The clever presentation forced me to open a heavy velvet curtain, which revealed a small door, and inside that door was another breathtaking scene that demanded my attention, even as I hunched over to peer inside. My friend, Joe, who created the voluptuous ambient music, a collection of running syncopated loops and distant melody, also designed the installation.
It was hot last night in Baltimore and inside the gallery was even hotter, personified by Joe who was running around, wiping sweat off his brow and explaining to the incoming admirers about the details of the show. His buoyant enthusiasm never wavered as he ran from front to back of the installation, tweaking any problems.
After the crowd was gone and the lights shut off in the museum, Joe and I headed out to a local diner that was miles away. All along the drive, Joe gave a running monologue as he pointed out landmarks from his life, making me think he is someone who has never forgotten a detail. Over cheeseburgers and jalapeno poppers, we poked fun at each other’s cultural reference points, and I burped.
I drove him back to his car, we hugged, and said goodnight. On the way home, I followed his taillights and as we neared his exit, well before mine into the city, I found my tank on empty so I followed him onto the exit ramp. I pulled up next to him and screamed, “I need gas,” and he led me to the nearest station. He pulled in ahead of me and we both stopped at the same pump.
“What are you, stalking me?” he smiled and I returned one at the not so ridiculous notion.
After I filled the tank, I hugged him again and drove home. A quick walk with Bob and we were both back on the couch, me in sweats and Bob in black fur, watching an episode of Monk and finally trying to finish an atmospheric 1942 Val Lewton film about Satanists in Greenwich Village. It was my fifth attempt to make it through the whole film and I still don’t know its conclusion. I woke up around 4am with a mashed face and I dragged Bob to bed with me where we would be until 10am when we crawled out of it.
I went candy shopping for my office and found the grocery stores in the city woefully incomplete compared to the food palaces of Los Angeles. It’s always been a conscious habit to have available candy in my office for passersby or visiting guests. It makes people want to come in and talk, and in those moments, many things can be accomplished. I came home loaded with bags of Starburst, Hershey’s Kisses, and Classic Caramels.
Today the city is intoxicated with warm weather and bright blue skies that make the fall colors pop out in a way unfamiliar to the California scrub. I gathered up Bob and we drove to a nearby city park filled with black men in various stages of intoxication and camaraderie. I brought On Writing by Stephen King and a Popeye’s Po-Boy. We nestled under an old oak tree, trees from my childhood, and sat on the cushion of its fallen leaves. I read while Bob spiraled around in an increasingly large circle until he came back to me and plopped down.
I sat there, reading of King’s early struggles as a writer, and I reached over to dig my fingers into Bob’s short thick hair. In that instant, I felt content. The warm autumn air made me smile on the inside and looking over at Bob’s snoring lump on the pile of leaves turned me downright giddy.