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Fate’s Embrace Ch. 08

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Chapter Eight

Joe awoke to the sound of music and feet pounding the floor, some sort of energetic exercise. His head didn’t do well with it, not exactly painful, a soft throb for each impact. He didn’t think he drank that much, but he never did well with wine, even expensive champagne apparently, and maybe somehow the expensiveness added to it like the expensive Thai Stick he’d smoked. Getting up, he put on just enough to cover him, a t shirt and jeans, and passed through the storage space where the boxes of movie equipment remained ready to be opened and into the hallway where gendered toilets, remnants of the hope for a performance venue, awaited his choice. The men’s had a couple urinals and a couple toilet stalls and a couple sinks, making Joe wonder who cleaned them. Though not spotless, they looked to have someone looking after them. A door at the back, Joe being curious about his new abode, led to toilet supplies and cleaning supplies and an industrial sink. That made him more curious because he thought the door between the toilets and his new office/apartment had been for utilities, so once done with his evacuations and hand cleaning, he tried that door and found shower stalls like dorms would have along with a long table that ran along the opposite wall from the stalls, and beyond that, a luxury for Joe in Manhattan, a washer and drier! Above them a cabinet held laundry soap and bleach and a stack of white towels. And behind the last stall, some sort of drying line had been hung from the ceiling, empty at the moment.

It all made Joe wonder why they’d bothered the upstairs neighbors, even if the bathroom there had definitely been much nicer, perhaps Carol’s privileged childhood showing through.

The answer came from his continued curiosity, when he turned on the water for one of the showers and all he got was cold, even after a couple minutes. He’d noticed, washing his hands, that had also been the case.

Finally settling into the desk chair, eating the bagel and cream cheese Carol must have brought down for them and the cold coffee in the Styrofoam cup (with an apologetic note from Jenny telling him she didn’t want to wake him up), Joe realized the problem with the apartment hinted at the evening before when he felt like he couldn’t crank the stereo high. It was actually worse in the morning, and more to do with his typewriter than music (he could always get some headphones). He had to be careful about loudness affecting Carol’s work. He solved it for the moment by pulling out his writing book and his notes. He tended to write longhand anyway, able to make corrections, and typing only when ready. An easy solution, except he had wanted to type, finally able to again, and it was such a great typewriter. He wanted to return to his epic apocalyptic sci-fi novel, finishing transcribing the first chapter which the theft had prevented.

Jenny didn’t disturb him in the least when she walked into their apartment for her break. “How’d it go?” he asked.

“Good,” she smiled prettily. “You?”

“Good,” he smiled back. “I wanted to talk to Carol.”

Carol burst in at the same moment. “Don’t mind me.” And she knelt in front of the file cabinet, opening the bottom drawer.

“I wanted to talk to you,” Joe said to her.

“Give me a minute,” she replied distractedly before pulling out a file. “Mind if I sit there?”

“Of course not,” Joe said, giving the seat to her.

“Thanks.”

“Can we get you something to eat?” Jenny asked.

“Antipasto.”

Jenny and Joe looked at each other and shrugged. “Italian it is,” Joe said and they left.

Little Italy wasn’t far, so they found a restaurant. Joe ordered two antipasti and a meatball sandwich, one of the salads for him and Jenny to share, and some sliced garlic bread. He bought a two liter bottle of Coke and a large bag of potato chips at a convenience store on the way back.

Carol remained at the desk studying the papers and photos in the file. Once Joe set down the food he grabbed a couple folding chairs from the neighboring room. Jenny used the desk for her table and Joe the top of the file cabinet. Jenny poured the soda into Styrofoam cups Joe had also bought. As a sort of joke, Joe put on Carla Bley’s Dinner Music, the eccentric pianist/composer’s odd version of Muzak which she played at Bard when she visited, getting angry that no one was talking just like Carol had insisted for her piece.

Finally Carol closed the file and set it aside. “Sorry. What were you wanting to ask me?”

Joe chuckled. “You heard me.”

“Of course, but sometimes I get struck by something that just needs to get done. In this case I needed to look at an old piece for some choreography for the new one. By the way, Lindy was in it if you want to see.”

“Can I?” Jenny asked.

“Of course,” said Joe. He pointed the blonde out to Jenny. Though looking still beautiful to Joe, there were times looking at her she seemed to shimmer, an incandescent glow, especially when she called things off and all he could do was gaze from afar, eryaman escort bayan rudely staring most likely. Her images restored her to a much more mundane realm.

