sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll
From the moment we met, K and I were inseparable. She was quick-witted and funny and very pretty, with a charming (at that time) skepticism about all things American. She had come to America expecting to make a Kerouacian cross-country trek, but instead found herself languishing in Boston being treated as an inconvenience by L, an American acquaintance who had invited her to come visit.
I was the first American K met in two months who showed any curiosity whatsoever about who she was and where she was from. L’s friends, upon learning K was British, never said anything more than, “Oh, that’s nice.”
By contrast, that first afternoon we talked and talked and talked, my curiosity fired by finding a petite and attractive English rose in a Boston dump. As an avid follower of music trends, I bombarded her with questions about the London punk scene, which in 1977 was still relatively new. She answered my questions and asked me about America. Time flew by and we called out for a pizza.
At some point, my roommate and his girlfriend asked us if we wanted to attend a party that night. To my delight K accepted. It was a birthday party for my roommate J’s uncle, who had just returned from a five-day theatre tour of London he’d taken with J’s dad, who’d won a trip for two in a raffle. K and J’s dad and uncle shot the breeze about the marvelousness of London, and I just listened, awestruck at my good fortune at having met this marvelous woman.
K and I immediately fell into a pattern: I’d come from home from work and we’d get together and talk for hours, punctuated by long walks with L’s dog.
After about 10 days, on the night K cooked me a potato-and-egg curry dinner, we made love for the first time. We made love literally all night long — we’d finish, rest for a bit and begin again. We stopped only when I had to get ready for work.
I went to work with the biggest, goofiest grin plastered on my face that morning — and I mean plastered — God, it was atrocious! I’d try to relax my face out of the smile — and it couldn’t be done. My face was frozen — and my co-workers ribbed me mercilessly — not that I minded.
And that day, a new pattern was established — K and I made love as soon as I got home from work, and again before we went to sleep (she spent every night with me from then on), and again before I went to work in the morning. She was working illegally half days as a nanny, and got home by 1:30-2 p.m., so she could take a nap — but not me. It was an amazing marathon that lasted about four months, and the string was finally broken when I simply couldn’t one morning. Oh, I wanted to, alright — but if ever there was a time where the spirit was willing and the flesh was weak — that was it. K was thoroughly sweet about it — and when she told me not to worry about it, I believed she meant it.
We were suddenly madly in love, or at least I was, and although K’s tourist visa didn’t expire until June of the next year, her return ticket was dated August 15. I formally asked her to stay a week before her ticket date, she accepted and we made arrangements to cash in her ticket. I was a profoundly happy man. For beyond the constant lovemaking, I found K to be beautiful, charming, exotic, interesting and — most surprising of all — she seemed to think very highly of me.
Sooooo I had K — and my roommate J had his girlfriend L — the four of us moved into the apartment downstairs (and cleaned for two solid weeks) — and we got along pretty well — but there was trouble brewing.
Before I met K, while it was just J and I in the fifth-floor sublet, he began dealing pot to a variety of friends he had in the Boston music scene — and before I knew it, he went to dealing pot and coke. Customers would drop over almost any evening, sample their purchases — and as J’s roommate, I always seemed to get a taste — all free. It took some time for me to understand fully that my unspoken complicity was being purchased at a bargain rate.
We’d had a couple of parties when we first moved into the building, but it began to seem there was a party every damned weekend. Musicians who weren’t playing that night would drop over early, and latecomers would arrive after their gigs. I finally told J that we just couldn’t keep hosting every party — he was a little miffed, but seemed to understand — and switched to going out almost every night.
As closely bound as we were by now, K and I watched together as J (with L by his side) became more and more wrapped up in getting high and getting a vicarious thrill out of supplying coke to a select number of people on the Boston music scene. But J was doing as much coke as he sold, if not more. We watched with a mixture of disgust and horror as he struggled, more and more each morning, just to get out of bed and go to work on time — I drove, so I was always as late as he was. I found out later J was telling our co-workers, outside my hearing, that our tardiness was my fault.
K and I became more and more and more disenchanted — and discussed looking for a place of our own. We finally got very serious about moving out after awakening and listening to a late night argument between J and L that was the result of — ahem — erectile disfunction undoubtedly caused by the vast amount of coke J was consuming.
