Chapter 1

 

 

“She's a ripe one Rex,” he fumbles with his socks and takes a long drag from his cigarette, the stale curtains in this cheesy cheap motel room hide his prying eyes. Sitting at the table near the window, he dumps his ash. The table wobbles and ashtray clinks.

“No, damnit,” he kicks against the table, leans back to stare up at the ceiling. Bitches, he mumbles. One day, when you're not looking. No, shouldn't think that, mother taught him better.

A splash of white curvy body slides into the motel pool. Water wavers and ebbs as her dark hair ripples beneath the surface. Her toes linger behind for just a split second. The heat causes the cement to steam with the splash of water. Beneath the cool blue, her bathing suit seems to disappear. Her head slides up and....

'What the hell is with that boy and his electric guitar at the pool?'

Her lips like dew on a budding rose.

'Why is that Trevor kid always out there? He has a room, he can go strum himself there.' He glances over at Rex, crosses his ankles, and plays louder. The wind picks up, the cord drops, the amplifier crackles. Rex flicks his cigarette.

'Look at her showing off for the little guitar boy. To hell with that guitar boy, I hope he shrivels up like a little raisin if she gets within a foot of him.' he chews on his filter.

Trevor pretends not to notice.

'Go ahead, sweetie, strut some more for your newfound tike.'

Rex slams his fists down and digs his fingers into the arm of the chair, 'go ahead and have a drink Rex before you do something stupid.'

He reaches for a plastic cup next to an old RCA television; surprised they even have satellite in this ancient roach motel. Dry gin.

 

A knock at the door.

“What the?... everyone hop on the Rex is distressed train.”

He removes the chain and leaves the door cracked.

“Hey,” guitar boy - a younger, lanky manchild, is standing on his doorstep with the woman from the pool, “I live a few doors down.”

“So,” Rex answers sarcastically, “I live a few doors up. What's your point? You like girls?”

“You're a rude guy,” he chuckles and glances at pool girl, “but I kind of like that.”

“Great,” Rex rolls his eyes, opens the door and turns around to sit at the table.

 

The motel is the only one for miles along the northern California coast. In fact, if he hadn’t run out of gas at 2 am, he wouldn’t be here; he’d have kept driving. He nearly chokes as crazy neighbor bangs on the door. Shoving a stack of old records aside with this foot, he opens it slowly. Stupid Ex took everything- house, car, dog, his masculinity, hell he couldn't even work himself up anymore and this damn failed overweight dancer neighbor with her 80's hairdo and fake tan is making him wither.

“What now; toilet overflowing? Not sure what to do with the stroke victim in your bed?”

“And a happy welcome to you too, Rex. What's with the guy and his guitar at the pool?”

“New kid over in #4, temporary stay I hope, brought his own microwave. How long have you been here now Pauline?”

“Almost as long as you.”

“You wish. When does your truck come in?”

“Tomorrow. I need a ride to pick it up in the morning.”

Rex is at the window again, watching little miss tramp show off her swimwear. “Oh please, that boy has absolutely nothing to offer you.”

“What boy?” Pauline pulls the curtain aside.

Ouch, too much bright light.

“Not you, Paulie wants a cracker…the misses,” he nods in pool-ladies direction.

Pauline looks over, guitar man pauses then waves his head, that of trained military personnel, a stiff Elvis off the tank and up to the mike wave. Pauline waves back.

“I don't see a misses, just Elvis Manson there.”

“You scared her off,” Rex slicks his hair back and thumps her nose,

“You need to lay off the gin or see a therapist Rex, that's twice I've caught you talking to imaginary women.”

“They...are there for me.”

“Maybe I'll ask guitar boy for a ride, you'd probably allow your imaginary girlfriend to drive and get us all killed.”

“Go,” Rex points to the door.

Trevor ups his amp as Pauline nears the gate of the pool area, 'oh she better not get too close.'

“Hush, music man, I'm not coming over to cop a feel. I prefer women anyway,” she winks.

Rex slams the door as Trevor nudges another chair into the pool. Five pool chairs sitting on the bottom along with two deflated purple dinosaur floaties, and one putrid green lamp.

“Management isn't going to like that.”

“I'm going to open up an underwater lounge. I'm the house musician of course. D.J.'s Friday night and happy hour every Tuesday.”

Pauline grunts as she begins pulling the chairs out. A door slams; rustling of cans; shuffle of slipper feet along the walkway. It echoes beneath the stairwell. Closer.

“What in the hell? And just who do you think you are?”

“It's ok Rachel, I've got it.”

“Got what, this mans disease? Why in Jesus name do all the fruit-loops check into my motel?” She looks up at the sky, “good lord, am I a fruit-loop?”

Trevor is up in seconds yanking everything out before Rachel reaches the gate...Shot-guns…Deer heads on the wall. His mother telling him his father had been buried in a hole in the ground with a sugar-cane hatch during the war. He used to scream at night, scream at the refrigerator and hiss at the rug. There were always snakes in the rug. Trevor begins to scream.

 

“Jesus, I need to get myself down to Wal-Mart and buy a tranquilizer gun, Advil, whatever they sell...shut that man up Pauline if you're so 'on it'.”

“Right,” she nudges him with her toe. The big fat purple one she stubbed last week on a damn rusty nail at that shitty topless bar she makes chump change at. Shaking her ass for extra quarters. Her bikini bottoms jingling like a Vegas slot machine. It's infected now; her toe.

“Ew god, get that...” Trev snaps out of it to flip-flops and Rachel aiming a broom at him. He begins drying everything off with a towel.

“You're lucky everybody else around here's crazy too,” Rachel nods her head in Pauline's direction, “or else I'd be calling the police and doing some ju-ju with my Jesus Apocalypse to keep you away.”

“Sorry Mrs. Star. I can pay for it...I'm still having some...musical trauma.”

“I want you to clean up this mess is what I want, to hell with your ‘trauma’.”

Rex's door whips open and two silk dresses go flying through the air into near-by bushes, then a pair of heels and a bag of make-up. Pauline eyes them curiously. He yells, “whore” and slams the door shut again. Two seconds and he tosses out a heart shaped pillow.

Rachel throws her hands up, talking to the sky.

“J.J. Honey, I wish you'd bought that other motel. The Skylane up the road, or that one you're sitting in right now. I think this one's jinxed,” she tightens her bathrobe belt and heads back to the motel office.

The pool gate slams like a screech of hawk shadowing its prey on a quiet spring morning. Trevor shudders. Pauline rubs her stomach.

“Anyway, I've got a haul tomorrow and I need one of you loons to give me a ride to pick up my truck.”

“You drive a truck?”

“A rig.”

