Oh, I remember Gabby. Let’s see, I guess the first time we met was around 1945. I was pole dancing with my lamp post, you know, doing my thing, and up comes this fresh-faced little guy—couldn’t have been any older than 15 or so. Anyway, I asked him if he wanted “some company”, but then he asked me if I wanted some company, produced a little violin, and fiddled a passionate Dvorak. I told him he didn’t have to go through all that rigmarole—that I was a pretty sure bet—but he persisted. He was a romantic that way. But troubled. He was so obsessed with the Banana Massacre of 1928 that if anyone even so much as offered him a nice bowl of banana pudding, he would tie himself to a chestnut tree until it rained little yellow butterflies. Not a great lay. Good tipper, though.
He was a real charmer. Told me I was the most beautiful girl of all the 5000, though I have no idea which 5000 girls he was talking about. Hell, he could have been referring to those tight-assed North American putas for all I know, but it’s always a nice thing to hear. He’d come to me when I was in Paris and he was just a struggling young writer. I remember Hemingway trying to pay for a threesome, but Gabriel backed out at the last minute. It ended up me, Hemingway, and some nut-job called Ezra. To be honest, nobody really thought Marquez would make it as a writer. He spent most of his time on the quais, castrating roosters and posing silly little tautological riddles to the passersby. He was always a gentleman, though. For Christmas, he gave me a monogrammed chamber pot. He also gave me crabs.
Oh, he was so out of his element in New York. Have you ever seen a Mexican try to ice skate? No, wait. He was Colombian. Anyway, I’d take him to see Bird Parker and Dizzy play at Minton’s, and he’d sit in on percussion, playing a golden fish (this until Dizzy Gillespie pushed his face in with a trumpet). He also claimed the city was suffering from an insomnia plague, and you’d think being from Colombia he’d know about blow. That was part of his charm, though.
He was so innocent—like the way he would insist there was a magician in Murray Hill who had discovered something called “ice.” I tried to explain that ice was just one of the 15 crystalline phases of water and it wasn’t that big a deal, but he was still quite impressed and went on listening in childlike rapture as the magician espoused his theory that the Earth was round, “like an orange”—an idea Márquez took as a revelation.
I should mention that this “magician” was my old pimp, Cujo, who took perverse pleasure in messing with the green and gullible Márquez. We also gave him a bogus exchange rate, and I took him for a $150 hand-job. I don’t feel good about it, but in my line, when you see an opportunity—
I don’t do that weird kind of shit, okay. I told him to take his goat to the curb. Just because I’m a whore doesn’t mean I don’t have boundaries.
Oh, my. I haven’t thought of Gabriel in 100 years of what’s mostly been solitude (I’m up in Sing-Sing doing a dime). They say he became a famous writer, but he was a strange pilgrim, I’ll tell you. He always referred to me as his “Very Old Woman With Enormous Wings,” which is somewhat flattering to a melancholy whore like me. I mean, I could have done without the “old” part, but when you’ve been through love in the time of cholera (and other demons like gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and a widespread outbreak of genital warts), you develop a profound appreciation for just living to tell the tale.
We’d meet up for what Gabriel would call an “evil hour” (it was more like 4-5 minutes, but hey, why squelch a harmless fantasy?) and have prison sex. The torrid affair lasted until—hmm—I guess it was around autumn. He found out I was the patriarch of a wealthy family in Bogotá and just flipped out. I explained that “Mel” wasn’t necessarily short for “Melanie,”’ (ever heard of Melquiades—duh!?), that my life in Bogotá was over, and that he needn’t feel so guilty about falling in love with another dude. But you know those Latinos; even when it’s magical, they can’t escape their own guilt-ridden perception of realism.