Blue noon over battlements of Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue where Louis lies in state. Leo-Teddy in line on sidewalk -- a few yards away TV reporters nab mourners coming out. Big white steamboats cruising heaven, soft wind blowin' through the pinewood trees ba baz da ba dez ba ba da da ba doo da ba doo da dez buddya da be da da DA ZOT! Good mawnin', everybody-y- y!
Hair breezing, Leo eyes their tufted shadow underfoot, a mustard sunspot breaking Teddy's phantom. Teddy braced on canes, stiffly overerect. Leo's eye princeblue, crisp. Teddy stout, florid, pufflidded -- longing for blue Hawaii, yellowbrown breasts, palms bound with orchids. Leo whiffs Tedy's lime lifesavers, his sigh as the line moves up steps. Teddy takes a throwaway from his denim-shirt, reads MRS. ROSARIO, Spiritual Reader and Advisor, People come from far countries to see her, You are just a few steps from a New Life. Gives true and sound advice on all affairs. Are you an unhappy, hopeless failure? -- this message is for YOU! I promise to bring you a full and happy life. Come to me! Feel NO embarrassment. Go up the red stairs to the red light. Teddy prickles, gripping her melons, his passion spilling in Mrs. Rosario's palm as she geev him an extra Spanish twist and mama's wink of endearment. Mrs. Rosario, sex isn't everything, I need a mate. My spiritual power is a gift from God! she cries. Lick my breasts.
Think she sells it? Teddy asks.
You don't wanna blow twenty bucks on a handjob, Teddy.
Nah. Teddy balls the handbill away.
KONG! a passing black cries.
A gray wirehaired Irish Wolfhound towers over Teddy, paws on his shoulders as it whimpers eagerly, its great tail wagging the earth. Teddy stares into giant brown hound eyes, his retrieved handbill in the dog's hot wet mouth. The beautifully tailored black pulls on the hound's tigerstriped leash.
Down, Kong! He's very people-oriented but just a puppy. Sorry.
P-p-puppy! Teddy cries. Saint B-b-bernard!
Kong wags and whimpers, waiting for Teddy to take the handbill. His vast brown pleading eyes swell with love. Teddy's heart lurches, wags in his breast before the god's naked affection. This is the most b-b-beautiful dog on earth! he blurts. Where'd ya b-b-buy him?
Look, ya got eleven cats already, Leo says.
This is the p-p-pet I've always w-w-wanted! He takes the handbill, digs Kong's hardrough massive head as red dogtongue instantly wets his whole hand like a salt lick. But he m-m-might take up a lot of room. What's he weigh?
Just one-hundred-fifty, the natty black says. He's not fullgrown yet.
Leo decides by the black's clear eyes he's not a drunk and asks, Eats a helluva lot? He eats beef, horsemeat, liver, kidney, tripe, fish, whole chickens, cottage cheese, bacon fat, honey crunchy kibbles, vitamins, table scraps, and dog food. An' this cat's a heavy drinker too.
Kong's great brown eyes lap at Teddy. I can't resist 'im! Teddy cries. He loves me, dontcha see he loves me! He's w-w-waitin' for m-m-me t' thrown a cane!
They very affectionate breed, the owner says.
Sure are! Teddy says. Feels b-b-beautiful just lookin' at him lookin' at me. How m-m-much does one cost?
That's the easy part, the black says. You might get one for three or four hundred. It's the upkeep that counts. An' runnin' him seven or eight miles a day. Keeps me in shape!
You run seven miles a day! Teddy asks.
No, man, I bicycle.
W-w-we'd have to get bicycles, Teddy says. W-w-we'll look into it. Thanks a lot. Bye, Kong!
The black waves, pulling his whimpering puppy. An' keep your toilet lid down or you'll find that empty too.
Teddy glows. That p-p-puppy got m-m-me right where I live. Those eyes! they're practically human. Once in a while your dreams are answered -- it don't happen often b-b-but when it does it's b-b-beautiful. Of course, I can't face a b-b-bicycle.
Leo stares at a red splotch on Teddy's hand -- for the past week Teddy's been painting a fresco on their bedroom wall. The full works, wet plaster and tempera, copying Goya's fresco of a dog's head staring at heaven, its eyes sad, fearful, head shivering in fluid light.
But m-m-maybe someday, Teddy says, searching blue sky. Or we w-w-weld some b- b-bikes together and you p-p-pump.
Great, Leo says. I'll look forward to it.
Move inside with the line, Teddy sweating on his canes.
Now hold onto yourself in here, Leo warns. Okay?
Sure. I don't hear any m-m-music. I'm only w-w-worried about my talk tonight. I don't remember the Seventh Step.
It's not a Step meeting, you're just tellin' your story.
B-b-but I'm havin' trouble with my Seventh Step!
Look at me! -- a perfect Seventh Step, but I still got character defects. I'm still rotten with perfectionism.
Teddy sighs. M-m-my defects hang out like Christmas tree ornaments.
Leo-Teddy passes banks of fleshy gadiola, gazes hard on the dark face in the roses and twilight purple burgundy satin. IN SATCH' WE TRUST. I'm layin' this one on you, Rex! Whooping Big Daddy Winesprinkler, hornblowing hillhigh dancing black goat under the goofing moon, drooling Big Baby Bacchus borne on orgasm, Dionysus unleashed in divine trance, leaping notes whipped, naked, bent, flattened, trilled, riding high, meteoric C's, D's, E's, F's wheemed in silver tones of steaming Good Time Charlie ginmill pandemonium, a pang as his spirit wings away over the grapedancers' fading frenzy in their tubs, a string snapping in Leo-Teddy's hearts, Louis so small, pale and dainty, his lip scar a white button.
Gripping homefeelings for wine nights on the starry hifi with Doc Sunshine's waving midnight grasslands of beautiful feelings, Louis stretching out on "Wild Man Blues," "Two Deuces," "West End Blues" -- purple bottleshine burgundy gallon, bombers laced with hash, the long night's slow throb, gin brilliance, heartbeats one with Louis's uppouring and overflowing mad lifeloving flood of feelings --aghhh! Teddy's eyes leak for the past.
W-w-we should hold a w-w-wake, he whispers. Sit up all night with his records!
You're tellin' your story tonight.
How about tomorrow?
Tomorrow night's fine," Leo says, smiling. A little pity party all by ourselves.
Leo-Teddy turns from the casket.
D-d-dig you later, D-d-dipper.
Mourners file out past Louis's widow Lucille.
Gee, Teddy says, tall on the sunny steps, I got such a rush of stinkin' thinkin' in there. I could smell the California red. And grass!
I didn't feel he was dead at all. Leo grips Teddy as his canes work down the steps.
Remember L.A.? W-w-we sat w-w-with him for half an hour in his dressing room!
He's not dead.
Healthy as a horse, Teddy says.