Tom was watching Wolf Blitzer on CNN when I knocked on his bedroom door. The television was so loud that it rattled the door to the room. Rather than pound loudly in an attempt to outdo Blizter’s reporting, I waited for a commercial break, then, using the free knuckles of my left hand, tapped on the door using the ‘shave and a haircut, two bits’ rhythm before a commercial for an ear and nose hair removal device known as the micro-trimmer came on.
“It’s open,” Tom replied.
“One martini, extremely dry, coming up.”
“How thoughtful. So—I’ll see you again on Tuesday at six?”
“Would you do me one small favor before leaving?’
“I dropped a bottle of pills under my bed—would you mind handing them to me?”
I scanned the floor at my feet and noticed just a wad of used facial tissue. I dropped to my knees and looked under the bed, but it was dark. I then swiped my hand through a pile of dust, hitting the bottle further under Tom’s bed.
“Holy Jesus,” I cried.
“What happened?” Tom asked, pushing the incline button on his Craftmatic adjustable bed. I quickly pulled my head from under the bed and discovered that Tom was glaring down at me with his martini in one hand and the remote control to his bed in the other.
“I just knocked the bottle further under the bed. Do me a favor and don’t adjust the bed until I come back up.”
“I’m sorry to be of such inconvenience. I’m such a feeble old man. Damn it. Just leave it under there. They’ll find it when I’m dead or I’ll have Richie look for it tomorrow.”
“There it is. Got it. There you are,” I said, carefully dusting the bottle before placing it in Tom’s wrinkled hands.
“Oh shit. That’s not the bottle I was looking for anyway. I need my Ambien. Oh Dear—silly me- there it is,” Tom said, pointing to a second prescription container sitting on his cherry wood nightstand next to an antique lamp with a pink shade that was just as dusty as the floor under the bed.
“May I have one of these?” I asked jokingly, although secretly wishing that Tom would not object to my request.
“And what do you plan to do with that. What type of deformity do you have? Are you a cripple down there? What about your lover? Do you want one for him?”
“No—I plan to take one. Trust me, he don’t need it. I’d like to see what all the hype is about.”
“Oh—you’re a bad one,” Tom said. “I’ll tell you what—I have a fresh bottle in the magic drawer—wait—you don’t know about the magic drawer do you? How could you? You might as well be made aware of where it is. See that desk over there near the window? Yes, that one. Open the small drawer on the top right. There you are—now open it—the bottle is in there with a few others. Take one. I won’t miss it. I have a good doctor anyway. Is there still cash left in there?”
“Yes, a ton of it,” I said, pushing aside a stack of twenties and fifties.
“I thought for sure Richie would have emptied it by now.”
“I’d like just one of these Tom.”
“Suit yourself. At least you know where they are now. I’ll see you Tuesday, dear.”
“Thanks, Tom. Goodnight.”
Stephen was waiting outside the bedroom—“Oh, I see you’ve been shown the magic drawer.”
“What have you gotten me into Stephen?”
“Tom’s a sweetheart. You’ll soon see why I call him my adoptive, gay grandfather. Tom takes good care of his employees—you’ll see. Hey, why not come upstairs for a glass of wine before heading back to Brooklyn. Jose would love to see you.”
“Alright—but just one glass—to wash this down. I have to get back to Brooklyn. Bradley must wonder where I’ve been.”