“A rig?” he snickers; eyeing her from 80's hairdo to fluorescent mini-skirt to purple toe.

“Yes,” she speaks slowly to undermine his intelligence, “I…am...an ... old…dike...and I drive a rig.”

“I'll give you a ride, what time?”

“5 a.m.” Pauline heads back to her room to watch T.V. Motel luxuries of Wi-fi; so one can stay connected with the world around them even if they’re in transition.

Her room is two doors down from Rex’s, who throws another dress out along with what appears to be a plastic “drinking” slipper. Trevor decides to gather the dresses on the way back to his room. He drapes them over his guitar, still tight on his shoulder. They were easy, the groupies; and everyone had a charm or a plan, any reason to meet his producer. They weaseled their way backstage, onto his tour bus, and sometimes even into his limo. Cleavage. Boobs, boobs, many breasts shoved in his face. So much so that last fall when he slipped on tour and was rushed to the hospital for stitches, he fell in love with the breast cancer amputee patient he shared the room with. A slender emaciated woman with tiny lacking breasts… And long legs. He really loves the legs more. For every cleavage shot, he hated them more.

The sun disappears behind the old motel and night is crashing down like cheap velvet set drapes in a kindergarten play. And there they were, the kindergarteners wrapped up in some mid-life, no life emotional drama. The soda machine kicks on and whirs in time with the crickets “of the night” as its halo of ‘Cola’ brightens the ice machine in the corner. He pauses to take in the scenery and can hear music emanating from the motel office. Gospel music. Mrs. Rachel is singing at the top of her lungs, “I love you; you are my rock and my love.”

Rex leans out from beside the coke machine, startling Trevor.

“Hope you aren’t peeping on my Vanessa.”

“No, just looking at the stars, Rex,” he pats him on the shoulders and heads inside.

Rex bangs on the side of the machine. A can drops. He returns to his area of the motel, humming along with the music from Rachel’s end. If only she was a few years younger, few pounds lighter, and wasn’t trailing around a dead husband. God, he loves that woman and her Apocalypse Jesus art all over the motel lobby, so colorful like teen fluorescent poster art in a Russian cathedral. A light breeze sends an aromatic fragrance of oil in his direction. She must be blessing her cubby again. Rose. Sandalwood. Sage. It’s almost romantic, as if Jesus is her new lover.

A stack of records sit outside the door with a sign that reads, “Free – god bless”. Rex takes Vanessa by the hand, sort-of hand, a corpse-like clammy hand, which he warms in his armpit. Her scent is that of fruit, flowers, and puppy. Puppy? He couldn’t remember the last time he’d smelt puppy; an indescribable aroma of fuzzy pink skin and sweet milk. ‘Nessa, Nessa, Nessa,’ he hums to himself. Her long straight and shiny black hair swishes across the top of her behind as she struts. How he loves her olive skin and dainty fingers, smooth as silk.

“You rose from the dead for me, Lord,” Rachel belts out, and then yells, “something my husband wouldn’t do!” She opens the door to notice Rex, and crosses herself.

“Rachel,” Rex nods, pulling Nessa close to him.

“Rex, would you quit sneaking around at night.”

“Saw your record collection here and thought I’d browse through them for entertainment.”

She notices he’s holding one arm out to the side as he thumbs through the albums, squatting on the ground. “Rex, honey, put your imaginary girlfriend down, carry these to your room, and dig in them there.”

Rex sighs and hauls them off.

Midnight. Silence. Darkness.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

Trevor can’t shake the feeling he’s being watched. He checks the bathroom mirror to see if it’s 2-way, takes the smoke alarms apart, and turns up the T.V. in case of “bugs”. Nothing. He never finds anything except feeling like a fool. His phone rings and the line disconnects when he answers. Two women he knows of want him dead. His ex and his ex-ex - intoxicated and failed relationships of triangular proportion. The stilettos. It was those damn pink glitter stilettos that gave it all away, forfeited the secret affair between him and Gina. When Lisa found out about Gina, she wanted revenge and Gina wanted to make out until she realized Lisa was just plain evil. Some women are just plain evil, like a genetic deficiency or a tweak, an extra “manipulative” gene. Ugh, he wishes his man-parts would fall off, just drop to the floor like a rotten piece of umbilical cord.

 

He rummages in the dresser drawer for the flashlight.

‘Midnight,’ he reminds himself and drags the folding lawn chair out into the parking lot behind the motel. Stars brighten the dense evening sky. No lights, only the glow from bathroom windows. Crickets chirp haphazardly as a stray rabbit rustles in the bushes. Sometimes he hears a barn owl and occasionally a hawk. He sits and waits with his flashlight in his lap.

Rex knows he’s out there; he opens his window and tosses a can at his head.

“Nessa says the aliens don’t want you, go back to crappy old rock-n-roll!”

“Nessa’s dead Rex, you killed her.”

“Lies,” he slams the window shut.

Trevor clicks the flashlight on and off, Morse code. Dash dot dash dot, dash dash dash - while pointing at the sky. He can almost swear the stars twinkle code back to him. Once or twice he sees sprinkles of comets. When he was 13, he used to sit on his roof with a telescope naming stars and constellations to his cat, Scabby, a junkyard cat he’d found on his first venture to a Pic-A-Part Lot when he took on a mechanic tendency to rebuild his go-kart after a double-espresso and no sleep for a day. At fifteen, he was lucky he didn’t have a heart attack.

A loud breaking of glass, clinking, and crashing to the ground stirs the night. Screaming -a child’s shrill scream. The lights of the motel flick on as they step out of their rooms.

“Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me!” the child is hysterical.

“Shhh, hush Myla, there’s no one here. You’re ok,” her mother soothes her near the open window.

Rachel is running towards them. “Good lord, what now?”

She sees Trevor coming around the corner with a flashlight.

“Did you do this Mr. Rocker-trash-hotel-rooms?”

“No, ma’am,” she has him whipped.

“That’s Mrs. Star to you.”

Myla’s screams dwindle to sobs and moans while Rachel, Trevor, and Pauline gather at her door. Her mother, Emmy, breaks through them. “I’ll get you a Sprite baby, calm down.” She puts the change in. Nothing drops so she begins kicking the machine.

“Oh uh-uh, don’t start taking it out on my property,” Rachel stomps over to her, “Calm yourself Emmy.”

The 4-year old Myla, pale and dark-eyed, huddles in her mother’s abdomen. A pained explanation breaks forth from eyeliner smeared parental figure in “Hello Dead Kitty” pajamas and purple streaked hair.

“I hate men.”

“Um, o.k.” Trevor is nervous she will throw a blunt object at him and guards his face with his hands.

“Sorry, not you…I mean…Myla go get in bed while I talk to the man and Rachel.”

