A SHORT STORY
“The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking
confess the secrets of the heart.”—Saint Jerome
“No, no, no.”
Lana Cook, mute and uncomfortable, stood rooted at the foot of a hospital bed. She regarded Rodolfo’s still handsome face; his pronounced forehead struck with a single thick eyebrow drawn from a brush loaded with India ink. A puckish glint had been dimmed for some time but she detected sparks again; coal black irises speckled with gold leaf. His pronounced nose pinched into an elegant curve. Teeth still white and strong looking, but ill fitting in his gaunt face, forced his mouth into a menacing grin. A full beard was new. His flawless hands danced tenuously across her offering.
She had chosen with care and now he was displeased. Artfully arranged on the bed table, nesting in a white plastic bag, laid the fruit she’d brought him. It was already into November and late-season plums, especially ones as tempting as those, were hard to come by. His last minute request that morning had left Lana barely enough time, but she’d found the obscenely expensive plums in a gourmet specialty market on Third Avenue. Further east, his request would have proved more of a challenge. Second Avenue boasted mostly restaurants and bars. It was chock-a-block with multifarious havens for boisterous students, aggressive social climbers, and bone-weary construction workers—all easily accommodated in their choice of libation. You had your pick of pizzerias which vied for famous originality. When she was younger Lana foraged for cheap, vintage clothing among the many charitable thrift shops on First Avenue. At York Avenue it was high-end auction houses, the antiseptic grandeur of acclaimed hospitals and the leafy, gated enclave called the Rockefeller Institute. It gave the neighborhood the air of a separate reality.
“I’ll cut one up for you. Maybe…?” She looked toward the door. “I could get the nurse to—.” “No”, he whispered hoarsely. “No plums.” She was helpless. “I want a banana. La-a-a-na, why didn’t you bring me a bana-a-a-na?” Lana pouted involuntarily. He had often confounded her, genially poked fun at her by exaggerating her name and this is what she resorted to: curling her lower lip into a moist rebuttal. It usually made him laugh and softened her vexation with him.
“You asked for these. You said the kind you liked. Remember?” Lana moved to the side of the bed and reached for a smooth blackish-purple orb. Hesitating she then placed it back in the bag. She picked another. He’d telephoned after months of ignoring her calls and then disappeared. He called her. He didn’t want the plums. She would banish them from his sight.
He placed his hand on her sleeve. His touch was as light as the leave taking of faeries. “No, don’t. They are beautiful,” he rasped. “I want to look.”
Rodolfo Gomariz stared up at her, his eyes dark and forgiving. It had been a while since she’d seen him but that was not her choice. He was a painter, impresario, publisher, contractor; he wore all of those hats easily and well. He had the Golden Touch. Everyone said so. But to her mind he was a painter above all. He lay amidst the whiteness of pillows, bed linens, and a thermal blanket. He was a passive subject in a painting by El Greco; Christ nearly disrobed, clothed only in a disposable hospital gown. Lana followed the trail of an intravenous drip. His arms were exposed, furred with the thick, black hair that undid her still.
A lock of hair had fallen onto his forehead, a black question mark on a blank slate. Lana pressed it back and bewildered by its delicacy let her thumb linger. At first sight it looked glossy with health, as seductive as the first time she’d met him, but stroking it from his face she felt the difference. “I’m going to get you a banana. I’ll be right back.” Fiercely he gripped her hand, hurting her. Lana cried: “I don’t know, what?” Her pained expression caused him to loosen his grasp. He coughed and flashed a familiar wry expression. “La-a-a-na, where are you going?” She smiled from relief and drew her hand from his. “To find a banana for you, silly.” He giggled, nearly as lustily as she remembered when they’d parlay innuendos between them. She looked back at him and his eyes were closed. His delicately sculpted fingers, like translucent porcelain bamboo, rested on his thighs.
The hospital corridors were decorated in subdued shades of gray and pink—a corporate decision to remain neutral on a ward of unjust diseases. Framed art prints pictured gazelle-necked Native American women, sleek black hair framing identical expressions, whether hugging clay pots, rolling fry dough, or gazing into a cloudless lavender sky. “Bad Santa Fe,” thought Lana.
“She know what she know. What I’m gonna do? She’s not a baby. She wait at the bakery across the street from her school.”
