In April 2009, I woke from a dream thinking of Radio Mary for the first time in years. (The novel itself was first prompted by a dream, a cop who felt guilty about putting a woman in jail, fearful of the bondage she was likely enduring.) The idea in the dream was to cut the character of Tom Reese out of the book until he appeared in the last third at a murder site. I pondered this in bed for a while, then went downstairs and cut out all of the early Tom chapters -- 20,000 words gone in ten minutes. The novel was now an alternation between Mary and Hayward's POVs. It was very floaty, and very quickly, and the for the first time, it felt like something that should also be a movie. That dream set me on the path of making Radio Mary as a movie. This draft is riddled with typos and it is incomplete and it not yet incarnated in its ideal form as a novel, but this is the basis for the first draft of the screenplay. In fact, I loaded the novel into Final Draft and began the process of conversion line by line.
(Or you can read it here, formatted as plain text:)
a novel by
Draft 7 4.15 - 5.25.2009
THE GLASS TOWER
the elevator up, Mary Delany feels like she is ascending into a castle. A separate world. The Magic Kingdom. This feeling gets stronger high up in
the glass tower, where none of the windows open. She doesn't miss the feeling of real air, she has enough of
that her sixteen hours away from work.
gets off the elevator, alone, at the forty-second floor and walks down the
windowless gray-green hallway past the raised gold letters of Traum, Pittman,
and Black, stopping to smooth her olive jacket and pleated skirt, one last
sensible black pumps glide over the carpet as she walks toward the coffee
room. Rand Foley stands at the
counter and pours himself a cup of coffee, jacket off, starched white shirt and
suspenders. With his back to Mary,
seen unexpectedly, he seems handsome.
Dark, straight hair, but not too straight. Smooth, tan skin, but not too tan. Not bad for a boyfriend, even a secret boyfriend. But somehow, at the same time, not
good. Turning for the
Sweet-and-Low Rand sees her.
morning, Mr. Foley."
the pink packet, he smiles again and steps aside to let Mary pour herself a
cup. "I tried calling you
must not have tried very hard."
reaches for a spoon, an excuse to brush against her, but she deftly sidesteps
got out of my meeting incredibly late, you know?"
turns to leave.
negotiation. It went pretty
well. In fact, very well."
feels herself lingering: the moment has come. She can either walk away or she can be humiliated. Why should she stay and listen to him?
you doing anything tonight? Why
don't you come over. I'd like to
the moment he seems bored with everything except her. But does he mean what he doesn't say? Is the space between their words a
place where they will ever be alone?
She feels frozen, the Dansk mug heavy in her hand. If he was a little nicer it wouldn't be
so complicated. If they didn't
have to be a secret office romance across castes, a peasant girl and a
knight. Does he make me feel
cheap or is it just me?
be nice. So what do you
think?" he asks.
adjusts his black Armani glasses while he waits for her reply. He's told her again and again there is
no easy way for him to be with her without threatening his rise to partnership.
"Maybe." She leaves first, feeling his eyes upon
her as she walks away. She feels
nervous knowing that he is watching and tries to keep this from translating
into the pace and flex of her legs.
Mary turns into her cubicle, she hears Rand walking past, hesitant but arrogant
footsteps. If I'm thinking about
him, then he must be thinking about me.
tells herself to stop thinking about him as she sits down inside the padded
gray partitions of her work space.
She looks out her window as she sips her coffee, but there's not much
city to see today, the horizon hemmed in by brown smog. But above the smog the sky is a desert
blue. She delicately touches the
spikes of the baby cholla cactus that sits on the sill, protected from the
brown air outside by the window pane that protects them all. One cactus looks too lonely. Maybe she'll buy another cactus at the
supermarket tonight, then she'll have a pair.
turns on her computer screen, takes off her earrings, puts on her headset,
adjusts her chair as if preparing for a take-off, starts the micro-cassette,
and enters the slipstream of words that are her vocation. This morning the disembodied words are
a forensic pathologist's, a precise description of a Mrs. Ludlow's final
state. "...with severe trauma
occurring to the Occipital lobe, note contusions between the sixth and
words pass through her ears, through her fingers, onto the glowing pixels of
her screen. Her job is so orderly
and breathtakingly separate from the city on the other side of the glass.
doesn't feel like going past Rand's office en route to the ladies room, so she
takes the longer alternate route through the reception area. Not that she is avoiding him, she just
doesn't want to chance upon him again, not twice in one morning.
into the lobby she smiles at Sylvia, the receptionist, who wears a headset
nestled inside her big hairdo.
morning, Traum, Pittman, and Black...Mr. Foley is in a meeting but I can patch
you through to his secretary..."
Mary catches Sylvia's eye and nods hello, then stares jealously at
Sylvia's yellow blouse. The raw
silk has that special glow of being worn for the very first time. The brilliant yellow swims in Mary's
eyes; she knows she's seen it somewhere -- Ann Taylor -- it must be on sale if
Sylvia bought it. Mary offers some
quick and incisive sign language to let Sylvia know how she covets the blouse
and Sylvia smiles thanks in the middle of answering another call. Mary decides on an early lunch and
hopes Ann Taylor's has the blouse in another color. Then she looks up and is surprised by a man watching her.
is startled by Mary's eyes. So
green. And her hair, such a
perfect, soft red.
that first moment, she feels an immediate chemistry as he guiltily looks
away. But guilty of what? He
offers an embarrassed smile and drops his eyes back to the magazine in his lap,
but she knows he is not reading, because his hands grip the pages too rigidly. His dark brown hair curls over the
collar of his jacket -- he needs a haircut. He looks uncomfortable in a tie and he looks uncomfortable
sitting on the lobby couch. She
senses kindness in his eyes but there is another part, an uncomfortable part,
which makes him complicated and hard to summarize. Crossing through the lobby she wasn't expecting to feel
anything but she does. She walks
past the man, touched that he will not look back up to meet her smile.
the pink pastel tiles of the bathroom she wonders about this man while she
fluffs her hair back up to its eight A.M. glory and mounts a smile to greet him
with at their second meeting.
when she returns the waiting room is empty. She continues on to her desk without saying a word to
Sylvia, the bounce deflated from her step, unsettled by the brief encounter,
her work now a burden to fill until lunch.
Mary steps out of Ann Taylor and into the open-air mall, empty-handed,
unwilling to buy a blouse the same color as Sylvia's, even on sale, no other
colors available, she sees Rand. He walks toward her, in a clique of dark suits, a lunch
sees her and hesitates in that first flash of eye contact. She can feel him instantaneously
deciding whether or not he should acknowledge her or pretend he does not see
her. Finally, he waves. The hundred feet that separate them
give him a safety buffer; he shrugs and is carried by the tide of Italian suits
into an expensive French bistro.
She feels hurt by his treatment of her.
she sees the herringbone pattern of a man's jacket. She knows who he is, even from behind, by the pleasing
untidiness of his hair and the hunch of his shoulders as he wolfs down a hot
wants to say hello to the man, but she doesn't know how best to.
goes over to the hot dog cart. The
vendor has the winning smile of an aspiring TV actor. "A...pretzel, please."
looks up at her, surprised, caught in mid-bite.
he says after swallowing.
saw you in the waiting room today.
At Traum, Pittman."
"Yes. Hello again."
name is Mary Delany."
Reese." He offers her his
hand, but takes it back to wipe off a line of mustard, and she smiles when he
offers his hand again. A firm
handshake; their hands meet with equal pressure.
calls me Reese. Most
if you please, the other customers," interrupts the hot dog vendor, antsy
to catch the lunch trade. Mary
exchanges money for an oversized pretzel and steps aside.
stand together. She doesn't know
what to do with the doughy thing in her hand. She doesn't feel like eating it. Reese, too, seems embarrassed, at a loss, awkwardly holding
his hot dog.
were in the office," Mary tries.
came in to give a deposition."
He would like to try that sentence again. But it's a conversation, sentences aren't deleted and
rewritten as in a crime report.
"Would you care to join me for lunch?" He waves his hot dog toward an empty
bench behind them, waiting like a prop.
"Or we could go have a cup of coffee somewhere."
love a cup of coffee. Not coffee,
but hot chocolate. There's a
leads the way. They walk slowly,
hesitantly, feeling their way into conversation. Mary holds the pretzel by her side, out of his sight.
you were giving a deposition."
"Yes. For a murder case. I'm a homicide detective."
Selma Ludlow case?" she asks.
nods yes. "You're an
smiles. "No. You know I'm not an attorney. You're just flattering me."
"No. Not that I'm opposed to flattering
you," he says, looking down at his loafers.
notices his shoes are shined on top but scuffed at the heels. He tries to look nice, but it's an
effort. "Go ahead and finish
your hot dog, I didn't mean to interrupt you."
very observant." He takes a
big bite and swallows in a hurry, to be ready to speak again.
a safe guess that you'd like to finish eating," she says.
that -- you saw me for ten seconds this morning and then you spotted me again
in this crowd."
should be flattered that I noticed you," she teases.
am," he replies softly.
"I noticed you too."
know," she says, the softness of her voice matching his.
I that obvious?"
saw you noticing me. But I liked
it. I mean, the way you did
were talking to the receptionist and you caught me staring. That embarrassed me."
wasn't a bad stare. It was a nice
stare." She smiles again.
reach the cappuccino cart, chained to a concrete post.
hot chocolate, please," she says.
for me," Reese says, quick with his wallet to make her drink his treat.
squawk of static then a voice emits from his hip. He lifts up a walkie-talkie clipped to his faded black belt
and depresses a button. Mary sees
a gun holstered to his belt. She
seizes the moment to throw away her unwanted pretzel, discreetly tossing it
into the trash can beside the cappuccino cart.
vendor hands Mary her hot chocolate, its steam fragrant in her nose.
"Sorry. I've got to run. Maybe I'll call you? We could have a real lunch?"
like that," she answers, and she really would.
"Great. Nice meeting you, Mary Delany."
meeting you, Tom Reese."
takes off quickly, gathering steam.
watches him sprint through the shoppers, his tie flying, getting curious
stares. She sips her hot chocolate
slowly, reviewing the conversation as she strolls through the outdoor mall. So nice, just touching his hand, their
handshake, relaxed and balanced.
Reese felt so nice, his skin.
Not perfect skin, like Rand's.
She can't help comparing Reese to Rand. The comparison favors Reese. In fact, there is no comparison.
at a dreamy pace, Mary takes another sip of lukewarm hot chocolate. She hopes Reese will call her. She'd love to have a reason to break a
date with Rand. Any date. Every date. It shames her that she has accepted someone as a lover whom
she does not even like. The more she thinks about it the worse
sits down on the bench where she almost sat with Reese. She promises herself not to think about
Rand any more just now, but to try and think only about Reese while she drinks
the hot chocolate he bought her.
At first she can see only his face, not his body. But she works at remembering him, piece
by piece. She could be something
important to him. Maybe. She knows she is dreaming, but why
not? Why not make a big deal out
of something small? It feels nice. They connected. Even the pauses when they walked
without talking, even the awkward moments felt nice.
senses a guy sitting on the bench opposite, in black Angels cap and shades,
staring at her. Or is he? Bodies are weird, the idea that someone
“wants” hers, which Reese had maybe also "wanted" but in a kinder
much more secondary way because he wanted to just be with her, not as a euphemism or prelude to something
else. The guy on the bench is
takes another sip and decides it is her favorite cup of hot chocolate ever, out
here in the California sun. So
much to think about. Laura, her
little sister, never worried about this kind of stuff. Or did she? So much to think about. Sit and sip and think.
pink and green
flecks in her pupils, when Mary stood close to the mirror, staring hard into
the eyes she saw the world with.
lips that Laura squeezed through to enter the world.
notes from the nurse, excusing Mary from P.E.
lemonade in Laura's pink Pinocchio cup that no one else was allowed to drink
striped sheets, crisp and cool against the green silk pajamas that Mary
mail-ordered with the Christmas money from Grandma.
panties stained with Laura's first menstrual blood.
green amethyst ring, her birthstone, on the ring finger of her right hand that
held the green Bic pen that wrote in the green diary with the copper clasp
corroded to a mossy green, all resting on the green ink blotter that covered
the top of the pink desk.
appealed to Laura because it was warm and hopeful but not dark and violent like
red. It was the happy cousin of
red. It was up. Pink could lift into the air like red
snuck up on Mary as something she kept choosing: blouses, notebooks,
wintergreen gum. Her eye was drawn
to green as a happy vibrating place.
Nature. Grass and
trees. But Mary didn't choose
green because it was healthy. She
chose it because she liked it.
Unlike Laura, who was determined to have a favorite color.
science class fact that stuck with Mary was that green was the complementary
color of red. Was its exact
opposite on the color wheel. And
pink was the tepid cousin of red.
Which explained a lot to Mary, though she didn't mention a word of this
to Laura. Let Laura find it out
for herself when she had the same seventh grade class in two years. If Mary had to wait until she was
twelve, then why should Laura get the news any sooner?
sister, little sister stuff.
battle lines were drawn.
walks across the plaza between the glass towers, smiling to herself, a cool
breeze on her face, daydreaming as she drifts back into the building.
was shy about looking at her but he wasn't shy about running. She guesses that his job is the real
life and death on the other side of the bloodless words that she transcribes,
out in the world, on the other side of the glass, in the dangerous air of the
city. She hopes he'll call her.
buzzed from the flirting, she can't remember getting on the elevator. Hayward follows after and stands behind
her, a lone baseball cap in a crowd of suits.
metal doors close; the car sways gently from side to side as it climbs. Something syrupy coats the air,
something that Mary does not remember hearing before. But elevator music is like that: you usually don't notice
it, but if you do, it irritates you.
elevator stops as it climbs, getting emptier as it goes higher.
Mary senses a
guy standing behind her.
Please allow me to introduce myself.
glances over her shoulder. It's
the guy from the bench, the guy in the black Angels cap. She avoids his eyes, better to watch
the shiny metal doors.
I'm William Ward Hastings. But you should call be Hayward. As in 'what the hay" -- you know
how people say 'what the hay' when they mean what the hell? Hayward's the first part of my last
name put in front of my middle name, sort of a half-backwards, turn me on dead
man kind of moniker. Hayward is
kind of like backward. Neat, huh?
He lays a hand
on her shoulder, long pale fingers, yellow fingernails, not a light touch. The hand touches a neutral zone, a
socially accepted area, but she feels violated by the familiarity of the hand
and, by extension, the arm and the mind of the man, it must be a man, who is
frowns and turns to face him and his hand falls away. "I beg your pardon." She sees that they are alone. What do his sunglasses hide? The elevator music sounds louder now and thumping, no longer
syrupy, but hard.
you believe in love at first sight?" he asks.
turns away from him. Only four
floors to go. Nothing bad can
happen, not during lunch hour.
lays his hand on her shoulder again, with a heavier touch. She steps forward, all the way against
the shiny metal door, and his hand slowly falls away, stroking her back as it
drops. Her shoulder feels cold
where his hand touched her, as if the silk of her blouse has dissolved away. She touches her shoulder blade, afraid
to look back at the man. It hurts
-- how did he make her hurt like that?
you believe in magic? In a young
girl’s heart? How the music can
move you whenever it starts?"
god no, Mary thinks, trapped with this man, afraid, very afraid.
Then the elevator doors slide open, startling her, and she stumbles off,
ready to run. Up ahead are the
familiar gold letters, Traum, Pittman, and Black. He doesn't follow her, thank god.
was going to kill today. But this
is much better," he says, his voice sounding hollow and metallic from the
gives her a little wave good-bye as the elevator doors close. "See you."
Mary touches her shoulder, puzzled by the throbbing. But he didn't follow her, and he didn't touch anything
private. Whatever it was, it
wasn't a sex thing. Mary walks
unsteadily toward the office. So
strange, as if she imagined it, but...she touches her shoulder again. "Ow." It hurts -- that part is real, the
pain, isn't it?
sensible shoes on the familiar gray-green carpet.
step at a time.
concentrates on deep breaths, evenly spaced, a yoga of normalcy, and hurries
into the ladies room, surprised that she doesn't need her key.
bright fluorescent light reflects off the mirror and tiles. Like a hospital, Mary thinks. She takes off her jacket, lays it
across the counter and starts to unbutton her blouse, just to take a peek at
her shoulder, make sure that nothing is really wrong, and as she lifts the
green silk from her torso, her pale skin catches the light. Her eyes sort of hurt, but she doesn't
see anything wrong with her shoulder,
not even a red spot.
pain seems to have traveled down her back, creeping toward her spine. She cranes her neck to try and
look. Great -- the only part of
her body she can't really see.
trembling hands Mary gets her compact out of her purse, and holding it near her
face, manages to see her back reflected in the wall mirror. One reflection into another into her
green flecked eyes.
neck cramps as she strains to see if the strange hand has left marks on her
back. Which still burns. Her eyes really ache now but she thinks
she catches a glimmer of red, a finger mark protruding from under her bra
unfastens the underwire. The important
thing is to stay calm, not panic.
She hums to herself, as if she's undressing for a shower.
the chill continues its downward creep.
She feels the weirdness on her waist now, traveling down, and she feels
dizzy from the glaring porcelain, the odd shapes hugging the wall opposite the
mirrors. What are those long,
skinny sinks doing in here?
her bra comes off, Mary definitely sees a red mark in the creamy field of
smooth skin. But couldn't it be
from pressing with her own finger?
loses track of what she is doing, because she is doing too many things: holding
the compact mirror in her right hand, reaching over her shoulder with her left,
watching the reflection of a reflection, feeling a burn that might really be a
chill or might not.
chill travels further down. Mary
feels a beachhead of cold on her butt, like a delayed touch from the strange
hand, that strange man's hand. She
unzips her pleated skirt and steps out of it, careful to fold the garment
neatly before she puts it down beside the rumpled silk blouse. She's very pleased that her pantyhose
are iridescent green. She is green
inside and out this morning. She
takes off her pantyhose, nothing hidden now, nothing unusual down there, her
rear end a pleasing, blushing pink, nothing there, except the weird
feeling. What is that
feeling? What is it?
closes her eyes, forgets the islands of cold that connect her shoulder to her
hip, and she dips and turns to the music, humming to herself, a familiar tune
she can't name, just a random piece of pop, telling herself to forget it,
nothing wrong, nothing really wrong,
just a high school dance darkness behind her closed eyes, so the pain can slip
away into the forgotten years between then and now. Dancing across the dark floor she finds herself in front of
the strange skinny sinks. No, they
aren't sinks, they must be...
familiar voice, wire-rimmed glasses, a blinding white Oxford cloth shirt. "Mary, what are you doing?"
was a hand on my shoulder, then I felt it lower, but now...it's hard to
"Mary..." He starts to step closer but is too
naked." His owlish glasses
are blank, without answers.
"Oh. Yes. Something is wrong."
the monkey man
Special Collector’s Edition DVD
in the original theatrical release
is a true story. The events
depicted are based upon eyewitness accounts, police files, and court
records. Some names have been
changed to protect the families of the victims.
An interview room in a maximum
security prison. Malcolm Hasty
sits across from his lawyer, his hands and feet shackled, his face pale and
puffy, his lumpy body stuffed into an orange prison jumpsuit.
“Anything you can remember, Malcolm. Anything that might help.”
“Don't call me Malcolm.”
“All right. Mr. Hasty.”
“What would you like me to call you?”
Malcolm smiles. Its the kind of smile you'd rather not see, filled with bad
teeth, hinting at bad things. “Call
“Like the movie. You ever see that flick?”
“Cigarette! Gimme a Camel!” Malcolm orders.
“No privileges after this morning,” the
Malcolm grunts. He looks like he's ready to fall asleep, like a rattlesnake
baking in the sun. “Anything? Like childhood shit?”
“Mal was my nickname, Mal short for
Malcolm. You know mal means evil
in French? Think about that. I just became my name. You know, you look like the kind of
fucker that goes out to the desert for a vacation. I saw you my whole life, driving out on Friday. And Easter. Easter's some kind of big deal for you guys. A getaway. If you really knew the desert you'd shit your pants and stay
the fuck away. That's why I came
to L.A. Had to see the big anthill
The East Mojave. An isolated canyon of jagged peaks and
Joshua trees littered with: a tarpaper shack, a Ford Mercury with a coat of
primer, a rusting pickup pocked with bullet holes. The ground is strewn with broken glass, the guts of cars,
the metal innards of mysterious things, a graveyard of rusting machines.
Malcolm, in greasy combat fatigues, sits on
a broken car seat with his arsenal of well-oiled rifles and guns. Three boys, age six, eight, and
thirteen cluster beside him. They
are scruffy, sun-baked, dressed in K-Mart hand-me-downs.
“Lemme shoot the .06, Uncle Mal,” says
William Ward, thirteen.
“Lemme, lemme,” chime Six and Eight.
"You got money for the shells? The shells are costly."
“I got a dollar.”
“Let me see it.”
“It's at home.”
“Dollar's not enough anyway, son. You got to earn those shells. There's a cost.”
“You said I could.”
“When you earn it." Malcolm lifts up the shotgun, lovingly
chambers a pair of shells, caresses the gun barrel. "You want to pay the cost?”
The boy doesn't answer.
“Well, you go over and pet Petey.”
The boys grow quiet. “But Petey bites.”
“Not always. He doesn't bite me.
Now you go pet Petey or you go home to Momma.”
The boys are quiet. Malcolm picks up a .38. The boys cover their ears and Malcolm
shoots at a bottle on a rock. He
misses. Shoots again. Misses again. The gunshots echo through the canyon. A monkey shriek drifts across the
junkyard. “I said go pet Petey.”
William Ward reluctantly walks toward the
rusting pickup. The younger boys
follow safely behind, nervous and giggling. William Ward looks into the cab. A howler monkey sits chained to the broken steering
wheel. Blackened banana peels and
monkey shit litter the cab. The
monkey shrieks and lunges, caught short by his chain. The boy jumps back, afraid.
“Go on, then, I ain't got all day.”
The boy takes a deep breath and thrusts his
hand into the cab. The howler
shrieks, and the boy stumbles back, his hand bleeding. “Ow, motherfuck, motherfucker.” Above the wound there are other scabs
on his arm. This isn't the first
time that he's had to pet Petey.
Malcolm's laugh echoes in the rocks. “Now why don't Petey like you?”
looks over at Rand. His face is
green. It must be the light, Mary
thinks, but when she looks up at the light, it is white, cool, fluorescent,
with a soft hum, soft enough that she imagines herself inside it, traveling
down the corridor of luminescence, getting smaller as the tube narrows, reduced
finally to an electron, but an electron with a beautiful body, an electron
eager to mate with the world, to ground with the world, and she swims upstream,
like a salmon, she flows against the current, she spawns through the copper
wire, haloed in the metallic light, slides into the roar of Hoover Dam,
backwards through the generator turbine until she's alone in the cold water
where electricity is born, swimming in the fetal blue blankness before her own
"Mary?" A voice, irritated, repeats,
Laura. My baby sister. Change that dowdy hair, lose some
weight, lose those frumpish pink clothes.
