Tuesday, February 15, 2022

the last book I ever read (Dawnie Walton's The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, excerpt five)

from The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton:


I had never met anybody like him before. Not just gay, because we had a lot of that where I’m from… But I mean, so big with himself. He didn’t talk; Virgil purred, honey. No, I mean literally purred—some of his people were Haitian, so he could speak some pretty French, and the other half might as well have been Eartha Kitt. His fingers were long and elegant, the nails filed and buffed smooth and shiny. It’s thinning out now, but he used to have what folks called “good hair”—the kind that just naturally leans back and waves—and his head was giant as a lion’s. I could see he was trim and fit under the pajamas, and he had these big hazel eyes and a smooth caramel coloring. He was a specimen! And he was the first true friend I ever had.

Virgil was my introduction to New York, and you better believe he loved playing My Fair Lady. He knew all kinds of interesting people who worked all kinds of places. Busboys on the Upper East Side, costume assistants on Broadway—if there was a back door, we just had to knock to get a meal, or a spot in the rafters to watch a show. Every day back then was like a new adventure. Cattle calls and house parties; up in the morning with caffeine, down at night with cabernet. Making meals out of whatever scraps we could get from Virgil’s actor-slash-dancer-slash-waiter friends—knishes, garlic knots, curries, all kinds of exotic stuff I was tasting for the first time. I thought maybe he had some star quality just waiting to bust out, because everybody seemed to be smitten with him.

But also Virgil sold reefer. Everybody loves the reefer man.

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