In the chunk of her memoirs printed in today’s Observer, Patti Smith talks about how her couple of early meetings with Mapplethorpe led to his saving her from a predator. She was working in a bookstore, was starving and had just discovered that her first week’s pay was withheld:
When I returned to my counter, I noticed a guy lurking around, watching me. He had a beard and was wearing a pinstripe shirt . The supervisor introduced us. He was a science-fiction writer and he wanted to take me out to dinner. Even though I was 20, my mother’s warning not to go anywhere with a stranger reverberated in my consciousness. But the prospect of dinner weakened me, and I accepted.We walked down to a restaurant at the base of the Empire State Building. I had never eaten at a nice place in New York City.But even though I was starving, I could hardly enjoy it. I felt uncomfortable and had no idea how to handle the situation. It seemed like he was spending a lot of money on me and I got to worrying what he would expect in return.
After the meal we walked all the way downtown. He suggested we go up to his apartment for a drink. This was it, I thought, the pivotal moment my mother had warned me about. I was looking around desperately when I saw a young man approaching. It was as if a small portal of future opened, and out stepped the boy from Brooklyn who had chosen the Persian necklace, like an answer to a teenage prayer. I immediately recognised his slightly bowlegged gait and his tousled curls. He was dressed in dungarees and a sheepskin vest. Around his neck hung strands of beaded necklaces, a hippie shepherd boy. I ran up to him and grabbed his arm.
“Hello, do you remember me?”
“Of course,” he smiled.
“I need help.” I blurted, “Will you pretend you’re my boyfriend?”
“Sure,” he said, as if he wasn’t surprised by my sudden appearance.
I dragged him over to the science-fiction guy. “This is my boyfriend,” I said breathlessly. “He’s been looking for me. He’s really mad. He wants me to come home now.” The guy looked at us both quizzically.
“Run,” I cried, and the boy grabbed my hand and we took off, through the park across to the other side.
The thing I want to know is, who was the science fiction writer?