Lana remained at the nurses’ station. The woman on the phone acknowledged her presence with a raised eyebrow; a finger held momentarily poised in Lana’s direction. Lana, arms folded, let her hands drop to her hips. Her elbows bent in readiness, demanding and yet respectful. The woman’s conversation continued. Lana guessed Jamaican. She made out the tiny cartoon characters printed on the woman’s scrubs: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck. When did they stop wearing white?
“She be aw’right. The church is there, like a block away.” The woman paused before addressing the listener on the other end who seemed to have annoyed her. “I’m only leaving my daughter until I can get her. She have half day. I’ll be off a here soon.” Lana tilted her head in a can-I-say-something-manner. The finger curled, dropped limply to the desk and fidgeted. “Why you surprised?” There was an irritated pause. “Those boys killed by they own mama. She some ting to blame it on a black man. Why you surprised? Shame. Those poor little boys. A shame.”
“Yes?” Lana, startled, realized the woman was now addressing her. “Oh, sorry I….” “Who are you here to see?” Lana said she was visiting Mister Gomariz in—. “Room 36A,” interjected the nurse who had come up behind Lana. “Are you a family member?” Lana replied that she was a friend; that she didn’t think he had any family here and he’d called her that morning. “I’m a close friend,” she added. Lana started to say where Rodolfo was from when the nurse cut her off. “Argentina. I know. His brother is due to take him home.” She looked at Lana as if expecting a rebuttal. “Oh,” was all Lana could manage before asking if it was possible to get a banana for him. “Only,” she added, “I brought fruit, what he asked for, and he doesn’t seem—.” “He’s being fed intravenously. It’s a long flight to Buenos Aires.” The nurse rolled the pronunciation, and it slid off her tongue like a native, which, as far as Lana could tell, she was not. “I’ll see what I can dig up.” Lana asked: “Is there a—?” “Water fountain. In the visitors’ lounge,” was the curt reply as the nurse hurried off.
He’d telephoned at seven in the morning. She knew it was Rodolfo, even before she heard his voice. It had been many months since she’d heard from him. Not for lack of trying on her part. His voice was sheer but not frail. His condition had been revealed in whispered allusion between friends and inflammable rumor from hangers on. Elvira, his wife, had left a message on Lana’s answering machine a few weeks before. A dull monotone stood in for the singer’s usually dramatic timbre: “I’m leaving New York. Going back to Denmark. Thanks for everything.” Rodolfo’s close friends had no idea where he was. The studio was locked up, the telephone disconnected. Lana tried to reach Rodolfo and got nowhere until the call that morning.
“La-a-a-na, can you bring me a large bag?” Lana asked where he was, how was he and he told her only that he needed the bag for a painting, a gift for his doctor. Rodolfo sounded lucid but she was confused. What doctor, she asked. She asked again “Where are you?” And then he begged her to bring him some fruit, his favorite kind. Lana, exasperated, nearly barked at him. “You have to tell me where you are if I am to bring you these things.”
In the empty visitor’s lounge she filled a paper cup with water. Regarding the cup she decided against it, and drained its contents into the grill of the water cooler. She watched it trickle and then disappear before crushing the cup in her palm. “I’ll just sit for a minute,” she said under her breath and sank into a chair.
Lana remembered exactly how they’d met nearly fifteen years ago. She had not been divorced for long, her future was economically unsound, but she had immediately returned to painting—her first love—with the renewed passion of a newly single woman who had learned her lesson. Her friend Manu, a Basque writer, wanted her to meet a young man who was an Argentine painter. Manu and his wife had been introduced to him at a party and the painter invited the white-haired writer with the raging eyebrows to his studio.
