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Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I did not want to confront Elaine about my
suspicions based on what Joe Eason told me. I was
confused and wished there was a back way out. I
thought of doing the vampire flit and exiting the joint
at a speed faster than the human eye could perceive.
Instead, I paid my check and walked toward
the front. I found myself taking in details – the shelf
of books and photos and other memorabilia that
extends around the dining room above the tables,
documenting the place’s history as glitterati central. I
actually wondered if I would ever come there again. I
gave Elaine a stiff little smile as I passed her.

She waved me over.
“Gus, come sit with me, please.”
I shrugged my shoulders and turned and
pulled out a chair and sat on its edge.
“You talked to Joe, right?”
I nodded an affirmative.
“Then he told you I had him check out your
“No. Actually, he didn’t tell me that. Why
would you want to check out my financials, Elaine?”
“You’re upset. I can tell. I’d be upset, too, if
somebody started nosing around in my business,
especially if I was a good customer of the person
doing the nosing, right?”
I remained mute and she continued.
“When your father used to come in here, when the place was first catching on, this was the wrong neighborhood. It wasn’t the Upper East Side then. It was Yorkville. It was the wrong side of Lexington Avenue. Still is for some people, but they don’t come here anyway.”
She paused in case I wanted to add anything. I arched my eyebrows up and down and remained silent, my arms folded across my chest.
“So, your father came in here every night, just like you do. We got to know each other fairly well. Truth is, I was a lot younger then and I had a crush on him.”
I remembered those years, and let a smile play across my lips. Elaine saw that as a signal to continue.
“The Windham gene pool is amazing. You could say it makes young women want to dive right in.”
“Young men, too.” I said.
This time around I was much more ambiguous about my nonexistent human sexual preferences. In past incarnations of Gus, heterosexuality was the norm. Nowadays, especially in the theater, it is not, and given my very recent experience with Millie, alluding to a gay suasion is beginning to make a lot of sense. At the very least, I want to be considered metrosexual.
“That’s up to you,” Elaine said. “It’s none of my business. You seem like the kind of guy who won’t let personal preference cloud your judgment.”
The truth, though I did not say it, is that I just do not care about sex, for myself certainly and the sex lives of humans are of little interest as long as someone somewhere continues to produce blood sacks for vampire consumption. I nodded for Elaine to continue, and more or less implying agreement with her last statement.
“Which brings me to my point -- I’m setting up a foundation for writers. The poor bastards have it tougher than any other creative types, if you ask me. So, that’s where the bulk of my estate will go when I’m not around anymore. I don’t want it to be one of these specialty foundations that caters to certain types – you know, based on ethnic background or male or female or gay or straight. I want the grants to go to real writers, you see. I want to help the good ones, the ones who really have something to say. Anymore, they get lost in the sauce, what with reality television and all the other crap that’s out there. It should be for novelists, journalists, playwrights, anybody who’s the real thing. Writers made this place for me. They ran up tabs or they took up seats without ordering anything but the fact is, writers were what drew everyone else here originally. So, now I’d like to give something back.”
“It sounds wonderful, Elaine, though I’m sure you’ve got a long time before you have to worry about distribution of your assets.”
“I hope so. Meantime, I’m just making sure, which is why I had Joe check you out. Your dad was in good shape financially when I knew him. He even loaned me some money to get through a rough patch early on.”
I remembered the ten thousand dollar loan, which was not an inconsiderable sum at the time. Elaine had paid it back quickly, in a matter of a three or four months, when I had not expected to see it at all.
“I want you to head the foundation and make sure the money goes to real writers, not these drips who seem to be taking over the world, including writing. You’re like your dad in that there’s something very no nonsense about you, Gus. And you apparently have more money than God, which is important. It means you won’t be looking for an angle. These days everybody is looking for an angle.”
“I appreciate the compliment of your confidence.”
Here I was concerned that what felt like her sizing me up had to do with my age, or lack thereof. I was touched, and relieved.
“You can draw a nice salary from the foundation, not that you need it, and it shouldn’t take too much of your time. There aren’t that many good writers around any more.”
“Whoa! Elaine, slow down please. This is a bit much for me to absorb. It’s kind of a shock. I’m honored that you would think of me in this way, of course. That doesn’t mean I’m the one to do this.”
“Yeah, well, I can trust you – that’s the point. That’s why I had Joe check you out. So I could be sure. So I can trust you. No offense, but there are a lot of people walking around the city who are not what they claim or seem to be. You’re not one of them, fortunately.”
“I’m just not sure what to say. It sounds like a lot of responsibility.”
“I’m not looking for an answer tonight. But I did want you to know what this stuff with Joe was all about. I didn’t want you to get insulted and disappear. Your father just disappeared on me – said he was leaving town for a little while and I never saw him again. Next thing I know it’s more than twenty five years and you show up, looking like the spit and image of him. . . Anyway, think about it. There’s some paperwork and lawyers and so forth that will have to be dealt with.”
“I’ll give it some serious thought before I answer, okay?”
“I knew you would. That’s all I can ask. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now with your show and this crazy murder and all. So take your time. You know, it could be fun, and you’ll be getting a first look at all sorts of writing projects. You could find some real gems. Hire some young people to read and screen everything first, of course. You’ll figure it out.”
I cut her off, placing my hand on her forearm resting on the white tablecloth.
“Elaine, I promise I will think about. That’s all I can do right now, and I really can’t even think about it until this show is open and running. We’re almost there. I will say that your confidence is touching. Thank you for that. Just give me a little time and I’ll give you an answer.”
“Oh sure. I’ll be right here.”
I got up and leaned over to give her a peck on the cheek.
“And so will I.”
I was glad that that mystery was cleared up and I would not be forced to find a new place to while away the hours among human company. Everything is going to be okay. Elaine’s is still my local pub.