Blast the damn heat, for my brow drips.
For in New York it gets so hot in the late of August, a swelter box most people of any means flee to their dachas in Strong Island to avoid.
Dawn is now rising, breaking and expanding on the roof of the District Financial and with the last manic burst of energy being expended by one of our antagonistic protagonists, Sebastian Vasili Adon, over a huge bottle of illegally imported Basque white wine, tells old danger tales to those who will and can still listen.
It is the second to last weekend of August and soon summer will end.
Bottle uncorked and the debacle of his oratory may unfold.
A fake gold watch dangles off his left wrist as he enunciates his wild tale with his hands, although it is known he is only one half a Yid. Covering his dark brown hair cut short for summer is a brown beret newsy cap, called a skally cap, if you were a rude boy from the two tone army like he was. It’s very 1943. So very neo-hipster or proletarian-chic!
Behold the faces of off duty urban partisans and gypsys who refuse the gift of sleep!
On the 17th Story roof deck of the old converted print house on 140 Nassau Street, slim and enthusiastic Europeans Lia Monteleone and Victoria Christiana Lynch Contreras snap off photos and clink glasses bantering on care free flirtations and intoxications.
Lia takes off all her clothing for money, she’s a dancer. In another life she’ll hopefully take up photography.
Raphael Ernesto Lynch Contreras, a Peruvian revolutionist is baby faced with flowing black hair with but a couple salt and pepper streaks is the husband of Victoria. He sits with his dear friend Sebastian and a ravishingly beautiful Russian dvotchka named Natasha and attempts a boozy mediation as the two evil eye each other viciously across a low wooden table.
She has big beautiful crazy person eyes the color of the Caspian Sea. Adon’s soulful orbs are auburn hazel slowly becoming green with sleep deprivation progressing.
The stare down is punctuated by accusations of impropriety.
The two are both “aspiring paramedics”. Ernesto is their introducer and is a frivolous and womanizing artist tamed as of lately by his marriage to Victoria.
Adon is in school to push away death with needles and relative high voltages. Natasha is partially knowledgeable on how to pour away sadness and sometimes temper internal evils with liquid poison and that which she doesn’t know how to mix she bluffs, knowing men are staring at her eyes, amongst other things.
He a brunette normally clad in a dark brown leather jacket and brown skally cap beret. Tonight he is in a white linen suit with his hair cut short. It’s a vaguely irregular look for him that he hasn’t pulled out in some time.
The reason he is dressed like that is because prior to his arrival at the Mehanata Social Club he had been at a White Party, a river cruise of wild Latin salsa based gallivanting circumventing the Isle of Man.
Natasha is a siren to which many men have smashed there ships with a proverbially loaded firearm called her fearsome wits to survive and the belligerencies that pour from her mouth when intoxicated. She captures much attention anytime she steps in the room and onto a dance floor. Her style is quite Postsoviet in its cut and colors. There is well put together sashay and flurry to her movements to be sure. And she has an unnerving look, a cross between a size up and seductive stare, a dismissive dart of her eyes to cut men down.
An affectionate rendering of Natasha is Natasha, and this is what Sebastian has been calling her all night. They had been introduced several months before, but both had been too drunk to remember. They both are regulars but he more on Saturday and she more on Friday, but without rhyme or reason despite being regulars for over three years, they had rarely crossed paths before.
Natasha is a stunning high octane mix of wild blonde partisan with her azure silver eyes darting between warfare and wanting; and the bright eyed curiosity of a child in a large affluent glass and steel playground. She is wrapped in a tight to the curves light brown leather jacket. She is never cold on the outside.
They are locked in scowling death match of heavy unguardedly hostile words and also a few thinly veiled threats.
He said “don’t smoke in my father’s house,” so she smoked in his father’s house, so he had to yank the fucking smoke out her pouty lips and talk harshly about throwing her out in a cab back to Brighton. Then he “classlessly” handed her forty bucks for that cab, even though it’s really a fifty dollar ride, and more if you tip. Which is against all Russian cultural context.
To which she debased him as a useless man living off his parent’s wealth. And said never in her life had she been so offended by the callous, pompous behavior or an American dog such as himself.
“Less than a dog!” she proclaims.
To show he wasn’t a push over to bombshell, star lit scarlet that no one probably ever said no to he did all that, also because he’d been drinking a lot. And he’s not always the gentleman that he presumes himself to be. Letting any person show such appalling disrespect was cheapening. Men make up all kinds of stories about the motives of beautiful women. Her light up was belligerent and far beyond any international definition of respecting the host. And that’s pretty much how she rolls. Over anyone she feels like.
And yet because she is stunning and pouty and her heels take too long for her to fasten, in effort of perestroika he’s asked he to stay and ten they all ended up on the roof to catch the sun rise.
Now he’s telling a dangerously insensitive story. And she is again beyond appalled.
Sebastian Adon removes his cap and says,
“The job, and operation; call it whatever you want; involves calling on high end prostitutes whose numbers one acquires in the association of men of your former Soviet back ground, mostly at the Banya.”
