Foxy Kropotkin

by

10/20/2005

Lafayette St. & Walker St. ny ny 10013

Neighborhood: Chinatown

All night Foxy Kropotkin had thrown the covers on and off. It had been hours since she told Virginia to get her an orange soda. She thought to herself, Larry’s not cold yet three days—but I still have the credit card. In an instant she was out of bed. She pulled her coat over her muumuu, went out the door, and walked to the Chinatown Holiday Inn.

She lay down on the firm hotel mattress in the cool yellow-papered room. Sleep came quickly.

She woke refreshed from a nine-hour siesta and reached over to the night table for her dentures.

The digital clock flashed 5:30. Cocktail hour.

She put her coat back on and took the escalator to the piano bar.

She climbed onto a wooden stool next to two Chinese businessmen who were drinking whiskey. The bartender served their exotic escorts two Sloe Gins. She swung her feet and, suddenly feeling juvenile, crossed her legs and pulled the coat around her muumuu. She wished she’d worn her cocktail dress, fingering the green velvet collar of her grey coat with big green velvet buttons. She’d bought it because of the shoulder pads. She order a Tom Collins.

“Gotta cigarette?”

The bartender gave her a menthol and she leaned forward for his light.

“Here by yourself?” he asked.

“Yeah, recently widowed. I also had this gentleman friend for a time…a guy I used to know, he hung out in the lobby all the time—that’s how we got to know each other—he liked to take me out once in a while, always lit my cigarettes, ordered fancy cocktails in champagne glasses with orange slices, what’s-it-called, that one that goes from red to pink to yellow?” She ran one finger up her glass.

“Tequila sunrise.”

“Yeah, the kind of thing you drink on vacation.” She was silent while her thoughts ran past her ability to speak. “Yeah—and he took me to museums…and poetry readings. He knew these poets that used to hang out in West Village bars in the ‘50’s. And he was, I don’t know, there was something about him, he always smelled like aftershave.

“I’d tell Larry I was going to a movie with my sister. He was happy to stay home and watch TV. And he had the cat. He called it Plop because every night it crawled into bed and crashed onto his stomach. He had an unhealthy attachment to that cat. When it finally died he cried for a year, like it was his kid or something. That was some year. Same year I met my gentleman friend. He’s dead too I visited him in the hospital whenever I was “allowed.” Fifteen years and his daughters were still angry—The bitches wouldn’t let me in the room if they were there. As far as I’m concerned, he might as well’ve died alone with them there and me not. And what did I get out of those fifteen years? His cat. He left me his fat old cat. Well, he didn’t exactly leave it to me. The doorman said they were going to drop it off at the ASPCA. So I said I’d take it. I thought it might help Larry get over the dead one. But he never really took to it. But I’ll tell you one thing—I was there when Larry died. Who else would be there? The cat?”

She became quiet again, checking herself out in the mirror behind the bar. She thought of Larry and his cat in the afterlife—Dead cat curled up on stomach of dead husband. “Here’s to ya!” She finished her drink. “Well—Virginia must be worried by now, wondering how I got away so quietly…Tough shit—She thinks I don’t know what’s going on? Like I don’t know there’s more to life than orange soda and pop tarts? A person needs to get out every once in a while.”

She grabbed a handful of fish crackers from the bar and hopped off the stool.

She walked the long blocks along Grand Street to the housing project on the East River, holding her coat close around her as the wind picked up. It was beginning to rain and she realized she had forgotten to change out of her slippers. They were her nice ones with the heels, not the Payless ones. Her feet kept slipping off the sides and the feathers were getting wet.

When she got home Virginia was curled up in the chair with the TV on. She stopped licking her tail and looked up at Foxy, who was standing there dripping wet and full of gin. Foxy kicked off her slippers. “Hey bitch—you forgot my orange soda!”

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