By Wil Forbis
My name is Lorry Perez and
let me tell you of this terrible thing I have done. A thing terrible
not so much in grand, worldly standards - I’m no Pol-Pot or Stalin,
no genocidal tyrant who cast millions to hide underneath a parade of
skeletons. No, my thing is terrible on the microscopic level of day-to-day
life. Terrible for taking but one single life, against the struggles
of the many.
However, I suppose that I’m getting ahead of
myself. For you to really understand the bitter turn of events that
befell me, I should start at the beginning.
Of course, with tales such as mine, it’s hard
tell exactly where the beginning is. I could tell you where I feel
it all started, but as any Freudian will tell you, the obvious
beginning is rarely the actual cause. No, they would argue that my fated
night of terror was merely the culmination of a cosmic pool game where
my actions were determined by my relationship with my mother, or my
troubled ghetto childhood, or the fact that I were molested as a young
In fact, I’d like to say I was the victim of
childhood sexual abuse. (It might give me some sort of excuse.) Instead
I had a fairly normal childhood, growing up in Brooklyn, New York, an
Anglo-looking child with the last name Perez. (My father was a quarter
Hispanic.) I played basketball, listened to eighties rap music (perhaps
therein was my downfall) and though I never really fit in, I was never
particularly out of place either. I graduated high school in 1986 from
Midwood High (With a 4.00 GPA, I was considered gifted.) then spent
a few years in a community college up north in White Plains. I
then returned to the city, settling in the lower east side of Manhattan.
From there I meandered through a few odd jobs (dishwasher, department store clerk,
and for a short while, doorman at the 24/7 club) before settling in
as a night manager/delivery boy for a Korean grocery store. I suppose
it was a bit disappointing for those who assumed that I had a bright
future, but I was happy… or should I say content? Yes, I was content.
Content with most things that is. Except women.
I had a few girlfriends through my life, a book store clerk ten years
my senior and a couple portly Jewish girls who made it clear in their relationship
with me, they were “settling.” They’d had their wild and perhaps unfulfilled
teenage and college years and now they were looking for a boyfriend
or husband that could provide them a permanent New Year’s Eve date and
help them fulfill whatever role they thought society expected of them.
Unfailingly after six months or so they realized that though they were
willing to “settle”, they weren’t willing to settle for me. Customarily
they’d end the relationship by making little attempt to hide the affairs
they’d begun with my co-workers, friends, relatives, etc…
My problem is that I’ve never been willing to
settle. I’ve always been in love with beautiful women. I mean really
beautiful women. Though some men seem happy to settle with a moderately
attractive woman as long as she satisfies his sexual needs and provides
some type of amiable companionship, I’ve always desired, no, craved,
more. I mean, New York is filled with beautiful women, hundreds of thousands
of them. I failed to see, from a mathematical viewpoint, how I wouldn’t
be able to indulge at least one of them.
That was part of the reason I took the
grocery store job. It didn’t actually involve that much work, so I was
free to spend a lot of the time (especially in the early evenings when
I started my shift) staring out the window. Staring out at the beautiful
women returning from a hard day's work or heading out for a night on
the town or dog walking a caterpillar-like chariot of canines to Battery
Park. Asian, Black, White, Hispanic… I could stare at them for hours,
fashioning fantasies in my head of what I could do with that one… or
that one… or those two together. And when I got done with what was usually
a twelve-hour shirt (8 P.M. to 8 A.M., four days a week) I’d walk a
few blocks to one of the local coffee shops and girlwatch some more.
I was drawn to a particular espresso house, where a very particular
girl would go for an almost daily espresso. Bleached blonde with short
hair and a small frame, she usually looked less like this was her morning
coffee but rather that she was extending the previous nights festivities
for a few more hours. She had the look of an artist, someone who might
have lived in numerous lofts in the area, blasting loud music while
creating neo-gothic art pieces by spattering paint against a mile high
canvas or some such nonsense.
