Archive for the ‘Brushes with Fame’ Category

Norman Mailer

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

The Idiot’s Guide to Norman Mailer

By Patrick Sauer

Listen to an audio story on Mailer’s life and death on NPR.

In 1999, I returned to take New York City by storm after a few years in Los Angeles trying to muster up a screenwriting career. Coming back home prior to winning an Oscar didn’t bother me at all, though, because I had bigger plans than to be a mere movie script hack. I knew Manhattan was where I needed to be to fulfill my destiny to become a writer. I didn’t want to be held back by the simple label of screenwriter, humorist, playwright, novelist, poet or journalist. No, I planned on becoming an amalgamation, an all-of-the-above scribe, authoring masterpieces with no regard to genera, style or the rules of the Man.

In short, I wanted to be Norman Mailer.

1949158202_debd3520c7_m.jpgOne of the literary lions of New Journalism, Mailer has long marched to the beat of his own muse, conquering fiction (The Naked and the Dead), non-fiction (Armies of the Night, Executioner’s Song), cultural criticism (The White Negro), play writing (Strawhead), screenwriting (contributions to Once Upon A Time in America), directing (of his own novel/script Tough Guys Don’t Dance) and even an essay on the craft of writing itself (The Spooky Art). Oh, along the way he co-founded the Village Voice, ran for mayor of New York City in 1969 on a secession platform to make it the 51st state and has been name-checked by The Simpsons, “Give Peace A Chance” and Charles Bukowski.

Yo ho, yo ho, a Mailer’s life for me. (That said, I would refrain from stabbing my wife with a penknife because she would, in turn, kill me.)

With Mailer-esque grandiosity in mind, I decided the first step to success was to begin hob-knobbing with New York City’s intellectual elite. Fortunately, my friend Alex was working for the as-not-yet-officially-announced presidential contender John McCain. He hooked me up with an invite to a cocktail party at Bloomberg News to celebrate the release of McCain’s memoir, Faith of My Fathers. It was a star-studded affair with luminaries sipping champagne and eating shrimp wrapped in bacon as the author signed books and greeted well-wishers. Guests included Charlie Rose, Mike Bloomberg, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Cindy Adams, Barbara Walters, Carl Bernstein, and Henry Kissinger. I was in my element. I even got a chuckle out of McCain when I stopped MLB player’s union lawyer Donald Fehr from cutting in line by saying, “You cost us the World Series, the line forms back there.”

And then, as I looked about my peers in the room while basking in my future glory, I spotted him.

The Man. The Myth. The Mailer.

Sporting an enormous Band-Aid across his forehead.

This wasn’t one of those white butterfly bandages, or one of the small, rectangular types; it was the classic oval-shaped adhesive your mother slapped on your five-year-old skinned knee after a skateboard crash. I tried to convince myself that Mailer had just come from a bloody-knuckle Christopher Hitchens ass-kicking, but considering he was 76 at the time, the chances seemed slim. Mailer was just an old guy in a rumpled suit with a large Band-Aid covering up some kind of splotch underneath his thinning white hair.

So, he looked a bit silly. What did I care? This was my opportunity to kickstart my quest to become the 21st century Norman Mailer by taking mental notes from the 20th century version. I walked over and somewhat sheepishly introduced myself. One never knows how they will act in the presence of greatness.

“Hello, umm, Mr. Mailer. I’m a writer and I just wanted to say that I am a big fan of your—”

“What’s your name?”

“Patrick Sauer.”

“How do you spell that?”


Mailer mulled that over for a few long seconds while I tried to think of something intelligent and witty to say, the kind of remark that would get me invited to dinner parties in Provincetown. Before I came up with anything, Mailer interjected.

“You’re a writer, huh? Have you written anything I might be familiar with?”

In my mind, the writer’s life I was envisioning for myself went down in a fiery crash like John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk. Not only did I not have a single worthwhile credit to offer the multiple-Pulitzer-prize-winning-writer standing in front of me, but I also couldn’t look this living legend in the eye because the peculiar, unexpected Band-Aid hypnotized me.

So, I half-mumbled a response.

“Are you familiar with the Complete Idiot’s Guides series?”


“Umm, well, they’re mass-market reference books, but, umm, you know…I’m just getting started and well…anyhow, I just wanted to say it’s an honor to meet you.”