“K, mommy,” the tail of her stuffed sock-monkey drags on the ground with her nightgown as she disappears into the purple L.E.D. lit room; more of an efficiency apartment complex with table, love seat, kitchenette, and walk-in closet. A bachelor pad in a hexagon shape motel with a kidney pool, rose bushes, and “community garden” which Star recently began.

“We, Myla and I,” she draws in a deep breath, “came here to get away from the city because a couple of months ago Myla was abducted by a neighbor down the street.”

Rachel gasps and grabs hold of Trevor’s hand.

“He was caught and there was no harm done to her, but it frightened us so much, we left the neighborhood and decided to take a vacation before finding another place. Myla’s still a little reactionary to things.”

“It was traumatic for that poor child.”

Emmy lived in that neighborhood with her mother for over 10 years. She went to high school there, had Myla, and was going to grad school at a university near their house, until the “accident”. After that Myla wouldn’t go outside, play in the yard, or even walk down the street. She piles all of her stuffed animals on top of her in bed. Some nights Emmy can’t sleep, what with all the Skelemals, monkeys, elephants, and ponies. Thirty. And she refuses to remove them. Screams.

Rachel hugs Emmy and tells her to get some sleep while she orders Trev off to the utility room. “We’ll just nail up some plywood until I can call Matt over tomorrow. He’s the local glass guy, hunter, stamp-collector, and ex-Navy seal. Nice man. If old J.J. wasn’t hovering over me with his dead self all the time, I’d ask him out. But he, J.J., and Jesus would be too much company at the dinner table.”

Trevor laughs and rubs his eyes. It must be 12:30 by now. She unlocks the padlock to the utility room, directing him to the plywood, saw, hammer, and nails. As he’s walking towards Elise with everything in his arms, she informs him that he’s on his own now and she’d deduct it from his rent because “she’s beat”. This is just too much action in one day for an old woman.

“Sleep in,” Trevor tells her.

“I think I will.”

“So, do I nail it to the frame?”

Emmy stands in her doorway with her hands behind her back. As he nears, she holds a bowie knife in front of her. ‘Great, another woman out to get him,’ he sighs, not looking towards her as he holds the plywood.

“Do you really need the knife?”

“Just a precautionary measure. It’s 1 a.m. and a strange man is at my door.”

“Fixing your window.”

“It starts with the window. Then, there’s sweet talk and an invitation to coffee. A couple of weeks down the line, gifts, usually not of enough value to pawn because men have gotten cheap, then, dinner and a movie where he sides up for a grope or feel, some stimulation, and sexual demands. After that is the reluctance, cleaning up after, and the insults…men have a tendency to keep women down after they “have” them so they don’t feel good enough to leave their ass for another man. A kinder giving one.”

“Wow, we just had a one-night stand.”

She punches his arm and shuts the door, “just rap on the window cover when you leave.”

“Mommy?”

“Shhh, Myla, sleep.”

 

The hammering echoes in the air surrounding the motel like gunshots in the night. Tit was two years ago almost to the date; it happened. He was near the peak of his musical career, touring the states, and cutting a record deal. Living like a meager street artist was about to pay off. Bam. The hammer hits the nail and plywood shutters mildly beneath his outstretched palm. The old house was near a blocked off freeway underpass on a dead-end curve. Several of them came and went; he wasn’t sure how many band members lived there off and on but somehow the rent was paid. The red light and old couch on the front porch, a long wide porch where they spent most of their nights drinking. It was 4 a.m., only the rats were on the streets. He was strung out and left him there to die. Helped him shoot up in the bathroom. Bam. The hammer hits the nail. He was a shitty friend, slept in when they came for the body the next day.

Rex opens his door, “One more time and that’s it.”

One last pound of the hammer then all is still.

“Guy,” Emmy yells from the other side of the plywood, “Leave!”

“Leave,” Myla repeats after her.

An eerie organ begins to play, industrial dub – some dark experimental music. She turns her porch light off and Trevor notices glow-n-the-dark bats on the door.

“You done?” Rex barks at him while poking his head out.

“Do you ever sleep?”

“On occasion. You see any big bad wolves flying around in the sky? Is that what crashed into fruity dead-girls window?”

“Don’t know.” None of them knew how it happened.

“Psst, c’mere.”

“It’s past 1, Rex, why don’t I come by in the morning, for coffee or something? You have coffee?”

“Yes, yes, fine…get back Nessa.”

 

 

The motel sits on a slight hill off of Highway 101 in the middle of Crescent city just outside Redwood National Forest. It’s one of five motels in the town but Rachel prefers long-term visitors, mostly because she can’t stand to clean up the mess of short-termers, and she enjoys the company. The tall redwoods hover near the town like thousands of Sasquatch. They wander the streets at night in their big, hairy bark - forest myths, clean, green, and beautiful. Just north of Crescent City is Battery Point Lighthouse. Rex goes there often to break up with his “girlfriends”, but they always follow him home. There’s an old man who lives in the lighthouse, Eastwood, used to be a tap-dancer back in the days of Fred Astaire and Shirley. Now, he’s a 75-year-old hump back - residual of years of depression, Xanax, and horrible posture - the tap-dancing hunchback of the lighthouse. Occasionally when he allows visitors in, he’ll tap dance up and down the spiral staircase for tips. And info. Right now, 2 a.m., as the lighthouse beam scans the skies, and waves crash along the shore; he’s practicing tomorrow’s dance for the weekenders.

Long scratch of the record.

Silence.

The motel is positioned in a clearing north of Crescent City and half of the rooms face outward. The beams of the lighthouse scan the windows of the gas station across the street after dark. Rex watches the beam cross the room, inhaling the scent of ocean and redwood through the open window. How does one describe the scent? Woodsy, like cedar, wet plant and water with a tinge of algae and rock dirt. Rex left one of his ex-girlfriends there two weeks ago. Anna, what a whore - large breasts, puffy cheeks, stringy blonde hair, and always wearing stupid flower dresses with a shoestring belt. He hated those dresses. No matter how attractive she was in the nude, the dresses made her look like some mole-rat troll from a Tim Burton does Winnie-the-Pooh movie.

‘Who’s your honeypot now?’

That night last week, old Eastwood was tippety-tapping away on the stairwell while the sun was setting into the endless ocean and it seemed the more gin he drank, the larger those flowers became. They came at him like flytraps as she reached her arms out to embrace him. He had pushed her out swiftly and locked the door to the lighthouse. Then he sped off in his old Nova and looked back only once as the sun fell beneath the oceans surface. He never saw her again, heard she called a taxi and left that night, back to Portland.

