“What a #@%&ing ass!”
“Why did you just do everything he said? We had our own stuff to do.” Johnny and Kona were on their way back to the van.
“I know, I know. I don’t know, the man’s just so …ah!” she threw her hands up, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. What do you want to do?”
“Fine. Ya know, I was thinking about Bodies before.” Johnny pointed to the poster at the bus stop enclosure. “I’ve always wanted to see it.”
“Yeah, yeah, me, too! Awright, let’s go!”
With that, Johnny and Kona were off eastward towards FDR Drive, and then headed south to the Seaport where “Bodies, the Exhibit” was being shown. For the next hour and a half, they looked at wondrous and disgusting things: the circulatory system of the human body, displayed three-dimensionally as it would look inside a body; a human lung infested with lung cancer, pretty repulsive to see; the musculature of the human body, stretched out like the suspension wires on a bridge; all sorts of cancers infecting the various organs of the body, as ugly to look at as to hear about.
Johnny and Kona had a good time walking around the exhibit, she making crass, but funny remarks about everything and everyone and Johnny laughing along. By the time they got to the end of the exhibit, it had been earlier than they thought it’d be. They still had about six hours to kill.
Before they left the building, they used the restroom (You’ve got to use it while it’s available in New York City.) and went back outside, into the seaport. The sun was setting by then and that bitter wind was blowing off of the East River again. They walked in and out of a couple of shops for warmth. They were all empty. In fact, the seaport was like a ghost town on this Saturday evening in November.
They found a wine shop, where they managed to kill almost a half an hour, making friends with the sales clerk and finding out all sorts of interesting things about Chilean wines. Of course, Kona got the guys number. He played for her team. Once outside again, they’d realized they had killed off one hour. Maybe they should eat.
They walked around the ghost town, almost stopping to eat at a restaurant serving New Zealand cuisine. Kona had lived in Australia and New Zealand, so she was familiar with the food. After a look at the menu, Johnny concluded that he wasn’t interested in mutton or meat pie, so they decided to return to the van and head uptown for dinner. This was where they would kill a lot more of their time.
Parking in Manhattan can be maddening. In fact, it’s almost always maddening. Kona was still driving and she was as maniacal on city streets as she was on the suburban highways, weaving in and out of taxi cabs and honking her horn at crossing pedestrians. The two of them had decided to eat on the Upper East Side, since it was close to the party, but the Upper East Side, unlike the seaport, was full of Saturday night diners. There wasn’t a parking space to be had.
“Baby where’d you get that body from? Baby where’d you get that body from?”
“I got it from my mama. I got it from my mama.”
For the first fifteen minutes or so, the two of them were in a jovial mood. They’d long since forgotten about Bill and the Kuninga vases. But fifteen minutes quickly turned into an hour as Kona circled every street from 61st and Lexington to 82nd and Fifth. There wasn’t a parking spot anywhere. The mood in the van was dour, yet jovial.
“Is that guy pulling out?”
“Nah, I think he’s just sitting there.”
“Oh damn! Well anyway, last week I was sleeping in bed around midnight and I heard a noise downstairs. Stewart was all drunk, going into the shop. He had a fight with Ja..”
“Kona, there’s a spot!” Johnny saw someone pulling out of one of those suspect spots, the ones that are kind of ambiguous in the legal department.
“Oh God, finally!”, Kona said as she put her blinker on. “You think it’s okay to park there? There’s a sign. Go out and see what it says.”
Johnny hopped out of the van and took a look. He was still confused. “It’s fine. It says no parking from Monday to Saturday, 8AM to 6PM. It’s almost 8 o’clock. He lied.
“Cool!” Kona parked the van and they ran to the nearest restaurant they could find, about fifty feet from where they’d parked, on the corner of 52nd and Fifth. It was an Irish Pub of sorts, specializing in ales of the world, and cheeseburgers.
The bar was crowded…and warm. Having been in the van for much longer than they had expected, the first thing on their minds was finding a restroom. Johnny let Kona go first, and while she was gone he asked the hostess for a table overlooking the street where the van was parked, so they could keep an eye on it just in case.
Within a couple of minutes, Kona showed up at the table and Johnny took his turn, but not before they ordered up a bottle of Chilean Malbec that they had seen in the wine shop earlier. Johnny returned to the table and being the man of the party, he was asked to sample the wine before its service.
“Mmm…oh yeah! That’s delicious!”
The waitress filled the two goblets and left the weary couple to their menus. Though the pub was crowded with people, the atmosphere was cozy and warm, a welcome respite from the cold and tiring day they’d had so far. For the next two hours, Johnny and Kona got to know each other a little better. Kona shared a love affair she’d been having with a married man and Johnny opened up about his situation with his recently ended relationship. It was the first time in the several months they’d known each other that they had shared such intimate details of their lives.
