Notes from the old man in the attic.
Terry has to go to his job, night shift at Hunters. We sat goodbye, will be in touch. See you next year . . . I hope. This trip has been too short, not enough time to feel at home away from home. Only my friends and Torenzicht hotel remain the same. This is a very different place, the virus of course. At any given time I see some, maybe forty people on the sidewalks, looking two blocks both directions. The last time I saw these sidewalks they were jammed with people, every nationality and race. It was so crowded it was hard to walk, you had to git into a flow with people, laughing, pointing at the sex shows, stopping for a drink, or a smoke. Thousands of tourists, afternoon to after midnight, crowded bars full of people from somewhere else, in a good mood, having a good time. The rare exceptions, mostly drunks, are handled with expertise and polite efficiency. Bartenders and managers who run these places have all been there, done that. Not so much to do this year.
I stop at the bar for beer on the way to my room. It’s empty, just me and a bartender who knows me.
“How’s it going?” I ask.
“Slow,” he says. “The same as always?”
“Good.” I put some Euros on the counter and he brings my drink. “I’m going to need a cab tomorrow. I’ll be checking out. Can someone be here at 6:30 in the morning, and I need a wakeup call at 6:00.”
“No problem. How’s your trip been?”
“I don’t know, okay I guess. I’ve had some time to spend with a good friend and looked around a little. Things are changing. Casa Rosso must be losing lots of money,” I nod toward the window at the place just on the other side of the canal. A guy is standing out in front to answer questions about the show, or price. Fifty Euros. “There were always lines of people waiting to get in.”
Casa Rosso 2019
“Not this year, or the last,” he tells me. “They only allow twenty people per show now.”
Casa Rosso This Year
The window girls are gone. Top of a sidewalk urinal at bottom right.
“I have never seen the show. Sometimes think I should, just to be able to say I’ve seen it, or write about it, but I never do.”
“You’re better off. Those shows are a waste of money. I used to live above the Banana Bar.”
“I’ve never been there either but passed by the place a lot of times. Not hard to guess what it’s about.”
“I got to know the girls,” he says. They all had routines and never varied from them, always the same act, with the same music each girl performed to. I’d be in bed and could hear the music coming through the floor. I knew who each performer was and what she was doing at a particular moment. It was weird.”
“It must have been.” I smile. A funny thing to think about. I drain the second glass. “It’s time to see if I can still get up the stairs.”
“I’ll buzz you in.”
The stairs are awesome, but this photo is not fair. They’ve been redone and they look very nice now, black with aluminum trim. But they are as steep as ever. I’m too tired to take a photo. I just want to get back to my room and pack and maybe one last smoke and pray the cab shows up on time tomorrow. I don’t want to have to find my way around the hole in front of Central Station.