A neon boomerang shape sign lights the entrance to the 1970 reject motel. After total reconstruction in the early 2000's, the motel came back to life. The previous owners, an elderly Arizona couple, sold it to Rachel and J.J. 20 years ago. Lucky for Rex, his room isn't obstructed and overlooks the pool. He holds the gin in one hand and rummages through the record collection, remnants of his small town DJ dance-hall stint, extra cash on the weekends in between novels. The demand for B-grade horror science fiction has dwindled in the past 5 years so he's going through a dry spell. Six months of writer's block.

His laptop is dusty, credit cards all maxed out, exercise agenda gone to shit, and he's taken up drinking. And along with drinking comes smoking (which he's not an expert at), occasional scruffy beards, and outdated European apparel. His skin has an odd hue and his breath reeks of liquor. Time for a detox or internal cleanse, maybe some slugs to suck it all out of his bloodstream. Enough is enough.

“C'mon Rex, find an appropriate one to set the mood.” An old Alice Cooper record finds it's scratched up way to the turntable. He whispers 'it's hot tonight' and struts about the room, thinking he's not all that bad, got a little fire left. For his age, 40ish, he's managing to keep his body looking trim and fit, with a pudgy gut from his latest binge. “Still have all our teeth,” he laughs as he rubs his finger across them. Because of his light, cheeky faced complexion, he can drop ten years off his face by shaving. His somewhat lean and rigidly proportionate body of semi-fresh muscle hovers just short of 6 feet above the ground. His eyes change colors with moods. He's a habit of wearing tight pants that curve around his ass to coffee-shops and grocery stores where he spends most his time in the produce section. Best place to meet a woman. Almost guaranteed she can cook. The rest of the time t-shirts and cargo pants. His hair a dark brown with grey strands here and there, hidden by the lighting.

Everything grows dark – moldy, musky and damp. Falling into a wormhole.

“C'mon Rex, sweetheart, get it together,” Nessa's voice teeters. Images flash like drive-in movie, only the car won't start and windows fog with steam. A blur. One vivid image – a man his age only huskier with thinning black hair walking down a vacant avenue with a young woman on his arm. He leads her to a small house at the end of the block. Navy dress. Lights several candles on the mantle. He is that man with roaming hands, awkward pale objects. He is the man whose lips grace the soft flesh of this strange woman whose hands are around her neck, holding tight and gasping; a taste for death.

It was her, Michelle, who Rex allowed Devin to destroy in Last Wish. Rex yells at him, startles himself awake, hands around his own neck. Maybe he needs to quit the genre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

 

The phone rings at 6 a.m.

He hesitates.

“Rex, old boy, how's hiatus?”

“Marcus?”

“Yes, don't act as if you don't know me or I'll take out another 5%”

“Funny...it's just, you woke me from a pleasant dream.”

“Take a pill. So, have you gotten over your block yet?”

“I'm leaving the genre. No more sci-fi or horror.”

“What, you can't quit.”

“I'm having nightmares, Marcus. You know like Steven, only I don't care to write about them.”

“They'll stop.”

“I'll call you in a couple days,” he hangs up before Marcus has time to persuade him otherwise.

Knock at the door.

Everyone hop on the Rex is distressed train.

“Hey,” Trevor is standing with the woman from the pool, “I'll be living a few doors down for awhile.”

“And I live a few doors up, what's your point? You like girls?”

“You're a rude man, but it's ok.”

“Great,” Rex rolls his eyes, lets him in and slumps at the table.

 

7 a.m.

Ten seconds later, Rachel is at the door. Rex tightens his armadillo print robe and pops the tab on a soda.

“Rex, really? Maybe you need church instead. Y'know, I was thinking about starting a...”

“Cult,” Rex flicks his lighter over the glass so that it flames.

“Whoa T-Rex,” Trevor steps away.

“Put some hair on your chest, young man.”

“Set your hair on fire...Now, put that out before you burn my motel down and I have to kill you and never get to see my J.J. Or Jesus because the good Lord would send me straight to hell,” she slaps at him and Rex blows it out.

“I'm driving Pauline to pick up her truck and was wondering if you could help Rachel with the window.”

“Don't do windows,” he slams his glass down, “Rumplestilsken.”

“Rex, drive out to Matt's and pick up the glass for Mrs. Rachelle,” Pauline pleads.

“Why, because you're a lesbian and you say so?”

“You want me to slap him?”

“Fine. Now everyone out of my room, this isn't a flea market or old lady bingo night.”

They rush out, flicking fingers and giving cold stares.

 

Trevor lets them borrow his black sedan. Pauline climbs in and cranks the radio. A large rubber foot dangles from the hatch. Rex dresses as Rachel waits outside his door, tapping on the windowpane every minute. He yanks Nessa's dress off and puts it on himself along with a brown sports coat and boots. As he steps out, Rachel crosses herself and looks up to the sky.

“Good Lord J.J., I'd better have the water checked.”

“Mrs. Star, Nessa likes a man who can express himself.”

“And I like normal church-going people not men with fake girlfriends, vampires, babies breaking windows, and rock-stars looking for aliens in my back yard.”

“J.J. vexed the placed.”

“Hush.”

“So did Jesus. I think the Apocalypse is coming and we need to build a storm cellar.”

“You need to hush up and drive before I kick you all out.”

“Storm cellar, Mrs. Rachel,” he yells out the window, driving away, “We'll plan when I get back – I can draw a blueprint - canning, preserving, stocking food.”

They drive off with Rex's petal to the metal foot to the floor, it doesn't take them long to reach Pauline's drop off point.

 

The trucking company is a quaint independently owned business so all the other drivers greet Pauline at the door like hens.

“Tell Rachel I'll radio in,” she waves.

Rex watches as the awkward countrymen slap her on the back, hand her coffee, and follow their big dike star out to her rig. Her truck is parked there between hauls protected by 8 ft. electric fence, guard dogs, surveillance cameras and alarms. 'She's somewhat attractive' he thinks to himself, but the fake tan and bleached hair turn him away – it's less exotic and natural. The drive continues and he wishes he had a Fido companion, or Nessa. Some mornings he just chooses to leave without her, leave her to knit or curse or watch overrated crummy soap opera's. That room is so stifling. Delivering glass to Mrs. Rachel is priority. Soon, he would need to meet up with Marcus in San Francisco to discuss the novel, the one he hasn't even considered but convinced him that he’s in the process of writing. The query and outline he should have – all foreign words to him right now. He speed dials Marcus, hangs up, dials again, hangs up.

It's a cloudy day along the coast of clotheslines, vacant hills, and northwest cabin homes painted red and light green. The blues and whites are the ocean sky beyond the rolling hills. The car stinks of stale cigarette and emptied ashtray. Soda cans rattle against each other with every bump. Bugs splatter the windshield. Occasional road kill. Matt's glass business seems to prosper because of the ocean fowl. They fly in from the coast.

