Follow the Leader

Janie always reeks of Marlboro Ultra Lights and juicy fruit. Pirouetting through the hustle of people in the lobby like they’re cars on the freeway, she comes to the bank of mailboxes, kisses her fist to the one marked J. Ascher, enticing it to open. One … two … three hits and it pops ajar – the thighs of an anxious virgin. She licks her bloodied busted knuckle and smiles.

Help me to the door deary shit breath Delores Kravitz from 4B whispered as she passed all sugary politeness and poison apple, and Janice was off to usher the craggedy old hag to the revolving wheel of death. Digging for gold in her delicate nostrils, Janie finds the appropriate trinket for the occasion and ceremoniously adorns it on the nappy sweater of the unsuspecting Delores. Loading her into a stall, Janie pushes the door forward enough to trap her halfway in the building and halfway out and backs away aLL chuckles and sinister delight.

Halitosis Delores stands there for a minute with all her bags ready to go. She turns around and starts tapping on the door like a Jehovah witness when she realizes her neighbor left her there to starve. Janie pop locks her way back to the door-challenged woman – this … all a part of her plan.

She gets in the adjoining cell, pauses to crack her knuckles and starts pushing the door like a frenzied older sibling trying to get their little brother to fly off the merry-go-round. Delores ejects onto the street all cartwheels and flowery bloomers. Janie meets her on the street with fervor. Waving her arms in the air and jumping up and down in her orange Tuned Air Nikes like this should have been the best time of doo-doo breath Kravitz’ life.

Delores grimaces in her face like she has just escaped a carnival ride gone wrong and is trying to politely decline a second go round. She gives Janie a twenty to never be in the same vicinity as her ever again. Janie snatches the twenty, French kisses the woman on the cheek and skulks back into the lobby, head down and hands in pocket like she’s sane after all.

She’s passing me by before I can pretend I wasn’t laughing. Standing in the shadows like a pedophile, I say a little prayer of thanks to have caught a whiff of her shower clean Degree as she discos to the elevator door. Adorned in low-slung khakis with tattered cuffs and an orange sleeveless tee that says Smell the Magic, she digs her drawers out of her ass and karate kicks the elevator button. She doesn’t even glance in my direction as I enter after her not uttering a sound.

I stand in the corner like a kid in time out and she pushes the button for my floor before pushing her own. She knows where I belong. My naked feet twist on the floor as my nipples get hard from the air conditioning. My mind wanders to times of her mouth being the reason my everything got hard. She pops her gum as the mechanical elevator whore tells me it’s the sixth floor. I slink toward my apartment like a dog who’s been caught diddling on the carpet. She fingers the phoenix dragon tattoo on her left deltoid as the doors close.

I rub my bare belly and close the door. I slide to the floor realizing my anger is hardening my erection. I beat off like a guilty thirteen-year-old, like a death row inmate thinking of his mother. The gut-wrenching hysteria seizes my abs before the tears come. I lie on the floor like a toddler after a spanking, watching the little TV across the way. My direct feed into the seventh floor. My only link to her world.

She grabs her billfold off the end table by the door. The end table that took me two months to carve and perfect only for her to tell me it was ugly. She hooks her wallet to her belt loop via a long chain. It’s only after she grabs her navy hooded zippered sweat jacket that I realize she’s leaving.

I pop off the floor like someone who forgot to cash a winning lottery ticket. I wipe my cum on a palm frond and scramble for my boots and a shirt. My jeans rip on the replacement end table she sat on my stoop as a mock peace offering. I knock the piece of shit table to the ground. I see her stare at the floor on my TV screen. She grabs a book bag from her collection and runs to the elevator. I throw some Altoids in my briefs, grab my leather jacket and motorcycle helmet and run out, but it’s too late. She’s already passed my floor.

I run down the stairs and bust out onto the street. I see her rounding the corner. I head to my bike to discover my tires are slashed. That bitch! I sprint down the street after her. I turn the corner all piss, vinegar and profanity. I see her flirting with a cop and I stop in my tracks. She’s all rubbing his face and flashing pearly whites. He’s probably new on the beat because he’s fingering his gun like it’s his partner’s dick.

I prop my flexing ass against the brick wall and pull out a pack of Camels. Three cigarettes and a session of people watching later, I look up and she’s gone. I stalk down the street, rubbing one set of fingers against the wall, clinching my second to last cigarette like its gold with the other set. Ten steps later she’s ten feet in front of me coming out to the liquor store with a box full of liquor bottles and an overstuffed JanSport. She walks down the street handing out pints of Crown Royal and Hennessey to every bum she passes like she’s Santy Claws. I take a bitter last drag of my cancer stick and smile.

