I’m stressed but you’re freestyle,
I’m overworked but I’m undersexed,
I must be made of concrete,
I sign my name across your chest ….
Halloween is sacred to my kind. I love it more than Thanksgiving. I love it even more than Christmas. I am not sure if it is the assumption of a different identity, if it is the permission to love the darkness or if it is simply the only holiday that marries an adult to her childhood without involving other children. It could be because it is the one holiday where family is irrelevant.
Alia bought me a ticket to the Los Angeles Dead club scene for the night. I was so broke, I couldn’t put together the costume I had hoped. Alia was going as Madonna and I was going to be Lady Gaga. While living at her house, I showed her a music video from Gaga, “See? She has a David Bowie thing going on.”
In the end, I didn’t have any money for much of anything much less a costume. Alia found some cheap outfits on-line, but anything more than a couple bucks was a stretch for me. I was eating a bowl of cold beans in the morning for breakfast. “I am so tired of being hungry,” Gary said. Once we moved to Glendale, he dropped his job at the Halloween store because the commute was too difficult without a car. So he settled in a red, fold-out chair in front of Frank’s television set and watched the News, commercials, sports and movies from 7am to 10pm everyday.
I was working but unable to really retain any of my money after gas, dog food and some money for a deposit I handed over to Frank, my other roommate. In addition to all of that, the brakes were going out on my car which made no God damn sense since I paid to have them replaced the year before.
The evening of Halloween, Alia and Ryan came over with more blow. Or was it already here? I never knew the details. In addition to sharing her drugs with me, she brought a blue wig and some silver chaps along with silver thigh high boots to match. So I could throw together some kind of pop diva look. When all was said and done (the boots were too small for me) the look became known as “Girl Bowie”.
“Come here, I have a fat line all set up for you,” Alia said from Frank’s walk-in closet. I crept in and looked down. My first thought was, “Where?” I stared down at two modest lines. Frank and I already took our vice to the next level. A fat line in our world looked like an obese, on-the-verge-of-heart-attack, in-desperate-need-of-a-bypass fat line. Alia and Ryan were still dancing through it like pixie dust. On Frank’s coke, I knew I could have a field day. On Alia’s, I had to watch myself. She was buying, I still owed her money for her laptop and recreational use in her scene was very much kept at recreational.
In a blue bob wig, my fishnet dress and silver chaps, we headed down to The Belasco Theatre in Downtown LA. We found parking in a lot next to a hotel and a dive bar. The hotel was empty on the first floor, the marble floors and glass entrance were completely vacant with no movement or light, with the sad exception of an ATM machine. We stopped in the dive next door to use the bathroom and I bought everyone a very cheap beer. It was a long hallway of a bar, with a jukebox playing some funk, several black people laughing and drinking with only one or two white guys eying us up and down. The bartender was surly when I warned her my card might not go through- but when I did, I left her a huge tip and she smiled at me.
Alia was uncomfortable, I could tell, but I liked the feel of the place. Two white girls dressed up in lingerie, feathers and wigs stirred the pond a little, but it felt like a real place. Thin cigars and Brixton Jones hats teetered under the red lights overhead, shifting the light from one shoulder to the other, without revealing the eyes of it’s owner.
After our beers, we headed towards the Belasco on foot. Alia wore her costume with a graceful wiggle, balancing her petite hips over two incredibly small heels, the size of dimes. Her fake eyelashes splashed the glitter out of her face and she handed over our tickets to the doorman. The doorman looked us over and nodded, turning ever so slightly to his left so we could pass by a cheap, velvet rope. Once we were in, I could see there were three floors, on each level a dance floor with a different theme of music. The basement, below, was spinning darker music: The Smiths, The Cure but with a little Garbage thrown in there. The ground level was the main floor, a few go-go dancers were positioned on rises here and there. The stage was shadowed and almost none existent with the exception of a few monitors and a big screen giving legs to animated characters synched to the music. The top floor were more vintage type rock: Violent Femmes, Bowie, Depeche Mode, Blondie.
Alia and Ryan immediately filed into the line for photographs, so I patiently followed and tried to keep my mind in conversation as the music called to me from three different doorways. The music was already in my legs, I felt my knees shaking from the coke and bass. The acidic trail of cocaine down the back of my throat was fading in the seduction of lights, magic and music. I Didn’t care about the coke anymore, I wanted to dance.
