It is a warm summer-like June day and I am going to, of all places, Greenwich, Connecticut, which was where early in the fifties, just after getting my license, I would drive to see my girlfriend Kitty.
I go to Grand Central Station, which is almost exactly what it was years ago. I board a train which is just like the old New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad trains, right down to the blue seats, that were the commuter vehicles for people like my father who lived in Connecticut and got up at dawn to go to their offices in New York.
I am going to Greenwich to meet up with Julie Cooper, second wife of my old friend Peter Cooper, whose heavy drinking parents knew my heavy drinking parents in Connecticut. And also knew the heavy drinking parents of my friend from third grade, Jason Bacon. The Coopers and Bacons knew each other so well that they switched places – a suburban scandal – and Peter and Jason became half brothers.
I am going to Greenwich on the first leg of this new trip north I am making with the ill gotten money from Penthouse for a piece about the Philippines that I knew, though they paid me for it, they would never run since they were, despite their liberal attitude towards porn, a Republican-leaning publication. The Philippines, where my ex-wife began life, and where I have recently discovered my twin brother was sent by the CIA at the time of my Philippine book, the time of a deadly game of revolt and suppression just three years ago when I was virtually a member of the opposition to one of Reagan’s favorite dictators.
Peter’s wife has been in Greenwich visiting his sister Sue, now a suburban matron but once a girl on the loose who long ago had a party in the East 70s that I went to close to midnight following a shift over in Jersey for UPI and where I met Vannie Traylor, my girlfriend for a few years, the first woman I actually lived with.
These past times and past people all mixed up with present times and past people in the present. I had been talking on the phone with Jason’s younger brother Bruce, an artist and lover of beautiful women and a wild and beloved teacher School for Virual Arts who has come on hard times, Jason told me. His long standing girlfriend, Helga, who is a fashion designer and maintains a showroom Bruce managed, had thrown him out and was about to get sole possession of a house they owned together in the Berkshires. Jason, who has recouped family finances through investment banking, was going to help with Bruce’s support by paying him to make improvements to Jason’s heavy log retirement house in central Vermont.
On the phone Bruce, usually quick off the mark, had rambled. He had spoken of my girlfriend Vannie, so incredibly beautiful back then, he said. Whatever happened to her? And he said he was spending most of his days just driving around now, thinking about the state of the world, and the more he thought the worse it seemed, and everyone had been right twenty years ago to so fear nuclear annihilation. Most of the time he was alone now, with these disturbing thoughts about the state of the world. He was looking forward to meeting up with me. But there was no answer when I called him before I left.
Julie was on the platform looking happy in spring air at the Greenwich station, calm and confident if not so pretty as Peter’s first wife, who had been the flirtatious little sister of Vannie’s old college roommate. When I had been at Peter and Julie's place in the fall this present wife seemed so right for Peter now that he was firmly on his feet and a householder in Rutland.
And “Oh” she said, as we fastened our seat belts, I probably had not hear the news today. That Bruce Bacon had parked his car on a high bridge over the St. Lawrence River and jumped to his death.
Which seemed do me so in keeping with the mixture of past and present that my world had become in this time I was looking at it as if through a powerful telescope.