Please. If you want my
you'll be sharing a room with two other women, but that's all right for now,
don't you think?"
least until we get the insurance straightened out," adds Albert, the
husband, the second husband, fingering
his limp mustache. Does he really
look uglier? Why are they here?
She feels cold everywhere.
The chill, remember the chill?
Seems to have won. Mary
places a finger on Sis's arm -- warm skin -- Sis flinches back.
got a call in to the firm's insurance agent," says Rand, sitting on the
opposite bench. He tries to look
concerned, tries to act the part of the concerned boyfriend, the concerned
lover who never expects to make love to Mary again. It had been a challenging romance, like the conquest of
territories that seethed with revolt, where the right to rule was hardly
divine, but was a mix of benevolence and cleverly structured despotism. She wouldn't necessarily make love like
something they did in the natural order of things after dinner, but she would
do whatever he liked in the middle of the night, after they'd gone to bed, in
the darkness where he didn't need to speak. Then she was libidinous, non-verbal, a prurient child, there
were no boundaries in that wonderful darkness, he could experiment, put his
penis wherever he liked -- she slept so deeply, he'd start fucking her and
she'd wake up, either moaning, or saying no, or moaning and saying no, and he would finish whatever he was
doing, it always got better when she joined in, even if it was just her
voice. God it could be good that
way, not having to ask. He gets
excited just remembering it, sitting across from Mary here in this ugly green
Mary herself, dislodging from the currents that course through the fluorescent
lights, ponders the finite resolutions of the three bodies sitting near
her. She knows that things are
slipping away but she can't exactly say what is gone, and this inability to say
what is missing is terrible, is terrifying. She knows that sometimes she is Mary and sometimes she is
not. The terror, the terrible
part, is crossing the boundary into either being or not being herself. Something has slipped, she has slipped
out of herself, but now...it seems like she has slipped back...but how? Can she actually not be herself?
And then come back? Like
going to sleep and waking up. Like
waking up in this room. From
lunch. All this happened after
lunch? She wants to fight it, but
she doesn't know what it is. What happened? What happened after lunch? Please explain.
"Mary? Mary? Mary!" It
is a new voice, a voice in a white uniform, a voice to ask her questions and
make a place for her to sleep.
seems to care where you go when you sleep, but they get very upset if you
travel through the light and down the wire, no, they don't like Mary traveling
with her eyes open, there is something wrong with that, that's what Laura says
they will explain here, that's how they will make her well again Albert says,
and Rand nods yes and kisses her like he is sad but Mary feels relief in his
sour breath, sour underneath his Tic-Tacs, sour with a sickness that only she
seems to see.
this is the place for Mary, they all tell her that, but right now she can't
remember exactly who Mary is, apart from someone sitting in a plastic chair and
dreaming up at a light she wants to travel through again.
lies alone now in a room with two other women who breathe noisy bubbles of
thoughts and smell like rough soap and she sees that she is Mary in this lonely
place and she starts to cry before the sedatives drag her down to a slow red
place, down to a world that tastes like cough syrup, and her eyes close and
there is nowhere else for her to visit this night, not even in her sleep.
windowless office seems temporary.
Boxes of books wait to be unpacked. Dr. Glass sits behind a gray government-issue desk adorned
with a lone pot of ivy, its leaves sickly-green from fluorescent light. The doctor wears designer knock-offs
and thick pancake make-up, her lips curled into a curdled frown. Draped across her shoulders is a
lavender Hermès scarf. She teases
the silk with her fingers, a cloaked nervous gesture, as she reviews Mary's
feels as if webs of invisible cotton candy insulate her from the world; a pink
spider crawls up the sweet web, spinning it tighter.
hopes her strange feelings come from the pills the nurse gives her. She works at separating herself from
whatever the drug is, like dividing two piles of laundry into clean and dirty,
or cotton and wool, or darks and delicates, but it all stays tangled. The web presses too softly everywhere
against her head and fighting against the web she can't think clearly about
the clear cotton webbing an echo dies.
Mary senses that a question hangs unanswered in the fibrous air but she
doesn't know what the question is.
It's like playing seventh grade softball, in February: she knew that a
ball had been hit toward her because everyone looked her way, but all she could
see was the sun, the huge red sun, and beneath it all the other faces watching
the arc of the ball that she couldn't see, until by some miracle the unseen
ball hit her glove and bounced to the ground and life continued on the other
side of that suspended moment. She
smiles, enormously comforted that she still has this memory, the ability to
call it up, to feel that suspended moment of long ago softball. It means, she thinks, that her history
survives in a way that is accessible -- access -- axis -- ask us --
I'm here to help you," the doctor says, and looks at her watch. Fifteen more minutes of
Glass doesn't say anything else out loud, but more of her words fade in and
out, like a radio not quite locked on a station. Such nice hair -- How, with the shit shampoo
here?...dying of hunger...I’m still hungry...but...that croissant was at least
three hundred calories...
stares, her mouth open, genuinely amazed, the caricature of amazement. Mary rubs her ears. Nothing changes. Well...say something, missie...or
don’t... The doctor's voice is still inside
doctor stares back at her. Mary
closes her mouth. Yes, I need
help, she thinks.
is it, Mary?"
you're crazy do you hear voices?"
doctor lets go of her scarf, getting interested. "Why? Do
you here voices?" Diaphragm
in my purse?...what's the use?...
you help me at night?"
you with what?"
what happens in my sleep."
you having trouble sleeping?"
"No. The trouble starts later, after I'm
asleep. At night. I've got trouble at night. Bad things."
shakes her head no.
complicated. I don't want to do
shrugs and stares down at her hands in her lap. A peaceful corner of herself, just looking. If I say the wrong thing I'll be
here longer -- I seem crazy? -- is crazy quiet? being too quiet?
“Business” dinner, Italian rustic Italian
yawn...diaphragm just in case, making too much of it, not that kind of
dinner...suck his cock if it's clean, how long has it been?...don't, do not
dwell...not fucking worth it just to get fucked...don't fucking think about
fucking so fucking much hah hah...well...
I hear her thinking, that babble, if I had to listen all day I would be crazy. Don't care about what's left -- it can't be any worse --
honesty is the best policy now.
Now. "Yes, Dr. Glass." Lesson one -- talking makes it quiet.
what, Mary?" Dr. Glass asks, pulled out of her daydream.
spend too much time thinking about sex.
Most people do, especially for how little it actually happens, I mean
how little time sex actually is.
Relative to other things, that is."
Glass stares at her, startled, white lips pressed tightly together, her own
brand of amazement. Lucky
guess. Lucky fucking guess about
fucking. "Your time's up for today, Mary." Be stern, be assertive --
close it clean. "I hope you have more to say to me next
time." The doctor flashes her
frozen lip I'm-your-friend-superior-but-equal-smile.
I want help, won't I have to ask for it? "Please. Can you help me get out of here before something...bad...
happens...?" Mary trails off,
caught in the webs that only she can feel.
doctor's smile brittles, like glass cooling. She had her fifty minutes, don't eat into my break time, missy...
"We'll talk about that more.
the monkey man -- dvd chapter 2
Twilight in the high
desert. Trucks and vans parked off
the shoulder of the Pearblossom Highway, circled like a wagon train. Halogen lights burn white-hot under a purple
sky. A tired film crew,
heat-addled, underpaid, scrambles to get a magic hour shot -- a campfire scene
in the sagebrush, ragged foothills in the background, ghoulish biker dudes and
their choppers in the foreground.
“Move the Brute to the left -- the Brute to
the left!” A light is rolled into
“Put a cutter on the key. Come on! We're losing the light!”
“Bring in first team!”
Malcolm, in his best pair of fatigues,
stands off to the side, near the snack table, mesmerized, talking to the craft
service guy, a film student working for free, the person in charge of making
coffee. “You mean it's a vampire
movie like Dracula?” Malcolm asks.
“No, it's a biker vampire flick.”
“Real vampires don't suck blood.”
“No, see, they feed off the life force. The aura. You know, the life force that surrounds all living things.”
“Well the producers need to show blood --
“Oh, yes, knives work good to puncture the
aura. There can be blood. But they should get it right.”
The craft service guy rolls his eyes, busies
himself with replenishing the cookie tray. He doesn't want to antagonize the locals, and it's not like
the guy has been mooching food.
But Malcolm has already forgotten about the
clueless kid because the female lead, a blonde, is making her way across the
set. She hands an assistant her
flannel robe, revealing a hippie blouse, embroidered, and flowered
panties. She looks wholesome, her
face, if you don't look too close.
Those vacant eyes. Malcolm
sees them. Those eyes that ask you
to do anything. He knows the type
-- won't eat meat but shoots meth.
That kind of girl.
She lies down on the sand, pissed about
having to give up her cigarette, and the prop man puts chains on her
wrists. Another prop man manacles
her legs. The chains and manacles
are attached to the choppers. It's
a gang bang torture scene. “If you
need any help, boys...” he hears a guy with gloves, one of the heavy lifters
joke to a buddy.
Malcolm steps close, can't believe his luck,
getting to watch. Let's see if the
shitheads know how to really do her.
“Quiet for a take.”
The guy between her legs, he's got a chain
of his own that he puts around her neck.
His buddies with the beers, they aren't doing shit, they aren't even
laughing right. There's blood
trickling from the babe's mouth, but it looks phony. And no one has a knife -- don't they know about cut &
fuck? They're all so
A make-up man touches up her bruises. The camera guy holds something like a
remote control up to her face.
“We're losing the light.”
Man, there's a lady who needs the right kind
of love, and they can't do shit.
Malcolm feels that nice hard thing, that great ache in his pants. She should be the love of my life. Everyone would be much happier if-
Malcolm feels a hand on his chest -- a twerp
wearing a headset and glasses.
“This is a closed set.”
“What's the star's name?”
“No, the girl.”
“Sherry Sales. Now, please, this is a closed set.”
“This is the desert.”
Malcolm would like to clock the fucker, on
principal, but what's the point.
Sherry's just the girl for a death trip. He could write a script for her. The real thing.
“This ain't a real horror picture. This is shit.” But no one is listening. He picks up a script from a canvas
chair -- "Harley's From Hell"
-- and thumbs through it as he walks away from the lights, into the real
twilight, the real desert.
“I could do a shitload better than this.”
ward is dark, except for the lights that never go off, the night lights that
reflect off the green waxed floors.
In the air is a metal hum that never sleeps. The night nurse sits at her station, doing the crossword
puzzle. The orderlies smoke dope
on the roof top. The night drags
the stars slowly across the sky.
opens her eyes. He stands beside
her bed, dressed all in black, his uniform.
Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Hayward. Not wayward.
recognizes him from the elevator.
"How did you get in here?"
laughs. During the day I'm an
orderly. At night I'm
disorderly. There are other laughs from other people in the room,
dark visitors crowding around her bed like dinner guests, like it's the best
table in the house. She sees two
women and another man. In Mary's
mind their laughs mix together in a music of several voices that blend into
Michelle, Olivia, Danny. The gang.
did you do to me?" she asks.
I've created a new kind of AIDS. Its purely mental -- you get infected
with insanity -- just from getting touched. He touches her arm to
illustrate his point. Tag
-- you're it, Mary. His fingers slowly travel up to her
shoulder, her neck. I
bet you've broken a lot of boy's hearts, Mary Mary quite contrary.
You've done bad things before, little bad
things, amateur bad things. The
funny thing is you've got it. The knack.
I mean talk about fucking bonus points.
hard for Mary to see clearly in the dark room, but she does see that he is
speaking without moving his lips, like a ventriloquist, but without a puppet --
unless -- could she be the puppet?
strokes her cheek with yellow fingernails. She
wants to flinch, she has the idea of flinching, anything to get away from the
nasty feel of his fingertips. But
she can't move. Don't panic. "How long do I have to stay
here?" Please explain.
You don't have
to stay here. In fact, we're all
going on a field trip.
leads her by the hand, sneaking along the hospital fence -- how did they get
outside? She stares up at the
fence top, covered with curlicues of barbed wire.
No, not climbing, Mary. Crawling.
pushes back the waxy leaves of a manzanita and peels up a corner of the chain
link fence -- how did I get on the ground? She feels the dirt and grass in her
fingers as she crawls through.
night is so big on the other side of the fence. No security lights...no security...no... "But...I'm supposed to be asleep
Sooner than you think sleep will be
obsolete. It'll all be one long
dream, unrolling like a highway, no traffic, no stop lights. Just pure glorious go.
sits inside of her body like it is a car.
She relaxes in the front seat of herself, hands on the steering wheel,
listening to the radio, a catchy pop tune that is really a tricky ad for a
theme park. The theme is a
secret. She thinks they are singing
Dark Land or Dizzy Land, but she's not sure, like a song you hear a million
times but never know the words, like her ears are afflicted with peripheral
hearing, that what she wants to hear is forever slipping away. She sits inside her car at a car wash
and the water cascades down the windshield like a Rocky Mountain stream, the
water pure enough for baptism or beer, and she hums the theme park theme as the
water cheerily spills down her windshield, leaving her car body clean and new,
and as she pulls out of the car wash the car dissolves, her car, into tight
skin and the windshield melts into the convex arc of her eyes, her body becomes
the boundary of the world, and that boundary leaks, she's being violated, she
sees herself walking across the hot asphalt, she is both the world and herself
in the world, and her mind itches at the shriek of her senses, shrieking like a
tea kettle whistling, shrieking as she stands frozen in mid-step and again it
is night, it is always night, and it is bliss to be inside of her head and
nowhere else, to be standing on this dark road with Hayward, whose face is now
as white as the marble that Michelangelo caressed with his chisel. Did he give me drugs?
Love is the drug.
Mary stares at Hayward's face it seems to disappear. She is blinded with peripheral vision: she can only see
things by not looking at them.
Wherever she looks, that's her blind spot, that's exactly what she
disciples walk in the shadows that trail him like black wings. Their several voices are soothing, dark
water as they walk down a dark canyon road. The woman with round cheeks, Michelle, takes Mary's hand,
and they walk together like sisters after dinner, but Mary doesn't remember
dinner, doesn't remember what exactly led to these steps down the dark dirt
squeezes Mary's hand hard enough for Mary to question her companion. Just so you know this isn't a
dream. You can't squeeze hands in
a dream. Michelle loosens her grip. Really, it’s as natural as bleeding.
something about what? About me
doing bad things. Like Mike, the
deaf kid at camp? She never made
fun of him for talking funny, and that day at lunch they were just horsing
around, I mean, really, they weren't treating him any worse than anyone else,
when Amy dared her to secretly put Tabasco sauce on his French fries and she
did and when it burned his tongue they couldn't help but laugh and then he
cried -- he ran away from the table and cried and babbled his deaf kid baby
talk. She felt bad about that, bad
enough to remember it now.
How fucking sad. I'm touched.
leers in, his face impossibly close.
She looks down at her own feet, relieved by the view down her chest,
reassured that she is walking inside her body down the dirt lane.
each footstep forward Mary sees the hill behind Hayward's head flattening out,
revealing a horizon of lights stretching into the orange fog, the lights of the
stand at the edge of a manicured yard, brilliant green Bermuda grass, a black
Porsche parked under a Joshua tree, a cliff side house that faces the orange
sea of light. Mary feels the
beating of an unseen helicopter, not the sound, rather the percussion against
her ears. But it's Hayward
breathing close and then kissing her, his eyes filling hers, his lips funneling
a hot green breath that fills her like a balloon, and Hayward is the air that
she floats up through, the balloon growing enormous and red in the thinning
air. She tries to resist. Tries. Really tries.
walks to the far side of the grounds, as far away from the other patients as
she can get, the closest thing to being alone here. By herself like this she sort of feels okay. Sort of.
stares through the fence at the tangled chaparral, dusty in the dry heat,
feeling frail, outside of herself, lonely, sitting on the ground and staring at
the shiny metal fence, listening to footsteps approaching, a familiar rhythm:
confident, athletic, arrogant.
can feel him jolt as he wonders how she knows it is him without looking up to
see. And then Rand strokes his
fat, purring, fluffy-furred ego, deciding that Mary is so taken with him that
she knows the rhythm of his footsteps.
She feels sad for him, but sadder for herself for having been with him,
and she feels the stirring of bad thoughts, delicious thoughts -- how can she
puncture him, how can she collapse his safe life with a sentence or two, how
can she reach under his perfect skin and pull him apart?
feels Rand’s hand on her shoulder, then sees his smile, filled with white
teeth, but today she senses gaps in his buoyant selfhood. Why? What do I see that’s different now?
debates about giving Mary a hug hello, and he wonders if she remembers their
last bedroom encounter, or what happened in the men's room, and in the context
of that strangeness, what were their parting terms? "You're looking good, Mary."
am? How did I look before?"
always looked good."
that's nice, we've both decided that we're beautiful," Rand summarizes.
that I don't have other problems.
Hence the new surroundings, the change of venue."
words stop rolling. For the first
time she hears crickets; their chirps fill the gap between the spoken
words. She feels caught again in
the world of surfaces, the skin deep universe where she cannot read
thoughts. This last day or so has
been so spooky. But maybe it isn't
completely bad, hearing things, if she really is hearing and not just
imagining. A hot breeze seems to
fan out of the earth and the crickets swell in fricative chorus and Mary knows
that she does not want to return to where Rand can take her.
leave me again," he says, in a voice that sounds to her like he had
rehearsed in front of his bedroom mirror.
He often practiced like that, speeches, jokes, not with her in the room,
that embarrassed him, but when she was in the kitchen or the den. He didn't mind her overhearing him at a
remove but he didn't want a direct audience, embarrassment to Rand being a
relative thing. The mirror served
him well; he used it to prepare for important meetings with clients, staring at
his reflection and talking through alternate scenarios, gauging his tone,
polishing his relaxed manner.
"Would you like to go for a ride?"
doesn't matter," Mary says, and to her it really doesn't. "Whatever you want to do."
go for a ride. They've given me
permission -- given you permission --
for an outing. It'll do you good
to get outside."
are outside. More outside than
being in your car."
got a sun roof, remember? Come
places his hand lightly on the small of Mary's back as they walk toward the
main building, propelling her along like he owns her. As he holds the hallway door open, an orderly in a black
baseball cap brushes against Rand and gives his shoulder a squeeze. Did he just squeeze my
shoulder? The orderly grins back and gives Rand a big thumbs up. Weird shit happens at the nut
hits the toggle on his key chain and his car alarm yelps like an electronic
dog. He gallantly unlocks the
de-fanged black passenger door for Mary.
She looks dismayed, her game expression wilting in the heat waves that
shimmer off the black asphalt.
feels good riding with you. It
feels like old times," Rand says, and puts his hand on her knee, casual
contact that she can't help but stare at, the hand lifting to downshift and
curse a VW Van puttering on the road ahead. Mary sees that Rand has put on a pair of mirrored sunglasses. He is the mirror that she tries to see
herself reflected in. He is blank
and smooth and silver-coated. He
is the mirror that doesn't mind her looking.
the shades? Pretty goofy. I got them at Venice Beach."
stop at a red light and Rand leans close to tantalize Mary with her own
reflection, but she only sees the mirror.
Not its reflection. And
like the snap of static of a radio turning on, Mary feels Rand hoping she will
kiss him. He won't disturb her
recovery with an overture of lips, but she's certainly welcome to seize the
moment, to revive their intimacy, he's invading the bubble of her private space
to let her know that he's available.
horn behind honks at the green light that Rand has neglected. "All right, all right, cool your
desire ripples away, leaving her peaceful, and as the car climbs up the
foothills, past lemon groves that smell sweet in the afternoon heat, she
realizes that she is enjoying the ride, the rhythm of the road, and the music,
the trumpet and the voice, corny but true, Suspicious Minds.
caught in a trap,
I can't walk out,
because I love you too much, baby...
that Elvis? Turn it up."
the radio dial is dark.
Radio not on?
can I hear it anyway? radio like thoughts in the air to tune to?
song is still there, in the air, and like a backbeat, Mary can hear Rand's
suspicions that she is hearing things, his worry throbbing like bass notes
beneath Elvis' voice.
"Mary, there's nothing to turn up
because there's nothing on."
know how you can hear a song in your head?" As if that explains it, but who cares what Rand does or does
not understand. She enjoys the
next verse, wondering if there will be another song, and what the song will
be. Somehow the new world doesn't
scare her, not today. What's
the next song? can I pick do I decide to do this?
Maybe I'm suspicious because true love is so
hard to find...
clicks in his Barbra Streisand CD and she can hear that, too, it's a battle of
the bands, too many notes and words, all of them mixed, and Barbra just won't
you mind turning off the music, Rand?"
you love Streisand."
lied. But I'm not lying now. She's got a beautiful voice, I suppose,
but I hate her."
turns off the tape, defeated.
Suspicion...breaking my heart...suspicion...
enjoys the end of her song, alone.
in the parking lot. Before
Camarillo, Mary often thought that Rand was a blank, but today she knows
better. She wills herself not to
hear him thinking, and it seems to work.
She hopes maybe now she has intuitive control, untutored mastery over
the switch that turns the special hearing on and off. Maybe.
kisses him good-bye. A steamy,
crawling kiss, her hands hooking inside his shirt, to the soft skin on his
chest, touching him like an experienced dowser, raising a groan like water from
the parched earth, leaving him with a memory of her lips and skin that he will
take back home to the city and his bed, stroking himself as he thinks of
her. She kisses him because she
wants to mirror his selfishness, to be his last thought as he drifts to sleep,
because then she will own him for that long stretch of dark hours. She breaks off the kiss and skips out
of the car, feels him breathless with desire watching her glide back into the
hospital. He doesn't have a clue.
doesn't look back as she goes through the automatic doors. The air goes dead as the automatic
doors shut behind her. She stands
on the other side of her signature, signed back into the ward, watching her
feet travel across the green linoleum, but superimposed are Rand's thoughts,
the words blooming into the color of dying grass on the hills he drives
past. She feels connected to Rand,
to his thoughts, his confusion, until the static of distance fades him into
glances over at the passenger seat, remembering Mary. All the times that he was with her rushed back in that kiss,
and there is more: the excitement of kissing a woman for the first time, there
was both familiarity and strangeness in that parting kiss. The freeway rolls past him unclocked,
he drives behind a slow Toyota for he doesn't know how many miles, that isn't
like him at all. He crisply
changes lanes and accelerates up to a precise sixty-four miles per hour, just
below the threshold of a speeding ticket.