Both of them had dined on filet mignon, which was one of the specials of the evening, and it was delicious. After finishing their second bottle of Malbec, they were ready for dessert. They still had about an hour and a half until they were due back at the penthouse to breakdown the party, so they still had time to kill. Kona ordered the Tartufo, a delicious Italian ice cream dessert covered in dark chocolate, and Johnny settled for the New York cheesecake.
“Hey, is that a tow truck?” Kona asked just as the waitress left the table with the dessert order. She had been seated facing the van parked outside.
Johnny turned around. “Oh my God! They’re towing the van!”
Before Johnny could even turn back around, Kona had her coat in her hand and headed for the door, shouting for Johnny to tell the waitress to make the desserts “to go”. Johnny anxiously watched Kona running outside to catch the tow truck driver as he waited for the waitress to come back.
By the time Johnny got back outside, Kona had already handled the situation, quickly and without much of a fuss. She’d convinced the driver not to tow the van. There wasn’t even a summons! Johnny was baffled as he stepped back into the van, bag of ice cream and cake in hand.
“What? Oh, don’t worry about it! He was a nice guy, and besides, he was adorable!”
Johnny was at a loss for words. “Wow!” was all he could manage. He couldn’t imagine how she’d wiggled her way out of that close call.
The duo unexpectedly found themselves heading back towards the penthouse an hour earlier than they had planned. They were both tired and wanted to go home, but they couldn’t. First they’d have to go back to that party, and they were hoping that Bill wouldn’t be there.
The mood was quiet in the van on the way back to the party. Johnny and Kona were both exhausted after the incident with the policeman and they dreaded spending another hour waiting for the party to be over so they could break it down and go home. As it was, the prospect of the hour-plus ride home loomed over their heads. Neither one of them had the strength to reach for the radio, so they drove the few blocks in silence. Kona parked the van on Park Avenue, across the street from the building.
“Damn…I don’t wanna go in,” she shifted the gear into park. I just want to go home!”
“Me, too,” Johnny agreed.
“Ah, let’s get on with it, then.”
“But it’s too early. We’ve still got like a half hour before the party ends.”
“I know, but maybe there’ll be some cute guys in there. We could have a drink. Besides, it’s cold out here!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Johnny reluctantly agreed as he opened the door to get out.
They exited the van in anticipation of the bitter wind and ran quickly across the street and into the building. Still tired, the pair rode in silence up the elevator to the penthouse. As the doors whooshed open, they could hear a faint revelry in the distance. As they moved along the hallway towards the party, the sounds of music and conversations became clearer. The party was still going, but it was winding down. Some guests were already making their way to the coat check, anxious to get home. Kona spoke to one of Bill’s workers, while Johnny people-watched.
They were strange looking people, he thought, dressed in the luxuriously expensive evening wear Johnny had only seen on television and in the movies. Since it was a 60th birthday party, most of the guests were in the 60ish age range, so there was not much eye candy for either Johnny or Kona to look at. The effects of plastic surgery were obvious on some of the stranger looking people, mostly women, but a couple of men as well; a couple of faces pulled too tight, unnatural looking lips (and that was on a man!), and an breast implant or two thrown in for good measure. Johnny thought it was all so strange and fascinating. He hadn’t even been paying attention to Kona.
“C’mon, we can start getting stuff from the cocktail room.”
Johnny was on the move! He wanted out of there as fast as Kona did, so the two of them dashed into the entry room where the cocktail hour had been held.
“Quick, take this!” Kona handed Johnny a bouquet off a table.
The two of them worked feverishly, hoping to make one trip down before the rest of the party was ready to be broken down, saving them a good twenty minutes. They blew out candles, loaded more bouquets into a box, and then they began to dismantle the Kuninga that had been placed in the room, the Blue Room. Suddenly, a voice yelled out from behind them.
“What the %$#& are you doing?” (It was Bill! Johnny rolled his eyes. This was Kona’s problem, he figured. He wasn’t going anywhere near it!)
“Jonesy said we could break down in here,” Kona answered, instantly seething.
“I don’t care. You should know better Kona!”
“Look Bill, it’s been a long day and I want to get the %$#k outta here! I didn’t just go in and do it. I asked!”
“I said I don’t give a damn! I want you to put everything back, right now!”
Johnny wanted to be anywhere else in the world at that moment. Out of nowhere, Kona reached for a votive holder on the table and slammed it so hard on the floor the sound of shocked silence immediately reverberated through the room. Bill was a little frightened!
“Fine! Leave it then!” He began to walk away. Then, without turning around he told them to wait for Jonesy to come back before they did any more breaking down. Kona looked at Johnny, shook her head, and shrugged.
“C’mon, let’s clean this up and get going. I can’t wait to get the #$#* outta here.”
Kona and Johnny spent the next hour and a half doing their job without speaking. They never saw Bill again that night. Back in the van, Johnny spent the next hour and fifteen minutes listening to Kona dramaticize the situation, as she conjured up her story for Stewart. Clearly there was going to be trouble for this one!