Valentine’s Day in Bushwick

One Valentine’s Day was so much like another, in those hectic Brooklyn years, that I can never remember whether I juggled one dozen roses for my girl or one dozen girls with empty hands.

All the Valentines fold into my two-toned heart, like a lace and tissue package tucking within the memory chest that is my ribcage; and they hide in the warm of the closed-in blankets of recollection, and I plunge my hands into the chest and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that blood-red flesh-beating bundle of emotions resting to the back of the ballad-echoing cave, and out comes Aiden Alexander and her Bushwick.

It was on the afternoon of the 14th, and I was picking up, waiting for the man, with my man Jim. It was snow. It was always snow on Valentines Day. Febuary, in my memory, is white as a veil, though there was no bride. But there was skiing. Smooth, sweet and strong, wiping our noses with cold anticipation, we waited for our lift. Slender and long as rails and heavenly-powdered, pure and potent, we sidled down the hollow beige hallway, filling it with images of blow, Jim and I, tight-jeaned and t-shirted pushers from Brooklyn, off Williamsburg, coke and sex and love in the whites of our eyes. The drug man never appeared.

We were so anxious, cold-sweated hipster hustlers in the muffling silence of our dreams of snow – dreams, ever since the last binge – that we never heard Aiden’s first cry from her cave at the back of the hall. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like a far-off echo of our jonesing and frustration, that flake of a Frenchman Pierre. But soon the voice grew louder.

“Asshole!” cried Aiden, and we heard furniture crashing.

And we ran down the hall, throwing ourselves against the door, into the apartment; and furniture, indeed, was thrown about the living-room, and the girl was undresssed and trembling, and the gun across from her was still like an extension of the slender arm over the mountain of cocain. More cocain than the wildest desires of the wildest binges of our strung-out dreams. We bounded into this apartment, care-and-blow free, and found both in the middle of a tension-filled room.

Something was wrong all right; perhaps it was our dealer, who always smiled when offering bags with his French-fingered quickness. But now he was standing in the middle of the room,, saying, “A fine Valentines!” and waving us into the conversation with his free hand.

“Call the cops!” cried Aiden Alexander as she crossed her arms over her chest. “They’ll take forever,” said the dealer, “it’s Bushwick.”

There was nothing else to say, only mounds of coke with Aiden on one side and our dealer on the other, gun outstretched as if he was offering it to her.

“Do something,” Jim said. And I pulled out my money and threw it on the table – green laurels settling into snow – and offered to pick up a couple grams.

“Let me get a couple as well,” Jim said. “And a couple for my girl.” “And Ernie Jenkins, he likes coke.”

But we only had enough for ourselves, and soon the dealer sat down and pulled out a bundle of bags and a scale and looked at Aiden Alexander one last time before putting away his pistol. Nobody would have had a whiter Valentine’s Day. And when the bags and hopes were filled and we were standing again above the coked, clouded mass, Aiden Alexander, wearing a fur and tights, re-entered the living room. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say. Her eyes filled the room, all of us. She looked down at Pierre and his European shelf-browed forehead, sitting above his piles and piles, and then she looked directly at me; “Would you like to be my Valentine?”

Years and years ago, when I was a romantic, when there were angels in my heart, and birds the color of red-breasted passion lifted my soft-heeled steps, when I sang for love and talked all night and day in heady infatuation that smelled like Sunday morning breakfast in thick down-filled comforters, and we loved, with the sincerity of turtle- doves, the Adam and his Eve, before the fall, before the heartbreak, before the dark-filled nights, when we propelled and catapulted and mounted like happy gymnasts, we loved and loved. But here a small girl says: “I fucked last night, too. I bought some blow and some guy did the blow and I blew the guy and then I took a cab home in the morning.”

“But that wasn’t the same sex,” I say. “Our sex was not only wrestled from the white halls of heaven itself, it came thundering out of the ground and shook and trembled us to our core; stars appeared in the sky above our bed pure and bright like creation itself, pin- pricked the night and danced around the moon, light flooding our window, a soft river rocking us into the morning.

“It was good sex, then?”

“From curled toes to cherried lips, among spread, trembling limbs we discovered and rediscovered ourselves and took each other in ravenously. But all that we could feel was a hunger.”