But the little spurt of freeway aggression leaves him as faint as an out
of shape sprinter, and he keeps drifting back to the kiss. He feels a stirring of nerve ganglia in
his groin that he presses against with his palm. He dreams about what to do with his excitement.
Berk. He had cultivated her as a
professional buddy for months, teased and flirted with her, had lunch twice,
and then maneuvered it into seduction the day after Mary was gone.
hadn't called Sheila about tonight because he wanted to leave things open --
Mary was an imponderable, he had no idea when he would be back from Camarillo
or what his mood would be. He
knows now that seeing Sheila would be useful, to exorcise his need, but going
over to her condo, hungry to instantly fulfill the arousal from Mary's kiss,
that won't work. He doesn't quite
have the patience to go through the game of picking out a restaurant, acting
appropriately convivial during dinner, then waiting while Sheila deals with her
cat. And when he finally gets her
in bed, he will still need to splice Mary onto Sheila, he'll close his eyes and
dream about being with Mary. And
even with the warm expanse of nice skin that is Sheila's well-protected dowry,
he still might completely lose his concentration, get the two images mixed up,
and feel unsatisfied, even after all the time invested in getting Sheila to
hand remains pressed to his groin as he hurtles along the 405, his mind a
reliable automatic pilot of the freeway grid. No, he feels much too impatient for Sheila tonight,
especially since what he really wants is Mary. His unconscious guides him safely through the transition
lanes and onto the Marina Freeway.
Although his hand is well out of view he begins to feel self-conscious
and silly. He releases the
comforting pressure and fiddles with his car stereo, popping in a CD.
Name Is Barbra.
he hates Streisand too, the beautiful voice grates in a way that it never has
before. In a moment of
uncharacteristic whimsy he takes the CD out of the deck, whirs his tinted
window down an inch, and tosses it out into the freeway night. The gesture feels pure, a bold stroke,
a sacrifice, propitiating the spirit of Mary. Belatedly, he checks his rear view mirror for police.
touches the passenger seat thinking, that's where Mary sat, he caresses the
dark leather thinking, if Mary was still here I would feel her skin now, I
could be feeling the contour of her vagina through the thin fabric of her
panties, I would be getting her -- us -- excited for the triumphal return home,
like that wonderful March Sunday driving back up from Laguna Beach. Rand feels excited and ridiculous,
stroking the air above the empty seat, but what's crazy about that? Everybody does crazy things, he's just
horny, that's a natural thing, he can even think about something else if he
likes, a legal problem, he'll solve a problem with the Wilkes probate, puzzle
it out right now, if he likes, but what for, it's Saturday night, horny
thoughts are normal, he'll be home soon enough, and out of his clothes and
he'll find that last video he made with Mary, the video he should be very
careful with because it involves the question of legal consent. Arguably Mary was not a consenting
adult when he made that last tape.
The camera was hidden and she wasn't exactly self-aware, though she was
undeniably alive, had been very, very alive that night. But he had mistakenly left the
date/time feature turned on; their exceptional lust was demarcated minute by
minute, the date/time of the taping uncomfortably near to the date/time of
Mary's commitment to the hospital.
In the wrong circumstance, that wouldn't look good.
home, Rand kneels down on his bedroom carpet and roots through his tapes,
looking for the magic box, The Mary Tape, the supplement to an already potent
memory. He doesn't remember how he
got there, has no sense of having parked his Lexus. And why are the tapes suddenly so jumbled? He decides the day has been too long,
the drive too tiring, that must be why he keeps remembering the dead grass in
the hills, the landscape blurring past again. A sudden headache dizzies Rand with a sliver of double-vision,
multiplying the confusion of tapes, and what does he need the tape for
anyway? He rolls on to his back,
his hands find their home, he remembers Mary as he touches himself. That kiss. What a great kiss.
in the jacaranda's shade
feels better outside. She is
allowed to sit unsupervised outside because she has proven that she knows how
to behave, properly behave, and she has found a nice place to sit, cross-legged
in the shade of a jacaranda tree in blossom, the branches overhead a canopy of
purple, a sprinkling of the beautiful flowers on the grass beside her. Even here, in the hospital, life is
getting better. Having a breakdown
isn't a bad thing, not if you get put back together. Then she hears footsteps approaching. The closer they get the more tentative
voice that she remembers but cannot name.
She smiles up as he stands over her, heroic against the lemon yellow
sky. The face assembles itself
into a pattern. The pattern has
the residue of a taste.
Chocolate. Hot chocolate.
Tom Reese. Remember?"
course. I just didn't remember
your name. Mr. Hot
kneels and sits down in the grass beside her. "I heard about you, that you were here..."
hesitates. "I called your
office. And then I was out this
way on another case and..." Paler
now, but she’s still so beautiful -- don’t sit too close Reese you idiot -- act
casual -- act relaxed -- act -- no big deal, relax relax, relax -- make her
smiles again, so nice to listen to him.
"That's sweet. I know
this must look bad, but actually I'm here for all the wrong reasons. I suppose a lot of people -- people
here -- say that."
picks up one of the purple flowers from the ground. He is finally here with her, and he still feels shy. Just sit here. Don't say a thing, if she's not crazy
then we'll be together -- maybe -- maybe.
"How are you doing?"
smiles and touches his hand. He
so nice to see you," she says.
"We're connected, you know.
Of course you know. And not
Yes, love at first sight, yes, tell him, he needs to know, he can
help, him, only him. "I need to get out of here. There are bad people here. They do bad things at night."
I believe her? does she believe me? make it easy for, once, fuck it, please
just once, don’t fuck it up. "Well, I..."
better stop talking because I'll scare you away, Reese. You hardly know me. And I'm so glad you're here. You talk."
looks around. Not what I
expected -- off the deep end? farther along? not hopeless? dear God, don't let
her really be crazy, say something, my turn to say something.
"It's a nice day. Sort
laughs and playfully squeezes his hand.
Don't need to or want to hear anything else he's not saying, purple
tree, smiling, here, us, turn it off, sit here, try try try NOT to listen to
the inside of him, quiet now. Yes. Thank you. Mary smiles, not hearing
his voice in her head any longer, pleased that she can turn it off, whatever it is. A
nice day now, for the moment.
smiles at Reese, again. For the
first time? Again.
strange himself, pained by what he doesn't understand about his feelings, which
is so much, but oddly comfortable with her, odd just to sit with someone so
beautiful, holding her hand, not having to speak.
The Monkey Man -- dvd chapter 3
A blistering summer day on
Hollywood Boulevard, the sky a filthy yellow-gray, the sidewalk gritty with
fine black powder. Malcolm walks
close to the buildings, hugging to the slim zone of shade. He sneers at a Tourist Mom, sipping a
Big Gulp, her big butt in white shorts, head down, looking for names on the
Walk of Fame. “Mickey Rooney!” she
calls out. “Boris Karloff!”
Tourist Dad excitedly calls back.
Malcolm's new clothes feel itchy, but
everything has a price.
Everything. Brand new black
Levi's. And a black tee shirt that
says “Hollywood” in silver sparkles.
Under his arm is a fat folder of papers, some white, some yellow, some
typed, some handwritten. If they
only knew what he was carrying.
The lobby smells like piss. Not a clean place. But he sees the name he is looking for
on the building directory: Chopper Films.
It's like he's lived here forever, like he's seen it in his dreams, the
way he already knows his way around this town.
Up the stairs, in the hallway, the sound of
screams from some kind of machine.
Through an open door Malcolm sees all kinds of TV screens, a woman
walking backwards, her head coming off her neck -- then back on -- head off --
head on -- as the tape winds back and forth. He stands in the hallway, mesmerized. "Is that an editing machine?"
A little snot, curly Jew hair, looks up at
“Is this Chopper Films?”
“This is the editing room. You want down the hall.”
“I've got a script.”
Little snot doesn't say shit, just keeps
rolling that head on and off, on and off, like he's some genius. Fuck, it's the machine, he's just the
hands holding it.
Down the hall, Chopper Films in red on the door. Inside, a desk, lots of scripts, no one home. Then she walks in from the private
office. SHE. Sherry. His all time favorite torture victim, even the half-assed
version he witnessed. She's
wearing jeans just like his, black jeans.
“I saw you acting.”
“Yeah?” Sherry says, deadpan, staring at his
tee shirt. Won't even look him in
“Harley's From Hell. I watched you shooting it in the
desert. When's it gonna be in the
“It's straight to video.”
“That's too bad," he sympathizes. “Especially since you starred in it.”
“I was only in two scenes.”
“I thought you were good.”
Back in her chair, Sherry’s busy with her
pencil, busy with a piece of paper, busy with everything except him. He knows what that's like. The phone rings. “Chopper Films...no, he's in a
meeting...yes, I'll tell him...good-bye.”
He'll give her another chance. “I wrote a horror script. The real thing.” He hands her his manuscript. But she eyes it suspiciously, the loose
pages sticking out, won't take it.
It's embarrassing, holding the thing out for her to take. Finally, he just puts it down on her
“It's my first script, but I've got a knack
for it. For horror. I mean, lots of people say that evil is
eternal, but they don't really mean it.
But I really know how it works.
A screenplay's like a blueprint, right? That's what this book I borrowed said.”
“We don't take unsolicited manuscripts,”
Sherry says, very frosty.
“What's that mean?”
“You can't leave this script here. You have to send it to us through an
He smiles. Surely she sees.
“Well, maybe I'm the agent.”
“A real agent. We have to protect ourselves against lawsuits.”
Malcolm smiles. Now he sees the logic.
Of course. To be the
perfect torture victim she needs to provoke the torture. “It's your life.”
“What's that supposed to mean?” she asks
uneasily, feeling unsettled. The
folder that he dropped on the desk is grimy, handwritten, retarded looking,
diseased. Don't freak, he's not a
stalker, he's pudgy, he's harmless, she thinks.
He smiles. “I'm not a stalker,” he says. Good -- she finally looks scared. “This is a script of real horror. Not just a stupid movie.” Leave no traces.
He picks his opus back up.
“You had you're chance, Sherry.
I wrote the part just for you.
But I'll do this one all by myself.”
“Fine,” she says softly, busy with her
pencil again. She won't look up
until he's gone. That's the safest
see how safe.
Taylor sits in his boxer shorts on his beige leather couch, smoking a joint and
watching MTV, his sideburns still wet from the hot tub.
notices that the singer's lips don't match the soundtrack. The video is an oldie, something he's
heard a thousand times, but the name of the tune eludes him. He sneers at the poor lip sync, but
then wonders if it might actually be hip and intentional. He finally decides that he is just
stoned, very stoned, and that he has gotten good value for the four hundred
dollars the sativa cost him.
stoned that he doesn't hear them come in, a man and a woman. Tony mutes the music with the remote
man is all in black -- jeans, vest, baseball cap, goatee, the whole Hollywood
cowboy trip. The woman has
wide-awake startled eyes, pale skin, dressed in a white hospital
nightgown. An odd couple, lost
souls, but why here?
got a story line for you, Tony, baby.
Perfect for a double threat like you. This is a book and a movie. It's a fucking franchise," Hayward says smoothly, but
with some bite.
did you get in here?"
dwell on the trivial, Tony. Not
if you're interested in any kind of professional relationship then behave
professionally. I did not invite
you into my house, mister."
Please allow me to introduce myself.
name is Hayward. That's Ward, my
middle name, and Hay, the first part of my last name, put together
backwards. I got that idea from The
White Album, you know the song Revolution
Number Nine, where, if you play the record
backwards it says "Turn me on dead man?" You know that one, Tony?"
Shit, don't think the worst, turn on the
hears it -- a voice in her head -- this Tony's silent words. Beads of sweat dot the shiny top of his
head. A soft pulse of color
surrounds him, like ink from a squid, the same dark purple, except this color
is in the air and it clings to Tony, shrouds him, in a way that Mary has never
seen before. These colors are a new
thing. Auras, that's the
word. What's next -- will
everything be strange, like, stoned?
Maybe I really am crazy imagining all this meaning I'm not really here
-- what's next?
strokes Mary's arm and smiles. Welcome
to the club.
puts the dead roach down in the white ashtray he stole from the Plaza
Athénée. He sits forward,
shoulders hunched, index finger lightly tapping the thick glass coffee
table. In the body language of
casual control, this meeting is hopefully coming to an end. "I like your chutzpah,
Hayward. Come by my office
tomorrow, we could do business."
a disease story. A virus
story. A lethal virus. It's a natural for a novel or a movie
but there's enough material for an apocalyptic mini-series, if you want to take
it that direction. The underlying
concept is that evil is eternal, you can't kill it off, so, like, you kill a
body and the virus just travels to a new host. Now that's an old idea -- eternal -- hah! -- but I've got a
killer hook. The concept is mental
So, like, if you fuck a crazy person, a disease carrier, like Typhoid
Mary, then you go crazy. Or it can
be from casual contact -- you can get infected with insanity just from getting
touched." Hayward lightly
touches Tony's arm to make his point.
drifts in a stoned, twisting current of panic. This Hayward looks small enough to tackle, run for the
door, how'd he ever get in, how big are her breasts? unhappy looking chick, his
cold hand stuck to me like Crazy Glue. Tony starts to reach for the roach, to
take another toke and sort out what, after all, might be a workable
high-concept. And didn't
he say that a hand can infect you, or an idea -- clever of him to touch me
then, to add a tactile element to the pitch.
the possibilities, because there is no mental prophylactic. There aren't any brain condoms to
protect you from mental AIDS."
tries to stand up, but Hayward pushes him back down. He knows beyond a doubt that this small man with crows feet
at his eyes, with his young mouth and ancient skin, is a menace. Dangerous, do not expect the worst,
breathe deep, agree, don't provoke, offer whatever.
Tony" Hayward tells him.
"Relax and enjoy our conversation. Don't talk just to fill up more time."
stands very still, feet planted on the edge of the Navaho rug. If she doesn't move then maybe she's
not really here, not part of it, whatever it is.
Mary -- come over here and join us.
words come to her directly, undistorted by vocal chords or air. "Did you say something?" she
asks, a normal question, an anchor thrown into dark water.
You heard me. Don't make me repeat.
On the couch, next to the meat.
decides to resist on general principle, out of stubbornness, when she feels her
left leg jerk forward, then her right leg, tugged like a rag doll. Ugly and futile. And when the tug lets go, she stumbles
and falls to the floor, feels the wool rug fringe curling over her fingers.
It's not all sweetness and light, but listen
to me, and a good time is guaranteed,
Hayward tells her.
sits on the couch. She wants to
know if she put herself there, or if it was Hayward, but he ignores her for the
a great idea. Great," Tony
gamely tries, but he's an experienced pitch-man, and he feels his own words
hang dead in the air. "But I
didn't invite you in here. We --
could do business together, if you..." Tony trails off.
He stares at his own hands, a familiar and welcome sight, but Hayward's
cold hand rests on his forearm, unwanted and unmovable. He said you can get infected from
just getting touched. Tony, the master of eye contact, is
afraid to look up, afraid of the man's face.
the way, you know that book you wrote about Malcolm?"
No Evil. Clever title, but fucked-up. Trivializing."
sorry you didn't like it. That was
a long time ago. I've become a
more honest writer?"
"Yes. Yes, of course."
Try being really
honest. Take a moment to think
about eternity, Tony.
No not here not IN this room not now not
now not now
Tony's head screams, a big scream that Hayward catches and throws back.
hands, unseen, turn Mary's head.
She sees Tony's aura bright as a firecracker, the fast glint of metal in
Hayward's left hand, and then new blood sparkle as it greets the air. Hayward's hand moves in a wide, sawing
circle around Tony's chest. But
how can blood be like a Roman Candle?
closes her eyes. He can't keep
my eyes open. Please. She
hears such big questions now, and between the questions is the huge darkness
between heart beats. That's the
darkness where she sleeps, between blinks. Why can't I leave, please?
jumps to morning
opens her eyes but she is afraid to look around the gloomy room. She feels a million miles from sleep
but as she wonders about the time, the world jumps to morning without skipping
hears the groans of hospital dawn, the rattle of a pill cart and tired, minimum
wage footsteps. She wakes up
between blinks, a bad dream still fresh behind her eyelids. A silver shape swims in her eyes. Sitting up she sees two Hershey's
Kisses on her pillow, waiting for her to peel back the silver foil. As the shape of a kiss dissolves into a
sweet puddle on her tongue, she remembers a Joshua tree, a blue moon in an
orange sky, a white hallway.
bad things. Color and blood. Real -- what is real? I remember what? Something red, something bad, but I
wasn't me, can't be. It was not
last Hershey's Kiss looks so lonely on her pillow. She pushes it aside and crawls back under the sheets, curls
up and stares at the foil-covered chocolate, only inches from her eyes, huge
and silver, a talisman of childhood.
Mary cries quiet tears, feeling the phantom pain of the children that
don't exist, of the husband that she doesn't have. The sun burns hot outside the room's locked and barred
windows and she shuts her eyes so hard that bright spots dart like dead
fireflies in the corners of her eyes.
She wants to go back to sleep while there is still daylight to shelter
her, a deep sleep free of voices and dreams.
a warm membrane designed solely for his
stares at the aquarium, at the endless procession of bubbles escaping from the
toy diver's head. At the diver's
feet is a ceramic sign that says The Rand Corporation, a gag gift from a
securities lawyer Rand does occasional business with. There are no fish in the tank. The last of Rand's Siamese fighting fish, the one he called
Mohammed, died the week Rand was away in Maui. His secretary, Jan, was also vacationing that week, but in
Santa Barbara, and she'd neglected to provide for Mohammed's care in her
absence. Rand harbors a grudge
because while he was responsible for feeding his fish, Jan was responsible
during vacations. This implied,
oral contract rendered Jan guilty of the fighting fish's wrongful death.
the death of Mohammed is low on Rand's current agenda, even though he stares at
the little sea where Mohammed once swam.
He is mostly thinking about yesterday, about Mary, about waking up naked
on the floor and feeling hung over even though he drank no wine.
of Mary lead Rand back to himself; he discovers that his fly is open and he is
squeezing himself. He stares at
the deposition on his desk, as long as a Dickens novel, but lacking characters
and plot. Just thousands of dead
facts that keep the cash register ringing -- but registers don't ring anymore,
they beep, like his phone beeps, which reminds him -- freeing one hand from the
rote pursuit of onanistic pleasure, he hits a sequence of numbers that tells
Jan to hold all his calls so he can focus on this ache he feels for Mary.
ache he remembers once conquering, right here in this office, with cajolery and
a seventy-dollar bottle of Alsatian wine.
He had been elevated to the corner office the week before, after the
hasty and unpleasant exit of Barnes, a partner who had failed to produce. Rand had moved in before he could
re-decorate. He wanted to
consecrate the office, break a bottle of champagne on its metaphoric prow,
which meant that he wanted to spill his seed into Mary's mouth. Although it was 10:20 PM and the office
was empty except for a junior associate, Mary had insisted that he lock the
door, in return for which he had coaxed her out of all her clothes. He stroked her head as she knelt
between his legs, and closed his eyes, only to greedily open them again. He was drunk with the view his new
windows commanded, but it was nothing compared with the curve of Mary's back,
her beautiful shoulder blades centered between his legs, her head moving
rhythmically. Sitting in his new
chair, Rand felt that he was fucking her head, that her consciousness was
disembodied in the lips that gave him such pleasure, that he was penetrating
the deepest part of her soul, that her lips were not for words but a warm
membrane designed solely for his pleasure. Her posture of submission and the dominance he felt moving
in response to her lips, this power excited him more than the sensation of her
skin against his, and it was only her voice and the empty vacuum of her
stopping that pulled him back from the glory of his life at that moment.
don't have to press my head, you don't have to push me like that," Mary
said with slow anger.
sorry, it's just...I got excited..."
don't like to be pushed like that."
sorry, Mary, please, I'm sorry."
stared at him. She waited.
was just passion," he tried, the intermission painful.
thought he read the hint of a smile.
Mary," he pleaded, surprising himself with his suddenly childish tone.
it's the wine. That's making you
it's..." He was lost. It was Mary on the floor, but he had
lost track of what words could get her to continue. She was naked, but the bliss was suddenly unattainable.
it's the wine," she repeated.
it's the wine," he quickly agreed.
"Forgive me,, don't stop." He bent down to kiss her, as if he was sanctifying her lips,
no, sanctifying sounded too grandiose, even as he described the event to
himself. He knew he was trapped
that way, narrating to himself what had happened in his life, like he was a
sports commentator with a privileged seat and a motor mouth. Not sanctifying -- he was validating her mouth, and he was tasting himself on her lips,
that delicate edge of salt, bouquet of Rand. But was his kiss feeling enough? Because his immediate need was to persuade Mary to resume
her fellatio. And even as he was
strategizing his dilemma, the world, conspired to do for Rand what it had done
so many times before -- the world made Rand happy, rewarded him for blatantly
being himself. Mary's mouth took
him back in, he was back inside her head, he was fucking her head again, his
hands went reflexively toward his crotch, surprised again by how soft her hair
was, and then his hands retreated, fearful of invading and breaking the moment
by pressing her head again. He
grabbed the arms of the chair, digging his manicured nails into the black
leather, feeling the arch of tight dorsal muscles in his back. It was so perfect that he wanted the
moment to extend and expand forever, it was too good to let end, he must keep
Mary kneeling between his legs forever, he was greedy for orgasm and greedy to
postpone it, and the greed compromised and distracted his ecstasy, but he was
happy all the same, he was white hot and perfect, and coming, coming, he soon found himself abandoned and Mary furious
now, pushing at his legs, madder than before because he was crushing her with
his Nautilus legs, but that was fine, he could and did drop down out of his
chair to be apologetic and concerned and she didn't even cry about it. There were dark bruises on her rib cage
for the next two weeks, but he took her to Sante Fe for a surprise weekend and
bought her a red cashmere sweater and
he sits, pecker in hand, coming back, post-coital? Rand wonders, cannot think of the precise word for
It's crazy -- he realizes that his office door is unlocked, but Jan has
the fear of God about coming into his office without knocking. He is surprised but not surprised to
find that his pants are down around his ankles and with some distaste he
sacrifices a linen handkerchief to clean up the remains of his morning's
a brief knock Frank Askins barges in and Rand in a panic rolls his chair close
against his desk.
Marsh depositions, have you seen what that asshole did in the discovery? It's ludicrous!"
busily shuffles papers, careful not to overdo it. He feels himself blushing but he knows that his tan cuts him
some slack. Fucking senior
partners, they'd storm into the stall while you were taking a shit if they
could. "Frank, I'm putting
out a fire on the Wilkes case, a brush fire that's threatening to engulf a
couple of multi-million dollar houses.
