That's what the text message said. Tennessee. It was 9:30. I was down for the night watching what my museum girlfriend calls colloquially "your shows." It was a Friday night, and I had thought of going up to The Pig to get dinner, but I'm a bum and didn't want to get dressed so I had grilled asparagus and a beef kabob and heated up a can of organic beans instead. It went down easy with a bottle of red wine. It was too hot to eat outside comfortably, but I had sat out with a cheroot and a glass of whiskey with a totally worn out cat for a bit. The heat is beating her up, you can tell.
"If you had been nice to me, you might be living inside now. . . but no. You want to be wild. See? There are consequences. I was wild once, too, you know. . . but I'm a house cat now. There comes a time when you want to be a house cat, but for you, I think, it is just too late."
Life is still pretty good, I was thinking. I mean, I'm not a feral cat. I have good food and drink and a nice place to sit and I can watch documentaries on Velazquez just by thinking of it. I am watching two series now, both second season, one from Israel and one from India. Each is silly and visually delicious. "The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem" and "Made in Heaven." I just go into a trance and let myself be transported after reading until my eyes and mind tire. There are the wines and liquors and expensive sweets at arm's reach. And there are now the occasional nights out and the old silliness of rowdy men and flirty women. And there are beautiful women who hold me in their hearts, too. No, I've had the stuffing knocked out of me, but I still want more.
I was getting nervous. It was ten and Tennessee was still texting me.
"Fuck you, man. . . I'm going to bed."
The phone rang.
"You ain't going to bed, homey. I've got an expensive bottle of tequila and I'm two minutes from your house. I've got a story to tell you."
What could I do? Maybe he wouldn't stay long. But he was right. He was coming in hot.
"I'm fucked up, dude. I've been drinking since 4:30."
He was amped up and flying. He'd been out with a buddy just up the street.
"They were twins, dude. Lebanese. No shit. They're still texting me. They were rock climbers. Gorgeous. I had to get out. Here. Here's a picture of one of them."
He showed me his phone. It was a selfie of him and a true beauty. He pulled up her Instagram page. That's what people do now. They swap IG pages. I've learned that much, anyway.
"Fuck. You can't believe these girls. They couldn't believe I was leaving."
His phone lit up. He read the text out loud.
"Yea, yea, yea," I said. "You piss me off."
"No dude. You're coming with me tomorrow. We'll get dinner then head up to this speak easy." He named one in Gotham. "Have you been?"
"Yea, I've been. I don't like it much. I don't like going down to Gotham at night. Not my crowd."
"No, man. . . this place is cool. You'll love it. We're going."
Eventually, after another couple glasses of scotch, he was amping down. But he had shit to say. It wasn't going to be an early night. He was working through his conflicts now. Loyalty and desire. He needed to talk it out, to hear it bounce off someone else to see how it sounded. I knew the drill. Been there. So I sat back and settled in and nodded and offered observations and watched his inward looking eyes scan the inside of his skull. Both the devil and the angel were pulling at him. He was looking for some safe patch to land. I was in the traffic control tower now. He was circling the airfield and he was running out of fuel.
I looked at the clock.
"Motherfucker. It's one thirty."
"Shit. I'm going home. I'm still fucked up."
It was ok. He only had a few neighborhood streets to navigate. I walked him to the door.
"We're going out tomorrow," he called back.
"Ain't no maybe, homey."
I closed the door thinking I needed to sleep until at least nine. If I woke up at four or five, I was going to be a miserable sonofabitch.
I woke up for the first time at nine. God is Great.
Now I'm going to make some avocado toast. I'll chop up little tomatoes and put on top. I may fry up a couple eggs. Oh, shit. . . I don't think I have any. That's o.k. Avocado toast will do. I have an adventurous spirit this morning. I think I know what I might do. And there will be a nap. And then. . . I have to talk Tennessee out of a late night. I don't want a late night. There will be women like the young Indian girl from the other night, not women you want to sit on the couch with and shut out the world, but women of the world itself with fluttering eyes and eager. . . whatever. I've had it my whole life. Tennessee is still in the weeds with it. I mean, I'm not entirely against it. . . if it is early and I can get to bed by a decent hour. Ha! But he has the competitive edge here. I'm beginning to realize what it was like for my dead ex-friend Brando when we were out for a night on the town. Tennessee has looks and charm, and goddamn him, he's at his peak. Trying to keep up with him will only kill me.
I'd rather go see the gay Asian band at the little upstairs hipster bar in my own hometown. Early, not late. Something soft and strange. A giggle and a laugh.
Oh, man. . . where is My Own True Love?