not what you want, is it, Cori.”  I hung up on him & sobbed for an hour.

I’m skipping so much – how Teddy found my diary Saturday morning & read it & then was in a rage & hit me – he fucking hit me! – I was going to leave but he wrestled me for my car keys & wouldn’t let me leave the house – how I begged Paulie to call Jesse & let him know I was in trouble – how I slept off my hangover & felt better – I was hungover – of course – from work the night before – & of course Teddy was pissed off about that too – me getting home so late from work all fucked up.

Then Jesse called me at 7 p.m. & told me to pack up & he would be by in 25 minutes for me.  & I said no.  Teddy standing there yelling at me – making a bad scene worse.  I was shaking like a leaf.  Letting down Jesse.  Letting down myself.

So this morning – I ended it – or tried to anyway.  I don’t want what’s going on anymore, honestly.  I think Jesse’s pissed off at me & I don’t blame him.  & Teddy – well he’s all pissed off too. & I feel like a complete shit because – what the fuck, these guys were best friends & we’re all family & – what are we going to do?  What am I going to do?

***

Jesse called me this morning – he was served divorce papers this morning.  He said the charges are adultery.  He wanted to know if Teddy had talked to Doreen.  I said I didn’t know.   I mean – they were sitting & talking together at Thanksgiving but I didn’t think anything of it – I don’t think Teddy would be so cruel as to tell Doreen that Jesse & I were having an affair – & would he want to advertise his own embarrassment?  But I don’t know.   I honestly don’t know anything anymore.

***

Teddy just left for work.  He hung out to make sure Jesse didn’t call which pissed me right off – I told him Jesse wouldn’t.  I mean – little does he know that Jesse won’t call because I told him I’d call him – but Jesse won’t call anyway.  I just know.

“I don’t know,” Teddy says.  “I told him not to call anymore two weeks ago.  You told him Saturday night & he called yesterday morning!  & you – instead of telling never to call again, you talked to him for an hour!  So yeah, I’ll hang out & make sure.”

Teddy is so vindictive – so bitter.  “I didn’t ask for this.  He entered my marriage, not the other way around.  I’m just reacting.  I’ve been pushed & pushed & pushed & now goddammit, I’m pushing back!”  The thing is, he’s wrong.  Jesse didn’t enter Teddy’s marriage.  Which is our marriage anyway.  Jesse entered my life.  It’s amazing how Teddy makes this all about him.  Like he’s a victim or something.

I have to get moving.  It’s almost 9.  I have to eat, take a bath, do my hair, dress – I have a dentist’s appointment at 10:30 & I have to be at work at the law office at 1.  I also have to find a place to hide my diary – since now I know that Teddy will read it.  I hate living like this.  But I have to write.

I feel numb & sad again but that’s probably because of Teddy’s rage this morning.  He called back to apologize but also to reiterate his right of vindication.  Which cancels out the apology, if you ask me.

I can’t wait to call Jesse.  Last night, I thought of him non-stop.  I dreamed of him.  I’m dying to know how Doreen got information enough to divorce Jesse for adultery.  Or if there are other women involved.  Although I doubt Jesse will tell me that part of it.  I’m also curious to know if someone “anonymous” called her & told her about Jesse & me like someone “anonymous” called Teddy.

Writing is the only thing that’s keeping me sane.  My mind has been racing a million miles a second – to keep all this in will stifle me.  But I think it’s a drag I have to rip out each page as I write & hide it.  I know I should have done that from the start but hell – the purpose of a notebook is to keep everything together in one place – a place that was carried around with me – to be opened up & relived at will.  “I know I’m a fine one to talk,” I bitterly complained to Teddy, “but reading someone’s diary is as low as you get.”

“Oh, & cheating on your husband isn’t?” he sneered.

“Maybe you should fuck me more than once a month,” I shot back.  Not very nice but I don’t feel very nice nowadays.

“We shouldn’t have secrets from one another,” he retorted.

“I have a whole room full of secrets.  I always have!”  This makes me think of how Helena would read my diary & tell my mother.  & I never suspected because I thought she was above that.  I mean, if you have to read it, OK – I respect curiosity – but to tell – & then to be punished for what I write – !

I am just more honorable than that.  Yes – as an adulteress – I have to lie & cheat & deceive – but those are the rules.  Teddy would say that those are lousy rules – but I live by the rules that I have.  All I know is that I love Jesse & I will do what I have to do to protect that love.  On the same token – I also love Teddy & I will also protect that love.  Contradictory but that’s the way it is.

3:35 p.m.  On break.  Upset beyond upset.  It’s so hard to believe – I’m here at the law office, working – doing research – updating client files in the computer – while the whole time, my mind is racing a million miles a second.  Going over conversations – arguments – pros – cons – as confused & lost as ever.

When I got to work after being at the dentist’s, I called Jesse right away but there was no answer.  I let it ring as long as I could but had to hang up – I had to get to work.  I was coming out of the phone booth in the lobby just as he was walking by – all done up in leathers & chains – looking really menacing.  “Jesse!”  I cried, so happy to see him.  He turned around.  “Where have you been all morning?”  he demanded.  “Why didn’t you call?  I waited around all morning, like a gentleman & then I called over here but they couldn’t find you so I finally decided to come over.  Here’s your tape.”  He handed me a cassette tape.  He’s been making me tapes since the beginning.  I have a whole stack of them.  “Our” songs.

“I didn’t call because Teddy hung out until nine & I really don’t want to call from home anymore & I had a dentist’s appointment.  I just got here.”

“Well, I got go, the bike’s on the street.”  He turned & started to walk away.

“Jesse!”  I caught up.  “What’s the matter?  Are you mad at me?”

“Yes!  I’m upset you didn’t call – ”

“I told you about that – ”

“I’m upset about the whole thing.  Since this weekend.”

“Jesse, I – I really got to get to work.”

“Well, I got to get to my bike.”

“Tomorrow, I have an hour to kill between here & my doctor’s appointment – do you want to meet for a drink?”

