She was under a Russian fur hat that warmed her forehead and her ears, wrapped in a plush burgundy coat that reached the black boots. Her eyes, the emerald of glacier lakes, were out in the wilderness, exposed, images internal and external hitting them so fast most wouldn’t see how frantically they quivered. They found him: It had to happen. Like birth had to happen, like death has to happen. When she held him, she told him she loved him, told him she loved him so much. I’m so scared, she said. She said, I’m so in love with you, I am too in love with you. In a cab again, traveling down Broadway, less than ten fingers to Christmas, Santa and cradles, happy children, happy mommies and daddies, babies, a baby, she kept prayer cards on her lap and muttered, counting rosary beads: Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. That wind outside the cab swept the sidewalk of takeout trash and flyers and newspapers, even shook the padlocked wrought-iron grills and aluminum pull-downs. They got out under a scaffold walkway, X-braced on the street side, corrugated tin roof above. He found a glass door, a light on behind it making its color porcelain, this stained swirl of graffiti calligraphy decorating all equally, numbers blocked above it matching the address he’d gotten when he called an ad he read in the Voicea cash only bed-and-breakfast, way cheap, suspiciously availableand, her clutching him, he buzzed and it buzzed back and it was an office building, its inside the same city that was outside, and into an elevator door more like a ship, splintering wood flooring, black buttons. They took it to the top, the 8th, where it became an art gallery. Polished hardwood. Welded sculpture. Watercolor and oil paintings of broken naked men and naked women, smears of bodies, alone and together. Their room was a shape with no parallel sides and not the same length and the walls were painted different shades of orange and there were cheap Persian-style throw rugs and lead pipes to hang clothes on and a thick, tall picture window, too cold to touch, which framed images of buildings and lights in them and dark sky and they lay on a rolled-out futon on a straw mat. Her breasts in his face, their flesh the butter of fantasy, the warm of sleep, her waist and hips the wafting curls of scent, her sighs not sounds but visual cues love, woman. She was an instinctual shape, she was the innate and learned want of body pleasure, of want to tongue clitoris and nipple. She wanted to leak milk from her breasts like he did from his penis, and she sucked them with him and their saliva, mixed, stirred a juice, the essence of sweet, which became a hallucinogen transporting them into a heaven of space and a time both unremembered and always known but never visible, and they were man and woman, singular and pair. They were drenched in the spill of sweat and vagina and semen, all the slick inside of mythic womb that is private and protected, indescribable and familiar, its secret revealed, a mescaline calm, its absolute understanding in orgasm, rippling too in the mind like a contraction of birth, the squeezing and releasing, the mysterious desire and satisfaction of the egg and seed, of earth and God. When they wandered out for a dinner it was a morning, not night, its gray the wet and dry dust of the city’s sidewalks, its shine the silvery lead of scuffed grates and worn manhole covers, that storm of iced wind tossing crushed water bottles and even filtered cigarette butts but which this time only cooled them, bent their pacing. They walked, and they ate, and they went back into the ill-shaped room, now like a spring pasture, the stars reflections of windows in the high buildings across from them, where they became as blurred as oil paintings and then there was a cab and he wouldn’t get out there with her but he saw her, the hat, the coat, the boots, walking away on the tiled placita under the sign that said Madison Square Garden. Alonzo was from Lajoya, Texas, and he was seated at the bed and breakfast’s table-for-ten, waiting for Vinika, who was from Philadelphia. She was a muscular big woman, and he was hungry thin and seemed taller than he really was. They had been staying in the room next door. Alonzo said he was a poet and an artist and now he was also doing Web design. Vinika killed cockroaches and rats for an extermination company. They met on the Internet. He’d started the communication with her through an African-American Women Only chat room. He laughed, looking up over the hand hiding his mouth as though it were a tall wall. When Vinika finished what she was doing, she stood next to Alonzo. A saggy, pocked suitcase was outside their room door, zipped up, a limp handle ready to be gripped. Alonzo had promised her the Trump Plaza, but the rooms were all sold out. It wasn’t the money, he said, because he had the money. He only found this place at the last minute, it was the only thing available, the whole thing was the last minute. It was these holidays, he said. Vinika smiled as she stood next to Alonzo, though she wasn’t looking at him. Then he got her bag and the two of them walked the long hall decorated with the unframed art to the elevator and then Alonzo was back. We kind of heard you, Alonzo told him. 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 22, 2000
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