By Ewan Morrison
On seventh and 32nd I’ll have a shot in the transvestite bar in homage to Lou Reed then stroll up the banks of the Hudson where Trocchi drifted on his barge high on heroin to 42nd and fifth to sit in the New York public library where Trotsky planned the Russian revolution and Henry Miller came to sleep. I’ll have a final drink then for all the great lost minds in this city that has become more lonely than I can bear. I will let that last drink walk me to the blank wooden planks of the Chelsea piers and throw myself into open arms of the Hudson.
That was the plan but this is the problem. You have some really powerful idea for an ending and then the world throws something utterly banal at you and you lose the plot. I’m standing in the doorway of Cafe Wa and it’s not that there’s no trace of Hendrix or even all that all I can see is trendy 30-somethings with I-macs. That’s not what’s making me mad. What is it even called? A whippet? It’s blocking the doorway, snarling at me like it knows about the vodka. Like it knows I’m just this washed-up burned-out guy that just got fired and always wanted to be an artist or a rock star or a great poet or a great lover, or anything other than this. This forty year old who had no time for relationships who put off being creative ’til tomorrow. There is no tomorrow for me and the dog knows.
So I’m out heading towards the Weather Underground place but c’mon – I try not to notice but the dogs are everywhere. This guy across the street, Nautilus pecs, Californian tan, cut-off denim shorts and a Bull-Mastif. This woman, face – fifty, legs – twenty – a Norwegian Elkhound. I know they say dogs look like their owners, and it’s true everywhere I’ve been apart from here. Here people are mongrels and they aspire to being as pure as their thoroughbreds.
Up 10th just to get away. Trying to get back to the point, but then there’s a guy with dreadlocks and a matted looking Bohemian Shepherd. And how do people working nine ’til nine in apartment blocks manage to keep dogs? Do they have carers? Yes, I’ve seen little Mexican men on fifth walking eight different breeds at a time to make a buck. Schnauzers – Pugs – Arctic Huskys. I have to get off the street. I have to get drunk enough to see this through. Fuck the dogs. Skip the Duchamp and the Beats, get to the Chelsea Hotel, soak up all that pain, all those drugs, do my dance to Sid and Nancy.
But it’s blocks to go and all I see are Bernese Mountain dogs and Chow Chows and Dalmatians jogging beside their owners, and I’m becoming this theorist of dog signification. Each dog seems to know every other and they greet with explicit displays of physical intimacy, while their humans fumble with iPods, consider their appearance and calculate how much energy it would cost to communicate to the other human at the end of the leash. I’m staggering away from dogs and joggers and this drunken vision comes to me as I gaze up at the heights of midtown. It’s a bit like The Matrix. The world is a lie, the real world is too terrifying to face. At three in the morning in Times Square the thoroughbreds meet to discuss their covert plans for global domination. A right wing totalitarian hierarchy, based on breeding, secretly running the greatest economy on Earth. Alpha Males. Bitches. Kappa Beta Kappas. Oh and I have proof. Didn’t I once witness a Weimaraner sticking its head out of a window, the sole passenger of a taxi through Soho, smiling as its ears flapped in the wind?
The vodka is done and the light is failing and the joggers are thinning out and I’m all my plans are shot and I’m staggering towards my chosen pier. It is quiet there. No-one around. A mess of rubble. The hole in the fence where the junkies climb through. Focusing on my feet to get there. No doubts, no fear now. Two more blocks, five minutes and it will be done. A sound ahead. I look up.
The four long legs, the curves of the muscular thighs, balanced precariously on tiny, delicate feet. She walks as if barefoot, he walks as if in stilettos. Both look ahead, strong, directed, not distracted by sights or passing people, their noses lifted, perfectly poised as if focused on the same invisible point in the future. She is a model, six foot tall, size zero – he is a Great Dane.
Drunk or dreaming I don’t know. I’m staring. Fifty yards away and they stop, just by my hole in the fence. He looks up at her as if asking and she nods. He lowers his gaze and squats. She does not look away embarrassed, neither does she try to encourage him to quickly finish the humiliating task. It is me that feels embarrassed, hiding in the doorway of a warehouse, snatching glimpses.
His face as he squats. It is not the usual pain of a passage, no, it is that of knowing that no matter how strong their love, what he must do now is the mark of what he really is. And her face as she goes to her wrist-strap and pulls out the poo-bag from the cleverly designed bracelet, her face of infinite understanding and compassion as the colossal shit descends, and hits the sidewalk, as he raises up and lifts his eyes to her heavens as if to ask for forgiveness; it is her smile then as she inserts her hand into the bag and reaches down for that hot, wet, green-brown mass, the delicate graceful smile she gives him as lingering as a kiss, as her fingers tighten round his mess and she lifts, deftly withdrawing her hand and feeling that good, warm, proud weight, and ties the bag. The look she gives, as they go on their way, her carrying his still-hot shit in her hand. That look that holds me transfixed. And I have never seen a dog so noble or a man as noble as that dog, or a woman more loving of weakness. They pass me and I am drunk I know, staggering I know, following them. For three blocks I watch their hips swaying in perfect unison as they lead me away from the piers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ewan Morrison‘s new novel, Ménage is out on July 2nd and is the story of three young artists who document their own ménage a troIs. Ewan is also the author of the novels Swung and Distance and the collection of stories The Last Book You Read.