BAM! BAM! BAM!
"HEY!" yells Jason. "Open the fucking gate!"
BAM! BAM! BAM!
"Oh my GOD! He fucking forgot his key again?" groans Kym.
I look at the clock and it's 4:23am. Poor Kym has to get up at 5 for her morning shift at the Ferry Building. Kym rips the comforter off me spilling me from our cozy bed to the icicle air of our unheated room. Kym curls up in a protective ball, rolls over so her butt points in the air and pulls a pillow over her head.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
"OPEN THE GATES OF MORDOR!" bellows Jason in a deep voice.
"Jesus fucking Christ! Let him in babe! Tell him I'm gonna kick his ass when I get home."
I put on Kym's flamingo pink robe because I'm naked and the robe is fuzzy, warm and smells like Kym. I yawn as I make my way to the door. I open it and look down. Jason is plastered against the metal gate like a squished bug staring at me.
"Damn girl! You look gooood" purrs Jason.
I unlock the gate and he suddenly lunges at me. Jason is freakishly strong and easily pins my arms and kisses my cheek as I try and shove him away. He smells like cigarettes, alcohol and pizza.
"Get off! Jesus!"
"No. Not Jesus. Jasonus! And I bring you miracles" says Jason slipping me two tiny yellow balloons. Yellow means quarter gram I think.
"Really?" I ask as he jogs up the stairs.
"Yeah really. Guy didn't have cash and traded. Fool!" he yells as he bolts up the last few steps and slams the front door closed. I hear the lock click.
"Show me your tits!" Jason demands. I know he is staring at me through the peephole so I flip him off. The door opens.
"Aww don't be that way" says Jason insincerely. "I'm gonna go pass out for awhile. Hey you wanna go meet Kym at the Ferry Building later or lunch when she's off?"
"Cool. I know she has to get up soon so I'm gonna take a huge coke and beer shit. Been saving it for home!" chuckles Jason disappearing into the bathroom.
I shake my head and look at the balloons. Black tar heroin. Then the phone rings.
And the floor falls away. A voice from the past. I pick up the phone and drag it over to the couch, untangle the line and sit down. The room is covered in shadows and gloom. A moth drifts by my face.
"What time is it in California?" Mary asks conversationally.
Odd start as this is my ex. Last time we spoke, she was crying because I left her at her brother's wedding for Kym. I can detect a sniffle in her voice like she has a cold. Or she's been crying. I look at the VCR/DVD clock.
"It's 4:44 am" I answer pondering this odd, numerical configuration. "Where are you?"
"Australia. Night time here. I'm finishing up my internship in Sydney. Immunology" she laughs nervously. "Am I bugging you?"
"No. You OK Mary?"
"Yeah..." her voice trails off and she sighs. "No. I just got dumped."
"It's ok. Still seeing that red haired girl?"
"Yeah. Well her hair is blue now."
I hear Mary laugh. Then I hear her gulp something and wince. Probably red wine knowing Mary. Here it comes.
"My boyfriend Scott, well ex-boyfriend now, broke up with me because I told him something. And I think I should tell you too."
"Remember in the dorms how I left school the last semester?"
I did. Mary broke up with me, moved home and most of the summer passed. Then one night, she called me. Somehow we started going out like nothing ever happened.
I hear another gulp.
"I left school because I was pregnant."
It is almost 5 am. A new day awaits. The mundane, comfortable view of my life vanishes.
"Wait. How...I mean when...what?" I gather myself and light a cigarette while she takes another sip. "What the fuck Mary?! Why didn't you tell me? What happened?"
"What happened? I got an abortion! And I didn't tell you because...I don't know! I couldn't deal with you ok? So I just did it and pretended like nothing happened. But it did happen. And I think about it all the fucking time!"
Mary never swears so this shuts me up. And I shiver in this silly pink robe as a shadow bends over me and studies my face. A chill from it's presence breathes through me. So cold. Beneath the ground cold.
"But...but why? Why didn't you tell me?!"
"Tell you? Why? What would you have done? Huh? Nothing! As usual. Nothing! I never wanted to tell you. This was obviously a mistake. Look I gotta go. Bye."
And the phone goes dead. I look around nervously because something terrible has changed.
I go back to the bedroom. Miraculously, Kym is asleep with her ass in the air. I curl next to her, feel her warmth, inhale her breath and stare at her face. When the alarm shrieks I pretend to be asleep. Behind closed eyes I hear her start her day. I need this. I need Kym's normal routine. I hear her go in the bathroom, burst out and bang on Jason's door.
