On the 10th of December in the year 2009 the snow dropped openly and the sky fell out and then we suddenly had a 7 foot ice coat. To keep warm I invited pugnacious and highly sassy Yelizaveta Kotlyarova to join me at the Wall Street Baths, called Spa 88 in the cavern tombs below the District Financial. The date is the 10th of December in 2009 of the Common Era. The snow still falls heavy on the Isle of Man.
Below ground, in the underground you can hear the rumble of the trains through the walls; three flights down below street level; is the wood ceilinged restaurant of a Russian Bathhouse Spa 88. It stinks of sweat and also vaguely of after-hours fornication, buried below the streets of the Financial District a long conversation is coming to a close. An emergency medical technician named Sebastian Adon is finishing up a supposedly good yarn to a slightly younger Russian-Ukrainian-Jewish medical student named Yelizaveta Alexandrenova Kotlyarova who has recently become his platonic confidant.
The aim of such storytelling is that she might let him pour cold water upon her when she gets too hot, let him gaze at her nearly naked body, captivate him with her bright eyes and take in all his ambulance war stories. Of which he has plenty. He’s been writing to her for months. She has full and wavy real blond hair and she smiles with such mischievous knowing that her beauty and bright smile stays with him long after she is gone. But, it’s not romantic, never has been, she simply likes to hear him tell his various yarns. Thus so far he has made no motion to even try to kiss her. They are of course platonic friends. This has been a great success for the last four hours. Everything is fully dilated. They know each from a student group many years ago, when all in this country talked more openly about equality. Sebastian Adon is an avid fan of former and post Soviets. She is the loveliest Ivory he has ever known. Ivory is the clever rendition of the ethnic group Hebrew which is “EE-vree” when said by Israelis, and Yeli and he debate sometimes at length about the linguistic origins of the less flattering word “Jew:.
They remind him of something that is tough and also fearless; loyal to a red line and of course exceedingly beautiful and open minded in the bedroom to just about anything, he inherited his father Avraam’s gift for, curse for? Erotic undertones to everything. Adon has been writing Yelizaveta letters for over two years. He’s not sure why. Attention? It isn’t simply to sleep with her, well of course it is because he’s a man. Although as a man of course he would not turn that prospect down for she is surely very beautiful. He’s a man always highly in need of a confidant, for he’s nearly always in some form of emergency mode.
It has been a rocky road of activism, repeated arrest, trial and tribulation since he first came back from the State of Israel nearly ten years ago in 2001 shortly after the 9-11 martyr operation. He should have stayed, how he’s Babylonian, and locked in at FDNY. To her, he’s a fiery train wreck of comedy and tragic idealism. She observed him younger early in his student movement days, then briefly at Hunter University, once at yoga and on the Book Face for some time intermittently making snarky chatter. He cannot possibly be cut of normal Amerikanski cloth, he’s weird. He is a curiosity to which she can devote sporadic time. A minor deviation from her studies at Stony Brook.They are now on a winter break and she needs a distraction from her bickering parents. Her Jewish father, a former Soviet dentist, now descending into light madness and her Ukrainian mother; a maid at the Benjamin hotel. A cattle driver toward her being a doctor.
The story this time has been about his moral descent post deportation from the State of Israel, which just occurred a couple weeks before. He had recently attempted to return there to visit a long lost associate by the name of Maya Solomon.
He was immediately arrested at the airport.
His two days in Lod Prison were recounted and about Israelis not taking kindly to him working on a Palestinian ambulance for a week; four years prior was much of today’s yarn. The Israelis kind of hold a “whose suicide are you on” type grudge. About them beating him, waterboarding him emotionally, hitting him with strange lights, moral electricity and kicking him repeatedly in the groin bellowing in Russian.
Sebastian Adon ethnically speaking is one quarter Irish; one quarter Russian; one quarter German; and some part Polish Jew; therefore he makes a good little Brooklyn mutt. Or perhaps at best an exceedingly good liberal New Yorker. He drives ambulances for FDNY going on two years in the South Bronx; he sometimes drinks too much liquor and brutalizes a girlfriend sexually; but nothing rapey or ultra-violent. Cuffs, anal, threesomes with whores, foursomes with couples, loads on tits and faces. Family oriented fun like that. The product of a generation raised on porn. He’s got loose and transient morals that he justifies with his ambiguous vocation. He likes the idea of human rights, but isn’t sure if humans know they have any, or sometimes if they deserve them. He likes the idea of communism, but isn’t clear why the communist revolutions were mostly violent autocracies. He has basic values that are in essence good, Yelizaveta agrees, though she is vaguely appalled to hear him speak of his sexacapades’ and depravities, they cheapen him profoundly in her eyes.
She heard that Maria, his longest running ex left him because he got drunk and swam into the Atlantic last September after a fight. The Russian rumor mill was faster than Book Face. Sebastian has led a small revolutionist club since his return from Israel in 2001 that has caused him considerable trouble; but alas capitalism still rules in the USA, despite his and others best efforts to defeat it.
“There’s a half black president promising to end the wars, forgive student debt and provide universal free healthcare,” Yelizaveta says, “we weren’t all totally defeated.”
She had at one time organized a chapter of the movement at her all girl school Chapin, but that was in almost another life.