The decade of the 70s was heading to a close. It was a sweltering August morning. Lana and Manu stood under a metal canopy at the far west end of 14th Street near Gansevoort Street. The area was called the Meatpacking district. It possessed a split personality guided by the time of day or night. An abandoned elevated railway line near Tenth Avenue added to the demilitarized feel of the place. She suspected the same characters who frequented the bars and sex clubs were dead asleep now in other parts of the city or nearby on Christopher Street. Manu would have been shocked to know the unmarked doors they had walked past were entrances to places called The Anvil and The Mineshaft. And probably even appalled to discover his friend Lana had been, on occasion, to some of those clubs with her gay male friends. They had introduced her to a nightlife that didn’t start until after midnight and ended at some greasy spoon at six in the morning where they shared tables with frazzled, foot-sore drag queens who had not yet crashed. The sight of a bare-chested man’s naked buttocks bulging from leather chaps no longer surprised her. Once, being snuck into a club dressed as a boy, she laughed so hard she nearly gave the game away. Their ruse proved fruitless. Instead of beefy naked men engaged in extraordinary sexual feats she had only heard about she saw one scrawny fellow in a jock strap swinging above the bar, oblivious. She had been fighting self-consciousness at her friends’ promise of audience participation and was secretly relieved. An off night had been just fine with Lana. Another excursion, less charged with apprehension, found her at The Spike for a Mother’s Day brunch as the guest of an older, leather-clad friend.
Lana was coolly outfitted in a white sleeveless t-shirt under a light gray windowpane check cotton jumper from Putumayo. Her long, light brown hair was pulled back in a single braid to which she had attached an artificial lily. She wore simple woven leather huaraches on her feet; her legs and arms were radiantly tanned. After a freshly divorced dedication to flannel shirts and jeans she wanted to feel feminine again. Men and some women were easily seduced. Manu was enthralled and, with his wife’s blessing because it exercised his old bones, he and the 27-year-old Lana developed a robust, if unlikely, friendship that entailed long walks all over the city while they talked about art and politics and life.
Manu, a broad-shouldered man in his late 60s, was a separatist far from his embattled homeland; a man who preferred always to wear a jacket and tie, even in the sweat-stained summer months. He and Lana made an odd pair. Manu studied the scrap of paper in his bear-like hand. Lana grabbed it from him and looked from the scrawled address beyond raw carcasses hung in a row inches from their faces. Neither of them mentioned the smell. She pointed to a red metal door and said, “This is the place.” Manu, who often regaled an international set of urbane dinner guests with tales of bloody revolt in his country, stepped back gingerly. “Lana, these are dead cows.” Bracing the back of her hand against its flank she shoved a carcass aside, dislodging a few flies. She would try to forget that image when she polished off a cheeseburger. “After me,” she giggled.
Later Manu telephoned to tell her what a strong impression she had made on Rodolfo. His wife, Miriam, joined in on another line—a habit of theirs—and reported that Rodolfo had called in high spirits to tell them he was in love; that he wanted to marry Lana! She was taken aback. Not because they didn’t click instantly. Lana was impressed with his work; large canvases of somber urban abstracts. Rodolfo was handsome in a way that brought a flush to her cheeks, with an aristocratic bearing that melded seamlessly with his apparent poverty. He made her laugh and she was charmed by his attention, his unabashed inquiry into her own painting. Lana guessed he was a little older than she. But that was in actual years. In life-lived-years he was well past her. They drank sherry and enjoyed a spread of herbed olives, fresh baguette, quince and manchego that Manu had brought. Music filled the loft. Caetano Veloso’s seductive voice tickled her spine and the heat in the un-air conditioned loft caressed her. The room smelled of turpentine and oil paint and Manu’s strong cigarettes. She’d felt light-headed, seduced by it all.
“But Miriam, that’s impossible. He can’t be in love with me.” Manu interjected. He was adamant. “Why no, Lana? He’s very handsome. A very good painter, no?” Miriam persisted. “Lana, he was very taken with you.” Lana, unable to stop herself, blurted, “But he’s gay!”
A few months after they’d met, Rodolfo hosted a party in his loft for a friend, a celebration of sorts. It was a wild affair; a bombastic mix of personalities and nationalities, genders specific and not so specific. She watched as Rodolfo, swarmed by a colony of fawning poseurs, basked in their giddy adoration. The intensity, the level of excitement was exhilarating. Everyone danced as uninhibitedly as they drank and ate, laughed and argued. Manu held forth among a clutch of Spaniards in fervent political discourse under a cloud of cigarette smoke. Strangers chatted up Lana in Spanish and French. Some spoke Portuguese. There was no language barrier to nodding and smiling and Lana, strangely, felt easily connected. She allowed herself to be drawn into the graceful tangle of dancers and swayed under a marijuana haze as if she had done this all her life.
