KRT – Big Blue Car Wreck

by Horror Sleaze Trash on July 9, 2012

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Big Blue Car Wreck

It felt about ninety-five degrees and the sun was beating down like a big dumb god—too bright, too dazzling, too much. I was standing in front of Powell’s Books, on Burnside, waiting for a woman I’d met the week before. There were employees pacing the sidewalk, on strike, toting signs. I had a job, but little money, and half my toenails were black because my boots were too small.

I was nervous. She was hot—too hot. What the fuck was I thinking? I had no car, no self-confidence, no credit. All I had was a drinking problem and a pocket full of pills. I kept thinking I should leave, get out while the getting was good. But there she was, weaving through traffic, skintight 1960’s summer-dress and classic Jackie-O shades, dead gorgeous, waving at me and smiling: Leticia! I wanted to run, but it was too late for that. I wondered if I looked as pathetic as I felt.

“You look great!” she said, but I knew better.

She gave me a hug and I tensed up.

“Thanks—you, too,” I told her. I had a tooth going bad and wondered if my breath was okay. We crept into Powell’s. I popped a Tic-Tac into my mouth as I held the door for her.

“We crossed the picket line,” she said.

“Those employees out there just gave us the evil eye.”

“What are they striking for?”

“Better health insurance, maybe. Some of them aren’t so young anymore.”

“I don’t have any insurance at all.”

“Me either. You should try to get some.”

“If dancers went on strike, the club owners would just get new girls. Every year there’s a new crop of eighteen year olds. They keep getting hotter, too. I’m twenty-seven. My days are numbered. By stripper standards, I’m practically an old lady.”

“By any other standards, you’re alarmingly beautiful.”

“You’re sweet.”

“Where should we start, Small Press or periodicals?”

“Small Press.”

“You win the prize.”

“What prize?”

“You’ll see.”

We pointed ourselves toward the Small Press section. I went straight for the Os and pulled a book off the shelf: Volley, by Mick O’ Grady. I put it in Leticia’s hand.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a book. I’m buying.”

“What’s it about?”

“Hell if I know, but it’s pretty funny.”

She flipped the pages. “This is a novel? It doesn’t look like a novel.”

“It is what it is,” I told her.

She said “Cool,” and slipped it into her purse.

“What are you doing?” I said, but she was already halfway up the aisle, on her way to the S&M shelf, in Erotica. She had the best ass I had ever seen.

“Have you read Venus in Furs?” she said.

“No,” I told her, “but I know that Lou Reed has.”

***

We walked over to Fellini’s for some Greek food. It was dark in there and the bathrooms looked like a speed freak’s fevered hallucination.

Leticia spent a lot of time in the Ladies Room. We ordered our food and drinks and off she went.

Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen…

I finished my drink and started in on hers. I was getting worried. Maybe I should check on her. Maybe she was dead in there. But alas, she emerged, walking, very slowly, like a charmed snake, like all of my darkest wet dreams, toward our table.

She smiled.  “Hi, you.”

“Are you all right?”

“Sure.”

“Yeah, you look all right. I’m almost jealous. You want your drink back?”

“No, you keep it.”

Our food arrived: hummus, feta, black olives, salad, pita bread.

“I’m not very hungry,” she said.

“I thought you were starving.”

“I was, but I’m not anymore.”

“Have some salad,” I told her.

She began picking apart the salad with her fingers, popped an olive into her mouth.

Her hair was long and dark, rail-straight, Nefertiti-like. Her eyes were shinny little pinpoints. “Olives are good,” she said.

I ate everything on both of our plates while she picked at the salad. I ordered another drink. “Wanna get out of here?” I said.

“Yeah, show me where you live.”

I slammed my drink and we got out of there.

***

“Wow, this place is freaky!” she said. She was standing in my living room, surveying the disaster.  She threw her purse on the floor, pushed her hair behind her outsized ears, sat on the couch. There was trash and paintings and cigarette butts everywhere; unopened mail, dirty dishes, litter box pebbles, nicotine stains, graffiti on the walls, photos of my ex-wife, newspaper clippings, notes on clinical depression, magazines of no merit, records, tapes, prescription bottles full of Paxil and Xanax, pens, pencils, paints, glue-sticks, books, razor blades, sloth—all of it covered in cat hair.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s fucked up.”

“No, it’s good.”

“Just don’t go into the kitchen, okay?”

“How long you been here?”

“Too long.”

“Why don’t you move?”

“I’m lazy.”

“I know what you mean.”

“What’s your place like?”

“I rent a room from a friend. She has a kid.”

“You live with a kid?”

“Yeah, I live with a six year old.”

“How’s that?”

“Kind of weird. But I like it.”

“I can’t imagine having a kid around.”

“I really only sleep there. The rest of the time I’m out, or I’m working. Your cats are cute.

“Yeah, they are.”

Kook, the male cat, was tearing around the room in circles of distress, jumping at the walls, trying to rip the paintings down.