Give me ten minutes and I'll be down to talk about those
want his nuts on my trophy wall, Rand.
See you in ten."
Rand catches himself hyper-ventilating.
Scared. He has never done
this, not in the office, not in peak morning hours, not with the door unlocked.
the monkey man -- dvd chapter 4
Animal prison. The smell of dung in the hot dead
air. Parrot caws echo from a
distant pavilion. Except for a few
mommies pushing strollers, the walkways are empty. Just another Wednesday afternoon at the zoo. Malcolm leans against the bars of the
monkey cage, wearing the light blue jumpsuit of the City of Los Angeles, a Daily
Variety tucked in his hip pocket, sipping a Mountain Dew and studying the
primates. But the monkeys are
lazing in the heat and Malcolm is bored.
Then he sees Sherry Sales, actress and
secretary, Miss Chopper Films, strolling past the lions, heading toward
him. She wears jeans, halter top,
a summery straw hat.
“Fucking destiny.” Malcolm finishes his Mountain Dew, throws the bottle in the
trash, fusses with his jumpsuit, primps his hair. “Sherry Sales, hiya.”
She smiles, pleased to be recognized. “Do I know you?”
“I saw you shooting that vampire movie out
in Palmdale, then I came by the office.”
She remembers; a look crosses her face.
“Boy were you right, that script I brought
in, all those loose pages, no wonder you looked at me like I was crazy. But I took this class, you know, act
one, act two, act three, plot points, how wide the margins should be.” Malcolm offers a smile. He needs dental work. “Hey, I know this sounds like a line,
but that was my first day in town.”
The howler with a birthmark on his mouth,
Malcolm's favorite one here, comes right up to the bars and shrieks at
“Is it your period?” Malcolm asks.
She stares at him like he is of a lower
“I bet it is. Monkey's can tell every time. They've got a much better sense of smell than us.”
“Well, nice seeing you.” Don't provoke him, it's better to act
polite, that's what she thinks.
You cannot walk away from destiny. Cannot. She does not understand, not yet. Sneering at my uniform. Like she knows all about a good job. I do honest work. Not her -- she's a day player who gives
Sherry walks away, with an unmistakable
sashay, confident, arrogant, unfuckable, pleased that she has handled a
situation well. Like I was just a
“Hey, don't just walk away.”
“I'm sorry, but I've got be somewhere.”
“If you're at the zoo you can't be in that
much of a hurry.”
“Excuse me. That's none of your business.”
Malcolm tags along. If she will just listen. “Hey, if you got stood up, that's his
bad luck -- and my good luck. Our
good luck. I was going to wait and
show you the script after I got it perfect. But this is fate.”
She doesn't wait.
“What, are you upset because I said
something about your period?
Bodily functions are nothing to be ashamed of. Hey, I was just commenting on what the monkey did, why he
got so excited.”
Sherry doesn't answer, her shoes clicking
“Hey, this script is not just another
script. I'm not just trying to
feed you a line. My movie will
change the way that people perceive horror. I could have any actress I want, and I want you. Chance of a lifetime. I mean, you've got this amazing
look. I mean, it's like you're
perfectly innocent but you still want to fuck. You express this wonderful duality, the classic half-virgin
She passes through the zoo's front
gate. No one is around. It's like the twilight zone around this
guy. “Are you following me?”
Little Miss Unfuckable. He smiles again. He really does want to give her another
chance. “I'm not a follower. I'm a leader.”
“Don't follow me. Because there will be consequences.”
She thinks she's bulletproof behind those
sunglasses. Like she could bring
down some big heat. She does an
abrupt turn and clickety-clacks toward her car. Heavy. He
snickers. She glances back, to
make sure he hasn't followed. No. He holds his ground.
When Sherry gets to her green Gremlin, a
little dinged but the price was right, bought cheap from a friendly stunt man,
she takes another look back. He,
whoever he is, is gone.
makes her way down the cafeteria line, on pins and needles, repeating the same
question to herself as she pushes her orange plastic tray along the stainless
steel runner: just because I remember something it is real? Just because...
considers the meat loaf, makes a snap decision to become a vegetarian and
chooses dinner salad, macaroni and cheese, fruit salad.
cafeteria reminds Mary of high school except, she thinks, people are mentally
crippled here. But weren't we
mentally crippled in high school too?
She suffers the long walk from the food line to the tables. Thankfully, the droolers are spoon-fed
debates about taking a table by herself.
It would be her and five empty chairs and then who would sit down beside
her and what if no one did? Being
alone is the best thing, get her thoughts organized.
chair she picks, metal and laminated pine, wobbles when she shifts her weight,
but she doesn't change seats. She
takes her food off the tray. It's
a little more elegant this way, but she's not really hungry. Dinner is just something to do, before
the next thing to do, and what she really has to do is think about how one
thing after another can lead to her going home.
dinner, what then? There was that
Grisham novel with the cover torn off that she found in the lounge, yes, that
book could help put her to sleep.
But sleep, that might not be such a good thing, not after last
night. Whatever last night was. If she could just go home, that would
help, get things back to normal, back to a normal sleep cycle.
woman with a round face carries her tray in Mary's direction with a big smile
hello. Mary remembers her from
somewhere -- group therapy? The
swimming pool? What's her name,
she's very attractive, her dark hair pulled back into a perfect ponytail, and
she's got brought a friend, shorter, curly hair, also smiling.
two women join her. "I'm
doesn't want to.
the shorter one squeaks out between gashes of cherry lipstick.
man joins them, also short, freckled, his hair an irritating shade of red. Mary sort of remembers him. He has a double portion of meat loaf on
his tray. "Hello again,
Mary," he says, and offers his hand.
She shakes and it feels awful, his clammy skin, the pasty freckled kind. Mary averts her eyes. When she looks back at him she knows
that he hates her, just knows it, even though he keeps smiling.
got to have all the fun last night," he says in a dead quiet tone.
"You got to go inside," Olivia stage whispers. "Teachers pet." She takes a sip of chocolate milk,
leaving the print of her cherry lipstick on the glass.
acts busy with her food, having trouble spearing the slippery macaroni with her
fork, staring down at her plate to keep from staring at her new
table-mates. She can't really say
what the colors on her plate are supposed to be because the food is now a
blur. She feels unprepared for
this social situation.
the first new playmate we've had in a while," Danny says.
lifts her fork, she doesn't know why, she's anything but hungry. The cheesy morsel hangs naked on the
tines. She doesn't know quite what
to say. It's not like she has
something to say and can't. There
is nothing to say, and this absence of
anything is the opening note of a panic sonata.
didn't mean playmate like a Playboy Playmate."
shut up," Michelle says.
can't tell me to shut up."
can tell you anything I like."
don't have to listen."
guys," Olivia says, "you're not making a good impression on
doesn't like you. But don't worry,
Danny doesn't like anyone."
Michelle crunches into a raw carrot and smiles serenely.
is busy eating his meat; he doesn't look happy.
smiles as she sips her milk. The
lipstick stains collect around the rim.
new table-mates don't have much to say to each other. "Hey," Olivia asks Mary.
"Hey, what ward are you in," Olivia squeaks. She has curly hair and to Mary's eye a curly smile, in fact
everything about her seems curly.
cut it out."
what. Or you're going to be in big
kind of trouble? Hey, will you ward off the trouble?"
fine, it's your ass."
does not want to be there. She
really would rather be someplace else, away from this queasy food and wobbly
company. She'll give it a minute,
if she can endure a minute, to be polite, then say good night and get up and
turn in her tray.
touches her arm. She speaks to
Mary but her lips don't move. We'll
have some fun tonight. Crawl
through the hole in the fence again.
It was His idea to hide us in here. That's why we're here -- who would think to look for us
doesn't understand. Has Michelle
been speaking silently like this all along? Because Mary hasn't been paying attention, it's not
something you look for in an ordinary conversation. And why should she expect anything ordinary here? But can you really speak without words?
Is it a two-way thing, is there really such a thing as telepathy, and not just in a night dream?
shakes her tight curls up and down.
hears music reverberating in the echoey cafeteria, not the panic sonata but
cooler stuff than she would ever expect to hear in a hospital.
I'm so happy
because today I found my friends
they're in my head...
that Nirvana, Mary wonders.
should know, you picked it, Olivia purrs.
Who said telepathy was just words, what book
I don't want this."
Don't want what? Did you ask to be born? Michelle
You're our radio. That's why Hayward calls you Radio Mary, Olivia explains.
Boom box, you're the boom box, says
Danny. I wanna make boom-boom with
the boom box.
Danny I said shut the fuck up. Enjoy the music, Mary, it's what you
were always meant to do.
I'm so lonely,
that's okay you share my head
I'm to blame for all I've heard...
Nirvana, M, funny stuff.
can I be so scared at dinner, Mary wonders.
No, that's backwards, they're scared of us.
"Us?" Please, not us.
stops the videotape and gets busy selecting tonight's wine. He feels like drinking a young
cabernet, but not too big. He
selects a Ravenswood, uncorks it, and while he waits for the wine to breathe,
he thinks about watching The Mary Tape again. He needs to re-live the memory again, and meditating upon
his need, he catches himself drinking the wine, the unbreathed wine. Suffocated wine, he thinks.
wants to get drunk quickly and swim in warm thoughts. He feels like regressing back to the Nineties, his days of
'ludes and ecstasy, when his skin glowed effortlessly young and warm. Most of all he wants Mary back.
she waits in his bedroom, in a black box, stretched out on the black tape, an
erotic collection of zeroes and ones, mating with him forever.
on his TV screen is Mary, her legs and arms entwining him. Is he bisexual for loving both Mary and
himself? Is narcissism bisexual? His Italian trousers get tangled around
his ankles and he drinks right from the bottle, gauche and absurd, his hand
sticky with himself, the designer wine label sullied as a nervous tic sends
shudders through his left eye and his lip twitches to the rhythm of his
blood. Is he dying now, here on
the floor, has he finally spasmed himself out of existence?
weaves drunkenly into the bathroom, like a sailor on a listing deck. He washes his hands, straightens his
clothes, and frowns at his crooked smile in the mirror. He feels small and confined in the
forty-two hundred square feet of his house, bored out of his mind, roaming from
room to room, wanting Mary and hating her and very surprised to hear his front
a panic, he checks his watch, remembers that he forgot their date, but he can't
remember what they were supposed to do.
And what is the wine bottle doing in his hand? He quickly hides it behind the leg of his reproduction
Mission Oak side table and opens the door for Sheila. She looks more intimidating than attractive in her powder
blue suit. Unlike Mary, Sheila is
not innately sexy.
eyes travel down to the flap of Oxford cloth shirt that dangles in front of
Rand's rumpled trousers. Her smile
withers. His kiss smells heavy
with notes of black cherry and a hint of peppercorn, long in the finish, a bit
acidic. "Is something
sees her nose crinkle at the taste of wine on his lips. Her petulance bores him, but he is also
afraid to be alone tonight, his house and his skin are both unbearable, and if
he can't fuck Mary, then Sheila is the next best thing. But she is a professional acquaintance,
there is that to consider, though the outcome of their liaison, certain to fall
short of marriage, will no doubt be awkward.
you like a drink?" he asks.
like to eat."
is lost. He has no idea what
they've planned for the evening.
He wants to get back to The Mary Tape, he can't get enough of that, and
his desire feels so delicious it distracts him from his forgetfulness. Was he supposed to make dinner? Or did he make reservations? And if so, where?
drunk," Sheila observes.
her lead, he thinks. "I've
had a setback on a case. A major
fuck-around, and yes, I am drunk.
But I'm a nice drunk."
He puts his arms around her and likes the reassuring feel of her
solidity. There is resistance in
Sheila’s muscles, then she relaxes against him, her wool jacket scratchy
against his forearm, her arm resting absently on his shoulder and he senses her
deciding what's up, and how this night might fit into the pattern of their
relationship, the rise and fall of the last few days. They are still a little new to each other, but maybe already
not new enough.
you make the reservations?" she asks and feels his shoulders stiffen.
think Jan did. I've just been
overwhelmed. And then I got so
depressed -- it's the first time I've been depressed in three years so I opened
a bottle of wine. I'm sorry if
that was rude but I'm just not myself tonight. Forgive me?"
are acting strangely, Rand."
just a little drunk and worn out from the week. But it's Monday, we've got the whole week..."
told you I was drunk," he says.
I told you that you were drunk. But you're not that drunk."
got me distracted." He
intensifies their embrace, but the gesture feels false, even to himself. He doesn't want her, but he also
doesn't want to be alone.
steps back from his limp arms and sees that his shirt is buttoned wrong. His clothes look wrinkled and thrown
on. She wonders if she will find
another woman upstairs, and if not, will another woman's scent be lingering on
his bed sheets?
think I might be getting that flu that's been going around," Rand says
with the conviction of a summer stock Camille.
touches Rand’s skin; it feels clammy.
"Why don't you take a shower and then fix yourself an
espresso? Sober up and then we'll
idea. I'm off to the
shower." He is grateful to
get away from her.
undresses and gets into the marble shower stall. I own this floor, I own this door I am closing, and I own
this water, until it passes down the drain and through the pipes that I own.
thoughts focus tightly, like a reduced strike zone, on his possessions. He worries that he can't think outside
of this little zone. Like his
brain is opaque with steam, his mental power diminished by the cascade of
scalding water spraying down from the German stainless steel shower head that
he also owns.
stands on the other side of the bathroom door, suspicious of the perfectly made
bed, pulling back the bedspread to sniff at the freshly laundered sheets. Disappointed that her suspicions of
infidelity aren't confirmed, she speculates that he has already changed the
sheets, and looks for the laundry hamper.
she sees the wine stain in the weave of the pale blonde carpet. She bends down and feels the fabric:
the wine stain is still wet.
Sheila sniffs at the carpet, like a truffle pig, hunting for the scent
of a woman, and instead she smells the sweat of expensive food and lifting
weights every other day, the aroma of Rand. And with her face near the floor she sees the remote
control. Sheila grasps the control
and presses the button marked play.
the screen, a woman, in this same bedroom, on April 31st at 12:42 AM, Mary. Enthusiastic but certifiable Mary. Rand had cried the story on her
shoulder, not really cried, but told it in emotionally clogged narrative,
brilliantly stirring her sympathy.
I thought I knew her, loved her, but maybe I didn't really know her,
she wasn't who I thought she was...it's just a terrible thing, seeing someone
you care about fall apart and there's nothing you can do to help...
the videotape, engrossed, and completely grossed out.
electronic ghosts are doing things Sheila has never done, but things Rand has
tried to get her to do. Not just a
blow job, but thrusting against the poor girl's face, on his knees, fucking her face, there's really no other word for it. And sodomy, surely that must be sodomy,
with Mary on her stomach and him on her back, too bad he has such a nice butt,
such a nice butt, but the way
that she's kicking her legs, shaking her head from side to side but not
stopping him, so violent, not love-making, like animals, groaning and smiling,
god how he's smiling. The last
time Sheila was in this bedroom Rand had manipulated her into a semblance of
this same position she now watches on tape -- he said it was an accident, his
penis against her anus, but Sheila knew what he wanted, no way, not her, no
thank you. She had slept with Rand
in this same bed that she now sits on as she watches.
stands up, repulsed.
wine stain looks nasty, like dried blood.
Rand must have been jerking off when she arrived tonight. Sheila looks around the room, worried
that a hidden camera taped her two nights ago, is taping her right now. Sheila
deduces the probable location of the camera based on the camera angle she sees
on the TV screen, and when she throws open the most likely cabinet doors she
finds no video camera.
rifles through shelves of videotapes, but only finds a lot of musicals and what
looks like the collected works of Barbra Streisand -- isn't that kind of gay,
she wonders. Just look at the TV -- you don't need a woman for sodomy.
the quiet feels wrong. The shower
has stopped. Sheila frantically
hits buttons until the tape spits out of the machine. Best to quickly leave with the evidence, watch the whole
disgusting thing and see if she's on it too. Undoubtedly the tape will be useful somehow, in forcing a
painful reckoning. Lord knows Rand
deserves a painful reckoning.
hole in the fence
opens her eyes, surprised to be outside.
The night is grainy and quiet, like a silent movie. Michelle holds her hand, her purple
fingernails digging in, and pulls Mary through the hole in the hospital fence,
a gap in the chain link.
the shadow of a live oak, Hayward waits beside his old green Mercury, dressed
in black, only his pale face visible, his white hands waving for them to hurry.
sits sandwiched in the back seat between Michelle and Olivia. She feels naked in the flimsy white
hospital nightgown; Michelle and Olivia wear gingham and denim and leather and
spangles, a pair of hippie cowgirls.
your duds," Hayward says, and passes back a crumpled brown bag, his eyes
never leaving the black and white road ahead. "Hurry and get dressed."
feels embarrassed. Scrunching and
squirming, she pulls a long flowered skirt on under her nightgown. The car sways along a dark canyon road
making things difficult. She finds
a black leather vest in the bag but no blouse. There is no underwear.
up, Mary, we're almost there."
Michelle helps Mary pull the nightgown over her head. Danny, riding shotgun, turns around to
get a look at Mary's bare chest before she can pull the vest on.
your freckles, Mare."
wonders if she is blushing. The
leather feels cool and alive against her skin and Danny slouches back around,
nothing left to see.
one says anything else.
road is dark, but above, craning a bit, Mary sees stars streak past, then slow
to a lumbering crawl. The gravel
crunches as the tires slow. Why
are they stopping here?
the monkey man -- dvd chapter 5
A night cruise out to the
desert. Talk radio garbled by
static. Malcolm smiles at the road
ahead, one hand draped rakishly over the steering wheel. He's holding his Mercury at a steady
fifty-five, double nickels on the dime.
In his lap is Sherry Sales' head, unconscious, silver duct tape across
her mouth. She lies across the
front seat, her body covered by a green army blanket. Except for the duct tape, she could be an affectionate
girlfriend, cuddling up to her honey, a red-blooded American road dream.
“Maybe you'll understand me better, baby,
when you see where I come from.
Where we all come from. The
wilderness, Sherry, baby.”
Past Palm Springs, the lights of the
Coachella Valley far behind, the Mercury turns onto a gravel road. Mal takes the blanket off his peach,
his prize. Sherry's hands are tied
with a sash cord, and her halter top pulled up around her neck. Malcolm drums his fingers on her
breasts, thumps them with his finger, testing their bounce like choosing a
Sherry wakes, sees Malcolm looming over
her. Her scream is muffled by the
duct tape, but she flops and squirms in his lap like a netted trout. Malcolm squeezes her breast hard and
Sherry arches in pain. But she
stops squirming. Tears roll down
her cheek and bead up on the duct tape.
“See what you made me do? It didn't have to be this way. No, no, no.”
He sees that she is trying to speak. It sounds like muffled baby talk, but
“I know, I know, you're sorry, we can be
friends, forgive and forget.”
Sherry keeps trying to talk, gasping sobs,
the hint of words, choked things that Malcolm nods in response to.
“Hey, I'd love to take the tape off now, but
then you'd bite me and then where would we be?” He strokes her face, her neck. “Sherry, please, don't lie to me. It's undignified.
Honey, you've played this kind of part before. Remember? I saw
you on the set.”
He nods his head as if listening attentively
to her, then chuckles. “Save it,
girl, really. I'm not as gullible
as I look.”
At the ranch Malcolm eases out from
underneath her. The crotch of his
jumpsuit is stained. Staring up
she can see so many stars, so many, through the car window, and she hears a
howl, like at the zoo, in the distance.
He is gone for a long time.
When he finally comes back, he approaches
from the other side of the car.
He's wearing a cowboy shirt over army fatigues. He pulls on her legs and she starts
kicking. He falls to the ground,
laughing. “Lord, its a shame we
got us such a private movie.” He
stands back and wrestles with her legs, gets her zipper down, tugs at her tight
jeans. She falls out of the
car. The bounce takes something
out of her. “How in the hell did
you ever get into these things anyway?”
He tugs and tugs. “I swear
I'm going to cut 'em off you, I swear it.
I'm not afraid to improvise.
This ain't Shakespeare we're playin'.”
Maybe she relaxes. Maybe she goes limp.
Either way, he manages to tug the jeans off. Her panties are a leopard pattern, French cut, high on the
“Now ain't that a sight. Were you expectin' to see a beau
later?” He helps her to her feet,
courteous, but she's skittish, not cooperating. She sees a light coming from the open door of a tarpaper
shack. Moths swarm against the
screen door. Except for the dim
stars above, there is no other light.
She steps away from him, cautious, considering. But her shoes are gone and the rocks
sting her bare feet. The duct tape
garbles her pleading words.
“No, I don't have to take the tape off to
talk to you.”
Her eyes widen, she tries again, a rumble of
“Do you really think all I want to do is
She backs away, then jumps in pain. Looking down, she sees the sparkle of
broken glass littering the ground.
I'll show you I'm agreeable.”
Malcolm approaches her but she flinches back, but he's quick, his hand
on her shoulder. With a quick rip
he removes the duct tape and steps back.
She gasps for air, sucks in sobs, her crying and breathing all mixed
up. Her shoulder is red and raw
where he grabbed her, marked by his handprint.
“I've never been a patient man, but I'll try
to explain. I guess it's important
to explain, now that I'm trying to do such a big thing. Okay? Now this script I wrote, you see it's a movie, but you don't
have to film it. You see we're
actually making the movie right now, you and me, doing what we're doing here,
what we're about to do. Now if
you'd listened to me, we could have done it the easy way, we could have gotten
lights and a camera and put it on film and showed it to people. I don't know if that's really the easy
way, 'cuz look what happened, no one really read my screenplay. But now, we're just going to do it.”
“Okay, yes, you're right, great. Let's go back to town and really make
you're movie, let's,” she blurts out, panicked, but trying.
“No, it's too late for that. We've moved past that.”
Malcolm tries to take hold of her hands but
she jumps back. Now she sees the
coil of rope in his hand. She
starts to run, trippingly, but he grabs her and in an instant he's pulled the
rope between her bound hands.
“Come along, darling.
Follow me. Baby steps.” He uses the rope to lead her away from
the car toward whatever is howling in the darkness.
“Now when you go around saying that evil is
eternal, everyone yawns and says they've heard it before. But you see what makes this eternal is
separating the soul from the body, that's a different thing from just
killing. I'm not just a killer,
see, I'm making the most important film in history -- and I don't even need
film! Ain't that great? Ain't that something?”
“Please, why me, you don't need me for
“Don't sell yourself short, Sherry. You're perfect. You know, I think that's been the
problem with your career. You should
have been much bigger but you probably just sold yourself short.”
“No...it's not supposed to be this
way...” She falls to her
knees. He tugs hard on the
rope. She gasps in pain, tries tugging
“We can do this the easy way or the hard
way, but we're going to do it.”