“I don’t see the point of meeting.”

“Well, if that’s the way you feel about it!”  I snapped & walked away.  I thought I heard him whine, “Ya know, I have feelings too – ”  but I no longer cared.

***

Between last entry & this one, Jesse & I made up – I broke down & decided to leave Teddy & move over to the apartment on the West Side – the same old arguments & sob-sessions & emotional manipulations occurred with Teddy – the same old great sex & emotional highs & idealistic plans occurred with Jesse – culminating in a frenzied last Friday night – with Teddy & Jesse both hanging out at The Canteen – all through my shift – actually sitting together & drinking together & acting like best friends & brothers – like some modern-day western – Earl was there, too – me, breaking down in the dressing room – sobbing into a towel – totally out of my mind with sorrow & insanity.  Queen came into the dressing room as I was sobbing & she held me – then she told me to get my shit together since I had a set coming up – she rolled a joint laced with coke & I got really high – I fixed my make-up & went out to dance.   I sat with Earl the rest of the night.  I really didn’t want to go home with Teddy – but I didn’t have a choice.

Teddy breaking my heart with his grief at my leaving.  Almost harder to take than anything.

On Monday, Jesse pressured me about when I was going to move in the apartment on the West Side – “I might have to rent it to someone else,” he said.  “If I have to get a lawyer for this divorce.”

“Jesse, I really don’t know, maybe January?”

“Do you want to leave him?  I mean, what are you doing, Cori?  Do you know?”

“What are you doing?”  I countered.  “You’re going to be divorced, are you going to be living there with me?  Or what?”

“Well,” he said, “I own the house we live in presently.  So until all the legalities are taken care of, I have no plans of leaving.  If she wants to leave, that’s her business.  But we’ll have to work out custody of Zach.”

That didn’t make me feel very secure at all.

I have been in the law library, looking up divorce law.  If Doreen served him divorce papers & the grounds were adultery, she would have to have some serious proof.  It would have to be iron-clad.  More than just some “anonymous” person calling her & telling her that Jesse & me were hanging out together when I’m working.  I mean – she would have to hire a private detective & get pictures & maybe even recordings of phone calls – if that is even possible.  I really doubt she did any of that.  & who else would do that?  I mean – it’s just so unlikely.  Maybe some dude from the club is fucked up enough to follow me around but I honestly haven’t noticed anyone following me.  I do pay attention.  I don’t want to sound like I’m paranoid but when you’re having living outside of the rules of decent society, you watch your own back.  & I don’t see how anyone could have gotten a view into our room where we make love.  It’s impossible.  The curtains are always drawn – it’s on the second floor – it’s impossible.  Even if someone was trying to see – there’s no way they ever could.  The most anyone could ever know is that I arrive at that house at a certain time & leave a half-hour or so later.  Sometimes I’m there longer.  But that in itself doesn’t prove anything.  Certainly not adultery.

There’s something terribly wrong with that story.  I have never thought he was lying to me before – & I really – really – want to believe him now.  But there’s something wrong with it.  Maybe she filed for divorce but there’s no way that the actual grounds are adultery.  She probably wanted to file for adultery.  But that’s really hard to prove without pictures.  & you can’t just have pictures of me arriving at the apartment.  Or even pictures of us holding hands at the Club.  You have to have real damaging photographs – Jesse & me in flagrante delicto.  I mean – there’s no way.  Absolutely no way.

But.  Sooner or later.  The shit will hit the fan.  With or without pictures.  & I’ve had enough.

This morning, I called him at our usual time – I decided to break up with him.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  & guess what?  He broke up with me.  “I can’t handle it.  I love you & I know you love me but you obviously aren’t ready to leave.  You obviously love Teddy & care for him a great deal no matter how unhappy you may be.  My marriage is falling apart because of you & now you’re refusing to leave him.”

“Well,” I said, “I’m not happy to hear this but if it’s your decision, I’ll respect it.  You know I love you.”

“I still, ya know, want to be friends.”

“Well, Jesse, we were friends to begin with, I don’t see why we wouldn’t be now, or ever, ya know?” I added, “& we’re still family, aren’t we?  So it’s not like we’re going to stop seeing each other.  Every single holiday – there I’ll be.”

“I will always love you,” he said.

“I will always love you, Jesse,” I answered.  “& you never know, perhaps in the future, there’ll be a chance for us.”

I have to admit, I’m rather relieved.  It was getting to be too much.  I couldn’t take the pressure – although I loved the excitement – & to a certain extent – the turmoil.

Later, I received a note that Teddy had called.  I went down to the lobby to the phone booths & closed myself into one to call him back.  He said, “Doreen called me.  She wants to use your diary as proof of your & Jesse’s affair – ”

What?”  I was totally aghast.  “You told her about my diary?”

“Of course I did.  I know about this not only because of anonymous phone calls but because of your own stupid writing.”

“Well, she’s not using my diary as proof.  Forget about it.”

“I think – what’s the word you lawyer people use? – if you get subpoenaed, you don’t have a choice in the matter, do you?”  & he laughed.

I thought quickly.  I knew where the diary was – & I knew what I had to do with it.  “Well,” I said lightly, “I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”  I hung up & went back to work.

***

A few days later.  Jesse called.  “Well, you certainly give up easily!”

I sighed.  “You were the one who decided to break up because you couldn’t handle it.  I stayed away in respect of your feelings.”  Also because I do not want to continue anymore.  But I did not say that.

He said – very revealing, I thought – “Last time I told you that, you said that you realized that you couldn’t live without me.”  So did he say it this last night to get that reaction again – with a bigger, more physical commitment?  To get me to move as soon as possible?

***

Teddy reminded me that Doreen wanted to see my diary.  I laughed at him outright.  “You must think I’m a real stupid chick to give you my diary so you can give it to her.  She knew what Jesse was like years & years ago & she chose to stay with him.  If she wants to divorce him, she can walk out the door all by herself.  She doesn’t need my diary to help her make that move.”