“That one seems crazy,” Leticia said.

“He is crazy. But he’s a lover.”

“What’s the little one’s name?”

“Her name is Bug.”

“Why is she looking at me like that?”

“She’s jealous.”

“I don’t think she likes me.”

“She doesn’t like anybody.”

“Not even you?”

“Oh, she likes me.”

“Why is she making that sound?”

“She wants me to go to bed. She always makes that sound. She’d be happy if I were in a coma. Bug, I’m not going to bed yet, baby, it’s not even dark out yet.”

“Do you talk to your cats a lot?”

“Constantly. I have no one else to talk to.”

“Do you think they understand you?”

“They understand enough.”

Bug gave me a disdainful look, let out a howl, and disappeared.

“Hey, do you have a spoon?”

“Yeah, I have a spoon.”

I walked into the kitchen and washed her one.

“Could you bring me a glass of water, too?”

I rinsed out a juice glass and filled it with tap water. I walked back to the living room. She had her arm tied off with a shoestring, a bag of dope on the coffee table, her rig, cotton balls.

“Do you mind if I do this here, or should I go in the bathroom?”

“Do it here. That way I can keep an eye on you.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want you dying in my bathroom,” I said.

She rolled her eyes, cooked up her shit, drew it into the syringe.

“Is this too much? she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Do you think it’s too much to shoot all at once?”

“How should I know?”

“I thought you were a junkie. You look like a junkie.”

“I’m skinny, not a junkie.”

“Your eyes sure are pinned a lot. Every time you come see me at work, I can tell you’re high.”

“I have a friend with a medical condition who gives me his dilaudid. I snort it once in a while. I’ve never shot anything.”

“Blues—really? You got any?”

I told her I didn’t, which was true, and that I’d never used a needle in my life—also true.

“Oh, please. You have a picture of William Burroughs on your wall.”

“I’ve never used a needle.”

“Want to?”

“I have too many things in my bloodstream as it is.”

“You don’t think it’s too much?”

“I don’t know. It looks like a lot to me.”

“It’s not that much, is it?”

“Just be careful, okay?”

“Okay.” She shot it and almost immediately nodded out. There was a knock at the door. There was almost never a knock at the door.

“Who is it?” I said.

“Marcus,” said the voice on the other side.

“It’s unlocked,” I told him.

Marcus was the guy with the torn up gut, and the house in the burbs, and the wife and the kids. The dilaudid guy. He walked in and saw Leticia slumped on the couch.

“Who’s this?”

“She’s a friend.”

“Is she okay?”

“I think so.”

“Is she breathing?”

I held the back of my hand to her mouth.

“I think she’s okay.”

“Take the needle out of her arm!”

I yanked the needle out and set it on the coffee table. I shook her a bit. She didn’t respond, so I shook her a little harder.

“What?” she said, in slow-mo.

“I want you to meet a friend of mine. Leticia, this is Marcus. Marcus, this is Leticia.”

“Nice to meet you,” Marcus said.

“Okay,” Leticia said. She started to nod again. I let her go.

Marcus wanted to know where I’d found her.

“She’s a dancer.”

“She’s so tiny.”

“I know. She weighs about a buck ten.”

“Are you doing what she’s doing now?”

“Fuck no.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure.”

“Okay. Just be careful, alright?”

“Don’t worry about me.”

“Don’t make me worry about you.”

“Listen, she’s a friend.”

Her dress was bunched up around her thighs. She was clean down there, shaven,  pink, immaculate.

“How old is she?”

“Twenty-seven.”

“She looks seventeen.”

“I told her the same thing. But it’s legit, she’s twenty-seven.”

“You better hope so, dude. Have you fucked her yet?”

“No. She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” There was some drool hanging from her mouth. I wiped it away with a cotton ball.

“You should get her out of here.”

“No shit.”

“Where does she live?”

“I have no idea.”

“Wake her up. My car’s outside. I’ll drive her home.”

I gave her a shake. “Leticia, wake up, babe. It’s time to go. You need a ride somewhere?”

“Huh?”

“It’s time to go now, sweetie. Where do you live?”

“Over there somewhere.” She pointed to the wall facing the couch, at a painting of something that looked like a gremlin. Her eyes slowly closed, opened, fluttered, fell shut, opened again…beautiful, drowsy little birds.

“Where, across the river?”

“Yeah…”

“Are you going to be okay?”

“I’m fine.” She straightened herself and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for looking out for me. You’re sweet.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I told her.

“Alright,” Marcus said. He had his car keys in his hand. It was the beginning of the month. I knew he had a bunch of dilaudid on him. He called it vitamin D. Looks like powdered milk when you crush it up. We were always snorting it, and talking about art and music and dreamy, pie-in-the-sky type shit—death, too, which seemed so romantic then. I once even shared a cab with Elliot Smith.

“My car’s out front,” Marcus said. “Show me where we’re going, Leticia.”

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