THE WRITER (lunch)
Harry Korwicz knows. He does. He slides that look over whenever I laugh or kid around with a customer, like he’s...wait, there’s the one, the one from Dawson’s!
I prepare. Clear mind. Look. Look hard. Where was I again? Greece? No, Italy. I start.
‘Graydon Palmer, movie star,..(no,...movie ‘producer’), lights a Lucky Strike then moves from under the candy-striped awning into the hard summer sun of via Farini. (Not hard, ‘harsh’). His high cheekbones and square chin cast deep shadows making him look like a statue...a statue by Michelangelo (that’s good). His black hair is slicked down as if he were about to walk onto the set of one of his own films. Guido Margonne (Italian director? must check if he’s actually real) sits at the table inside Shazzi’s smiling and shaking his head.
‘Some guy,’ he says to himself as the waiter pours another Grappa. A script is strewn over the window table, a muddle of dead paper, useless ideas; which is what this movie was after all, and Palmer saw straight through it, from word go.
Damn! Gone. He always gets lost in the crowd at that goddam crossing! I can’t finish this unless he’s here longer. This does frustrate me sometimes, really.
I have to keep this job. I hide it, but maybe it’s my voice, or my S’s. Johnny Carson always makes those jokes...always exaggerates the S’s, and does that dumb limp wrist thing. Mr Korwicz loves Johnny Carson. I have to keep this job.
The sci-fi lesbians! Gliding out of Spielman’s Drug store...just like that! Oh gracious be, bless you girls. Where have you two been? Now, what was your one? Clarity, Kenny, clarity. Yes, yes.
‘That pond looks real dark, doesn’t it?’ Betty whispered, almost to herself.
‘It’s the black lake, alright, the one the old Indian told us about. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” The wind blew a chilly gust through the ever-blackening woods behind them. Cassie took Betty’s hand almost instinctively’... no, no... ‘took Betty’s hand almost without thought. It felt warm and soft.
Suddenly, out of the twilight calm, the water broke in a deep swirling rush. The girls jumped into each others’ arms, each having the same the thought at the same time. A wave broke on the shore in front of them, where no wave should break, then all was silent again. Their embrace remained tight.
‘I bit my lip,’ Cassie muttered, clearly in shock.
‘Let me see,’ Betty held her fellow scientist’s shivering face, beautiful in the dirty last light on the edge of that awful lake.
And they’re gone, too. A coupla minutes more and I swear I could have had those to in a very steamy little old scene. Look at them.. oh those those gals can walk, like on a catwalk. Their feet never touch the ground. Harry Korwicz says mine are never on the ground. He’s handsome, in a rough, football player way, but when he says those kinds of things it brings me straight back down to earth. Someone said he was in Korea, but got sent home early. Anyway, he’s my boss, so when he says those things, I pipe down. Sometimes for days.
Vetrov, the Russian spy, slinking out of the Grove St subway... with a Bergdorf’s shopping bag. Hmm, interesting. No... I’m over him. That’s it, besides that Le Carre guy’s just done one about spies, and he’s tacky.
It’s those damn looks, I just can’t be sure. Once, a couple of years ago during a staff Christmas party at Rosie’s Bar, Betty Hannigan and Mr Korwicz and I were sitting together. We were the only ones left, it was late and I’d had too much to drink, I think everyone had. Betty starts in about her fiancé this, her fiancé that, blah blah. I’d heard it all before, so I just nod long and slow , like it was all so dramatic and earth shattering. I’d noticed Mr Korwicz sitting, swaying a little, and just looking at me. It seemed like a long time. Just smoking and looking. I remember it so clearly, coz’ the hula girl lamp on the bar cast a red glow over his face and made me think of Monty Clift. Then, all of a sudden he says, “So when are you gonna tie the knot, Kenny?” He wasn’t smiling either. He looked like he wanted to beat the hell out of me.
He knows alright.