I’d confirmed this supposition a few months after
first saw her at the coffeehouse. I was making a delivery for the grocery
- several bananas, a bag of oranges and a case of beer. When I got to the customer’s address,
a loft apartment atop a a four story Greenwich Village building,
I knocked on the door and it was answered by the same illustrious beauty
for whom I’d been languishing away my mornings. She was having
a large get-together and was clearly inebriated when she answered the
door. Slurring her words she introduced herself as Julia and mentioned that I looked familiar. I forced enough small talk to learn that she was a “mixed-media”
artist and was celebrating her successful efforts towards pertaining a new gallery showing.
She even invited me in for a drink, but I declined, saying I had to
get back to the grocery. Even if that weren’t true, I wouldn’t have
entered; I’ve never been that comfortable amongst “artists”. However,
from that day I whenever I saw Julia at the coffee shop she’d smile,
though conversation never ensued.
In girlwatching I had a partner in crime at the
grocery. His name was was Lorenzo, a young black kid who was taking day classes at
a local technical college to become a computer programmer. As someone
with a juvenile sexual appetite, Lorenzo had a big thing for pornography,
especially cyber-porn. He was always bringing in printouts of attractive
women, usually engaged in some act of graphic coitus, that he’d culled from
the Internet the night before. “Check this out” he’d say while excitedly
poking me, unveiling a discolored photograph of a woman’s semen stained
face. “Look at that bitch go!” I could never get too excited about it.
There was something unreal about these women. How did I know they really
existed? These were women with names like Anna Cunnilingus or Debby
Brassiere, whose natural endowments had clearly been augmented by the
surgeon’s knife. The women I lusted for were real women, who passed
by my view everyday and were firmly planted in concrete. I suppose that’s
where Lorenzo and I parted ways. He was quite content in the world of
fantasy, whereas I needed at least some grounding in reality.
Lorenzo was able to pique my interest on a cool
December evening when he came in talking about his newest Internet source:
Anastasia.com. “It’s a fucking crazy site ese’” he informed me (‘Ese’
was his annoying way of referencing my almost non-existent Hispanic
heritage.) “It’s some real life bitch who sets up a camera in her apartment
and she walks around naked all the time."
“Huh?” I replied, only feigning interest for
the moment. “Who walks around naked ALL the time?”
“You gots to check it out, hombre,” Lorenzo countered.
“I mean, yeah, she’s not naked all the fuckin' time, but a lot of the
time, she’s stripped down to the flesh, my man. Way she puts it, it’s
performance art or something, like Karen Finley. Sometimes she’s dancing
or puttin’ paint all over herself or something. But she’s a fine looking
woman, man. More than you could handle.”
“Hey, at least I’ve handled a women,” I retorted.
“Trust me dude, you gotta come by and check it
out some time.” Lorenzo continued, ignoring my jab. "It’s different
from all the others, it’s like looking into someone’s life, just seeing
them walk around the house, steppin over underwear… It takes a strange
kind of bitch to let the whole world peer into their life."
Now I was starting to get curious. “I don’t get
this,” I stated. “How do you see her? She’s broadcasting some kind of
video to your computer? Like HBO?”
“Naw, naw, it’s not moving ese’” Lorenzo explained.
“It’s photo stills captured off a video camera, you know. And like,
she updates it every thirty seconds. So for one shot, maybe she’s on
the couch reading a book, the next she’s in the kitchen getting coffee,
then she’s back on the couch with a cigarette. You dig?”
“What about when she goes out?” I asked. “Does
she turn off the camera? What do you see then?”
“No, the camera’s always going, man. But she
doesn’t seem to go out much. When she does you just see her empty apartment
“Huh… That’s a pretty good home security system,”
I mused. “I mean she’s constantly got a whole army of perverts like
you checking up on her.”
“Yeah, I’d like to be checking up the inside
of her ese’” Lorenzo guffawed. “And I may too, homegirl lives somewhere
in the city.”
“She lives here? In New York? Have you ever,
uh… seen her around? I mean in person?”
“You kiddin’ man. If ever I saw her I’d be right
on top the bitch right now”
“Stick to your computer women, Lorenzo,” I replied.
“I don’t think you can handle the real thing.” I quickly exited to
the stockroom, before Lorenzo could get in a response.