After he left for work, I took all the various pages of my diary – from all the various hiding places – & took them up into the attic.  I knew that it would be safest to destroy them but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I pried up a floorboard & put the diary underneath & then hammered it back down.  If Teddy asked about it again, I would tell him that I threw the diary into the Niagara River.

I thought, it’ll be a while before I keep a diary again.

Excerpts From a Diary 24

[Spring, 1984]

Anna, at the law office, suggested that I go back to college & finish my degree & then get a paralegal degree – or even go to law school.  She says that a bachelor’s in English & then a paralegal degree will get me a job in any law office in any city in the country & would increase my ability to ask for & get a better raise during my yearly reviews here at Truman, Durant & Randall – but the first step is finishing my bachelor’s.  She said I had gone to Cleveland Business Institute & even though my “night life” obviously interfered with my “day life” at times, there was nothing wrong with the quality of my work.  “I’m not telling you anything that one of the partners has not already suggested to me concerning you,” she said in her slightly breathless way.  “But if you don’t start putting some effort into your education and your personal future, you won’t have a future with Truman, Durant & Randall.”  She laid a hand on my arm.  “Cori – it’s not really my place to say – but your night job – I know it’s lucrative for you in terms of cash flow – but think about where you want to be in five years – ten years.  Think about some of the older women you know – in the clubs – do you want to be like them?  Or would you rather be a paralegal – or even a lawyer?  Because you can.  You have the intelligence & I know you have the drive.”

So I went over to UB & registered today.  I’m taking Modern Poetry & Restoration Drama.  I wanted to take more but I couldn’t fit anything in with my work schedule & Teddy is really against me going to school anyway.  He says I don’t have the time & we – I like that “we” – don’t have the money & I should be focusing on building the stag party business so that I’m working private parties every night & I’m not in the clubs anymore.  But I like being in the clubs.  I would like to simply bartend in a regular bar, honestly.  I just like hanging out with people.  Not all the time – that’s why I like being at home & that’s why I like the research aspect of the job at the law firm.  But I couldn’t just be one thing or the other.  But Anna is right – I’m not going to be young & beautiful forever & I am going to have to have a back-up plan – going to college is the only way to ensure a decent future.

***

I’m in the living room. Teddy’s out – he went to Scott Carlson’s to deliver a bag.  He lives on the tenth floor of a gorgeous old apartment building – it’s all condos now.  The view is fabulous.  I would have gone along, but I have to wait for a phone call.  Besides, I’m hungry.  All I’ve had today is some Progresso minestrone soup & milk.

I have a Grateful Dead tape on.  I just made this one.  I’ve been making lots of tapes lately.  I bought a new needle for the turntable last week – no, it was the week before.  Life is going by so fast I can’t keep up!   I love making tapes.  When I listen to the tapes I made last summer, they’re so funny – so full of mistakes.  All good songs, though.  Naturally – why tape lousy songs?

I went to see Marge Piercy read poetry last Thursday night.  She’s one of my favorite authors.  It was really good.  I was surprised, though – she read like she was reading poetry – not quite a monotone – not a monotone at all actually – but not musically or naturally.  She stood at the podium & read off her sheets of paper.  It made me think a lot about reading.  I’ve never read my own poetry – personally, I don’t write to be read aloud – simply because I never do read it or say it out loud when I’m writing.  I just write – it’s in my mind.  But I was thinking – well, maybe I should start.  I think my poetry is very colloquial – very natural sounding & it should be read just like that – like a person talking.  Not like “poetry”.  So much of my poetry are monologues – a character speaking.  I wrote a poem the other night when it was slow at work called “Love Song of the Aged Stripper” – T.S. Eliot obviously an influence – it was a fictional monologue.  I would really like to recite my poems from memory – not read them.  I would really like to perform them.  I was amazed that the poetry reading wasn’t that way – Marge Piercy just stood there & read – that it wasn’t a performance.  I had never been to a poetry reading & didn’t know what to expect.  No one clapped, either – when she was done with a poem – they just sat there in silence.  I started clapping for her – performance is performance – & a performance deserves applause.  At the end, I went up to the stage & got my copy of Vida autographed.  Vida is an excellent book – one of her best.

I’m doing OK in school.  It’s really hard to go to school after working all day.  I have a paper to write & it’s just so hard to do.  Part of my problem is that I just don’t argue well.  I just don’t care enough.  & I don’t think in intellectual terms.  I think in terms of music & sensory images & feelings.  Maybe I’m too young – too anti-intellectual – too sensory-oriented to understand what the professor is trying to say.  I totally love this class – Modern Poetry – the poems we’re reading – I just have problems writing about them.

I have no new poems written.  Well – actually – new poems exist – but they’re not typed up yet – they’re just handwritten in my notebook – a poem isn’t “finished” until it’s typed up & usually the real work starts there.  I just haven’t had the time to get to them.  I’ve been going full-tilt boogie – working as much as possible – extra hours at The Canteen – which is the only club I’m working at now – stag parties – the law office – school – spring cleaning at home.  Somewhere along the way, I like to sit in the evenings with a good book & relax a little bit.  Usually I fall asleep.  I’m so exhausted all the time.

I haven’t seen Jesse.  The few times Teddy has sold something to him or gotten something off him, he went over there on his own because I was working or at school or something.  I think about him all the time.  I write about him – poems of longing – poems of loss – poems of love.  My notebook is filled with Jesse but never his name.

Well I’d better get going – take a bath, do my hair – in case I get called into work, I’m ready to go.  The phone is always ringing.  Everywhere I go, I’m being introduced & acknowledged as “the best dancer in Buffalo”.

***

I’ve been cleaning all morning.  I didn’t have time to clean but oh well.  I just can’t stand a messy house.  It depresses me.