Mailer gave me the smile of a pugnacious grandfather.

“Well, Patrick Sauer, I’ll look out for that name. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be writing for you one of these days.”

He shook my hand. And then he wandered off to the party.

Norman Mailer photo from Flickr user Gifted Gourmet.

Jeb Bush & the GOP

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Stiff Drinks For ‘Those Damn Repelicans’
By Zack Pelta-Heller

As election time nears, I find myself once again doing everything I can to support my party. I am writing political pieces for left-leaning Internet publications and making calls for MoveOn, reminding people to get out and vote. Last Sunday, wearing a “Vote” shirt from a 2004 Democratic fundraiser, I stood with my family on a busy Center City street in Philadelphia, selling baked goods to raise money for local Dems. “Cupcakes for Casey,” we offered. “Up with pumpkin bread, down with Santorum!” With all of this political activism, it’s hard to believe that six years ago, during the 2000 Republican convention in Philly, I actually worked for the Republicans.

I was home on a break from Brandeis that summer, bartending for various catering companies to make extra cash. When the Republicans rolled into town during the first week in August, I rallied with my friends and family along the Ben Franklin Parkway every morning. I wore a “No Bushit” button, signed petitions to free both Mumia and Tibet (practically in the same hand motion), and pushed my girlfriend’s grandmother through the crowd in a wheelchair, as she clutched a circular blue NOW poster. I remember feeling proud of this woman of 86, who told anyone who would listen about how she despised “those damned Repelicans.” She’d spent a lifetime adhering to her convictions, and I was about to betray mine.

At 2:30 each day of the RNC, I turned my donkey tail and ran a few blocks south to a defunct armory, where I bartended at the Republican party’s parties. The armory itself had been transformed into a Caribbean island paradise, complete with real-life palm trees, bamboo huts, eight rum bars, and the main attraction, a mammoth crow’s nest perched atop a sunken pirate ship. I remember wishing that this was what the Republicans had in mind for military spending.

The concept of these fundraisers, as though diabolically designed by Karl Rove himself, was to push the concept of a “non-stop party.” Republicans were bussed in to the armory at one o’clock for some early afternoon revelry. Once properly sloshed, the delegates were shipped down to the convention (held at a South Philly stadium), only to be transported back up at the end of the evening’s proceedings for a five-hour nightcap. The T-shirt uniform that my fellow bartenders and I wore captured the essence of both parties—the nightly rum extravaganzas and the Republican party itself. “Captain Morgan,” the shirts read in patriotic red, white, and blue, “Putting the party back in politics!”

The highlight of my week of double shifts came on the day Jeb Bush spoke during an afternoon party. The governor of Florida looked like a bloated doppelganger as he took the podium, which was covered by colorful garlands. Governor Bush’s hair was parted on the same side as his brother’s, though his face looked less smug. I don’t remember the content of Governor Bush’s speech, however, because as he spoke, a pudgy Southerner began chatting me up while I made him a lime daiquiri on the rocks.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Colin Powell speak tonight down at the convention,” he said in a gruff drawl as I shook rum and sour mix together in my shaker. He wore a sweat-stained cowboy hat and a bolo with leather strings coming down through the nostrils of a silver steer skull. I was surprised he wasn’t rapt in Governor Bush’s speech, though few partygoers were.

“He should be a decent speaker,” I said, hoping for a tip as I strained his drink over ice.

“Just glad he’s not running for President,” the Southerner offered in a whisper.

“Oh really, why’s that?” I asked, somewhat distracted by the oversized “Kiss me, I’m Republican” pin.

“Welp,” he explained, leaning a little closer as the strings from his bolo disturbed the spiral tower of cocktail napkins that I’d carefully sculpted at the beginning of my shift, “between you and me, he’s black.”

“Next thing you know,” the Southern Bushwhacker chuckled, “there’ll be a woman in the Oval Office.”

For some reason, I thought of my Jewish grandmother, and what she would do in my place. She would probably have leapt across the counter and strangled him with his own bolo; this Republican stereotype, this poor excuse for a human being that I had actually served. Instead, I decided to kill him with kindness.

“Or maybe even a Jew,” I suggested.

