Solitude associated with unemployment has driven me mad. I understand now why it is important for the masses to remain slaves to corporations and ‘work for a living’, for without a place to be from nine to five, it is difficult to remain a productive part of the conglomerate. The ability to multi-task diminishes with the balance in one’s checking account and one becomes a simple vagrant, walking the streets, searching for a means to pass days of hopelessness.
I can’t leave the house today. I misplaced my house keys. I’m sure they are somewhere in here– perhaps they fell from atop the microwave into the cat’s dish or maybe I accidently tossed them into the trash last evening as I cleared the table of remnants from Chinese take-out. I made it halfway through a bag of trash to the point where bones from fried chicken wings rested atop a non-biodegradable Styrofoam container before deciding to stay inside today and give the streets a rest.
I’m convinced my current lover hid them from me this morning– an attempt to force me to stay in the house while he’s at work. I’ve shaken every pair of jeans I could have possibly worn to the Wok Palace last night. I certainly hope I did not leave them in the front door. This is New York and such carelessness could cost one everything one has worked so hard for.
Perhaps it is best that I stay inside today and finish the book I picked up from the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library yesterday– “The Fire From Within”, by Carlos Castaneda. I had no idea that such a warehouse of books was in walking distance from here. The entire second floor is dedicated to religion and psychology. I nearly fainted.
With temperatures soaring to near sixty degrees yesterday, I decided to take another walk to gay cruise section of Prospect Park which is located within a stone’s throw of the library. While working the park on Tuesday, I was flashed by a thug who reminded me of the rapper Little Wayne and I just had to go back there. I have never been a park slut and would never be caught on my knees in such a place but I do enjoy the game of cruising.
His hair– it was braided just like my former lover Shawn’s hair was. In all honesty, I walked to Prospect Park on Tuesday because I dreamed of it on Monday night. I wanted to run my hands through the flasher’s hair. I remembered cruising the park with Shawn when he was still alive. We’d go there to pick-up extras with our friend Addie who was already an extra in our relationship– a third wheel. We were like a pack of wild dogs in that park. When we were young and beautiful and still alive, we pulled so much out of there. It is no wonder I never noticed the big library before Shawn’s death.
Trees still are without leaves in Brooklyn and there was not enough cover in the park to go on interviews, so I simply watched the wildlife and wondered what my dream was about as I sat peacefully on a park bench. There were only three or four strangers cruising the park. I noticed a police van behind a row of pines and realized that cruising in that park was no longer permitted, to the extent it once was when men like LL Cool J got blown there.
On my way out of the bushes I noticed that the large limestone building beyond the gates was not a museum but rather a branch of the public library– a very large branch indeed. I must get my card and come back, I realized.
The Brooklyn Museum is just a block away. This monolith of urban culture is adorned with statues of Socrates, Moses and St. Peter. I imagined that long after I had gone that civilizations would erect such renditions of me and perhaps my books would be found inside such institutions. I promised myself to visit the museum while unemployed and explore whatever exhibits there were inside– there certainly isn’t much to see in the park.
Yesterday as I crossed Eastern Parkway on my way down Washington Avenue to the library I ran into Addie of all people– the third wheel in the relationship I had with Shawn– he was headed out of the park. I just smiled at him, remembering that I authorized the use of his photograph for a book cover, but never told him about it.
“Charles?” He asked with a cunning look in his eyes from across Eastern Parkway.
I nodded and upon approach gave him a hug.
“Look at you, greying nicely on the sides,” he said.
“I try to keep it shaved off. I can’t stand it. It’s been six years since I saw you last,” I said.
“Look at my head,” he said, taking off a baseball cap. “I got them all over. They are not uniform like yours,” Addie giggled.
“Jesus! I cringed. Addie– you were an old man six years ago, now look at us. Tell me, is there any action in the park today?”
“Of course not. I’m just leaving there.”
“I figured that much. I’m going in just to see if the tiny purple flowers I noticed on Tuesday are still in bloom.”
“Oh they are. They are everywhere this year. Are you still living with that man in Shawn’s place?” Addie asked.
“Yes. Men never leave me. They cling to me.”
Addie laughed and grabbed the side of his jaw.
“I just came from a cleaning at the dentist,” he explained.
“No oral sex for you today,” I advised.
“You’re right about that.”
“Are you working still?” I asked, remembering that Addie worked for the magazine Soap Opera Digest six years ago.
“I tend bar at private parties. I went to bar tending school three years ago. I can’t get a gig at a bar, not being a pretty boy like you, Charles.”
“Oh, please…” I protested. “I wouldn’t know what went into a Cape Cod. I am unemployed right now,” I shared. “Maybe I can finally get out of this town. Been trying to leave here for six years now. I feel like I’ve been held prisoner here ever since you know who died,” I said, as if perhaps, Shawn’s ghost was nearby and was what had led us to meet in such wide open spaces.
We stood in shock a moment longer– realizing that it was March when Shawn went to the emergency room and later died. Addie refused to come to the emergency room. His brother, who also happened to be gay like Addie, had just died and he explained to me when I had called from the emergency room that he simply couldn’t take any more.
“But they say he’s going to die. Come see him,” I begged. Addie should have come. He was a lover too.
“Hey. Give me a cigarette.” He begged while looking away from my eyes towards to top of the museum where the god-like statues of men like Shawn watched pedestrians below.
“I quit,” I informed, although I did not quit. I left my cigarettes at home like my library card to keep myself from smoking too much.
“What’s the world coming to?” He asked. “Charles stopped smoking? I don’t believe it!”
“Me either,” I said. “I stopped having sex too.” I chucked as we old gay men embraced for what seemed like an eternity. I headed into the park and Addie took off west on Eastern Parkway.
I didn’t find it in my heart to tell him about the book cover of his head or nude photographs that Shawn took of us that I posted on line.
I figured that one day the images will come back to haunt him like the statues upon the Brooklyn Museum that seemed to watch over us as time goes by so slowly and runs out like color in hair.