-For Lou Reed, thanks, babe.
Tony McMillen, October 27th 2013-
Light from a crack in the door rips through the room like daylight through Dracula. Whoever’s caused it quickly retreats and shuts the door with them. Rick wakes up lonely and confused. Death/Mex beside him doesn’t notice as he slips out of bed. Rick imagines she’s having a dream about horses. As he slinks into his pants and dips his cold toes into his shoes he spots a bookshelf near the door. It being Fat Frank’s place most of the books are old sci- fi pulp novels. Rick snatches up one of these books, one of the one’s he’s already read, from off the shelf. It’s a novelization of the canceled TV show Haunted Planet. The cover depicts the XJ Battle Cruiser spaceship, the same spaceship which Fat Frank was putting together a model of earlier in this book when Rick met with him. Now Rick is opening the book he’s grabbed off the shelf, the book is titled Through The Nekrosphere: A Haunted Planet Novel. He turns to the last page, reads it quickly. Then he perfects it. He throws the torn out last page of the book on the ground as he’s leaving Fat Frank’s and looks up at the sky. The sun will be up soon and he hopes to avoid it. Then the itch returns all of a sudden and he wishes he had something to write with again. So he can nail down the words before they have the chance to leave him again. Like butterflies crucified for a smiling child to catalogue and then memorize. The words he wishes to trap and snare, the words describing what happened with Lou and Death/Mex. What he dreamed about last night and what he’s thinking of now. He hasn’t really written in a long time. But the words still come to him, still flicker in and out from the dark parts of his brain. He feels for his car keys on the inside of his blazer but finds instead the shape of the wedding pistol he has tucked away there. The weight of it becomes apparent and he decides that he has nothing to write about.
He’s driving down a road called Swan, looking at the city thinking about a bunch of things. The sex with Death/Mex last night, his brother storming off again, the pistol and how cool the metal of it feels in the morning air. He considers the bullet in its chamber. He thinks about his mother. He can’t remember the last thing they said to each other. Driving down the hill he looks out. The city stands wounded and hemorrhaging. It looks like a giant circuit board from some gutted spacecraft. Rick’s happy to be leaving it soon. The sky behind the buildings is ocean green. It makes him not want to go home just yet.
He takes a turn down a street called Pima and pulls into Paco’s Tacos parking lot. He stops the car and thinks about writing for one last time. No. He decides instead to take a stroll. His nose still aches just a little from Uncle Helvic’s etiquette lesson but it doesn’t really bother him. He deliberates on taking another of the black limousine pills and decides not to. He doesn’t need them right now. With the fresh air and his legs moving, he’s good, in fact he’s flying. He walks past flower shops and thrift stores, and if he’s not exactly admiring his own reflection in their windows he’s at least bemused by it. He sees a good looking cat with a mark on his nose and a milk colored jacket. The cat seems to be strutting to some unknown beat. He looks like some well dressed, but blood soaked, dandy making his way through the desert town. Rick does a little dance, some sort of gimp shimmy while the weak sun starts shining. There are some middle aged women with various dogs walking up and down the street. Some of them smile and some of them scowl as Rick shuffles past them. He saunters up to one of the bigger pooches and gives him a big wet kiss on the ear. The dog trusts his scent and abides it. He walks past some bum sleeping on a bus stop bench. The dirty old wretch has his bare feet stretched out over the bench. Rick tickles the filthy appendages until the old monk is rustled awake. Rick places seventy-two dollars under the man’s toes then quickly disappears.
Not too long after this Rick looks down the street and sees something coming up the way. He’s almost to Rosemont street when he sees a girl he’s never seen before slowly walking toward him. “Sweet Jane” by Velvet Underground plays in Rick’s head.
She comes on with that slow motion movie cool walk, like she can hear the song that’s playing in his head. Hell, she even moves like music, Rick thinks. Looks perhaps just a little younger than him or maybe just as old. He doesn’t really care. She stares straight ahead and doesn’t even seem to know he’s looking at her. She walks with her head held high like she’s daring anyone else to take a look. Right now she’s still too far away for details, for him to know anything real but it doesn’t matter. She’s just an abstract at this point lurching toward actualization. A perfect abstraction undefined and therefore limitless. A perfect abstraction with a complicated crown of red hair. Her eyes finally catch his as the two get closer to one another. There’s a look on her face, a certain look of careless grace. He returns it in kind, at least he tries to. If he can’t quite match and echo it he tries to at least convey an acknowledgement of its presence. Nothing makes sense so of course everything fits. She opens her mouth so… slightly. He doesn’t want to hear her speak, not yet. He just wants to bask in his abstraction while he has it. Just wants to enjoy this before words, hers or his own, ruin it all. There’s a faint but curious smile forming on her face as her lips part some more. They’re maybe two feet away from one another when Rick becomes utterly convinced of three things. One, this woman is remarkable if not beautiful. Two, this remarkable if not beautiful woman is probably about to speak to him. Three, by no means can he stand idly by and allow this to happen. So before she can say a word he steps up and kisses her. He never does hear what she’s going to say.