The Lodge Freeway slipped under the wheels of the Chevy in the night rain, wet and dark like Barbara. He was still stoned and laughing out loud from the joy of the sex.
Back downtown in the lobby of the Jefferson Hotel, a weekly-rate hotel at the entrance to the Cass Corridor, the first edition of the Free Press was being loaded into the box. His story was at the top of the front page — TWO BODIES PULLED FROM RIVER, Drugs Found in Plane — and his byline in bold type.
He grabbed a copy before the guy shut the box and started reading it in the lobby. He had been so stoned when he wrote the story it was like reading it for the first time.
He had spent the afternoon with a photographer at the river, sharing a joint and watching the cops haul the bodies out, a man and a young woman, bloated from a night in the water. “Man, this is good fucking weed,” he told the photographer, or maybe the fotog said it to him. Someone said it.
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. Front fucking page.
Back in the hotel, after four hours with Barbara, he had fifteen minutes to shower before Lynda was due at his room, coming from her job across the border in Windsor.
On the way up to his room on the thirteenth floor he asked the clerk at the front desk for some matches but the clerk said he didn’t have any. It had 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 GAZELLE LEAPER
The best thing about Lynda was her gymnastic agility, her maneuverability, like a beautiful dancer, moving with him in perfect harmony. She said it was because of the ballet she had taken in school. Her grade eleven teacher told 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 Therein would hang the title of his next unpublished novel: The Best Little Gazelle Leaper in Grade Eleven.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 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 arrived at the room the first thing she did was take a towel from the bathroom and place it on the bed. “We made too much mess last time,” she said; Canadians, so practical.
They lay on the bed smoking grass, drinking red wine and listening to Bad Company on WRIF and ever so naturally and smoothly glided into a ballet of stoned sex with the window open and the city looking in and when they were done — Lynda was right — the towel was a mess. They were lying on it and laughing about it, high as kites, WRIF news on the radio, something about the war.
“Fuck the war,” he said and yanked the towel from under them and threw it at the radio. It missed and went flying out the open window. They knelt on the bed and stuck their heads out the window. The towel ended up on the sidewalk outside the entrance to Biffs, just missing a cop who was coming out.
The cop was so startled he threw his arms up and knocked his own hat off. He caught the hat before it hit the pavement and he looked at the towel, a soggy mess on the pavement, then he looked up.
They were watching from the thirteenth floor but he couldn’t see them. He walked to his patrol car. People looked at the towel and walked around it. Some decided against going into the coffee shop. Lynda fell back on the bed, stoned out of her head and laughing like crazy.
In the morning he drove her back to her apartment in Windsor on the other side of the Ambassador Bridge.
Back in America, driving through the dilapidation of Porter Street he was happy and in love with this fucked-up city. He was pretty fucked up himself.
— Guido Michelini