A FEW DAYS LATER, I RETURN TO THE Chelsea Hotel for what will be the last time. I skirt past Herman without his noticing me and sprint upstairs to my room. The locks have been changed. “Deh you ah,” says Herman when I return to the lobby. “Hi. I seem to be having some trouble with my key.” “Ya seem ta have a little trubble widda rent as well.” “Yeah, about that…” “I also tawkt to a friend at the New Yawkah. Dey nevah hudda ya.” Herman grins and holds up his key ring. Except instead of leading me upstairs, he unlocks a supply closet behind him. My duffel and typewriter are inside. “Tanks fah stayin’ widdus. Besta luck widda poetry.” I’m lugging my stuff through the front door when Nate holds it open for me. “Weed Man!” he yells. “Where the hell have you been?” I look at K., who’s standing next to him. She seems more interested in something on the floor. “You’re
not leaving us, are you?” “Moving out,” I say. “Well, good luck and all that.” K. finally speaks. “We should buy you a drink.” “I can’t, baby,” says Nate. “I told that reporteress from Rolling Stone I’d call her back an hour ago. What time is it, anyway?” “Well then I should buy you a drink,” says K. K. and I wander into the restaurant next door. Just a month ago, it was the birthplace of our relationship; now it will host our postmortem. “What happened to you?” she asks as the drinks arrive. “I went to Korea to see you.” Her blue eyes play emotional hopscotch, starting on confusion, then bouncing through guilt, remorse, and sadness before returning to the starting point. “You came to Korea? Why didn’t you…” “Nate.” She looks back at the floor. “I swear to you I had no idea he was going to be there. He just, you know, showed up.” “With a lot of flowers, I’m told. And jewelry.” My eyes dart toward a string of diamonds sparkling around her neck. “This is my fault,” she says. “I think I might have given you the impression that Nate and I… that things were a lot more settled than they were.” “You think?” “I know. I feel horrible. We were… You were great. You are great and you deserve so much – ” I hold up a hand to stop her. “First of all, spare me the breakup speech. I’ve delivered enough of them to know how you’re feeling.” “You don’t know how I’m feeling. …” “Second, I have to say, I kind of got what I deserved.” She pauses before continuing. “I was just so confused. And then when I got back, you were gone. No note, no phone call.” “It’s been a little crazy.” “Your mom?” she asks. I nod and leave it at that. K. looks at me sympathetically. “You must hate me.” “I don’t hate you,” I reply, mostly meaning it. “So how about Nate? Rolling Stone? He’s the real deal.” “Maybe. For now. Who knows what the future might bring?” I can see she’s opening the door for me. Offering me a glimmer of hope. “Who knows?” We hug good-bye. I struggle with the bag and the type-writer for a block before setting both down in an alleyway. I walk to the station empty-handed and catch the first train back to Levittown.
I COMMUTE TO WORK FROM THE ISLAND for a couple of weeks, until I’m summoned by the Pontiff to the apartment on the Lower East Side. He tells me that it’s a downturn in the economic climate, maybe just seasonal, and that business is dropping for all of the Faces. But he’s got a copy of the Post open next to him, a lurid story detailing the first day of the State of New York v.