He’s been calling all day and I know what he wants.
I’m content to lounge, though. In pajama pants and dirty Uggs, the grey t-shirt I love and will wear forever. Reading a fucked-up novel and wallowing in the self-pity she left in her wake.
Ignoring him doesn’t work. Apparent at 10:45 p.m. when he arrives on my doorstep and rings the bell. Standing there in his track pants, t-shirt, baseball cap worn backwards, big smile on his face. My gay boyfriend. A comfort to have once again.
Thirty-three weeks. Devoted from the start. We just were, Break and I.
Warm and beautiful, big brown eyes, open smile. Muscly but thin. Tattoos of pill emblems: Mitsubishi, Gucci, Superman, and a quote by ee cummings. Companion Adventurer to WeHo, superficial gay mecca of the left coast.
Out dancing amongst shirtless fags in tight pants. More than once.
“You should come to a rave with me.”
I want to go. Really. But today. Just isn’t the best day for me. I want to tell him but can’t. My guilt says yes. I scramble up the stairs of the rundown condo in which I, unfortunately, make my home. Pup follows me up.
Into my room I slide the closet door open. Pup watches, sitting there amongst piles of books, empty soda cans and clothes strewn about as I tear through clothes on hangers.
Land on thrift store jeans, waffle shirt under tee. Favorite black boots, my Vagabonds. Quick glance in the mirror. Realize my hairday, like my realday, is incredibly bad.
I move the broken-down chair from my desk to my closet. Peer over the top shelf for a cap. Not in a Dodgers mood. Not in a Stussy mood. Not in an Element, either. And there it is. Looking back at me. The fitted Cleveland Indians baseball cap. I don’t want to touch it. Pick it up. Or wear it. But do anyway.
I want her with me. With me always. And this is the only way. I look in the mirror. Turn it backwards. Pause. And wonder if I’ll ever be me without her.
He calls up. Back downstairs. Out the door and into the car.
Southbound — 101, he asks if I’m excited.
“I think so. Yeah.”
“Wanna talk about it?”
“Not really. No.”
I take my pack out of my pocket. Somewhat smushed, but smokes intact. Pull out my lighter and spark the flame. He rolls the windows down. I look over.
“Do you mind?”
I hand him one. He lights his with the car lighter. We both laugh. He drives down the freeway as House music thumps out of the stereo, into my ears and into and out of my chest. Cold winter air licks the tip of my nose. I look over. He smiles.
Take a long pull off my smoke. Munky, his favorite toy since the age of three, peers out from the top of the dashboard and looks at me with a blank, toy stare.
“So where is it?”
“Don’t know. Gotta go to the map point first.”
I have no idea what this means. Keep quiet. I don’t want to sound stupid.
Fairfax Avenue — Nine Deep. Nestled in among kosher delis, random thrift stores and the Discount Plate Emporium.
He slows the car as we search for a spot. Park and walk to the storefront. Turntables set-up in the window, a DJ spins. Contorted, she cradles the headphones between her ear and her shoulder, lining up beats to cue the next.
Kids. All over the place, milling about and talking. Waiting for something to happen, it seems. Gay boys, bi girls, straight boys, gay and straight girls. Some dressed down, track pants and the like. Some dressed Candy. Fuzz. Pacifiers. Beads. Elmo Backpacks. Many with lollipops stuck in their cheeks. Girls everywhere. All catch my eye and all absolutely adorable, all around twenty and right up my alley. Small, fit. Some not. Glitter on their faces. Some with black nail polish. Some with blue, purple, or sometimes yellow.
Stand in line. Wait to buy our tickets. To get our maps, I think. Break talks to a boy. Someone he met at another party from the bits I hear.
I am not here but still with her. Back in Ohio by now.
Dissect things. Everything. Everything she ever said to me. Did in my presence. Every look. Every gesture. To glean meaning. To make it make sense. Make her make sense. I run my fingers over the Indian on my cap. How did I get here? I pull myself out of it. I have to. Save it for tomorrow. There’s plenty of time tomorrow. I look out the window. Get caught up watching a small group dance on the sidewalk. In a circle and smiling. A chill travels down my spine and I shake it off.