When Lana first arrived and guests were still sparse, shyness took over and she found a quiet corner to wait for Manu and his wife. The loft began to fill up quickly and she wondered if she should circulate, that maybe she somehow missed her friends’ arrival. She hesitated as a tranced man of indeterminate age in a rather bizarre getup, even by the standards of the rest of the party, made his way through the revelers. His rose bud lips puckered in his face painted to look like a Kabuki dancer. Shellacked hair rose in a black pompadour high above his forehead. He headed toward her. Lana froze. As he approached Rodolfo swooped in, beaming. “This is my friend I want you to meet.” The man spoke softly in a German accent as he offered her his hand, raised as a champion show dog might lift a paw. “How do you do?” he whispered. “Can you tell me, vere ist da bathroom?” Lana, bemused, pointed in a direction and he floated through the crowd. “The guest of honor,” Rodolfo beamed. “He’s a chenioos. We are so excited for heem. He’s singing with Daveed Bowee—.” Lana interrupted, confused. “I thought you said he was a pastry maker?” “He ees a pastry maker,” laughed Rodolfo and left her to greet a fresh round of guests.
Laughter slipped out with departing guests who tripped carelessly over uneven cobblestones into a cold blue daybreak. Earlier Manu suggested dropping her at her apartment but Rodolfo drew Lana to him. “I take good care of her. Don’t you worry old man,” he teased. Lana, high from the music, the wine and the pot, sensed everything was just beginning and played out a scenario over and over in her sweetly muddled mind. Would she have sex with him? If he was gay what did it matter? Maybe—surely—he was bisexual.
They stood in the doorway at the end of a long night like a couple in love, familiar and new at the same time. He clasped Lana’s waist affectionately as the young acolytes, the last to leave, exchanged pouty air kisses with Rodolfo and minced past Lana boldly ignoring her. Later, after he had made them strong coffee and while they were clearing up she asked about the young men. She said something she thought would make him understand that she knew. He slipped a record onto the turntable. Lana witnessed a meteoric eclipse in his eyes, a brief yet overpowering shadow, dispelled instantly in a flash of white teeth: “No, La-a-a-na, for me only women.” He took her hand and dropped a small, ripe plum into her open palm. “It’s kind of late for these. Where did you get…?” He lowered his eyelids and stretched his full height above her, covering her hand with both of his. “I can get anything for you.” A woman sang in Portuguese, her voice a muscular expression of lament, its meaning Lana could only intuit.
Her comment was forgotten. He’d won a Guggenheim Fellowship and Lana watched fascinated as his reputation and his circle of friends grew. He prepared intimate meals when it was just the two of them. Impromptu parties materialized out of an otherwise quiet afternoon and she found her way easily around his kitchen. Lana listened raptly as he sketched out his future. The one-man shows in SOHO were not enough. “La-a-a-na I have beeg ideas.” He ran with artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. She was not invited along. He still wooed her, but the intensity leveled off to an affectionate joke between them. Yes, of course she would marry him—someday.
Prostitution and drugs proved an intolerable playground in the early 80s when a murderous drive by shooting scattered the men outside the Ramrod. Until AIDS put the fear in those who had the power to close the bars and bath houses some of her gay friends still frequented Badlands and The Mineshaft. Danger went part and parcel with sexual bondage. If Lana was at all unsure of Rodolfo doubt ebbed when these men crossed paths with him at her parties or at a vernissage for Rodolfo’s latest exhibition. Rodolfo’s disdain was palpable and he kept his eyes averted when introduced. That flicker of interest, a covert recognition. “You know him,” she’d say later, catching the look. Eventually they revealed that they had witnessed Rodolfo—or somebody who looked very much like him—engaging in the sex play or cruising the treacherous territory of the piers. Rodolfo dismissed her encouragement to ‘come out’ as trespassing. Once angry with her, she never spoke of it again. If he mentioned someone in his crowd: “La-a-a-na, I am a frahnd to Jean-Michel. What I can do? Terrible, terrible, the drugs,” she knew, at that point, what kind of a friend he meant.