“You mean like you didn’t break for a hotpocket?”

“I mean that the hunger we felt was deep within us.”

“I only feel thirsty sometimes, never hungry.”

“There were toys, too.”

“Inside you?”

“No, no, no, in the moon-glowed, steam-filled room, strewn and scattered and waiting. And there were bowls of glistening melting ice, next to edible lotions and powders and the sweetest whip cream, among satin and lace. It seemed that all carnal pleasures were possible inside that room; and I knew Valentines, in her arms.”

“Get back to the toys.”

“They were just ordinary toys, picked out greedily and curiously and together. One had a rabbit head french tickler…”

“Mine has rotating pearls…”

“And they stood on the dresser at the ready, little soldiers at attention, silently waiting to be strapped and vibrated, making a pastel stone hedge in the washed night, always at the ready like pubescent boys in the wonderment of a first erection.”

“And then the sex?”

“And the sex, after the fore-play. And the cold-sweat of anticipation, with blood rushing to the flesh like a blooming rose, tingling within the alabaster-smooth walls of her perfectly formed thighs. I went in like a man into the valley of the Gods, heaven-bound and salvation-ready. I entered headlong like a greedy child, dizzily took her in, and, by God, put a hurt on her.”

“Get on to the sex.”

“There was the Ordinary Sex: missionary standards of the old high school days, and variations with pillow-raised hips; rear entry with a gentle rhythm like an oarsman you could set a clock to; lazy side-slipped spooning like a bow-fiddled violin and positioning against headboards and walls for leverage; from the bottom I looked up at her riding with palms on my chest and eyes closed and wondered where she travelled; and once in the passion of the moment a little finger in the ass, can’t remember whose, but there were no complaints. And the picture-perfect mutual orgasms in which the hands are clasped, the bodies shuddering under one joy, flaming rising and reborn; and the exquisite release of the extinguishing, dripping and alive.”

“Go on to the Out-of the-Ordinary Sex.”

“Inventions of heat-induced fancies and a book of eastern secrets and a handful of contraptions and batteries and leather and silk induced imaginations; never another person; once, by an oversight that no one could explain, an inflatable doll; the incorporation of a cute little riding crop that made, when used, a most un-little pain, a sharp sting that an ambitious insect might make who wished to take down a cow; and a vibrating cock ring which turned clitori to jelly and man to granite, statuesque, able to outlast the universe itself, and still memories ache with the 12 hours we wore out every muscle and battery under a chemical-induced rabbit marathon. Standing, carrying, bent over ankle-clasped, bruising, screaming, biting pulling and prodigious slapping of the ass. And the variations of entry that, if not for conception, were purely for pleasure; chocolate starfish and tit fucks, hand and foot jobs and experiments among other crevices. And the simple tantric positions for adventurous couples, complete with illustrations. Oh, simple for the double-jointed. And handcuffs to restrain one while waking up the dom in the other, eliciting screams through leather with tortuous teasing. And masks: you put one on and you met as strangers and you fucked for hours, hidden, within the freedom of a new identity, and then with a smirk you revealed yourself. And then it was sleep that blesses angels.”

“Was there cuddling like in the movies?”

“There is always cuddling after great sex. The same cuddling. And in the morning, with a sleep-dead arm and not wishing to wake her, I would make plans for a amputee future in this beautiful world, sacrificing the bloodless arm to the alter of her peaceful dreams or the purity of my love; perhaps I would get a bionic arm, and open beer bottles with my thumbs. The world continuing outside our time-immortal room, with dove-tailed bodies of heat-bound flesh, as one, savoring perfection in the feathered sunlight of a breaking dawn. The future spun in those early hours like delicate dewy threads; there was a planned move-in and summer adventures and commitments to an ‘us;’ and dogs in a too-small apartment to fulfill her childhood; and the newly minted morning promising it all, waiting to be claimed by dreaming young lovers. And some periods were reserved for silence, without need for words, taking in the new day, taking in the moment with full arms, returning to the passion of the night, smiling, and then grasping the present firmly again as though waiting for life to begin; and in those timeless moments a few small dreams, too slight for sound, nor images for that matter, sat on the very edges of our minds, poised and brittle, afraid to break, the tendrils of a delicate promise.”