"You sick fuck! The toilet's clogged! I'm gonna shit in your bed! Asshole!"
I smell matches, sandalwood incense and a cigarette as she fixes the toilet and curses. Then she showers with the door open and blasts the Pixies. Later, I hear her humming as she makes a peanut butter and honey sandwich for BART. When she leaves I listen to her boots bouncing down the stairs and the metal gate slams Goodbye. I crawl out to the living room with a sheet of foil and a lighter. I think about my life and where this new piece fits? Three years ago...So a two year old child? Boy or girl? Does it matter?
I am 21 years old. A mountain fell on me. The veil of reality is lifted just high enough to show me the Darkness lies everywhere beyond the illusion. I smoke a trail of black tar and free the Dragon. He curls around me protectively and I lean into his scaly, metallic warmth. For I love my god. The pathway to the Gods opens up through Kym's glass straw and my steady hand. I move the silver square across flame and track the tiny dragon. I exhale the sour taste and fade as the Darkness comes.
"Yeah! Super Leaf bitch!" yells Jason.
I wake up and feel an empty Keystone Light beer can falls off my head. The TV is on. Mario floats across his problems twirling a raccoon tail. Outside, the sun thrusts beams of Light into our dreary flat. And I feel empty.
"Food" I croak.
"Hey Lover" says Dev who sits on the floor. "We were waiting for you. I'm going to Pericos to get some food. My treat. What do you want?"
In front of Dev are bones, shells, pebbles and playing cards. Her hair is wet which means she came over to shower. I sit up and rub my face. The clock says 11:21 am. Wow. I was out. Like I don't feel like I belong in this dimension yet. Since Kym turned 21, we have been cash strapped and hanging out in bars, clubs and shows every damn night. Piles of coke, MDMA and I gulp pills and psychedelics. My body and mind is weary. Without heroin I would never sleep in this madness. My stomach rumbles. Yes. A free burrito sounds great so I lean forward to think.
"Mmmm carnitas? Like just the pinto bean one with rice and salsa and guacamole? But no queso. No crème por favor."
"Ok. Soy vegetariana so no crème too."
"Vegetariana?" scoffs Jason. "Que?! You ate pepperoni pizza last night with me at Donny's!"
"I'm a vegetarian except when it comes to pizza or chocolate cake" shrugs Dev. "Or ice cream. Or chicken noodle soup."
"Oh message on the machine dude" says Jason lighting a joint. "Kym took a double shift at Financial."
That means she is working a 16 hour day. Her tips and overtime are amazing but she comes home grumpy, demanding coke bumps and is still in manager mode. Manager mode makes Kym a bully. Like CLEAN THAT! YO! WIPE THE COUNTER!
So no BART trip to the Ferry Building as Kym is already heading towards Union Square. Dev looks at me like she just noticed me. And I feel it again. That cold, empty feeling from my early morning call. I can feel impossibly large wings beating over me as I sit on the couch pinned beneath Dev's stare.
"What" demands Dev, "is THAT?"
Jason looks at us and shakes his head. He does not care for such things but I have learned to listen. I lean forward.
"You can see it?" I ask.
"What is it?" asks Dev.
I look at Jason and then back at Dev. I rub my face.
"Can this stay in the room? Like no Kym? Please" I say through my hands.
Looking through my fingers I catch Dev and Jason share a look. Both look at me and nod.
"Sure" says Jason.
"Go" says Dev.
"Mary called after you went in the bathroom" I say to Jason.
"And that's why you smoked all that fucking tar? I sat here watching you wondering if I should call an ambulance all because of Scary Mary?" asks Jason indignantly.
"Who's Scary Mary?" asks Dev.
"His bitch before Kym" huffs Jason giving me shit eye.
I look at the table. A lot of burnt foil trail art. Mazes for sad minotaurs. And I still am really high, stupid and lost. Like I don't belong here and if I close my eyes...I'll go away. But I have returned. And my friends stare at me. I know I look awful when I nod out on heroin. Stupefied. Like eyes kinda open but staring at nothing with weird snoring. Makes people nervous I'm dying. I grab the half smoked blunt in the ashtray, fire it up and hit it.
"Oh that sad girl Kym shooed away?" asks Dev.
