Heads float past in the dark shop windows. A couple of Latin Americans in her vicinity check her sexually in passing – even underweight, split ends and witch-like, Ruth van Cleve radiates in appearance, clothes and hairstyle that everything revolves around sexuality and sex for her. Disadvantages of the decision to recover from NA rather than AA are the location and frequency of the meetings. In other words, there are fewer Narcotics Anonymous meetings. On a Saturday night you can stand on the roof of Ennet House in Enfield and spit in any direction and struggle not to hit an AA venue. The closest NA meeting on Saturday evening, however, is the Clean & Klar group in North Cambridge, notorious for its friction
and throwing chairs. The beginners’ meeting lasts from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the normal from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. deliberately late in order to make up for the Saturday evening buzz that many drug addicts feel every week, because Saturday is still a particularly mythical party evening, even for people who have long since been party to seven days a week and around the clock. But from Inman Square back to Ennet House it’s a horrific climb – you trudge up Prospect to Central Square, take the Red Une to Park Street station and change to the B Train of the annoying Green Line, which runs on the Comm. Ave. forever twitching west, and now it’s 10:15 pm, and that means Kate Gompert has 75 minutes to get herself and this hideous, desperation-producing, slutty and oily newcomer back before curfew. Ruth van Cleves Chatter is as independent as anything Kate Gompert has heard since Randy Lenz was asked to practice drug use and animal cruelty elsewhere, and the vulture knows how many days or weeks ago it disappeared.
The two move through the cones of epileptic light from flickering street lamps. Kate Gompert tries to suppress a shudder when Ruth van Cleve asks her if she knows a shop where you can get a good toothbrush cheaply. Kate Gompert’s entire spiritual energy and attention is focused first on her left foot and then on her right foot. One of the heads she doesn’t see floating next to her own unrecognizable head and Ruth van Cleve’s hair cloud in the shop windows is the emaciated and hollow-eyed spectral head of Poor Tony Krause, who walks a few steps behind them, step by step hers An easy winding course follows, his eyes always on strappy handbags, which in his imagination contain more than just the fare and the lanyards of NA newbies.