The Lodge Freeway slips under the wheels of the Chevy Impala in the night rain, wet and dark like Barbara, the smell of her still in my mustache. I’m still stoned and laughing out loud from the sheer joy of the sex.
Back downtown walking into the Jefferson Hotel a drunk in the rain asks me where he’s at and I tell him he’s standing in the middle of Lake Michigan and he falls down and drowns right there in the rain.
In the lobby of the hotel they are delivering the first edition of the Free Press and there’s my story at the top of the front page, FIGHT TO RESCUE DOOMED HAWK, and my byline in bold type. Damn that felt good. I had been so stoned when I wrote the story it was like reading it for the first time when I read it standing in the lobby.
Human interest story, my specialty. A photographer and I had spent the afternoon in the woods in Sterling Heights looking for a rare red-shouldered hawk high up in one of the trees. A developer’s bulldozer was knocking down all the trees for a subdivision. The fotog and I had shared a joint on the drive up. The weed, the woods, I don’t know what it was, but suddenly I was running through the woods, running from the Viet Cong, yelling they were trying to kill me. The fotog was sitting under the tree laughing his ass off.
On the drive back to the paper, we smoked another joint and I was still stoned when I was writing the story. Six o’clock deadline. I finished the story at five to six and the city editor gave me the thumbs-up sign. Great story. Save that fucking hawk, man.
When I get back to the hotel after four hours with Barbara, I have fifteen minutes to shower before Lynda comes to my room, late from her job across the border in Windsor, Ontario. We made up over the phone and she said she’d stay the night.
On the way up to my room on the thirteenth floor I ask the clerk at the front desk for some matches but he said he doesn’t have any. It’s been impossible to get matches in the hotel since the fire. Which was arson, by the way. A former desk clerk who had been fired set up a folding chair outside on the corner of Cass Avenue and Bagley Street, swigged a beer and watched the hotel burn. The bastard fought fire with fire.
The best thing about Lynda was her gymnastic agility, her maneuverability in bed, like a beautiful dancer, moving with me in perfect harmony. She said it was because of the ballet she had taken in school. She said her grade eleven teacher used to tell her she “leapt like a gazelle.” Therein would hang the title of my next unpublished novel: The Best Little Gazelle Leaper in Grade Eleven.
I compared Lynda with the nineteen-year-old hitchhiker I had picked up coming back from a story in Macomb County. She saw the notebook on the seat and I told her I was a reporter and she said Cool and I was wondering how to get her to come back to my room just having picked her up when she suddenly said, “Do you want to go to your place?” As though she had been reading my mind. In my room at the Jefferson we smoked a joint and she lay back on the bed and it was a warm languid flowing but she didn’t move like my little gazelle leaper.
When Lynda comes to the room the first thing she does is take a towel from the bathroom and place it on the bed. “We made too much of a mess last time,” she says, whereupon we lie there and smoke grass and drink red wine and listen to Bad Company on the radio and ever so naturally and smoothly glide into a ballet of stoned sex with the window open and the city looking in and when we’re done the towel’s a mess. We’re lying on it and laughing about it, high as kites, WRIF news on the radio, something about the war.
“Fuck that,” I say and yank the towel from under us and throw it at the radio. It misses and goes flying out the open window. We kneel on the bed and poke our heads out the window. The towel ends up by the entrance to Biffs, just missing a cop who’s coming out.
The cop’s so startled he throws his arms up and knocks his own hat off. He catches the hat before it hits the pavement and he looks at the towel, a soggy mess on the pavement. Then he looks up. We’re watching from the thirteenth floor but he can’t see us. He walks to his patrol car. People look at the towel and walk around it. Some decided against going into the coffee shop. Lynda falls back on the bed, stoned out of her head and laughing like crazy.
In the morning I drive her to her apartment in Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge, Galleon of the Night.
Back in America, driving through the dilapidation of Porter Street I feel happy and in love with this fucked-up city. I was pretty fucked up myself.