In the morning, Carol woke up first, showered and dressed and went down to get some bagels and cream cheese from a bagel shop. By the time the coffee finished brewing, Joe and Jenny had wakened. They showered together, more sensual than sexual, though Joe showed proof of the latter with his near erection, but insisted not to make their host wait and it was mostly ignored, Jenny giggling while cleaning it the exception. They dressed in yesterday’s clothes and joined Carol at the dining table. A stack of paper sat on it.
“The poem,” Joe remarked.
“A copy,” Carol smiled.
He read through it while they ate, letting Jenny read it too. It was one of the few poems he had published, in a little known poetry magazine, and the copy had been xeroxed from the magazine. It was surprising Carol had found it.
He either enjoyed reading his work, even thinking it brilliant, or he was hypercritical. This was the latter, every word or line, every clumsy phrase exposed in his mind like some rude exhibitionist.
“This inspired you?” Joe asked.
“I think it’s great!” Jenny decided.
Carol chuckled. “Inspired the name of my group,” she said.
“Egress,” Joe nodded. He’d used it for the basement window in his childhood room, a narrow means of escape.
“I’m just glad I’m rewriting it,” Joe smirked.
Carol insisted Joe take the copy, even though he told her he had the magazine and the original already, when he and Jenny left after hugs and kisses, none lingering. All felt the hangover from the night before, though Joe’s and Jenny’s was worse, a coke hangover.
The two headed uptown via subway, to Penn Station terminal where Jenny had stashed her large, heavy bag of luggage. More subways brought them to Joe’s apartment, and he lugged the thing up three flights of stairs and finally to his room. While Jenny changed, Joe enjoying the view, he checked his message service without success. He got few messages.
“What do you want to do?” Jenny asked.
“I need to get some film,” Joe replied.
“Is Carol helping with that?” Jenny asked.
“I should have asked,” Joe realized. He called Carol and she was home.
“Miss me already?” she laughed.
“This is a bit more mercenary. We never talked about money.”
“Like I said the grant was substantial since the show is multi-media. You’ll be paid to make the films, actually three you documenting the performances, and for your poem.”
“Two sixteen millimeter films, though I thought it would be transfers from eight millimeter, but I did add in the filming of the event, so there’s that. Any material you buy and any rental of equipment and the lab transfer or whatever you should keep the receipts. I’ll advance you some money.”
“I can afford the sixteen millimeter film for tonight, but…”
“I’ll pay you back. I got some grant money for the Cocktail Party, though less substantial. I pay my dancers too, though not a lot, just enough to get by in this city really.”
“I imagine dancers don’t dance to get rich.”
“Neither do poets or filmmakers.”
“I should probably talk to Jenny. Is she there?”
Joe handed Jenny the phone. Jenny mostly responded monosyllabically, not giving Joe much clues as what was said. She used the pen and pad of paper by the phone. She finished with “Okay, we’ll see you then,” and hung up.
“So?” Joe asked while changing clothes.
“Okay, so Carol wants us to meet her at her studio in Tribeca at two. She wants to see how I move, so I should wear comfortable clothes which I have as a sort of audition.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“It’s not ballet.”
“One thing about ballet, it makes you flexible. It also makes you able to learn moves quickly. I think what made those prestigious schools pass on me makes me think I’ve always been meant for modern dance.”
“A couple things. A lack of rigidity, a sort of softness in my movement. Like my body rejected the old fashioned conventions. And, partly because of that and partly because of my expressiveness, made me stand out a bit too much, which would be fine if I was prima ballerina, but I don’t have the presence they want for that, my height mostly and the length of my limbs. And it wouldn’t work being in the corps de ballet. My height was a problem with that too. But modern isn’t about lining up in even rows, it’s about how the body expresses emotion in a much more organic and natural way.”
“Yeah. So rehearsals would be ten to four Monday through Friday. I guess a lot of the company work nights, waitressing or whatever, but the jobs would need to be flexible enough so we could do our shows and tour. You think you could talk to someone at Max’s to get me a job there?”
“I’m thinking of seeing if I can get my job back too.”
“The problem is I got paid under the table, so officially I haven’t worked for a year. And I have no experience in office work, and I’m not even sure I want any. And I sort of miss it, the sort of dance sliding through customers on weekend nights. But the problem is the flexibility thing, able to get eryaman escort bayan time off when I needed, and maybe working less nights so I have the energy to work on my writing and filmmaking. It’s a lot to ask.”
