Currey awoke that afternoon with a head that felt like it had been beaten with a bag of quarters. He was naked in his own bed and at first didn’t recall that he had spent the better part of the morning driving home from the West side with a stolen lamp buckled into his passenger seat. In the painful, stock-hangover period of pre-wakefulness that lends itself to neither lucid thought nor fast action, his ravaged body fought to keep the memory banks foggy. For those few waking moments, before the headache overwhelmed him and the memories of the morning’s drive came flooding back into his mind, it was nearly possible to believe that he had merely consumed too many cocktails and made his way safely to his own home and bed.
“Lamp…” Currey forced open his eyes—the afternoon light was painful. He felt like a vampire that would surely turn to a pile of useless dust any moment. He hoped it would happen soon, if it would rid him of the next few hours’ misery. “Lamp…”
Currey sat up in bed and groaned, still not certain why he was mumbling the word “lamp”. Then, he sniffed and smelled her. Her smell was on him—not just her perfume, which lingered on his skin, but the smell of sex. Sweat, perfume and sex. “Oooh, yeah…” He nodded, a slight smile tracing his lips. Then it all came back to him—the dark hair, the drive home, the lamp. It had been a big son of a bitch, that much he remembered for sure. He couldn’t recall her name, however. Or her face, really—the night was a blur. He vaguely recalled sex, mostly by the smell, and wondered if it had been any good. He had never had any complaints, but then again, he was rarely around long enough afterward to hear them, were they to come.
He hoped she had been pretty. If he picked up an ugly girl at Ton 80, he would never hear the end of it. Raje wouldn’t give a shit—Currey thought that mostly he thought nothing at all of women. To Raje, women were there to have his children, nothing more, nothing less. If they could accomplish this and keep their mouth shut at the same time, their jobs were secure. He cared only about bringing his Indian Mafia to its imminent grand magnificence. Aaron and Raje’s cousin Yogesh were another story; these two drooling puss-hounds would needle him to no end about going home with an ugly girl.
Currey ambled to the bathroom, his eyes still half-closed, and stood over the toilet for a good two minutes emptying the reservoir that had accumulated over the course of his morning slumber. He thought again of the girl, wishing he could remember her face. Perhaps he should have sneaked to the other side of the bed and stolen a glance, but he had been too concerned with finding his clothes. Escape was always at the top of the agenda and there was usually no time for such trivial luxuries such as glances.
He yawned and scratched his arm and wandered to the kitchen for some juice—juice of any sort usually helped wash away some of the residual pins and needles and help replenish his spent electrolytes. Then he spotted the lamp. He had apparently set it on the kitchen table upon his arrival—as it turned out, there was no other table in the apartment that would accommodate its massive elegance. It had transformed the otherwise drab and nondescript kitchen into a kind of impromptu shrine to the beautiful lamp. Where one would have never pictured a stunning piece of ceramic beauty in the room, it now seemed perfect. The lamp had taken ownership of the kitchen, if not the entire dwelling.
Currey sat down at the table, his juice for the moment forgotten, and stared at the lamp, occasionally reaching out to stroke one of its delicate curves. It had been a valuable find and Currey smiled to himself, his headache abating, the hangover becoming less brutal by the moment. He loved his new lamp.
He turned back to the window, his hand still resting on the comforting base of the lamp. A Ryder moving van backed up to a curb in the parking lot and two strapping young men hopped out of the cab and opened the back roll-up door of the truck. It was packed full of belongings – Currey could see end tables and couch cushions, a floor lamp, some moving boxes and laundry baskets stuffed full of linens, clothing and knick-knacks. He wondered what the story was of the people moving in. A relationship ending, perhaps? Maybe one beginning. Someone moving out of a house, or moving into an apartment while his house was being built. Single lady, or man, or a couple with kids. Currey finished his juice and searched the back of the truck for clues as the two young men loaded boxes onto a dolly. Maybe they were roommates, he thought. Or gay. Currey shrugged and gave the lamp a loving pat and got up to rinse his juice glass. He hoped it was a single woman. Then he resolved to sit at the table while the two men unloaded the truck to see if he could puzzle together the answer to the mystery of the new neighbor. And he would keep his eye out for a companion piece for his new lamp – just in case.