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 his mustache. He’s 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 him where he’s at and he tells 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 his story at the top of the front page, FIGHT TO RESCUE DOOMED HAWK, and his byline in bold type. Damn that feels good. He had been so stoned when he wrote the story it was like reading it for the first time when he reads it standing in the lobby.
Human interest story, his specialty. He had spent the afternoon with a photographer in the woods of Sterling Heights looking for a rare red-shouldered hawk high in one of the trees. A developer’s bulldozer was knocking down all the trees for a subdivision. He and the fotog had shared a joint on the drive up. The weed, the woods, he didn’t know what it was, but suddenly He was running through the woods, running from the Viet Cong, yelling they were trying to kill him. The fotog was sitting under the tree laughing his ass off.
On the drive back to the paper, they smoked another joint and he was still stoned when he was writing the story. Six o’clock deadline. He finished the story at five to six and the city editor gave him a thumbs-up. Great story. Save that fucking hawk, man.
Back in his weekly-rate hotel room, after four hours with Barbara, he has fifteen minutes to shower before Lynda comes to his room, late from her job across the border in Windsor, Ontario. They had made up over the phone and she said she’d stay the night.
On the way up to his room on the thirteenth floor he had asked the clerk at the front desk for some matches but the clerk said he didn’t have any. It’s been impossible to get matches in the hotel since the fire. Which was arson. 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. Fought fire with fire.
The best thing about Lynda was her gymnastic agility, her maneuverability in bed, like a beautiful dancer, moving with him 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 his next unpublished novel: The Best Little Gazelle Leaper in Grade Eleven.
He compared Lynda with the nineteen-year-old hitchhiker he had picked up coming back from a story in Macomb County. She saw the notebook on the seat of the car and he told her he was a reporter and she said Cool and he was wondering how to get her back to his room just having picked her up when she suddenly said, “Do you want to go to your place?” As though she had been reading his mind. In his room at the Jefferson they smoked a joint and she lay back on the bed and it was a warm languid flowing but she didn’t move like his little gazelle leaper.
When Lynda arrives at the room the first thing she does is take a towel from the bathroom and place it on the bed. “We made too much mess last time,” she says, whereupon they lie there and smoke grass and drink red wine and listen to Bad Company on WRIF and ever so naturally and smoothly glide into a ballet of stoned sex with the window open and the city looking in and when they’re done the towel’s a mess. They’re lying on it and laughing about it, high as kites, WRIF news on the radio, something about the war.
“Fuck the war,” he says and yanks the towel from under them and throws it at the radio. It misses and goes flying out the open window. They kneel on the bed and poke their 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. They’re watching from the thirteenth floor but he can’t see them. He walks to his patrol car. People look at the towel and walk around it. Some decide against going into the coffee shop. Lynda falls back on the bed, stoned out of her head and laughing like crazy.
In the morning he drives her to her apartment in Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge, Galleon of the Night.
Back in America, driving through the dilapidation of Porter Street he’s happy and in love with this fucked-up city. He’s pretty fucked up himself.