Maybe it’s corny, but I’ll tell you why we went out to California. To be free.
There was a writer who said that anything in the continental U.S. that isn’t nailed in place slides down into L.A. Our case was no different, Sailor’s and mine.
After Sailor met Harlin in a smoky basement bar called Grog on the Lower East Side, he’d taken her to suck him off in the Chelsea Hotel. After he’d paid, on the way out the door, he’d dropped a card. Harlin Coke, filmmaker. And a number. Sailor told me that he’d mumbled something on his way out the door, lighting up a cigarette, talking low through the smoke. “Could use a good funky indie chick like you again.”
When she’d come home from all that, she’d flicked the card down on the kitchen table in front of me, right by my coffee cup.
It’d been right after my breakdown, and I couldn’t sleep. I’d come out to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee and was just reading and drinking coffee and chainsmoking out there, as the first chink of light came through the blinds and cast itself across the kitchen table.
“What do you think about that?” She’d asked. “Met him down at Grog. One John that turned out to be a decent fornicator. And then he dropped his card.”
I didn’t say anything. Just some asshole who wanted to shoot some cheap home porn with a New York hooker.
“Why do we need a dirty excuse to go down to L.A.?” I asked, “We can just go.”
“Upi owes this guy a favor.”
“I don’t understand.”
“There’s nothing to understand. If I just duck out he’ll track me down. He’ll try to hurt me. Upi, I mean.”
“Across the country.”
“He’s crazy.” She turned away from me. She was going through a corner cupboard I’d never seen her use before.
“And you think this other guy isn’t. Harlin Coke? What kind of name is that?”
BAM! Sailor slapped an old VHS cassette down on the kitchen table. “One of his.”
“You wanna watch it now…or do you need some sleep?”
“Gimme five minutes. I’m going to slip into some pee-jays.” The way she said it was intentionally cute, with pursed lips, her eyes on my body. “Keep that coffee on for me?”
I pulled on my cigarette and looked at the VHS cassette. Someone had applied a sticker and scrawled on it with a ball point pen…
The Priest Harlin Coke, dir.