The line moves forward. Just an inch. Some kids pay with hundreds, some with wadded ones and fives and a ten here and there. Snakesnakesnake. Up to the counter, we hand over our money. Plastic cards serve as tickets. And the map. Not a map, really, but typewritten directions on a tiny strip of paper.
Santa Monica Boulevard.
We travel east, past the cars inching their way into WeHo. We light cigarettes. Begin the real work.
“We’re looking for Orange.”
“There it is.”
He turns right onto the darkened street. The sidewalk dim, a street lamp flickers on and off as kids walk from their cars or huddle in groups smoking. I make out shadows of forms walking north toward the warehouse, catching inferences of wings and glitter and monster fur between the light of the shadows and the darkness of the night. Park four blocks away.
We join the pilgrimage. Line up outside a brick building with a steel sliding door. Mechanic garage. Former, of course. Warehouse size. Rows of industrial windows. One big slate of glass with smaller panes. Rows and rows of little squares. They’ve already fogged.
I look at my watch. Seven past midnight. Light catches my eye as colors stream into the street. Into the night and up into space.
And then I hear it. A loud, rolling, deep buzz. Rumbling out of the speakers and out of the building and underneath, through the streets and the city, through us and dissipating everywhere.
Girls wearing fairy wings and boys wearing fat pants make their way in with us. I wonder what will it be like and who will be there. Will I like it enough to forget her?
Closer now. Kids squat, give each other back rubs, smoking cigarettes while some play with glowsticks. One boy wears a mask over his mouth and nose, inhaling deeply before his eyes roll back in his head.
“He’s got Vicks in it.”
“Yeah. Makes you roll harder.”
I say “Roll?” only in my head. I don’t want to sound stupid.
A girl wearing a short t-shirt catches my eye. Young-looking and fit, dark hair and a beautiful smile. Her abs and the fucked-up look in her eyes distract me. I’m going to like this, I think. A lot.
We hand over our cards before entering.
Break takes my hand in his, guiding me through the long, dark hallway, brick-lined and mysterious. I am about to disappear. Into a world I do not know. I am scared but not. Or maybe I just don’t care.
I step into the big room with him. He releases my hand as the warmth of the lights above the dancefloor bathes me in color and sunshine. The music rolls through me. And everyone. There. Smiling. Waving their hands above their heads. As if to signal. To someone or the universe. I am here. Take me with you.
A smiling girl catches my eye.
He takes my hand again. Leads me through the building. We enter a small room off the dance floor. A couple sits on a couch, whispering. Holding hands. The boy kisses the girl’s cheek. Tenderly. Unboy-like.
Drift. My Prince. I want her with me. Shake it off.
Join the line. I can’t help but look around. Girls distract but she pulls me back. Touch the Indian.
“Are you gonna do drugs?”
“I don’t know. Are YOU?”
“It’s your first party. We should do drugs.”
I pull a ten out. He gestures and pays.
He steps away from the table that serves as the bar, enters the crowd with a purpose now. Searching, looking. For biscuits. For the relief I know it will give me. I took E once. Back when they still called it X. A perfect circle, the size of a quarter. At the Orange Show in BFE, watching Moby spin. Before Moby was Moby. A long time ago, my tweaker days. I digress.
A boy walks by.
Under his breath.
Break reaches into his pocket, removes forty bucks while the boy reaches down for our pills. Seconds later it’s over and I’m walking away with Break, led again by his warm hand, this time to a corner.
Little rectangles with two words embossed on one side, EAT ME. Discreetly, Break and I pop our pills. A taste of bitterness catches in my throat. Down our beer and wait.
I sit on the couch with Break in the side room. Watching the crowd and thinking of her. Wonder if a day will come when I won’t.
“Are you rolling?”
After a confident swig from my Sol, I have no idea what he’s talking about.
Ten minutes later.
“Are you rolling?”
Still no idea.
A few minutes pass.
I have no idea what I’m waiting for. Until it happens.
My eyes grow heavy and roll back in my head. My jaw clenches and chatters as perspiration seeps out of my pores and into my clothes. Everything is fuzzy. Not fuzzy pertaining to memory. Fuzzy. Like an out-of-focus childhood snapshot. The room moves around me in gentle circles. My fingers dance on my knees as a profound sense of well-being enters my soul.
