Horizontal Lives

True Tales of the Infamous Courtesan: Persephone N. Hades and her Horizontal Life underground. How she got there, her mis-adventures and her struggle to re-surface.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Holly Golightly is Alive and Well


Before I tell you what happened, it’s important you know two facts.


Fact One: I hate my landlord. That’s okay because he hates me too. I only hate him, because he hates me. Sounds childish, but let me explain.


My apartment is rent stabilized. Not rent controlled, but stabilized, which means that my rent can only go up about $200.00 each lease cycle. If I move out, the apartment will no longer be stabilized and my landlord could get another hundred or so dollars per month for rent. So instead of collecting $2000.00 a month, as he does from me, for a five hundred square foot apartment, he would be able to get oh, say, $2100.00. That extra hundred is a big, fat carrot he feels deprived of. Because of this, we have been in an unspoken battle for years ever since he bought the building I live in.


He deprives me of heat in the winter and refuses to fix anything that breaks in my apartment. So why don’t I move?

The building is small. There is no doorman to monitor comings and goings. I am on a low floor. The other tenants are rarely home. It’s the perfect apartment to work from. It would be very difficult to find another ideal set-up like this in Manhattan.


Although it’s not his name, I secretly call him ‘Mr. Yunioshi’. He’s actually Chinese, not Japanese, but he reminds me of the landlord that Mickey Rooney played in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany’s".


Do you remember that film?


Holly Golightly, the character played by Audrey Hepburn, is a working girl, who also happens to live in a New York City Brownstone, as do I, and she has an annoyed landlord named Mr. Yunioshi, who would like nothing better than to have her evicted from her apartment. As would my landlord.


My ‘Mr. Yunioshi’ kinda, sorta suspects what I do but hasn’t proof enough (yet) to make the move to evict me. Instead, he sets conversational bait now and again with tidbits like:


"Oh, so I notice you have lot of men client come to visit you very much often." (Said with a ‘wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing, full-tooth smile, followed by a bleating giggle.)


To which I give the slippery reply:
"And women too. Lots of my friends like to come and see me." (Said with a wide-eyed-of-course-I-have-lots-of-friends-doesn’t-everyone grin.)


We usually stalemate at this point until his next shot a few weeks later.


This has been going on for years.


Needless to say, my chess game with him is a constant source of worry that I try not to think about too much. Never the less, I do take precautions, trying to do everything I can to seem as inconspicuous as possible.

I try to book my clients far enough apart so that the downstairs buzzer doesn’t ring too often. I keep the music on a low volume but high enough to mask any extraneous noise in my apartment. I call my client by his name when he is in the hallway, so my landlord will think he is just another friend I happen to know well, coming to visit. I have rugs covering most of the floor and try to tiptoe on the hardwood areas so the clicking of my heels can’t be heard below on my landlord’s ceiling.


To be evicted, especially for illegal activity, would cause unnessary hardship in an already trying circumstance.


Fact Two: No one has ever died in my apartment. I say that because for some reason, that’s a question clients ask me. Maybe they have the Rockefeller fantasy swirling around in their minds?


(I do have a ghost, however, that seems to like to sit on a chair nearby and smoke cigars. Good Cuban cigars from what I can smell. Cohiba, maybe? I assume it is a male ghost who seems friendly enough. He doesn’t really disturb anything. He just seems to like to smoke his cigars and observe during my sessions now and again.)


The really wonderful thing about this ghost is that he comes when I have a client over, so that I am not the only one who notices him. This is good because if he came when I was alone, and then I told people about him, they would think I was a bit bonkers. But he comes when I have witnesses, and I think that is rather nice of him.


But I digress.


As I stated in my Fact Two, no one has ever died in my apartment. But recently, someone came close, which put me in a rather precarious position with my issue in Fact One.


He was my last client of the day arriving for a three-hour appointment at 9pm.


I adore this client.


He’s young, in his thirties, but appears middle-aged having married in his youth and now raising three teenage children. He lives an untroubled life in the suburbs of the mid-west, reflected by his comfortable, teddy-bear body. He is always excited to see me and tends to book weeks in advance. I am his only excursion to the ‘wild side’. His once-every-six-month visit ‘keeps him sane’, as he says. So when he comes over, we crack open the champagne and settle on the sofa for an hour of lively conversation, confessions and laughter. I thoroughly enjoy him.


Gentleman that he is, and as per usual, he arrives on time, not late, not early: 9pm sharp. We hardly notice polishing off the bottle of champagne, and are still involved in a vivacious debate about the influx of Swedes to America, (don’t ask me why or how that started!), when we move, hand-in-hand to the bedroom.


