The girl who’s playing the part of Sterling in my movie lives in a little ranch style house at the end of a quiet, cactus-lined street. The thin-walled rooms are filled with third hand furniture and fake plastic trees. The first time I went there, my stomach was churning like a washing machine. I was stretched out across the bucket backseats of the girl’s old-ass, monkey shit orange colored Sentra, fly open and gripping my bloated gut, while she tried to drive as smoothly as possible. She kept reaching back and picking up a plastic GAP bag from the floor and shoving it onto my lap, from which it promptly fell off again.
“What do you think, it’s something you ate?”
“Nah,” I moaned, bringing my knees up to my chest. “My insides have turned into boiling oil.”
“What you need is a glass of milk.”
“No, I don’t. Don’t say that!” I screeched, pinching my arm as hard as I could so I’d resist the urge to tell her to fuck off.
We made it there just in time. I flew past her pointing finger into a bathroom covered in black tiles with amorphous patterns of gray smoke on them. I sat there, watching faces form and then recede back into the walls—narrow eyed spies and leering pornographers filmed in grainy black and white. I closed my eyes and imagined myself at an airport bar in the seventies, drinking a highball and tapping the ash of my thin white, ludicrously long cigarette into a purple-green glazed ceramic ashtray shaped like a pair of human lungs. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” I thought, as a chunky stream of bile hissed and sputtered out of my asshole. I was emptying out—there was more in me than I could be held accountable for. I held my head in my hands and offered a penance that while not exactly sincere was for the most part un-ironical. Wit is the second thing to go when you’re burning and twitching like a beetle on a pin. The first is any residual stock you might still put in the future.
When it was all over I looked into the toilet for the fucking rainbow colored Fruit Loops (I’ve branched off from Cap N’ Crunch) but instead I saw what appeared to be Spaghetti Ohs, all clumped together like they had been burnt at the bottom of a pot. Not a good sign, I thought, glancing up into the mirror as I resolutely washed my hands and smoothed down my static charged hair. I was wearing a freshly washed dark blue denim shirt. The collars were starched and my neck was clean. With the exception of my tits, I looked like an ex-con trying to make good. I mean, we women can be ex-cons trying to look good too, but then you think of floral print dresses, white canvas sneakers and consignment shop rayon jackets with padded shoulders, not some Cool Hand Luke shit like I was on with the denim.
I left the bathroom and ran straight into the twelve year old sister of the girl who’s playing the part of Sterling. She was hanging out under the collection of framed West highland terrier photos in the hallway.
“Hello there,” I said, closing the bathroom door behind me.
“Are you sick?” she asked, in that self-righteous, matter-of-fact tone that she always spoke in. She was still on Xmas break so she hung around her sister a lot. I let her around the set because she wasn’t the type of kid to start fiddling with stuff. Instead, she was one of those babies sporting the expertly applied MAC make-up and $400 Prada sling backs in the middle of nowhere, without a job and with a sister who made only peanuts as a hotel waitress. With her raccoon eyes and her conniving smile, I’d written her off as a dime bag slut the first time I laid eyes on her.
“I’m fine, sweetheart,” I told her, as I pulled my pack of Marlboros out of my jeans.
“Didn’t sound like you’re fine,” she informed me. She pouted with her heavily lined, blow job lips and held out her hand. I sighed and placed a smoke in her palm. She tossed it in her mouth and opened a Harley Davidson Zippo with a flick of her wrist as though she’d been smoking for years.
“What’d you do, throw-up?” she said, pushing past me and placing her hand on the bathroom door knob.
“Ahh, no, it was…the other. Hey, don’t go in there, OK?”
The girl kept her hand on the knob and slowly turned to face me. The expression on her face was death itself.
“You’re going to try and tell me what to do in my own house?”
“Suit yourself,” I said as she stepped into the reeking room.
“Hmm” she said, standing in front of the toilet. I watched her nostrils flare as she breathed deeply in and out. She placed her skinny, twelve year old hands on her skinny, twelve year old hips. She was trying to be tough so she let the cigarette dangle out of the corner of her mouth. I knew she was the kind of girl the boys went for, but to me she looked like a rodent with big, teased out hair. Her skin was so translucent and unhealthy that a myriad of eyelash sized red veins were visible on her forehead. “Megadeth” was carved into her forearm, fresh enough so that the letters were still swollen and raised against her skin.
“Hey, you know what?” she said, taking the cigarette out of her mouth and ashing it in the sink. “You don’t only talk like a nigger—you eat like one too!”
She took another sniff and laughed her grating hee-haw laugh. I had an urge to flatten her pink, blackhead covered nose with a single karate chop.
“No sir,” she said, shaking her head, “My shit doesn’t smell like that. Not one bit."