An alarm wakes me. I hear Kym cursing loudly and the clock is violently subdued with several angry SMACKS! Long slender arms slide around my torso, wrap like climbing ivy around my back as she nuzzles into me. Her sleepy face is shoved into my neck for a blissful moment as she inhales my scent and then I inhale her sigh. My lips are kissed. Once, twice and three times. Always three with Kym. Three squeezes when we hold hands and three kisses Hello or Goodbye. She pushes herself up and groans under the weight of last night's pharmaceutical activities.
It is 4:15 am. Morning shift begins for Kym Amiri at the Canon Cafe located in Union Square.
The door to our room is cracked open. I hear Kym yawn loudly as she walks to the kitchen to make toast for the peanut butter and honey sandwich she takes for her BART commute breakfast. Then she stumbles to the bathroom and SLAMS the door. Light from the kitchen pours down the hall. It outlines the shape of our bedroom door. The door won't close because Kym's blanket is hanging over it. The blending shadows create the illusion of a large, door-sized mola mola fish peering into our room. I stare at it. It stares back as if trying to decide whether or not to swim in.
The blanket is drying on the door because of the beautiful, dumb luck of the Universe. Or perhaps the glorious, well orchestrated plan of the Universe. Your call. But three nights ago, I stumbled into the apartment after a late night drinking session with Jason. An urgent beeping sound greeted us. The kitchen smoke detector. Kym was nodded out under a blanket on the couch. She was surrounded by pieces of torn foil, an ashtray, a pack of smokes and her lighter. A lit cigarette was smoldering on the blanket and a foul, burning plastic stench filled the air. I yelled something, Jason yelled something and I yanked the blanket off her. Underneath was Kym. Buck naked. So Jason stood there gaping like a cod fish while I stamped on the smoking blanket while bellowing like a madman. We poured beer from the leftover bottles on the table and it sputtered out. Kym never bothered to wake up so I threw my jacket over her and ripped the batteries out from the smoke detector.
Naturally it was her favorite blanket. Something about the perfect soft texture and appropriate aging needed to create an unmatched coziness...so Kym was upset about the beer.
"Better than burning to death like a dumb, fucking junkie" remarks Jason helpfully.
The blanket is laundered a few times in an attempt to get rid of the burnt stench. On the last wash, Kym didn't dry it long enough. So now it hangs on the door and morphs into: The Mola Mola.
I close my eyes and feel myself drift away. Sleep...
Last night we met Dev and Melo at Dunkin' Donuts to score some gel tabs for me and ecstasy for Kym. Inside the pink walls of the donut chain, a delicious smell of fresh cooked pastries creates a cozy oasis on a cold San Francisco night. We find a booth and make the deal. Dev's hair has a few more ropey dreadlocks in it since the last time I saw her. An autumn leaf is tangled in one. Her faded, stained poncho is actually Melo's. She wears it long like a robe and stands inside the folds like a psychedelic nun. Sweat pants layered with black leggings keep her legs warm. As usual, no shoes. Just two silver toe rings on her street stained feet. Melo wears a green, North Face parka he found in a dumpster. The blood stain on the side doesn't bother him. Curls of greasy, black hair sprout beneath the upturned bill of his Suicidal Tendencies hat. Melo's alert brown eyes constantly move around the room.
Kym and I paint a different picture from our friends. A picture of sheltered, privileged kids. Freshly laundered clothing and continuous access to water, electricity and cable TV. Our friends walked over from the park where they squat in a tent. We took a taxi from the movie theater where we watched Twister.
The nights are getting cold so I wear a gray sweat jacket under my black leather for insulation. The wind cuts through my jeans so it feels like my legs are naked when it hits. I need two pairs of socks in my boots to keep warm. My hood covers my freshly shaved mohawk to ward off the chilly bay wind.
Kym sits in the booth next to Dev puffing on a cigarette. A puffy, black jacket with tiny brass locks hanging from it covers up her Bauhaus t-shirt she cut into a tight, form fitting crop shirt. Jean shorts and fishnet tights cover her legs and one of her boots is rudely propped up on the table. Her shoulder length, apple red hair looks street punk wild. Like she electrocuted herself or stuck her head out the window of a car going 90 mph down Folsom street. But as the guy who had wait an hour to get into the bathroom, I know this haphazard hair is actually a carefully designed project. Bold eyeliner accentuates her wide blue eyes as she watches me count my tiny gel tabs. The black eye she got from the mosh pit at the Rancid show is still very visible. When she got elbowed at the Gilman I showered her with pity and affection. Kym doesn't like pity. She prefers to scowl at the world through her swollen eye rather than admit it hurts.
On Kym, a black eye looks insolent, rude and sexy. Fuck the world and fuck you too! I love it when she winks at me with it.
"I'm gonna go check it out. I don't know what I want to eat" muses Kym. "Babe what do you want? I'm buying."
"Uhmmm...two vanilla old fashioned, please."
"That's so you!" mocks Kym stabbing out her smoke in the ashtray.
"Yeah? What are you getting? Chocolate twisted?"
"Hah! And I fuck this guy!" laughs Kym pointing her thumb at me as she walks off with Melo to check out the donut selection.