My bedroom, I should tell you, is all white. The walls are white. The rug is white. The tons and tons of expensive bedding is white. The plush, cushy comforter is white. The eight pillows are white. You almost can’t get whiter than my bedroom.


(Also, now that I am writing this, it occurs to me, that my client’s name as well, is very close to 'Whitinger'. Which is more than ironic. Not yet, but you’ll see why in a moment.)


For the next two hours, we tease, we torture, we pamper, we play, we moan, we groan, we romp, we climax, we collapse, we cuddle.


We lay like spoons for a while, in the room lit only by a few flickering candles.
I open one eye to the clock and know we are going over time.
It’s late, I don’t have anywhere to go and, with him, don’t mind. We lay there, in the dark, feeling each other’s bodies expand and contract.
That’s when I notice it.
My feet feel wet.
Not wet like sweaty-wet, but wet like they are resting in a pool of water.
Attempting to be inconspicuous, I reach down to my ankle, pretending to scratch an itch, and try to assess what it is I am feeling.
There is a puddle. My feet are in a puddle.


My first thought is’ My f** cking landlord! There’s a leak in the ceiling that he never took care of and now the pipes have burst!’


But I didn’t feel anything dripping from above. Hmmm.


I sneak a peek at my client. His eyes are closed. He is breathing deeply.
Gently, I remove his arm from around my waist, so I can sit up. There, by our feet, I spy, what appears to be a basin of dark wetness. Then it hits me, horror of horrors, that it might be---
Dipping a finger into it, I smell the substance and yes, it is.


Blood.


But where did it come from?


My first guess is, ME. Maybe I hemorrhaged. Maybe I got my period. My period likes to do that. It tends to have a wicked sense of humor, surprising me at the most inconvenient times. It must be that. Oh god! How awful. I reach between my legs, slipping a finger inside myself, then bringing it up to the candlelight. Clear. Not dark. Whew. Okay. It’s not me. For a moment, I’m relieved. But then, if it’s not me, where is it coming from?


I look again. Okay, it’s a puddle, but it’s not a stationary puddle. It appears to be growing, to be spreading, to be filling up even as I stare at it. It’s becoming a lagoon in my comforter.


Oh this is bad. This is not good. This is bad on so many levels. This is bad because one of us is bleeding to death and I’m not sure who it is. This is bad because my bed is getting ruined. This is bad because if it’s him, he may be dying. This is bad because if it’s him and he’s not dying, he’ll be so upset, he’ll never see me again. And this is bad because, as I said, one of us appears to be losing a lot of blood and possibly dying.


I wake him by whispering in his ear. "John? Do you feel anything strange?"


"What do you mean?"


"Look."


"Oh my god."


"I know."


We are both smiling politely.


"What is it?"


"I think its blood."


"Where’s it coming from?"


"?"


We stare at the growing lake. Nervous laughter. Neither one of us wants to lose our dignity by panicking.


"I’m gonna get a wash cloth." I say, not moving.


"Okay."


"Stay here."


"Okay."


I leave a trail of bloody red footprints on the white carpet as I dash to the bathroom. There I wash my legs and feet. Once clean, I check them for cuts. Nothing. Oh yikes. It must be him. I don’t know which would have been worse.


Back on the bed, we lift his feet one at a time, as I wipe them with the cloth. His right leg is fine. I raise his left leg and there, on his inner anklebone is a tiny lesion, no bigger than a pinprick. A pinprick that is not lightly bleeding, but rather spurting a stream of blood into the air, like an open fire hydrant.


I hold the white rag against the miniscule wound. It is quickly turning red.


I am terrified but giggling. We are both afraid to make a big deal of it. He’s embarrassed but doesn’t want to show it. I feel guilty, as I’m afraid he might have cut himself accidentally on the iron post of my bed. We’re saying things like: ‘Well this is something.’ ‘Unbelievable.’ ‘What kind of house guest are you.’ ‘Ha ha.’


Finally, when the wash cloth is completely dyed, I can’t hold my fear in check any longer.


"We have to get you to the bathtub."


"You’re probably right."


"It’s not stopping. Do you feel light-headed?"


"No. I feel fine actually."


"Ready?"


"Umm-hmm."


On the count of three, he hops off the bed, and runs to the tub, spraying blood all over the apartment as he goes.


He sits naked in the cold tub. I sit on the toilet next to him. We watch the blood shoot out of his ankle.


"I think we should call the paramedics." I say.


"No!"


I know what he fears. "They won’t say where they took you from."


"What if they do?"


"They won’t. Why would they?"


"It might be in their report."


"It won’t be."


"No. I’ll be alright. Give me another cloth. I’ll just put pressure on it."