Banya is Russian for bathhouse. In the past few years Sebastian has been bathing with Russians regularly to wash increasingly dirty hands from stakes that keep mounting and knock around work that just keeps coming.
He loves the way music sounds in Russian. Though he knows under three dozen phrases and cannot even read Cyrillic.
She watches his words take form with her big predatory eyes.
They peer right into you, and they are not always as happy as the smile she plasters on so regularly for photos. That is acquired art in itself. Either they are blue or they are grey or they are silver when sleep deprived, but they are not the eyes of a spectator.
She participates actively in all she observes.
Maybe not rules men try and make or overly hard work though.
“So shortly after they arrive and give you some fictitious cover, you take a coat and as they walk in and settle on a price that will involve no bit of touching at all. Then, you tell them that they’re being filmed and recorded, but that you’re not a cop, agent or a Mossadnik or who-ever dangerous, you’re not there to entrap for absolutely anything. You tell them you’re an abolitionist”
Puff, puff passes along this ill-conceived venture.
“You tell them to call down to the pimp’s driver, and say your John is layered out like Charlie Sheen.”
“Tiger-blooded,” notes Raphael Ernesto.
“Then you make tea. You tell them a story, a personal tale about why you are not a dog or a pig, and how you came to hate this line of work because you had loved someone forced into it. You convince them to take and perhaps disseminate to other persons a number to arrest traffickers and pimps, also to get trafficked and victimized people the resources they need to escape. They get half the job cash for nothing but a number and a way out. They get a number on a card, you ask them to put it in their phone. Eventually, the poor soul either will pass the number or report it directly to the pimps, but you force a violent hand and spread the knowledge that there is in fact a networked way to escape slavery. It’s cheaper and more effective than lobbying or political routes, we must go directly to the salves and assure them there is safe way out.”
Her jaw drops.
“They would kill you just for that,” she spits out.
“For bullshit man! For a lot less than bull shit. A number! I spit on your American number. For insulting low grade bullshit that changes nothing. You will die, they will kill those dear to you, and nothing at all will be fixed about anything, not one woman will walk free” retorts Natasha in all of the glory of women few if anyone has ever said no to.
So, he predetermines.
Not a debutante, not a true New Russian. All the regality of being born all Slavic, but outside the great dividing highway that loops the capital separating the have everything’s from the have nothings or have only little something’s. Being born so radiantly beautiful and tough and Russian after the triumph of Capitalism has left her charming and capable of fighting. But she is far from Russia with love, rootless and floating in glittery fairy tales that don’t expel the hardships of her new country.
“I am not afraid to die for a thing I believe in sweetness, I am not afraid to try and save only one life at the cost of all my American privileges” he flatly retorts.
“He has such American beliefs!” She mocks.
Ernesto always has applauded his radical specifications and foreign adventures over the past three years they’ve known each other and well before. He’s done his trench time, Ernesto. He can recognize a latent revolutionist, from a sleeping one, from a broken man reborn as a hero. Palestine, Egypt, Haiti, the worst of Europe too and the street battles to occupy the District last fall that went so bloody poorly playing out in split skulls and tear gas all over national television.
“I guess you’ve never had to work for anything completely or work to keep something you fought hard for, so you give away most easily. Your life seems so easily offered, to take if you ask me,” she snaps at his bait.
“Hey, lady, you are insulting to my dear friend and our gracious host,” sternly interjects Raphael Ernesto, “This man, you have no idea what he’s been through to back up these words.”
His mind, his name, his face.
His mind flutters something about heroics under siege in land place called Haiti. His face; vague recollection of doing his job over and over again in bad situations.
A few many baton cracks in the Gulliver. I few to many months in cells.
He’s given lots and lots of militant speeches but never done a very violent action with his hands. Like, Ernesto had to in Peru.
His name? Sebastian is only one of his names He’s piloted an ambulance for the Fire Department for three years in all the city’s worst districts. He has traversed the Levant as Zachariah trying to free slaves and end occupation, the American occupation of Israel and the Israeli Oligarchy’s occupation of Palestine. Vasa, he’s dissident poet.
He’s told people of their human rights over and over, until not over, and over again. He delivered a baby once, helped do it many more times!
She could care less. Bold wild statements don’t get first impression credential checking.
She was appalled by the rude cigarette yank and further appalled by his cynical bourgeoisie story about call girls passing itself off as completely vain and stupidly incompetent activism.
She offers to kill him.
He obliges her. Thinks she’s bluffing.
I’ll kill this over privileged American hypocrite too, maybe she thinks. A civic duty to my new country and old country too. Mostly, she maintains a mighty level of the not giving of a shit. She’s also on an off day. She only remembers every other night out when she drinks. The rest of them a blur black haze punctuated with irregular black and blue marks.
“From falling down stairs.”
If she kills him, the tragedy, as far as a memory, will belong to no one.
Ernesto implores her to be more, “Suave, Suave”. To be more calm and “Tranquillo.” The famous Peruvian revolutionist now a New York low key digital disk jockey cannot even barely modulate Sebastian’s posturing and Natasha’s swaggerous, murderous taunting.
