Friday, April 12, 2013


The girl with the long, curly hair said - I didn't think it would ever happen to me. I mean I heard about it. But you know how it is.  You want it so bad, you get blind. And I don't even know why he gave me an appointment. I called. I just called. Got all the information out of a big directory.... a big 'industry' directory. You know where I got it? I found it at an audition. Somebody left it. I could never afford that. Sixty four dollars, it cost. But... I took it. 

Jonathon and Sarah sat there, snug against the wall of a never used storage room along a never traveled route. They were down in the tunnels of the mole people, listening to a young girl speak. She knew they were life-eaters. But in a place where the paranormal IS normal, that's not a major issue. So they listened to the words in a quiet space, gilded by the flickering orange glow from a small pot of Sterno.

And the curly haired girl said - You know I can sing? You know that. He handled mostly actors. But, what, I wasn't gonna go? So I went to the library and I 'Skyped' him. Had to go to a public library to do it. I didn't know how to set it up. Some guy there helped me. He was in charge of the room. Said I had to wait til four o'clock. The computer room shuts down then. So I had to sit there, out in the magazine section, reading old copies of Variety and shutting out the noise from the screaming kids who use the place as a club house. I don't even think they realize they got books in there. 

First I get the receptionist. She looks like a real bitch. Probably lookin' for her own break. She says - Do you have an appointment?..... I go - No.... She says - Then who sent you?.... I go - Nobody.... I almost said 'Ellen Degeneres.' That was the only one I could think of. (brushes back a few strands). But I see this look on her face. She's gonna get rid of me real fast. I know it. Seventeen dollars and fifty cents for a top from H&M, down the drain. God did I feel like an idiot. 

Sarah said - How did you get out there? Where did you get the money?...... The girl said - My stepfather had a place, sold pizza and steak sandwiches and hoagies. I worked the counter after school. You wanna know what I did? ..... Jonathon nodded.... She goes - I 'short checked' him. Sold a twenty dollar order. Got paid twenty dollars. But then I'd write a second check for ten dollars. And that's what went in the register. He don't know. He don't look. Manny, the cook knew. We split it all. Not every order, but some. Maybe four or five a day. I would get like seventy five dollars a week out of it. See, I'd write the 'cheap' checks up before I even went in. Naive, but not dumb. Twenty weeks gives me fifteen hundred dollars.  and he never did anything to me. He never touched me. But that don't mean he liked me. Always cursed. Always hollered. My mother too. Both of us. But where were we gonna go? You think stuff like that don't happen anymore? Bullshit! It happens every day. 

Another kid, a girl from school went with me. She's still out there. She does stand-up. Writes for some show too. 

Jonathon quietly asked - Did you ever meet Rudy?.... No. Who's he? - she said....... A life-eater. Met him once, in my travels...... Sarah looked and realized how many secrets he still kept. 

The curly haired girl went on. She told how the agent came out of his office and walked through, while she was still talking with the receptionist. She told how he looked at the screen and said - Who's that? Who's she? Bitch girl said - Nobody. She's nobody..... Agent goes - Go to hell.... and shoves her out of the way. Two hours later she meets him in a glorified fast food burger place.... Nothing fancy.... Nowhere his 'crowd' would go. Says he can't use her right now, but would take her on as like a 'mother's helper' to give his wife a break from the twins and all. Says she'd get to live with them, in the big house out in Encino. So she takes it. She goes. And two weeks later he starts messing with her. First out in the pool, late at night. She liked to swim after the kids were in bed. Wife never knew. 'Outside' ain't air conditioned. So he slips into the water and starts playing games. Ain't got no suit. What's he need God damned trunks for? Nobody sees back there. Starts 'tagging' her. Starts petting her...kissing her. First she won't let him. But then, about a week or two later, he pulls her 'bottoms' off, said something about a job... a rock video job.... so she let him. Look, who knows if the wife knew? Could be she didn't care. All her lady friends knew she thought he was putrid. But she liked the customized Mercedes, the Maybach, I think they call it... and the place at Malibu... not ocean front, but beach block and that was still pretty good.

There was never any job. But he did slip her some 'C' notes every once in a while. And then she got herpes.  Took her to a doctor friend of his. Some guy who likes 'hanging out' with people from the industry. Some guy who'd do anything for a few pool party invites and show tickets. Does what he can for her. But now, the agent guy talks. He tells his guy friends about her. They laugh. They look at her different. You think she's ever gonna get a break in that town?  And the worst thing is, she knows it. Wants to run away. But the kids are cute. She likes the kids. Figures maybe one day he'll stake her for like a little boutique or something. Maybe she'll sell real estate. People make a life from that. 

Only one day the wife is crying. Says the doctor 'saw something.' Not her... the kids. Thinks it's autism. Not so bad. But bad enough. And it's both of them. So they bring in this team, some girl and some guy from U.C.L.A.. They work with them. They help the wife. Girl even acts like a social secretary too, if you want to know the truth. One night, after dinner, wife DOES come out to the pool... and she says - I want that cheap, little, sticky bitch out of here. He don't say one word. But twelve hours later the curly haired girl is out. Got eight hundred dollars, a stolen gold bracelet and nothing else. Wanders The Grove looking for a classy job, but they don't want her. They just don't want her.  And the friend doing stand-up lets her sleep there a few nights, but she don't want her, 'cause she's starting to make connections... good connections. Seventeen years old, but everybody 'pretends' like she's twenty two. You know you can do that out there. 

Got eighteen hundred dollars for the gold bracelet. Came back home. Tried to make it up with her family, but they knew. People knew. Stand-up girl was on Face Book. She made jokes about it. Look, maybe in a little while things would change. Maybe they'd have taken her back. But they didn't... her mother and stepfather, I mean. So she wound up on the streets. Who goes into Center City from where she lived? They don't know. And then she wound up in the tunnels.  Mole people are good like that. 

When she was done, Jonathon said - My poor, poor child. How can I help you?...... But Sarah knew. She knew right away. And she pinched him real hard. Curly haired girl might have seen, but she just kept going...... Make me a life-eater. Give me 'the burden.' I want to go back. I want to go out there. I want to set things right....

He looked so disappointed. He looked truly sad. And the three of them just sat there.... watching the Sterno burn low...

Then, a few hundred heartbeats later, the girl who wanted to be a singer, quietly began to sing. She picked a song.... Falling Slowly, from 'Once.' Her clear, pure voice filled the tiny space.  And they heard these words.....

I don't know you... but I want you... all the more for that.

The vampire known as Jonathon knew that it was true....

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1 comment:

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