Live by night
Carl Laubner ended up working two more nights before Joe remembered to fire him. Joe had forgotten a few things lately, including two appointments with Hymie Drago to move the merch’ from the Karshman Furs job. He had remembered to get to the slot machine and tighten the wheels good, but by the time Laubner came in on his shift that night, Joe was off with Emma Gould again.
Since that night at the basement speakeasy in Charlestown, he and Emma had seen each other most nights. Most, not every. The other nights she was with Albert White, a situation Joe had thus far managed to characterize as annoying, though it was fast approaching the intolerable.
When Joe wasn’t with Emma, all he could think about was when he would be. And then when they did meet, keeping their hands off each other went from an unlikely proposition to an impossible one. When her uncle’s speakeasy was closed, they had sex in it. When her parents and siblings were out of the apartment she shared with them, they had sex in it. They had sex in Joe’s car and sex in his room after he’d snuck her up the back stairs. They had sex on a cold hill, in a stand of bare trees overlooking the Mystic River, and on a cold November beach overlooking Savin Hill Cove in Dorchester. Standing, sitting, lying down—it didn’t make much difference to them. Inside, outside—same thing. When they had the luxury of an hour together, they filled it with as many new tricks and new positions as they could dream up. But when they had only a few minutes, then a few minutes would do.
What they rarely did was talk. At least not about anything outside the borders of their seemingly bottomless addiction to each other.
Behind Emma’s pale eyes and pale skin lay something coiled and caged. And not caged in a way that it wanted to come out. Caged in a way that demanded nothing come in. The cage opened when she took him inside her and for as long as they could sustain their lovemaking. In those moments, her eyes were open and searching and he could see her soul back there and the red light of her heart and whatever dreams she may have clung to as a child, temporarily untethered and freed of their cellar and its dark walls and padlocked door.
Once he’d pulled out of her, though, and her breathing slowed to normal, he would watch those things recede like the tide.
Didn’t matter, though. He was starting to suspect he was in love with her. In those rare moments when the cage opened and he was invited in, he found a person desperate to trust, desperate to love, hell, desperate to live. She just needed to see he was worthy of risking that trust, that love, that life.
And he would be.