I head for the door, leaving a not unfamiliar scene, and turn back, once, to look at William and feel a pang of reluctance, which I don’t want to feel. I’m imagining Danny, waiting in a bedroom for me, dialing a phone, calling someone, a phantom. Back at my house, the television is on and so is the Betamax. The bed is unmade. A note on top of it reads, “Sorry—I’ll see you around. Sheldon called and said he had good news. Set the timer for 11 so the show should be taped. I’m sorry. So long. P.S. Biff thinks you’re hot,” and below that Biff’s phone numbers. The bag of clothes he kept by the bed is gone. Rewinding the tape, I lie down and watch the eleven o’clock edition.
Heading straight into darkness, staring out the window of a plane at a starless black canvas beyond the window, placing a hand to a window that’s so cold it numbs my fingertips and staring at my hand, I withdraw my hand slowly from the window and Roger makes his way down the darkened aisle.
“Set your watch ahead, man,” Roger says.
“What, man?” I ask.
“Set your watch ahead. There’s a time difference. We’re landing in Tokyo.” Roger stares at me, his smile slipping. “Tokyo in, um, Japan, okay?” No response, and Roger runs his hand through short blond hair until he’s fingering a ponytail in back, sighing.
“But I … can’t … see … anything, man,” I tell him, slowly pointing to the darkened window.
“That’s because you’re wearing sunglasses, man,” Roger says.
“No, that’s not … it. It’s … real”—l think of the right word—“um … dark,” and then, “… man.”
Roger looks at me for a minute.
“Well, that’s because the windows are, um, tinted,” Roger says carefully. “The windows on this plane are tinted, okay?”
I don’t say anything.
“Do you want some Valium, a ‘lude, some gum, what?” Roger offers.
I shake my head, answer, “No … I might OD.”
Roger slowly turns around, makes his way up the aisle toward the front of the jet. Pressing my fingertips, still cold from the window, to my forehead causes my eyes to shut tightly.
Naked, waking up bathed in sweat, on a large bed in a suite in the penthouse of the Tokyo Hilton, sheets rumpled on the floor, a young girl nude and sleeping by my side, her head cradled by my arm, which is numb, and it surprises me how much effort it takes to lift it, finally, my elbow brushing carelessly over the girl’s face. Clumps of Kleenex that I made her eat, stuck to the sides of her cheeks, her chin, dry, fall off. Turning over, away from the girl, is a boy, sixteen, seventeen, maybe younger, Oriental, nude, on the other side of the bed, arms dangling off the edge, the smooth beige lower back covered with fresh red welts. I reach for a phone by the nightstand but there is no nightstand and the phone is on the floor, disconnected, on top of damp white sheets. Panting, I reach across the boy, connect the phone, which takes about fifteen minutes, finally ask someone on the other end for Roger but Roger, I am told, is at a fruit-eating contest and is not available for comment.
“Get these two kids out of here, okay?” I mumble into the receiver.
I get out of bed, knocking an empty vodka bottle over onto a bourbon bottle which spills onto potato chip bags and an issue of Hustler Orient that this girl on the bed is in this month and I kneel down, open it up, feeling weird while studying how different her pu**y looks in the layout compared to how it looked three hours ago and when I turn around and look at the bed, the Oriental boy’s eyes are open, staring at me. I just stand there, unembarrassed, nude, hungover, and stare back into the boy’s black eyes.
“You feel sorry for yourself?” I ask, relieved when two bearded guys open the door and move toward the bed, and I walk into a bathroom and lock the door.
Turning on the bathwater full blast, willing the sound of rushing water hitting the mammoth porcelain tub to drown out the noise of two roadies dragging the girl and boy out of the bed, out of the room, taking their turn, I lean toward the tub, making sure only cold water pours out of the faucet. I move toward the door, press my ear against it to hear if anybody’s still in the room, and pretty sure no one is, I open it, peer out, and nobody’s in the room. From a small refrigerator I take out a plastic ice bucket and then move toward the ice machine that was placed at my request in the middle of the suite and get some ice. Then, on my way back to the bathroom, I kneel by the bed and open a drawer and take out a bag of Librium and then I’m back in the bathroom and locking the door and pouring the bucket of ice into the tub, making sure there’s enough water at the bottom of the bucket so that I can wash the Librium down my throat, and I step into the tub, lie down, only my head above water, unsettled by the fact that maybe the freezing water and the Librium aren’t really such a great combo.