“I’m sure it’s right, but I have to count it.”
The bank officer looked disappointed. Counting
$10,000 takes longer than counting a couple hundred.
Dropping the cash into a crumpled brown paper bag,
Rhosonny carried it up Madison to 54th and took the
Elevator to the 53rd floor where he worked in the
Offices of a trust fund son, shared inheritor of a vast
Fortune in commodities and beverages, who never
Appeared in the office during business hours. Three stock
Brokers, all Wharton MBAs, full time, one accountant,
Oxford trained, a 5’10″ short-skirted 40 something
Stunning blond office manager out of Juliard and a dropout
Bookkeeper – Rhosonny. The accountant triaged
Sizable donations for a variety of political causes,
All liberal. The Blue Foundation was where the trust
Fund money was deposited each month. Rhosonny
kept track of what everyone did with it and once a month
Picked up ten grand in pocket change for the boss
And ordered food, stocked shelves and refrigerator
(Copious and free for employees) and crystal, china, and silver.
After he temped on a project proofing accounts
Receivable for Lever Brothers, which he’d
Knocked off in record time, the department
Head didn’t have the pull to hire him permanently
Over the objections of his empty resume. So said
Department head, brunette, shapely, single,
Pushing 40 (once seeing the 28 yr old reading
Mysterium Coniunctionis, she said “That’s not summer
Reading, you know,” as though he’d disappointed
Her) told her friend at the Blue Foundation,
The office manager, to hire him.
“You’re Norweigan, aren’t you?” Katherine asked him.
“Half.” “I used to fuck a lot of Norweigans,” she said.
His deadpan gaze back sealed the job for him.
But she was a discomfort to him. She’d say that
So and so had tried to pick her up. He’d say
It must be nice, nobody ever tried to pick him up.
She’d say, people are always trying to pick you up,
You’re just too stupid to realize it. And she’d tell him
Details about her body, and about her exploits.
“They used to call me Katherine the great, you know about her?”
But this was a good stretch of time for him. The job wasn’t
Demanding — just a bunch of numbers — and he
Lived in an SRO on 15th Street, 5′ x 10′ with a 10′
Ceiling, bathroom down the hall. He’d lined the walls
With bookshelves used as structural support for
A plywood platform where he put his bed 6′ 6″ off the
Floor, ladder by the window, a siamese and a calico cat,
Hot plate, and mini refridgerator. “It’s like living on a ship,”
His surrogate father and former Hans Hoffman protege
Said when he saw it. The space was small, but he lived in Manhattan
For $25 a week. He was more free than he’d ever
Been before. Tania had left him, with his blessing. Her
Abortion hadn’t made either of them happy. He’d
Noticed her in college. Black pumps with denim pants
Taylored to a perfect fit, single piece cotton blouse
No bra, small breasts clearly outlined, vibrant blond
Hair to the waist, slate blue eyes, make-up
Like a runway model. Not his “type” at all.
But he decided to try an experiment. Men and boys
Approached her in a steady stream.
She wasn’t friendly to them.
She left a book on a chair.
He picked it up. When she was surrounded
By other young women, he walked up to her
And handed her the book without expression,
“You forgot this.” he said.
She was flustered thanking him.
He said, “you’re welcome” and walked away.
Within three days they were keeping company.
“I’m leaving for New York in a month” he said.
“I think I’ll go with you” she said.
She liked riding on his Yamaha XS 1100.
She wasn’t afraid of anything physical.
She liked him to shoot the freeways at 30 mph over traffic flow.
She was the most complete lover he’d ever known: no taboos.
She was the daughter of a Navy aircraft carrier Commander.
She let him wear her father’s flight jacket, with her father’s approval.
She sold her powder blue Mercedes Benz to go with him.
She didn’t complain through Rocky Mountain thunderstorms on the back of the bike.
She considered poetry a rival.
She read his private notebooks.
She seemed pleased when he burned them in anger.
She was shy with strangers and discouraged him from having friends.
She got angry if even his friends looked appreciatively at another woman in her presence.
She wanted to keep it just the two of them, no outsiders, no social life.
She tried to enclose him, contain him, encompass him.
She just wasn’t enough for him even though he loved her.
By now he’d pretty much gotten over the breakup.
It surprised him how difficult it was to let her go.
Their last night together was ecstatic.
But his scholarship flourished.
He wrote daily.
Sex adventures saved him from brooding.
And this little job gave him enough to live on with few demands.
Katherine, though. She was becoming even more direct.
This worried him. He didn’t like messy situations.
If their genders were reversed, it would have been seen
As sexual harassment. But anyone he told laughed and
Asked him why he didn’t just “go for it.”
Beautiful Katherine, ex-lover to the boss,
Frustrated actress. Cocaine-party girl from way back,
Nearly 20 years his elder (not that he minded that,
Her beauty hadn’t diminished with age, but increased).
He was flattered by her attention, but he didn’t trust her.
It began to eat at him. He started thinking about her
All the time, nearly obsessively. Not sexually, not in fantasy,
But with discomfort, the way any disjunct work situation
Will bother most people. Then, one night, it cleared.
He remembered, at 17, being picked up hitchhiking in Hollywood
By a man in a Lincoln, a construction boss, his
Hard hat in the back window. The man had leaned toward him,
Rested his elbow on the armrest between them, and kept
Glancing at Rhosonny’s crotch, slowly increasing the
Intensity toward him, moving closer, letting his hand
Brush Rhosonny’s thigh. Rhosonny, abruptly, “Do you want to fuck?”
The man’s hands tightened on the steering wheel, knuckles
Turned red and white. And he stammered, “I.. I don’t have a place.”
“Neither do I,” Rhosonny said. “Drop me off at the next corner.”
Now he sat and wrote, page after page. He wrote detailed
Pornographic scenarios starring him and Katherine,
He wrote in detail the many things he wanted to do
To her body, coarse, hardcore. Then he rewrote
It as a letter to her and transfered it, in a neat hand,
To linen stationery with matching envelope.
Next morning, he put the letter into her inbox.
She appeared in his doorway, flustered, her face red,
Holding the letter, reading snatches from it to him in an angry voice.
She’d been crying. “I can’t believe you’d write something
Like this to me. The things you talk about doing…
The things you said about me… How could you make
Me the star in your porn flick? I can
Understand if you think these things. But write them
To me!??? What do you think I am?” and so forth.
She was upset.
Rhosonny poured tears. “I didn’t mean to upset you.
You’re just so beautiful. And when you tell me
About your affairs, it makes me want you. And I thought
You liked fucking Norwegians.” Stuff like that.
“I’m sorry. I was falling in love with you.
I had to tell you. I couldn’t stand it anymore. It hurts.
I wait for every night to end so I can see you in the morning.
But now that you know, I can
Drop it if you’ll forgive me.” She sat next to him
And put her arms around him and hugged him,
Patting his back, “Shhhhhh….. shhhh…. it’s ok. I understand.
But you can’t write things like that to me, ok?”
Looking into each other’s eyes. Tears streaming.
“It’ll never happen again, Katherine. I promise.”
When she left, she was relaxed and confident.
When she left he smiled. Situation under control.
From that moment, she was friendly, but never
Again did she try to provoke him. It was a pleasure
To go to work and drink the good coffee. It was
A pleasure to leave work and not think about it
Again until he arrived there again the next day.