At night, all tucked away in bed, or on couch, or on chair, or atop refrigerator, or on stove, or curled up on toilet seat, or wrapped round toilet’s base, or in bathtub, or under bed, or in dresser, or in sink, in every case near dozing, I’d sometime hear the tapping, the tap tapping, the tap tap tapping of frinky, frinky at long last taken to wearing tap shoes.
There, in bed, or on couch, or on chair, or atop refrigerator, or on stove, or curled up on toilet seat, or at base of toilet wrapped round, or in bathtub, or under bed, or in dresser, or in sink, I’d from a distance hear not the song la la la or hm hm hm of frinky for this he sang no more not in any variation I know not why but echoing instead throughout the alley from the street the tippety tippety tap, the tippety tippety tap, the tippety tippety tap tap of frinky’s feet, when jovial, or the tap tap tap tap tap, the tap tap tap tap tap, the tap tap tap tap tap of frinky’s feet, when ordinary or sad, more often the latter than the former when tap tap tap tap tap, and far more often tap tap tap tap tap than tippety tap tippety tippety tap. I, hearing these taps from within our over steam heated apartment, stirring in bed, or on couch, or on chair, or atop refrigerator, or on stove, or on toilet seat, or beneath toilet, or in bathtub, or under bed, or in dresser, or in sink, and without hesitation rushing barefoot out door downstairs out our building into night clad only in undershorts and undershirt onto front stoop, there spotting frinky, ah frinky what sorrow then inhabited your heart, you, newly taken to pushing, or being pulled by, your empty squeak wheeled shopping cart, two steps and a drag struggling down comm ave, ever in an alternate disguise, though I recognized you always, always did I, and how could I not have even had I wished to not, which to my shame I sometimes did, your pathetic disguises amounting only to a change of stockingcap, to say nothing of your ownership of but three of these, which to your eyes meant you were capable of twenty-five distinct disguises, though this, I think you’ll agree, was a miscalculation on frinky’s part because, to speak in the most generous terms, you had to my eyes at most as many as twelve separate costumes, able as you were to wear each of the three stockingcaps in one of the four following manners: 1. backwards inside-out, 2. forwards rightside-out, 3. forwards inside-out, 4. backwards rightside-out, though, in truth, how all of these options in actuality equipped you with any more than three different disguises, or, in fact, any more than one, since all were inside and out of the same hue navy blue, hypothesis non fingo. In any event, frinky, your disguises never fooled me, not once, and though I may have pretended otherwise for your sake, or for mine, I always knew it you, you as ever dressed not at all warm enough to suit a man planning to spend an entire evening out of doors, as I assumed you did, for it did get cold during those nights, though spring had begun, and the charles thawed. Still the cold did not slow you frinky any, or so it seemed, your gait unaltered, but perhaps in the end after all altered to some degree, allowing for an ever so slight lifting of the left foot on its forward drag, so as to allow for a tap or a tap tap or a tippety tippety tap from this foot too, your tapping from what I could gather not confined to the right foot only.
Too far down comm ave to keep in sight, I’d turn my back to street to face building door and, still but faintly frinky’s taps hearing, press our intercom button. A moment later gossy’s sleepy little voice through the speaker awanting who it was, but knowing also, but wishing too to be better safe than sorry, a habit I can only praise, though it can annoy, and, not incidentally, a good habit for anyone to adopt, if he, or she, has not already done so. Identifying myself I’d into building up stairs to floor two return to our apartment, back into bed, or couch, or chair, or refrigerator, or stove, or toilet-seat, or toilet base, or bath, or dresser, or bed beneath, or sink, there gossy fast asleep, fast fast asleep, or awake still almost back asleep, either way I crawling back under covers gently rousing her, she softly asking where was it I’d gone and out I’d say, out outside onto stoop, and she was it frinky once more asking, and I yes, yes yes, and she sadly sigh and ask what will become of frinky danny, putting warm feet to mine, recoiling, you’re ice cold danny, saying, you must needs be not only out in your underpants if outside you wish to go on a like tonight night, the winter air as you well know not yet lifted though it is at long last spring. And I agreeing put my cold hend under her nightdress and gently up up onto her warm bare bum, and she, tee! cold danny!, but once heat evened out between bare hand and bare bum or near enough anyway, and I once more about asleep at edge of wake, and she now as a result of all the excitement quite awake, and a bit anxious, would ask me would I scratch, and I’d oblige, first left cheek, then right, then left once more, then right again, then stopping and several minutes quietly lying.