***

I have to call Teddy at 4 p.m. & tell him to get me – if I’m not working a double.  Earl is taking me to work.  Teddy wanted me to take a cab but Earl called so I’m getting a ride with Earl – save the cab fare. Teddy likes it better when I don’t drive to work & then he picks me up – but of course that way he can control when I get home – I’m not hanging around the bar all evening.  Not that I actually hang out at the bar all night long – just for a drink or two when I get off my shift – I mean, lots of times, I’m talking to guys about stage parties – I’m doing business.  But he cops an attitude if I’m not home within 15 minutes of my last set on stage.  We’re supposed to be going to Doug & Danielle’s to discuss camping at Sherkston.  I made a list of what we’re taking & what we need.

Anthony Falco called at 11:15.  I wonder what he wanted.  It’s always so nice talking to Anthony.   He’s a flirt, that one.  Always a new girl on his arm.  He probably wanted some coke for the weekend.

***

Earl is one of my best friends.  He’s a customer at work but he takes me out to lunch – often he’ll come by the law office & pick me up & take me to some downtown restaurant – we really like Chef’s – & often, we go out to dinner on the nights that Teddy works.  Since I don’t see Jesse anymore, Earl has really come to fill in the big hole that Jesse left – not that I’m having an affair with Earl, cuz I’m not.  We’re just friends.  But he’s a real sweet guy & what the hell – he’s got money – if he wants to spend it on me, why shouldn’t I let him?

I met Earl quite accidentally – last May, around my birthday – I knew that The Canteen was going to throw me a giant birthday party on my birthday & I was telling all my best customers to show up for the party.  I saw Earl sitting at the bar & I actually thought he was someone else – I was drunk, ya know? – & I told him, you remember to come to my party!  So when he showed up to the party & I was sitting with him having a drink, I realized – I didn’t know who this dude was!  But I got to know him really well.  & he’s the nicest dude in the world.  Big – too big, really – he loves to drink & eat & party – he smokes Marlboro Lights – & drinks Miller Lite – dozens of them – he’s the president of one of the milling corporations here in town.  He’s from Arkansas, originally – “Just a good ole boy,” he calls himself – married of course – he calls his wife “Big Red” but I guess her real name is Barb.

All the girls call Earl my sugar-daddy but it’s really not like that.  But he does buy me really nice things.  Which is good, since it seems like the more money I make, the more ways Teddy comes up with to spend every last dime of it.

***

I got to work – at the law office – real early this morning.  I’m having a cup of coffee & looking out the window at downtown Buffalo.  It’s foggy this morning – Lafayette Square is half-hidden – the tops of buildings obscured.

***

I had to take a break – I was so sleepy – my eyes wouldn’t stay open.  Guess I’ll lay my head down for a few minutes, then drink my tea.  I like hiding out in the law library & getting a little snooze in.  But no more than 10 or 15 minutes – I don’t want to be caught sleeping – & honestly, if you nap longer than that, it just makes you more tired.

***

I did pretty well this semester.  B’s in both my classes.  I was hoping for A’s but it’s not easy going to college when you’re working in a nightclub almost every night & at a law office three days a week & doing seven to ten stag parties every weekend – plus all the housework, laundry, shopping, cooking – no wonder I’m exhausted all the time.  Yes – cocaine keeps me going – but I think it’s part of the problem as well.  But what am I supposed to do?  Still – I’m glad with my performance at UB & I can hardly wait to go next fall.

***

Jesse called this morning.  I had just gotten out of the bath.  He said, “Do you mind if I come over?”  I was supposed to go to work at the law office but I said yes to Jesse – it’s been forever since I’ve seen him alone.  I called Anna at the office & said that I couldn’t make it in – I never give a reason – if I can’t make it in, I can’t make it in.  I always make up whatever hours I miss & my work is impeccable.

I quickly dressed in a pair of tight jeans & v-neck t-shirt that hugged my tits perfectly & showed just enough cleavage to be sexy but not trashy.  I put on a trace of make-up & a few pieces of jewelry.  I was nervous – so nervous.

I could hear his Harley – the ’53 Panhead he had gotten from his late father-in-law – roaring up Main Street – long before he turned onto Minnesota Avenue.  I watched him as he parked it in front of my little yellow Corolla – his long legs backing the bike up to the curb.

I ran downstairs to unlock the door & let him in.  He was magnificent in a black leather jacket, new black jeans & shiny black boots.  When he took off his jacket, he had on a blue & black Buffalo plaid shirt on – unbuttoned halfway – so I could see his gorgeous hairy chest.  His dark auburn hair was combed back off his forehead & showing signs of receding but still long & curling on his shoulders & his beard was beginning to get grey.  He looked Faustian – devilishly handsome – tall & strong & all man.

I thought I was going to die with love & want & feelings that had been bottled up for too long.

Instead, I calmly asked him if he wanted a cup of tea.  “Sure,” he said.  “I have some killer weed if you want to smoke & a little bit of blow, too.  & it’s a beautiful day – when your hair dries, do you want to go riding with me?  What time does Teddy get home?  Do you have to be anywhere at any particular time?”

I really thought I had died & gone to heaven.  “I was supposed to work at the law office today,” I told him, “but I called off.  Teddy doesn’t get home until almost 4.  We have all day.”  We sipped our tea & smoked his fabulous weed & did a couple of lines – I didn’t even need them to feel great!  I got up to braid my hair & get a few more layers on before we went out to ride & he put his hand on my breast – it was like I had been touched with fire.  “God, you’re beautiful,” he said.

I have never ridden a bike that that old Harley!  Wow!  What a feeling!  I never want to be on any other bike ever again!  It’s like how I feel about Jesse – I never want to be with any other man ever again.  We road down to Zoar Valley & up & down those roads for a while & then stopped in at the Zoar Valley Inn for a beer & a burger – really good – we sat outside in the sunshine & ate.  The bike gleamed in the sun.  “I really love this bike,” Jesse said.  “I really didn’t want it at first.  I had to do a lot of work on it – engine work – & I had to get a different seat so I could take Doreen for rides & then she decided she didn’t want to ride anymore!  She doesn’t like the bike – says she doesn’t feel safe on it.”

