Last week in Puerto Rico...
The guy with the waxed head finally got out of the water and climbed gingerly upon the rocks. He picked up his blue hotel towel and wrapped it around his waist.
“Night,” he called out to us, his eyes bright with regret.
“Peace,” TRUE said. Then she muttered “idiot” under her breath. She held her cigarette over her head as she eased lower into the boiling, bubbling water. She watched eagle-eyed as Baldy made his way through the green and red tropical leaves that hung like a curtain around the hot tub. I heard the wet slap of his bare feet as he trotted down the steps to the wooden walkway below. Suddenly, I was struck by a profound sense of isolation. Time stopped; the water froze in place. It’s a feeling of loneliness that I only get when it’s the three of us—never when I’m all alone.
“So,” TRUE, said, and cleared her throat. Her demeanor had changed from friendly and chilled-out to cold and driven.
“I want us to pick up the pace,” she said, looking directly into my eyes. She blew a silvery gust of smoke over the top of the water.
‘You’ve wanted that for awhile,” Fitz said.
“Yeah, but it hasn’t happened.”
“That’s because you never follow you own rules,” I said.
“They’re not my rules, they’re Antonio’s. I learned by studying him.”
“Yes, yes. What are we going to do about Antonio?” Fitz asked. He yanked at his wet bangs until they came together in a perfect point over his head.
“Nothing,” TRUE said. “It’s not like that.”
“He’s a loser frat-boy magnet," I said, my voice shaking. "He’s got all those sycophants who are constantly sucking his dick in his comments…we can’t learn anything from him.”
“I agree,” Fitz said. “After all, we’re certainly not in the same league as celebrity Google searches.”
“That’s not his whole story and you know it,” TRUE said. She gave a resolute flick to her cigarette butt that shot it into the air like a rocket. The churning water left tiny blue and gold bubbles on her naked shoulders. I watched them pop, one by one.
“Antonio gets so many readers because he offers them a reliable product an average of three times a day. He’s got people constantly coming back for new shit. And he’s only one person! Folks come back to our site later in the day and most they’ll get is a new snide comment. We’d be fuckin top of the pops if the three of us posted as much as he does.”
“I don’t care how often he posts,” I said, dabbing my forehead with a towel. “Most of it’s pedestrian crap. He’s like some bad MTV show on endless repeat. Maybe it would be better if he did slow down and take more time with his writing.”
“He gives the people what they want.”
“But we were never about that. You’re the one who always emphasized quality over quantity.”
“Got to give us what we want,” Fitz sang, “Gotta give us what we need.”
“I think we can do both.”
“Our freedom of speech is freedom or death, we got to fight the powers that be…”
“Hey. C’mon, TRUE. You know how long it takes me to write something…Jesus Christ…”
“Well, it’s time to go faster.”
“You make it sound so easy.”
“It is. All you have to do is stop worrying. You worry too much, Sterling.”
“Don’t take that condescending tone with me, sweetheart.”
“What? Hey…” she started coughing. Fitz passed her his Perrier.
“Fuck,” she said, after taking a long swig. Then she burped.
“Listen. All I’m going to say is shorter posts. Double-spaced. That’s the way to win. Treat it like newspaper copy.”
She pulled herself out of the water and perched on the edge. From where I was sitting it seemed like she was staring at her crotch.
“What the fuck?” she said, pulling at her bathing suit.
“What is it?” I asked.
“My goddamn pubes are already coming back. What’s up with that?”
“Everything grows faster in the tropics,” Fitz said, wisely.
Posted by sterling at 4:15:00 PM