Monday, November 21, 2016

Angelina -- A "Dover Street" Story -- Part Three



Previously:

Angelina -- thin, blonde, and pretty -- was somewhat dramatically summoned to the loft apartment of her fiancé, Marty. After playing a recording of Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love" for her, Marty told her the song's history -- that it was inspired by tales of the Nazi death camps -- and that a song's inspiration may or may not always be obvious in the end product.


Then Marty told Angelina, "I want you to hear another song, my new one."

At the conclusion of Marty's new song, "The Life You Never Find," he informed Angelina that the song was more than just the tale of two star-crossed lovers that it appeared to be. The man in the song was actually Marty himself... and the song was about a man who'd fallen in love with a heroin-addicted prostitute.

To put it mildly? Angelina couldn't wait to hear the rest.

* * * * *

Those damned ghost voices started screaming "Gina Angelina!" over and over and over again until Angelina herself wanted to scream aloud, "Shut up!"

She was afraid of what to ask, but had to say something, obviously. "So, that would mean... ?"

"It's something in my past, doll. But like anything else that involves me, or you... it involves us." He paused. "So, naturally, it involves youIn that way, certainly."

"In... your... past?" she repeated, feeling somewhat relieved. "I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that logic, but... you're not telling me you're cheating on me, or even that you have? And..."

"Oh, no! No! I would never cheat on you, doll!" He took her hands in his once again. She allowed the gesture briefly, then pulled away slowly.

"I'll try to keep this part brief," he said.

"Good luck," she caught herself muttering. She knew he'd heard that; he'd had to, as they were sitting right next to each other. She didn't -- wouldn't -- look at his face to see his reaction to her sarcastic comment.

"I came here" -- "here" obviously meant this city -- "about six years ago. A temporary teaching job turned full-time." She nodded. She was aware of how he'd come to live so far from where he'd grown up.

"I didn't have this place then," he continued, referring to the loft. "I didn't have the piano, either. Or much of anything except clothes, and books. Not even a TV. Just a lot of lonely nights in a cheap one-room, a block away from the All-Night."

("The All-Night" was an all-night convenience store. Its official name was, remarkably enough, The All-Night Convenience Store. Some of the long-time denizens of that sleazy neighborhood -- the All-Night was located on Dover Street, after all -- remembered it variously as Gary's All-Night Convenience Store or Bobbie's All-Night Convenience Store. They were never sure which owner had preceded which. The city's really old-timers recalled it as being Simon's All-Night Convenience Store when it had opened in the early 1970s.)

"Not to interrupt," said Angelina, wanting to do nothing more than interrupt, "but I think I know where this is going."

"Please, doll, hear me out?" She shrugged impatiently, leaning toward the coffee table to pour herself yet another glass of wine. She didn't ask Marty if he wanted any. (A good thing, as there was only enough for her.) In fact, she used his glass, instead of searching the floor to see where hers had rolled to.

Marty cleared his throat. "Okay, I guess you do know where this is going, in a sense. One night I walked up and down Dover Street. It didn't take too long..."

"It never does."

"It didn't take too long before one of the hookers walked by me really slowly, giving me The Look. She was about seven or eight years older than I, and actually, rather attractive..."

"I needed to hear that? Geez, Marty."

"Yeah. Sorry. Anyway, we struck up a conversation -- I was still smoking then, so I gave her a light -- and I finally told her that even though I obviously didn't have a car..."

"And still don't!"

"I did have a place that was close by."

"You took her to your apartment? She could have knifed you, or robbed you..."

"But she didn't! Hell, there was nothing to rob. Like I said, it was me, my clothes, my books... And my money, of course, but I was already planning on giving her that." Marty felt like a "bad boy," being lectured and punished in school. Not a very comfortable feeling for a teacher to have. "Look, I know now that that was a stupid thing to do, but I didn't know that then. And anyway, for obvious reasons, nothing like that occurred."