He let out a belly laugh that he immediately stifled for fear of attracting too much attention. “Don’t even get me started!” he said, waving his hands over his head as he walked away, as if surrendering to his own bigotry.

I should have quit that afternoon, but I didn’t. It wasn’t so much the money or the fact that I’d learned so many daiquiri variations that I was ready to change my name to Zachary Daiquiri. Serving the Repelicans suddenly seemed comical, even though I vowed never do it again. What convinced me to stay, however, was when Captain Morgan himself stopped by later that night, in full pirate regalia. He climbed to the top of the crow’s nest with a fake parrot on his shoulder and threw down mini bottles of rum to a delighted crowd. Jeb Bush would have been envious of such a spirited response.

Oliver Stone

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

By Bilge Ebiri

Mr. Stone, Your Turk Is Ready
My freshman year of college the Yale Political Union, renowned for hosting big-name speakers, invited Oliver Stone to come speak. (This was on the heels of the JFK controversy, and as he was preparing his Vietnam epic Heaven & Earth.) The YPU had a tradition of taking its speakers out to dinner the night of the event. Knowing that I was a big movie nerd and a film major, my roommate — who had some in with the heads of the YPU — wrangled us invited to a small dinner in honor of Stone. It was about seven or eight students, plus Oliver Stone and his lovely assistant, the two of whom proceeded to get soused, partly thanks to the fact that they didn’t touch their food.

Being the shy, hesitant type, I spent the whole dinner on the opposite side of the table from Stone, chatting it up, ironically, with the head of the Party of the Right, with whom I shared a few knowing looks every time Stone said something particularly weird (at one point, the director advocated — and insisted he was completely serious as he did so — bombing the annual conference of the American Society of Magazine Editors).

Still, my roommate could tell that I wished I could say something to Stone as I was a real admirer of his work, especially Salvador and JFK. For a budding leftie teen with filmmaking dreams in the 80s, Oliver Stone was God.

Unfortunately, at the moment, much of the man’s time was being capitalized by a stoner who kept asking him stoner questions like, “Mr. Stone, dude, is it true you dosed your dad when you were in high school?” (It also added to the effect that this stoner guy had a comical, raspy stoner voice.)

Finally, someone mentioned Midnight Express. An opening! “Funny that you mention Midnight Express,” said my roommate, seizing the moment, “because we have a Turk right here.”

The table went silent. The people between Oliver Stone and me leaned away, so we could look in each other’s eyes. Beat. “You’re Turkish?” he asked, hesitantly. I nodded yes.

“What do you think of that movie?”

For a Turk, as I am sure you might imagine, Midnight Express is a touchy topic. For years and years, especially until the tourism boom of the mid-to-late 90s, that film was the extent of contact most people in the West had with Turkey. Whenever I told somebody I was Turkish, the response almost always involved someone asking me what I thought of Midnight Express. This gets old, and annoying. While our mortal enemies the Greeks were being depicted as having sun-dappled beaches and a mighty zest for life, we Turks had to live down our reputation as a bunch of ass-raping psychopaths. To be able to confront that purportedly-fact-based film’s Oscar-winning screenwriter in person was an opportunity many of my fellow countrymen would have paid good money for.

Except I had never seen Midnight Express. I just hemmed and hawed.

“You know, the Turkish government renews its offer of a million dollars to me every year to burn that film,” Stone said, perhaps sensing I had little to offer and graciously helping me out of my corner. That was it. The folks in between leaned forward again, and the conversation returned to JFK, Viet Nam, and how best to torch the magazine editors. The dude from the Party of the Right gave me a sheepish, commiserating look. My roommate nodded.

Stone and I never spoke again.

Bilge Ebiri is a filmmaker and critic who directed New Guy and blogs for Nerve.

Tony Bennett

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Tony Bennett’s Bagel
By Matthew Robinson

I was at the 1996 Montreal jazz Fest with my (then) girlfriend. We were walking through the food court under the hotel on our way to press conference featuring my musical hero Tony Bennett. The place was bustling. But when I saw a man in a gingham shirt and khakis sitting alone eating a bagel and drinking coffee. I stopped in my tracks.

“Do you know who that is?” I asked my (then) girlfriend.

“No,” she replied.*

“That’s Tony Bennett!” I squealed.

“No it’s not,” she said.

