Jo was sitting behind the counter of Beacon’s Closet in Williamsburg. Her friend and co-worker Cathey was working the register and telling Jo about her most recent purchase at Strand Bookstore in the Village:
“It’s like an annotated version of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but instead of just writing about what is going on, there are litho pieces describing what Joyce is feeling and trying to express. It’s a little bit harder to dig into, but I think the comparative artwork is really fascinating. Plus, I always thought that people focused on Ulysses too much. I’m so over it. You know?” Cathey said as she bagged a gold sequin beret for a fifteen year-old girl and her mother just visiting the city to do a little shopping before heading back to the north shore. Those people didn’t understand Cathey’s intellect. None of the little girls who came into Beacon’s knew her craft, or what she stood for.
Jo wasn’t listening. She was tapping her horned necklace on the glass-top counter in front of her. Jo was a beautiful girl, but it was obvious from her demeanor that she tried very hard for people not to perceive her that way. He brown hair was cut short in a pixie-esque ‘do, but if tousled the right way it looked like the bowl cut your mother gave you in the first grade. She wore a pair of large, black plastic-rimmed glasses, and had a sizeable silver ring jutting out from her septum, making her look like a bull. She wore a white tank top with black suspenders. Jo forgot to wear a bra that day, though, and the straps of her suspenders were positioned just enough on the outside of her breasts to show her nipples, made rock-hard by the blasting air conditioner. She wore a pair of cut off denim shorts that exposed her lithe porcelain legs. They were thin from years of cocaine abuse. On her feet she wore a sturdy pair of vintage black leather ankle boots, which she found on eBay last week while searching for “vintage black leather ankle boots.” As she slouched over the display case, carrying the weight of infinite musical knowledge on her shoulders, Jo was the picture of everything hip.
Milo walked through the front door of Beacon’s Closet. It was late August in New York, and he had gotten caught in one of those mid-afternoon showers while getting off the Manhattan bound L train at Bedford Avenue. He was coming from his band’s practice back in Buschwick. Milo’s hair was damp from the rain. He wore a vintage New York Knicks hat over his matted hair, which ended in two massive blonde dreadlocks. He was tan from skateboarding around his neighborhood in the hot Buschwick sun. His multi-colored Afrikan-inspired, fitted, yet still loose t-shirt gave way to his tapered orange jeans. They fit just perfectly for Jo to see the outline of his member. He wore the Knicks colored Starburys, that he had customized himself with a Sharpie one day as he tripped balls in Green Central Noll Park. Milo was on the short side, 5’5” at best, but there was something about the way he walked, the way he led his whole body with his hips, that caught Jo’s fancy.
Suddenly Jo had a flashback of the encounter she had the previous night with her best friend. He worked in the vegan supermarket around the corner. She had so many feelings wrestling inside her and really needed someone to flesh them out. Milo was that man.
Milo walked up the stairs and turned left into the Men’s Department. Jo slipped away from Cathey’s diatribe about the newest international graffiti exhibit at a small gallery on the Lower East Side. Jo passed through the entrance to the men’s section. There Milo was, eyeing a brown leather jacket in the mirror. Because of the way he was posing, his T-shirt was lifted just enough to show his jutting hip and the little wisps of happy trail leading down to his belt buckle. Jo felt her heart rate increase.
“Hey. Can I help you with anything?” Jo said.
“What?…” Milo was concentrating so hard on how awesome he would look in a coat that he could pretend he found in his father’s closet. “Oh, um, yea, actually I’m looking for an outfit for my gig tonight.”
“You’re in a band?” Jo’s heart skipped.
“Yea, we’re called Pig Basin. We play, like, indie-funk music. I’m the French hornist. We’re based in Bushwick, actually,” he said with a half-smile and a small laugh. Sometimes even he had to laugh at himself. Jo wasn’t laughing, though. She could feel her lower half start to tremble. A French Hornist? When would she ever have an opportunity like this again? Jo had already started forming the story she would tell to her friends at their weekly coffee at the Bowery Poetry Café.
“Really? That’s so awesome. I live in Williamsburg, but I’ve always wanted to move to Bushwick. Williamsburg is dying. You Know? I’m over it. Bushwick is it.” Jo began to focus on Milo’s lips. They were slightly pursed as he listened to her.
“Yea, no, it’s a great area. Really authentic. I like it.”
“How did you guys meet each other?”
“Well, we all met at Brooklyn College. I went to Collegiate and got into Columbia, but I wanted a more genuine New York experience, so I went CUNY.” Milo started to eye Jo. He watched as her nipples became harder underneath her tank top. There was something about her waif-ish, slightly masculine body that got him wondering whether she was “a pink or a brown.”
“Yea, I totally know what you mean.” She didn’t. Jo was originally from Lake Forest, Illinois, a wealthy suburb of Chicago. “Well that jacket is great but I think I have the perfect thing for you in the back. Do you want to see it?” Jo said with a wink and as much of a smile a girl of her demeanor could give.
Milo caught on pretty quickly. “Yea I’d love to.”
Jo grabbed Milo tight by the hand. She led him past the front counter, into the dress room, and up the stairs in the back. Milo had always wondered what was up there—turns out that it was just racks and racks of clothes waiting to be appraised and shelved.
“So what is this magical clothing i….” Before Milo could finish his sentence, Jo had already pounced on him. She kissed him deep. Deep like the ocean deep. Deep like the depths that she hoped Milo could reach. She let everything go when she kissed him, and was happy when Milo reciprocated. He grabbed her side with one hand and gently grazed her face with the other. The kiss was passionate, yet sweet. Milo put pressure on her hips, and pinned her against the wall.
Jo undid Milo’s belt buckle. As she did this, Jo pulled away from his face momentarily to ask him, breathlessly, “Where are you playing tonight?”
Milo leaned in close to her. Jo was slightly taller than he was but he managed to nuzzle his lips right on the small of her neck beneath her ear and whisper “Hugs.” Jo let out a low moan. “Tell me more,” she said in the same voice as before.
“I’m doing a live mash-up show with Boody B and Harrison Schaaf for Palms Out Sounds,” he uttered as he slipped one…no, two…no, three fingers into the waistband of her Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers boys underwear. “God I love how much you remind me of a younger me.” As he said that Jo lost control. She was about to make incomprehensible love to a man with golden dreadlocks who played the French horn.
“I love it when you talk dirty,” Jo said.
Their bodies undulated together as Milo worked her into a frenzy. And then that moment came. The room seemed smaller, as her body tightened around Milo’s. Jo fell back onto the vintage chair where a pile of untagged vintage t-shirts lay. Milo pulled his pants up as he looked at the work of art he had created in the chair. He walked over to her and brushed the strands of hair out of her face. Jo looked up at him, and Milo gave her a smile. Then she dropped mad knowledge on him.
Milo walked down the stairs and out of the store, without purchasing a single thing. His mind was elsewhere.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket as he walked towards the train. He called up his friend L
And he got it on that night.