Marcus won’t shut up long enough to tell me which hotel he’s staying in, so he accompanies via taxi cab back to my place in Brooklyn. He complains about the bankers and other business types who haven’t taken him seriously on this business trip to Manhattan. He complains about the complexity of the Manhattan Subway System because he still doesn’t understand how to distinguish an express stop from a local stop. He complains even when he’s happy.
I didn’t want him around at this point, but then again, I was afraid I’d lose him to. Right now, I felt responsible for him. Seems like a natural instinct for a father like me—to take care of those who need it. One of many flaws.
After stumbling through my front door into my studio apartment, Marcus rummages through my kitchenette in search of something more to drink. I’ve never been around someone so drunk off of so little. He’s like a lightweight zombie on a mission. This has me wondering: if a zombie gets drunk, doesn’t he get more lively, or does he turn into even more of a zombie? I don’t know whether to encourage or discourage him. If he finds more booze, then maybe he’ll stop tearing my kitchenette apart. All he’ll find are Cheerios, apple sauce, and goldfish crackers.
In many ways, he is like a fussy child. I pay him no extra attention, and eventually he grows bored and tired by his own antics. He flops down on my tiny two-seater sofa, and whips out his Blackberry to drunk dial someone. All I know is, I’m glad I’m not on the receiving end of that call.
“Hey, it’s me,” he murmurs, “stop calling me, you crazy bitch.”
And just like that, he is fast asleep, with the Blackberry still glued to his ear. I finally take his phone. I listen to see if there’s anyone on the other end.
“Hello,” I ask. “Sorry about that.” And then I hang up. I’ll pay a price for that. But that’s for another time.
Marcus isn’t a tall guy, but my sofa is so tiny, his legs dangle over the side. I pull off his silver sneakers so that they won’t scuff up my sofa. He’s really out cold. He could even be dead for all I know.
While I’m getting myself ready for bed, I can’t help but wonder if he has any more gemstones in his pockets. I may be ethical, but I’m also damn curious.
I rifle through Marcus’ pockets without waking him. Lo and behold, I find a few more gemstones wrapped up merely in a piece of paper; it’s a Google Map for a place called “Gemstone Capital” on Madison—not too far from the hotel where I met Marcus earlier in the day. Heck, he keeps these gemstones like he was keeping a wad of stale gum in its original wrapper so that he can throw it away.
I inspect the gemstones up close. They look real enough. I hold them up to the light above my bathroom mirror, as if believing that I know how to gauge the quality of a real one from a fake. I try to recall the Four C’s of diamond education. Yeah, like any smart guy, I went to Tiffany to get a free education on diamonds before I bought a less expensive engagement ring elsewhere. Because a smart guy knows that you’re paying twice the amount of money at Tiffany just so your fiancée can boast about the little blue ring box that some 8-year old in Thailand made for twenty-five cents per twelve-hour work day. I bite on the gemstone. I even try to scratch my bathroom mirror, until I remember that my landlord might take that from my security deposit, so I stop.
A fake could fool me. A fake probably wouldn’t have fooled Cary Grant in the classic movie, “To Catch A Thief”. You had to believe that Cary Grant would ever be a jewel thief in the first place. It was already hard enough to believe that a woman like Grace Kelly would need her father’s help to find a suitable husband. So, is the movie right? Does it really take a thief to catch another thief?
My curiosity doesn’t end with the gemstones. I wonder what else I can find out about Marcus. You can always tell something about a person by what he carries in his pockets. (This only works on men. Women don’t put anything in their pockets besides their hands. Probably so that it doesn’t form bulges or wrinkles in their clothes. Afterall, these same women get horrified if you can see their panty lines underneath the pants. That’s how handbags were invented. Or at least that’s the story that you find on Wikipedia when you look up the origin of purses.)
Inside Marcus’ pockets, I find some clove cigarettes. Yuck. I find a sliver money clip with a jeweled dollar sign as its logo. Tacky. I find the money clip filled with Benjamins. Insecure. I find a claim check for the Howard Johnsons Hotel in Queens near JFK airport.
Yes, my first question is the same as yours. “They still have Howard Johnsons?”
I should have many more questions beyond that, but it’s late. I’m tired. And Marcus starts snoring. At one point, I want to smother him with my pillow. But that would be like killing the Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs simply because I was hungry for a little white meat.
Looking back now, my life would have been so much simpler if I had smothered him right then and there. Even Cary Grant would have done it if he partnered up with Marcus Logan!