“I feel safer on this bike than I ever have on Teddy’s Honda Magna,” I told him.

“She wants a minivan,” he groused.

I laughed.  “She would!”

“What the fuck am I going to do with a minivan?  They’re not big enough to sleep in, so they’re no good for camping – but she doesn’t want to camp anymore anyway.  She really doesn’t want to do shit anymore.”  He laughed his short hard laugh – the one I don’t like.  “Except have more babies.”

“Is she pregnant again?”  I asked.

“Not yet.  & she acts like the only reason to have sex is to produce babies.  Like it’s a holy mission.  She waits for when she thinks she’s ovulating & that’s the only time we ever do it.”  He lit a cigarette.  “God, I can’t live like this anymore.”

I wanted to say, you chose this life, but I kept my mouth shut.

“Do you get many days off?”  He asked – finally – after a very long silence, during which we watch the Cattaraugus Creek flow by.

“No,” I answered.  “Not very many.”

“Me neither.  I called off today too.”  & he laughed.

“Maybe we should start coordinating our days off – when we call off – or something,” I suggested – very hesitantly.

“I usually don’t know ahead of time.  But – ”  he threw his spent cigarette into the middle of the parking lot – “I would rather spend my free time with you than with anyone else.  So maybe you have an idea there.”

He got up & started the Harley & I waited for him to gesture to me to get on.  I swung my leg over the back of the bike & felt its reassuring vibration between my legs.  Slipping my arms around his leather-clad waist, I whispered, “Jesse – ”  Was I praying?  I don’t know.

But before he took me home, he took me to one of his – oh so conveniently – vacant apartments on the West Side.  So if I was praying – my prayers were answered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpts From a Diary 23

[Holidays 1983-1984]

Sitting at the bar at The Canteen.  It’s a pretty quiet evening – obviously, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing.  If Shirley was here, I wouldn’t be able to get away with writing at the bar at all.  But Mo is here & she’s real mellow.  She used to be a dancer & she knows what it’s like when it’s slow.  Plus I always get her high, so she likes me.  Last week was a total party, so I guess it makes sense that today’s dull.  It should start picking up soon.  I hope someone I like comes in.  I know Jesse won’t be in – makes me so sad.  The evening will be so long.

I’m wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, a red g-string, a leopard-print sash & my red pumps.  Real glamorous, right?  I just don’t feel like dressing up.  I’m making OK tips.  Tuesday’s tips always pay for dinner after work.  Usually we get pizza but tonight I want souvlaki from Kosta’s.

I’m writing as fast as I can.  All I have been thinking about is Thanksgiving.  I’ve been reading everything I can about roasting turkeys & I can probably recite the procedure backwards & forwards.  I rewrote Mom’s stuffing recipe, so I have that memorized, too.  We’re having curried corn & sautéed green beans & mushrooms.  & champagne – I definitely want champagne for my first Thanksgiving dinner.  We’re having Doug & Danielle over.  It feels strange not to be going to Mom’s house for Thanksgiving but I know I won’t be able to handle it – not with Doreen there with the baby – I know I’ll give myself away & I don’t want to do that.  They’re going to Doreen’s parents for Christmas.  It’s all planned out.  Everything’s changed since the baby arrived.  Apparently everything has to be planned down to the very minute.  Doreen is proving to be as anal as Teddy.

Jesse & Doreen’s son was born two weeks ago.  They named him Zach.  I’ve hardly seen Jesse since Zach was born.  It’s bad enough not to be able to make love anymore but not to even see him – & it’s even worse now with Teddy.  He’s practically asexual.  He wants it once a month or less.  How did I end up with a man like this?  I’ve always been totally horny – a slave to my body.  I want Jesse – I want him so badly.  I think about him all the time.

***

The night before Thanksgiving.  I’m sitting at home.  Bernie’s here.  I made tacos.  Teddy’s on the phone.  Pretty soon Danielle will be here – we’re going shopping for tomorrow’s meal.  I’d really like to stay home, but this is life.  We’ll have fun – roll some joints – make a party of it.  I worked at the law office today – I was so bored.  After my shift there, I went to The Canteen & had a few drinks & did a few sets – the other dancers hate it when I do that – just strip out of my street clothes – & get tips – but John Canton lets me do whatever I want to do – & he says it looks “good” when I come in with my office clothes on & I get onstage like that – all “classy” like that.  The guys love it too.  I have beautiful underwear now – lace & satin bras & matching thong underwear & garter belts for my stockings – I never wear pantyhose.  Everything I wear is sexy – even if it’s practical & comfortable.

Guess what Teddy told me when I got home from work?  William Morris – the poetry editor of the Buffalo News – called me.  He wanted to talk to me.  Over a month ago, I sent some poems in & I was sort of worried cuz I hadn’t heard anything.  I did SASE but nothing was returned.  Anyway, he hadn’t even opened the envelope until today & he called as soon as he read my poems.  He says they’re great & I’m great & he really wanted to talk to me.  He’s really excited, Teddy says.  I was so flipped out.  I couldn’t believe it.  I mean, I really like my poems, even the lousy ones.  I like reading them.  I think I’m getting better at writing.  Anyway, that really made my day.  I can hardly wait to tell Jesse.  Most of what I wrote this summer was for or about Jesse.  Jesse totally understands the artist in me.  Teddy supports me & is proud of me but he doesn’t understand me.  Teddy is not an artist.  Teddy’s totally great but he doesn’t get it.  Jesse & I operate on another level.  Maybe because we don’t deal with each other on a day-to-day basis.  Who knows.  I would like to think that Jesse & I could be happy living together as man & wife.  But who knows.  I’m so much in love with him.  Here I am – writing about Jesse – & Teddy is sitting next to me on the couch – but not close enough to see what I’m writing.  Teddy loves me far more than I love him.  I get pissed at myself for doing what I’m doing.  Teddy tells me all the time what a great wife I am – never bitchy, a great cook, good earner – which is all true – but I am not faithful – although I would be!!  I would be!!  If only Teddy would make love to me!!

