Chapter 11

The First Snow

Pulling her close, Jackson’s long hands wrapped her tiny waist. In her struggle to avoid his kiss, he slammed his head to her forehead causing his lips to land somewhere between her nose and mouth. He apologized then tried to kiss her, again. Breaking free, she stepped out of his grip and moved clear across the studio’s bedroom. In the dim Park Slope apartment, dusk had crept in quietly. Outside the floor to ceiling windows, the street lamp brightened the soft flurries’ aimless dance. Hearing the eerie howl of the wind, she rubbed her forehead, glanced out the window and witnessed New York City’s first snow of the year.

Jackson had demanded that they meet at the flat, as it would probably serve as the most private spot. How was he able to stand in the very place where her adulterous indiscretions had occurred and been discovered only one month or so before? Jackson’s uncanny talent for departmentalizing problems had always shocked and appalled her. His inability to give her sexual pleasure was simply put off by him as a health issue that he would deal with after the next record release – he simply didn’t have the time. The snow intensified while the wind beat the building mercilessly.

“We should get on with it, so we can get home safe, yeah?” Nora suggested.

Jackson ignored her and left the bedroom. In the kitchen, an opened bottle of Jameson sat on the counter. Unable to find a cup or glass, he drank straight from the bottle. Nora smiled and debated in her head, whether or not she should tell Jackson that Ian had sipped from that very same bottle after fucking her on the counter. She kept quiet and monitored the snow. Having grown up with the Northeast’s unbearable winters, Nora recognized that these flurries could instantly accumulate to an unbearable blizzard.

“I want you back,” he said holding Ian’s discarded bottle.

She looked down at her thin Kenneth Cole leather boots and said nothing. Jackson took another swig from the bottle and repeated himself. Nora again, said nothing.

“I’m willing to put everything behind us, and we can start over,” he said.

Nora walked towards the counter softly and dragged the bottle up to her lips. She tasted the sweet strong drink and winced. Running her long white gel fingernail along the bottle’s label, she thought of Ian and smiled.

“Why are you smiling?” Jackson asked with hopes high.

“This bottle was Ian’s when he stayed here with me and now we’re sipping from it,” Nora partially revealed.

Taking the bottle from the counter he emptied the rest down the stainless steel sink and wiped his lips. She watched him half grinning.

“What the fuck is the matter with you?” he started, “Was I that terrible to you?”

Nora shook her head and apologized. She mentioned the potential blizzard and was ignored again.

Straightening her faux fur vest’s belt, she addressed him, “No, you were very kind and at times sweet. I just fell for another Jackson, there’s not a tangible reason for it. It just is what it is.”

“Is it because of my issue?”

Nora sighed and regretted not stopping him from dumping out the booze. The apartment, abandoned for over a month, was dark and cold. In the small kitchen, she reached and switched the light on above the stove. In the shadowy light, she saw tears stream down his fair sallow cheeks. He was not eating right, she thought; perhaps not at all. Anxiety had caused Jackson many problems all of which he failed to deal with. While with him, Nora constantly nagged him to eat what she had prepared him and begged him to exercise more as it might alleviate his stress. As if she were a fool speaking in Japanese, he hardly acknowledged her words.

“Jacks, it’s too late to reconcile. I love Ian. For what it’s worth, I’m terribly sorry for humiliating you,” she spoke and started to leave.

His long hands reached out and took hold of her skinny arm. Crying, he exploded begging for her to take him back and accused her of not being able to love someone she’d only known a month. Had her love to him been bullshit? Had she actually been seeing Ian all along? Had she wanted to get caught, standing in the street like an ass? His accusation hurled about Nora like the growing blizzard outside. She denied his attacks and insisted that she needed to get back to her boyfriend.

“He can get his own girl, you’re mine!” he growled.

“I don’t want you Jackson. Please, do yourself a favor and move on,” she quickly gathered her things and headed for the door.

The long hallway stretched eternally under her heeled boots. She marched swiftly but failed to escape Jackson’s gangly limbs. Wrapping her again into his arms, he bent over considerably and warned that Ian could never keep a spoiled gold digging whore happy. She screeched for him to let her go, but his limbs tightened around her dainty frame like a boa constrictor. He squeezed her breasts and kissed her softly on the neck. She turned her face to his, loosened her belt and let him finally kiss and touch her. His hands slid up her turtleneck, when her ring tone, Dirty Herberts’ East London, downloaded to her phone via Sara, sounded. Upon hearing it, Jackson released her, letting her nearly drop to the ground. Scrambling, Nora saw that it was Ian, and quickly ran out the door.

