Simo Freeshow

Simo Freeshow

I was having a Dos Equis at Life Café. It was summer, and New York City was blazing. I sat under the restaurant patio’s awning, watching the hazy movements of mothers’ pushing strollers into Tompkins Square Park, skateboarders blurring by, squirrels nesting in the huge trees that line 10th street.

My androgynous waiter delivered my nachos and chips. “A nice spicy dish on a hot day,” he said.

I detected a faint accent. British? “It’s addictive,” I said, meaning the food, but it might have been vague.

“I’m Seymour,” he said, tucking a long strand of thick hair behind his ear.

“Evan,” I said.  “I’ve seen you here before.” The café was one of my regular watering holes. Summer was my slow season. I was a freelance hair/makeup artist/poet/musician. Seymour was all those and even more, so many that I nick-named him “Slash.” I popped into the Life Café because it was close to home, coming or going. I lived in Stuy Town with my best pal, Trudy. It was temporary digs, I’d been booted from my lower east side illegal sublet. She was sweet to take me in, but she already had a room-mate, so I slept temporarily on the foldout living room couch.

Turns out he was English. Seymour was just exotic enough, lived way west on 14th street. When he told me his last name was Freeshow, I couldn’t stop laughing.

“Don’t you get it?” I finally got out.

“I just don’t think it’s that funny. It’s my name.”

I tried, I really did, to stop. That was the first time we kissed. We were out walking his two humungous mastiffs. Folks walking toward us on the West Side Promenade parted like the Red Sea on either side. We stopped to look out across the mighty Hudson, churning a rubbish gray. Jersey loomed in the distance, a mirage of tall buildings, beige breathing outlines. I looked at Seymour, staring into the expansive view. He wore a pale blue tank top, and camouflage shorts. I got lost admiring the way the wind blew his shiny hair, he had smelled of peaches and bicycle grease. I felt like I was seeing him for the first time.

Then he turned to face me. And it was like one of those slow close-up movie shots. I forget who kissed who, but there were fireworks. And that’s one of the many things I love about New York. We just let loose, right there on the West Side Highway. And no one gave a rat’s ass except us. Okay, his dogs were a little jealous. And I didn’t want to get Marmaduke 1 and 2 any reason to wreak havoc. They both outweighed me.

I drove a Ford F-250 that I’d stored at my sister’s house in Bronxville. The next weekend, Seymour (now “Simo,” as his English friends called him) and I took Metro North to Janet’s house. I drove upstate to Woodstock. We hiked in the remarkable Catskills. I took him to the Omega Institute outside of charming Rhineback. We shared a hammock by their lake and took a romantic nap. We ate a delicious vegetarian dinner. That night, returning back to Manhattan, I asked him to stay overnight. He said yes before I’d barely asked.

It’s always strange to sleep with a new boyfriend. Well, I’m not a great sleeper to begin with. But add to that mix: Trudy’s living room foldout couch, her room-mate Mary, whose boyfriend Larry was also visiting from Pennsylvania. (Trudy and I dubbed them the Mary & Larry Show). And Trudy also had two cats that became a little nutty around 4 in the morning.

Needless to say, lots of tossing, turning, until sometime in the early morning, maybe nine or so, finally I was dreaming. But no, Simo was going to town under the sheets. Morning wood. It felt amazing being woken like that, despite the exposed room. I used my pillow to keep the moaning muffled. I was swept away, didn’t hear Trudy open her door and walk past us on her way to the kitchen. We were busted: it was too late to stop.

“Wish it was me,” Trudy said.

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About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, published author, editor, and workshop leader, his poems and fiction are widely found in over 500 print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Connotation Press, BlazeVOX, Thrice, Literary Orphans and Smokelong Quarterly. He is Managing Editor at (b)OINK magazine and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing. He is a six times Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His collections are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms); RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press), and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).
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12 Responses to Simo Freeshow

  1. Andrea says:

    What a great story! (/brain surgeon). I miss Life Cafe. The imagery is almost palpable.

  2. Andrea says:

    FREESHOW…SEEMORE!

  3. Dez says:

    Great characters and loved the last line! Made me miss NYC and living in the East Village.

  4. beverly says:

    I really enjoyed this short story, and I hope there is more coming. I always loved Life Cafe in the East Village. A fun eclectic place and full of eye candy. They had a full bar and great food with lots of veggie options, like Yaffa Cafe also.

  5. tomfroehlich says:

    LMAO!! One of the funniest things I’ve read of yours.! LOVE the Seymour Freeshow bit. Peaches and bicycle grease was great too. AND Trudy’s line “Wish it were me.” shows what great friends they are. No embarrassment. No shame. Just the God’s honest truth! Kinda like when I hear my room mate through the bedroom wall.

    Mostly I loved the way you described the romance budding over absolutely nothing, cause that’s the way it is.

    If I know why I fell in love the first time I would look for that again. It’s always something bizarre like the smell of peaches and bicycle grease.

  6. Don says:

    This one resonated with me so much- the setting details are just enough but fantastic! And the relationship, as Tom said, seems to rise, literally, out of nowhere, much like my own experiences in the past. I love the liberal tone of the piece and also the ending (of this part, hopefully) is really great. Reveals a lot about how generous Trudy is and how she just rolls with life as it ‘comes.’ I look forward to reading your daily blog, can’t tell you how much.

  7. david says:

    The LEAST you could have done was change the name to protect the innocent… Oh that’s right. No one was innocent in that time of innocence. Ahhhh… and here I am… wow.. beautiful piece… maybe I’m prejudiced but I can really “feel” that peaches and bike grease. That’s just spent flavoured lube rising up from NY’s piers under the summer sun.

  8. Shari says:

    The sounds, the smells, the tastes, the feelings…all heard so wonderfully written in this quick, fast paced, breezy style your fiction has. Feels like I know these people in such an easy way. And I agree with the others, as I feel with lots of your flash fiction, can I hear the end of this one? Please?

  9. Gloria says:

    Wished it was me. LOL You’re great!
    Love, Mom

  10. G says:

    Ah… young, wild lust………..I want some!

  11. Angela says:

    Seymour Freeshow…indeed the last paragraph proves this to be true! Love this story! Happy to report that I, too, have been blessed with one of the many things I love about NY…letting loose with that first kiss…in public…with no one giving a rahtsass 🙂

  12. christine says:

    I’m taking this to a progressive dinner party tomorrow night where we’re all to bring an essay, poem or vignette to share for entertainment and engagement. The theme of the party is “What Desire Looks Like…”

    Thanks, Robert!

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