“How would you know?” I asked, moving away from her and towards the table at which my idol sat alone eating undisturbed…for now.

“Um…Mr. Bennett,” I began, my hands clasped at my heart, holding it in as Tony Bennett turned to see who was addressing him.

“Um…I don’t mean to…bother you, but…I came from Bost-”

“You’re from Boston?” the proud Berklee father exclaimed, leaping to his feet. “Wow! Hey — you want some bagel?”

“No, thank you, Sir,” I stammered. “I just-”

“What? You want a picture,” he surmised, seeing my (then) girlfriend with the disposable camera in her hand.

“Well, if you wouldn’t—”

“Of course,” he beamed, putting his hand on my shoulder and smiling that winning smile.

Of the 24 pictures my (then) girlfriend took that trip, this was the one that did not come out.* But I still have the autograph framed in my bedroom.

Fast forward to 13 months later back in Boston.

Mr. Bennett has just finished another spectacular show, during which I have somehow been given the privilege of watching him from the stairs to the stage.

After the show, I am escorted backstage, a cigar box full of CD covers, pictures, and Sharpies in hand. Immediately figuring out my intentions, one of Tony’s handlers steps directly into my path.

“He can’t do all of those,” he says.

Then, from over his shoulder, I hear a familiar voice.

“Let him through, Johnny.”

As Johnny steps aside, Mr. Bennett’s eyes lock on mine.

“Didn’t we meet last year in Montreal?”

* This is one of the reasons she is now my “then” girlfriend.

George Clooney

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Refusing George Clooney’s Burrito
By Tom Nawrocki

It was an early October afternoon, still a hot part of the year in Hollywood, when I first laid eyes on George Clooney. We were in the lobby of a low-slung brick studio in Burbank where Clooney was to record the commentary for the Good Night, and Good Luck DVD; I was there for Rolling Stone writing a story about DVD commentaries. He’s not very tall for such a manly heartthrob, maybe five-eleven in his big clunky black shoes. But goodness, is that man ever tan. This was a Saturday, so he wasn’t working at his day job and I don’t think there was any makeup involved, but George’s hair is dark brown verging on black, and the skin tone of his forehead was just a shade or two lighter than his hair.

We got down to business around 2pm, with Clooney and his co-writer/producer/old friend Grant Heslov taping their audio track with more than their share of grogginess and false starts. About 20 minutes in, a hesitant voice came in to the headphones from the control room: “Excuse me? Your lunch is here.”

In came a whole bag of steak burritos from some dive across the street. George had ordered way more food than he and Grant wanted, just in case the random publicists and technicians in the room were hungry. Now, you might think that George Clooney is so rich he can afford to buy burritos for the entire adult populace of Burbank, but just as likely, he knew that there was no way he was paying for any of this. Someone at the front desk paid for these burritos long before George had a chance to. When you’re George Clooney, you can order a hundred burritos and always expect someone else to cover for you.

Clooney made it clear that this was not just his lunch but his breakfast, but the rest of us seemed to have eaten. There was at least one steak burrito unclaimed in the bag, and George, rather generously, I thought, asked me if I wanted it. No thanks, I said. (I had had lunch already at In-n-Out Burger, where I have nearly all my post-morning meals when I am on the West Coast.)

“You’re gonna regret it,” George said. “These are really good burritos.” He undercut his own case a few minutes later, when a publicist mentioned to him a recording of an Edward R. Murrow speech that had been downloaded to the Internet; Clooney replied, “I’m gonna download that burrito in about 10 minutes.”

The rest of the afternoon unwound rather unspectacularly, although we did talk briefly about baseball as we parted. It was the last weekend of the 2005 regular season, and in the parking lot, George spoke enthusiastically although not very knowledgeably about the postseason permutations still in play. And then he and Grant were off, in a big black Jaguar, no doubt in search of women who would not refuse George’s burrito. I bet they didn’t have to ask very many of them.

Afterward, I told a friend of mine that Clooney seemed like just about the happiest guy on earth that afternoon. “If that bastard’s not happy,” he replied, “there’s no hope for the rest of us.” There’s not much hope for me, anyway — for various reasons unrelated to the quality of the work, the story never ran, in Rolling Stone or anywhere else. Good Night, and Good Luck is already out on DVD, so it will never run. I haven’t bothered watching the movie again. But I have had the occasional burrito.