"So what did happen? And Godno, I'm not asking about the sex! I'm just trying to get us from Point A to Point B -- Point B being where you fall in love with this junkie -- a bit more quickly." She stared at the empty glass in her hand. "Damnit," she whispered. "Do you have any more of this stuff?"

"No. Good thing, probably."

"What difference does it make?"

"Well, I'm not sure whether you'll want to stay here tonight after we're done talking, and I don't want you getting too drunk to drive..."

"Don't worry, I walked here."

"That's not necessarily a better idea, either. This neighborhood..."

"Is a lot better to walk around in than the Dover Street area! Can we get back to the story?" She got up from the piano bench and walked over to the chair Marty'd placed her coat on when she'd arrived earlier. She reached into one of its pockets -- she never carried a purse -- and removed a red vinyl cigarette case which contained both an opened pack of Marlboro Lights and a disposable cigarette lighter.

"Sure. Sure. Anyway, I started seeing Sheila..."

"Oh, Sheila. Nice." Angelina sat down again, but on the tall metal chair, and not beside Marty on the piano bench.

"Well, I soon found out that Sheila was just the name she gave to guys, you know... Her real name was Cathy." Marty cleared his throat again. "I started seeing Cathy about three or four times a month."

"On payday, of course." She took a cigarette from the pack and put it to her lips.

"Well, yeah, of course. I mean, it was a... business relationship, of sorts, and... " He watched as she removed the cigarette lighter from the red vinyl case. "Umm... Are you going to light that?"

"That is a rhetorical question, I assume," she said, lighting the cigarette. He fidgeted a bit in his seat, but didn't comment further. She shook her head and looked at him. He looked smaller than usual, if that made any sense. "Didn't you ever think of trying, like, a real relationship?"

"With whom? I didn't know anybody in the city. I was a new arrival. And I wasn't about to start doing the club scene! You know me, doll!"

"Thought I did," she grumbled.

He ignored her wisecrack. "You know what I meant. This one glass of wine is the most I've had to drink since my birthday last March. Anyway, Sheila... Cathy... would show up every Friday or Saturday, to see if I wanted... company. I didn't have to trek up and down Dover Street looking for action. That worked out well, because if I'd ever gotten arrested... "

She nodded. "Kiss your job good-bye. Of course."

"Yeah. So I didn't have to go looking. She was the only hooker I was ever with, and she came to me. I wasn't always in the mood for sex, but sometimes she'd just spend the night with me, holding me. It was actually kind of nice."

"How sweet. And you paid her on those nights, too, though, didn't you?"

He stared at her. "You're so cynical."

"Marty, I grew up in this city, while you so obviously did not." She off-handedly flicked the ashes off of her cigarette and onto the floor. Taking a long drag, she repeated, "So, you paid her whenever she stayed with you, even when you didn't get... " She struggled for a polite phrase, but couldn't find anything more suitable than "any... action?"

"Well... yeah. But it seemed logical. She was staying with me instead of finding other guys who'd pay for her time, and after all..."

"Marty, if you say anything as sappy and sophomoric as 'time is money' I will walk out of here!"

"I'm sorry, Angie..."

"And don't call me that!"

He blinked. "Don't call you what? Angie?"

"I don't like it, is all."

"But, you never said--"

"Well, I am now. Finish your story."

"Umm... okay. I didn't have anyone or anything else to spend my money on. Just Cathy. I was always giving her money, not just when we had sex, but whenever she needed it. And... she always needed it."

"Did you know then that she was a dope addict?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I learned that pretty early on, actually. So anyway... I was always buying her little presents, too. Rings, necklaces, bracelets, the best stuff I could afford. But she was always losing them."

"Pawning them," she corrected, and he merely nodded.

"She kept telling me how much she cared about me, how special I was. Then came the day she told me she wasn't going to charge me for sex any more."

"Really," Angelina said, smirking.

