Redemption Song, Part Two

After the fight we returned to Club Z to celebrate, and a woman at the bar said, “Nice bag.”

Beside my jeans and work boots, the bag’s green-and-red sash seemed regal. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Gucci.”

Shortly before dawn we grabbed a cab to the Chelsea Hotel, where Ivan’s friend, Chantal, had a suite. She was a photographer he’d met at Columbia. “She was the other black student on scholarship,” he’d told me. Now she lived at the Chelsea, which had a reputation for being hip, cheap, and notorious. A year earlier, Sid Vicious had stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy, there. Room rates went up.

After the desk clerk buzzed her, we took the elevator to the third floor. Chantal was standing in the doorway, barefoot, one hand clasping her robe tightly above her breasts. Ivan kissed her forehead. Then, wordlessly, we found places to lay our bodies. I’d been up forty hours straight, and the couch felt like heaven.

When I woke after bad dreams it was dark, and quiet enough to remind me that I was alive. I heard the hallway door unlock. I turned and saw Chantal carrying a pair of plastic supermarket bags. She wore black tights, a short plaid skirt, and a cotton sweater. Glancing out the window, I gathered by Manhattan’s nickel-colored twilight that she was home from work. I’d been unconscious from dawn to dusk. I assumed that Ivan was still asleep in the next room.

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