I feel her leave. Do I want this? No. I pull her back to me. The only place we are together. In my head. Touch the Indian.
“Wanna walk around?”
“Um, can we. Wait, like. For A. Few minutes?”
The chemical is now in control. Taking me wherever it wills me. I can feel her leave again and this time I let her. I stand. Remove myself from my cane-back throne. Break does, too. He takes my hand again and leads me through the throng of sweaty dancers. Sensory overload. Thumping bass lines. Mystical Trance and glow sticks. Color and light cloak my being in cosmic dust, cover my skin, invade my body.
I survey the scene and see her. Back against a wall, by herself. That smile again. I point her out to Break.
“Let’s go, then.”
She looks up. Smiles.
She rises and tries to hug him. Too fast. Unsteady on her feet, she grabs my arm.
We sit together on the concrete floor. Three of us in a circle. Knee to knee knee to knee knee to knee. She is rolling. Hard. She takes one of each of our arms. Places them over her legs, wrists up, and caresses them. Her fingers running over our skin. Over the inside of our arms. Up to the elbow and back again. Over and over and over.
My pill kicks in high gear. Serotonin floods my brain. She’s casting her spell on me and I feel it take over. A feeling there aren’t any words for. The first kiss you have with a new lover multiplied by infinity. Profound well-being. I hear myself moan. Ever so softly.
She tells us. Over and over. How glad she is that we’re there with her. What wonderful people she thinks we are. After only minutes together.
Sensing the direction I hope this will go, Break leaves. And there we are alone.
Anticipation wells. Thinking of what might happen. I don’t care. As long as she keeps touching me. Waves of feathers take course throughout my being. We talk. Or at least attempt it.
“So. Are you a lesbian?”
“Is it that obvious?,” I think to myself as I answer,
“I don’t really label myself.”
“You are. Absolutely adorable.”
As I blush.
“Can I kiss you?”
As I’m thinking,
Her lips touch mine. A million currents rush through my body. Like waves. Rolling. Her tongue touches mine. Entwines and plays. Her mouth is a cloud floating over me. Hands wander from my shoulders. To my neck. Touch feels like velvet. Or satin to the nth. Little bubbles cover my skin and everything is light. She kisses my cheek, moves to the ear. Eyes roll back as she makes. Contact.
“You’re too far away.”
I pull her into my lap to face me. Chest to chest. Legs wrapped around me. I lose myself in her eyes as we kiss. My senses soar to places I’ve never been.
“I really like you.”
She kisses me again.
“It’s just her pill talking,” I think, as I put her hands on my bare skin.
“What’s your name?”
Her name rolls off of my tongue.
“Come home with me.”
“I don’t really do that kind of thing.”
“That’s your pill talking.”
Wishing common sense lived somewhere else.
Fluorescent lights illuminate the reality of the room. Grey permeates the space in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible. The magical room I was once in existing now only then. It’s over.
Instant cold. Sweat seeps into my skin from soaked cotton. As though I’ve been bathed in melted snow. I look at her and she smiles. At me.
My Prince now a shadow and forgotten.
The four hours feel like ten minutes that disorient the senses. Time feels strange in a way it never did before.
Abby buries her head between my shoulder and my neck. I touch her bare back before I catch five sets of eyes looking back at us.
“Wanna meet my friends?”
I would have been content to stay with her. By the wall forever. Standing becomes the chore it never was. Joints ache, bones soften, muscles cramp. I follow her in my bleary daze. Disoriented. It feels as though I am not here. On another planet somewhere.
“We’re going up to my place in Beachwood for crack-out. You totally gotta come with, man.”
“Uh. I should check with Break.”
She kisses me good-bye. She takes one step away from me and I ache for her. Loneliness and a slight, foreboding sense of doom invading my heart.
I join Break in the morning’s early light, immediately crave a Diet Coke. My life’s sustenance.
I look down at my watch. Six a.m.
The dawn is cold and grey, a light, damp dew covering our sweet city.
“I feel weird.”
My cuffs drag on the street, catch on my heels. Break opens the door for me.
“There’s a party at Father Don’s house.”
“Sure. Why not?”
Long since spun Trance echoes through my head as we continue our night’s journey into the morning.
On to the next party.