I tend to get depressed around the holidays,
and it was around the time Lorenzo and I had that conversation that
I started a habit of drinking a beer or two in the breakroom before
my shift would end. After downing a couple bottles I didn’t have much
interest in my usual morning coffee, but one Friday morning, I figured,
what the hell. I had a couple of errands to do; I might need the extra
zip from a cup of coffee. Plus, it’d be nice to see if Julia was around.
Sure enough, as I sat down in the coffeehouse
around 8:30 she came in. Maybe the beer made me a little braver than
usual but I waited till she’d gotten her order and then spoke. “Julia…
hi!” I wore my most engaging smile.
“Hey…” she replied, clearly unaware of my name.
“It’s Lorry,” I filled her in, trying not to
seem too wounded.
“Right, I’m sorry” she responded, smiling politely,
but clearly uncomfortable.
The beer seemed to have given me the courage
to start the conversation, but not the substance to carry it forth.
“How’s your art… thing going?” I asked, scraping my mind for some kind
“My what?” she asked quizzically.
“Your art” I quickly replied. (Had she been offended
that I’d referred to her life’s work as an “art thing?”) “Do you have
any more gallery shows coming up?”
“Oh, my art.” She smiled. “Well you know I do
a lot of mixed media experiments now. What I’m doing these days doesn’t
really work in the context of gallery shows. Besides the Soho gallery
scene is so cliquish. I’m really looking into new avenues of self expression."
“Oh…” I said. I really didn’t have much to offer
her in the way of avenues of self-expression. “Well, you know, if you
do get a show, I’d like to come see it. I could give you my number or
“Ohmigod,” Julia suddenly yelped.
“What?” I asked, panicking that perhaps the mere
mention of her getting my number had shocked her beyond belief. But
I calmed a bit after noticing that her eyes were gazing past me to the
“That’s Tanya, I haven’t seen her in forever”
she cried out, pointing excitedly at a nondescript figure walking down
the avenue outside. “I’ve got to catch her. Look Larry, it was nice
seeing you… I’ve really got to go.”
“It’s Lorry,” I corrected her as she rushed off.
“If you need any fruit you know where to find me.”
I’d meant the grocery but it hadn’t come out
I thought of the errand I had to run, but somehow
I couldn’t find the interest. I walked home pouring my espresso in the
gutter along the way.
That evening I showed up at the grocery feeling
very tired and not at all up to the task of working my final twelve-hour
shift of the week. The Christmas blues were really starting to come
around and I hadn’t been sleeping all that well. It was cold, not cold
enough to be snowing, but the heat in my building wasn’t particularly
commendable. And maybe I was starting to go through one of those “What
have you done with your life?” phases. Suddenly I wasn’t happy about
being a thirty-one year old man working in a Korean grocery store. And
I was starting to lose my hair.
“Damn, you should have seen that bitch last night,”
Lorenzo informed me when I came in.
“What?” I asked irritably.
“Anastasia.com, ese’” Lorenzo reminded me. "I
was checking her out her all last night. She spent the whole time watching
Jimmy Stewart Christmas movies bare ass naked. Man, it was great.
“Obviously she’s got better heating
than I do, “ I growled.
“And let me tell you something else, ese’” Lorenzo
continued, ignoring my sentiment.” “I swear, when they got to that one
part, you know the “Daddy, daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings
an angel get their motherfuckin’ wings” part, when they did that… I’d
swear her nipples got hard."
I turned to Lorenzo with a look that said “Don’t
bother me.” As he sat there, grinning like an ass behind the register
and I could tell he wasn’t getting the message. It was going to be a
The night became even longer a few hours later
when I came across a familiar face. It was Trudy Dorwitz, one of my
old girlfriends. Out of all my ex-flames, she was the one with the most
open disgust for me during our relationship. And it had ended badly,
with her storming out of my apartment after spitting on my pet iguana,
while I had wept on the couch.
If I’d seen her entering the store, I might have
made some attempt to hide myself. As it was, I didn’t notice her until
I ran into her in the canned goods aisle. Or I should say, she ran into
me. I was busy stocking the tomato soups when I head and gasp and a
breathless voice say “Lorry.”