 

The radioactive tsunami debris from the tidal wave last season is slowly washing ashore, bringing foreign oceanic life and birds dumb enough to smack into the wall-size glass of coastal homes. They organize clean up parties; wander the beaches at night with searchlights, shovels, and bulldozers. Today, they are out in the partial sun – towels beneath their hats, eating sandwiches and poking dead sea-life as they pick through the debris. Someone will make money off the scrap metal. Someone will find skeletal remains or a love letter in a bottle. No one ever wins.

Matt is leaning on his mailbox at the edge of the drive. He mumbles Irish slang as Rex pulls in, leads him to the house.

“Day after day they pick at that trash,” he says as he opens the driver door for Rex, “they pick and dig, hoping to find treasures.” He laughs loudly. “Crap, all crap, and a few dead bodies. Sad,” he crosses his chest, feigns his religion.

“I need to pick up a sheet of glass for Mrs. Star, motel size, I believe she called it in.”
“Yes, yes, heard a young girl broke it. Some punk kid?”

“No, it was an accident.”

Matt leans on the hood of Rex's car, lights a rolled cigarette, and points over to the coast. “I bet some punk kid was behind that tsunami, some twenty-something ignoring seismologists and dredging the ocean in the wrong spot. Then, Boom, underwater earthquake creates above ground tidal-wave and whole damn country gets flooded!”

“Yep, I'm sure that's what it was Matt,” Rex rubs his eyes, lowering his voice, “I heard that the next thing on their agenda is to shoot out the sun with a nuclear bomb.”

“Nothing to worry about, I will live,” Matt knocks on his forehead, “this here is metal. I've got metal in my chest.” He opens his shirt and taps on his breast.

O.k. 70's garage rock hair-do; it's like high school and he's showing his scars. Rex can sense a scar war coming on, a ritualistic male rite of passage, of who's endured more than the other and survived. The song 'Iron Man' is going through his head, Rex begins humming – 'dun, dun, duhn, duhn dun as Matt continues his display.

“I've got metal in my chest, in my arms, in my head – I'm half titanium,” he yanks his pants leg up and wriggles his feet.

Adorable, Rex thinks to himself, and then to Matt, “I stepped on a nail when I was eight and it went through my foot. You win rock star.”

Matt slaps Rex on the back, flicks his cigarette butt into the gravel drive and points to a crushed motorbike off to the side of the shop.

“I still have the beast which tried to kill me, ” he whispers and pulls a flask out of his back pocket, “Es Irish blood save my life. We built like trains, choo-choo.”

This can't be real. Rex rubs his eyes again. The crazy old man keeps the bike as a trophy, a metal statue that birds are now nesting in. The crumpled Honda, Harley wanna-be, is half-buried in the ground with it's deflated back tire pointing up at the sky. Matt rushes up to it, jumping on; the birds flap in a frenzy.

“Uhm, Matt.”

“Right, right, the glass for Mrs. Star. Didn't mean to disrupt you, people don’t visit often.”

“Tow truck.”

“What?” he climbs down.

“Start a tow-truck business or glass delivery. It'd give you a chance to get out and mingle.”

“Pfft. Vultures,” he waves his hand with disgust, walking towards the shop. The glass is leaning gently against the left wall with a post-it note reading 'Star'.

Rex follows and reaches for the glass pane but Matt slaps his hand away.

“I will follow you back Rex. Mrs. Star is the woman I need to spend time with right now. Maybe she will read my fortune. Is she still doing that, reading fortunes?”

“She reads minds to embarrass people in public with her crucially cruel honesty. If that's your idea of fortune telling then so be it,” Rex flicks a wad of paper out into the dirt. Mary-Ann's phone number; he doesn't need that. She thinks she's so attractive with her hell raising boots and push-up bra – melting men in her hands like M & M's. Is that what he is now, old melting candy on the dashboard?

1975, summer sun, Grand Canyon vacation, the American family is in a state of consumption and destruction. Alcoholism and dungeon trips to enormous pretty holes in the ground. Then came 3 a.m. speak-easy sneak-outs at night. The man of the house had his dirty little secrets.

His father's failing business of machinery and grease, his weekend flings and groping hands. The United States dollar at an all-time low and none of the boys want to take over to sort the parts by year, make and model. The boys are busy chasing women and watching crappy T.V. shows while hauling lumber for $15 an hour, hoping to break into a completely different industry. The machines are replacing us one by one. Even the make-up artists; replaced by airbrush guns.

“The machines will be here soon,” Rex speaks aloud in an almost trance-like state, staring into the skies.

“Yes, the machines my man,” he glances up and hands Rex the silver flask, “drink to the Mother country, she will save us.”

Rex checks his Rolex, it's hardly brunch, 10 a.m., and the flask is cool to the touch of his warm hands - a deep burn to the throat. He throws back once, thinks of Mary-Ann and throws back again for the love of Nessa. Alone in the dark of his room she is a victim; in the light of day, she is a vixen.

“The one a man hates to love,” Matt interrupts.

“Mrs. Star?”

“The beast,” he motions to the bike statue, “and this”. The flask flashes in the sunlight as a badge - criminal trespassing, warrants, and arrests. Deaths beneath the bug-zappers on a quiet desert evening.

Zap. The sting. Rex wobbles slightly. Brace. The flask returns and he regains control. 'Remember Grace, Rex, remember what you did to her? Shoved her off a rocky cliff. Did you really believe you could get away with that?' He swallows and grips Matt's arm.

“I need to leave now, Matt. Am I driving you?”

“No, I am grown, I drive myself and bring glass with.”

Waste of gas. Rex kicks at the dirt, creating a small dust cloud that blows up and covers the fender of Matt's truck.

“Hey, I've got a fortune to tell you Matt, I'm going to siphon that gas out of your tank when we get back to the motel. Rex revs his engine, peels out to stir up dust and drives back. Intoxicated, raging, pedal to the floor. One hour up and 5 minutes back.

Emmy is wandering the parking lot beneath an umbrella while Myla constructs cranes and spaceships with Kinex. He could clean that girl up, dissolve her Goth appearance, talk her into just enough sun to make her cheeks rosy, then maybe a 'semi-normal' guy without mommy issues or a resume of treatment centers would enter her life. Then again, Grace was that woman. And she was thrown off a cliff; tossed away Kleenex, the flapping of her dress in the wind as her body fell. ...Just disappeared.

“You'll pay,” a voice in the air, “you'll pay Rex.”