Lana remarried. Her husband Ian, an English musician, eagerly embraced New York nightlife. Many of the clubs she had frequented and grown tired of were now his venues and she ignored a mercurial relationship with rank caves like CBGB’s and returned to cheer his bass onstage. The first place she’d brought Ian was Petrol. Rodolfo, bored with painting, had flung himself into an entrepreneurial role and rehabilitated an abandoned corner of Avenue B on the Lower East Side. With minimal attention to décor, at first, he transformed the formerly defunct gas station into a hip bar and performance space for the emerging trend setters who flocked to New York City from abroad, ravenous for a bite of fertile urban underbelly. Alcohol was served illegally. One responded to the bartender’s query: “Con gas or sín gas?” and vodka flowed surreptitiously into ice blue drinks. Ian’s first encounter with Rodolfo was on a bitterly cold night. While Rodolfo fed a hunk of discarded timber into a blazing makeshift stove, a Nuyorican poet—one of the avant-garde writers published under Petrol’s imprimatur—spit out his poetry as he pelted a worshipful audience with condoms. Ian loved it and he and Rodolfo got on famously.
Rodolfo moved to Williamsburg. It would be, he predicted, the next big thing. Artists were attracted to the generous space and light, to the sense of entitled discovery an intrepid newcomer gets when renovated derelict overshadows entrenched residents. He put his shoulder to the dirtiest jobs alongside his workers and in no time was a sought after contractor. In a factory building he’d renovated at the end of Berry Street he carved out a sizeable loft for himself.
For some time Rodolfo had been ardently pursuing the lead singer of a band called Deus Ex Machina. Elvira was a sculpted Danish beauty, severe if you didn’t know her. Her ermine hair teased into an operatic frenzy to match her outsized voice. The Goth driven band behind her, the antithesis of Deborah Harry and Blondie, generated a hardcore following. Rodolfo plagued Lana moaning of his unrequited love for the singer who coldly rejected his advances. He dragged Lana to all of her shows and stared white-hot at Elvira frothed in billowing vintage gowns. He laid exotic blooms at her feet during the performance. Lana cautioned against stalking. And then, inexplicably, they were a couple. He became her Svengali, dismissing her band, monitoring her, directing her every move. She would be bigger than Madonna. Lana, disturbed by this, pulled away for a while but eventually came to see that Elvira, sweet natured, was wholly dependent on him and had entrusted her fate to him.
They were married in the loft on Berry Street. A Buddhist monk in a saffron robe presided. Elvira was gowned spectacularly in yards of antique white satin, her hair embroidered with outlandish silk flowers, while Rodolfo was outfitted entirely in black. Never one to underestimate an impression he wore a black felt hat that veiled his face. The company stood shell-shocked as the two exchanged gold bands. Guests gave him wide berth and a studied friendliness pervaded the surreal atmosphere of the party afterwards. An Afro-Caribbean band went largely unnoticed until copious amounts of champagne were downed. Commanding one end of the loft was the marriage bed, a grand four-poster. It was a gift from the Rivington Street Welders, the same artists who’d constructed the infamous iron fence around Petrol. The bed, sprung from a dark fairy tale, was heaped with duvets covered in lush funereal fabrics—dark plum-colored velvet, embossed black silk—its four iron tentacles curled against the ceiling. Seated alone, Rodolfo motioned for Lana from the bed. He took her hand and she was shocked by its coldness. “Tell me you love me,” he whispered. Of course, of course, they loved both of them, she assured him. “No, La-a-a-na, say you love me.” She squeezed his hand, hoping to warm it with her own. “I do love you.” He lifted the veil slowly. “Kiss me.” Lana brushed his damp cheek. “No, on the lips.” He held her face in his hands, her lips pillowed on his, for a long time.
Elvira’s career demanded all of his attention and Lana saw little of him after the ceremony. Rumors continued to circulate, speculation boiled like an unwatched pot. He was losing weight or he was bloated. He was suicidal or he was tackling a new project. Elvira was depressed and on the verge of leaving him or she was pregnant. Lana spoke with Elvira and she seemed oblivious to anything but the possibility that he had some unshakable flu. She and Ian attended the premiere of his pet project—meant to be a starring vehicle for Elvira. An audience of downtown luminaries took in battling lovers, role reversal, a hyper realistic set design of a bombed out urban landscape. It was an opera that Lana found confusing at best and overwrought at worst. Critics called it ambitious but fell short. Elvira, they wrote, though obviously talented seemed out of her depth. Rodolfo, in black, looked wan and angry. The opera closed after three performances.
