Gray sits next to me in the hotel bar, sweating against the cold and drinking back his scotch. He's all twisted up over this girl, this painter he met out in Williamsburg, some off-the-boat Irish girl with a rose tattooed to the side of her hand. I haven't seen him like this in twenty years.
"She's slipping past me," he keeps saying. He chews down on an ice cube and signals for another drink. "She's slipping right past me."
As far as I can gather, he met her at a party he wasn't even planning on going to, one of those industrial loft deals where you have to shout up from the sidewalk below, where you can never find a taxi to bring you back home. Everybody chain-smoked and drank Rolling Rock straight out of the bottle. Talked about their "work" in falsely modest tones. This girl was 19 years old.
"I look at this painter over on Avenue C she wants to show me, some trust fund junkie she came across, and I like them. At least for a little while. 'Oh, look at that yellow. Look at that blue!' I sound like a kid. Just pure spontaneous responses. I can't remember the last time... I mean, she leaves the room and they're shit again, same old derivative crap. But, man. When she's in that room..."
"A nineteen year old kid."
"Right. Exactly. And she's good, she's really good. And in ten years, she plays her cards right, she's going to be huge. She's going to be huge and if she remembers me at all she's going to remember me as this fat cynical old piece of shit hack. Some critic. And that already breaks my heart. Because I do like her. I like her a lot. And I'm going to miss all those yellows and blues."