By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
That same spring we were walking through the alley to the grocery store, and she spotted the first star in the purple sky. Make a wish. I closed my eyes as tight as I could and thought my wish, the words, three times in a row. What did you wish for? she asked, and we kept walking, scuffling through the gravel, me trying to ignore the rock rolling around in my sandal. I wished that you were normal. And as I said this I watched her body slump. I wanted her to know that this was a wish for her as well, that it would be so much easier on us both if it were true. She kept walking, faster now, I’m struggling to keep up, feeling if I stopped I would lose her, the rock piercing my heel.
Noah calls Goodbye to China and me from the door on his way to the club where he deejays. That afternoon he had taken me with him to dig through Dumpsters at Forest Lawn looking for dead flowers to decorate the club with. We found a coffin that someone had dropped, light purple and dented. Noah opened it, and it was empty with one brown stain filling the pillow. You can’t take that, I told him, and he looked disappointed and I felt sick.
We wait on the porch for China’s boyfriend, Sam, to pick us up. He drives up in a white Rabbit with his friend Frank. They pass us vodka and orange juice, which they have poured into a single Big Gulp cup from 7-Eleven. We are going to the Whisky to see a band called Wild Bang, and at 15 even I can’t believe that there is a band called Wild Bang. That is the dumbest name I have ever heard.
Frank says, They are fucking great, they opened for Guns n’ Roses once. I am pretty sure that Frank deals drugs. China took me to his house once in San Gabriel; there were tons of people there doing coke in his garage. I sat in the carport and drank wine coolers and talked to a girl named Missy who was in high school and stripped on the weekends for extra cash.
We drive down Cahuenga Boulevard and make a right onto Sunset, and China and I try to down as much of the vodka as we can. Alice Chambers June 16th 1964, Alice Chambers June 16th 1964, I say over and over again, trying to remember the information on the fake ID that Noah gave me so I can get into shows. I’m a Gemini. We park on the hill behind the Whisky, and I am glad to be out of the car. Frank is creeping me out. He is wearing a sharp cologne, and once inside I sit at a table opposite him so we don’t have to talk. Wild Bang is terrible, and there is so much smoke from the smoke machine that I can’t concentrate. It seems like the smoke is getting too thick to even see the band, and Frank keeps leaning over and asking me how I am feeling. And just after I’ve said fine for the fourth time, I turn my head back toward the stage and see trails, and things onstage seem to be happening in slow motion.
Come to the bathroom with me? China follows, and in the harsh light I see my face through a prism, a sharp cubist lion. I scare myself. What’s happening?
As China starts to explain what she thinks is going on, I stop her. I don’t want to hear it said aloud because I don’t want it to be true. Just tell me, you too? And when she confirms that she too is tripping her ass off, I ask her to take me home to her house because I am scared. I can tell she’s bummed, that she wants to go to the afterparty, but when she sees my face she agrees. She goes out and she confronts Frank and Sam, who deny it. They drive us back to her place. I have not said a word to them. As we ride down Sunset, I catch a glimpse of my face in the rearview mirror, and it is still split into fractured shards and I turn away.
At China’s, I run up her stairs, and her mother’s small white dog is jumping at my legs and I can’t stand it. I kick it, maybe a little too hard, into the hallway and close her door. Peg yells at us to be quiet. In bed with the lights off, I ask China if it’s ever going to stop. She’s done it before and she says, Yes I promise, just not for a few hours, by morning.
The light in her fish tank is on and I can’t stop staring at it. It becomes awful, the murk of the green algae, the dark and depth of it, like space. Don’t look at it I tell her. And she tells me to close my eyes, and I do, trying to will sleep to come, but all I can see is pastel cartoon figures made out of new wave shapes, triangles and squiggles, and it seems like I try to open my eyes for hours before I finally can. When I do, it feels like I have torn myself away from another world, and I am so scared at the realization that I don’t have control over my own thoughts. To try to subdue the panic, I start to think of it as a movie, try to enjoy the moving pictures. In the trees outside her windows I see shadows that turn into silhouettes, Joey Ramone, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Angelyne. When I close my eyes the shapes are back, and I hate the way they look, the colors. I never wanted to do acid. At some point I fall asleep.