"Sad?" I ask exhaling ganja. "You met Mary?"
"I saw her. Her bitchiness was a mask. Rage is sadness. Hmm. Is that why...oh. OH!"
"What?" asks Jason sitting up.
I grab a cigarette from the table and light it. The marijuana is heavy but makes the world bright. A place for truth in the light of the day. If this was night, I would sit in the shadows and refuse to speak.
"She told me she broke up with me in the dorms because she was pregnant."
"Get the fuck out!" exclaims Jason.
Dev leaves her circle of bones, pebbles and shells. She sits next to me. Her brown eyes that search my face for...what? She pats my arm.
"You let a ghost in. A lost truth to wander around and follow you" says Dev.
"Damn dude. That is some heavy shit. Why did she tell you now?"
"I don't know" I answer.
Why do any of us do anything? Why do I smoke to tell truths? Why do I use heroin to escape truths? I crush the cigarette out and re-light the joint. I take a lungful and hand it to Dev.
"It was too much for her. She had to tell you but don't worry Lover. This is sadness but nothing bad. I can teach you how to be at peace with lost things. Teach you how to put your happiness and dreams into future hugs."
I look at her, smile and shake my head. "Dev...you know I love you but often I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Yeah Dev. You sound insane" adds Jason.
"Oh it's not insane at all. It is completely sane" assures Dev as she winks at me, takes a hit and passes it to Jason. "For your children Lover! All of them. Make peace with this truth. Talk to it. Love it. It's just practice for the future."
I stare at Dev and start laughing.
"Sorry Dev. Really I am not laughing at you it's just...I don't think kids are in my cards. Me? Family? Nah. If anything Dev, use your powers to make sure I am always surrounded by women."
And as the words leave my mouth I know something is off. A golden gear in my universe clicks into place. Dev smiles at me mischievously and starts chuckling. Quiet at first, then some giggles and then shrieking belly laughs.
"Oh my gods! That's FUNNY!" laughs Dev wiping her eyes. "No worries Lover. Women will forever surround you."
I look at her and look at Jason who whirls his finger by his ear and crosses his eyes. Crazy. I fall back on the couch and light another cigarette.
"Why no Kym?" asks Dev.
"Yeah that's your woman dude" adds Jason.
Something about Dev's face tells me she knows about Kym's past. And yes. Kym shared this part of her soul with me but...but hell, I don't know. The sorrow in Kym's past is deep and unhealed. Now I have better view why. Fuck it hurts so bad. Like all the What ifs? Mary had a right to decide but I wish I knew for some reason. My mind races as Dev's eyes burn this day into my heart.
I look at Dev and she sighs. "But Lover! Kym would..."
BAM! BAM! BAM!
"Jasoooon!" sing-songs a female voice.
"Oh I uh invited Autumn over...HOLD ON!" he yells standing up.
Jason looks happy. None of us like Autumn but hell, Jason hated Kym when he met her. Dev grabs my hand and squeezes so I look at her.
"Why?" she asks.
"Because" I say simply as Autumn comes through the door sucking the moment out of the air.
"Hey" she says as she blows a bubble, pops it and sucks it through her teeth. The sound is like crackling electricity. She takes off her shoulder bag.
Autumn wears psychedelic horn rimmed sunglasses, a rip off Kurt Cobain green sweater, jeans, boots and Jesus and Mary Chain t-shirt. She opens up her bag and pulls out a package.
"Fedex from my girl in the Emerald city" she says tossing it on the table. "I need a knife."
Then she looks at me and Dev oddly. Embarrassed, I realize we are holding hands and I pull away. Dev watches me sadly. Jason gets a kitchen knife as Autumn casually pulls a roll of cash from her bag and starts rapidly counting $20, $50's and $100 dollar bills. She stacks them in piles on the side, counts again, rubber bands them into rolls. Jesus. Thousands of dollars. She cracks her gum and shoves the rolls into a Triscuit box. The she takes the knife Jason gave her and slits open the Fedex. Inside is a box of candy.
"You ever try Fran's?" she asks while looking at me.
I shake my head.
"Good caramel" she grins as she slits the bottom of the box and bundles of dope rain out. She tosses me the top with with the candy.
"Jason get me some coke. Let's celebrate" she says counting the bundles once and then again.
"Celebrate what?" I ask like a fool.
"Fuck if I know" says Autumn pulling off her sunglasses and selecting a bundle.