Now they’re waving invisible pistols at each other’s’ faces like wild Middle Easterners. They fuel a veritable bonfire of ego and prideful feuding.
Ernesto urges Victoria and Lia Monte to intercede but they are taking lots and lots of pictures and have seen Natasha make a properly rude scene before, of things when men, “get smart”.
“When men get smart with me I cut them apart,” she lives by that.
The job of any and all men as far as she is concerned is please her by makings sure her drink is never empty and that life is a series of taken care of attractions, to make her life more easy. He has failed at both in his utter self-serving arrogance.
“So you’re gonna kill me or just threaten on about it?” says Sebastian secretly hoping she might actually kill him. He hasn’t felt so alive anyway since the last girl ripped his heart out with a dagger in a long game of masochistic sex coupled with co-dependent longing.
There was nothing healthy about his love life lately.
Even the use of the word bids a mind of shame for perpetually having to beg back affections from those he’s thought he’d die with or for. A year ago his previous partner finally cut him off and the struggle, the paramedical one and human rights one and abolitionist one, all firmly linked; that struggle itself has overwhelmed him lately with his purported role, his Icarus sky walled expectations, his place in the chain of command remaining unclear. Truly only the existential problems of an overly privileged first world revolutionist, as Yelizaveta used to declaim. His last six months have been a black hole of studies on how to beat back death with drugs and electricity. There is also a lofty, high risk plot underfoot to smuggle himself and small team into Aleppo to train Syrian Free Army combat medics. But what faction! There are over forty groups of fighters there. All predict a poor end to such a venture, but the same neigh Sayers neighed the same on Haiti.
When he sleeps he barely dreams, when he dreams its nightmares about the city of Port-au-Prince or about the last woman he was foolish enough to cry love for whose name was Yelizaveta Perechenova. Who left him eventually for a young physics student and with the declarations of his madness by her mother were the nails in the coffin of their two years of life together.
Something like that.
A veritable blur of a broken dreams to lay down his irrational struggle and pursue medicine, choose life over vain pretenses as a prelude to inglorious martyrdom. His life has taken a turn for the worst now several times “believing in things”. “Being a hopelessly real romantic.”
His studies are narrower now.
He is enrolled in a one year paramedic upgrade program. He had though to jump country, apply for work abroad. He was ordered to hold post in the city and keep working. Lt. Moishe Klein, the orthodox Jewish lieutenant on the grave yard shift of Station 31 Cumberland outpost, a sympathizer of the resistance arranged his hasty enrollment in the paramedic academy of Methodist Hospital on Kings Highway.
Or perhaps better focused on saving the individual life here and there; not the world in its totality. Which no one asked of him or expected that he deliver on.
His weekends are soaked in vodka and with wine, sometimes one poured in the other. And the booze keeps his eyes closed to certain things. And now he’s drunk now again. Acting poorly in the company of a Russian woman, yet again.
Kill me for the sake of it, he hopes. It’s what the world would surely not mind all too much. Drunken thinking of an angry man who’s been hit in the head a few times.
“So you’re gonna kill me or just threaten on about it?”
“Absofuckinglutely,” she says.
And then before drunken Ernesto who is now very, very drunken, and also very, very tired, after spinning all night can talk them down they’re up a ladder up to the 18th story, more of a top, Easterly deck on the 17th story roof with a deep and deadly edge of death into an 18th floor down plummet with the Geary Building looking out, a million cubicles of an upper class aquarium. Like a Sorcerer’s tower of steel rising up to the East at them by proximity of less than three times an alley way.
A great setting for a hastily arranged assisted suicide.
They’re now boxing. Natasha is properly in boxing school. She strikes at him hard then harder. Die you fucking Amerikanski, you damn wasted one, she thinks.
Ernesto and Lia and Victoria who are always so very stylish, now have stopped their art making over white wine and look up with some very now real concern. Not a bird or a plane could have killed him so far. Not spy agencies or police forces with much bigger better threatening fish to fry. A beautiful woman might get close enough.
“You don’t want to live here forever?” she taunts him.
Their boxing and taunting has them perilously near the edge to the pit.
The roof deck is a glamorous lit up garden trip into the sweet hereafter where one might fall dead on to the front porch of New York’s highest high rise residential where the rent is now 40,000 Amerikan a month on the month before.
The pit is just a dead drop, it’s a Fire code ordinance for building in late 19th century, a ventilation shaft for the 19 real story print house now a new riche-intelligentsia-queer-Jewish coop on the districts northern most edge.
She is striking hammer sickle hits and he is just taking her hits and then, then it comes.
“Hit me to kill me! Just knock me into that fucking pit and make a good inglorious end to it all,” he swagger demands in bellow.
The most beautiful woman he has ever seen is just a side story in his own mind to his own tragedy. She cocks back and doesn’t blink.
Natasha hits him with one big shove and he tumble crumbles backwards into the abyss.
Kill me he beckons and then, she tries so really kill him.
As he plummets back, he grabs out and yanks her with him in a tumble off the very ledge of the roof, plummeting to a certain death in the ally way below.