“She definitely has presence,” Jenny judged.

“Another reason to be jealous,” Carol chuckled, “pulling focus from me.” Despite the amusement, Joe realized the truth of it. He wondered if Carol would feel the same about Jenny and her expressive face. “So what did you want to ask?”

“A couple things. I found the showers.”

“Cold showers only. The washer/drier I just use for cold washes.”

“Why’s that?”

“The water heater went down and we didn’t bother replacing it. Its capacity was pretty small anyway.”

“Why not replace it with something bigger? It’s not like Mark is hurting.”

“Too expensive to make all the adjustments,” Carol shrugged. “It was an extravagance anyway, showers for some resident company. Remember this isn’t zoned for private residency.”

“And the couple upstairs?” Jenny asked.

“Some bullshit about hydrotherapy. The kitchen was expensed as part of a catering service that never took off. If anyone asks, Leroy has residency at his folks place in Jersey, Tom also living there, and they bunk here for convenience, but I don’t think anyone asks.”

“And they probably wouldn’t ask about us living here,” Joe pointed out.

“Talk to Mark.”

“Except I’ve asked a lot of him already. Guilt can only go so far. I suppose I could offer to replace the small capacity heater. At least we could shower when we wanted.”

“I suppose. What else?”

“Loudness. I doubt you’d appreciate the sound of a typewriter while rehearsing.”

“The walls and even the floors are designed for keeping things separate. Remember, this was built as a performance complex so that events could happen simultaneously, no bleeding of sound, and even the backstage here couldn’t be heard in the performance space so that the performers could chat away while preparing and the audience wouldn’t hear them. Let’s test it.”

“Okay.”

Both Jenny and Carol went into the rehearsal space, closing the door behind them, and returned after Joe typed. “Nope,” they both said.

“Very cool,” said Joe. “But I heard you guys thumping away earlier.”

“What, you think we’re elephants?” Carol muttered. Jenny tittered.

“What?” Joe asked.

“It was an exercise called Elephant Walk,” Jenny confessed.

“Perhaps the low frequency,” Carol suggested. “We could test that too.”

“Okay,” Joe agreed and put on his Motorhead album, definitely bass oriented. He cranked it up while they were in the other space and then added a great deal more bass so that it actually shook the floor. He turned both the bass and volume down.

“Yep,” Carol told him. “The bass seeps through, though so does the music when it’s that loud.”

“Got it,” Joe nodded.

The troupe trickled in and once discarding their jackets or sweaters began improvising to the raucous fast paced metal rather energetically. Enjoying their enjoyment, Joe turned it up louder.

No one seemed to like it when Carol turned it down. “No more fun. Back to work,” she announced.

.

The troupe laughed.

Putting on the bootleg Suicide tape, Joe returned to work as well on his poem. Then realization stopped him. Yes, the poem was about escaping home, but he had never understood the relevance really vis a vis the dance piece. It spoke about resonances, about how places around his home, the woods, the highway, the street that led to downtown Minneapolis but also led the other way to his old high school and his friend’s home reminded him of events of his youth, luring him back against his need for escape; nostalgia holding him back. But everything had been personal, specific to him, to the point that he wondered, even though he worked for some clarity of these resonant images, how anyone could actually understand the poem. But it had been accepted for publication and Carol had been inspired by it, and the reading of it had at least felt appreciated by the audience, so it must have been understood at some level. He had a knack for language, for the musicality of words in juxtaposition, in phrases and lines, subtle interior rhymes and alliterations, flow. That’s why he preferred poetry rather than prose, the pieces structured, composed in a physical manifestation of the rhythms. And they were composed, not just written, musical compositions without musical notation in the key of speech. He ultimately preferred his poems to be sounded out, no speed reading thank you very much, but recited within for the inner ear or even better heard. He started reading his poetry without emphasis, without emotion, thinking the words would do what they did on their own, but soon, realizing for one it was a boring way to be heard and secondly it held back his own expressive voice becoming all the more expressive by the words themselves, he became far more performative in his readings.

The point being, he had figured what people liked about the poem was ankara escort the sound of it, and whatever meaning they gleaned from it had been enough to keep them interested and not confused. His specificity had been universal enough to be understood. But had it been universal enough to be other people’s need for and struggle with escape from their home, from their childhood?

