Jetting, A Tale of the Upper West side, Part IV (Conclusion)

We arranged for her to come over at one in the afternoon. I spent most of Saturday morning cleaning, and then I ate a light lunch. Trying not to plan seduction scenarios or to think of anything at all besides getting my hundred dollars back – about the only thing I could really count on – I found an Orioles-Yankees game on the cable and watched and waited.

At one forty the doorbell rang and I buzzed her up. She was wearing jeans and a low-neck, black shirt, a rust-colored leather jacket, and her Greek fisherman’s cap. The two latter articles she removed and placed on a chair, and she also took off her boots, in gracious conformity to my no-shoes policy. She was sweetly-smiling and a little nervous.

I made a bit of conversation from what I’d been watching on TV, saying that the Orioles were almost a religious thing for me. She said she felt the same way about the Cardinals, and there it rested.

For our date, I’d selected the French diving movie The Big Blue. I switched off the baseball game and loaded the tape into the VCR. I asked if I could sit next to her on the couch, and she was OK with it. There was no other place for me to sit anyway. The bowl of popcorn I’d set out remained untouched.

As the movie progressed, I asked if she liked it a couple of times, and she said she did. She seemed caught up in the story and in the big blue cinematic visuals, even on my little TV.

About halfway through, I put my arms around her and kissed her on the cheek, marveling at how smooth, young, and firm it was; I bit it with my lips. She was amenable but passive and barely responsive. When I turned her head toward me with my hand, to kiss her lips, she complied and kissed back until I was finished, and then she went back to watching the movie. Three or four such closings and partings took place.

Then I did something I’d never done before and have never done since, with anyone: I rested my head on her chest. I knew nothing (and still know nothing) about breasts or bras, but whatever she came with, it was enough to support the weight of my noggin for the rest of the picture. I curled my legs on the sofa and nestled into her like a pillow. As comfortable as I was, I wanted to switch places on the couch; being left-handed, I would have felt better postured with my left ear to her heart. But I didn’t want to break whatever spell had been cast, by voicing such a request. Besides, she had yet to accede to anything I’d explicitly asked, for the whole of the afternoon, and I couldn’t risk it.

At the conclusion of the video, with neither one of us, perhaps, feeling that we’d gotten our money’s worth, I set up my old turntable and played “Ask Me Now,” the second to last track on the album Solo Monk. I wanted to share something very personal and intense with her. All I could do, though, was to say something cerebral like “This song is the musical equivalent of a Vincent van Gogh painting.” She said she felt the same way about John Coltrane, and so we had a brief discussion about the relative virtues of the piano versus the saxophone.

In connection with her interest in music (just not my music), she mentioned that she wanted to work in a recording studio on the side. I seized the opportunity to pursue one last transaction, telling her that my friend Bob ran a recording studio and giving her his phone number. “And now that I’ve helped your career,” I said in ironic seriousness, “you have to let me lie on top of you for one minute.”

She did. We kissed a bit more.

Of course, I asked her to spend the night, promising that “nothing would happen” except more cuddling, but she said no. Her parents were coming the following morning, in advance of her upcoming graduation.

Speaking of which, I congratulated her, and then she left.

Returning to the living room, to unplug and store the turntable, I noticed the hundred dollar bill on the coffee table, where Lucy must have placed it when I wasn’t looking. I left it there, thinking that I would re-deposit it in the bank on Monday; but as it turned out, I forgot about it, and soon it got mixed in with some junk mail and other papers on the table. A couple of weeks later, I realized that I’d thrown it away.

Author: Harry Miller

I have traveled and lived in Taiwan, China, and Japan and am now a professor of Asian history and a soon to be published novelist.

4 thoughts on “Jetting, A Tale of the Upper West side, Part IV (Conclusion)”

  1. This builds so perfectly to that last final clinching irony, with only a shadow of the tenderness explicated, that tenderness and longing and sense of loss is, nevertheless, the substantive scaffolding here. How far your protagonist came from the revulsion in the first encounter to (even coyly) overstepping (perhaps) in “hoping to get one more transaction.” This series has given me much to think about, how does one approach the transactions of desire without compromising the very autonomy and vitality of the other that may have been the very impetus of the attraction. The quandary is made all the more acute by the awkwardness of the protagonist feeling perpetually out of element. This was a well executed tale Harry.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lona, for reading my story and for sharing your thoughts on it. It’s been on my ‘to write’ list since the 90s, and I finally put it together just to keep my blog going. My cupboard is nearly bare, now, and I may decide to concentrate on enjoying the holidays.

      I will also concentrate on enjoying your blog. I see you’ve got a few postings I need to read.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you like my little postings, it may bring some balm to soften the portending boredom that might be our lot in our little state on this Iron Bowl Saturday. 😉

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