WHEN ANNIE FELL OFF THE MOUNTAIN
After Cheryl was asleep, I asked Annie to slide into the front. Very sweetly, she told me she was more comfortable where she was.
This time the address was in the Bronx, possibly a doctor, who had been "hassled by the government" over repeated drug use. Since we had to be there early, Annie slept at my apartment. Having her under my roof brought on an onslaught of tenderness I had never felt for a woman, which I expressed - for the first time in my life - by not trying to make love to her. In the middle of the night, though, Annie came out of my bedroom and crawled into the sleeping bag on my couch, where I had chivalrously chosen to sleep. It was the first time in our lives we could have sex without worrying about pregnancy, and we made love with the same oddly tense, oddly vicious passion that had characterized our fights. We dozed afterward curled up in the sweaty bag, her breath on my neck.
We awoke before the alarm, and squeezed in a bitter fight while dressing (over who had lost the directions, which kept going even after we realized that no one had). Annie pulled on her jeans; since becoming pregnant she hadn't worn her peasant dresses, just jeans and the same ratty sweatshirt.
In the Bronx I parked in the designated spot on a highway overpass. Three, four, then five cars pulled over near us, young couples like us, one car with two women. I wanted to get out and talk, but Annie said she couldn't bear to be alone.
After a nerve-racking hour a blue van cruised by, checked us all out, then crept back and stopped beside each car. I handed Annie the cash, seven hundred this time, and she squeezed it into her jeans. When the van came next to us she slid in without greeting the driver or saying goodbye.
I listened to the radio. I watched the traffic on the highway below me freeze, melt, and break apart. At last the blue van nosed across the overpass. A woman who wasn't Annie climbed out and got into a car. The man waiting twisted his head to make sure nothing was behind him, backed up, and shot onto the highway.
The van drove up two more times, spilling out women. The only car that didn't drive off right away was the one with another woman waiting.
At last the van with Annie maneuvered next to me. She didn't signal anything or thank the driver.