& I’m so reckless – I’ve told Teddy almost all my feelings toward Jesse – it must be the Catholic girl in me – the urge to confess – I said that I consider Jesse my closest friend.  Which he is.  I mean – if I never do make love to Jesse again – oh the very thought makes me so depressed – but if we never love again sexually, I want to keep him as my very best friend – I want to have that kind of love.  True emotional love that lasts forever.  Teddy asked me if I fucked Jesse & of course I lied – I had to.  I didn’t want to – in fact I had set up the conversation in order to tell the truth but I just couldn’t.  My natural honesty struggles with my common sense.

I know I’m probably more in love than Jesse is – if he even is in love at all.  I was so totally in love this summer – I was completely shattered.  This summer was so hard anyway.  But I came to – emotionally – I had to – I had to maintain control.  Plus –  after I lost my ’67 Fury, I lost my independence.  I’m driving my new car now, but Teddy still comes along – he says I’m not ready to drive alone yet.  It’s my first stick-shift.  Plus he’s home all the time.  So it’s a good excuse on his part – he’s not doing anything anyway so he comes along with me to “make sure” I know what I’m doing when I’m driving.  Which – what the fuck – I most certainly do!  My father taught me how to use a stick when he was still alive – back when we lived in Massachusetts!  I know what Teddy is doing!  It’s insulting but there’s nothing I can do about it.  Just smile & say – sure come along – let’s cruise, let’s party.  Back when he was working, I used to jump in the car whenever & go wherever.  I’ve always loved cruising around the city.  So now I have Teddy with me all the time – oh well, that’s life.  It could be worse.

The last time I was with Jesse, he said he was going to remain “faithful” to Doreen now that they had a child – personally, I think he’s being faithful to the kid.  I don’t know why we have to stop.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  I don’t really want to take Jesse away from Doreen –  especially now that he’s got a kid with her.  & I really don’t want to leave Teddy – we’ve got the stag party business & I like our life together – basically – it’s just the sex part that sucks.  Why can’t Jesse & I be together sexually?  What’s so wrong with that?  Why is everyone so hung up on sex?  On marital fidelity?  To me, it seems simple.  Teddy is my husband – he has my loyalty, my love, my income & my total support.  Jesse is my lover – he has my passion, my sexuality, my body, my love.  Yes, they both have my love.  I don’t see a problem with this.  Why does everyone else?  What’s the fucking hang-up?

Honestly, I don’t think Jesse is going to stay “faithful” for long.  I think the novelty of being a new dad is going to wear off & also the novelty of being “faithful” to Doreen.  I know where all of this is coming from.  One of his best friends is Tony Padovano – a jazz guitarist who plays with fusion-type bands – he went out to L.A. a few years ago & apparently is doing real well out there – but anyway – years ago, the Padovanos & the Johnsons – as in Wayne Johnson, who is the same age as Tony – lived next door to each other in the same ritzy neighborhood in Eggertsville-Snyder – & apparently, Mrs. Padovano & Mr. Johnson had an affair & each divorced their respective spouses & married each other & moved into one big house with all the kids – it was like the Brady Bunch, only with two last names & a lot of bad feelings – so Jesse tells it.  & then Mrs. Padovano – I guess she would have been Mrs. Johnson by then – started having more children – so with all the stepchildren, there were also half-brothers & -sisters.  There was something like twelve or thirteen kids in the house by the time she was done having kids.  & a cook & a maid & dogs & cats – they were really rich – Mr. Johnson owned a string of laundromats & some retail stores & other businesses – he was a real wheeler-dealer.  He left everything to Wayne – Wayne runs all the businesses now.  Anyway – Jesse said that he was never going to put his kids through all of that.  But I don’t see how any of that would ever happen.  That seems like an extraordinary circumstance.  I’ve seen lots of divorced kids & usually they all don’t live together in one house like that.  Usually one parent or the other gets them & they visit on weekends or something.  & it doesn’t have to be all negative.  Just because Tony Padovano didn’t like the situation doesn’t mean all the kids didn’t like it.  I imagine the younger kids didn’t see it that way – I mean, it was the only family they knew, right?

& there’s all those marriages – & I can name quite a few of them – who should have broken up & never did – kids who saw their parents argue year after & year – or just endure each other – just short of hating each other – staying together for “the sake of the kids” – like that doesn’t lay a number on the kids – sometimes breaking up is the best thing you can do for your kids.  Teddy says that life was much calmer after his father moved out – he missed him but he couldn’t take the arguing between his mother & his father – & he knew that they loved each other – it was simply that they couldn’t live together.  & he loved getting together with his dad – going for rides in whatever hot car he had at the time – going out for dinner – doing all the cool father-son stuff that you don’t do when your dad is living at home.  There are perks to having your parents divorced.  It isn’t all negative.  I mean – there’s pros & cons to everything.

***

Thanksgiving.  I never thought things were going to turn out like this.  When I got home from shopping with Danielle last night, I started making the stuffing – I decided I wanted to have it ready & out of the way – cuz you can’t put warm stuffing into a cold turkey anyway –  & am I ever glad I did that!  I had just finished preparing it & was letting it cool when the phone rang.  It was around 8 p.m. or so – maybe a little later – & it was Leandra.  She said she had a quarter-pound of cocaine that she had to unload really fast – did I want it?  I said, “You had better talk to Teddy.”