What Joe realized was no, it wasn’t, and that was the point. In the multimedia dance, his specific medium at least his part in writing and reading was text and the text had to be specific to him. Would each dancer get their own specific expression of escape? Would the films projected on them reflect that? Something to deal with later, questions to be asked of Carol. For the present, he pulled out the outline he’d had Carol write, the sections of the piece, and rewrote, making the images even more specific while hopefully sustaining the beauty of his language, and in fact improving on it, but ultimately working towards what Carol wanted expressed for that section.

Four o’clock passed, ending rehearsal, but Joe didn’t notice. Not until four-thirty did he glance at the traveler alarm clock on the dresser. Wondering where his partners were, he got up and wound the clock as he did at that time of day and did the same for his Goering watch before stepping out of the apartment. He found his lovers sitting on the slatted floor of the space talking.

“Hey Joe,” Carol smiled.

“What’s up?”

“Jenny was telling me about the piece she wants to choreograph.”

“The Butoh piece?” Joe asked.

“Unh-hunh,” Jenny replied tensely.

“Not going well?”

Jenny got up and did her petite version of the elephant walk, stomping to the apartment door and slamming it behind her.

“Are you being a cunt, Carol?” Joe asked.

“Fuck you Joe.” Carol paused and sighed. “She’s just being young.”

“She told me about it. It sounded pretty cool to me.”

“Grown ups acting like kids. And Butoh.”

“You’re not a fan?”

“It’s just a gimmick, Joe.”

“Have you seen it or is it just something you read?”

“Whatever.”

“Have you seen any Japanese theater?”

“I saw something on Kabuki.”

“Anything about Noh plays?”

“I think they mentioned it.”

“I think Butoh comes from that discipline, everything deliberate and slow and spiritual, which was why I read some of the texts and saw a film of one of the plays. Admittedly it tries one’s patience, but there’s something beautiful, I’d even say exquisite about them. So Butoh can be seen as very Japanese, and not some gimmick. Think of it as something like the minimalist composers where every change becomes an event. If nothing else, you could think of it as a challenge.”

“I don’t know.”

“Or is it something else?”

“What do you mean?”

“Jenny isn’t in the way. You don’t have to force her out like you did Sam.”

“Sam quit.”

“And you had nothing to do with it? And what about Gina?”

“What about her?”

“I saw the way you looked at us when she was flirting with me. She doesn’t remind you of someone?”

“Of course. I hired her because I knew from Lindy her body type wouldn’t be an issue, which it isn’t. She’s one of my best.”

“But not Lindy.”

“Thankfully. Lindy’s one who should always have her own company.”

“But just the similarity…?”

“Alright I had a flash of jealousy from those times with you and Lindy, but I got over it since it was silly.”

“So no repercussions?”

“Jesus. She’s not Sam, Joe.”

“Nor is she Lindy.”

“Get over yourself.”

“But is Jenny? Not just in taking my focus from you, but the audience’s?”

“Egress isn’t some corps de ballet or chorus line or whatever, nor is Modern in general like that. Dances are necessarily unique and expressive, but no, though Jenny has presence and a unique expressiveness, she’s not Lindy. She hasn’t the charisma.”

“She won’t take focus from the star.”

“Who’s the cunt here? But it is my company,” Carol reminded him. “What’s this about, Joe?”

“I don’t know. I get mixed signals.”

“Something the dancers said when you interviewed them?”

“The dancers are happy to be dancing professionally, and they’re mostly happy with you.”

“Mostly?”

“No one’s a perfect boss. They do like the change, Jenny replacing Sam. They like her, Carol.”

“But?”

“Some get your approach to being boss using the carrot and the stick, mostly carrot thankfully, but sometimes, and especially with Sam, the stick came out.”

“And it upset them how harsh I could be.”

“The first time the stick wasn’t withdrawn to be replaced by the carrot. Like I said, they were all okay with the result.”

“But it worries them.”

“I suppose it would, but more it made your technique more obvious I guess. Careful, or not so careful when necessary, punishment and reward. So how are you treating Jenny?”

Carol laughed. “I get where you’re going. You’re saying they’re on Jenny’s side and sincan escort bayan might worry about her. Mostly carrot Joe, with a little bit of stick when I deem it necessary to give her a push forward. She’s quick so not all that much.”

“But the biggest carrot is getting their own piece.”

“She’s not ready, Joe. It would be the biggest stick if she fails. Not that she’s expected to succeed right out of the box, but…she’s not ready, okay?”

“I’ll let her know you said that. But if she puts something together on her own time?”

