After we run away together, Peter and I are tragically poor. I bring home $40 a week and Peter not much more, and our parents won’t speak to us. I have no more jewelry to sell, and the canned ham is a distant memory.
We sit down and think up a creative money-making scheme. I will go to a bar and lure a rich looking man outside and Peter will follow us and pretend to be my irate husband, frothing at the mouth with jealous rage. He will demand satisfaction, threaten to call the police, and will only be content to drag me away when the john pays him hush money. Honestly, we make this up. In all seriousness. And then we execute.
This is the first time I have ever been in a bar. It is down in Greenwich Village, all polished glasses and varnished wood and the smell of stale beer. I order a Whiskey Sour, which comes to mind because my parents make them sometimes. I sip my drink and smoke a Gaulois and admire my reflection in the mirror and feel very bohemian. A man who introduces himself as Seymour maneuvers next to me. “Hello”, he says, striking up a conversation, he’s about forty maybe, intellectual looking but paunchy, a writer he tells me, friend of Kerouac and Ginsberg, and in spite of myself I am impressed. But I keep to my script, the one Peter and I crafted, and Seymour is pleased to think he is going to score. He says do I want to go up to his apartment, and I answer yes happily, and as we walk out with Seymour’s arm around my waist I can see Peter following, and god yes I am taking this seriously, our venture into the outlaw life.
Seymour and I go upstairs to his apartment and he pours me a glass of red wine and nuzzles my neck, and we suddenly hear a pounding, a bellowing like a gorilla calling for his mate, and Seymour rushes to open the door and there is Peter, just as we planned. He goes into his spiel, ranting about criminal intent and abduction and faithlessness and the litany of threats and accusations that we dreamed up in our bare little room. I think Peter is magnificent but Seymour does not appear to be unduly concerned. He is cool. He finds a twenty dollar bill in his pocket and hands it to Peter and escorts us out the door and shuts it firmly.
So here we are, twenty dollars richer and have tricked a man, a short con to be true, but it seems a lot of work for not much money and we do not repeat it. Instead we decide to get married because in my experience relatives will give us thousands of dollars and many presents at our wedding. It is my idea, Peter just agrees, it is my first successful long con and this time Peter is the mark.