Emmy closes her black umbrella as she walks beneath the awning in a short black skirt and cut up t-shirt. She's long and white, powdery and ghost-like. Her face resembles a pug, not long and lean but smushy and cute.

Guitar-boy opens his door about that time, bed-head and two-tone pajamas covered in what appears to be mustard and ketchup.

“Why bother living?” he mumbles as he stumbles to the coke machine for morning sugar-rush.

“Son?” Rex questions his black toenails.

“Really, Rex? You're only 10 years older than me and definitely not a father figure, so you can 'X' that off your things to do list,” he makes a crossing motion.

“Oh but I am your daddy, your keeper,” he puts his arm on his shoulder.

“Too early Rex, go home,” he waves to Emmy, tells her to 'run', and rushes back to his room.

“You can be my daddy, Rex,” Emmy winks, “can I borrow the car and two hundred dollars?”

“Get a job Auntie M...say, have you seen Nessa?”

“Your new imaginary girlfriend? What, you haven't killed her yet? How's she going to go, this one – knife to the heart?” she motions a stab, slumps into the lounge chair, “or a quiet poisoning?”

“I should poison you but you're so damn weird, you'd probably enjoy it. Then again, I'm guessing 'I'm so jaded cause I'm a semi-famous rock star with too much money, wah' over here will write a song about it.”

“Yes, yes,” she grips her neck, feigning a 'sexy' choke, “write me a dying love song, my love.”

“I can see him now, kneeling before your scarred little 'I'm so misunderstood' white body which masks the appearance of true death given that you already look that way, with his guitar.”

Emmy throws a can at Rex, bouncing off the wall and echoing through the apartment.

 

A car horn disrupts their play rehearsal as Matt arrives with the glass. It stands erect in the back of his truck like a window to another world, maybe a better one, or maybe never-never land for all those vengeful ex-girlfriends of his. Rachelle steps out dressed as if attending a church sermon- blue suit, white frilly top, with bracelets jingling and hair in a curly bun. J.J. used to drive her on Sunday mornings; warm coffee from a crappy coffeepot he bought from a flea market, Saturday flea markets and mid-life romance.

“J.J.,” she wipes a tear with her handkerchief.

“Mrs. Rachel,” Matt yells, arms out to embrace, “Here, I brought you something.” He hands her a C.B.

“A C.B.! We can keep track of Paula now.”

“Oh joy, we should map her adventures out along the back wall, put little push pins in everywhere she visits, that'd be fun,” Rex slams his door, but it bounces open again.

“Over there,” Rachel directs Matt to Emmy's window.

Emmy won't come out, curtains drawn, refusing to acknowledge Matt at the gaping hole, beginning to position the sheet of glass with agility and perfection. He spits off to the side. The music in her room drifts out. It's 'dark clouds' day off. Sounds like the scrape of glass and hammering. Rex's brow is damp and Rachel is in the doorway again - so much for a fresh morning breeze. She's holding the C.B. out to him.

“Here Rex, will you hook this up for me? Or you could man it if you want, be our own personal disc jockey.”

“Like Northern Exposure? If you think this is one of those adorable small town environments where we all like each other you're mistaken. You all get on my last nerve. Bye.” he flops back on his bed but Rachel doesn't disappear, just hovers, ghost-mom, haunting him in showers and abandoned gas stations cross-country. Why won't she leave?

“Oh Rex, you're almost as nutty as my J.J. I think that's why I still put up with you.”

“With headaches.”

“I haven’t had one in years.”

“You, you're the headache. Don't you have Goth girls to nurture and carpets to clean?”

“Mrs. Rachel,” Matt yells from beyond the glass.

She leaves the CB behind in his room, some 60's war era memorabilia. If only this were his bomb shelter stocked with can goods and isolation, just shut them all out. The roar of the engines from outside the steel cradle is all he can stand.

 

 

Nessa hovers over the toilet, the ends of her hair damp from vomit and toilet water. Another late night of binge drinking to drown out her hate for him. He'll just have to kill her again. Dropping the CB onto the bed, he walks over and steps on the back of her head. Ten seconds of her face in the porcelain throne and her body shimmies to a stop. Then disappears. She was one of his first and definitely the hardest to remove, like a blood or grease stain. Spray, wash after wash it still remains; eventually one must just toss it out.

He remembers Emmy has about 10 boxes of black plastic garbage bags. What she does with them he will never know. Maybe it’s her bedding, plastic sheets to keep the blood from staining the mattress. Or maybe she has many bodies to dispose of, a potential animal mutilator or boyfriend hacker upper.

Rachel's at the door again, like a bouncer of some underground club.

“Go ahead, please kick me out of the club big boy.”

“What are you rambling about now Rex? I'd love to kick you out.”

 

She’s an older lady, 40ish with long strawberry blonde hair and cheeky face slightly aged. Her dress signifies San Francisco, possibly bi-sexual, definitely into velvet and faux-fur. That deco-shawl is staring, about to bite. That'd be an interesting one-nighter - bunch of strange animals running the room, nipping on them – rats, ferrets, turtles, snakes, gecko lizards. He scratches his chin.

“Definitely kick the old guy out if this is the room,” she grins.

Ouch.

“Oh c'mon, we could share, I have many pets.”

“Ignore him,” to Darla and then, “Rex, this is Darla, a friend of Emmy's. She'll be renting this room for a couple of weeks and I’m moving you down the line.”

“I've soiled this one,” he pats the bed.

“Eww.”

“Like I said, ignore him, he's our troubled patron.”

“Patron saint of kiss my...”

“Rex,” Rachel slaps at him.

Go figure, a hot older French looking dame in his bed – after he leaves, after curfew; the ride closes down, the carnival packs up, and roadies shoo him off. He carries those tickets in his pocket for days, hoping they'll come back soon. Halloween. Caramel apples. What's her name again – Darla - as in darling elder one?

As Rachel's leading her away, she stops -

“The CB Rex, get it set up then meet me at the pool in an hour.”

“You bring alcohol?”

“No, it's for our weekly pool sermon.”

“Are you serious? Tell me it’s not mandatory.”

“It is if you want to save your soul sweetie, save your soul from this hell.”

“Hell is here,” he taps on his forehead, “not out there. Then again...”

“Say whatever you want, my black ass is going to heaven.”

Rachel shuts his door and takes Darla to Emmy. Matt's packing up his tools, a 2-tier toolbox in the back of his truck. Red like a mechanics, scrap towels, grease, chain-link fences, and guard dogs. The last dog Rex had, years ago, was run over by some drunken kid. 'Sorry mister, it was an accident' the thug kept saying over and over. He yanked the chains off his neck and broke them to pieces in his face, then kicked in his fenders, and would have been charged with assault if the kid hadn't run off. The image of blood draining from Lollie’s mouth burnt holes in his mind.