Alia knew the person collecting tickets and money for photos and made conversation. The man behind us was looking us over, trying to take measure with which one of us was with Ryan. My feet wouldn’t stay still, they tapped, they turned towards the doors, they wanted to lead me away, but I had to be patient. We posed for pictures and then Alia led us into the first dance floor, ground level. Ryan and Alia sat down in back. “I have to go out there, are you ok here?” I said. There was no way I could sit down and watch people dance. “I will go out with you,” she said. We left our coats with Ryan and shuffled to the center of madness.
The eye of the storm was between three risers holding up go-go dancers. The strobe lights and deep ceiling kept everyone anonymous. We danced and the world was pushed off the cliff of recognition. My wig flew off, so I stuffed it in my pocket and let my hair spill out on my shoulders, betraying the blue for a darker shade of rye American whiskey. Everyone was shadows, even Alia, and the pulse of measure and metre wrapped its legs around me until my mind and body fell in synch. Alia left, grabbing my arm to let me know she was going to find Ryan. I nodded, feeling the sweat stick to my hair, keeping it out of my eyes and mouth. I lifted my head to the music. In and out of the shadows, other costumes appeared. On the whole, the LA Dead scene was a menagerie of strange and disturbing costumes. The theme was very dark. There were a great deal of large men with plastic masks that bore no expression, whatsoever, but sported overalls and an ax or machete, human-penguin-hybrid types with umbrellas and plaster noses, dark monsters we have invented or have yet to invent stories for. When I dance I smile, and when I felt watched under the eyes behind such thick, foul faces, I reminded myself to keep smiling. The human was not the mask and the only way to ward off fear, to ward off darkness, was through the light. No one was there to hurt me. The fear wasn’t real. So I kept dancing.
Men surrounded me in shifts. I noticed two closing in on me, one was The Crow (circa 1994) and the other was a Santa Claus tumbling around me with too much padding and a very young face. Alia found me on the dance floor and invited me to the third level, as I followed, I let my hand drag across the stomach of The Crow so he would know to follow. And he did.
To the third floor we went, and without water or drink, I continued to dance. Note to note, my body, hips and feet met each euphonic note, dripping in honey and sweat. The Crow appeared and continued dancing with me. The face of what I know to be Brandon Lee in the 1994 cult classic film melted under white grease paint and sweat into a rather thin, white boy fighting to keep up with me. Once in awhile, he leaned in to ask a question and receive a generic answer. “You are sexy,” he said, smiling behind the painted black lipstick of a mime. “Thank you,” I replied wondering if Michael would approve, or wondering if he would disapprove. He was with his mourning family in Milwaukee at a funeral, and I was dancing opposite a young man I could easily take home with me. He had a tall, lean body and though I don’t pretend to speak for other women, I always had a fantasy about Brandon Lee as The Crow. It isn’t the type of fantasy men might have towards a character or costumed woman they find on an image search via the internet. I just liked The Crow. Even at the age of 16, I wanted to make love to him, then be his girlfriend.
The boy, whoever he was, had the same long, curly haircut as his persona from the film. He was taller than I was but skinnier. Waifish. Occasionally we would touch and once he leaned in for a quick kiss.
I thought about the last thing I said to Michael before he left California: “Let’s just leave it at ‘We can do whatever we want.’” I had permission to do whatever I wanted to do. Michael and I were not serious, not yet. Though a mild betrayal, it was a betrayal somehow.
He wouldn’t have to know. I was allowed to indulge myself in the painted skin of a young stranger. I felt my mouth go dry and I wondered where Alia was. Let me rephrase, I wondered where the rest of the coke was. I couldn’t afford anymore drinks, so all I had left was the line in her pocket.
I looked in the sea of masked faces and didn’t see her, but each song took me by the laces of my cheap, glittered chaps and dragged me back into their melody. I couldn’t part from the music, until The Crow took my hand and asked to move to the basement. I agreed.
Like an animal you’re moving over me,
When did I get perverted,
I can’t remember your name,
I’m growing introverted,
You touch my hand and it’s not the same …
We walked down the stairs and I ran into a fellow blogger, hand in hand with my new suitor. “Hi, I didn’t know you would be here,” I said. He was someone I barely knew, a messenger in Hollywood. We friended on Facebook well before the birth of my blog and I hadn’t seen him since. “Welcome to the darkside,” he said.
