You can make it if you try

by RH

   Sly’s hotel room was locked and double locked.  The door opened but the chain stayed on when my tentative yet steady knock was answered.

“Who’s there?”  The question was a growl between two unrevealing walls.  I answered, was acknowledged and permitted inside.

The room was stuffy and underlit.  As in any major hotel it had the feeling of permanent transience – large empty spaces between furniture and chairs, lots of walking room.  It was anything but comfortable.

Six heavies stopped their conversation.

“What’s happening?”  Sly spoke from a dark grey corner, huddled all arms and legs beside an unlit table lamp.  He was a vision in red this evening, red wool knit cap covering a lot of hair and almost obscuring a bloodshot eye.  He was incredibly stoned.

“Nothing much,” I answered.  “How’re you doing?”

“Fine.”  He stared as if daring me to contradict him.  “Just fine.”  And having said that crossed his arms and stared at me some more.  The implication was that I didn’t believe him.  The six large men in the room were immaculately silent.

“Ask me some questions.”  Sly broke the silence again by daring.  The tone was cold, not so much unwilling to talk as unwilling not to be listened to, a grudge match between Sly and whoever he chose to believe you were.

From “Sly Stoned”  by Peter Knobler,  Crawdaddy magazine, 1971.