Fritzzi was hanging his top body out the second floor window. Casting the rope for me to grab, Michael was beside him. The hookers on the corner in their bedroom slippers and faded housecoats watched us as they smoked and periodically picked at their straps and hair and scabs.
I caught the rope and braced it around my elbows and my waist, grabbing with both fists I jumped up against the wall. Fritzzy and Michael began pulling me up. My sneakers stuck well on the brick as I hoisted with my arms but I began to slip. After the initial few feet my legs and arms felt like cement.
I can't do it
I said, sliding
yes you can yes you can
the boys hooted from above. Lurching back down to the ground I said
no I can't
I turned, grabbed the bottle of beer on the sidewalk and stumbled to the stairs. Dark hallway with rising up wooden steps into the murky unconsciousness of Michael and Fritzzi's home . Acrid urine funk dissolved once I got to the top. The door was open and I walked in on the kitchen's uneven linoleum floor. Clear of furniture, it was like a miniature brown and beige dance floor in the bulkhead of a great ship out in the tempestuous sea. The floor rocked all the way to the window which looked onto the back courtyard of the Hasidim poultry butcherhouse. Wooden crates stacked against the wall with live chickens, cornish hens and quail clacking from the inside. Standing by the window here there was a new smell. It was humid and musky.
I joined the boys in the front room. A large L shaped with the long side hosting two windows looking out on the front, where below was the sidewalk, the hookers and a few moments ago me trying to scale the wall. Fritzzi, small and sleek, wearing trousers and short cropped black hair was perched in one of the window frames, one leg insouciantly tumbled towards the floor. He was barefoot. Beside him was a large table buried under papers and paint and brushes and glue and a violin a mandolin and piles of books, a couple of magazines, empty beer and wine bottles, overflowing ashtrays, empty cups of coffee with the black rings around them, a pair of antique metal scissors, some razor blades, a screw driver, a roll of toilet paper, two paring knives and an opened bag of puff ball cotton with half the puff gone. Michael, mussed and whiskered with curly dark hair, round glasses, busying himself with something in his hands, cigarette in mouth, was cross legged on the bed, the only bed; a large sepia stained mattress laying on the floor in the short L of the room.
Can you look after Kormic for a few days, I've got to go to Toronto for this big family thing
Michael says to me
Kormic the pit bull, caramel chocolate two tone, is lying in the corner gnawing on a bone
I say. I finish my bottle with one long room temperature swig.
Later, Shelly's was crowded. I was up front by the stage at a small round rot iron table with Michael. Fritzzi was doing the bar. Shelly was slumped in one of the arm chairs looking haggard and fused at forty something. This was her place, her baby. A notch above speak-easy all us local kids came to drink, smoke and play.
She looked like bridget bardot, I saw the photos
That was Bobby talking. He was a good looker in a clean cut kind of way. Blond hair blue eyes beach boy bod. We had crossed paths a few years back, he keeps reminding me. I have a vague impression that we had met at some west end party. He came from privilege; private school and bavarian cream. We managed to share common ground as our heads ricochet against the walls of somebody's bathroom after smoking some very heavy grass. Between the toilet and the drainpipe of the sink our knees and knuckles meet. Oh yea. We liked to get high. We liked to loose it, get off the motherfucking ground man.
I spot Lucy in the back with her new boyfriend and a bunch of people I don't know very well. I've always liked Lucy. Always jealous of her perfect body and white teeth. Lucy and me go a long way. I met her at a group home when I was fifteen. We watched each other grow up; Vertical with spikes and dud buds and broken glass fusing our roots to one another. We had a little fling in our maybe we are lesbians phase.
Her and Fritzzy were together for a bit too. Lucy went traveling and met up with him on his aunt's farm in southern Italy. It didn't take long before they were sharing body fluids under the crucifix in a four hundred year old stone shelter behind the barn. When they came back to Montreal they got a small apartment downtown but the romance didn't survive the winter. Drab, bleak and disproportionately long, the city ate their love alive. A voracious appetite of mirth winter has in flat roof town. One must be strong to pursue and follow through.
But we were young and lazy. Our understanding of the world and life a little hazy. Wanting too much too soon too much brooding to consider and deduce, just enough to jump in the juice. At our age the juice was fresh and sweet, like honey and wild asparagus shoots, too early yet to sour and ferment, multiply its parasitic microbiological orgasm into reproduction, making more and more sickness and thwarted happy solitude, more kicking and slapping and drunken dancing turned fighting and bashing a little bit of thrashing, more molder and devastation through reactionary and ill induced foreplay. The swelling of the wayward skies had not convulsed yet.