We drank at the Spitting Devil. We met a web designer with a Mohawk who said he liked to flirt with men. When he said this put his hand on my arm. We walked across the street to the Black Betty. We met the bouncer Israel. Veronica kissed him on the cheek. I shook his hand and said I wouldn’t kiss him. We drank Jack and gingers. Veronica danced with a woman who was standing next to us at the bar. The woman was wearing a tight leather skirt. The woman’s boyfriend said she could dance only one song. Veronica tried to buy the woman a shot, but the boyfriend said his girlfriend only drinks a shot when he says so. Veronica asked why he had to control her like that. Was he overcompensating because he was short and unattractive? The man asked Veronica if she was with someone. She pointed at me. I came closer, ready for a fight. I’d never been a fight before, and I wasn’t sure if my first opponent should be a bald man with a neck tattoo.
    If you weren’t with someone, the man said to Veronica, I would hit you on your big fucking mouth.
    Asshole, she said.
    Israel was coming our way.
    I took her out by the hand.
    She lit a cigarette. It just makes me angry, she said, how he wouldn’t let her dance when she was a beautiful dancer. Wasn’t she a beautiful dancer? How couldn’t he let her dance? She was a beautiful dancer.  
    The world is full of injustice, I said.


We got into a cab. It was late and bars were closing. We went back over the Williamsburg Bridge to the city. Coming over the bridge we saw the lights of the Manhattan skyline.
    Isn’t it beautiful? she said. She took my hand. I’m never leaving this place, she said. Never.
    She got out her notebook and tried to interview the cab driver. She was doing freelance work for a magazine in Brooklyn. She leaned close to the partition.
    How are you tonight, sir? she said.
    Terrible, the cab driver said.
    Oh, what’s wrong?
    Drunk people, he said. They are crazy. They do not pay. They throw up in the cab and I have to clean. They yell at me. They do not know where they live. I let them out on the street and they collapse on the sidewalk. They pee everywhere, I have to clean, clean, clean. I am a father. I am a man. They treat me like dirt. It is terrible.
    Has anyone ever tried to have sex in the back of your cab? she said.
    What? Sex? In my cab? Yes, but you are a nice young lady, you should not talk about such things. Just last night, a man and a woman were in my cab, and I had to stop and throw them out. People are animals. They have no decency!


At the French Roast on Sixth Avenue I tried to order champagne, but they wouldn’t let me because it was after four a.m. Veronica asked how I was going to die.
    I don’t know, I said. How are you going to die?
    Are you kidding? she said. Lung cancer.
    She went out for a smoke. Her phone on the table was buzzing. I looked at it. The text said, I love you. I love you. I love you.
    We finished eating and she paid the bill when I was in the bathroom.
    Nightcap? I said.
    Just one, she said.
    Yes, just one.
    We went to a bodega and bought two cans of Sapporo. We cracked the cans and walked arm in arm to Washington Square Park. It began to rain.
    I’m singing in the rain, we both sang. Just singing in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again. I’m laughing at clouds, so dark up above. The sun’s in my heart, and I’m ready for love.
    We clicked our heels and tried to splash in the puddles. We had a contest who could click their heels the best. I won. I had a wonderful heel click. We sat on a bench in the park. The rain stopped. The sky was beginning to get light.
    When rosy-fingered Dawn appeared, I said. They sailed for the distant camp of the Achaeans.
    In the park they’d been filming an apocalyptic movie so there were black burnt-out cars surrounding us.
    We’re the last people here on earth, I said. It’s our moral obligation to have sex and populate the earth.
    She leaned her head on my shoulder. Let’s get married, she said. We’ll get married and have children and we’ll live in one of these brownstones on the park and we’ll be rich.
    Sure, I said.
    I’m serious, she said. You’re my only friend in the world and I think we should get married. It will be lovely. We’ll have lots of children and you can do your work and I’ll write. It will be wonderful.
    Sure, I said. Why not?
    I knew she had a boyfriend. And if she didn’t have a boyfriend she had a million men after her. 
    I’m serious, she said. She looked at me. I want to be married, she said. All my friends are married. They all have five children. I’m an old maid, and I’m going to die alone.
    You’re twenty-five, I said.
    She drank her beer. She was sitting on the bench looking at me, her hair wispy and disheveled. She looked fragile, like she might break into a thousand pieces if I touched her.
    Let’s get married, she said, and we’ll jump off the bridge together. I can see it now. It will be so beautiful. You in your tux. My white dress trailing in the wind behind me. We’ll be holding hands as we fall. It will be so romantic.
    What will the New York Post headline be? I said.
    Suicide Wedding, she said.
    Til Death Do Us Part, I said.
    Yes!
    We drank our beer.
    A year from this date, she said, we’ll meet at City Hall at noon and get married. We won’t speak of it at all from now until that date, a year from now. We’ll just meet and get married and afterwards we’ll get drunk one last time and have a lovely dinner. The most expensive dinner ever. We’ll rent a room at the Palace and order room service. Caviar and champagne. At midnight we’ll take a cab and jump off the bridge. We’ll kiss and then hold hands and jump.
    Which bridge? I said.
    The Queensboro, she said. It’s the best bridge. I love that bridge.
    We shook hands on it.
    I love you, she said. Do you love me?
    No, I said.
    Why not? she said. I love you. She looked like she was going to cry. Kiss me, she said.
    I kissed her.
    Kiss me for real, she said.
    I kissed her again.
    Do you love me? she said.
    No, I said.
    She threw her beer down and ran off. I followed her. She walked onto West 4th Street in front of a cab. She stopped and stared at the cab driver. He honked.
    Darling, I said.
    She ran off. I walked after her. I thought I saw her go down into the West 4th subway stop. I thought she might jump in front of a train. I really thought she might do it. I went down and walked the length of the subway track. I peered into the dark tunnel, looking for any movement. Maybe she was walking the tracks. She always talked about walking the tracks. I didn’t see her.
    Goddamnit, I said. You fucking bitch.
    I went up to the ticket booth. Excuse me, I said. Did you see a woman walk by, black hair, young, not too tall, very pretty? She was wearing jeans and a white shirt.
    The station attendant took a moment to look up at me. She was reading the Bible, a black leather-bound King James. My father owned one just like it. She stared intensely at me for a moment then continued reading.
    Listen, I said. She might be in trouble. She might have come down to jump in front of a train, to kill herself.
    She didn’t look up. She started reading aloud to me.
    Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
    Her reading became more impassioned.
    What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
    God Bless, I said.
 

On Sixth Avenue I stood squinting in the morning sunlight. My phone was dead. I decided to get a cab and go home. I saw a red door across the street. I knew that red door. The image of that red door was deep in some hazy, drunken memory. I crossed the street and pushed the door open and went inside to the cool, dark bar. Veronica was seated mid-way up the bar. She was making out with the bartender, who was wearing only a red bra and jeans. Veronica got up and went to the jukebox. I nodded at the bartender and sat down. I had met her once but I’d forgotten her name. The bartender poured me a beer. She didn’t say a word. I looked at her eyes and could tell she was gone. Veronica was leaning her head on the jukebox, paging through the music. There was a neon Budweiser sign above her. The light from the jukebox made a lovely silhouette of her. A song came on. It was Ready to Die by the Notorious B.I.G. The bartender got on the bar and started dancing. Veronica smiled at me and got on the bar and was dancing. She took her shirt off. Dance with us, darling! Veronica said. Come and dance with us! I danced with them on the bar and took my shirt off. Afterwards we sat and drank our beers.