So Teddy was on the phone for just a few minutes & he was out the door.  I thought – maybe I should make the curried corn & the green beans – so all I have to do is reheat them before dinner.  I had a feeling that it was going to be a partying night & I wasn’t going to be up to doing much on the holiday.  & I was right.  Teddy came back with a pile of cocaine.  & he was on the phone & then everyone started coming over.  The first person to arrive was Jesse.  He bought half of what Teddy had – for which I was really happy because a quarter-ounce of coke is a lot of fucking cocaine!   & we really can’t afford it!  But I was surprised to see him – I thought they were already gone to Cleveland.  But no – & Jesse stayed all night – partying with us – & we all went to Falco’s because Teddy had to meet Wayne there to sell him a pile – Wayne lives across the street from the bar – & we stayed there partying & closed the bar & I am very sure that Doreen is one pissed off babe.  “She can drive to Cleveland,” said Jesse, laughing.  Jesse & I played pool & basically hung out together all night & it was almost like we were the same old lovers we always were – he held me with his eyes & I could see that he still wanted me – or was it just the coke?  I really didn’t care – I was so blasted that I really didn’t care about anything.  It was a fun night but I was stuffing the turkey & getting it ready & I was sooooo burned out – Teddy was sleeping – somehow – & I was doing lines as I was in the kitchen – finally I got the turkey in & I was able to lie down on the couch – unable to sleep but at least I got a little rest.

The meal turned out OK – amazingly – we all managed to eat, even though we were all coked out & hungover.  I called Mom & she said that Jesse & Doreen arrived late & that Jesse seemed to “have a cold” – I said, “Oh, it’s going around.”  It sure is.

***

Halfway through December & I am working more than ever.  Three days a week at The Canteen – two nights a week at The Pipka Palace – two nights at Auric’s Den – but I won’t be there much longer – it’s way out past the airport & I really don’t like it there – but meanwhile I’ll work out the length of my contract & then leave.  Plus I’m doing stag parties – right now it’s Christmas parties – I’m booked up through the holiday.  Thank heavens for that – because Teddy is dealing coke that he’s getting from Leandra & her boyfriend Kyle – another Kingsman, of course – but naturally Teddy is doing almost as much as he’s dealing & instead of turning a profit, we’re actually falling behind!  So I have to work as much as I can.

***

Doreen’s father died.  He had a heart attack – I feel bad for her – nobody wants to deal with a funeral right before the holidays.  Plus for the rest of her life, every time Christmas comes around, she’ll think of her father’s death.  Teddy’s going to go to the wake – I can’t – I’m working that night.  The funeral is private – just for the family.   Her brother Bobby is coming up from Florida – I’ve never met him.  Jesse says he’s a jerk.

***

Jesse came over last night.  I was home – a rare night at home.  I was working on a new outfit – hand-sewing red spangles on a black spandex halter dress that I had stitched up on the sewing machine earlier in the evening.  Jesse was pretty pissed off – I could see that at a glance & his opening words confirmed his mood.  “Doreen’s crying, the baby’s crying, I had to get out of the house,” he complained.  I thought – what?  The baby isn’t even a month old & he’s got to escape its crying?  “You want a drink?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said, “but what I really want is some coke.  Teddy just called me & said he just reupped.”

“Yes he did,” I answered.  “He’s in the bedroom, weighing out grams.”  I walked to the hallway & called to Teddy, “Jesse’s here.” Then I went to the kitchen & mixed drinks for everyone.  Teddy came out – excited & upbeat as usual – carrying the hexagon mirror.  We all sat together in the living room.  Lines were laid out & snorted.  Jesse started talking almost before he had gotten his blow up his nose.  “The will was read today,” he told us.  “Really no surprises – the house goes to Doreen’s mom, most of the money – Doreen & her brothers get a share – not a lot but enough to take a trip or buy herself some new clothes – which she’ll need if she doesn’t lose the baby weight.”  He sucked down his drink & I took his glass & went into the kitchen to make him another one.  When I came back, he continued his rant.  “Doreen’s mom is already thinking of selling the house & Doreen wants her to move in with us – so she can watch the baby when we’re working – which isn’t a bad idea, actually – but damn!  I really don’t want to live with my fucking mother-in-law!”  He did another massive line. “I’ll have to redo the back of the house & make it into an in-law apartment – but I guess it’ll keep me busy during the winter when I’m laid off.”  He did another line.  “But that’s not the half of it.  Remember that ’53 Panhead Doreen’s dad had?”

“That old Harley he’d ride once a year?” Teddy replied.

“Yeah,” Jesse answered.  “Well, he left it to me in his will.”

“Wow, excellent!”  I enthused.

“Well – Tommy doesn’t think so.  Neither does Bobby.”

“Bobby doesn’t even ride.  He’s never ridden motorcycles – he’s never wanted to,” Teddy said.

“Bobby just wants to sell it & get the money from it.  & Tommy thinks he should have it cuz it was his father’s, even though he’s always gone out of his way to ridicule Harleys & anyone who rides them.  Old man Miller made fun of Tommy’s café racer,” Jesse added, laughing.  But he sobered up after another drink.  “It was one hell of an argument after the will was read.  Not just the Harley but his hunting guns – he left most of his stuff to me & not to Bobby or Tommy or to Doreen.  Not that Doreen would want those shotguns & neither Bobby nor Tommy hunt but of course Bobby will sell anything you give him & Tommy always followed Bobby’s lead in anything anyway.  But I was always real close to the old man & Bobby & Tommy just weren’t!  Bobby’s just a jerk!  Doreen’s the only one who really likes him but she’ll see the good side of the devil.  & then Bobby & Tommy were both saying they going to contest the will & the lawyer saying that if that happens, nobody gets anything at all – including Doreen’s mom – so then Doreen was all upset at all of us – like I was the one who caused this shit storm – I didn’t ask for that Harley, but I don’t plan on giving it up, since the old man wanted me to have it – I was born in ’53 – I’m sure that’s why he wanted me to have it.”  He did the lines that Teddy laid out.  “& I want those guns, too.  That Remington is one sweet shotgun.  I’ve shot it dozens of times.  The old man & I used to hunt every year, before he got so arthritic he couldn’t climb a tree anymore or even walk very far.”