“And the temptation.”
“That too, but yesterday I was definitely tempted.”
“Heroin, sure, but what about the cocaine?”
“It isn’t as bad.”
“Isn’t it? My body and my brain might disagree.”
“Yeah, I’m feeling a bit out of it too.”
“Waking up like this every morning? It was fun, but I don’t know.”
Joe laughed. “With all the shit your parents put you through, I’d think you’d just want to get wasted.”
“My folks are mean drunks. All your friends seem to want to do is get wasted, Johnny, one of my fucking heroes the worst of them. How do I want to get revenge? By being better than my mom. By dancing the way I want to dance and being great at it. But dancing takes discipline. It takes focus and concentration. It takes a healthy body. Maybe not taking drugs is my rebellion.”
They kicked back for a while, Joe, probably inspired by reading his poem, going through some of his other poems and then pulling out a notebook and writing a new poem about fate and coincidence and their correlation, using the fateful day before as detail. Jenny looked through Joe’s collection of books and chose Stranger in a Strange Land with Joe’s emphatic recommendation and began reading it.
They stopped around noon, heading out to eat sandwiches at the corner diner and then heading uptown to the store Joe knew would have his film. He went with fast color stock because of the low lighting. Then they headed downtown to meet with Carol.
Maybe half her company were there, stretching and warming up which Jenny also did. The pianist was there too, and when Carol showed Jenny the moves she wanted, the pianist accompanied Jenny. Since it was all new to Jenny, different ways of moving her body than she’d been trained at for many years, she didn’t get it right away. But Carol gave recommendations, specific movements of parts of the body, ideas and images to work off of, and Jenny improved greatly, enough to satisfy Carol. Part of it, Joe decided, was Jenny’s attitude. Despite the struggles he saw no frustration. In fact the opposite, every problem she had she worked to solve, and solving it excited her.
“Let’s make it official,” Carol concluded, bringing Jenny a W2 form to fill out.
“So I passed the audition!” Jenny gushed.
“You did great for a first time,” Carol told her.
“It’s so much more fun than ballet!”
“I could tell,” Carol chuckled.
Joe helped Jenny fill out the form, her first. After, one of the dancers, a medium tall male with Italian features came up to her. “Want to work on my choreography?”
“You guys get to do your own choreography?” Jenny asked.
“We’ll be doing a group show of short pieces once the Cocktail Party tour ends and before we start on the next long piece.”
“Cool. I’ve actually got an idea for one.”
“Sketch it out and talk to Carol about it.”
“Okay. Sure, I’d love to work on your piece.”
“Great. Since Sam’s gone, you’d be perfect. Easy to lift.”
“Giovanni, but called Gio,” the handsome Italian American told her.
Carol and Joe talked both keeping half an eye on the two dancers, Gio counting in place of music, giving Jenny her moves, which included rolling over his body, in fact both bodies interacted athletically.
“You do the taxes too?” Joe asked.
“I have a friend for that, a business partner, though I’m just one of a few who she helps with the financing of art. She’s part of the city arts board. Want to meet her? She can cut you a check and you can give her the receipt for the film.”
“Sure. When should I start interviewing?”
“How about I interview you first.”
“You told me some.”
“Being born with a silver spoon in my mouth in Lincoln Nebraska. I was a surprise baby, my brothers all years older than me, and I guess I got spoiled by all of them and my dad. My mom was the disciplinarian in the family when she cared about it. Looking back, she was depressed and a tippler I think, and got meaner the later in the day, not a good drunk. Perhaps my dad’s focus on me was to avoid her. One thing about marrying rich was you really don’t have anything to do in life. Servants take care of things. No drudgery, but not much else really. But she did like our vacations and those were our happiest times really. A lot of the home movies come from them, going places, visiting relatives.
“In a way I was like an only child with the attention at least from my father, but my brothers’ not close to my age weren’t exactly available as playmates. I had friends at school, my little gang of girls. I was imperious I have to admit.”
“For girls, a mistake if you ask me.”
“It’s like not letting kids drink. They think it’s a devious rebellion. The same with boys. And then the girls with all their crazy adolescent hormones, the most daring or the most inclined have only their ankara escort own sex to experiment, to release that ever building need, and it’s easier isn’t it, not having to sneak away to be with a boy, although I did that too, eventually.”