‘Once down the middle. Eh, danny?’ would then again poke gossy’s little voice through the dark.
And again I’d oblige, back up crack, gently down crack into little hole, back up crack, back down crack, back into little hole, a softly pat pat upon her pretty bottom, that’s it gossy all for tonight, onto her side face me into my arms curl up, blink blink, blink blink, blink blink, I love you danny, I love you gossy, then back over, back to my front, in my arms still, fall fast fast asleep, now I close my eyes, but awake, and sometime weep, but quietly, so as not to disturb gossy, weep inside as frinky outside, tapping his way god knows where for god knows what purpose probably none on a night like tonight, raggedly attired, dear lord frinky! but was the burden not greater then than it had ever been before...
...and gossy in her sleep feel my body shake wake turn to face me, eye my sideways rolling tears, my shaggy haired keppy into her arms take and shh shh danny, shh shh danny danny, it’s okay danny danny, gossy stroking danny’s sad kep, gossy’s here for her danny, pretty brown eyes wild blinking quick quick, quick quick, quick quick, as did they always when she became upset, as did she always when I became upset.
Frinky these nights passing my stoop continued on as he had prior to passing my stoop, for my stoop for frinky differed in significance not at all I do not think from any of the other buildings’ stoops he passed, on, on on, on on, tap tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap tap, or tippety tippety tap, tippety tippety tap, tippety tippety tap, tippety tippety tap, until at last at mass ave across comm ave cutting he released his cart drifting into intersection and turned leftward, on on, on on on, on on on on, on on on on on, on on on on on on, on on on on on on on, on on on on on on on on, on on on on on on on on on, on on on on on on on on on on, on on on on on on on on on on on, on on on on on on on on on on on on, on into black night, on onto ill-lit harvard bridge, progressing paroxysmally through employ of his walk alone, having for some reason abandoned his straddle and pull, just as he had his la song, though I cannot imagine that from this cessation in practice one could in good faith infer he’d ceased to suffer his rectal torments.
Out above water, about one nine zero smoot, or thereabouts, stopping. There then eastward facing, straightahead looking, small distant dots atop downtown buildings red blinking, frinky face blank, body motionless, moments passing, now leaning forward against iron handrail, down looking down, at river, charles, slowly rolling.
‘Sweet Thames!’ of a sudden piercingly cry out.
‘Sweet Thames!’ repeating
‘Sweet Thames, Sweet Thames, Sweet Thames!’
‘Sweet Thames, Sweet Thames, Sweet Thames!’
‘Sweet Thames, run softly!’
‘Til I end my song!’
‘Sweet Thames, run softly!’
‘For I speak not loud or long!’
‘Sweet Thames, run softly...and loud...and long’
‘long and loud’
‘Sweet Thames...run softly...’
‘...for I end my song’
and as abruptly as begun these cries compressing and rarefacting through the uncaring empty night ended.
Cool night late in early spring crying sweet thames and so on seen to launch his self over bridge’s balustrade and into onto, then into into, river west to east flowing, body submerged, head briefly below now above water, from mouth melodyless issuing:
chays my blooz a-way
I’m cumm-in too yoo!
Thus amid oily rainbow-skinned black water towards inner harbor with current floating and god willing out into harbor proper where with any luck he was sighted early next morning fatigued and hungry bobbing up and down by a keen-eyed kindhearted crewman brought aboard a fishing trawler where a week aboard perhaps passed put to work mending nets for the draggermen beneath gulls overhead crying though this only idle speculation at best and optimistic idle at that based upon no firsthand or other knowledge of that evening late in early spring frinky launched hisself off of bridge and into the river but only because it is idle and at first glance even a bit outlandish does not I do not think diminish it as a hope to hold onto or mean it should be because of its perceived improbability dismissed as a meaningless chimera in favor of some other scenario or worse yet subjected to ridicule.
Eddie Lombardi is a writer living in New York. This story is adapted from the final chapter of his novel, Frinky.