He loops a hank of rope around his fist,
drapes it over his shoulder and starts dragging Sherry forward into the
“Ow, no, fuck, stop it, I'm standing, stop
He stops. Her legs are bleeding.
She's in no hurry to get to her feet. He moves behind her, runs a dirty fingernail up her
back. He bends down to kiss her
shoulder. She cringes. He gets a hand under each armpit and
hoists her back to her feet.
“It hurts so much, please, God, it hurts so
“You don't need to act with me Sherry.” He sees that her nipples are hard in
the cold night air. He'd like to
touch them again, but they're past that point too. “Not much longer, not much farther,” he soothes.
“I can make you happy...very
happy...very...” she tries.
“You are, darling.”
The howling gets louder, more agitated. There are metal thumps in the
darkness. Something vicious is
Sherry stumbles again, collapses. “I can't... please...I just
can't...” She shivers. “We could have a party...just you and
Malcolm helps her to her feet, he carries
her along, moving at an angle, like a crab, through the dark shapes of the
night junkyard. “That's Petey,” he
says in answer to her unspoken question.
They reach the rusted-out pickup truck. Monkey shrieks echo through the
arroyo. “Evolution. Natural selection. Evolving to a higher form. Now a higher form isn't necessarily a
nicer form. Look at me. Evolution isn't about being nice.”
“No, please, God, don't do this to me,
Malcolm hugs her from behind. His jaw clenches hard. He looks unbearably excited. “Now man is one step up from the
monkey. You go from monkey to man
to something higher. I got this
well of souls that needs filling and you're going to be the first sweet little
drop in the bucket.” He creaks
open the rusting door to the truck cab.
Petey jumps to the end of his chain, howling and snarling.
“Forgive me father please forgive me...” she
incants, a shivering gibberish prayer.
Malcolm runs his gums along Sherry's sweet
neck. He wants to sink his teeth
there, but that is not for him to do, that is not this movie. No. “Sherry, meet Petey.
Petey will prepare you for what we need to do here.”
He pushes her into the truck. Sherry screams as the howler monkey
claws and bites. The noise is
terrible -- if you bother to listen.
Malcolm raises his eyes to the stars, then
his arms. The dark world above is
watching. Who needs words?
HOLE IN THE SKY
walks across gravel. She smells
orange blossoms. Trees close in
around her, whispering in the wind.
Needful peaceful gleeful.
hears Hayward walking ahead of her, hard to keep up with, hard to see in his
black pants black jacket black baseball cap.
break in the clouds -- the moonlight brightens.
sees Michelle walking under the shadow of a live oak, her flowery dress alive
with the sway of her hips. Danny’s
freckles glow like pale scabs in the moonlight. Olivia's curls are dark and snaky tonight.
stop at a black wrought-iron gate.
is Hayward, where am I, where is this?
clambers up the metal and offers his hand to Mary. She does not want to feel the touch of his pasty freckled
Just give me your hand, bitch, you shouldn't
even be here, you haven't earned this -- and why is my skin so fucking
distasteful to you? no one asked you to kiss my fucking skin.
takes his hand. "I'm sorry,
Danny." He helps her off the
ground, her boots slippery on the gate's ornate metal lattice. She is dizzy, afraid to fall, surprised
by the cowboy boots on her feet.
You're not sorry -- you're not shit -- hurry
the fuck up!
yanks Mary’s hand and she topples to the other side, the ground zooming up at
her face and the gravel stinging her hands as she breaks the fall. Mary wonders if it is worth crying as
she picks the rocks out of her palm; she doesn't have to cry, but she
could. You can never tell how
tears work, they can work so well when they do.
being a fucking baby-
Danny shuts up and turns paler than the white moon that hangs over the
trees. Danny now stands perfectly
still, as obedient as a bird dog.
Mary feels the
muscles of her mouth contract to spit out the word what when Hayward looms inches from her face. His billowing shirt ripples in the
lifeless air, the black fabric glowing like dead skin.
Baby. Such a cute baby. He
takes hold of the lapels of Mary's black leather vest, his fingers curling
inside, his yellow fingernails stroking her breasts. She feels worse than naked, but she likes it, in spite of
herself she likes it. Somehow life
has never been this exciting before.
Needful peaceful gleeful. Funny how some words stay in your head,
like a song. Pity I never got
famous writing songs. Pity pretty
shitty little policemen in a row, see how they run like pigs from a gun, see
how they run.
know that one...that's..."
know so many songs," Hayward says, then he touches her warm lips with his
real, she thinks, well, if it has
to happen, here I am, and I've been kissed before worse than this.
Hayward stops kissing her. Why? You don't just stop, she wonders.
Danny looks impatient.
Olivia looks jealous.
Michelle hums to herself. Something
is about to happen, something...
thinking of a song, I want you to think about the song that I'm thinking
about, Mary hears from Hayward.
is so quiet. The treetops sway in
the wind but she can't hear a thing, not even the wind. Mary sees they are in some kind of
garden. Every plant looks strange,
cacti and colorless roses, black not green in the night light, their points and
spines tempting Mary to touch them, just to see if they really sting.
looks up. So many stars. She stumbles. She hadn't noticed, but they are walking again, like
changing channels between blinks, different programs, different shows: the
nature show, the night show, now.
look at your feet, Hayward warns her, at
the precise instant when she starts to think about doing just that.
can hear me all the time, Mary thinks
toward Hayward, but I can only hear you when you talk to me -- if you
call this talking.
That's because you're a baby. Taking baby steps. Teething. Tonight you teethe.
Mary sees a house with a white picket fence and a tidy yard that glows green in
the moonlight. One side of the
house shimmers in the blue ripples from a swimming pool.
sees no movement but everyone seems closer to her, everything in the
world. She feels Michelle's arm
around her waist. All these hands,
everyone's hands, touching me because they want me.
Here's our house. Time to ride the wheel of meat. Hayward strides toward
the front door.
and Olivia, looking like sidekicks in a Sixties biker flick, skip behind
him. Michelle nudges Mary forward,
then Michelle’s arm slips away as she hurries ahead. Dark shadows trail Mary's companions like diseased wings.
looks around. Somehow, suddenly,
she is alone. In the solitude of
darkness she panics and races through the open front door.
epileptic strobe light divides events into uneven categories, before and after,
then and now, a cleave between seconds, between words, between heartbeats.
house feels big, warm, brown. A
high ceiling with wood beams, cottonwood furniture, tapestries. A nice place for a party.
tan, good-looking man in a blue polo shirt and gray slacks sits on the velvet
couch beside a dirty blonde in a bikini.
They look oddly surprised by Hayward and his night class. Mary thinks they must be stoned, but
she's standing too far away to see if the whites of their eyes are red.
Go round up the others, Hayward says.
says the man, in a slurred voice.
sees that wrinkles of dissipation anchor the eyes of the blonde in the
bikini. Mary's hand twitches with
the hope there is a remote control to change channels, to keep whatever is
happening from happening.
your car break down? Do you need
to use the phone?" the man asks, exhaling smoke up to the wood beams.
down? We want to get down! We're coyotes!" Danny giggles, his
freckles throwing sparks.
Round up the others. Don't make me say it again.
slinks out of the room. Michelle
and Olivia follow after. Mary
stands alone with Hayward and the frightened couple.
are exchanged among the mortals.
Mary gulps a breath of sour metallic air, worrying, why did I call
M, you burped the word. I didn't
put it there. What about the
do you want? Money? Credit cards? Help yourself," the man says, trying to hide his
blonde retreats behind the couch.
She fumbles with a black silk kimono, its dragon trembling on her
said you could have our money.
Please take it and leave."
Mitchell...Cindy Welton...how do I know their names, Mary wonders.
let in pour in, baby. "Don't worry, Jake, we'll be
leaving shortly," Hayward says.
did you know my name?"
famous with me. With my
waits for an explanation. He does
not want to provoke.
defended Uncle Malcolm. Of course
I use the word defend rather loosely.
He never denied committing the crimes, but the word guilty always
bothered him. And it bothers
knows that the man is forty-one.
The woman is twenty-nine.
He has a little boy. She's
had an abortion. Their biographies
pour into her, facts that Mary does not ask to know.
I'm pleased that you are listening so well,
Mary. Just listen and these
mortals will tell you everything.
scream echoes from another part of the house. Orange light trickles in from the hallway like smoke.
you thought that you'd seen the last of Malcolm," Hayward says.
Hastings is dead."
of him as an idea. Ideas don't
die. At least not this idea. Think about it."
and Michelle push another woman into the den. She wears flowered underwear. Pamela.
No this can't be happening, not tonight, my
movie starts shooting Monday, Mary hears.
doesn't understand why Pamela is bleeding. Then she sees the hunting knife in Olivia's petite hand.
Take a moment to think about eternity.
don't have anything against you.
Your uncle and I got along very well," Jake says.
I don't have anything against you."
How 'bout cuing up that music, Mary? "You just happen to be part of the
stands perfectly still. Lamps
crash to the floor.
going to kill us," Cindy moans.
who says dying is such a bad deal?
Why is everyone so wigged-out about dying? I mean, have you died?
How do you know if it's good or bad?"
Olivia puts her
petite hands around Cindy's neck.
Cindy screams but Mary doesn't hear anything as color spurts from
Cindy's mouth, a queasy cartoon purple.
There is so much
light, Jake and Cindy and Pamela trapped inside packets of light, molten light
oozing from their mouths.
This is not real, not real. Not-
baby, this is the good part, this is what's really real.
dirty blonde in the bikini and the tan man scatter into distant rooms. The light breaks into nauseating
is alone with Hayward. Pretty
colors, but wrong -- I should be afraid -- I shouldn't want it -- shouldn't.
"Please, let's go back home, all of us, or just me, I don't want to
hurt anyone, I don't, please."
You don't want to leave, not really.
hears screams. Why don't they
bother me? Sweet things,
air is hazy with a lovely lavender mist, the room so...airy...floating...like a
black and white film that has switched to gentle Technicolor. Mary hears a guitar ringing clear in
the smoky air.
That's right Mary, crank it up, that's the
wants to be afraid, the right thing to feel is afraid, it's important to feel
the right thing, not this smile, not her body tingling so nicely in this tickly
purple air, not feeling proud that she is playing this song.
When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
'Till I get to the bottom and I see you
YES! Isn't this the best? Hayward asks.
But what about the victims? What about them, their feelings? Mary asks.
Victims is such a poor choice of words, Hayward muses. How about calling them
inductees? Because they can hear
the music, too, when they get inducted, when they fly up to the hole in the
sky. Here, come with me, and feel
the colors. They feel blood-rush-amazing
when you set them free.
hand on Mary's back pushes her along, and she feels aroused and disturbed,
because isn't that a bloody handprint on the wall? Isn't that a trail of red on the terrazzo tile? Aren't those moans coming loud in
bubbly gasps from the bedroom that Hayward steers her into?
colors collect like toxic smoke near the ceiling.
feels Hayward crawling in her head, listening, then she feels his icy hand
against her shoulder blade. He
pushes her down the hallway, through the thick purple air, and into a bedroom,
messy with women's clothes, to a locked door knob that he easily turns,
snapping the lock to reveal Cindy, in her bikini, cowering in the shower,
clutching the clear vinyl shower curtain and screaming terror that means
nothing to Mary, because the only sound is that wicked guitar that pours
...Well will you, won't you want me to make
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break
There's a reason for the song, it's a great
song for this. People don't point
that out much anymore, but there's truth to it, don't you see, Hayward says, but from behind Mary, his chest
nestled against her back, his arms guiding hers, like teaching her a golf
swing, leading Mary to Cindy, the shower stall dry except for the wet bikini
and the tears, and Cindy's glow is purple flecked with red, queasy colors, and
Mary knows without knowing how that she is seeing fear, and as Hayward guides
her arms around Cindy, Mary feels Cindy's fear, but inside Cindy's fear beats
the pulse of twenty-nine years, felt directly by Mary, a wash of
sensation. Hayward forces Mary to
envelop Cindy with her arms, just as Hayward envelops Mary with his own arms,
and Mary enfolds the woman even as the man enfolds her, and the colors pulse in
a fierce glow that warms her skin with delicious heat.
a moment to think about eternity.
I don't want to," Mary says.
I'm not afraid."
Don't be afraid to enjoy it.
it's bad, it's killing."
It's not killing.
purple and red explode slowly into white, a blinding glow that rages inside of
Mary's head -- now she is inside of Cindy's head, she knows the minute that
Cindy was born and the exact hour that she dropped out of high school, about
the boyfriend Bob who made her cry, Mary knows everything about Cindy
instantly; the ball of light floats up through the ceiling.
The hole in the sky, Hayward says.
feels Cindy limp and broken in her arms.
dead doesn't feel good anymore, she feels awful now, the worst. "You made me kill her, you made
me!" Mary screams at Hayward, words that echo against the dead flesh and
white tiles dirty with tears.
never wanted to," Mary cries.
You wanted it, I heard you want it, Hayward says, still holding Mary tight against
Cindy's dead body.
I wouldn't have done it. Not on my
own. You held me and crushed her
didn't have the balls to do it by yourself. But now that you've had a taste, you'll feel the hunger
again. And you'll feed it. All by yourself.
You crushed her and you danced in the joy of
her light. You wanted it.
would never kill anyone."
You just did.
last guitar note reverberates and the music goes dead.
takes Mary by he hand, leads her into the kitchen. He helps her step over the body on the floor.
Crispies or bran flakes?
Any preference in breakfast food?
nods a vague no. Hayward selects
the Rice Crispies, sprinkles it over the body. In nominee patri.
I don’t understand.
I’m leaving a clue. For the clueless.
You want to be caught?
is such a small, dated notion.
So. Do you get it?
is afraid what pain a wrong answer might cost.
Give up? Of course. You
always give up.
sprinkles more Rice Crispies.
I...am awake. What do I feel bad about? Last night.
That wasn't me. No. I need to get out of here, out of here,
out of here...the doctor is watching...closely...
sits across from Dr. Glass. The
doctor fingers her lavender Hermès scarf again. Her books are still in boxes, the plant on her desk looks a
few days deader. The doctor
studies Mary, bored and envious, fragile and authoritarian.
I can hear her, I can do this.
has tied her hair into a demur ponytail.
She changed clothes twice to achieve just the right look, finally
deciding on her gray cotton blouse and.
On Mary’s chest is a Smiley-Face button she found in the solarium. Her hands lie in her lap with carefully
...staff meeting, frozen yogurt -- vanilla,
no, chocolate -- catatonic or calm category? hands upturned, check, minimal
tension, check, relaxed? why?
is pleased that Dr. Glass favorably notes her submissive body language. "I'm feeling good about myself, my
self-image, but I also feel guilty, not guilty really, but impatient. I miss work. Work helps me feel organized -- that's a natural feeling
don't you think?"
Glass smiles, suspicious, stares at Mary's hair. ...beautiful hair...fuck her, make her suffer...she's
tricking me? Tricky bitch...
to Dr. Glass makes it hard for Mary to talk, like being both the host and a
guest on a radio talk show. Dr. Glass, please let me out. I have to get out. Let me out. Let me out! Mary listens to Dr. Glass in her head,
and sees Dr. Glass outside her head, watching. Quit thinking -- say something -- she's waiting -- say
something quick -- the right thing -- not schmaltzy -- the right thing. "I
like to work. I always...liked to
work...and I miss..."
Glass twists her scarf tightly around her index finger. Mary sees that the doctor's fingernails
are chewed to the quick. "You
sound hesitant, Mary. Tell me
what's bothering you."
feels hot under the spotlight of Dr. Glass' thoughts. Dr. Glass, the pro, who's heard it all and knows a con. Dr. Glass who does not feel needed or
the usual insecurities. Like, I
wish I had a boyfriend. Being here
has helped me. But...but I like
doing things for myself."
you feel that you're ready to live out on your own again?" Dr. Glass
asks. Why should I give her
what she wants? She's pretty. Unfair. She always gets her own way. Not with me.
Why should she be so pretty...?
listens, gauges. A hormone of
cunning courses through her veins.
Don't be proud, she hates pride, do it right. Mary
feels nervous, wants to itch her arm, but doesn't. Be confident, seem confident, not too much, the
doctor hates over-confidence, do it right. "I don't want to overdo it. Independence is my goal, but if I take
too big a step, I know I might fall down, and I don't want to...fall down
again. I don't know what happened
to me. I guess I let too
much...stress build up. I guess I
was sick then, and maybe I'm still not one hundred percent, but I know enough
now to know what my limitations are.
Some of them. I was
unrealistic before. My goals are
Glass smiles wanly, stroking her scarf like a favorite pet. I don't like her, she's playing too
dumb, it feels wrong, get a second opinion, cover my ass -- why is she
smiling? Oh...because I
am...creepy, she's watching me...oh, my fingers in the scarf...
drops her eyes.
Glass gets more suspicious.
being too obvious, stop listening, let it be over, let it be quiet, please. Mary
bends down and reties her shoelace, careful to avoid looking at the doctor.
hears no more words.
long has she been tying her shoelace?
up, Mary sees Dr. Glass' lips moving, but she can't hear a thing. Will the colors start again? I'm afraid. Try not to look afraid.
Glass stands. Mary understands
that she is also supposed to stand.
Oh this is bad -- try smiling, smile, everyone dies someday...
blinks: Mary stands alone in the institutional green hallway. So much happens between those
blinks. She hears the nylon scrape
of pantyhose and the clip-clop of padded soles, a nurse somewhere nearby, out
they will just let me go home.
molded-plastic chairs are neatly arranged against the waiting room wall. There are old, well-thumbed copies of People Magazine
on the white laminate table. Mary
sits with her legs demurely together, her back straight, a model of good
posture, wearing a pastel flower-print dress, a small suitcase by her feet. Even though no one is watching her just
this second, she tries to look alert, poised, normal, proud.
...it's your decision as her next of kin...I
always say hope for the best but expect the worst...
isn't straining to hear, but if she has the ability, why not, because it is her
future they are discussing.
...I don't know, I just don't know...
...your decision...I can only advise...
don't listen, it won't help, what will happen will happen, just be good, look
good, hope, Mary thinks.
Laura steps out of the office. Her
hennaed hair is cut Peter Pan short.
She nervously smoothes car wrinkles from her pink frock, the same shade
of pink as her crescent earrings.
Mary admires the skill with which Laura tries to hide her weight.
Mary. You look very pretty."
you for this dress, Sis,"
Mary says. She hugs her
sister, not something they ordinarily do, but today is not ordinary.
you sure you want to go home so soon?"
they say I could?"
but I'm asking you. You don't have
to do anything...you don't want to do." God knows I don’t want you...if you crack up again, then
I need to bring you back out here?...it's a hassle either way -- why do I have
to take care of you? why me? "Are you sure? I mean..."
"Yes!" Whoops, said that too suddenly,
Laura's worried, be firm but not too eager, I have to leave, please, pretty
please, sis. "There's nothing to worry about. I mean, I'm fine, if that's what you're
sees the doctor watching her from the doorway. He thinks his scraggly makes him look older. It's not too late to keep her here
for another week, better to reverse the decision now if I have to, let's see
how she socializes...
waits, afraid to speak, because the next thing she says is important.
not worried," Laura tries again, "it's just that...oh, well. You look nice."
sorry I've been such a bother.
Thank you, Laura."
Mary picks up her suitcase.
"Thank you, doctor."
She inches toward the door.
I am walking we are walking I am making this happen. The
hallway feels better, walking toward the exit.
don't have to go right back to your apartment. You can come stay with us. In fact, we'd like that, we really would." What if Mary says yes?
looks both relieved and pained.
"Are you sure?"
I'm not sure of anything except getting out of here. Out, OUT, OUT! "You're very sweet. I'm fine. I really am."
brain her if she asks again, I really will.
Laura asks again.
door is getting closer. Outside is
the world. She can already see
Laura's red Acura, waiting to take her home.
the monkey man -- dvd chapter 6
The ocotillos are in bloom,
red-tipped wands scratching at the desert sky. The cholla cactus sport a fresh set of spikes. Malcolm, shirtless, pink as a pig,
lifts a piece of rusted tin off the top of a sinkhole, all that's left of some
prospector's failed dream. He pops
open the Merc’s trunk, huffs and puffs as he lifts up a bulky object wrapped in
a green army blanket. He unrolls
the blanket and a body rolls into the hole. A dull dusty thump echoes up from the darkness.
Malcolm lifts a plywood plank off of a
storage box. Inside, a scorpion
has found a new home. He brushes
the spider aside and hoists up a fifty pound sack of lime, pours the white dust
into the sinkhole. He wipes his
hands on his pants and lights a cigarette.
The sunlight here is so special. It burns everything.
Malcolm pulls on a black tee shirt, the
ghost of the word Hollywood on his chest, the silver sparkles long gone.
Then he sees the boy, sitting higher up the
canyon, on his haunches, a shape between mineral and vegetable, watching. “William Ward.”
The boy doesn't move. Watching.
“Come here, son.”
The boy uncoils. He was waiting to be noticed.
“How long have you been here?”
“All my life.”
“Can I have a smoke?”
Malcolm gives the boy a Camel, loans him his
own smoke to get it lit. One coal
William Ward leans over the edge, looks down
into the pit. Below, the white
ghost of a broken arm, what looks like doll parts, and that thick smell, the
wrong kind of sweet -- heavy, choking the air.
“How many you got down there?”
“If you're asking how many, then you're
doing the job wrong. It ain't a
William Ward nods, says nothing. He's got the patience of a rock.
Malcolm watches him closely. "What about the other boys?"
William Ward rubs his eyes. There is a lattice of angry looking
white scars on the back of the boy’s hand, the residue of childhood monkey
bites. Malcolm puts his arm around
the boy's shoulder. One little
push and he'd have another soul in the hole, a live one to cry up at the
sky. “You know what this is,
It's a well of souls. Don't
you feel the power?”
The boy stares into the abyss. He wants so badly to understand.
Malcolm sits down in the dirt. “There's so much work to do. And I'm so tired.” He lies down. The dirt doesn't matter. “Do you understand?”
“You're better than they are?”
Malcolm laughs. “Yeah, you could say that. Yeah. Yes. Yes. But why?”
“Because you did that to them. They didn't do it to you.”
Malcolm stares up at the sky, thinking. It's so blue up there, like there's no
air. It's easier to float if
there's no air.
“I could help you,” William Ward says,
interrupting Malcolm’s daydream, the boy's voice against the sky.
“This isn't about killing, son. This is about bigger things. Bigger and bigger things. You don't know half of what this is
“Teach me, Uncle Malcolm.”
the FACE IN THE CLOUDS
at her desk, everything in its proper place, Mary's fingers comfortably
clacking the keyboard. Her baby
cholla cactus on the windowsill still looks healthy. She wears her navy blue suit today, a statement. Her first day back is the day to make a
Mary," Rand says.