I hand him another cloth. "I feel so bad. What if it was my bed you cut yourself on?"


"I didn’t feel anything."


"Well no, but our concentration was taken up by other things."


The second cloth is rapidly changing color.


"I’m gonna call. This is serious. I’ve never seen bleeding like this before, have you?"


"Okay, call."


I leave the bathroom for the phone.


"But blow out the candles." He calls to me from the tub.


"What?"


"Blow out the candles and turn on the lights and just make it look like, like, it wasn’t what it was."


"Oh. Okay. Okay."


I get 911 on the phone. They are on their way. I race around the apartment, blowing out candles, turning on lights, trying to make it look like a night two good friends just got together for conversation and a movie.


"They’re on their way. I’ll put a movie on." I holler back to him. "How about ‘Blazing Saddles’?"


"I’ve seen it." He calls back.


"How about ‘Young Frankenstein’?"


"All you have is Mel Brooks?"


Suddenly it hits me. I walk back to the bathroom with my hands on my hips. "We’re not actually going to watch it you know."


"Oh, right. Right. Okay."


"How’s the ankle?"


He lifts the cloth. Blood shoots upward like a fountain.


"Eee-ga. I’m so sorry honey."


"It’s not your fault." He says kindly.


"You’re naked!" It suddenly occurs to me. "Put this on."


I help him slip his arms into my favorite (yes, white) bulky, terry-cloth robe. It’s the only one that will fit him.


The doorbell buzzes. I can only imagine my landlord. ‘One o’clock in the morning and she’s still getting visitors.’ "Miss Golightly! I'm-a gonna call the vice squad on you!"

I’m dead meat.


The paramedics rush in.
"Will he be alright?"
I hear words like: ‘artery bursting’, ‘cauterize’, ‘hospital’.
They take him out on a stretcher.
As he is going down the stairs he calls up to me,
"I’ll call you in the morning."
I’m thinking, ‘Bye John.’ I have a sinking feeling.


Alone in my apartment, the stereo has long stopped playing. The silence and the bright light only serve to illuminate the incredible mess. It looks like a murder scene. Every rug is splattered. The floors are covered in confusing red footprints that trail in every direction leading nowhere. There is blood in the tub, and on every wall from the bathroom, through the living room, in the bedroom. Especially the bedroom. And my bed! My beautiful, expensive, plush bed is soaked through to the mattress in gore. My once white bedroom now looks as if it were the scene of a paintball tournament or that Charles Manson was my last visitor.


I can’t move. I’m so tired. I don’t know how to begin so I sit Indian-style on the floor and stare. Then it occurs to me. I have clients tomorrow. In less than ten hours. Coming here. My adrenaline kicks in. The bedroom first. That’s the worst of it.


One by one, I yank off the eight pillows. Then the comforter and the sheets. There is no way to salvage this. But what to do with them?


In the kitchen I find my only garbage bags are the clear blue ones used for recyclable items. Will have to do. I stuff the bloody linens into bag after bag and quietly drag them, one bag at a time, down the stairs, out to the trash.


After I’ve tossed the last of the seven bags into the trash area, I stop. This looks a bit unsavory, to say the least. To be blunt, it looks like I killed someone, chopped the body into pieces and hid them in these bags. Then I wonder if the garbage men will report this to the police who will then question my landlord who will immediately think of me.


No. This is New York. I can only pray the garbage men come before my landlord gets a chance to see this.


I spend the rest of the night with bleach and Mr. Clean.


I won’t have time before my clients tomorrow to replace the bedding. I’ll have to make an excuse or give a discount. Certainly, I can’t tell them the truth. At the very least, the truth would dampen the mood.


John calls in the morning. He’s okay. Insurance will cover it. Turns out he had veins close to the bone and one was connected with a major artery. The artery burst into the vein. High blood pressure or something like that.


I’m glad he’ll be okay. I’m glad it wasn’t my bed at fault.


He jokes that he is going to write a review about me saying the sex was so good, it actually made him burst an artery. I beg him not to.


He offers to help pay for the bedding. I decline. He insists.


A few weeks later, I get a check in the mail for $200.00.


My bedding cost almost $8000.00. (Well, I do spend most of my life in bed.) But I know he means well.


His original fee was $1500.00. So all together, it was a costly evening.


For both of us.

But taking everything into consideration, the only real unfortunate outcome was, as suspected, I never heard from him again.


On the other hand, there is good news.
My landlord was away for the weekend.
My client found out about his blood-pressure problem before something even more serious happened.
My ghost certainly had an interesting night.
And still no one has died in my apartment.


At least not with me in it.

























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