Emmy finally comes to the door to check the outside of the window. All in place. She stands immobile in a long black robe as Myla goes dancing past towards the pool, dressed like an angel, with flapping wings and all. Gold glitter flies off her arms and legs. As she spins, she notices Darla and runs screaming “Mami”. Darla drops her bags and cradles her, a big stuffed baby doll, a prize for the bottle ring-toss. It's the most difficult – that stupid plastic ring always bouncing off and rarely hugging the bottle neck, rarely like a long-lost lover. A winner. Then there's the fishing game with magnetic pieces and mouth flapping fish. 'Til death do they part, the melting plastic of fish when the amusement park burnt to the ground - the last tourist attraction gone – a vacant parking lot. Empty space and no more tourists, no more revenue. Where would they all live? ... He laughs to himself, ‘here, at the motel, writing shitty novels.’

“Myla, how I have really missed you and your mother.”

Emmy floats towards her like Darth Vader, her black robe gliding in dead air.

“You picked an amazing place, it feels maternal and pleasant.”

“Because of Rachel.”

“Matt,” Rachel chases after him, “are you staying for sermon? There'll be free cheese puffs, ice tea, and bug spray.”

“Next time, Mrs. Star. I've another sheet of glass to deliver and yard dog to feed. Thanks Rex for that- he's entrepreneur. I deliver now for extra.”

Manure.

 

Rex grumbles as he relocates down the walk. That was his lucky room now he'll have to recreate the scene, maybe throw Darla into this one. He watches Matt leave. Mrs. Rachel is primping the poolside patio – jumbo size bowls of cheese puffs, unpacking OFF spray from a leopard print purse. Myla's stirring the tea in a punch bowl; glitter still dropping like flies. A breeze flaps her wings and Darla finishes taking her luggage to Rex's room. Last time Rachel held sermon was before J.J. died. After that, in her bitterness derived from his sudden death and inability to cope, she took up fake premeditated and malicious tarot readings. She gave everyone a “bad” read; didn't matter who they were, they would lose friends, jobs, and hope. The motel cleared out, plants died, and she would have turned to full blown alcoholism if her semi-permanent Rex hadn't arrived. Of course, she would never tell him that, it’d feed his ego, and she needed to maintain control over the motel, maintain the landlord/tenant relationship.

It was a warm day of tumbleweeds. He was in writers slump and needed to get away from the city, said an image of a large Buddha woman brought him there. He'd taken up smoking, shaving his arms, hiding from nut-job sci-fi fans, and occasional hallucinations associated with stress. As soon as he stepped into the lounge she asked him, “did J.J. send you?” her hair in curlers, eyes in puffs, robe wrinkled and bottoms worn off her bunny slippers.

“Sure,” he'd said, “why not?”

By that time she'd put a sign in the front window that declared, “free room” - just to bring people back.

 

Now, it's practically a day-of-the-dead parade; Goth girls, hot French quarter woman, and the weird guitar guy. Speaking of which, Trevor should make Darla's acquaintance so he can gawk and Rex can shut him down; block him like police barricade. Him coming up the sidewalk, shades on, tucking his shirt in, ready to give the pathetic young rock star the 'what for'. Something stinks outside his door like rotten chicken, dirty socks, and smoke - the scent of junky motels off Hollywood Blvd, back before he began his writing stint. He was going to star on the silver screen and could barely afford a dingy motel room. Bachelor pad with microwave and pocket refrigerator, he hopped back and forth between hostels and those dives. That smell and the sound of helicopters patrolling the area at all hours of the night kept him from staying too long.

He knocks. No answer. Knocks again…jiggling the doorknob.

'Something’s wrong, Rex,' she leans against the brick.

“Angie, you scared the hell out of me. When'd you get here?”

'Go get Rachel.'

 

“Rachel,” Rex yells across the courtyard, “I think Emmy's sound man may be feeling a little 'under the weather'.”

Rachel runs for the key in the office. She'd had this happen before. And lock outs, tons of nude, drunk lockouts. Back with the key, she steadily cracks the door – the waft of dead animals and stinky feet rushes their face. The chain is on the door, lights off, they yell through the crack. No answer. Rex is impatient and kicks the door in.

“Call 911!”

His body lies at the foot of the bed, face in a pile of vomit, ash from his cigarette but no evidence to assume an overdose.

 

 

 

 

They're chasing him with electromagnetic guns, him and two others fully armed and enforcing mind control. The cities are locked up Armageddon style and everyone is equipped with special “chips” - no one in and no one out. The skies part and huge silver crafts hover over as if selecting prizes, their crane hands dropping and picking them up one by one. The people fall limp, like game, like deer strapped to truck-grills and top of cars, station wagons, and luggage racks - so much for the family vacation.

He wonders if they'll pick him; if he'd survive manipulation of the masses. Would they free him or leave him chased by the mind zappers. The ships drop objects, what appear to be modified animals, some form of experiment. He closes his eyes and his fathers voice bellows from outside his peripheral view 'Run!'

No, the sky goes black; he's being sucked beneath the carpet of the motel room. Something sticky grabs his hand. It's Emily, sitting on the edge of the bed. “Don't be stupid,” she says before...

 

His chest tightens, he gasps for breath, empty.

 

The subway, before it all began. The subway was shut down one rainy day and he had to take the bus, holding a lunch-box of roast beef sandwich, Cheetos, and Capri-sun pouch. One is never too old for a Capri-sun pouch. As it passed through a tunnel the lights flickered off, they hit a bump and a man is holding his lunch kit. 'If you let me have it, you'll be a star soon.'

A week later, a scout discovered his band and called them all in to sign a contract. A week after that, the bass player overdosed.

 

A shock. The pain. No air.

 

She'd been the hottie after the show; the seductress, like the senior in high school tugging freshman heart strings, toying with emotions. Finally, she walks you home to popcorn and after school television - only to have her boyfriend show up to clean out your refrigerator. For whatever reason, he's gone to her apartment near Fairfax, her tranny roommate out of town, and all she wanted were whippets. Vile after vile, she couldn't stop and was so high she kept undressing and wrapping items of clothing around his head. Then, she forcibly rammed a sock into his mouth and it lodged in his throat causing his face to turn blue. Her naked body jumping around in front of him, screaming, “say uncle, say uncle”. Say dumb bitch. He finally pulls it out - to vomit.

 

His face feels damp.

