Eminent Domain

Ooooh I like that daddy. Yeah that’s right oooh. Baby boy. You know where you at? Put it on me uhuh. You in candyland now baba.”

Her name was La. Not short for anything. We were sitting in the back room of the Half-Light Club, the fish tanks making halos on her vinyl booties. My legs were like great big bananas unpeeling themselves then zipping their peels back up again quick, repeating this striptease-and-reverse on end in the prismatic crack-up of my limbic system, or whatever system. Nobody told me how it wasn’t just coke the men were giving us, not till after.

Will-O came out from one of the champagne rooms, triumphant looking. Noseblood streaked his shirtsleeves. A diamond hamsa shone around his neck, the new commission from his on-call lapidary in the city. It was late in the night, out in Queens, and all our hearts faraway, but not his. “There’s still time to fall in love, don’t worry, people.” He looked at me.

“Somebody get Harvard some relief,” he said. “What’s the word, the anecdote,” and smiled down on a toothpick.

“This is what you want son. This is what you live for baby.” La was getting more intense. Way-late thirties, a second-string escort on the graveyard shift. She whipped her hair around. “Momma’s here,” she kept saying, bumping in the blue light with her eyes rolled back, mock-beatific or genuine-tweaking, now and then limply humping a throw pillow and cupping her sun-charred boob with lacquered pterodactyl nails. “Momma’s here.”

She had a kid she missed, on scholarship at Seton Hall.

“Cops! Fucking cops!” One of the girls burst in wagging her arms. Will-O, Cheez, and Jackie were startled but calm, they knew the drill. The room was dark. The next few seconds gave the impression of a well-practiced, coolheaded routine, like Black Ops in formation. “Let’s roll, let’s get the hell out of here,” said Cheez. I sat there doping out awhile, rapt in the glory of their wordless precision.

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