Night had already fallen on Sutton place when Murphy finally walked out of the service entrance. It was not uncommon for him to have to stay late at the building, but it had been a long time since he left this late. An old building had its share of overflowing toilets and broken elevators. The later he left the building the less time he got to spend with his wife and kids before bed time and that time was cherished by Murphy. He walked to the front door with his gym bag in hand, and Gerry let him into the lobby.
“Nevins,” said Murphy, putting his hand out. “I’m going to miss you, bud.”
“I’m going to miss you too, man.” They shook hands, and I found the exchange endearing.
“Enjoy your time and don’t break any hearts.” Murphy’s voice cracked at the end and his eyes glossed over. He coughed the emotion away. I loved how such an intimidating figure could be so sentimental. Gerry was going on vacation, and yet, Murphy was going to miss his pal.
They didn’t talk on the telephone or do many things together outside of 534 but they were friends. Real friends. If either of them needed a favor the other would oblige without hesitation. It was a tiny, beautifully awkward moment I witnessed in a largely impassioned existence.
“Thank you. I’m a gentleman. And I tip well.”
“Rainer,” Murphy said. “I got something for you.”
“Really? What for?” I asked. I had a hard time accepting gifts from people because I’ve always felt undeserving of things. I felt uncomfortable receiving presents since I never had anything to offer in return.
“I saw this and thought of you.” Murphy pulled a small rectangular box from his gym bag. He held it out to me and I reluctantly took it from him.
“Thank you so much,” I said, I shook his oversized hand, which I tried to hurt but never could no matter how hard I squeezed.
It was a quill pen, with two small ink cartridges.
“Are you trying to tickle me?” Murphy asked, smiling. “I figured when you finish that famous drawing, or best selling novel or whatever the fuck it is you’re going to do, you could use that to sign it. It’s only a matter of time before you do something special.”
“That’s incredibly thoughtful, Murph. I’m truly moved. Thank you so much, man.”
“Best of luck, kid. I’ll talk to you.”
“You got it.”
“One bit of advice. If someone tells you a story, listen carefully, pay close attention to detail, if they tell that same story twice and it differs, it’s not true. Be careful out there. There are a lot of snakes.”
“I will try my best.” I said. “See you next week.”
“Oh and if Mrs. Oakland has any trouble with her guest bathroom. Just take a hammer from my shop and gently hit the flushometer. I don’t have to tell you. You know what to do.”
As Murphy walked out, Mr. Tincher came rushing into the lobby, fanning himself frantically with a magazine, trying to stifle the perspiration pouring out of the pores of his body, while pulling Phillips along with him. Phillips was shih tzu with a Napoleon complex.
Tincher made a small fortune in the film industry. The producer was cool in the beginning toward me despite the libertine reputation and penchant for bondage. It had no bearing on our work relationship. What he did in his personal life had no effect on me. We would chitchat. He’d share entertaining stories of old concerts he had attended and drug experimentation until the moment I had unintentionally insulted him. After that he would make a little fuss whenever he saw me, a shake of the head, or a grunt as he dramatically emptied his lungs. I held onto Ichabod to keep Phillips from becoming dinner, but Phillips still lunged at Ichabod as he did any person or animal that passed the shih tzu within striking distance. Phillips was a confrontational pooch. Ichabod was unfazed. The only living thing that Phillips liked and wouldn’t try to attack was Mr. Tincher.
Tincher, a tall pudgy man in stonewashed jeans got home from work, whatever that was, roughly the same time every night, he’d run up and grab Phillips, who would bark incessantly in Tincher’s absence to the annoyance of his neighbors, then Tincher refereed the dog as he emptied his bladder on the nearest tree to the left of the building’s main entrance. Something some tenants took issue with. Phillips dove for a man, whose name I never caught, but he walked by the building every night so I knew him by face, a face Phillips wanted to gnaw off.
Tinchar pulled the leash hard and stopped Phillips in mid air, inches away from the man’s leg. I was sweeping in front of the building, collecting leaves and receipts and gum wrappers and whatever people carelessly tossed onto the floor.
Almost, said the man.
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s a cold blooded killer.”
I walked into the building ahead of Tincher to open the door for him, Tincher had finished walking his combative dog. Tincher was seething but I had no idea what was troubling him. It was the first time I noticed the owner and dog resembling one another. I walked behind them and entered the elevator after, when the doors opened at his floor, he turned to me, red in the face and said, “Don’t you ever talk about my fucking dog like that.”
I didn’t even know what to say to the man. His reaction was ridiculous. It was a harmless joke. But that was the end of any communication between the two of us. I hadn’t actually insulted Tincher, I had insulted his dog. Any friendliness he had shown me was extinguished. Which was fine. He wasn’t my friend. If he made a face when he saw me, or was short on the phone with me or waved me off from helping him with his fucking Louis Vuitton bags, well then, whatever. Fuck him and his dog.
Tincher lived in apartment 11A. Tim Teufel wore no. 11 for the Mets, in ‘86 he had 69 hits, 31 runs batted in and 4 home runs.
Tincher had a ton of nephews but no brothers or sisters. A revolving door of young men would come and pay Uncle Tin Tin a visit. Tincher apparently did not have a type. There would be athletic jock types, then some slinky eurotrash types and some fidgety junk box types. Different hair color, heights and body frames. Not a person, but a body at his disposal in minutes at the palm of his fragile sweaty hand. Some of Tincher’s courtesans were polite and reserved and others appeared uncomfortable and embarrassed, avoiding eye contact with staff and other tenants throughout the entire awkward interaction. Some rides in the elevator seemed longer than others.
No judgments were made on these men from me. Their profession was theirs, whatever went on in their lives was their business and none of mine. Another person’s sexual preference was never my concern. I did wonder if a prostitute could find any pleasure from the jobs. While Gerry tried to build a rapport with his call girls, the opposite is what these call boys got with Tincher. We all heard the rumors. The degradation. The tears. The blood.
Some people will do anything for money. That was the problem.
Everything in this corrupted world was filthy because people were disgusting creatures. Tincher, despicable with no bounds to his thoughtlessness, just one of the usual suspects, another wealthy exploitive vermin hammering his way through life with no consideration of the damage he caused people. Not a single fuck was given as to how his treatment affected the people he lured into his bedroom mentally. It was more than sex, he aimed to demean and the sadist in him rose up to inflict pain on his hourly rated lovers. He had free rein to hurt and humiliate people to get off because money solves everything. But were they even people to him? I’d say no, no, they were not.
They weren’t people but objects to dominate and his behavior as reprehensible as it was was excused. The money made him untouchable, money exonerated all of the cruelty and indecency, while shame kept them all quiet.