Downstairs, it was a smaller dance floor. At the head of the horizon, two cages were staged and occupied by two slightly overweight and exhausted go-go dancers. I knew the music more than the boy, and I sang, grabbing his hand at the head of each song like I could take him into my world with the movement of lips and hips in pop poetry. He gave into me, and I smiled, lifting my arms into the enveloping darkness of the dance until I felt Alia pull me out of the water. “Hey, do you want the line I saved for you?” she asked.
“Oh yeah, but where?” I asked.
“Let’s go in the bathroom,” she said.
I held up my finger for The Crow as Young Madonna lead me into the restroom outside the bottom dance floor. We waited in line for the handicapped stall and walked in together. After clasping the lock down on the long door, she pulled out what was left of the coke. It was more than I expected. “It is yours, do you want to do it all now, or do some and save it for later?” she asked.
“Let’s do it all,” I said. She poured it on the toilet paper dispenser and extracted a straw, snorting what lines were left. I, obediently, followed. The taste of powder in my nose and mouth lifting me an inch higher than the music. We stumbled out of the stall into a pod of young women with black wigs and black eyeshadow. No one looked at us, despite the fact that the sound of our snorting must have stabbed through their conversation and running water. We checked our nostrils in the mirror for any residue and skipped back out onto the dance floor.
Alia led me to a booth where Ryan was waiting. I grabbed the hand of my new suitor and slid him down the vinyl lining of the seat then struggled to listen to conversation as 2am put her heavy hand on our shoulders. “Do you want to go back to my place or yours?” she asked. Ryan’s hand was on my thigh, I could feel the warmth of his fingers between the silver chaps and my dress. “Um, whatever is easiest for you,” I said, sucking whatever powder was left between my teeth.
Another boy with a forgettable girl tugged on the arm of The Crow. He leaned in to exchange a conversation. “I have to go, my ride is leaving,” The Crow said. “Oh …” I said, disappointed the music, coke and boy were all ending in the same minute. “Do you want to come home with me?” I asked.
The Crow conversed with the boy and turned back to me. “Yes,” is all he said.
We left the club before the house lights were turned on and the bouncers grew cloddish. Only then does the fantasy of the evening dissolve. You see the rips in the stained carpet. The coarse skin around make-up. The spot on a wall painted a different shade from the rest of the house. There was still the magic of illusion in one, shifting, fragile, oily bubble wrapped over us as we trotted out on the sidewalks of Los Angeles.
Out in the parking lot keeping Alia’s prius behind steel bars and under bright lights, we all took a turn smoking a joint. My body was wet with dance, and the harsh calx of ground bud sucked whatever air was left in my lungs. I crawled in the back seat and put my head on The Crow’s lap. We exchanged names and ages. He was 24.
“Yeah, I was in the army for like a year. I was a sniper in Afghanistan,” he said.
“How was it?” I asked, heavy from drugs and attraction.
“It sucked,” he said, “Fuck the army!”
“Where do you live?” I asked, handing him the joint, only for him to wave it off.
“You know where Six Flags is? Up there. I am going to school up there. I live in a townhouse with my two uncles. They don’t work, so they just kind of hang out there.”
“That sucks, “ I said, French inhaling the vapor fresh out of my lungs.
“Yeah, fuck them!” he said.
Ryan drove and dropped us off at my quiet, Glendale front house. There were no more trick-or-treaters, no more headlights on the road, no more police cars coasting over the speed bumps near the elementary school on the corner. There was nothing but the night, a street lamp and The Crow.
A flash in the pan,
A storm in a teacup,
A needle in a haystack,
A prize for the winning,
A dead for the raising,
A catch for the chasing,
A jewel for the choosing,
A man for the making in this blistering heat …
In the stark, empty apartment, I led him into my bedroom and laid myself out for him. He crawled over me, the make-up still thick in the light of my computer monitor. He kissed me and tickled me with his tongue before stopping short. “Do you want to see my Halloween costume for next year?”
“Sure,” I said, smiling a little and crawling out from underneath him as he reached over my head to type on my computer. My desktop was still laid out on the floor for lack of furniture. After a few taps on the keyboard, he summoned a cartoon of Wolverine with pulsating muscles, beastly hair and dripping fangs. “Oh,” I said politely, almost as if I was his mother.