Blank. With possibilities.
"Hello." Mary is thrown off her game. What can he do to her? Most likely nothing.
thought you would have called me before now," Rand tries.
a little hurt."
you're not. Who told you I was
have ways of finding out."
sure that you do."
isn't going like I expected," he backpedals. "I'd like to see you. For lunch. Just
as a friend. We can at least be
friendly to each other, can't we?"
"No. We were never friends. Look, I'm pretty busy right now."
I'm not?" he whines back.
sure you're very busy, so I won't keep you." Mary hangs up.
sun feels good as Mary strolls back across the windy plaza, returning from her
solitary lunch. She walks past a
bench where a woman in a gray suit, eyes closed, tilts her face up to the sun,
trying to catch some color.
men walk past Mary in a hurry, their silk ties blown back over their shoulders.
hurries toward the revolving glass doors that will admit her back into the
glass tower, back into the kingdom of paper and words. She doesn't mind the lunch hour ending,
because she has something to go back to: a desk, a computer, a tape to
transcribe, a deposition to depose.
feels Rand nearby, sulking. ...what
a fine ass, I'll buy her some flowers or a fruit basket, no, flowers and
a fruit basket, overkill, fine, yes, I've done it before, I can get her back,
god, what an ass... Rand lurks somewhere behind her in the
crowd of suits and ties. She likes
his vulnerability, enjoys the feeling of power as he follows behind her, as if
sucked into her vacuum. She feels
the brush of his thoughts like a breeze at her back. ...should I run into her accidentally-on-purpose
before I get the presents? it's not like I'm going to fuck her right off the
bat but brushing into her to say hello that can only help, can't it? no, better
now I've got a little power too, Mary
thinks, don't question a gift, use it...but...I'm not feeling so
great. Fragile. Queasy. Need to get back to my desk, sit down -- don't panic --
doesn't want to talk to Rand. Not
again today. It would only be a
repetition, and who knows what reserves of manipulation he has, even in his
fragile, reduced state? She wants
to get back to work, lost in the words, a vacation from the broadcasts of her
where is the revolving glass door back into the tower?
why have the colors gotten dark?
why are those rainbow auras trailing the lawyers?
what are those wings beating in the sky, dark wings that cover the sun?
echoes behind the tower; the concrete and glass looks as flimsy as cardboard, a
stage set that the next breath could blow away. Don't panic.
is no traffic on the street.
laughter breathing into her ear.
is the glass door? Mary is lost;
panic makes the blood burn hot inside of her skin.
You thought you could get away.
You thought that if you kept to safe places,
public places, that even if you saw me then you could handle the
situation. I am not a
No, Mary answers.
What should I do? what should I say? where is he talking from?
can he hear me? think, yes, of course...no privacy, he can hear everything, oh,
god, no, everything? everything curling through my head?
That's right, Hayward laughs. You
can't keep any secrets from me.
tilts her head up, startled -- but not -- to see his face in the dark clouds
that skirt the tops of the metal-and-glass buildings, Hayward hovering in the
sky above her, it looks like his face, but can't you see anything in the
clouds? anything you want? as long as you imagine hard enough? is it just my
scares you that I am this big.
Yes. What do you want me to say, Mary asks.
How do you do this trick? How did you get to be up in
You won't know that until I teach you. And I won't teach you until you love
neck hurts from craning. She feels
dizzy, a vertigo of strangeness, the sudden drunk darkness of Hayward above
her. Don't panic.
sits down on a concrete bench but she does not remember moving a single
muscle. She does not have to look
up to know that Hayward is still there.
You thought that you could just walk away?
orchestra is tuning up on the plaza.
The string section, violins sawing notes, a melody in the darkness under
the cloud that is Hayward.
symphony. Beethoven, she thinks.
Violent music, a storm of notes.
laughs in the clouds. The Ninth, Mary.
Your taste is improving.
never really listened to Beethoven.
You must have some time. Some part of you remembers.
stares down at the sea of crushed shell concrete, the plaza that stretches out
from her black pumps. The concrete
brightens with renewed sunshine. A
wind from the Pacific sends the clouds scuttling toward the desert. Is Hayward the wind too?
does not answer.
gone, Mary thinks. Or is he hiding? Listening?
looks up from her feet. The
revolving glass door is back in its usual place. Mary can use the door to get back to the elevator, and
return to her chair and her desk.
But now there is no peaceful place to sit in the building. Is he gone or hovering? Is he always hovering?
music still fills the air, like sunlight.
No one else hears it.
turns her face up to the sky and closes her eyes, feels the relatively glad
absence of scattered clouds.
the mary tape
is settling into night but Rand wears sunglasses, baseball cap pulled low, as
he cruises the Sports Connection parking lot. He almost hits a hefty blonde in leotards when she darts
recklessly between parked cars.
Rand spots Sheila's vanity plate: LITAG8R. Her BMW's tail lights are an angry red. He parks next to a fire hydrant and
slumps down, and watches Sheila cross the parking lot with her gym bag.
by the clarity of his scheme and the reassuring sense of sequence, an order of
events that has otherwise been desperately lacking this week, Rand hits the gas
but his engine whines in mighty impotence. Did the valets at lunch mess it up? He fusses with the clutch and the
transmission grinds into first gear.
The mission is a go. The
moment calls for music, something to calm him, maybe Barbra, but where are his
tapes? Where is anything?
parks around the corner from Sheila's condo.
feels the key in his hand, the duplicate he made before he messengered the
original back to Sheila in return for his own key. But she violated his trust by stealing The Mary Tape, his
property -- all bets were off -- an eye for an eye, so to speak. These thoughts calm him during the
interminable and untenable walk down the landscaped sidewalk to the door he
wished he had never entered. He
vows never to have sex with another lawyer -- other than himself, of course.
key is moist from his sweaty palm when he tries to insert it into the
lock. Standing inside her condo
darkness, Rand’s head throbs so painfully that he worries about dying here,
absurdly, but what about the drudgery of years of fitness? All the hours at the health club -- the
hours billed to his body -- or billed against his body -- billed
digs in his pocket, finds the Maglite he bought at Sharper Image today just for
this caper. The flashlight beam
sends streaks across his retina, ghostly comets, and Rand gets down on all
fours in front of her TV cabinet, holding the Maglite between his teeth,
tasting the aluminum as he roots through Sheila's collection of DVDS: Buns
of Steel, The Sound of Music, Ghost. The DVDs scatter as Rand searches
through them. He tries to put them
back but there seem to be too many now.
He shuffles things around, but now Forrest Gump is upside down. It's hopeless.
abandons the mess and looks around the room, scanning the bookcase for his
missing tape, his head tilted sideways, dizzy from the heartbeat lurch of gravity.
Under the sink, with the garbage. A
voice of reason that must be his own voice.
in a trance, feeling sort of stoned, Rand falls to his knees again, this time
on the clean scoured linoleum of Sheila's kitchen floor, and there, under the
sink, tucked behind the Comet and the 409, is The Mary Tape.
picks it up. He can almost feel
the images inside DV cassette. He
wants to be back in his bedroom alone again with all those prurient pixels. His little flashlight carves a path for
his Reeboks back across the black-and-white checkerboard linoleum.
Rand feels the bulge in his pocket and remembers the master plan: he's brought
along his DV cam: better to take a second to check it out than get home with
the wrong tape and have to endure the stress of another break-in. His fingers fumble the tape into it's
slot, and then: there on the little flip-out LCD screen is Mary, entwined with
rote Rand reaches for his groin.
key rattles -- the front door opens -- lights flare on.
heats his blood. He fumbles with
the DV cam, but he can’t find the right button to stop Mary's tinny playback
stands in the doorway, flush from exercise and anger. "You son of a bitch! I'm calling the police!"
gave me the key."
were supposed to give it back.
This is breaking and entering!"
a sickly whir, the camera spits out The Mary Tape. As he pulls the tape free of the tiny metal jaw, Sheila
pounces upon him, trying to strip him of his prize.
breaks free and stumbles out the door, swatting at her clawing hands, her
fingers frightful talons now.
give that back to me! Give it
back!" She jumps on his back
again, her fingernails deep in his neck.
finally heaves her loose and she goes flying into a bed of pink zinnias,
yowling a garbled mantra of "sue you sue you sue you..." He feels a hot flush on his cheek, wet
with what must be his own blood, but he didn't mean to hurt her, even if she
hurt him first. There is something
about seeing Sheila in pain -- if their pain could be the same -- if they could
share that. He offers a hand to
help her up, but she claws at his hand that holds the tape -- the hurt she
inflicts heals him of any doubt -- he jerks free and runs, clutching The Mary
wail behind him, his name dying in the dark wind.
where is his car? Nearby, parked
to the left?
left doesn't work.
wanders to the end of the block, and then turns around.
Lexus waits for him like a loyal friend.
the mirror, his face looks damaged and disorganized.
Sheila press charges? And what
will those charges be?
drives slowly away, comforted by the deliberate, rolling motion of the car,
comforted by the tape in hand and its promise of repeated relived revels. He has the tape, he has the rest of the
night to dress his wounds and decide how to explain the bandage at the
office. An accident on the squash
court. His life will all fall back
into place now that he has re-acquired The Mary Tape.
door is locked, her windows closed: safe inside until morning. It feels strange to be back in her
apartment, as if she's another person visiting someone she used to know quite
well. Before Camarillo she was
proud of how she had fixed up the studio apartment, redeemed its tackiness --
throw rugs to hide the avocado green carpet, a white pine bed and dresser from
Ikea, a dining table she'd picked up at a garage sale and re-stained herself,
an aqua-colored lava lamp for her night stand.
is plenty of time to contemplate the two hundred and eighty square feet of her
private life. It seems real, all
these things that she brought into this empty room by choice, by natural
selection. But the other part...did
I really see a face in the clouds?
The bad things, did I dream them or did they happen?
TV is her companion, another voice, but when the eleven o'clock news comes on,
she switches channels to a re-run of Cheers,
because the news could tell her something that she is afraid to hear.
Heaven is a place where nothing ever
the name of the bar is heaven...
remembers that song, likes it, it applies to "Cheers," something
comforting about nothing ever changing, like life on a sit com, or like life in
this room, unchanged between visits, but what if I move the lava lamp, say,
six inches to the left, move it just a little, is my life different then? But
-- but -- but what is left of me, the part that connects, say, 6:30 and 11:32,
the part that connects the big hand to the little hand?
Mary is so tired from fretting that sleep comes unannounced, with the lamp
still on. It's so hard to move
that it almost hurts to shrug out of her blouse, her bra, her jeans, spongy
steps over to the closet for her pajama top, lights off, settled under the
blanket, but now after dressing for bed, it's so hard to get back to
real sleep happens in the dark, where anything can happen.
cottage cheese ceiling sparkles like a star field in the wash of lights from
passing cars. Outside the window
she sees a searchlight hovering in the sky, hears the helicopter's blades
beating in the air, and closing her eyes she hears the beating of her heart and
breathing in her ears.
thought you could get away.
opens her eyes. Hayward's face
glows like a waning moon, his fingers pale white wands, cloaked in black, from
his Angels baseball cap to his Nikes.
did he get in, she wonders.
sees that the window is open a crack -- so that's how he got in -- if he really
we're not back to that, are we?
off the bedclothes. She's only got
her pajama top on. She feels
exposed. There is nothing else
between her and him, his words poised to violate her.
The eternal question.
didn't ask you for anything. I
just want to be left alone."
You know too much.
don't know anything."
And you've got a taste for the kill. You enjoy the glow of meat. Nothing can eat you now. Except me.
grabs her wrist and yanks her, hard, out of bed, to tremble on her feet.
feels his lips upon her, a dry cold kiss.
She feels him frisking in her head, like a cat, his fur whisking through
the inside of her skull. The
darkness in her head mixes with the darkness in her room, the boundary
confused, streaked with sparkles, the cat chasing its tail. Her back arches, as if from
electro-shock, convulsing with the itch of pleasure she does not want to feel,
not from him, not with him. But there is no part of herself that
she can separate from him. What's
left of me?
Leftovers, he laughs.
fingers dig in, red marks on her arms, glowing, as if his fingerprints are
being etched into her flesh, fingerprints everywhere, stains, colonies of
sickly colors, a virus on her aura.
God, not the colors again -- but the colors
feel so good...
is blindness in the sparkling and the tingle of a hundred secret fingers. Exciting. Terrifying.
Sex. The best.
shadow behind the stars on her ceiling.
shadow of a plane crossing the sky.
shadow of a cloud in her eye.
next sensation is motion. Scenery
rolls past. She feels the pull of
blood against the back of her brain.
The stoplights are all green.
sits as far away from Hayward as she can, up against the passenger door of an
ancient car. She sees the word Mercury written in flowing chrome script
on the dash. He looks small to
her; he has trouble reaching the gas pedal, even with the front seat scooted up
close to the dash.
you don't think that people aren't elastic, then think again.
double negative confuses Mary -- “don’t think” “aren’t elastic” she repeats to herself and reverses the meaning -- think
elastic -- as if multiplying two negative
numbers to arrive at a positive sum -- whatever Hayward just said about being
elastic -- said -- or thought -- told her somehow -- it must mean something --
must. She presses her lips tightly
together and tries to take the deep breaths that Dr. Glass told her were
calming, tries to stay inside of herself and not succumb to this small man.
Mary thinks the word small, she feels a
jolt of pain that pulses from the inside of her ears and down through her
sinuses, a hot pain that she cannot scratch or squeeze or scream away.
turns to look at her, his pupils dark and fierce, a labyrinth of wrinkles
leading out from the corners of his eyes.
is no traffic. The car creaks and
sways like a freight train. She
does not recognize a single street.
The word small drifts past like a
street sign she cannot read, but she is afraid of more pain from thinking the
wrong word about Hayward. She
touches the crumbly green car upholstery and decides that this ride definitely
is not a dream.
laughs silently, a sick cackle that does not disturb the air waves.
is not a relief -- better a nightmare she can wake up from and instead be back
in her bed. Why does he torment
me, why did he pick my life?
You flatter yourself. And why shouldn't you? I've paid you too much attention, my
brat. Blame me for your troubles.
That's what I mean. That kind of ignorant answer. You just don't know.
can't follow the logic of the conversation. Or is there no logic at all and is he inducing yet another
kind of hurt by making her think that she is missing something that was never
there at all? She fights between
the idea of logic versus no logic and the ideas take on the shape of the metal
and neon signs that slowly streak past, and just as she gets close to
recognizing and nailing her idea down, it is gone, like the billboards she just
read, but now doubts: is there really a theme park called Dizzy Land?
looks down at the interlacings of her worried fingers on her lap, nestled in
the comforting mint green flannel of her pajama top. Looking up, she sees Hayward staring at her, his left hand
on the steering wheel, his right hand reaching forward to caress her left cheek
with a cold index finger.
Shut up, Mary. Stop worrying.
It's boring, and if you do it anymore I'll just drive us into a fucking
tree and be done with you. Because
I can walk out of my body and go wherever I want, but you'll just be a heap of
bones and blood, understand?
she thinks about jumping out of the car, but she's just not sure if her body
will obey her command to move, shadowed by the fearful certainty that Hayward
hears everything she thinks to herself.
he doesn't respond in any way. He
doesn't even smile, even though she knows -- knows -- that he is enjoying this frozen moment,
recklessly hurtling through space in the old Mercury.
stoplights are all green.
the dead weight after
topples out of the car, her dizzy footfalls in the night, following the dark
shape of Him. The air smells like
salt but she can't see the sea.
Waves crash somewhere in the darkness. Ozone thickens the air. Fog haloes the streetlights, which seem so far away from
stalks ahead without looking back, expecting her to follow. She doesn't want to be with him, but
she doesn't want to be left behind.
Because -- because why? punishment? or is there some kind of fun I
don't want to be blamed for?
Because he made me come here.
Hayward made me.
Hayward made me wayward, he taunts.
footsteps in a dark alley -- how did I get here? -- she sees the back of a house, yellow panes of light glowing in the
fog. And behind each
window what kind of life? that's a kind of guessing game I could walk into...
around she finds herself alone in the fog, caught between the high black fences
that border both sides of the alley.
She remembers to be afraid.
It's not my idea to be here I told him told him that I don't want to be here...
open back gate is waiting for her.
She walks between a garage and a fence. No voice tells her to.
She sees Hayward outside a backdoor, his back to her, busy with some
your backdoor man, lemme be your backdoor man, you say good-bye and I say
hello, I don't know why you say good-bye I say hello.
sees him smile so sweetly, his lips not evil just this moment. She wants to touch his soft beard. Is it really us in the fog? If
it's only me, then his smile is for me.
feels his hands on her shoulders, the beginning of an embrace, then a jolt of
light from above, a motion sensor light, and he pushes her roughly into the
closed door, spins her to face the window pane in the door, and she sees the
ghost of her face reflected back -- why
-- and inside the house socks and slacks, a man approaching -- I
shouldn't be trespassing here -- Rand -- why am I at his backdoor?
looks puzzled and pleased. She
looks toward Hayward, who smiles, leaning against the side of the house like he
is holding it up, hidden from Rand's view. Rand smiles big at her now, a flesh-colored Band-Aid on his
cheek, his fingers dancing on the wall inside the door, shutting down the alarm
system before he opens the door.
she says weakly.
if she's here, it's okay to kiss her, I don't have to wait anymore for anything, she hears him. Rand’s hands are on her shoulders, feebler than Hayward's,
red wine on his breath, but she doesn't feel anything except skin, is
that all kissing is, skin?
came. You really came." His hands touch her clothes, strokes
the cloth that covers all the personal, private places that are so important to
him. He kisses her again, quickly,
greedily, then pulls her by the hand.
Really her, not just the tape, the real her again, I can make a new
tape, I can have everything again, she
he pulls her over the threshold, she looks back.
What is He thinking, what is
Well why are you so worried about me?
Rand's bedroom, she wonders about the serious gap that got her here. When did the door close? Did He come inside after? Did I really walk up the stairs without
bedroom looks the same as Mary remembers and it looks smaller. His quilted comforter lies crumpled on
the bed. An empty wine bottle sits
on top of the TV, its label stained with red dribbles. His hands fumble with the buttons of
her pajama top, clammy fingers, awkward at their work, desperate. Did I really come here only in my pajama
Mary hears the flannel tear and then she feels cool air on her skin.
came back, you really came back to me."
He wants something from me, he wants me to
Rand asks, his fingers busy now with his own shirt.
want to know why."
never wanted to know why before."
Something means nothing means something...
hoped for this but I never thought it would happen. But it is happening."
wasn't my choice."
smiles, hopping on one foot, his pants in a tangle. Then he is naked except for his clock-patterned Armani
socks. You couldn't help
yourself, you couldn't keep away from me, Mary, too long between fucks, you
need me worse than I need you, you came here, so I can do anything to you,
everything I did before, and more, tonight, all night, forever... "I
made a tape of us, before.” ...fucking, all different kinds of fucking....
know." Was he always like
this -- little, pathetic?
presses against her, tanned, moist, hasty to have her, panicky that she might
still slip away. She feels him
against her. Is that all, just
skin, hair, two slightly different bodies, one part slips inside the other,
what's the big deal about that, why does that little slippage mean so much to
breaks loose to fiddle with some kind of machine, a blinking red light in the
darkness against the wall, then he pulls her to the floor.
don't have to feel a thing I don't want to feel, but she cranes her neck to look back toward the doorway. Did Hayward really put me
here, to feel nothing except all that skin and hair on top of me?
mine, aren't you mine?"
so ridiculous, she laughs.
means nothing means something...
you're mine." All mine, I
can be back on top again, of everything, not just her, things aren't as wrong
as they feel, Mary used to do more than cooperate...
do you mean ‘mine’?"
say it. Say it! And move your ass, the way you used
to." Doesn't matter, this
is just the beginning and fuck it if she doesn't want to talk, who needs to
stuff, Hayward says upside down from the
doorway. Feeling hot and
black and white room blisters into something else. Color. Bigger
feels a blush of embarrassment, compromised on the floor, rocked by Rand's
motions, her hands on his back for lack on any better place to put them, her
fingers feeling faint webs of red.
Rand's a creature of color, brightening with his own excitement, his
eyes closed, faster now, am I just an excuse for friction, does he even feel
the real me?
mine, this is her again, here again, her again...
Look what you're letting that boy do. You're too easy, Mary.
put me here," she protests.
didn't put you on the floor with him.
color of Rand's skin stirring under her fingers stirs something else, something
that she wants.
something again? Desire? Hayward asks.
brought me here."
Rand asks in a thick voice, anything that'll help, anything to make this the
best fuck ever...
didn't want to come," she tells Hayward.
Didn't want to come?
you coming?" Rand asks breathlessly.
"I'm coming...are you coming?"
A sad, sticky business, wouldn't you
say? We can do better than that,
can't we, Mary?
is charcoal red now, worth a squeeze.
Doesn't Rand see how better it can be?
is with her now, another gap, how did He get on the floor?
Rand asks, interrupted by the new pair of hands. "Wait, who are you?"
I came with her.
"Hey..." So close to coming, yes, Mary now
this can't stop but who's the man? can't stop but it hurts wrong hurts...
now she feels stronger hands on her back, Hayward's hands pushing, Rand's eyes
big and slow and surprised, Hayward looming over them.
are you?" Rand asks, a scared voice in the night.
now she feels herself squeezing, it's only sex isn't it, but it feels so
No, she protests.
Do you really mean no? Hayward asks.
You don't really want to stop not really.
Rand says, lost, gone.
The hole in the sky, M, dig that hole.
feels the extreme glorious color and sizzle and is that a smoke mark on the
the dead weight after, on top of her like a beached whale, Rand's sweat
chilling her arm, her fingers, drying to a sticky brine. And Hayward. Hayward?
tries heaving Rand aside, he was always heavy after he had what he wanted, but
not this heavy. She feels the itch
of carpet digging into her leg.
When the heave doesn't work, she tries crawling, scuttling like a crab
squeezing out from under a rock. Maybe
he's just sleeping. Maybe
is lying all wrong, not curled, his head facing the wrong way.
brought me here," she says, but Rand isn't listening. Can't listen, his ears are done with
closes her eyes, to rest in the quiet behind her eyelids, back in another gap, and
when I open my eyes it will be my sparkling ceiling, I’ll be back in my own
room when I open my eyes again.
TUNED TO A DEAD CHANNEL
sheets on fog blow in from the ocean.