I turned and saw her. She’d put on a lot of weight
but still looked pretty decent. She had this strange crooked up kind
of nose I’d always had a thing for. “Trudy,” I’d said, managing a smile.
“What are you doing her?” she asked. “Are you
“Yeah, I’m the night manager.”
“What happened at the 24/7 Lounge?” she asked.
I’d met Trudy when I was the doorman there and it suddenly occurred
to me that I was still working there when we’d broken up.
“Oh, that place” I mumbled. “Well, you know…
things weren’t really working out so I left. The place really slowed down
“Wow,” Trudy replied. “I mean, I haven’t been
back since… But I go past it all the time and it always looks busy.”
Jesus, get a clue, bitch, I thought to
myself. “Well, uh, you’re looking good,” I said. “It’s good to see you.”
“Gee thanks,” she blushed. “I’m really exercising,
like, twice as much as I used to. I’ve got a Stairmaster and everything.”
And eating twice as many cheeseburgers from
the looks of things, my inner voice said. But I forced a smile on
my face. “So, uh, how are you?" I asked. “What are you doing?”
“Oh, it’s totally great” Trudy gushed. “I finished
college and got a job at this law firm up on 48th in the Capital building.
You know, the one my uncle owns. I’m head of the Human Resources
department. It’s totally amaaa-ziing.”
Especially since you couldn’t turn on a dishwasher
a year ago, my brain added. But my voice said, “That’s great, I’m
really happy for you.”
There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment,
but Trudy rushed to fill it. “Well, you know, I only stopped in for
some stuff for a salad. But really, Lorry, it’s great seeing you.” She smiled
and gave my hand a quick squeeze while she talked.
“Yeah, it’s nice seeing you too” I said as she
turned and walked down the isle towards Lorenzo and the cash register.
I gritted my teeth and knew I’d curse myself if I didn’t say it.
“Yeah?” she replied, turning back to face me.
“Well, uh… you know, if you’d like to get together
during the holidays or something...?”
“Oh…” Trudy’s face fell. “Gosh, Lorry, I probably
should have told you this, but I’m getting married. Next June actually.
Besides, I think we safely decided that… well you weren’t really my
type. Or we weren’t each other’s types. How ‘bout that?”
“Yeah, forgot about it,” I mumbled, not bothering
to hide the anger on my face. Anger at her, and anger with myself for
getting suckered into this moment. “Good luck.” I said.
“Thank you, Lorry,” she responded. “And good
luck to you,” she finished with a cutesy wave. Then Trudy walked up
to Lorenzo with her bag of groceries
Jesus fucking Christ, I said to myself
and wiped my sweating hands off on my store apron. Feeling moisture
on my garb, I looked down and realized that one of the tomato soup cans
had come open and spilled on my apron. “Godammit,” I said and went
into the storage room to change into a new one.
When I got back on the main floor, I noticed
Trudy was still there chatting to Lorenzo. I hid myself in the frozen
food section and pretended to stock the stir-fry vegetables. I was there
fifteen minutes later when Lorenzo came up to me.
“Man, you’ll never believe what happen!” he said.
“What?” I asked.
That JAP bitch that was just in here? She fuckin’
asked me out man. Can you dig it?”
“She… what” I said, my eyes widening.
“That’s right ese. I’m meetin’ her tomorrow night
over at the Asterix Bar. A little drinkin’, a little dancin’ a little
smokin’ of the pipe… then that bitch’ll be smokin’ on my pipe. Or I’ll
take her home to those carrots she just bought and do a Bill Clinton
“But… she said she’ll be getting married.”
“Man, you was chasin’ the pussy, too! Maybe’ll
she’ll tell a dried up cracker like you she’s getting married. With
me she knows what’s up. You think I care if a bitch is married? I can
eat a married bitch just as good as single; they still taste the same.”
At that point a customer came in looking for
cigarettes. Lorenzo headed to the counter.
Immediately, I went into “Fuck the World” mode.
I hadn’t wanted to come to work today and things were just getting worse
by the minute. I walked over to the beer cooler, grabbed a six pack
of Coors and headed for the break room.