Carol sighed. “Let her know I’ll be honest.”

“It’s not some agenda thing if you hate it?”

“What agenda?”

“Her getting between us?”

“Has she been?”

“Sometimes.”

“You really need to get over yourself.” Carol laughed, responding to Joe’s challenge while getting his joke.

Joe laughed too.

Becoming serious, Joe confronted her. “What about the casting couch, and don’t tell me it doesn’t exist. I’ve experienced it. You told me you saw Gio with Mark. Does it keep the funding going? Does it keep Stella and her husband interested? Hot young dancers’ bodies available to them? And what about the straight girls like Gina. Is there someone I haven’t met? Someone still in the wings? Part of some cabal or something, fresh flesh for old men? Would Jenny need to fuck them, or is it enough you get to fuck her?”

“Jesus Joe.”

“Are you part of this stable of nubile bodies since you have the most to lose?”

“Stop it!”

“I’m sorry, Carol, but you lied to me. You pimped me off to Stella. What am I supposed to think?”

“And you hated it?”

“That’s not the point, is it? Instead of maybe joining us, Stella is bi after all, you waved me away at the party, like go fuck the woman, gigolo. I did as commanded and that’s what I hate. I hated being part of an arrangement. Do I want to fuck her again isn’t even the point. The point is do I have to, like for each installment of my funding. I guess my poem is bought and the two films projected on your bodies. But not the filming of the show or my last reward or whatever.

“Or you could fire me here and now for accusing you of whoring for your art. I’m just here for the one piece, not one of your troupe. You’re really not out much since Mark paid for everything and can obviously afford it. But Jenny…if I’m right about what I’m accusing you of…it’s enough that you’re getting her what she wants, a professional dancing gig, few and far between I imagine. So if you pimp her out too…It’s up to her.”

Joe got up and walked towards the apartment door.

“Joe…,” Carol murmured.

“You lied to me,” Joe muttered. He noticed the door opened a crack and Jenny crying in his chair.

“Why would you say those things?” Jenny sobbed.

“I don’t know. If I’m full of shit, I’m sorry. If not…I’ll go.” He pulled out his sack and started shoving clothes in.

“Joe,” Carol murmured at the door.

“He’s full of shit, right?” Jenny asked.

“Don’t go,” Carol said. “Please?” She went to him and stopped is movement. “Sit?” She urged him to the bed and sat beside him.

“The truth?” Joe asked.

“I promise.”

“Does that mean…?” Jenny asked.

“No. It’s just me and Gio and Stuart and Connie. Sam was…”

“It freaked her out, didn’t it,” Joe said.

“It was step too far for her. She’d been abused as preteen and she had issues. I calmed her I guess, but then she freaked out, became a nympo basically and did any and every drug and any and every body and it became too much for me even if I was probably the catalyst.”

“So I was right,” Joe said. “But an NEA grant?”

“It’s complicated. It started with the grant for the Cocktail Party. Before that actually as far as I’m concerned. The guys too, for Mark. But the grant brought Connie and Sam into it. Nubile bodies for old flesh like you said, Joe.”

“Connie,” Jenny murmured.

Connie’s folks had emigrated from Jamaica to Jamaica Queens. She had deep brown skin, short black hair and a cute face, her body statuesque and voluptuous, a modern Nefertiti. She obviously loved dancing Carol’s choreography. And she was shy.

“Connie strips to make money and has johns on the side. It was easier for her than the rest of us girls.”

“Go on,” Joe prompted.

“Fucking the right guys meant support. Mark set things up, with drugs further incentive, and Stella did the paperwork to get the grants. At first local, it went Federal with the NEA grant.”

“So who takes over for Sam?” Joe asked. “It’s not done yet.”

“No it’s not. Stella wants to set up a board of rich assholes, both men and women, prime donors for write offs and such and encouraging more donations. With Mark involved…”

“Money laundering,” Joe realized.

“Probably,” Carol agreed.

“Along with prime pussy. Sounds like win win for them.”

“I’ll do it,” said Jenny.

“No you won’t,” Joe growled.

“It’s my body, Joe. I want to dance, and I love Carol’s choreography. Maybe she’ll even let me choreograph sometime.”

“If you want…” Carol started.

“I’d like to try, even if you end up tearing it all apart. I just worried…”

“Sam,” said Joe.

“One of my sticks,” Carol admitted. “Just don’t have them act like kids. I hate that.”

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