"Of course, at that point, I was giving her more money outright than I ever would have figured I could afford to pay her if we'd still been doing the sex-for-money thing... " Marty laughed nervously. "Does that make any sense?"

"Unfortunately, yes."

"Plus, there were times -- too many of them -- when she'd spend the night with me, and I'd approach her for sex, and she'd refuse for whatever reason. Tired, dope-sick, in a lousy mood, even... And that was frustrating, because I no longer had the option of being self-righteous and saying, 'Hey, I just paid for this,' you know?"

"Is it safe to assume that by this time, she was shooting up in your room?"

He was momentarily taken aback by her suggestion's accuracy. He nodded. "That had started almost immediately. I figured it was a lot safer for her to do it in my place, with me watching out for her, as opposed to Cathy's having to find some empty building or alleyway..."

"And you let all of this go on because you felt that you loved her?"

"I did love her. And at first I didn't want to tell her, but I kept getting closer and closer to coming out and saying it, and then one day -- the very day I'd planned my big announcement -- she confessed to having fallen in love with me."

"Wow. This chick was good."

"Don't I know it. But I believed her. I wanted to believe her, so... yeah. I believed her." He sighed. "She played me pretty well."

"No. Ya think?"

"I wanted her all to myself -- no more working the streets, in other words -- but the... umm... 'financial realities' of the whole drug thing made that impossible." Marty fell silent for a long moment. Angelina, a little bit "buzzed" from the wine, remained quiet, too.

"Then," he resumed, "finally, inevitably... Cathy went to prison. Five months, total. She started promising me that we could have a better life together when she got out, if she could only stay off the drugs, maybe stay at some kind of halfway house at first... I borrowed a buddy's car and visited her in jail whenever I could. And of course, I sent her money. A lot of money."

Again, Marty paused before speaking. In fact, a full minute went by before Angelina prompted, "So what finally happened?"

He exhaled loudly before answering. "She got released, without having told me the exact date... and sent me a short letter from Vermont -- or, maybe New Hampshire? -- telling me that she was never going to see me again!"

"Why?"

"Now that she was 'clean,' she'd gotten back together with her husband -- a husband I naturally never knew existed -- and had gone to live with him."

"You must have been crushed."

"Well, yeah."

Angelina looked down at the cigarette butt she'd extinguished in her wine glass. "Marty... baby... I owe you an apology."

"For what?"

"I've been sitting here, judging you and making smartass wisecracks all the time you've been telling me all of this crap from your past, but the whole thing is... This is, or I should say, was... in your past." She got off the metal chair and returned to sit beside Marty on the piano bench. "Outside of the fact that no one likes to hear details about their lover's other lovers, this didn't involve us. You said it did, because we're part of each other, I suppose, but... it doesn't. Not really. It doesn't affect us, baby. It was all about you. Well, and her, too, but... I'm not going to judge you for any mistakes you've made, especially any that didn't directly involve me. And I didn't even know you then. Hell, I'd sure like to think you'd return the favor if you ever found out some of the little stunts I've pulled in my time!"

"That's all well and good, doll, but... there's more."

"Huh? What are you... ? What do you...?"

"All this crap with Cathy happened over five years ago. But that's a brand new song that I played for you tonight. Don't you want to hear why I wrote it now?"

Angelina truly didn't know how to answer him. Did she want to hear the reason?

Right on cue, the obnoxious chorus of "Gina Angelina! Gina Angelina!" began again in the back of her mind.

Little bastards.

* * * * *

To be continued... Wednesday.

Thanks for your time.

8 comments:

  1. haha love the final two words, made me smirk. Some stories behind things people really don't need to hear, but they get told anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't remember the end. Hurry, Wednesday.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't remember? Wonder if that's a good or bad sign. Heh. :)

      Delete
  3. oh, this is intriguing, I'll see you next Wednesday.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This gal, Cathy, was a huge part of his life......I wonder if it's Angelina actually and she has amnesia...

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