Evan, Paulie, George and Ian, all strained to carry the last of the two 10-inch maple tables up the wrought iron stairs and through the industrial-sized door. Leaning the door against the spitting wall, they rested. Ian went to the kitchen area and pulled beer from the little fridge and offered one to each. George accepted the beer and drank it down almost immediately.

“Jesus, George, where’s it going?” Ian mocked.

“Check it out, it’s snowing,” Paulie noticed.

They all looked up and for a quiet moment watched the large flakes briskly fall past the long narrow window. Ian bragged that had they been there, say, two weeks ago, it would’ve been a black wall. While embarking on repairing the spitting dusty wall, a task he was hoping to put off until Spring but Nora had insisted he deal with it now, he noticed a change in texture in the wall. Pointing out his keen eye for detail, Ian went on describing the laborious process of stripping paint and tar to free the odd shaped window.

“As interesting as this all sounds, I have a date with my wife. Am I done here, then?” George joked.

“Go on then and tell the Mrs. ‘ello’,” Ian said walking him to the opened door.

Paulie and Evan stood and continued to watch the snowfall. Evan kissed his boyfriend and smiled and reminded him that this would be their first snow. Paulie grabbed Evan’s ass and asked Ian for another beer. Evan stopped him and reminded him that they were meeting Charles at the pub. Protesting, Paulie insisted that they had plenty of time, and he was a very fast drinker.

“Ya lush,” Evan sneered.

“Ah, leave it Evan, you’re surrounded by us. You might as well give in,” Ian stood up for Paulie.

“Fuck it, give me one as well then,” Evan laughed.

Ian hesitated then asked, “Any word from Frankie yet?”

Frankie was the owner of the Hook and Ale Pub, in Red Hook where his brother, Carlo, had attacked Ian and hurled insults against Evan. Ian slammed his pint glass against his rival’s skull and proceeded to slam his head against the bar until it burst in blood. Frankie’s brother was now laid up in the hospital, although in critical condition was expected a full recovery. Frankie hosted the football league’s Awards Night and other gatherings every year and throughout the year. The main objective of the night was to avoid being handed an award – a bedazzled 8th grade girl’s soccer trophy. Last year, Ian was given a sparkly pink and purple trophy for the Most-Likely-to-Piss-His-Trousers.  The overall objective however was to get horribly wasted and beat anyone that wasn’t on your team.

Terrified and protective of his younger brother, Frankie decided to press charges against Ian and debated severing his ties all-together with the football leagues. George and Evan made several trips to the Brooklyn neighborhood trying to remind Frankie that no one wanted this to happen, but given the premise of the night, what was he to expect. Not buying it, Frankie kicked the two out.

Also terrified and very protective of his little brother, Evan ignored him and returned to the bar the next day. Evan pleaded for his brother’s future. Undaunted, Frankie mocked Evan, reminding him that Evan had actually not even stayed for the fight – hadn’t he gone home like a pussy? In defense of himself, Evan explained that Carlo was not the first bloke admitted to hospital on Awards Night. He went on and called him a hypocrite and a pussy for allowing it to become personal. Evan also went so far as to suggest that if the charges were dropped, Ian would be happy to cover all of Carlo’s leftover hospital expenses, no questions asked. But if they weren’t and anything happened to Ian, Evan would personally come back to the bar and beat him worse than Carlo.

“And?” Ian demanded.

Evan shrugged his shoulders, “We’ll have to wait and see. He said he’d let me know tonight.”

Paulie asked, “Where’s Nora?”

Ian’s face turned grey when he realized he had called her over an hour ago. Digging into his pocket he pulled out his phone. She had not answered his call, nor had she text a reply. As he dialed her number the heavy door swung open, and covered in snow, Nora stepped inside. Ian rushed to her inquiring where she was. She explained that she would talk to him about it later.

“You okay?” he noticed that she was trembling.

She nodded, kissed him and went to hug Paulie and Evan.

“Yeah the ‘mos are here! Hi Marys!” Nora teased.

“Shut it, you dizzy cow!” Paulie said in a very affected lilt.

“How are you Nora?” Evan asked hugging her.

“Why is everyone so gloomy?” Nora asked.

Paulie explained that they were still waiting to hear about Frankie and Carlo’s decision regarding Ian. Nora assured Ian that everything would work out in his favor and kissed him on the chin.

They chatted briefly about the first snow and how initially, covered in white, New York appears a pure magical kingdom however, as the city continues to carry on, the white magic becomes a filthy major inconvenience. She offered the couple more beer but was turned-down as they were already late for a previous engagement.

“I haven’t seen you in so long, Paulie. Promise me that we will see each other soon?” Nora pleaded.

