Fifteen Thirty One, 1531 N. Kingsbury: Marlon Brando, in full leather, walked in, gave the waitress a look, and played some dicey jazz on the jukebox.
Jamie was standing near the bar, drinking a Diet Coke and watching The Wild One on a 12-way split screen. It was the club’s opening night. She saw that her black leather motorcycle jacket looked just like Marlon Brando’s though hers was from Bloomingdale’s. She also saw that three girlfriends from her ad agency were wearing the same jacket. They all looked like they were going to hit each other over the head with pipes. One was on her way to the club’s toy tattoo parlor to get a python painted on her shoulder. Jamie heard that the club’s owner, Jim Levin, had a rose tattoo on his right calf and a yin-yang on his back. Jamie wondered what was happening to everybody. Why did they look so murderous? Jim Levin’s father had started a nice fence company, Tru-Link. Their old slogan was “Beauty, Privacy, Security,” though on TV they had to say “Beauty” twice to fill up all the images on the four-way split screen. Jamie bet Jim Levin’s father didn’t have a tattoo.
Lee Marvin turned over a car. Then his gang rode their motorcycles in a circle around the waitress, terrorizing her. Then Marlon Brando saved the waitress and then the waitress slapped Marlon Brando and then the townspeople tried to kill Marlon Brando.
It wasn’t just that people were dressing tough, Jamie thought. Just the other day a man in a nightclub pinched her arm really hard and a few months ago her date stuck her in the behind with a pushpin.
Jamie wondered if she was more sensitive than usual because she had just seen Robert De Niro bite off a woman’s cheek in the movie Cape Fear. Plus a man was coming to her house later and she didn’t know him very well and she was afraid he might be into stuff. She had this feeling because he’s a trader and they ride around in Jaguars talking on the phone without a lot of conscience. Plus once he told her when they were running on the track at the East Bank Club that he saw a sex scene in a David Lynch movie that he thought was “interesting.” Another time he told her he had experimented with alternative sex, and when she asked if that meant he wore a dress he said no.
Before leaving for the club that evening, Jamie saw a wooden mixing spoon on her kitchen counter and threw it in a drawer so it wouldn’t give the trader any ideas when he came over. Then she started putting away the chopsticks, the umbrella, the television antenna, even the pens and pencils, anything that could be used for insertion or for hitting, which she realized was just about everything in the house except for the sofa.
Now Jamie sipped her Diet Coke and wished more than anything that a pediatrician would walk into the club and come over and talk about his little patients and how many lollipops he buys a year. He buys in bulk, he would tell her, and he would ask if she had a sore throat. Then she would call the trader on his car phone and tell him to forget it: she would go back home and hold her lavender autograph hound and watch some Howdy Doody and read a Honey Bunch book, and the next day the pediatrician would call and make her promise to marry him.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Tom Bachtell.