Reese drives with the windows down, the wet air waking him up. His car has a suction-mounted flashing
light but no siren, so he leans on the horn at the intersections as he speeds
down Lincoln Boulevard. The
stoplights are all red, glowing in the fog, appearing suddenly in the milky
gets out of the car and breathes in the cold salt air. He shows his badge to a rookie
patrolman guarding the perimeter.
waits on the front porch with another patrolman. "The alarm was tripped at 2:07. Big Stick's man found the front door
open. I've got him out in my
Forensics here yet?"
yet. I've got a patrolman posted
at the backdoor and another one baby-sitting the suspect upstairs."
the threshold Reese smells no salt in the air, but rather the dead calm of
central air. A beige house, the
living room a narrow medley of browns.
Mr. Rand Foley."
leads the way up the carpeted stairs, fussy brass bars holding the runner firm
against each step. As they climb
Reese hears the crackle of white noise.
walk toward a room spastic with flickering blue light. A patrolman stands guard inside the
door. A woman sits on the bed,
looking lost inside of a big white terry cloth bathrobe.
patrolman nods and leaves.
woman stares at the television, tuned to a dead channel. Its blue light plays over a man's body,
naked, his neck and limbs splayed at wrong angles. The blood looks black in this blue light.
Big Stick man found them both on the floor -- he thought they were both
dead. She was still on the floor
when I got here. I put the robe on
can see her face now, a face so far out of context that he can't remember her
name at first.
Delany has sprung back to life, back into his life. "Mary?"
opens her eyes.
is startled. "You know
met her once, at Traum, Pittman," Reese explains.
shit. Small world."
you all right?" Reese asks her.
nods quietly and stares at the shape on the rug: the nose, the fingers, the
flat plane of the stomach are all Rand's.
But if there is no aura left, does the husk stop being Rand?
you all right?"
looks at him directly, deeply.
"No. Things have been
so wrong since then."
That day. We met." She can feel herself breathing, the pull of breath, her body
making herself breathe, without even trying, but now that she remembers
breathing, she has to work at it, what a job, to spend her whole life working
didn't tell me her last name," Vanderhorn says.
right? Mary Delany."
read her her rights. Didn't I read
you your rights, Mary?"
nods her head faintly yes again.
didn't find her purse."
your purse, Mary?"
didn't let me bring it."
well do you know her?" Vanderhorn asks him.
told you we just met once. Twice,
counts her breaths and feels how the dried blood sticks to her hand.
nods for Vanderhorn to leave. Vanderhorn
looks doubtful. Reese holds his
finger up -- One minute alone, please. Vanderhorn shrugs and steps out of the
feels the room changing as her breathing slows down. The man is breathing harder than she is.
you remember me?"
remember you. You bought me a cup
of hot chocolate."
doesn't know what to say. He wants
to tell her that he still likes her, but he feels caught, motionless, becalmed,
compromised. How can Reese hold
the shell of a romance that almost but never quite happened against the hard
fact of her presence at this murder scene?
happen to me?" She looks up
at him for an answer.
she remember that I visited her in Camarillo, Reese wonders.
feels her cheeks flush from the television's staticky blue light. "I
can see auras."
he whispers. Is Vanderhorn just
outside the door? I have to be
above this, this thing, this.
"Sometimes. Recently. Not just this second.
You have a good one. You can
read about these things, they're in books about the human spirit." She pauses; she can hear Reese
waiting. She doesn't have to
explain what an aura is. He
knows, must know, not afraid of me per se but afraid of his feelings for me,
whatever is left of me now.
want to help you."
I want you to help me, with what you know."
know more about you than you think.
I've seen every color aura -- more than I ever wanted to see. Sometimes I’m awake even when I dream,
and it's one long flow of seeing through everything, hour after hour, whether I
want to or not. It's not just
something you can shut off, like a coffee machine. I know that you've had these kind of thoughts, unusual
thoughts, things that no one will say, unless they're someone like me. I didn't want to. I really didn't want to. I want you to believe that, even if
you're the only one...who does..."
waits, afraid of saying the wrong words to her, of hearing the wrong words from
her. But I'm not here for her,
I'm here to do my job, she's the job now, she's the goddamned job now.
"Just tell me what happened."
feels herself breathing, no longer working at it, her breath happening on its
own, just a machine she's riding. Simple
sentences, stay true to the simple sentences. "He brought me here and that's how
it happened, but I'm leaving out the gaps."
sits very still. She doesn’t dare
answer. She sees that Reese sees
that she doesn’t dare answer.
gaps? Tell me about the
space between here and there, like I'm at the backdoor and then I'm up here
without remembering the stairs.”
How can she explain what's missing, what Hayward has covered with
convenient amnesia? She sees Rand
staring at her from the floor.
Rand had aspirations and vulnerability and he might have changed into
something shining, given time and the right mix of air and incident, but his
face is a mask now, his lips almost a smile, almost a smile forever -- smiling
dead -- Hayward's joke. "Oh,
know it's hard, but try and tell me step by step all that you remember."
harsh white light glows to life in the fog outside the window. Reese hears muffled footsteps and
Vanderhorn steps back into the bedroom, poker-faced, practiced eyes reading
body language, Mary's and Reese's.
"It's getting busy out there.
The news goons are here."
know, I see the lights. Do you
feel well enough to stand up, Mary?"
nods yes and stands, the sash of the
robe falling loose, revealing her nakedness. She feels as if she's underwater, like a statue,
unconcerned. Embarrassed, Reese
fumbles with the sash, tightening it for her, pulling the bathrobe's lapels
close together. "Where are
clothes. She was wearing a
blood-soaked man’s pajama top."
Vanderhorn glances at his watch, looks unhappy. "We need to get Forensics up
here. We need pictures."
nods, distracted. I could lose
time line is getting funky.
Right? Right, Reese?"
a professional, must be a professional, must. "Okay, Van, send 'em up."
goes back downstairs.
and Mary are alone again, but there are loud voices in the yard, radio
squawks. Soon they will swarm into
don't have to be ashamed of what you're feeling," she says. "I know that you have to act
differently when we aren't alone.
You don't have to prove your kindness, not to me."
does she know what I'm thinking?
Because I'm transparent? because I'm obvious? because I'm fucking up?
can't read your mind, not like you think, not like a map or something. It just happens."
chill creeps up his forearms.
just hear things. It wasn't my
fault it got out of control. It
wasn't me, not really, not the fucking part. That was Rand's idea, fucking. I guess I sound pretty crude but it wasn't making love, it's
just not right to say ‘making love.’
I guess I could say sex instead, having sex, but do you really 'have
sex?' What do you have about it?"
is getting lost -- her words give him so much to think about -- personal things
-- so much to decide, in so little time.
"So you knew the deceased?"
deceased," he nods at the body.
"Oh. I thought you said did I know the diseased."
trickles down Reese's brow but he endures the salty tickle, declines, out of
discipline, to touch his face. The
hard part: no more circling, no more dancing, time for the direct, clear
question. "Did," his
voice cracks, then arrives at its proper timbre, "did you kill Rand
fucking." She feels guilty,
not explaining about Hayward, but it would just be too dangerous to say his
name out loud here in this room.
He seems so easily summoned, by saying his name, or just thinking his name, as if he were a dark genie.
feels dizzy. He likes her. He wants her to like him. One day, a very long week ago, it might
have been -- was -- love at first sight,
from his side at least -- or just infatuation -- but now it looks bad for her,
for that dead fantasy of romance.
And it isn't like they are lovers -- they haven't even kissed -- a cup
of hot chocolate, that was the extent of their aborted romance.
attempts a hopeful smile.
"That day we met, I thought a lot about you, but we weren't lucky,
not with each other, not that way.”
that chill as she picks up, repeats out loud what he is thinking, what he wants
is beautiful, in a vital way, more than the sum of her flesh, the sum of her
parts. But what about...manipulation,
the wrong side of coincidence? What's happening in this room is too
complicated, it draws too many things together, it draws too much from the
other side, inside side of his life.
hears Vanderhorn's footsteps back up the stairs, and other shoes behind, a gang
of feet about to invade the room.
Mary looks expectantly toward Reese, quiet, in seemingly perfect empathy
with his anxiety.
back in. The short curtain comes
down on their brief privacy.
going to handcuff you now, Mary.
I'm sorry-" The
beginning of an apology further alerts Vanderhorn, but Reese blows past the
misstep as if it is a hiccup.
"I'd like you to please put your hands behind your back."
does as she is told. Reese
disappears from her sight, but she feels his hand encircling her wrist,
followed by the snap of metal. He
holds her other hand, and they interlace their fingers, squeezing tight, the
rendezvous of digits hidden from Vanderhorn, their secret touch a brief,
graceful communion, the softest touch imaginable, felt through the thin
membrane of a surgical latex glove that protects Reese from the potential
plague of bad blood.
on that brief touch the bedroom fills with cops: scrawny, beefy, black, white,
with radios, with cameras, with bad breath, the room like a demented after
hours party now, the guest of honor dead, the maid of honor in handcuffs.
near Mary, Reese feels awkward and useless. He's never felt this useless before, not at a crime scene.
Reese, check this out," Vanderhorn calls from the master bathroom.
Reese turns away from Mary, trying to
distance himself from the warm bloodstream confusion she causes. He threads his way across the crowded
room, away from Mary, feeling hung-over, his mind fuzzy, lost on an idea that
won't come into focus, feeling, well, just wrong. Inside the bathroom, above the Carrera marble countertop and
the stainless steel Chicago faucet, on the mirror, written in moist blood:
HOLE IN THE SKY
the closest thing to drowning
is supposed to meet his partner McGee at the lock-up ward at nine A.M. He arrives at eight and walks down the
long green Lysol-scented corridor to Mary's room; the guard waves him through.
is curled up in her bed, a white-gowned phantom with sleep-twisted hair. Reese sits down in the only chair. He wants a moment just to look at her.
he says softly, just to hear her name in the air.
he repeats, as an endearment.
as he might whisper to her in the morning, with her head tucked against his
eyes shine to life and she smiles at him.
smiles back, pained to see her this way.
"Hi, Mary. It's Detective Reese. Remember me?"
are you feeling?"
got here early to talk to you alone.
You're a suspect in Rand Foley's murder. But...there are a lot of buts." What to say? There's so much to say. "I
got hold of your sister. She and
her husband were down in Rancho Mirage.
They're driving back."
I ruined their weekend."
you want me to try and get you back into Camarillo?"
"No! He can get me there."
is afraid to say his name, as if that will summon him out of the air -- after
all, hospitals are his favorite habitat.
you remember anything more about last night?" He can see that she wants to say something but she doesn't
speak. "Is there anything
else you can tell me?"
he wants me dead, then I'm dead.
He's taken a lot of interest in me. I haven't been able to dissuade him."
"Hayward." There, I've said it.
me about Hayward. Please."
from him." She reaches and
takes hold of his hand. He
gratefully squeezes her fingers.
worry. You're not going anywhere that's
"No. No place is safe. But Camarillo's the worst place of
plays with her fingers and waits.
made all the bad things happen."
Hayward at Rand Foley's house last night?"
he took me there."
she is staring at the wall she doesn't see his astonishment. And she also doesn't see him try to
hide his astonishment.
"Hayward took you there?
Hayward knew Rand Foley?"
Hayward kill Rand Foley?"
thinks of an answer, an honest answer that works. "He makes it all happen. They sneak out of the hospital, through the hole in the
"They? Were there others there last
but they came along the other times."
feels the chill on his arms. She's
saying what he wants to hear, but he doesn't want to hear her say it.
Not her. "What other
don't know. Other times, other
nights. It seemed real and then it
didn't. Two other nights,
me about those two other nights.”
hard to describe."
blushes, a crimson glow on her pale cheeks. "It was sexual, and, and I'm embarrassed."
he ever say anything about a hole in the sky?"
looks at Reese, locks onto his eyes, very afraid of dreams that might be more
than dreams, that might be real, what passes for real. "Yes."
waits for more.
here," she says softly.
"No." She nods behind her, back toward the
door. Reese looks up and sees
McGee staring irritably through the wire-mesh door window. She must have sensitive ears, Reese
speculates, as he tries to delicately remove his hand from hers. But she resists.
here early, Reese?" McGee asks as he steps inside.
few minutes ago. Traffic was
uses his left hand to gain his right hand's freedom.
see you brought your bedside manners."
Reese says, his tone not as blank as he would like.
morning, Miss Delany. Sergeant
McGee, at your service."
is there for the duration.
frowns and leaves. They are not
quite alone anymore, but at least McGee isn't standing inside with them.
studies his shoes. Mary waits,
breathing softly. Their contact is
silent, waiting together in the gray-green gloom of the hospital room. For the moment, they both have all the
time in the world.
else can you tell me?"
can do anything. He has."
does Hayward look like?"
not to say his name, please."
does he look like?"
hair? Light hair? Specifics?" Mary looks distracted now, calculating. She's not good at hiding things;
that's something to believe in. "Anything else that you can tell
right, it looks bad. He's a
perfect paranoiac projection, a transference mechanism. That's the lingo -- I fit the
reading again? Reese wonders. Mary just smiles back, as if that is
enough of an answer.
looks too fatigued to continue and he wants to touch her forehead, or her hand,
extend himself in a gesture, but with McGee outside there is no privacy for
such touchy-feely folly. Or is
McGee just the most immediate in a long line of excuses?
tired but I'm afraid to sleep," Mary says.
be afraid. I'm here. And when they release you later this
morning, you'll have round-the-clock protection." And you'll be under surveillance, he doesn't say, silenced by guilt. Maybe she really doesn't know.
afraid to sleep because I'm afraid of my dreams."
looks at her. He doesn't know what
to say. That he likes her, really
likes her, maybe loves her? That
he hopes, really hopes, that she didn't murder Rand Foley?
smiles at him, and he smiles back.
Maybe he is finally with a woman he doesn't have to say everything to,
or anything, a simple love who is not simple-minded.
don't want you to see me like this.
I'd like you to see me on a good day, in a good place. Somewhere in the sun. Somewhere smiling."
stands up. He watches her sleep,
wanting to touch her hair, to brush it back in place. But he just stands very still, until his heels hurt. He doesn't know how long he stands
there. He doesn't want to look at
his watch to put brackets around the moment. Mary sighs in her sleep and Reese finally leaves, to face
McGee and the hallway and the world of murders, wherever they lead, outward
from Mary's bed.
waiting in the hallway, Reese needs lunch, or breakfast, he feels like shit,
it's been a hard day's night.
Chet, the sketch artist with a scraggly Van Dyke beard and
charcoal-stained fingers, comes out of Mary's room, toting his sketch pad and
kit box, shaking his head. "I
didn't get anything usable."
flips open his pad. Reese sees a
huge pair of wasted eyes under a baseball cap, a void of charcoal and erasure,
a smear of a face. "Is that a
she say it was a beard?"
said it was a beard sometimes."
beard that he shaved off?"
rationality doesn't strictly apply."
is angry but he doesn't know what to do with it. Chet's not the one to be angry with.
can only draw what they tell me."
know. Thanks, anyway." Reese turns to look through the
wire-mesh glass and sees Mary's back, curled away from the window, sleeping,
Mary is patient enough to watch her cup of Lipton's tea cool, degree by
sits opposite her with a big notebook of photographs, Camarillo faces. He drove one hundred and twenty-seven
miles round-trip this morning just to make this little show-and-tell
leans against the wall, watching Mary's face, his arms folded, outwardly a
model of professional detachment.
He studies her reactions, measuring her beauty against his doubts. Is she Rand's killer? Is there really a Hayward? If she acted, did she act alone?
hears his doubts as she looks at a black and white photograph of a woman's
face, careworn, no make-up, no hope.
flips the page.
woman's face, darker hair, a little crescent scar near the corner of her
mouth. A different face, but with
the same hopeless eyes.
flips the page. It irritates him
that she takes so long looking at each picture.
Mary each face is a landscape of pain, but never Hayward's face. "No."
flips the page. Fuckin’ waste
of time...unless I put my hand on her leg and let it slide right up the glory
trail...would she even notice? would she know to say no?
"No. Wait. That's Olivia."
looking for Hayward," McGee says.
part of it."
it, Mac." Reese uncrosses his
arms and takes the photograph from McGee.
Spears," he reads from the label pasted on the back.
of them. She and Michelle and
Danny. They all sneak out through
the hole in the fence." She
feels herself doubting what she says, even as she works at making every word
that she speaks true, fearing that Hayward has warped all her words, like iron
filings skewed by a hidden magnet.
can see that Mary is trying, but her story is stretching thin, as hard to pin
down as a blob of mercury.
"Let's keep looking."
flips to the next page, and the next.
eventually finds Michelle and Danny also living in the stack of
photographs. "They scare
rolls his eyes and fingers a cigarette.
didn't find Hayward," Reese says.
"No. He's too smart for that."
I've talked with the Records Office at the hospital. There's no patient named Hayward, hasn't been for six years,
and even then, going back twelve years, the last two Haywards were both
isn't his real name, I told you that."
thought I did. What about Olivia
and Michelle and Danny?"
be questioned. Maybe they can help
us find Hayward."
they'll never help." She sees
how he is looking at her now, in a lost way, yes it's just gotten worse, the
more I've said, the less he trusts, it's hopeless to try and explain.
they leave with the photographs, a gray void hangs in the air where Reese
stood, and the bed sheet throbs where the photographs were stacked. Her tea has cooled to the temperature
of her throat; she feels balanced pouring liquid into herself, the closest
thing to drowning.
big air outside.
out from the green corridor light, Mary walks down the cracked sidewalk with
Laura on her right, Albert on her left.
gulps of air. The clouds ordinary
but glorious. What was miserable
is now mysterious.
feels the balance of gravity in her ears, in her feet, walking again, on the
planet, across the parking lot.
senses Hayward waiting in the wings, though she feels cloudy and cannot say for
sure who or what Hayward might be today.
if He finds her again?
When He finds her again.
for now Mary enjoys a ringing clarity, like a faint dial tone, a hum through
everything, more constant than a heartbeat. Living comfortably in my head again -- my name is Mary --
I am Mary because of my name -- or in spite of my name?
and Albert don't know what to say to her about what happened to Rand. Would it be awful to tell them it
didn't matter, not the blood and the body, because that wasn't Rand, that was
what was left behind, and there was no putting Humpty Dumpty back together
really wish you'd reconsider and come home with us. For a few days at
least," Laura says and touches Mary's arm. Mary feels the pink silk of Laura's jacket on her arm. The color feels as distinct as her
sister's breath. Pink has finally
become the smell of her sister.
After all these years of obsessing, Laura is now married to pink. And why did she pick pink? What if pink picked her?
sweet of you, Sis, but I'm okay.
What happened was terrible, but I didn't have a relapse. The doctors said I'm fine."
afraid of getting skin cancer from too much sun."
not what I mean. You look
Mary needs a vacation like us," Albert says in his brightest voice,
intending the dig only for his attuned wife.
sorry I ruined your trip," Mary says.
behavior was absolutely alcoholic."
sorry about your vacation, and I'm sorry if Rand got murdered at an inconvenient
time. You didn't have to come back
on my account. I wish you hadn't,
I could've gotten home by myself."
What Mary doesn't say is that it pleases her to still be walking the
earth, while Rand, who ran five miles a day and thought cellulite a moral failure,
walked no more, except maybe with the king, if there is a king up there in the
scudding castle of clouds.
together -- three separate chains -- chains of thoughts.
can listen, but music is better.
Easier. The silence of the
car ride fills with radio music.
Bagpipes -- Mary likes their piercing sound, angular but melodic. She is glad that there is a hidden side
to Albert -- she would never have guessed that he listened to public
radio. I should make
conversation, won't be with them much longer. "I love
bagpipes. It must be the Irish
and Laura look at each other, two warring countries deciding how to respond to
a neutral city-state they both have diplomatic relations with. Mary is thankful to see only the surface
this morning, the outside of their expressions -- the guessing game of normal
life -- sometimes it's better not to hear too much. "It's nice that they're playing bagpipes on the
Laura says tersely, her lips pressed tight and pink as she flips down the sun
visor and looks at Mary in the vanity mirror. "You're not wearing your safety belt," she scolds,
her smile retreating.
need. We're here," Albert
announces as he smartly stops his Infiniti outside of Mary's stucco apartment
steps out of the car and stretches, glad to be standing on the brown grass of
her adopted front yard. She smiles
at the blooming jacaranda tree in the little park across the street, its purple
wands waving against the bagpipe sky.
The clouds look pleasing, dramatic, billowing in from the east.
and Laura wearily unbuckle but stay seated and talk in low voices. Mary doesn't want, or need, to hear
bagpipes fill the air, the counterpoint of minor keys resolving into harmony, a
shield of music, from radios somewhere.
Not to question the source.
Mary has made it back home.
night is not the usual map of familiar street signs and signals but a dark
tunnel that leads Reese to Mary's street.
Across the lawn of brown grass is her apartment, somewhere behind the
crumbling green stucco facade, a room that he can only imagine.
appropriate that her street is named Curson. Curse on Mary.
Curse on Reese.
parks behind a gray unmarked police car, the heavy shape of McGee slumped
inside. When he gets out of his
car he feels the hot Santa Ana wind against his skin like a million pinpricks. Palm fronds swaying and scraping in the
dry wind. Reese slips into the
passenger seat, surprising McGee.
up. This is important."
yawns. "I know you've got the
hots for her," McGee says.
I think you spend too much time beating your bishop. Who else is on detail?"
me a favor and try to keep your eyes open."
gets out of the car and studies the lay-out.
apartment building is two stories.
On one side of the property is a sidewalk running back to an alley. A hedge of overgrown oleander breaks
the sight lines. Along the other
side of the building is a driveway, cluttered with cars and an aluminum storage
shed. The building looks like it
was built in the Twenties, with some of its original grillwork still intact. No security lights. There is a trellis of bougainvillea,
and drainpipes with adequate handholds for climbing. Picturesque, but unsecure. Reese walks down the driveway and sees a back staircase. All his alarm bells are ringing; there
are so many ways in and out of Mary's building.
the alley he sees Vanderhorn's car, parked at the junction where two sides of
the building and the backstairs are visible.
gets into the car. "What a
leaky-looking place. Have you seen
caught McGee napping."
going upstairs and question her."
talked to her when I came on watch. She's a couple of sandwiches shy of a
Reese says, trying not to say anything.
walks up the sidewalk, completing his tour of the perimeter, the oleander
brushing against his shoulder as it sways in the hot wind. On the porch he sees Delany handwritten and taped to the corroded brass mail
slot for Apartment Two. The buzzer
is broken, the lobby door unlocked.
He steps inside. The red
Spanish tiles are cracked and dusty.