They saw less of the couple until Elvira telephoned in a panic. Rodolfo was painting over his canvases. It was a mess, she cried, bizarre, nightmarish images. And they were broke. Lana pressed Elvira for more information. Was he ill? How could they help? They would go right away to Brooklyn. Elvira dissuaded Lana and instead begged to meet her in the city. Lana was shocked at her appearance, the careful attention to hair and makeup no longer in evidence. Absent the garnish she seemed in a state of torpor. Lana gave her the money and made her promise to keep in touch.
Lana’s invitation to dinner to cheer them up was readily accepted but Elvira pleaded, “Please, nothing fancy.” In an Indian restaurant on East Sixth Street that Lana knew well the three of them chatted lightheartedly while Rodolfo gazed around the nearly empty dining room. He had lost weight. His shirt ballooned over his distended belly. Elvira fussed and spoke softly to him, as if he was a child. Midway through the meal, he rose from the table and shuffled toward the bathroom. After awhile Elvira suggested she’d see if he needed help. Rodolfo appeared clutching the hem of his shirt, stepping gingerly as he approached them. He was completely naked from the waist down. Elvira, stricken with anguish, rushed to dress him. They left their unfinished meal and apologies along with a generous tip.
Keith Haring was dead. Basquiat was dead. Klaus died in the same hospital where Rodolfo lay. Lana had lost friends to AIDS who were unabashedly homosexual. Gay friends, like Brendan, still made art. Bren was an overtly political conceptual performance artist, HIV positive and nothing closeted about him. A U.S. embargo on the drugs for HIV caused him to consider leaving New York but a return to Ireland was too painful. His lover, an Argentine, had a job waiting for him in London and wanted Bren to go with him where he would be better taken care of. He was the one who enlightened Lana to the shame. Gay Latin American men at home avoided the stigma with bisexual relationships, even the married ones. “It’s why there are so many of us in New York,” he told her. Turner, an impoverished writer with expensive taste, bragged about his sexual conquests, scoffed at protection, and boasted of hiring rent boys, sometimes nine or a dozen at a time. Lana found out eventually that he was whoring himself out. Another friend had told her, a paying customer. So far, he was untouched by the disease. She’d recently attended Chip and Jeffrey’s commitment ceremony. Lana was a middle-aged married woman with a punky, bleached blonde crop of hair who wore comfortably distressed linen. She’d had to ration her time for painting and go back to work. She and her husband both had. New York was an expensive city.
Lana returned to his room. Rodolfo was sitting up, laughing with the same nurse who had brought him bananas. His cheeks shone with mirth. “La-a-a-na, where were you? I have to make love to Miss Chen because you deserted me.” The diminutive nurse slapped him gently. “Be good Mister Rodolfo.” “No, I’m back, sweetie.” Lana moved to the other side of the bed. “I thought you were sleeping. What can I do?” Miss Chen removed the intravenous drip. “He’ll be going home soon. He’s had lots of vitamins and minerals.” Her small yet tenacious frame righted him into a standing position. “Walk with him a bit.” Lana was shocked, not fully prepared for his diminished state. “Are you…is it okay?” “Yes Miss, it will be good for him. He has a long flight ahead of him.”
Rodolfo took her arm. There was nothing to him. They walked slowly through the halls, him sneering at the pictures. “You are a real painter, La-a-a-na.” She laughed. “How would you know? You haven’t seen anything of mine in—.” “I know,” he told her. She asked about his paintings. Where were they? Who had them?” He dismissed the questions with a wave of his hand. “You are the painter, Lana.”
They talked about easy things for an hour or so until he abruptly told her he had stopped taking the AZT. They were making him fat, he said and they giggled like school children. At a bank of elevators Rodolfo told her he was tired. “New York is not a good place to be sick, Lana. I don’t want to die here.” He pushed the button for the elevator. Lana hesitated until she saw Miss Chen coming toward them, waving her on. As the doors closed he pushed the button again. “I want to look at you.” Lana smiled. The three other passengers smiled. The doors sprang open again. “I love you,” he whispered, steadied by the nurse. Her fellow passengers seemed undisturbed by the scene. “I love you too,” Lana said, fighting back the tears. Once again the doors sprang open. “The plums,” he said, “They hurt my mouth.”
PLUMS is an original short story by Linda Danz.
STORIES ON THE AMERICAN FRIEND Writers Guild of America, East #R28299
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business organizations, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The use of names of actual persons, places, and events is incidental to the plot, and is not intended to change the entirely fictional character of the work. © January 2010