With her half-day work schedule, K began to look for apartments — we looked at some awful places, but quickly located a $150-a-month rent-controlled apartment that needed a lot of work in Brookline. Talk about kindness and luck! We found it because K’s employers let her borrow the wife’s Harvard University ID in order to use the services of the Harvard University housing office (the husband was a member of the Harvard med school faculty).
I wasn’t about to tell J until the very last minute, and we arranged to move into the empty apartment two weeks later.
Then three things happened in quick succession that made our getting out seem that much more imperative.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
At 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, the front door buzzer sounded. I knew I had to do the buzzing in, ’cuz there was no way J would be getting up after his usual late Saturday night out. I asked who it was — the reply, in a gruff male voice, “It’s Sally — get J up, I need to talk to him!”
I buzzed Sally in, pounded on J’s bedroom door, told him Sally wanted to talk to him, and let Sally (short, dark, broad, swarthy and wearing a leather jacket) into the apartment.
“Now, why don't you go in your bedroom and stay there until I leave,” Sally said gruffly, as he was very plainly sizing me up.
I beat a hasty retreat.
“The guy’s name is Sally and he’s built like a fire hydrant,” I said in response to K's questioning expression. Her already big eyes got huge.
All I could hear in the living room was a muffled conversation that was very emphatic in nature. Sally left a short time later and J was distinctly subdued for the rest of the day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A few nights later on a weeknight, M, an acquaintance from whom J got a large portion of his coke supply, dropped by the apartment. I told him J had gone out. M said, “I know — I’m here to talk to you."
When I let M in the apartment, he said a pleasant hello to K and asked if we could speak alone. As she headed to our bedroom, K’s eyebrows seemed stuck in the up position.
M was different from the other guys I’d met through J … he was completely clean cut, well dressed in a casual, but hip way, and in a suit would have looked like a hip lawyer or doctor. At the few of our parties he’d attended, M and I seemed to get along pretty well — he was quietly and visibly amused by how J seemed to fawn over him, and didn’t hide his amusement from me.
M got out a small vial and we each did a line. He then turned business-like.
“Corey, what are you doing here? I mean what are you doing here?”
“I dunno, M, I’m J’s roommate — why do you ask?”
“Well, I think you’re smart enough to see what J’s doing — Corey, I really think you need to find another place to live.”
“Funny you should say that, M, K and I have a place already lined up in Brookline — we’re moving the end of next week — say, did J ask you to speak to me?”
“No, I just think you need to get out of a bad situation that’s only gonna get worse.”
We chatted for a few more minutes — and he left.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The following Saturday morning, K and I were in the kitchen having breakfast when J, clad only in a short, peach-colored kimono-style robe of L’s, made his way rather unsteadily into the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee and lit a cigarette.
“Hey, Corey, d’ya think you could give me your half of the rent early? In cash?”
I’d been giving J my share of the rent in cash until the previous month — when he took the check (made out to our landlord) and grumbled mightily.
This time, with a new apartment waiting for me and K, I had to finesse it.
“Sorry, J, I’ve gotta wait ’til next week’s paycheck — and I’m gonna give you another check, anyway —”
Suddenly, his face contorted with anger, J yanked my chair sideways from the table and had his hands around my throat.
“Listen, you asshole — I need the money now — and I don’t want a fuckin’ check!”
L had just entered the kitchen and, seemingly as shocked as we were at J’s mood swing, started pulling at the robe he was wearing and shouting at him to let go of me.
Things suddenly slowed as K’s voice rose above the din.
“This is it — this is the end — get your bloody hands off his throat — we’re moving out in a week.”
J suddenly looked like someone was throttling him. With my departure, his ride to work would be gone, his excuse for being late would be gone, the stereo and TV would be gone — and a dealer’s favorite piece of equipment — the telephone (which was in my name) — would be gone.
“Is this true? You’re moving? You’re on the lease, you know.”
“Yes, it’s true — and let them bloody well sue me — I really don’t give a shit.” (by this time, I’d begun to use British slang I’d picked up from K)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
For the next few days, J continually lobbied me to leave the phone in my name so he wouldn’t have to pay any connection fees (oh yeah, like that was gonna happen). Now I had a clear sense of what a dumb asshole J thought I was. I remained vague and non-committal.
Having been manipulated by a weasel for long enough, I decided to stay one step ahead of him.
J thought we were moving out on the following Saturday. I played sick Thursday morning, so he had to take cab to work. I then called in sick to work — and K and I were packed up and moved out by 2 p.m. Just before leaving, I called the phone company and had service stopped immediately.