Connie Chung

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

No Stars for Connie Chung
By Michael Finkel

It was quite possibly the most hallucinogenic thing I’ve ever seen, not counting my experiences on hallucinogens. Check that. It was the most hallucinogenic thing I’ve ever seen, including all experiences on hallucinogens. The sky was pulsing in great van Gogh swirls of nail-polish pink and glow-stick green. It was the northern lights, the aurora borealis, in full astral splendor.

This was in 1994, in Lillehammer, Norway. I was there, working as a minion for CBS television’s coverage of the winter Olympics. The CBS headquarters was essentially a windowless basement bunker. I’d stepped outside for a bit of fresh air when the heavens exploded. I watched, alone, for a few minutes, then decided I needed to tell someone else about this, perhaps even gather a camera crew to record it. So I walked back inside. And there, sitting not 20 feet from the exit, was Connie Chung.

I’d been in Norway for a couple of weeks by this point, and hadn’t actually uttered a single word to Ms. Chung. Now, however, I did.

“Have you ever seen the northern lights?” I asked her.

“No,” she said. She was dressed smartly, anchorpersonishly.

“Well, they’re out right now,” I said, excitedly. “They’re incredible!”

She gazed at me with a blank look on her face.

“I mean they’re literally right outside that door,” I continued, pointing at the exit. It would have required approximately 10 seconds for her to walk and see the lights. But she just sat there. I was a young man at the time, not so jaded as I am today, and the thought of a journalist not being interested in experiencing something new — something so amazing and just outside the door — was beyond my comprehension. I couldn’t let it go.

“You don’t want to see them?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

I still couldn’t let it go. “No?” I said, perhaps a touch impudently. “Why not?”

“These shoes are uncomfortable,” she said, “and I don’t feel like walking in them.”

Paris Hilton

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Paris Hilton in Diapers

During the summer of 1982, I worked as a lifeguard at the Rye Town Hilton in Westchester County. Hotel guests were mostly a mix of business travelers, relocating families, and elderly Manhattan escapees. I spent my days lugging and positioning lounge chairs for old men with bad backs, and waiting for a chance to blow my whistle. Finally, I witnessed a violation of the clearly
posted pool rules — one far more disturbing than running on the pool deck or taking two bounces on the diving board: a bikini-clad blonde stood in waist-deep water holding a baby in diapers. Immediately, I blew my whistle and barked, “No diapers in the pool!” Unfazed, she turned and said, “I’m Kathy Hilton. Does that make a difference?” Unfortunately, it did. In her arms was little Paris. —Adriana Gardella

Kevin Kline

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Riding in the Car With Kevin Kline
By Caroline Waxler

Almost two years ago when the issue of stem cell research was the new JonBenet before JonBenet 2.0 became the new Iraq, I went to an event to raise money for the cause. Kevin Kline, the main draw of the party, was the featured speaker. Stem cell research was his issue apparently; he’d been educating audiences about it everywhere he could.

The party, held in a loft in Murray Hill, was fun. Typical Manhattan political fundraiser. Lots of thirtysomethings looking for love and/or new jobs and/or new clients before hitting the next party of the night where they will look for love and/or new jobs and/or new clients.

But I digress. Back to Kevin Kline.

So, after Kevin gave his talk — very moving, by the way — my friend’s friend, who was thinking of starting a consulting business matching up celebs with causes, cornered him about potential future projects. They were talking for a while and the party began winding down. Not ready to call it a night — we were planning to go on to another party (political, too) on Central Park South — and went over to tell our friend that we were ready to split. Kevin was very nice and surprisingly offered to give us a ride uptown. A lift in Manhattan! From a celebrity! Yes, thank you.

KK, as I began calling him in my head, had parked his car in a lot around the corner. Ever the gentleman, he went down to get the car, as we stood on the sidewalk. And, just as we were feeling weird waiting for our celebrity chauffeur, up comes KK in his SUV. Throughout the ride, he was very charming, making small talk with us about our jobs and making self-deprecating comments about himself.

Since he was running late to his own dinner party at his apartment — I imagined Phoebe Cates, arms crossed, waiting for him in an apron—he asked politely if we didn’t mind getting off at Madison and 59th. Not at all.

And, off he zipped uptown.