“Why are you still just an ambulance man again?” she asks him”
He replies to her:
“An ambulance is a vehicle for transporting sick or injured people, to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, or to heaven or hell. The term ambulance is used to describe a vehicle used to bring medical care to patients outside of the hospital or to transport the patient to hospital for follow-up care and further testing, or bring their souls to other vessels should they be fit enough to live again. The word is most commonly associated with the land-based, emergency motor vehicles that administer emergency care to those with acute illnesses or injuries, hereafter known as emergency ambulances, but in numerous developing and socialist nations community health workers have performed this work on foot and commandeered vehicles when needed. These are usually fitted with flashing warning lights and sirens to facilitate their movement through traffic. It is these emergency ambulances that are most likely to display the Star of Life, which represents the six stages of pre-hospital medical care. Other vehicles used as ambulances include trucks, vans, station wagons, buses, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, boats, and even hospital ships.”
“So says my Wikipedia,” smirks Emergency Medical Technician Sebastian Adon reading off his half smartphone, a little black android.
“Why do you have to quote your little Wikipedia, like every six conversations”, mutters Yelizaveta Kotlyarova, perhaps the object of his desire, a perky, tough as nails golden blue eyed, blond haired, shut up he thinks, making words rhyme doesn’t make you any kind of poet.
While completing a degree in Political Science at City University Sebastian took a job as an Emergency Medical Technician and this seems to have tempered some of his previous radical fervor, but not by much.
“I like helping my people,” comes his scripted response.
“Your people?” she replies.
“Everybody or anybody who needs some help.”
Sebastian is just under six feet tall. After they get dressed and meet in the banya lobby where she tries to pay and makes sure not to let her. He’s wearing a blue FDNY job shirt he’s gotten personally emblazoned with the Israeli flag, an irony under the circumstances of recent events. The Irish had been putting on such patches for years, however the window for other ethnicities was about to be cut short once the West Indians began wearing their flags into battle so to speak. He has bags under his eyes because he works life’s night shift. He wants her in every way a man can desire a woman but has never told her thus so far in the two years he’s known her. After Maria left he intensified the courtship. That is largely because he at first was fooled into loving another, lesser woman, second because he’s a coward when it comes to his actual emotions and did little to pursue the more likely reaction to his affections; which was surely bewilderment and rejection. So he just kept the letters about big ideas, not passions.
“I like collectively written documents. And you’re just being a snob because your Oberlin teachers always tell you never to use it. It’s a fucking great definition of an ambulance if you ask me.”
Yeli likes things with scientific references. She likes looking up anything that seems suspect, which when it comes to Adon, is a lot.
“I like some of your collectively written documents. But you go on and on sometimes and need to get to the point,” she says.
“Sometimes your art is overdone, overdrawn, you make the boobs big and gross and subtract from your bold uniqueness, in my opinion,” she smiles.
Yelizaveta likes things with references. But she is fully an artist at her core, in her heart and soul. She likes looking up almost anything that seems suspect, which when it comes to Adon, is a lot. She knows he keeps things from her to preserve a somewhat sanctimonious appearance of some kind of bohemian revolutionary ambulance hero.
Just fifteen minutes before they’d both been lying near naked in a Russian Banya called Spa 88. He was putting the story on her about something crazy that had just gone down on what was supposed to be his first vacation in three years. After some other story about a threesome with Maria, his ex. Which didn’t ever really happen, it was just something that turned him on to say in front of her. In reality, he had gotten into a fight with her in September on Block Island and followed Jeremy McCaffey’s ghost out to sea for several hours. The local police found him several hours later walking naked down the road with and carrying an enormous rock.
He has a very subjective reality compared to the rest of us, she thinks.She knows he keeps things from her to preserve a sanctimonious appearance of a bohemian revolutionary ambulance hero.
“I think you need to go back to school and get more real medical training,” she says, “you’re a glorified cab driver with an oxygen tank. You’re not living up to your expectations of yourself.”
“I’ll forgive your lack of appreciation. We’re god’s avenging angels with sirens I’ll have you know.” When Adon feels cornered he typically drops into even more grandiose rhetoric.
“Sebastian. You are a terrific story teller, but let’s not forget where we stand in life’s chain of command shall we. I am a student and you are a truck driver with a stethoscope, if we wish to be more than that there is such a long road ahead. ”
He wishes she was less coy; less belittling of his profession and what was left of his idealism. He guesses it isn’t truly love, not when sentiments of rough degrading sex run across the conscience. But if it was simply her in the back of an ambulance type love, she’d have seen right through it, likely been appalled. He believes in impossible, supposedly un-doable things. Kids himself into thinking he’s the man for the job. But she’s not impressed by all or any of that.
Sebastian Adon, is of course in the twilight of his young adult life. He has been driving an ambulance for three years thinking someone would call him a hero at some point, hoping, believing that there was gonna be a chance to save some lives.
“I’ve saved eight lives,” he informs her as he sometimes has before. It’s a justification for why he hasn’t quit the job yet.
“Well don’t let anybody take that from you,” she retorts.
“I want to reiterate that the reason we civil servants feel so entitled is that the rest of you are unwilling to work the conditions we are and face the raw unadulterated bullshit the people of this city are quite willing to put us through. We guard you while you sleep and you pay us like pizza men. I think this job has taken more from us than we were able to give to our city. And when the city is gone I assure you it is because we have abandoned hope in it.”
“You’re so preachy and poetic, I kinda hate, sort of love it,” she utters as she rubs her fingers together, “That, Tovarish is the world’s very smallest violin playing just for you.”
Adon is the kind of man who at this very juncture can still be motivated by even the world’s smallest violin. At least to him life then has a theme song.