The Pocket Piece, Part 5
The Pocket Piece, Part 4
Time stood still for just a moment in that rented bedroom.
I can remember how the icy London air whistled in around French Fred's arm, how he looked like a frightened child, stripped in that moment of his carefully constructed brooding sexiness. I remember watching the cloud of alcohol and fatigue fade from the faces of my friends, replaced by fear and horror.
But mostly, I remember unexpectedly seeing my own face reflected back in the remains of that broken window, and how I caught an expression on my face that I'd never seen in any mirror. In that sliver of window I saw myself contorted and angry. I saw my father's face, cruelly drawn and leaning down in that much-too-close way he had learned to best intimidate his Marine recruits.
I was angry at Fred for his panicked reaction, for breaking the window, for being French. Hell, I was mad at him for having BLOOD, which was beginning to pool on the floor. I was mad at my dumb-ass drunk friends for acting like wasted frat boys on spring break. And I was mad at myself for being so damn horny for Fred that now I was in this ridiculous situation, and I was standing NAKED in front of my three oldest friends.
I tried to pull things together, saying in a surprisingly calm voice, 'Fred, please don't move.'
Somehow he understood that, so I reached behind the bedroom door and pulled down two towels, knotting one around my waist. I rolled the other towel into a fat tube, and moved to the window. With Ken's help, we kept Fred's arm still and lifted the glass shards out of him, rather than trying to pull his wound back through the jagged edges. To this day, I'm amazed that we were that lucid.
Fred pulled his arm back inside, and I quickly wound the towel around the gash, but not before it spurted enough blood to make Fred's knees buckle.
I looked at the guys, 'So should we call 911 or whatever they have here?'
Ken and Jim made faces. We'd already had some noise complaints from the apartment downstairs, and while the apartment was only rented for another two days, we didn't want any trouble for our friend who'd found the place for us. An ambulance would certainly be 'trouble', especially in the circumstances of 4 American tourists and a French illegal, all of whom likely had *some* sort of contraband in their pockets.
'Well, how is he feeling? It looks gross. Don't they have free med-...oh but he's not English.'
We decided that sending French Fred home was out of the question. Man, I went right back to loving those guys again when I saw what *good* men they were. But we had to figure something out quickly. Something that didn't let Fred bleed to death, or worse, get deported. The towel around his arm seemed to be stopping the blood pretty well, but Fred was pale and his hand shook when he tried to take a puff from a cigarette handed to him. So, what to do? Where to take him?
Ed remembered that his ex-boyfriend's new roommate was from Cameroon, and hey, don't they speak French in Cameroon? So we decided to call the Cameroon guy and let him translate for Fred. Oh, I should mention that Ed's ex-boyfriend lived in Argentina and spoke no English, just Spanish and German. But the Cameroon guy spoke German AND French. And Ed spoke Spanish.
Remember the episode of " I Love Lucy" in which they're all thrown into a Parisian jail for passing fake franc notes? And hilarity ensued when the hilariously improbable events were hilariously explained German -French, then French-Spanish, then Spanish-English? Yup. Just.Like.That. Only much, much gayer, and with bleeding.
Amazingly, we got through to Ed's ex on the first try, although it was around midnight in Buenos Aires.
Me: 'Ask him to get the roommate that speaks French.'
Ed: (in Spanish) 'Hey sweetie hunny bunny babykins....'
Okay, maybe I have no idea what Ed was saying but it *seemed* like kissy talk.
Me: 'Ask him to get the roommate that speaks French.'
Ed: (in Spanish) 'Hey, how bout them Cowboys?' (or something).
Me: 'ASK HIM TO GET THE ROOMMATE THAT SPEAKS FRENCH!'
Ed: (to me) 'Dammit Joe, WAIT! I just woke them up, I have to be NICE. It's fucking O-dead hundred in the middle of the night there.'
Ed liked to pepper his language with forceful military expressions, although the only military action he'd ever seen was in the dirty bookstore outside of Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Without going through all of the who-said-what-to-who-in-what-language, and HEY, you've all seen that Lucy episode a gajillion times anyway.....we figured out that French Fred had no money to speak of, no health insurance, lived with other French illegals, but sounded very sexy when speaking French to a Camaroonian living in Argentina with a German roommate.
Through our gay Code Talkers, French Fred made it known that he wanted to simply go home to his roommates, and I told the others that I would go with him and not leave him until I was satisfied he would be looked after. Jim walked us down to the tube station.
'OK, well you know the number for the apartment,' Jim said.
'No, honey...I know the apartment NUMBER.'
'Oh. Wait a minute, ' he said and ran back to our flat. I blocked the wind for Fred and he shivered a bit inside my coat.
Jim rushed back within five minutes and put the number in my pocket, saying, 'Be careful where this guy takes you! Watch out you don't end up in Ploughsbury-On-Thames!'
'OK, well hopefully I'll be right back,' I said.
'Do you know the name of our tube station?' Jim asked, for the fucking infinity-squared time since we'd gotten to London.
'You mean the name that's hanging overhead right now in 30 feet high blinking letters? The name of the station that's also the name of this street, and the name of our apartment building? The station that we've been in 8 times a day for 8 days? No. What is it?'
'Don't get snippy with ME, missy! It wasn't ME who brought home Spasmo L'Wetback.'
'Yeah, yeah. I know. You can make fun of me later,' I said, pulling Fred towards the subway entrance.
Jim nodded solemnly. 'And you know I will.'
'And make him take a shower, he's kinda stinky.'
I didn't catch that, so I cupped my ear towards Jim.
Jim repeated, 'I said, he's kinda stinky!'
'I SAID HE STINKS!'
Damn! One of our favorite bits from the SNL cheerleaders, and I walked right into it.
Jim was jumping and giving himself a high-five, as Fred and I sank out of sight on the tube station escalator.
-to be continued-