“Where did you find them?”
“A brother of one of my classmates was the first, and then I found a straight boy amongst the mostly gay ones in my dancing class. He was actually bi, which ended up interesting, my first taste of threesomes, though the other boy was only interested in getting blow jobs from me. With a couple exceptions, I’ve found one dick is enough for me when sharing a bed with two.”
“Last night was my first threesome,” Joe confessed.
“Hopefully not your last,” she smirked, her hand brushing across his lap.
“So what made you want to escape?” Joe shifted subjects.
“Lincoln Nebraska,” Carol laughed. “I wanted out as soon as possible. Bard looked interesting, as much for encountering some students on my visit who must have been tripping! But really it was different in an appealing way, both progressive and small. Better chance of being the big fish. But as far as leaving, it only got worse with my mother, and it was just the three of us in that big house by then. I wondered if once I left they’d get a divorce, but I think my father still cared enough for my mother not to set her off into the world in her shape. He did send her to Hazelden.”
“My neck of the woods,” Joe nodded.
“Do you want to interview the others?”
They looked at her dancers, another man looking Semitic with his darker skin and curly hair and broader nose, slimmer and shorter than Gio, was working with them while the two remaining ladies looked to be busy with their own thing.
“Later,” Joe decided.
“Let’s go then.”
“I’ll let Jenny know.”
Jenny seemed to allow only the briefest of distraction, smiling and nodding before getting back to it.
They headed downtown, deciding to walk to the government buildings, one of which housed Carol’s sort of business partner’s office, a small one amongst many, and she didn’t have her own secretary.
“Joe meet Stella,” Carol introduced them. Stella was an attractive woman, more handsome than pretty, even taller than Carol with a long face, some might call a horse face in detraction, but it suited her, and speaking of suits, she wore one, and a tie, not the pants suit or the skirted suits of most office women. Male drag essentially.
After standing, showing her height, and shaking Joe’s hand, she returned to her seat behind her metal desk, reaching into a drawer to pull out a fairly thick file, plopping it atop whatever she’d been working on, that file closed up as soon as they entered as if keeping a secret. Joe and Carol settled into the chairs opposite her.
“Joe’s the author of the poem I’m using,” Carol explained.
“You tracked him down?”
“He came to the show last night,” Carol chuckled.
“Serendipity,” Stella also chuckled.
“Fate,” Joe countered.
“Joe’s also a filmmaker,” Carol added.
“Experienced?” Stella asked.
“I’ve made experimental films both in 8 and 16 millimeter. I’ve actually used one in a performance piece.”
“A colleague of mine at Bard was involved,” Carol smiled.
“Sort of a protégé.”
It had been a divisive moment for Joe and Lindy since the film incorporated shots of her nearly naked and she didn’t appreciate that in the least.
“The grant has been itemized for paying a royalty for the use of your poem. A thousand dollars?”
“That’s fine,” Joe grinned.
“And for the production of two films. I assume none have been made.”
“We estimated the cost of blowing up 8mm to 16mm for the family movies,” Carol said. “But there’s going to be some unexpected extra cost.”
“Oh?” Stella had looked relieved, Joe figured because any worry of being sued for using his poem had been solved by fate, but she lost that, replaced by disappointment.
“Joe suggested we should do some extra filming, padding out the family movies but also adding scenes concerning the fractious moments in which the dancers escape their family for various reasons.”
“And you agree?”
“I’m excited about it.”
“Are we talking studio time and paying talent?”
“I don’t see either of those things as necessary,” Joe chimed in. “We can shoot in Carol’s studio or either of our apartments or outdoors. And I’m sure I can get people together who’ll just do it and we’ll have fun with it so it’s not like work. These films should match the amateur nature of the family movies, and I’ll probably even shoot them in eight millimeter so their stock will match. Just some light equipment.”
“If it goes beyond estimates, I’m willing to put my own money in it,” Carol added.
Stella nodded. “Keep all receipts, and if they go beyond budget, I’ll attach them to your company in general.”
“Good,” Carl smiled. “And speaking of receipts,” she handed Stella the receipt from Joe’s purchase of film stock. “This is actually for Joe to film the Cocktail Party tonight.”
