sterling and fitz came back from the hamptons with tons of food and bunches of flowers.

"we couldn't leave anything," fitz explained, as he balanced a pie dish in one hand and an overflowing grocery bag in the other. he was smoking hundreds again. the long white cigarettes changed his overall composition, heightening the contrast between his butchy leather jacket and his faggy, perfectly coiffed head.

i was on the couch, watching the fourth season of the sopranos on DVD. i had been in europe when it was on TV last year.

sterling stood over me, wanting to say something. lately, we've been having a hard time understanding each other. i played it like tony would, and didn't look away from the screen. tony and ralph were in a steam room, about to make a sweetheart deal with an assembly man and his friend, a black guy who worked for a low income not-for-profit.

suddenly, i felt something fall on my chest. it rolled away as soon as it hit, so i couldn't tell what it was, but it made a crunching sound like a piece of lettuce.

there was another and another.

"hey!" I said, sitting up and looking at sterling. she held in her hands a bunch of empty stalks.

"orchids," she said, reaching over and retrieving one of the wilted white heads from in between the back of the couch and the cushion. it had a dark lavendar stripe going down its bottom petal, making me think of warpaint or a fat, wagging tongue.

"why'd you pull of the heads?" i asked, noticing that my accent had reverted back to its jersey roots.

"they were overripe and starting to stink," she said.

she held the flower in her palm and stared at it.

"it's all too obvious, the way it's splayed open like that, wielding the power of its beauty at the same time that it's yearning with desire."

"what's obvious? it's a flower, fer chrissakes."

sterling looked at me and laughed a low, guttural laugh. then she closed her eyes and stuck the tip of her tongue down the center of the orchid.

"mmm, mmm," she moaned.

"oh my god, ewww!" fitz screeched from the kitchen, where he was assembling the fondue maker.

"sterling needs to get laid--she's been acting weird all week. tell TRUE what you made."

"you mean what we made," sterling said, as she crumpled the flower in her gloved hand. "fitz and i were fucking around with photoshop and we made all these porno shots out of pics of the mad pony girls. you have to see them. they're pretty fucking funny."

"OK," i said.

"they have an inordinate number of shots in which one or both of their mouths are open...oh, it's hilarious. it's the kind of thing that could get a lot of traffic," fitz said.

i turned and looked at him sternly.

"only if i let you post them," I pointed out.

"yeah, we figured you might not want to," sterling said.

"they're just kids," i said.

"but you've got to see these shots," she insisted.

"they're actually quite tasteful," fitz said.

"OK, so go ahead. why do you need my approval? start yr own fucking blog and post away. no one's making you stay on BRANDTRUEBOY."

"why don't you take a look at the pictures first," sterling said.

"you know what? i think i'll pass. keep yr little porno pictures to yourself."

"what the fuck? i knew you were a prude but give me a break," fitz said.

"it has nothing to do with being a prude."

"what is it then?" sterling said, her voice uncharacteristically demanding. "some of that 'the game is to be sold, not to be told' hip-hop bullshit?"

"fuck you," i said. "you don't understand."

"what don't i understand? why don't you try to explain it to me--to us. tell us what it is yr trying to do...what kind of art yr trying to make."

"fuck you," i said again, reaching for my pipe. there was complete silence as i flicked my lighter several times before the orange flame appeared.

i sparked my shit and inhaled deep.

"i'm tryin to put a message in the music," i said as shot a trail of silver-white smoke across the universe.

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