As Reese walks up the unlevel stairs he pats his hair, as nervous as a
Mary’s door he hesitates. She's
not expecting me, what will it be like? what will she be like? will she still
like me? Stop it.
knocks. Shards of memory tinkle
like slivers of silvered-glass in a broken thermos. But I'm haunted by every woman I've ever wanted to
kiss. Isn't each kiss a door I
might have opened? Is it too late
to stop being who I am?
opens the door and smiles. Tonight
she wears a white blouse and jeans.
She looks brighter, even more beautiful than remembered, drawn further
into the light. "Hi."
"Hi." He feels lame saying that; he feels
sixteen and frozen. The first
thing he says freezes him out of a relaxed, appropriate second thing to say.
glad you're back."
is embarrassed, thrilled.
"You were expecting me?"
was hoping." Mary steps back,
inviting him inside without saying exactly that. Reese closes the door behind. Her room instantly registers as small, tidy, infinitely
sad. Different from what he had
imagined. But what had he
imagined? Three doors along the
opposite wall -- bathroom, closet, maybe a second closet, no, he spots a door
latch -- a backdoor -- unusual for a single-room apartment.
not much," she says.
place isn't much either."
like to see your place.”
I'm curious about you."
stand close. He aches to touch
has never been privy to such reticence; she has never had to make the first
he has always had trouble with.
But this is not the right night.
"I'm on duty, you know."
why you came up to see me?"
the only reason?" she teases.
stand so close together. And
still, as always, there is no moment that seems perfect for him to touch
you like some tea or something?"
but I can't, I've got to go."
His silent worries counter hers.
"Don't." Her hands flutter near his arm, dancing
with the idea of touching him.
got things I need to do. He could
touch her shoulder, lightly, reassuringly, professionally. That would be easy to do. But where would it lead? Vanderhorn is outside, at the bottom of
those back stairs, McGee is parked in front. They aren't really alone up here -- his colleagues outside
are clocking these minutes.
he touches her shoulder, feels something electric -- her -- that she is solid, exists, is with him for this
moment in this room. She touches
his shoulder. It would be so easy
to kiss, the specific misery is so soluble, but not now, it is not the right
thing to do now. "I've really
got to go."
trying to help you."
it's not. I'll come back as soon
as I can. I promise." A last squeeze of her shoulder.
thinks of all the deaths that brought him into her room, a rush of romantic
paranoia. The world beyond the
glow of her face becomes a blur.
Their good-bye is without a kiss.
remembers that their good-bye was without a kiss.
outside, the hot wind irritates Reese’s neck. The dry grass crunches under his loafers as he crosses the
dead brown lawn to his car. He
knows that he is biased toward Mary's innocence as a matter of his own
emotional survival; he knows that this is wrong.
Reese turns to see her coming across the lawn, barefoot, defying good-bye,
outside, where someone, anyone (McGee, Van) can see. It's night, but the darkness isn't hiding anything. With a quick glance he sees McGee
watching from his car, smirking.
don't feel safe without you."
Her eyes look wild to him, desperate.
are two officers on duty, one in front and one in back."
knows that she's right, for different reasons than his. He could send Vanderhorn out to
Camarillo, that would work.
"Okay, Mary, I'll stay through the end of the shift, but then I've
got to go."
sees her eyes asking why. He
speaks softly, hoping that McGee can't hear. "I'm heading up this investigation. There are a lot of things I'm
you'll stay now? You won't go back
out to Camarillo tonight?"
Camarillo surprises him, he was careful not to say that
word. "Yes, I'll stay through
the end of the shift."
we can have tea."
I don't think that would be a good idea."
then? I can make coffee."
it wouldn't look right."
he feels that pull to kiss her, as if she too is waiting for that. The question being: is it his imagination,
is it him imagining what he wants, what he could do, what she would let him
do? Does a kiss come from both
sides, with equal pressure?
you for staying." She smiles
and turns smartly and walks into her building without looking back.
a babe," McGee mutters from the car.
sending Vanderhorn out to Camarillo and taking over his watch."
know it's a challenge but try and stay awake."
gets back in his car, gives the engine an angry rev, and drives around back.
in the alley, Reese looks up.
Mary's window is set back from a small wood-rail balcony, her curtain
billowing in the wind. He can
smell night-blooming jasmine.
Except for an occasional car, nothing has happened for two hours. He picks up his walkie-talkie. "Radio check."
McGee answers. "There are
some kids smoking dope in the park across the street."
puts the walkie down and stares up at Mary’s window. Watching her shadow on the curtains, Reese imagines himself
lying in her bed, Mary curled up against him. He imagines everything but their conversation. What would they say after they knew,
really knew each other, what then?
staircase door swings open and Mary steps outside. Reese frowns, annoyed with himself for spacing-out, for
letting his attention flag. Mary
stares at him -- daring -- determined -- then walks across the alley and climbs
into the front seat without asking.
can't stay up there alone."
don't have to stay up there. You
can do whatever you like. We're
just watching." He needs to
report this to McGee, he has to obey the protocol and report the suspect's
movement to his partner.
you don't understand. I can't stay
up there alone knowing that you're outside. Why can't I be with you?"
you can. It's okay for you to come
down here and talk. But I'm on
know. You're protecting me."
is supposed to pick up the walkie and report her movement. But before he can, Mary flows into his
arms, naturally, contouring against him.
Her hands rest on his shoulder blades and he feels the warmth of her
palms pressing in. He tries to
memorize her touch.
weak," Mary says.
doesn't know how to answer when her lips find his, their lips come together,
and the breath between, their breath, entwine. His emotions swim in what he hopes are twins of her
feelings. The kiss is perfect,
beyond what he could imagine, because how can you imagine exactly how lips will
feel? Her lips are so warm, and he feels her hands on his neck, the warmth
of her palms pressing in. His eyes
close and he feels suspended from time, from gravity, falling, from himself,
the world shrinking to the sensation of Mary in his arms, Mary lips, Mary's
hands on his neck, Mary's fingers sinking into his hair.
her eyes closed too, feels the kiss she wanted, and it doesn't have to stop,
it’s the right thing with the right man.
Crowded in the car against Reese, Mary feels the steering wheel dig into
her back. Stroking his chest Mary
feels his pistol holstered to his belt, no kiss in her life without a weapon,
without some way of going wrong.
Mary cracks open her eyes to find a better angle for their lips to
collide and sees the tingle of blue on his skin, the glow of his electricity,
and she is frightened to hug him any longer. The colors again, do the colors always mean killing, greedy
squeezing killing? No. Please, no. Did Hayward invade their kiss? He did. Mary flinches at a flare of light in
the sky, a cannonball of color shooting up to the heavens, cranes her neck to
see the fireball shooting up -- to the hole in the sky? Can it be? Some fireworks in the front yard, or what?
kiss is gone; Reese looks strangely at her.
you see it?" Mary asks.
gently moves her aside, scans the alley quickly, studying every shadow. He feels prickly and weak from this
lapse. "What did you
light in the sky -- that way -- from the street."
kind of light?"
a roman candle." She feels
wrong saying that, but it's the easiest way to try and explain -- without
really explaining. Mary sees Reese
looking at her, his eyes cloudy, wanting another kiss, confused, suspicious,
torn. The blue glow of an aura
clings to his skin like static electricity waiting to spark. Or like blue eel skin to shed before he
slithers away. Everything feels so
different on the other side of that long kiss. Was it the wrong thing, no matter how good it felt? Was it the wrong thing? Mary feels so afraid now and turns
quickly to look back up at the sky: nothing.
is it, Mary?"
looks down from the sky. She
wishes that his aura would go away.
Infected just from getting touched, like a virus, she remembers His words, spoken somewhere, is she really supposed to
believe His crazy words? "Was
it wrong to kiss you?"
"No. You know I have feelings for you. But, yes, this is the wrong time...it's
is dangerous." The words feel
as intimate as kisses. "I've
been unfair to you. I should have
waited, but...but I'm weak. I was
afraid that if I waited that you'd be gone."
squeezes Reese’s hand, just his hand, feels him squeezing back, then she slides
across the seat, out the passenger door, back across the alley and up the stairs.
hears Mary's footsteps fade, lost in the wind. She was here, she must have been here, but it feels so
unreal now, in this moment after she's gone, as if he just imagined it. He feels weird and jangly. Reese's vision shuts down to a tunnel
bounded by throbbing darkness, his eyes ache, his thoughts won't focus. Emotions? Untrained emotions?
An emotional migraine?
steps back into her apartment and sees only a smear of colors, wipes away tears
she doesn't remember crying. She
remembers Reese. But she doesn't
trust her memory -- He can intervene,
rearrange things. Mary sits down
on the edge of the bed.
Trapped. Her skin hurts
from the weight of her clothes.
Everything feels wrong.
Because everything is wrong.
leans against the wall, a laconic cowboy, the Man in Black, smiling. But we can correct that. Tonight's the night.
stands up -- maybe he's just a shadow, don't act afraid.
laughs and pushes off from the wall.
eases back into the kitchenette, little baby steps backwards. If I move slowly maybe I can sneak
Mary slides the
utensil drawer open and metal clatters as she finds the knife she is looking
for, the big knife.
right tool for the right job. Hayward crowds her against the stove. Shall we call him up here so
you can do the deed?
The deed. It's time to get to the point. No more school girl kisses. It's time for you to do Reese.
floats toward her, like an oily shadow.
Where is He really standing? He waves his own knife at her, or is
that His arm, the shiny part of His arm?
Nothing looks right.
Nothing looks stable or solid.
Help she tries to say, but the word will not travel out
of Mary's mouth.
stands close to her now, so close, and not to kiss. His shadow touches her, or His hand, the boundary is
unclear, He makes the world look so smeared.
knows what she wants to do, what she has to do, but she cannot say it, cannot
think it, not even to herself.
Cannot let Him know. It
will only work, only save her, if it is a secret.
smiles. You're cute.
jerks her arm forward, feels the knife puncture black cloth and slice home,
carves something more solid than air.
Hayward bleeds; He looks surprised.
You've gotten strong.
tries not to act hurt, but she knows that He is. Knows. She stabs again.
My best student. Fuck. He raises His own knife.
away now, get out of here before he gets me gets Reese. As Mary
dashes for the front door she struggles to push a name out of her throat and
into the air. One last name.
voice fills his head -- a plea, a regret, love and fear, all in the single
syllable of his name -- her voice inside his head. Reese doesn't understand, but there isn't time to
understand, as he jumps out of the car, walkie-talkie in hand. "McGee -- I heard something, I'm
going up. McGee? McGee?!"
answer on his walkie as he bounds up the backstairs, hit by the musty smell of
mildewed carpet, taking the steps three at time, .38 in hand. He knocks on her backdoor. "Mary?!"
the door -- unlocked -- pushes it open.
the other side of the threshold: fresh blood splattered on the bedspread and
sprayed across the white pine headboard.
Blood sparkles on the cottage cheese ceiling and soaks the avocado
carpet to the dark shade of rotting fruit.
"Mary? Mary!" Bracing his gun Reese pivots into the bathroom -- sees a
plastic shower curtain with dancing fish -- no Mary.
McGee, report! Report!"
red trail leads Reese through the open front door, the blood opaque against the
red floor tiles, everything so dark, night rushing in at the corner of his
eyes, his vision pulsing to his heartbeat loud in his ears, the worst thing he
could imagine, all this blood, how could it happen so fast?
across the lawn, Reese looks for her everywhere, down the sidewalk, across the
street. Dizziness trails behind
him like a vapor. He sees McGee
sprawled in his car, head thrown back, his neck broken, no pulse. "McGee! Jesus!"
Reese reaches across the man's motionless belly to grab the mic and call
in on the radio. "Dispatch,
I've got an officer down, and a wounded suspect, I need paramedics and
back-up..." Reese hears
himself saying the right things, going through the right motions, the trained
response, but he feels outside of his body, spectating himself, desperate to
throw the radio down and chase. Find
her -- hope -- pray -- that it isn't as wrong as it seems, please god, no NO NO!
between blinks, Reese stands in the park across the street. There is ringing in his ears, as if
after an explosion.
voice in his ahead again, softer, scared, defeated.
feels Mary's pain in the jagged syllable as she repeats his name. Her voice from above, from the sky, can
it be? Looking up Reese sees the
purple jacaranda petals swaying in the hot wind, scraping against the sky. He feels dizzy, nothing looks
right. He walks, runs, follows his
feet, fallen purple petals underfoot, petals fluttering in the wind. Dark dead fallen purple flowers.
Reese sees a man standing in the shadow of the molting jacaranda tree. Between blinks. Everything is happening between blinks.
is faced off against the man, bloodstains on her white blouse, a bloody knife
in her hand, Reese's worst fear, Mary poised to stab, to kill.
you okay?" Reese asks, staking his position as the third point of an acute
triangle, his angle of fire narrow enough to cover both Mary and the man.
feels pain in the ache of Reese's words.
She gasps for air, tries to speak, fails.
you okay?" Reese asks again.
slowly nods yes.
down the knife, Mary."
nods no, her eyes on the man, who
remains half-hidden in the shadows.
that Hayward?" he asks, his gun pointed at the dark silhouette, but
mindful of Mary's knife.
Even holding a
gun, Reese feels helpless.
Got her, dead to rights.
hears the voice in his head. A
voice that sounds like his conscience.
playing his games again," Mary barely manages to whisper.
No games here. Just a crazy lady and her victim.
can't separate his own thoughts.
And what are his own thoughts, whatever is in his head, whatever he
hears himself say to himself, isn't that his, isn't that him?
bobbing gun barrel betrays his shaking hand.
man in the shadows sways unsteadily against the wind. As Reese watches he seems to disappear -- becomes less solid
-- or is he stepping closer, moving away from Mary, toward Reese, rebalancing
the triangle in his favor? Reese
wants to say freeze, but words aren't doing what he expects words to do, the
words won't follow his command to leave his lips. Finally, finally:
of you -- don't move! Get your
hands over your head!"
me kill him. We're strong enough
now to kill him together. Mary's voice or her thoughts, somehow her words reach
feels underwater, choking. Death
from the bends waits for him at the surface of this terrible moment, as he
collapses upwards, helpless, even with the gun held on an unarmed man and a
woman. The only woman for
him. Mary. Holding a bloody knife.
Take a moment to think about the
it can't be his conscience. Reese
knows he would never call himself Reese.
He suspects that the silent man in the shadows is capable of an
impossible ventriloquism. Mary
convulses in pain. The man steps
closer to Reese, with invisible footsteps, exploiting the moment of
distraction. So slippery, who
could attack who.
Take a moment to think about eternity.
don't move! Mary, put down the
ears ring with painful, burning noise.
feels pain that burns green into white.
She cannot see Reese in the blindness of this hurtful white, but she
tries to remember him as someone she loves in softer, sweeter colors. Mary tries to tell herself reassuring
things, she needs to hear her own words, to escape this terrible silence that
Needful peaceful gleeful.
looks at Mary, still worried about her knife.
You are my
only way of hanging on.
words -- inside of his head -- that Mary speaks to him, without lips or voice.
a thundering voice intrudes his inner-ear: Save yourself, Reese. She's the killer and she's conned you.
No that's a lie, I'm not a killer, he made
me -- made me -- made me -
- made me-
-pants on fire.
me -- made me -- made me, Mary chants.
is crazy with the voices, hers and his, Mary's and the man's, raging back and
forth, Reese's feelings pulled by the silent voice that probes him, violates
him. Reese moves his finger off
the trigger, afraid that his muscle will spasm and fire an accidental shot.
fucks and she kills. Look what
she's done to me. The man totters closer, into the street light, his
black shirt blood-soaked, glistening.
can finally see the man's face, flat dead eyes above a losing smile.
Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m William Ward Hastings. But you should call me Hayward. Malcolm
sends his greetings.
Malcolm. The Monkey Man.
dead," Reese whispers in pain as the silent voice probes him, violates
shrugs. His spirit lives
on. Bloodlines. Neat word.
Why? Because you haven't fucked her?
not arguing with this madman, Reese thinks,
I'm not getting sucked in.
She's just a piece of ass. If you ever manage to fuck her you'll
see that she's nothing special.
No, Reese thinks, not Mary, don't talk about
her like that.
lunges at Hayward, leaps between heartbeats, stabs Him. Stop it, shut up, die, no more lies!
stabs and stabs. No more no more no more!
clear target, Mary and Hayward spinning, Reese can't shoot her, but he has to
stop her. Has to stop it.
steps back, gasps for breath.
gray aura leaks, spreads like a stain, getting bigger, coloring air, displacing
longer a triangle, now they stand in a straight line; Mary blocks Reese's view
of Hayward; Reese sidesteps to bring him back into view. Hayward sways on his feet like he's
dancing to unheard music. Mary
stands an arms-length back, ready to stab him again.
lips curl into a smile. ...needful
peaceful gleeful... Sinks slowly to the ground. ...so fucking dumb, you think
raises her knife, tensed to strike again.
voice retreats like a wave that has crashed on the beach, leaving dirty foam
behind in the sand. Mary sees
Hayward's gray aura shatter -- smoky splinters -- glittering shards --
gone. Like an airplane descending,
her ears clog with pressure, and then equalize, de-compress, drop her ears back
to ground level.
"Mary. Mary. Put down the knife."
is afraid to take her eyes off Hayward; she expects him to attack again.
shakes her head no.
please, drop the knife."
shakes her head no again.
I want to help you, but you have to drop the knife first." Reese keeps his gun drawn, though not
quite pointed at her. He circles
around her for a closer look at Hayward, sees the glint of blood pumping from
his severed carotid artery.
Dying. The blood's rhythm
slowing to a stop. Dead. Reese can't check for a pulse, not
while Mary still holds a weapon, not until the back-up arrives.
there anyone else?"
she asks without turning.
there's just us. Now there's just
us." She finally looks at
Reese, but she doesn't seem to recognize him.
down the knife."
looks into his eyes. Tom Reese.
Her voice, again,
separate from the sad smile on her lips.
he hurt you, Mary?"
he did was hurt me." She
drops her arm by her side, but she doesn't drop the knife.
hears a siren and belatedly realizes that sound has faded back into the world,
normal sound, the siren somewhere close behind, the whole world behind,
catching up. The questions should
be easy, the questions should be obvious, he's asked suspects these kind of
questions so many times before, when he's been tired, when he's been wounded,
so why does everything feel so wrong now?
did you get out here?
wanted you to come up to my room.
See how I did the opposite thing?" She smiles.
"I can't hear them."
can't hear the voices anymore.
They're gone." She
steps close. So close that he can
feel her breath again. "When
you fly up to the hole in the sky, where do you go?" She looks up at the sky. "Is he really gone?" She looks at Reese like she's expecting
feels the charge of something forbidden.
She won't stab me, not me.
neck strains up, her lips opening, like she expects a kiss. It's safe for us now.
his ears hateful voices blur with radio static, garbled commands that sound
like a foreign language. He stands
his ground but he wants so badly to feel her lips against his again. Not my fault, not something I did if
she kisses me. And what can it
matter, lips meeting, what can it hurt?
It can't hurt. It's the only thing that can't hurt.
holding the knife, Mary raises her arms to embrace Reese. It's wrong, against the code, but
everything is so wrong. And why
do I close my eyes to kiss? Why
does anyone, everyone?
Closing eyes is natural, it's finally safe
to kiss, just us, it's finally just us, finally us, Mary says without saying.
"Halt." A harsh voice in the dark.
feels the warm glow of her lips on his.
Nothing else matters.
"Halt!" The harsh voice again, whose voice,
looks startled. The knife drops
from her hand, clatters off an exposed tree root.
wave of vertigo and the world turns upside down as Mary slips through his arms.
stares up at him from a bed of fallen purple petals, her red hair spilling
across the ground.
careful -- she's still armed!" yaps someone as Reese drops to cradle Mary
in his arms. Nothing else
You're very handsome. I always wanted to tell you that
because you don't seem to know.
"Mary..." Stroking her red hair. Don't cry, don't scare her, don't
let her die.
I liked that you didn't know, but I wanted
to tell you anyway...
down -- over here. Suspect
seems to glow; a warm pulse of color surrounds her. Reese wipes his eyes, feels the tears on his hand. Tears? How did they get there?
Hold me tighter.
cradles Mary closer and feels the glow of her against him. Like a religious painting, something
like that, what beautiful green light, what? "You're going to be okay,
No, I'm dying. I know I'm dying.
You know it.
tries to smile. Well...
so brave it hurts so much but she's so brave.
I've never died before, I don't remember
it, Mary." More sirens. An ambulance, please god, please. She's
so bright now and warm. She feels so good, why does
this green light feel so good? What can it be?
like I told you...see, I'm not so crazy... Mary tries smiling again.
Because you're here. I'm so glad that you're here.
can't stop crying. She shakes in
his arms. Mary...
Just think...we almost never met...
feels a flood of colors, rushing, swarming, the colors so warm, delicious,
lies still and dark and cooling in his arms.
arms tug at him, other voices.
Nothing else matters. He
looks up at the sky. So dark up
shoes trample over the fallen purple petals.
had a knife, she was going to stab you..."
killed her," Reese barely mumbles.
pull Reese away from her, but it isn't Mary anymore, it's just what's left
guy's dead too."
the fuck is the matter with Reese?"
Reese, are you wounded?"
feels himself falling up to earth, onto the purple flowers, curling fetal on
the pale bed of petals. Reese
remembers the oddest thing, a junior high school science class fact: the human
eye really sees the world upside down, but the brain converts it to right side
up. "Why did you have to kill
she had a knife and..." Reese
hears words, reasons, but there's no real reason, nothing is reasonable, not
now. He can't see anything except
the play of hurtful flashlight beams streaking across his injured eyes, and a
little patch of white -- Mary's blood-stained blouse.
Ward Hastings was working as an orderly out at Camarillo. His alias was Malcolm Ward. You were right, man, you were
right," a cop voice, a cop friend, someone whose name Reese usually knows.
turns to look at the sky -- down, or up, direction is so confusing just now,
Reese's face haggard with dirt and blood and dead jacaranda petals. A light is circling in the sky,
descending, a dark angel disguised as a machine.
the hell is wrong with him?"
lost it, man."
No, there's something else, something to
explain here, can't they see?
on Reese's arms, gentle but insistent, help him stand, lead his feet away, but
they can't turn his face down from the sky. Can't they see?
beating, and drums, the drums that have always been beating in his heart,
unheard, but now he listens. Can't
anyone else hear the thunder speaking? There's something else to be
explained, something slipping away, please.
tepid ball of light congeals in the sky, born in the orange glow of
streetlights, a translucent presence that floats in the hot air.
anyone else see it? Reese wonders.
Please allow me to introduce myself...
orange ball of light in the sky, drifting away in the wind.
he can just get some sleep. Maybe
it will make sense tomorrow.
she still be dead tomorrow?