|(A recent Google Maps picture of the place where this happened, with a red arrow pointing to the exact spot.|
Stones Throw, center, is where Club Rainbow used to be.)
We must go back now to 2002, I’m afraid, or I’m not afraid, really, not that, 2002 is not such a bad time to go back to as times go, and to Jamie (we’ve met her before, but later), all four-foot-ten inches of her, crouched in the darkness behind her Montrose-area loft apartments with a professional-grade camera in hand. It’s one a.m., which is something which happens every day, just like the “Lady Marmalade” – Moulin Rouge version – booming out from Club Rainbow, the premiere club for, shall we say, recently released Houston lesbians, back-to-back with the aforementioned loft apartments, making sleep, for those residents with day jobs, a challenge.
Are you with me so far?
Jamie’s about to hang it up, she has her flashless photographs of Montrose night life for her photography class, when, she’s still crouched in darkness, who should come stumbling out but The Guy from 23, who probably possesses another name but is known universally, in these parts, as the Guy from 23, 23 being his apartment number. Reclusive to the point of rude anti-sociability, very blue eyes, tonight he is decked out in a Nader/LaDuke tee and carrying two bottles of beer. She can’t read the labels.
“Hey, buddy?” and had The Guy from 23 seen her – impossibly, her being invisible? – but no, he is moving towards a work bench, atop which blankets now move. “You awake?”
A dark hand reaches out for a beer.
“Look, my heater is on the fritz, flipping the breaker every ten minutes, and I’m trying to write.” The Guy from 23 pulls out his wallet. “Could you, just until you fall asleep, I’m not asking you to stay awake for me, flip this breaker here” – a lighter in the darkness, waving hither and yon above the bench– “just, you know, click-click, once in a while?”
Money, it seems to Jamie, changes hands, and newly-arrived police lights, for some fight at the club, flash against the balconies, against the walls and against the gate. Twenty-Three, he’s moving back towards the gate when, almost an afterthought, you can tell, Jamie hears an exhalation, a sigh she guesses, and he turns back. “What’s your story, buddy? Why are you here?”
The unsheltered breaker flipper smacks his lips. “I’ve got nothing in this world but AIDS, and cancer, and something deep down in my lungs, and this shit all over my face.”
And Twenty-Three reaches for his wallet, again, this time coming up with… with… a business card? “You got somewhere for Social Security checks to go, if they sent them?”
“Well, yeah, AIDS Foundation Houston will give us these box numbers, and-”
“OK, I’m Harry”- Twenty-Three, pointing down Hawthorne – “I run a law office down on the corner. Come by on Monday with this card. Tell them I sent you. We’ll get you Social Security and Medicaid.”
Twenty-Three, or, rather, “Harry” as he should now be known, probably, makes his way, which is a drunken way, Jamie can tell, but a way just the same, back to the gate from whence he arrived. Jamie stays in position on the off-chance he should return.
Click-click comes from the direction of the breaker box.
This is it. Jamie’s First Impression of Harry, complete with capital “F” and capital “I”. She’s most definitely going to have to write about this in her Livejournal. Obviously.
(In 2002, I would have been listening to this back in my apartment. Appropriately.)