“Would you like to come over and hang out with us?” Christopher said, and again the feeling came to her stomach, a pleasant sizzle, a vibrating anticipation, of a good or bad thing, which one didn’t matter. “Come see her up close,” urged Christopher.
By this time, he called himself her boyfriend.
With a smirk, Christopher hung up the telephone. “Officer Moore and his partner are coming over,” he told her.
“What? Are you deranged? When?” said Jenny.
Christopher gazed serenely down at the patrol car. “It’ll take them a minute or two,” he said, amiably.
Jenny began running around the bedroom, frantically cleaning up, gathering discarded lingerie, socks, drug paraphernalia — the plastic sandwich baggies filled with dope; the crinkled scraps of tinfoil; the glass pipe stained black; the red, orange, pink and blue pills of various sizes and shapes, scattered over the tabletop by the handful, like so many jelly beans; a tiny transparent envelope with a last pinch of brown powder stuck at the bottom, like grains of dirty sand.
“Let’s not let them in,” Jenny said as she threw their belongings into the closet. “Christopher, it isn’t funny.”
“Who said it was?” Christopher raised an eyebrow.
“I mean it. Just don’t answer the door. My aunt could lose custody, don’t you understand? They could take me and put me in a foster home. This is my life we’re talking about here, asshole.” Jenny’s mother had gone traveling with a new boyfriend, leaving Jenny and her aunt in the East Harlem apartment.
“Such drama. No one’s taking you away,” said Christopher, in the way he had. Whatever ailed her, Christopher, the indestructible, was immune.
“Please don’t open the fucking door,” Jenny said. “This is non-negotiable.”
“No one’s negotiating. I invited them and they’re coming over,” Christopher said, in a voice that brooked no argument.
“They can’t open anything inside a closet or cupboard without a warrant,” Jenny said and she knew, when she heard these words, that she’d already given in.
“What are you talking about, woman? This is a social call. I don’t open the cabinets when I’m invited into someone’s apartment, as a guest, for caviar and cocktails. Do you? Let’s give these boys some credit. They’re not heathens.” Christopher gave her his in profile, as if posing, staring out the window.
Jenny threw another handful of things inside a drawer and slammed it shut. Out of breath, she spun around the room, looking out for anything else that might be illegal or embarrassing. A pink rubber sex toy, gathering dust, peeked out from under the bed. Jenny pounced on it and threw it in the drawer.
“God!” she said. “You’ve gone over the edge! Why are you doing this to me? You’re demented!”
“Relax already, sweetheart,” Christopher said.
“Oh my God, oh shit, oh my God,” Jenny said, crooning the words softly to herself in a chant, opening and closing the cabinets, stashing pornographic photographs and illegal substances, condoms and satin negligees and thong bikinis, body oil, kinky accoutrements, leopard-print panties, underground comic books and anything else incriminating. “You’re kidding me, right?” she said, going to the window. “It was a joke? This is you, being an asshole? The cops aren’t coming, are they?” But the patrol car had parked, and the two young policemen, their hair shorn down to the scalp in military-style crew-cuts, dressed in blue uniforms, were loafing around on the sidewalk, stretching their legs. They began sauntering towards Christopher’s front door, in slow motion, dream police from Jenny’s nightmares.
“Aren’t they cute?” said Christopher, drawling.
Jenny let out a shriek.
“Don’t do that, please,” Christopher instructed. “Quit worrying about it. If you aren’t into it, be boring. Who cares? I’ll handle it.” He handed her a quart of gin.
She accepted the bottle, drank from it and, retrieving the silk robe, she ran into the bathroom, half-undressed, the folds of the Japanese kimono streaming behind her like the train of a gown. She locked herself in and proceeded to gulp down the gin as if it were no stronger than ginger ale. Through the door, she heard voices, small talk, footsteps walking into the kitchen. The sound of their chit-chat was soon drowned out by music. Christopher had turned on the stereo. A rhythmic electronic pulse rose and fell as Debbie Harry began to wail and burble in her clear high soprano, her delivery indifferent, the embodiment of blasé chic.
once had a love and it was a blast/soon found out
had a heart of glass/seemed like the real thing and it was divine
Jenny re-tied the obi around her waist and waited, channeling Debbie Harry’s aloof cool, for what felt like an eternity. At some point, curious and impatient, she unlatched the small metal hook that locked the bathroom door. She opened the door a mere crack, no more than a quarter of an inch, just wide enough to see Christopher on the floor before Officer Moore, whose unbelted trousers had been pushed down along his hairy thighs. The other cop was standing with his back to Jenny, holding a pair of handcuffs and a nightstick. Whether to smile at this or to frown, to be impressed or distressed, Jenny couldn’t tell. Christopher, as usual, had cracked opened the city like a piñata to get the goodies inside. Nothing functioned there in that factory on the Gowanas Canal quite as it was supposed to. Cops took prank phone calls from strangers and delivered themselves to the door like pizza boys, like call girls. Christopher’s city was diabolical and boundless, peopled by characters like him. Whatever he did, wherever he went, he found new converts. Aktionism was his religion of sensation.