I walked toward the T a little later, after I made sure things were unplugged that should be and that guitars weren’t in danger of falling over. The air was cold and I started making a list of things to do in my mind: buy gloves. I saw the grate across the Chinatown station entrance and remembered it was too late for the T tonight. OK, buy gloves, learn to drive…
I went toward the theater district, thinking to pick up a cab there, and ended up walking to the Park Plaza hotel, where I’d stayed with Nomad a long time before. A doorman could hail one for me. But halfway to the door my feet started carrying me toward a figure leaned against a wall across the street, a figure that had no business being there.
Ziggy looked up to see me crossing the street and I couldn’t quite tell what kind of expression was on his face. He straightened up and looked to his left, right. And then I was there.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded.
“Waiting for a friend,” he said slowly, his eyes meeting mine under heavy lids.
“Yeah…” That evasive, teasing voice.
“Goddammit, Ziggy, I know what kind of ‘friends’ you can meet here.”
“God, Daron, you never struck me as the type to cruise ‘the Block.'” He touched his cheek in mock surprise.
So that’s what they called it. The name fit. “I’m not. And what about you? What if someone sees you?”
“What if they do? What’s it to you?”
“What’s it to me?” I shoved him hard with both hands and his back touched the concrete wall behind him. So many things ran through my mind, from stupid fears about paparazzi to more immediate paranoias. “You think I don’t care about who you fuck?”
“You’ve got no right…”
“Should I get myself tested because of you? Huh?” I grabbed a handful of his jacket. “Is this pocket full of condoms?”
“You’re out of your mind.” He pushed back against me, trying to twist free. “Let go of me… cocksucker!”
The fight was over before I knew I was doing it. My left hand made a fist and hit something hard, and something hard hit me and I found myself sitting on the sidewalk.
Ziggy was panting and staring down at me, one hand pointing at me while his mouth moved like he was trying to say something but didn’t have the voice. “You… you don’t… ” he managed.
“Okay, boys, hold it right there.” Behind me a police officer put his hands on his hips. From the ground he looked tall but I could see how short his hair and mustache were and I doubted he was much older than we were. “Get up.”
“Mind telling me what’s going on here?”
“It’s nothing, officer,” Ziggy said. “We’re friends. We were just having a little disagreement.”
“I think I’ve seen you around here before.”
“Me?” He shrugged.
“We were just going to catch a cab at the hotel over here,” I said, remembering something Digger had once said to me: the best lies are partly the truth. “If that’s alright with you, we’ll…”
“Hold on,” he said, in that cop way. “You know what it means, hanging around here too many times.”
“Yes, sir,” Ziggy said. “I swear it was just… Look, you’ve never seen him around here, have you?” He put a friendly hand on my shoulder.
“Move along,” the cop said. “And I catch you here again, you’re busted.”
He moved off in one direction, Ziggy in the other, and I went into the lobby with my left hand cradled under my elbow.
(Primo content update: here’s the deal. Anyone who donates any amount before 8/17 will receive the Spin article. If donations total $25 or more, we’ll post for everyone to read. AND if donations reach $50? We’ll make Daron read the article. Not kidding. He wasn’t going to, but ctan will make him do it, if you cough up the dough.)