It was the end of December and without a coat against the wind I cared little what day it was. The heat was turned off to my shabby room at the top of the landing, not a piece of bread for my hungry belly. The soles of my shoes were worn thin from walking the streets, going door to door in search of a days pay. That was my life lately, day to day. I passed Mrs. Reyes sweeping the drab green stairway on the way to my tomb. I smiled wondering why she bothered when in the morning it would again be littered with beer cans and cigarette butts.
Her door was open a crack and I could hear her furnace spit and sputter. I envied the broom she held. We all need a human touch. After a while you ache for it. Not long ago, just by chance I had met an old friend at a pub. Our paths crossed many years ago when she was a young whore in Berlin and I was trying to establish myself, conquer the world. Rather I became a jaded and frustrated man. We shared a room, split the rent, had plenty of booze and whatever else we needed. Once a face model in Milan she began her descent and lost her looks but still she had connections. She broke down when she talked about her new man, the Turk, he had beaten and robbed her. She wept against my chest. I can still feel her warm breath and damp cheek. I would not be her lover but she felt good and I was more than willing to be a shoulder when she needed one.
Mrs. Reyes asked me to come in , sensing a degree of desperation in her invitation I followed her and sat at a small table in one of two straight back chairs neatly placed across from one another. Making casual small talk, she searched her cabinet and behind mismatched cups and plates she pulled out a half empty bottle of cheap rum. She murmured that she was having trouble sleeping, as though she needed to explain the bottle in the cabinet while pouring a small amount into two glasses. Trying to stay away from the stuff, I declined so she finished her drink and mine. Spontaneously, she moved around the table and stood before me, leaned down and our lips met, her sweet moist tongue flitting across my own. I missed the touch of a woman, desired it. Her breasts were full and swayed when she moved, tugging against the broken buttons of her blouse. I slipped my hand down it’s frayed neckline, the erect berries of nipples brushed my palm. When our eyes met, I thought she was quite pretty.
She dug out some old records, placed one on a dusty phonograph. Scratched and skipping, I think it was Moon River. She pulled my arms around her waist and we swayed together, just like that without words, holding one another close, moving gently to the music. It was warm and tender and nice. The next morning I got dressed quietly and kissed her forehead lightly, opened the door to go. She called softly behind me, ” thank you for a lovely New Year’s Eve”.
Art by Fabian Perez