i stood face-to-face with Sterling in the middle of her bedroom.

the a/c was busted. a gigantic fan hummed loudly behind her like a scene out of Brazil.

"it's not dubya, it's not america in its current, mondo fucked-up state or growing up or growing old or getting a job or selling out that i'm afraid of..."

i lit a cigarette. i blew the smoke out my nose and the fan shot it right back in my face.

"what is it then?" she asked.

"mediocrity, man...that's my biggest fear. i fear the invasion of middle of the road thoughts and middle of the road non-deeds upon my person...i dread stalemates and compromises. mortgage payments and easy ways out...pedestrian tastes, waiting with the other androids on long lines at the supermarket..."

"brain death, " i said, tryin to sum it up. "i'm scurred of dying at 30 and being buried at 70."

"hmm," sterling said.

"i'd rather be a total twat," i declared, giving her my best tuff guy stare with the cigarette hanging loosely from my lip.

"i'd rather be the bad guy asshole, the person everybody loves to hate rather than some stupid SUV loser with money in the bank."

"hmm," sterling said again. then she sighed, long and hard.

"the problem with u is the problem with me," she said, in that high-pitched, sing-song voice of hers,"...and it's not a problem at all--in fact, it's a luxury, a gift from the cosmos or god or mother nature or dumb blind luck."

"i don't understand."

"no, you don't. and neither do i. that's my point. u and i have been thru some shit...some drama and some close shaves, but there are horrible things in the world that you and i can't imagine. the pain of losing yr mother. or yr father. or the pain of living in abject poverty with nothing to eat or god forbid the pain of losing a child."

"but you were kicked out by yr parents for being gay...we've seen people die from car crashes and drugs...we've been around the world and we've been arrested and nearly deported and experienced all sorts of ill shit."

"it's nothing," sterling said. "u and i haven't experienced jack shit. we're like two kids. innocents."

"innocents? c'mon, that's a crock of shit. i've been living the real 2 real for years now..."

"if that's what u want to believe," sterling said. she sighed again as wind from the fan blasted all the ashes out of the heavy ass glass ashtray that I'd rested on the end of the bed.

i waited for her to get pissed off at me but she didn't. each time i do something stupid i think to myself, now it's finally gonna happen--she's gonna get mad fer sere. i'm almost hoping for it, to be honest, cuz it would take away a certain level of supsense that makes me paranoid.

"i don't think you're very real at all. u live life like yr the invisible woman. the mystery guest with the extra long cigarette who believes she can control the game without playing."

"I don't like games," i said, pouting.

"no," she corrected me, "you just don't like losing."

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