“I already have a membership at Gold’s Gym to work up for it,” he said.
I giggled. “Ambitious” I said, realizing how much more immature he was than Michael though a full year older. Then I unapologetically pulled off his shirt. Across his soft, flat chest was a tattoo of a skyline you might see in a neo-noir graphic novel by Frank Miller. My fingers searched for body hair above the waist but only found the placidity of youth. “I have never gone home with a girl I didn’t know before,” he said.
“Is that true?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he chirped, “I have never kissed a girl on the dance floor before either.”
“Come on,” I said, “That isn’t true.”
“It is true,” he said before feasting on me. He pulled off my chaps and my dress until I was totally nude. I wondered if I should shower off the music, club and cocaine before we started, but he was already licking me and I felt myself forget everything but his fingertips pinching my clitoris, softly bringing an engorged tip into his mouth. No one had ever pinched my clitoris like that while going down on me and it easily produced three or four orgasms.
“Wow,” I gasped, “You are really good at that.”
“Yeah, I read about it in a book,” he said. Then he pulled out his cock and I thought for a moment about the disease I might have from the last man I fell in love with, or the disease I might give the next man I fall in love with. Just as the word “condom” crawled up the raw, dry base of my throat, he stuffed all seven-inches of himself inside of me and I was helpless. I could feel his skin working against mine, and my eyes rolled up in my head. He smelled of borrowed aftershave and cheap deodorant. We fucked in every position you could imagine from a typical, mainstream porn. We started in missionary. He stopped me and requested I climb on top. Then he stopped me and requested I get on my knees. Then he stopped me again, and requested I get on top again but with my back to him, in reverse cowgirl. I appreciated the direction, but something was too clinical about it. It was easy for him to withhold his cum, which was the total opposite of Michael. The inability to produce primal surrender from him stifled the eroticism, and at one point, an hour or two later, I felt my 34-year-old body grow tired, my knees ache and my hips grow still. He went back down on me, using his forefinger and thumb to pop up my clit like he was plucking one corpulent grape from a vine. The orgasms came so easily, I almost felt my elixir spray in his mouth. I pulled him down for a kiss after the fourth or fifth orgasm to taste myself.
Sweat it all out,
Sweat it all out,
With your bedroom eyes and your baby pouts.
Sweat it all out,
In our electric storms and our shifting sands,
Our candy jars and our sticky hands …
As the sun rose on the other side of Los Angeles, the pale blue of dawn ate through the clouds. He finally came. “It takes me a long time,” he said.
“Well, I think we covered every position in the book,” I said.
He laughed. “Yeah, well, I figured now that I have the chance I should use it, right?”
“Why not?” I said, turning my body away from his to fall asleep. I cued up some Thelonious Monk to escort us into sleep and slowly heard his pant fade into idle.
I woke up not long after. I got dressed, showered, made coffee. I chatted with Gary in the living room. I checked my email on my mini-laptop with my crooked eye glasses and my hair swept up in a sloppy bun. Eventually the tall, chatty, white boy appeared in the hallway, leaning his arms against the roof of the archway and advertising the city landscape across his chest toward us.
“What’s up?” Gary said, nodding his head.
“What’s up?” The Crow said. His makeup was washed off now and I could see some slight acne around his chin and ears. He was still handsome, but somehow younger. He asked me to drive him to the train station so he could make class in Valencia.. “Or you could drive me and I would pay for gas,” he proposed.
I agreed even though it was a 45-minute drive and took him out of the heavy traffic and noise of Los Angeles into the suburbs of the hills and canyons. “I would really like to take you out to dinner or something. I have money so I can treat you. I think that would be really nice,” he said, hanging his head from the side, staring at me solemnly.
I thought about Michael. “That sounds nice,” I said.
“Ok, I will call you then, if that is ok,” he said.
“Of course,” I said, parking my car and receiving one last kiss before he hopped out.
By the end of the day, I had 19 texts from the boy and I was partly flattered but partly worried how I would conceal one kind of love affair from another.
Frank came home, asking about the night. Over a cup of coffee, I indulged him in the details of the night; the cocaine, the dancing, The Crow. “Did you see this guy?” he asked Gary.
“Yeah,” Gary snapped back, “He looked like some 19-year-old kid.”
Frank laughed and looked at me, “What the hell are you doing?”
“Whatever I want,” I said.