“For sincan escort bayan this much we can fudge it,” Stella decided, placing the receipt into a manila envelope after jotting down the amount. “There’ll be three payments of five thousand each,” she focused on Joe, “the first is for hiring you, but also includes the expenses. The second will be for the completion of the first two films and for the expense of the third. The last a final payment for, hopefully, a job well done. Please make a note of these checks as they will be for contracting you, and will be known by the IRS. Make copies of all receipts and keep your own copy before giving them to me.” She handed Joe a contract. “Fill out your full name in the top blank and sign where I made an x, and you should sign underneath his, Carol.”
While Joe read through the contract, not really worried but it seemed the thing to do, Stella filled out two checks for him. After they traded contract for checks, Stella reached into her drawer again and pulled out a manila envelope, handing it to Carol.
“Speaking of which,” Carol said, handing Stella the W2 form, “I have a new dancer, taking over for Sam, who quit.”
“Today actually, but really next week.”
“She’ll be first paid in two weeks, and Sam will have one more check next week. Should I send it to her?”
“Probably best. I’ll let her know.”
“Any questions?” Stella asked.
“My receipts,” Joe asked.
“I’ll take them,” Carol said.
“Of course,” Joe responded.
Carol seemed to have held back her laugh the way she exploded with it once they left the building.
“What?” Joe asked.
“You were checking her out.”
“Uhm, I admit she was attractive, but the suit…”
“Her way of not being hit on. You didn’t notice her checking you out too?”
“And when I said I’d take the receipts, how disappointed she was she didn’t get a chance to see you one on one?”
Carol laughed even louder, bending down with it as if in pain, a true belly laugh. She finally recovered enough to tell him, “I’m just pulling your…dick,” she laughed again, less excessively.
“So she’s lesbian?” Joe asked.
“Meaning she’ll try everything.”
“Very good Joe.”
“So you are interested.”
“Being Monica’s boyfriend must have told you I like older women, although the baggage and neurosis were a bit hard to bear. Stella seemed pretty together.”
“Oh, she’s totally cool. Loves her job. Loves her husband. No kids to be guilty about.”
“So she’s married?”
“Mark’s a total trip. Like her, you’d never guess he’d be married, very fay and flamboyant.”
“Trisexual as well?”
“With her. Her husband was in the next bedroom with one of my dancers, Gio actually, the guy working with Jenny. I think they do threesomes, but like me with dicks, Mark has problems with more than one pussy.”
“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but is everything sexual with you? You said Sam’s quitting because…”
“She’s a slut. You’re thinking there’s a double standard.”
“I’m just confused. Do you mind if we head over to the Wells Fargo? I thought I’d get these checks deposited and get some more cash.”
“Sure, and then we’ll take a taxi up to the studio.”
The conversation paused for his transaction, putting the money into his savings account and taking out five hundred in fifties and twenties. Since Max’s, and even before that, since he’d lived in New York, everything had been cash transactions with the tips and under the table payments from Max’s, and things like rent had been cash as well, and his jobs before he’d go to check cashing places. His account had actually been minimal until recently, when he started banking his tips and pay rather than spending it immediately on drugs or food or rent.
Carol waved down a cab, and as soon as they settled into the back seat, she said, “You think there’s some kind of casting couch for my company? There’s not. Sam was the exception, and she’s the one who started sleeping with the rest of the dancers who were interested.”
“You didn’t fire her.”
“Our relationship blowing up was impossible for her. She wanted to make her cake and eat it too or whatever, and I didn’t want her skanky ass anymore. Maybe my attitude towards her forced her out, but I really didn’t give a shit what she did, as long as privately it wasn’t with me.”
“So being with Jenny and then hiring her…?”
“Was because of you, Joe. I’m bisexual and she was there and cute and hot, you know? It might be a tough hoe, her coming from ballet and not modern like the rest of the company.”
“None of them trained in ballet.”
“Actually almost all of them did to start when they were kids, but transitioned mostly when they became teens.”
“Modern from the start. An eccentric woman who danced with Martha Graham settled in Lincoln and started a company there and training for kids. I’ve never owned a pair of toe shoes in my life, and wouldn’t know a plié from a jeté if I hadn’t watched film on it just like all the other movements in dance I’ve studied. But getting back to Jenny, I think she’ll be fine. She’s quick for one, and she has an innately expressive face and body, and she’s looser than most dancers I’ve dealt with just coming out of ballet.”