New Orleans, 1992.
We bob together in the tributary of hurricane-sweating beadwhores that has fed us into Bourbon Street without our having noticed. In an eddy around a French Colonial stoop we strike at baubles tossed from Spanish wroughtiron balconies though our necks are already heavy with the shimmer of plastic treasure.
I am shirtless in overalls, and my friends are with me. A skinny Englishman with granny glasses and a ponytail. A strapping wunderkind who once thought he was in love with me but finally realized he only admired my capacity for drink, which rivaled his own. And my Asian pixie, toothsome and quietly knowing.
Brain cells are sacrificed, laws are broken. But in this place our sins are laughable. We are amateurs.
Later, in the parking lot of Ratshit Motel, I am cornered. Confronted.
"What am I to you?"
I mumble. She persists.
I sidestep. She demands.
The shadow of a languorous ceiling fan drifts over her icy gaze. Dark. Light. Dark.
"My special lady?" I venture.
Her lip curls into the slightest snarl.
"My lady friend?"
"Um, girlfrie...I guess girlfriend? Yeah?"
Her face becomes soft again.