MY BUDDY’S IN A TEN-GALLON HAT and riding an elevator at his old high school in Brooklyn as we go to watch his honey in a swim meet. We get out at the top floor and there’s a river, where all the girls but one are swimming upstream. He hops in, swims downstream to a rock with a girl sunning on it. She starts screaming, and the other girls turn to come to her rescue. He watches as his pistol sinks in the water. He swims through the rapids to his horse only to find the other girls already there, holding rifles.
WE’RE IN A VICTORIAN-ERA ghetto at night. She wants to go to church. We go in amid a semicircle of people and sit down with friends. I take a break, get up, step outside to meet a city transit bus, kiss a girl, go back in to sit next to him, shamefaced a bit. My chair, a folding metal chair, is sideways, out of kilter. She whispers, “Don’t move.” That’s when I realize there’s a dead body beneath me and a man in the balcony with a rifle pointed at me. The preacher in the pulpit is silent.
I’M TRAVELING WITH a seven-year-old blonde cousin through a suburb. She speaks fluent French. I don’t. Everybody but me speaks French. She is my translator as we journey.