There was a skull of a cow in Jennifer’s kitchen. The ghost-like remnants of the animal sat on a cupboard next to her salt and pepper shakers.
“I’ll be back in October. Remember to send me my mail once a month and make a check payable to this man and mail it to this address. You are going to love this place. Feel free to help yourself to my books.”
Jennifer reminded me of a witch. The West Village hippie chick rented me her rent controlled studio apartment on King Street for just $775 a month. Although the place seemed a little haunted and dark, it was mine for four months. I had been nearly homeless for several months and moving from the shelter of several close friends, not wanting to be in their way, just waiting for my own affordable apartment. Frank West had a restraining order placed on me and I lost my home. A judge told me not to go within feet of him. Jennifer’s studio was perfect. I stayed with my first lover Anthony for several weeks following my arrest and night in prison. I had no choice. Tension was high in his apartment above a liquor store on Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. He thought it was hysterical that my relationship with an exotic dancer who was professionally trained at the Dance Theater of Harlem had ended in a split.
“Are you ready to come back to me, now?” He asked.
Frank was old– going through a middle age crisis. I shouldn’t have been so angry when he cheated on me. Now that I’m 40 I see what tormented my lover so! The cheating was a way he dealt with not having legs not so flexible. I had no choice but to leave him. He had me arrested anyway. It wasn’t my fault. As much as I loved him, I could not return to his arms. I was on my own now, and almost homeless.
Anthony didn’t want me sleeping on his sofa. He said I was ruining the cushions and if I wanted to stay there much longer, I would have to share a bed with him.
“What if I just blow you one good time and agree to sleep on the floor? No thank you, I’m over you.”
“Come suck your man’s big black dick again. When’s the last time you seen one this big? I know Frank ain’t got no coon dick like ‘dis one.”
I laughed in hysterics. Was he serious? Yes he was. I had to give him head just to keep a roof over my head. Thank heavens I was introduced to Jennifer by my friend Geoffrey Holder. Jennifer was an artist too. A photographer. She left the city for Canada every summer and rented out her charming, oddly decorated, barn like apartment in the heart of New York City. She drove to the heartland of our Northern neighbor, into farm country, where she took rustic photographs of Canada’s abandoned farms. Her work adorned the home. It felt good to have a place to pull myself together and not to be a sofa whore to old lovers whose love has lost its sting. Jennifer said if the skull bothered me, I could put it in the hallway closet.
I thought of the nights I spent with Rodney in Washington heights when Jennifer handed me her keys. He was a guy I met in an AOL chatroom. We had sex once, and it sucked, but remained close friends because he was once in the marines and I was in the army. The sex should have been good but it wasn’t. I was grateful for my friendship with Rodney after Anthony got on my last nerve. His screen name was NYC Marine, or something like that.
“No. It’s cool. I like the place like it is. Don’t worry. I’ll take very good care of it,”I promised Jerry.
Four months was all the time I needed. The sublet was perfect. There would no longer be a need to be an inconvenince to friends.
A former co-worker, Patrick McGovern just bought a brownstone in Harlem. Patrick offered me a two bedroom apartment on the first floor. The place would come with a washer, dryer, dishwasher and a backyard. He offered it to me for a stunning $1,200 a month. All I needed was to wait for Patrick’s place to be finished. To move into a newly renovated place without a lover attached to it would be a dream come true, but already, in Jennifer’s place, I was at home.
I smiled at the cow skull on the kitchen wall…