 

When he was two, his Oma had taken him to San Marcos with an older cousin. The spring water bubbled up from cavernous ravines and trickled along millions of rocks and pebbles. The water was 65 degrees, freezing in the 100 degree August heat, and the pebbles smooth to the touch. He pulled his red wagon into the water, cold toes, shallow and pick the pebbles out one by one. One of two fish brushed past and he tried to grab them. He fell forward, slipping on the moss of the rocks. Water entered his mouth and nose. Oma screams.

 

His chest hurts, can't get up.

Sleep.

Sleep.

Sleep.

 

 

The medics face is a blur. Too close, a fuzzy bear costume at one of those pizza places. He begins to throw punches.

“Get that damn bear away from me.”

Rex grabs Trevor's wrists, “calm down rock freak – that 'damn bear' just saved your life.”

“Grr,” the medic plays along, realizing his scruffy beard is the cause of the madness.

Weak, he smiles and tears.

“Oh hell no,” Rex slaps his face, “you're not dead. Now thank the bear and get going, don't cry like a baby.”

The medic packs up the defibrillator, slimy on the edges, and pats him on the shoulder, “damn' bear is leaving now, glad you made it back. Just for the record, you were dead for ten minutes.”

“Dead?”

“10 minutes,” Rex repeats and pulls out a pack of cigarettes, “cigarette?”

'Bear' looks back and growls at Rex so he puts the pack away and helps Trev up. He slicks his hair back and rubs his chest, still sore from the paddles. He had fallen in the ashtray filled with vomit. He goes to the bathroom to wash his face. The mirror is streaked.

 

Remember the writing in the condensation; lipstick smudges on the toothbrush, and a lip print at the bottom. She'd driven up from San Diego to watch his band play that weekend, a month before the big break. She was the rich girl. He played waif. He was strung out on cocaine and she wrapped her car around a telephone pole that night. Her long auburn hair strung over the steering wheel, his necklace that hung from the rear-view mirror tangled up in it. She was pregnant. Was. Killed upon impact, her neck snapped. It was gin and tonic at the emergency room. Every 10 minutes, to the bar next door for a cigarette, gin and tonic – until she passed – at 15 after midnight. Her best friend Angela always blamed him and stalked him for two years – death threats beneath windshield wipers, hate mail, prank calls, and black magic.

“Bear, come back, don't leave!” he'd protect him. He washes his face and wipes the mirror with a towel.

“Bear's gone Trevor, but maybe I can help.”

“They tried to kill me again Rex.”

“Whose they?”

“Those religious nuts, wiccans, whatever they are. Women.”

“You had a heart attack Trevor. And died. Don't forget that essential fact. Relax, take a shower, a nap, something, maybe come to Rachelle's sermon.”

“Sermon?”

“Pool-side – free cheese puffs, ice tea and bug spray.”

Laughing pains his chest.

“Wash up, see you there. If you didn't find god on your near-death journey, maybe you will now...oh, and everyone in the motel is hovering outside your door so be prepared.”

The screech of a microphone can be heard as he gets out of the shower. Knocking at the door. Emily is standing next to an older woman, holding out a box of chocolates.

“For your death,” she says, as if it’s a yearly occasion – birthday, 4th of July, and death.

“Come with a card?”

“Yes, it says 'glad you're back'.”

“I'm Darla, Emmy's friend and Myla's surrogate Mami,” her arm is slender and hair silky.

Victorian and Gothic. Trevor can envision the parallel, doting Victorian mother nursing her enslaved Gothic child, the centuries of exquisite and relentless beheadings collide like Oreo cookie. Cookie. His dormant stare reminds them that he's just returned from the dead.

“Maybe you should rest first Trevor. Rachel said she'd like to attempt sermon every week,” she throws his feet up, opens the curtains, and leaves.

Even though they're miles from the coast, seagulls are flying around. Their bodies spin dots on a pale blue canvas, interactive art, all of life, interactive art. Trev remembers that he'd been with his father momentarily, in a tree, before Oma and the creek. He didn't survive his heart attack, taken in his early 30's. Trev is alive and wonders why – 'what angel let...' - At the window, an angel at his window. Was he really dead and all this? ...

A Knock.

“Trevor, hey Trevor.”

It's Myla.

Of course,

- interactive art.

“It's those damn scientologists,” Trevor is standing at the door, digging his nails into the doorframe. Separated; wishing he could return to those lazy-boy days of high school, playing records backwards and running with his dog through the river. Stupid dreams and blind ignorance sucked him into a rock-n-roll cult of cocaine, million dollars, limousines, and annoying groupies. With the contract came...

No. Not now.

He stares out at the pool. Mrs. Rachel is prepping the food, arranging the lounge chairs and umbrellas. Ideal. Emmy hides her pale skin from the sun's sharp rays as Myla dances. Almost slow motion, stop-motion photography- 1, 2, split second intervals.

If they find him, they'll destroy her. His love. The puppet-masters of that L.A. nightmare would demand a sacrifice - her, Myla; rob her of her innocence and contaminate their minds. If...

“What's that Trevor?”

“Those damn scientologists, they'll destroy us. Steal it away from me. Control freaks.”

“Well, come to Jesus then Trevy,” Rachel motions him to sit.

“Scientology, Christianity, Satanism, its all cultish scary crap. Question is, which is worse?” Rex winks.

“Jesus is ok,” Emmy moans beneath her umbrella, “I mean, he's into pain and forgiveness; what with all the thorns, nails, and blood.”

“Blood?” Myla stops and winces, “No, mommy, gross. No Jesus, I don't want to be like him.”

Rex's eccentric side comes out and he lights a cigarette, “I'll join your church Mrs. Starr if and only if Jesus doesn't die, God never smites me and you just write your own book. The church of Rachel...and do tea-leaf readings or something.”

“Rex sweetie, if Jesus or the Holy Spirit channels through me then we will have a 'session'.”

“Let Darla help with communion, she has that old lady prophecy stuff too.”

“Old lady?” Darla swats at Emmy.

Trevor hobbles to a lounge chair and Emmy blocks the sun with her umbrella. He looks almost as pasty as Emmy, lacking that rosy glow.

“I guess all that death stuff will take the life out of you,” she hands him a glass of iced tea, spraying his feet with mosquito spray.

“Death, schmeath, I've seen worse. That was actually pleasant and peacefully entertaining, I'd do it again.”

“Oh no you won't, not in my motel! You scared the hell out of me, or into me. And now I need to pray it out.” Rachel shakes her hands in the air.

“We all wish someone or something will save us.”

“Which is probably our downfall. I know it was J.J.'s, he was always unhappy in his own skin. Just have some tea and let me ramble on awhile. You were supposed to be our entertainment but since you had a little incident, Emmy will fill in with music from her laptop.”

“Emmy?”

He's certain her music selection includes forms of impaling, live burial, and blood.

She's setting up her portable DJ booth bene

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