by Lawrence H. Levy
“Come on, DeShawn, get your Whitney something’. A little sugar, huh, DeShawn baby?”
“I’m sorry, Whitney, but you need to get straight. And my name’s Kyle.”
“Kyle!” she exclaimed as she stumbled around the room. “What kinda lilywhite mama’s boy name is that?” Then she took a header onto the kitchen floor, conveniently falling by the garbage can in which she quickly buried her head and wretched to her heart’s content.
My PSD had conjured up Whitney Houston. I always had a crush on her. I was enchanted by her beauty, her magnificent voice, and yes, her troubled life. Deep down I felt that if I had been with her, I could’ve saved her. Now was my chance.
I watched lovingly as her head bobbed up and down while she puked her guts out. God, Whitney was glorious. She puked on key and in perfect rhythm, too.
We had been in my apartment for a full 36 hours and even though she was a ways from kicking the habit, I figured a change of scenery might do us both good. “Iron Man 3” was playing nearby, and I thought that might just be the tonic we both needed.
Whitney was still unsteady and stumbling as we entered the theater lobby. The place was mobbed.
“Yo,” she screamed out. “Any of you got any crack for sweet ol’ Whitney?”
No one answered. Hell, no one could hear or see her. She was all mine.
“Hey, I said I want crack!” And she spelled it out. “C-R-A-C-K. Crack, motherfuckers!”
“Whitney, honey,” I said. “Calm down. We’re going into the movie. It’ll make you chill.”
“You know what’ll make me chill, Kyle? CRACK!”
There was no winning this argument. I quickly bought two tickets, and the ticket guy handed them to me with two pair of 3D glasses.
“See, Whitney? 3D — it’ll be fun. You’ll see.”
The ticket guy had enough problems dealing with me talking to air, but when I put the glasses on Whitney and they fell through empty air to the floor, he nearly freaked.
“I’ll get ’em. Go, just go,” he said as he went to pick up the glasses. “This movie brings out all the fuckin’ crazies,” he muttered loud enough for us to hear.
Whitney and I found good seats, and she seemed to settle down. Not for long though. She got restless when Robert Downey Jr. appeared on screen.
“Hey, that’s the dude who woke up in someone else’s house,” she pointed to Downey Jr. “Get me to him. For sure he can hook me up.”
“He’s clean now, Whitney, just like you’re gonna be.”
Then she got an idea. “Hey, people are always droppin’ tons of stuff on movie floors. Maybe I’ll find myself some sugar.”
She threw herself onto the floor and started crawling through the row.
“Whitney, honey, Whitney, come back to your seat,” I said as I went after her. I made each person in the row shift to accommodate me, sometimes knocking into or tripping over people. Pretty soon the theater got hostile.
“Hey, down in front, you’re fuckin’ up the picture, freak” were a couple of the choice comments. One guy pushed me, and I tumbled into the aisle, flat on my back.
Whitney started laughing, “You’re funny, Kyle.”
“I’m glad you appreciate me. Let’s get out of here.”
Whitney seemed to be in a better mood. I never helped someone get sober before, but maybe she had passed over the hump. Anyhow, I was hungry, and Whitney loved Osteria Mozza over on Melrose, so I figured that was a good place to go.
“I’ll have the Tortellini in Brodo and the lady will have the Ricotta and Egg Raviolo,” I told the waiter.
“Would you like to make a wine choice now, or do you want to wait until the lady comes back from the restroom?”
“No need for that,” I said then turned toward Whitney. “Do you want some wine, dear?”
“Only if it comes with a side of candy.”
I turned to the waiter. “She doesn’t want any.”
He smiled, “You’re messin’ with me, right?” I stared at him perfectly straight faced. His smile disappeared, and he walked off a bit freaked, mumbling something about hoping to get an acting gig soon so he could quit this waiting crap.
Whitney and I looked at each other and laughed. Her face lit up. Moments like these made me feel emotions for Whitney that I didn’t think were possible for me any more… at least since what’s her name broke my heart. Yeah, thanks to Whitney, at times I literally forgot Shelby’s name.
An attractive African American woman sat down at the table next to us and immediately started chatting away with the empty chair across from her. I couldn’t help being drawn to her odd behavior. I turned to Whitney
“I guess you meet all kinds of nuts in this world,” I said.
“Yo, Kyle, that’s Tupac over there.”
She motioned toward the empty seat across from the African American woman. “I’m sure he’s carrying. See if he has somethin’ for Whitney.”
“Whitney, you’re almost through detoxing. I can’t in good conscience….”
“Yo, Tupac,” she called out as she turned toward the other empty chair. “You got some candy?” She soon spoke as if he had responded to her. “Yeah, fool, it’s me, Whitney. You carrying? I know you are.”
She was listening to Tupac’s reply, and I knew I had to do something. Before I could, the African American woman turned to me.
“Hey, excuse me, you. What’s your name?”
“Hi, I’m Hilary.”
A chill shot through me. My interactions with women named Hilary never turned out well, not the least of which was getting my ass kicked by one in high school. She had wanted to fight, and I didn’t. Fighting a girl is a losing proposition. If you fight back, you’re an asshole and if you don’t, she stomps all over you and you’re a pussy. I chose the latter and heard the word “pussy” ring out through the halls for months to come.
“Hi, Hilary, I guess we have something in common (I had put 2 and 2 together and was referring to PSD). Could you please tell your friend Tupac to leave my lady Whitney alone? She’s trying to get clean.”
“If you call Whitney off so Tupac and I can dine in peace.” Suddenly, she turned toward Tupac. “Don’t you dare rap for her! You promised you’d only rap for me from now on.”
I turned to Whitney, and she was clapping away and rapping along with Tupac. Of course, I could only hear her and not Tupac but I do have an imagination.
Hilary stood, pissed as hell. “You better tell your slut to stop messin’ with my man or there are goin’ to be some real problems, real soon!”
I also stood. “There’s no need for name calling. I’m sure we can work this out.”
But we couldn’t. Both our tempers rose and the name calling escalated. Pretty soon everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. A few waiters and the manager rushed over to put out the fire. When everything had calmed down, I looked and saw that Whitney had disappeared. From the panic on Hilary’s face, I could tell Tupac had left with her.
We instantly became a team and searched all over Mozza, screaming out their names, hoping to find the place they went to get high. After we ran into the kitchen, we soon found ourselves being escorted outside by a chef wielding a meat cleaver and six of the waiters, including my own.
“No need for a tip,” my waiter said. “Just don’t come back… ever.”
I really couldn’t blame him. Hilary and I looked around. No Whitney or Tupac. I started to get the feeling that this was a good thing. If I want to save someone, maybe I should save a real person. Maybe it was time to get back to reality.
“I know how you feel, Hilary,” I started to say seeing how devastated she was, but that was as far as I got.
“You know how I feel, Kyle? This is how I feel.” And she gave me the hardest shot to the balls I ever experienced. I fell to the cement, groaning, once again undone by a Hilary.
Man, reality sucks.