Laurie Stone


I was sleeping in the flat of a young man, and two police were standing over the bed. The pillowcase was gray from neglect. I was wearing a raincoat with the belt knotted through a loop, a khaki raincoat I wore all the time. One police said, "You have to leave." Not stern. He had a mustache. I wondered if I was dreaming. It was 1970, and I was twenty-one. I had been in London one day when a flyer blew out of my hands onto the lap of the young man. We ate Indian near Trafalgar Square and went back to the B & B where I was staying. He had a long torso and blond curls. He tricked with men for money and maybe more he did not say. He was nineteen. I was married. There was no toilet in his flat. You had to use an outhouse in the yard. I had hitchhiked through Ireland and was back. He did not lock his front door. It had rained in Ireland. The rain was sometimes a mist I could see through. I saw a girl on a road, wet and alone. Beyond the road stretched meadows. Beyond the velvet meadows rose low hills and beyond the hills were twinkling lights in a village too far away to reach by foot. The young man made tea with a small electric kettle. He kept butter and bread on a board. We went to Marx's tomb and the house where Keats had lived and died. We smoked hash that looked like black fudge. I did not know you could hallucinate like that. One of the police said, "He sells drugs." I said, "I didn't know." I was a girl on a bed in World's End, where the air smelled of river, and no one knew where I was. The other police asked to see my passport, and my hand shook, maybe for real. He said, "Stay away from him." I was reading Penguin novels in orange jackets written by women. I left the flat, and it was dark when I reached the King's Road. The young man's landlady must have ratted him out. He must have owed rent. I walked miles that summer. I felt freewheeling. I was wearing the young man's jeans that smelled of his sweet, unwashed tang. I wore them under the khaki raincoat and I went to see him the next day.