I walked hand in hand with Merle through an endless maze of dark rooms — West End Avenue had all the light of a sepulchre. And finally we came to her room, which was almost as large as our apartment in the Bronx. It had two beds, a sofa, and a desk near the window. Merle didn’t believe in preludes or preambles. She undid her robe and let me glimpse at her partial nakedness in pajamas that almost served as a second skin.
She meant to play Manhattan’s own alley cat and seduce a cockroach [if curious look up Archy and Mehitabel], but I was as much of a trickster as Merle. I moonlighted after class. I was a male model for a Seventh Avenue clothing cataloguer, Rosenzweig & Co. Girls were always running around in the showroom in their panties and peekaboo bras. Romances would flare up behind a photographer’s curtain. The whole place was a tinderbox.
Archy and Mehitable from Jerome Charyn’s Bitter Bronx-Thirteen Stories
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.