“There’s too many lambs in the world. They’re being slaughtered. But not us.” He made a fist. “We’re going to live.” He shot his lean arm toward the ceiling, toward the shimmering light that seemed to cascade from the chandelier when they looked at it straight on.
“Come to Chelsea. Meet me in Chelsea.”
“What’s in Chelsea?”
“The poets and the queers.”
Gloria looked wide-eyed at him.
“I’m going to meet Jack Kerouac.”
“You’re kidding.” Across the table, they held hands.
She shook her head that she was not.
“He’s a man’s man. He’s the kind of man who needs me but doesn’t know it yet. Look at me,” Sheff said, fanning himself with Gloria’s notebook. “I’m hot all over now.”
Gloria laughed. “Do you really want to meet in Chelsea?”
“Why not? I’m supposed to meet this guy Sal who happens to look like the famous Sal Mineo. I’m supposed to meet Sal at the Chelsea Hotel which happens to be where Dylan Thomas died. I’m Sal’s muse or something. Sal is a writer. I doubt that Sal is his real name. He’s no Sal Paradise or anything.”
“Who’s Sal Paradise?”
“From Jack Kerouac’s book On the Road!”
“I don’t know it, but I read Madame Bovary.”
Sheff said, “I’ll loan you some books.” He leaned in and kissed her right smack on the lips. She felt flush. Sheffield Schoeffler, “the faggot menace,” sent fire through her limbs. He lit a fuse. For Gloria, it was kind of like being Erik, being stuck on that Ferris wheel beneath a black sky when all of the sudden, the world moved again. Life resumed, and Gloria was oh so grateful for that jolt.
Sheff sighed deeply. With his chin resting in his palm, he said, “You know, I have to be amorous of girls to shake this place from my heels.”
He took Gloria’s hand in his and gently parting her fingers, kissed her palm, pressing it to his lips. His breath was warm on her hand. “I should write a poem about you.”
“I’d like that.” And Gloria loved him. She understood that love is not about penises or having babies. It’s about poetry and lines that weave and hold lives and skin together.