Dev stares at my face. I am used to this. In the city where no one makes eye contact, Dev stands out like a giant though she is barely five feet tall. Dev makes eerie, direct eye contact with everyone she speaks to. It takes some getting used to in a place like San Francisco. Here, you can feel totally alone in a BART station as one thousand people move by like a wall of schooling fish one city block long. Their voices bounce off the tiled walls of the station. Words not for you. You stare at them as they swim by without acknowledging your humanity.
Dev absent-mindedly traces her finger across her tag: DevL. It is carved onto every other table in this Dunkin Donuts. If you make a top view map of Dev's tagged tables and connect them it forms an oval. In her mind, this place is secured from the evil she protects the city from.
"Been dreaming of me Lover?" she questions me seriously.
Dev is spooky for so many reasons. This is definitely one of them. I DID dream of her. In this dream I was talking to her about dreaming and what it all meant. She tried to tell me but the edge of the night melted away leaving me with only morning light. I awoke as Kym nestled into me and the alarm clock screamed AWAKE!
The business of the day intrudes upon the realm of dreams.
"Ok" I say lighting a cigarette. "Why do you THINK you know that?"
"Know? I was there. Don't you remember me in your dream?" she asks in her creepy, deadpan little girl voice.
I sigh and exhale smoke. Reality is such an overused concept. In my reality, I have Kym to be loved, school to be finished and my dreams are nothing but dreams. Now it intersects with Dev's reality. A place where walking across the thread of her night's sleeping into my dreams is completely normal.
"Nope", I lie.
She smirks, reaches out and plucks the cigarette from my hand. She smokes it slowly, watching me. Dev doesn't give it back, so I light another.
"Alright Dev. Why?" I ask spreading my arms out before I lean back and try to look relaxed.
"I'll tell you Lover. But only i-f y-o-u s-a-w m-e...", she singsongs the last phrase like a childhood nursery rhyme.
"Ok! Maybe you were in a dream. But I don't remember dreams Dev! Too much pot...or smack or something!"
"Good" smiles Dev. "I wanted to talk to you, but you left. I wanted to tell you the dead can come to you in dreams. They might visit you in places with shadows. You'll never see them Lover, but you will know they are there if you pay attention."
My skin crawls as I watch her smoke my cigarette and talk. Spooky girl. I feel very, very cold like a shadow just winged over me. I was thinking of someone. I was thinking of Shea. I was thinking of her funeral that we attended in Santa Cruz. The open casket contained a doll that was not her...and the clothes picked out by her parents were wrong.
Not Shea. No way man.
Kym dumps a bag of donuts in front of me and a cup of coffee as she plops down.
"What the fuck babe? You look like shit."
I watch the mola mola and listen to Kym get ready. She plays David Bowie as she showers. It's just loud enough to hear the the wail of the guitar from the song Heroes. The sound blends mystically with the rhythm of the water. I can't hear Bowie sing but his words come to me easily in the Darkness. My body aches and my nose is a little runny. I might be experiencing a slight withdrawal. These comes to me more and more these days. But I tell myself it's just a hangover. A moth flutters in the crack of the door light. It skitters past the mola mola. I can't tell if it just flew into the room or left. I watch the crack of light a moment longer and then flip over.
Will the mola mola come inside if I'm not looking? I hope so.
Shea. We were so young when we discovered each other. Flirting with me at thirteen in the arcade. Aladdin's Castle at the mall. Friends in high school but never closer than that kiss you gave me for beating you in a game of Joust...so clear in my mind right now. You standing on my Vans, tip toeing up and planting one on my surprised lips. We knew each other in the social circles of high school and once or twice afterwards in college. It's not fair. You died at 19. Time stopped for you. We have already move six months past you. Soon it will be years Shea. And you? The light and laughter you brought to the room is muted beneath the weight of six feet of cold dirt and a harsh, fucking reality.
It's not fair.
You should have moved out to the city. You were smart. You tutored me in sophomore geometry. Remember me Shea? The tall kid you called Stork. The kid you shared your Walkman headphones with in detention? I can see our heads pressed close so we could listen to The Damned tape you swiped from your brother.
Poor Shea. I hope you felt nothing. I hope you saw nothing. I hope your life clicked off like a light switch. I hope that fucker that was driving burns forever in this Hell he has created. And if I ever see him in the city...
You should have have moved here Shea. It's your scene. You could have done so much more. Fuck, I can't believe you're gone...I can still see you and hear you in my head. Your light is so bright...Fuck. I mean, it WAS so bright. The mischievous smile you wore. Like you knew something funny no one else knew. Loved that look. And your dark, flashing eyes, so full of life...
I feel Kym moving onto the bed. I lay there pretending to sleep. I'm exhausted pouring my heart out to someone I knew oh so long ago...Misery so vivid I can taste it like tears. The sorrow of a young life extinguished. So deep, so black it rips me open and bares my soul to the cold starlight of the Universe. I want Kym to hold me but I'm too miserable to make words. So I lay there. She shifts around. I can feel the futon give under her weight as she crawls forward. She is approaching my head. I can feel her looking over me. Maybe to see if I am asleep? Maybe to kiss me? But then it stops. There is a heavy, stillness in the air. I realize I can still hear the shower and the music.
Curious, I roll over and look. Nothing. I am alone in my bed.
Only the mola mola stares back.