By Lawrence Block
Intercourse, medicinal drugs, AND homicide within the LAND OF THE LOTUS EATERS
Anita Carbone used to be an exceptional woman – and it bored her.
That’s why she took the lengthy subway trip all the way down to Greenwich Village, domestic of the Beats and the stoners, domestic to each type of misfit and dropout and loose spirit you'll think. It was once the place she met Joe Milani, the stricken younger battle veteran with the light contact. however it used to be additionally the place she met his drug-dealing roommate – a guy whose unnatural appetites ended in murder…
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Joe rejected the temptation. Not tonight. Tomorrow, he promised himself, but not tonight. He stood up, wanting a woman suddenly, wanting a woman but not wanting the woman he had just left, the woman he could never possibly make it with. The image in his mind was simply Woman. He paced the room and thought for a minute and decided the right woman for the moment would be Fran, good old Fran, sick little Fran who lived a few blocks away and always had room in her bed for him. She would probably want to get a little high first on something or other, but that was all right when you stopped to think about it.
You had dropped out of NYU because you hadn’t been able to knuckle down and study. You had left Rochester because it had been too tough for you to adjust, and you hadn’t wanted to do anything unless it was real easy. No guts, no push, no drive, no interest in anything or anybody. You were a faceless wop named Joe Gutless Milani who deserved whatever you got. And now you did nothing. Now you were Hip or Beat or whatever word they were calling it this month. You had been spending years doing nothing at all.
So cool… How long had it been? Two joints a few minutes after noon, two joints he and Shank had split, two little cigarettes hand-rolled in wheat-straw paper and smoked rapidly, had been passed back and forth between them until there had been nothing left but two roaches, two tiny butts that they had stuffed into the hollowed-out ends of regular cigarettes and had smoked the same way. Just two joints—and they had gotten so stoned, so fly, that it seemed now as if the high were going to go on forever.