Jesse left soon after that – Teddy said, “That family always did argue about every little thing.  Old man Miller is probably laughing wherever he’s at – I’m sure he wrote that will & gave that ’53 Panhead & those guns to Jesse just to piss off Bobby.  He never did like him.  I was never really sure why.”

***

Christmas.  A weird Christmas – on a Sunday, which never feels right to me.  We’re in Cleveland – I worked every night this week, including yesterday – The Canteen was open until 6 p.m. – then Teddy & I drove to Cleveland – well, he drove, I sat next to him & kinda of dozed.  I’m so burned out.  But I was able to get everything I wanted for everyone – shopping after work, before work – whenever I could fit it in.

Jesse & Doreen aren’t here – they’re at her mother’s – the first holiday after her father’s death, which can’t be easy.   But everyone else is.  Helena announced that she’s expecting her second child probably in June or early July.  Little Vanessa is a doll – will there be a Virginia or Clive to go with her?

I’ve got to go – it’s time for dinner – prime rib & mashed potatoes & mixed green salad & half a dozen other sides – always too much food at our family functions but I guess that’s the point – it’s a feast.  It’s just I’ve been doing so much coke this past month & lost so much weight that I really can’t eat much anymore.  Still – it all smells heavenly.

***

The day before New Year’s Eve.  I just got home.  I went shopping – I needed a new pair of shoes for work – which I got on sale at Baker’s downtown – I love that store.  I got the most adorable pair of red pumps – very plain but so comfortable & they make my legs look fabulous.  Then I went over to Jesse’s.  He is working on his house – turning the back apartment into an in-law apartment for his mother-in-law.  She’s moving in next week.  He had to redo the bathroom – she needs a railing along the walls because of her arthritis – & fix the steps going into the kitchen & add a doorway so that her apartment & his house are now connected.  He’s almost done.

Doreen & the baby are staying at her mother’s while Jesse’s working on the house – because of the dirt & dust & noise – so it was the perfect time to sit & talk about US & this business of him being “faithful” now that they have a kid.  He rolled up a fat doobie & we did talk.  Or anyway, he did.  “Well, the thing is, Cori,” he told me, “with my mother-in-law living here now, it’s not like you’re going to be able to come over whenever you want anymore & just hang out like you used to.  & I’m going to be working much more – they’re going to make me a foreman, so I probably won’t be laid off all winter long anymore.  I’ll be working, even if the rank & file aren’t.  & I have to work now – I’ve got a kid.”

I didn’t say anything.  I was thinking about how wonderful love was with him & how I didn’t want to give it up.

He continued, “I still want you.  I’ll always want you.  I want you more now than I ever have.  That isn’t going to change & Cori – ” he took the joint from my hand & placed it in the ash tray & then took both my hands in his – “Cori, I love you.  I know that now.  Maybe it was just sex this summer – yeah, I know it was – cuz Doreen was pregnant & I needed an outlet – but you really got to me.  You really did.  You’re the woman I’ve always wanted – ” he broke off.  I waited.

After a minute, he continued, “& now Doreen is talking about getting pregnant again as soon as possible & I don’t know if I want four or five or six kids, like she’s talking.  I don’t know if I want to go to church & be a straight-laced dude like she now wants me to be.”

I looked at him & smiled sadly.  “Jesse, I can’t make these decisions for you.”

“They’ve already been made for me,” he answered.

“Only if you think so,” I replied.  I got up & was going to leave but he pulled me back down.  “Don’t go,” he said.  “What’s the point of staying?” I asked.  “I want you to stay,” he told me, “please stay.”

So I did.  & it was good – so very good – better than ever.  We’re made for each other – our bodies fit – like they were built for each other.  & just breathing in his scent – my face buried in his chest hair – oh –

& I’ll tell you something – no matter what Jesse says – about being faithful to Doreen & his family – about his mother-in-law moving in – about becoming a foreman in the union & working all the time – it’s not going to end.  Because he can’t stay away from me – he just can’t.

***

New Year’s Day, 1984

Hungover.  Although I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would – we tripped & did coke & drank – we were over at Wayne Johnson’s New Year Party until 2 a.m., then closed Falco’s – which was ok – I mean, it was a lot of fun.  It was New Year’s Eve!  So I’m hungover today.  I guess you’re supposed to be hungover on New Year’s Day, right?

It was a fairly good night.  Jesse & Doreen were over earlier in the evening – mostly to buy coke – they left Zach at Doreen’s mother’s – & you could tell Doreen was pissed off about something – either because Jesse was buying coke or that she was away from the baby or something.  Jesse did up almost his entire gram hanging out with us & having drinks & I don’t think she was happy about that, either.  She wouldn’t have any alcohol & no coke at all although she did smoke a few toke off the joint we passed around.  She said she wasn’t breast-feeding anymore, so it can’t be that she’s afraid the kid will get drugs via her breast milk.  I don’t know what her problem is – she used to party like the rest of us.  But – people change.  I feel bad for Jesse.  I had a feeling they were going to be arguing for their New Year’s toast.  I’ve said it a hundred times – if you’re a partier, you have to be married to a partier, or it won’t work.  Doreen deciding that she doesn’t want to party anymore is like changing the rules in the middle of the game.  What’s Jesse supposed to do?  What would I do if Teddy decided he didn’t want to party anymore?  Really – that’s the only thing we have in common.

After they left, we went over to Wayne’s & by then the acid was kicking in – & I have to say, I really didn’t enjoy myself much – I was tripping too much to be at a party – you have to be able to interact with other people when you’re at a party – I was tripping too intensely for that & anyway – tripping is more fun when you can just hang out & listen to music & dance & watch the trails coming from the tips of your fingers.  But Teddy wanted to trip, so we tripped.  It’s always overkill with him.  I peaked around midnight & then I was coming down & able to really party.  By the time we went to Falco’s, I was me – the Cori everyone knows – singing, dancing – but I was sick this morning & I’m super tired right now.  & kinda depressed.  It’s another cold, blah day.

& I’m wondering – when will I see Jesse again?  Will I see Jesse again?