Tom Jones

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

By Scout Addis

We were bamboozled into taking the job by a smooth talking technical director with a pencil thin mustache and a penchant for weirdness. How else do I explain my summer at the Cape Cod Melody Tent? Julio and I needed some legitimate theater work to put on our resumes, and the $50 a week they paid us was barely enough money to drink. That is once we figured out we could drive my dad’s pint-sized trailer to Hyannis, MA from Chicago … and live in it under the guise of the “security” shack for the theater.

The summer started slowly as we hung the lights and sound and got the ancient turntable stage running again. But come the 4th of July, it was a new act almost every day—and that’s when my brushes with fame came fast and furious.

Charlie Daniels made it impossible to light his face by pulling his hat brim down practically to his ankles.

George Carlin
locked himself in the bathroom during the afternoon before the show playing recordings of his monologues over and over.

Gordon Lightfoot
seemed sadder than any Canadian I had ever met.

Robert Guillaume sent me out for a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, which we ate, and then he autographed while waiting for his show to be cancelled due to a terrific thunderstorm that caused the tent to bulge and then leak ferociously.

But the highlight of the summer came in the form of a singer that at the time I really knew nothing about: Tom Jones.

I was handling hospitality for that show, which meant I was responsible for making the star trailer look less like a dumpy trailer, and filling it with all the food and drink that Tom requested in the rider of his contract. Tom’s requests were not modest, and I had a hell of a time finding a specific kind of Welsh beer, as well as some Welsh whiskey I’d never heard of. But a contract is a contract, so when Tom arrived he got what he wanted. He was doing two nights, and we had been warned about a few key items.

1) Water. He is very energetic and he needs several pint glasses of water for each act in the show.

2) Electricity. We needed to make sure that we carefully sealed the center electrical outlets because Tom sweats, a lot, and we didn’t want him to get electrocuted.

I took care of the water in the glasses. Julio fixed the stage.

After the first night, as the audience was leaving I wandered onto the stage to clear the glasses, and yes indeed, the center of the stage was a little damp with eau de Jones.

As I was hauling the empty pint glasses off-stage a woman approached me.

“Can I have that?” she asked motioning to one of the glasses in my hand.

I paused.

“I’ll give you $5.”

I had seen how some of the ladies behaved during the show, so I wasn’t surprised at this level of idolatry.

“$20.” I replied without a blink. Come on, we were poor stage hands and $20 would buy a lot of beer or vodka.

She didn’t even hesitate and she handed me the cash. I considered trying to hawk the rest of the glassware before thinking better of it.

We shut the theater down in record time that night, and I turned the lights off in the star trailer. I heard the air conditioner still on in the back room and headed back to unplug it in the dark. As I rounded the corner in the changing room, my face became enveloped in something icy cold and damp. I aged a year at least as I scrambled to hit the light switch and see what had assaulted me.

There blowing in the breeze of the air conditioner was Tom Jones’ white shirt on a hanger dangling from the ceiling. To this day I can still remember its ghoulish touch.

On the way out the trailer door I was so rattled I nearly forgot to take a big hit off the bottle of whiskey and steal a six of Tom’s beer from the fridge.

Mister Rogers

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

By Mike Scalise

Mister Rogers stepped out of the passenger side door of a white sedan that had pulled up in front of the building where I stood. I was smoking a cigarette at the top of a concrete stairwell, staring down below at a struggling bird that had broken its wing. It was my third day as an intern at Pittsburgh magazine, which shared a building with the studio that filmed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. As I took a drag on my cigarette and looked down at the bird—which flopped on its side in circles like a half-lit firecracker—I thought, someone should really do something about that. Then I heard a car door slam, and saw Mister Rogers walking toward me. He wore a bow tie, not a long tie, and there was no cardigan. Just a long, fleshy flap that drew a droopy line from his chin to his collar.

“Hello,” he said as he came up the stairs, and I quickly blew out smoke and flicked away my cigarette. I might have said hello back.

“What are you looking at?” he asked as he approached.

“That bird down there,” I said, pointing down, “It’s injured.” Then he curled his arm over the railing and leaned forward, slowly, to see what I saw.

“Well, there’s not much we can do about that,” he said, and he was so close to me I would have been able to smell him, if he’d smelled like anything at all.

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