He hugged and lifted her off the ground and made a promise to see her the very next day. Paulie and her would hang at either of their flats, drink champagne and shut out all that was boring and sad in the world. In fact, it would become a tradition. Emphatic, the two friends imagined drinking champagne spritzers, lousy with vodka and popping Nora’s Xanax. Interrupting, Evan coaxed his lover away from his best friend and said good- bye.

Nora crept into the bathroom and changed into her pink kimono and pink fuzzy slippers. When she came out, Ian stood square against the large stainless steel refrigerator door.

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed, “That thing is beautiful!”

He took her on a tour of its many convenient compartments, modular shelving units, wide rolling storage drawers and energy efficient thermostat. Impressed, she kissed him deeply. She browsed the maple tables that he and the others had carried up into the flat. He explained, that once he got a stove and put in the sink, she would be able to cook, using at least one of the tables as a counter. Nora laughed, then quickly undid his zipper and promptly tried to proceed to demonstrate her appreciation of his hard work.

Stopping her, he demanded, “Eh, wait…wait…where the hell have you been?”

“I went to see Jackson,” she answered flatly, “And it was terrible.”

Pacing, he asked why it had been terrible. Nora explained how he had groped and kissed her, begging her to get back with him. She went on to say that she had told Jackson that it was over and that he needed to move on. Ian squeezed his hands in tight balls then released them slowly.

“Ian, I had to get some closure to this. He wouldn’t have left me alone had I not,” she tried to explain.

“Were you going to tell me?” Ian asked.

She assured him that she did not tell him at first because she knew that he would stop her.

“What I did to Jackson was awful and selfish, I don’t want to be that with you,” she said and continued, “Plus we were together over two years, I owed it to him to at least see him and apologize.”

“Why didn’t you ring me back?” he interrogated.

“My battery died, see,” she explained handing him her phone.

Ian refused the phone and walked past her.

She continued, “I knew you’d be worried so I hopped in the first cab I saw.”

“You fuck him and then come home and try to put that mouth on me?” he yelled.

He grabbed a steel bar lying on top of the table set to act as a kitchen counter and strode into Nora’s sewing area. Lifting the steel bar over his head he smashed it down onto her sewing machine until bits of the machine’s body parts flew out in every direction. Nora screamed in protest but did not dare step forward while he swung. He dropped the bar and viewed his destruction. Pushing his hair out of his eyes, he turned to Nora.

“We didn’t do anything! I told him that I loved you and that I no longer…” Interrupting, Ian’s hand slapped her in the face, and dropped her to the floor.

He headed to the kitchen to retrieve another beer. Dragging herself up off the cement floor, Nora held her burning face and grabbed the first thing she could get her hands on. The silver soccer trophy, adorned for a 12-year-old girl, glided through the air and bounced off the back of his head. Shocked by her accuracy, she stood and watched him. He turned and started after her. Terrified, she ran for the door. The kimono wrapped her feet, tripped her and landed her flat on her face. Ian picked her up by the hair and dragged her across the flat like a rag doll. She held onto his hand and begged him to listen to her. Not saying a word, he dropped on top of her and slapped her again. Raising his hand to backhand her, his phone rang echoing loudly in the ill-furnished loft. Startling him, he looked down in horror to see his girlfriend cowering under him. The phone sounded again and he climbed off of her. Saved again by the ring tone of a phone, Nora pulled herself up and quickly ran into the bathroom.

Pulling on a pair of low-rise black corduroys underneath her kimono she hoped to dress and try and get out of the flat. Through the door and over the open walls she heard him get angry on the phone. Fearful, she tore off the kimono buttoned up his flannel, threw on her faux fur vest, and replaced her fuzzy slippers with her black boots. Standing stalk still, her hand reached out for the doorknob. Ian was quiet on the other side. She turned the knob slowly when Ian knocked softly on the door. She jumped backwards, knocking over the neatly stacked toiletries on the wood shelf. They smashed and crashed to the floor creating a terrible raucous. He opened the door slowly and saw her like a scared kitten, afraid to move. He remained in the doorway with his hands up.

“You sonovabitch, stay away from me,” she yelled throwing a shampoo bottle at him.

Unfortunately for Nora, Ian had bought the entire vacant floor and although the walls were old and fond of spitting dust, they were made of solid concrete. She could scream all night and never be heard. She begged him to leave her and let her go. Ian backed away from the door and promised that if she came out, he would not hurt her. Nora’s feet locked and she remained amongst the spilled shampoo and shattered perfume bottles.

“Baby, Frankie’s gonna press charges,” Ian pleaded.