Five blocks later, she drops the half full box on the steps of St. Vincent. Alcoholics Anonymous screams on the marquee. A blonde lady trips on the box on her way out. She finds herself chest first in Seagram’s gin and cognac. Her thought processes are written all over her face. It doesn’t matter if she’s eight years sober or eight days. She’s gonna sneak a drink.

Janie is already crossing the street not bothering to look both ways like somebody should have taught her. A cab almost hit her and the driver honks the horn at her like she should care. She flips them off and the driver gets out of the car. She hears the door slam and turns around. A what the fuck are you going to do little man look is smeared all over her face. He gets back in the car.

She backs away to the sidewalk, watching me stand in the middle of the street. Her long dark curls dance in a breeze only she feels. The evening sun frames her eyes like the mask of Zorro. She stares at me in annoyance. She stares at me in indifference. She stares at me like she didn’t know I was there. She turns around and runs like a spy trying to evade capture. I run after her like a dog chasing the car of his owner, like a kid who doesn’t want to be left behind. She runs into Morty’s Jesuit Hospital. I arrive in the elevator bank in time to see the doors closing, framing her flipped bird.

I watch what floor the elevator stops on and head to that floor. The tenth floor turns out to be the lung cancer ward. Two chatty Cathy nurses head my way and I dart in the first unlocked door. Dr. Seymour Fitztakuffs is cranked back in his desk chair sawing logs. His hand has been under his law library lamp so long it’s turning red. I hang my leather jacket on his coat rack and slip his lab coat over my You’re not my mother … quit fucking up my life T-shirt. I put his stethoscope on my ears and head out.

I creep into the ICU with a chart I snatched off some stiff’s bed in the hall. All the curtains are drawn back and all of the patients are standing in the middle of the room, circling Janie like sharks. She’s got an air mask on taking hits of oxygen. She opens her backpack and drops it to the floor. All brands of cigarettes tumble out and the patients scramble to obtain their specific brand. Janie crawls on the nearest bed, lies back as if in post coital bliss and inhales deeply.
A brunette bombshell with porn star hooters tugs on my sleeve. “That’s sick,” she says wheezing from Emphysema, speaking of the spectacle of patients.

“Sure,” I say into her breasts.

“They give me two weeks,” she utters in a raspy whisper, placing my hand on her chest.

“I may not have that long,” I say.

“That’s a shame,” she says dragging her oxygen tank and me into the handicap bathroom. She ruffs me up against the wall, stealing harsh kisses. She pushes me onto the toilet and I almost fall in. She drops to her knees. She fingers my nametag with one hand while fingering my crotch with the other. “You’re not Dr. Fitztakuffs,” she says squeezing my crotch tighter in her hand. “I know him.” She puts her air tube on me. I inhale and my eyes roll in my head. “Nice, huh.” I nod in ecstatic agreement.

She proceeds to do the only interesting business to be done on your knees. “Mint,” she giggles hoarsely after her first effort at deep-throating. I pull up my shirt and place the stethoscope on my chest, my heart screams to escape. I rub her head, put the stethoscope to her cheek, lean back on the cool porcelain and try to live in the moment.

I’m just about ready to blow when Janie opens the door laughing at some joke I never heard with an empty water gun in her hand. She takes in the scene like a FBI agent weary of the job. She slams the door. Porn star is too engrossed in the job. She’s still busy bobbing and weaving like a pro when Janie returns with a loaded water pistol and douses my face. I only have to lick my lips once to realize it’s urine.

I knock two-weeks girl to the floor while blowing my load. It must have looked like a porn version of the Matrix. I run after her, pants around my ankles, wang knocking around my navel like a dog with its head out the window. The death row inmates are too busy getting their nicotine fix to applaud me on my ample member. I pick up my pants and my pride and run to the elevator. I hit the button and the elevator doors pop open. I head to the stairs.

She is taking the stairs flights at a time like a trapeze carnie whore. I’m taking the stairs five at a time; its my twenty-fifth step and my lungs are an inferno. She’s out the ground floor door and out on the street. I burst into the night right into a full frontal assault. “Ahhhhhhhhh,” she primal screams while spritzing me with pee. She spins dead on into rush hour traffic.

She scales a beamer with her orange battery powered piss pistol, waving it above her head like a talisman. She’s jumping up and down on the sunroof of a Jag, when I run out into the street screaming, “Wait!”

Gears shift like a tank, Deftones blare in hairy ear lobes, sweaty biceps and work gloves grip a state owned steering wheel. Tires screech and my crumpled body clears the truck like an Olympic high jumper before kissing the asphalt and emitting a sigh of defeat. Refuse rains down on me like comets – cool and wet. “He’s a doctor,” somebody screams. She hitches a ride on the back of a bread truck never even looking back or uttering a sound. She rides down Broadway eating a blueberry bagel as my eyes close to the smells of Marlboros and juicy fruit, garbage and blood.