Right when Sterling's sister said that about her shit, the pipes behind the bathroom mirror started humming violently. It was just like in the movie Eraserhead, when the otherworldly singing and moaning and breathing and dragging sounds float up and reverberate against the metal coils of the radiator. Only this was the desert, so there wasn't a radiator, just some gutted out space behind the thin plaster wall. Inside, among the hanging strips of pink insulation, someone or something had positioned itself to watch and wait. I was sure of it. I could see my terrified face reflected in the mirror as I slowly backed out into the carpeted hallway, arms akimbo. "You're in on it," I told Sterling's sister, who regarded me cooly, her heavily made-up eyes narrowed in suspicion. I don’t remember what happened next. I seemed to have blacked out.
It was night when I came to. I lay perfectly still in a strange bed. The covers smelled like dust and sweat. I held my breath and felt my teeth shaking. I was unbound, ungoverned. I closed my eyes and dreamed of an NYC punk street show in black and white, with a strange light bending over the hipster crowd like heaven itself, streaming through skyscrapers and illuminating boulevards, until everyone and everything was reduced to bare outlines. I woke up with a start at 3AM. I stretched my arms and creeped into the kitchen. I took the keys to the jeep and drove out to the canyons to read the signs.
I came back at daylight and snuck back into bed. The desert sunshine’s too much for me. I’ve become goth rock pale and I like it.
Sometimes, when I'm in one of these suburban houses, I’ll pause in the middle of the upstairs hall, doors and rooms ahead of me on each side, and I’ll cock my head like a dog in the shadows. It’s so silent that I swear I can hear the world stop. I plug in my titanium laptop and watch the red lights race to life along the front. Could it be that the separation has already begun? The lifting off and explosion of my mind’s innermost kernel? That web of beliefs, that sinking anthem, that one holds so dear…I found myself thinking these and other provocative thoughts as I turned a pen over and over in my hands. I looked down at the shiny silver wand, uncomprehendingly. I tried to imagine bits and pieces of myself, blown throughout the air.
…and a strange dust lands on your clothes,
and on your face…on your face…on your face…
(morrissey, "Everyday is Like Sunday")
I woke up after noon and decided to explore my new crashpad. Sterling’s sister was in the living room, listening to Avril Lavigne and lifting tiny pink weights, her face expressionless. She wore glittery aqua colored spandex shorts and a pink Everlast sports bra/tank top thingy. I felt the emptiness of the house on ever side of us as I watched her tiny round ass cheeks squeeze in, and then relax, squeeze in, and then relax.
Those weights couldn’t have been more than five pounds. It was all a show, the way she was straining and flexing like that. I stood emptyheaded in the foyer. I didn’t know what to do so I decided that I was hungry. She caught me moping towards the kitchen.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“I’m hungry,” I confessed.
She let the weights fall from her hands, making twin thuds against the hardwood floor. Then she undid her pony tail and flipped her hair.
“You know what I mean.”
“Nope. I don’t.”
“OK, what I mean is, what do you want from this town—what do you want from my sister?” She took out a pink comb from her purse and started combing out her streaked blonde tresses.
“Nothing. Nada. I don’t want a thing from anyone. Just to make this little movie.”
“Why here, though?”
“Why not? For all you know the next scene takes place in Vienna, Austria.”
She looked at me blankly.
“You probably don’t know where that is,” I remarked, chuckling slightly.
“Hey! You don’t know what I know,” she said, pointing at me with her comb. Her eyes narrowed and then widened again.
“Do you wanna see something?” she asked, in a luring tone.
“Nah, that’s alright.”
“No,” she said holding her hand out to me, “I insist.”
“I was going to get something to eat.”
“But don’t you want to see my one man band, first?” She pouted and stuck out her stomach. I watched as a pink pointed finger adorned with sparkly blue polish drew an invisible line from the smooth swell of her tiny paunch to the edge of her belly button. Time stopped again as everything became very still. The previous night, in the canyons, I kept going back and forth on how old I thought she was. In this moment, however, she looked twelve again.