Rusty and Six sit on a catwalk above a freeway on a cold fall evening. They're smoking, drinking beer, and talking.
"It was weird," Rusty said, "I mean, it really freaked me out, you know? There was this girl, right? And she was being beaten and tortured by this guy, right? And I never saw him. He was always dark, and I couldn't see him at all, you know? It was, like, really only flashes of scenes: the dream wasn't me, but I was in the dream—you know? This guy raped this girl or would rape her—I don't know. She was, like, trapped in her own house—alone with this guy. And she's like woken up by him and he gags her—beats her. He's excited, not like sexually, but emotionally, you know?"
Rusty nodded. Six took a swig of beer and inhaled his cigarette deeply.
"I mean, the dream was just this woman's face, and she is always crying—hysterical, black and blue, more purple and red, really, with blood crusted around her nose and lips. But, I mean, this guy has been beating her for a while, you know? It's like, she's been raped more than once now. And it's weird because the violence terrifies me, but the rape excites me."
Rusty nodded. He took a swig of beer and hit his cigarette.
"In one of the scenes of the dream, this girl is being forced to walk down the stairs on her hands and knees. She's in this, like, white gown with a lace collar. She's forever crying and searching—wondering if she'll live. He has her biting on a wound up rag shoved in her mouth, and he is holding the ends of it like horses' reigns. She's being pulled up by her mouth and dropped. It's all about humiliation and submission, you know?
"In another scene, the two are sitting at some table in some room. They face each other kind of catty-corner like, and he is telling her things, but she can't hear him. He's always in shadow and I still can't see him. His voice is unclear and I can't make it out. He's holding a fire poker and heating the end of it somehow. She's intent on watching that poker, you know? It glows orange against the blackness of his shadow and her eyes bulge staring at it. It's like, the possibility of it floods her mind. I mean, it's really intense, but he is speaking softly as the glow of the fire poker intensifies. It's like he's at peace. She's bound to him through her terror and she can't escape. There is no way out and he likes it."
Rusty nods. Skin pauses for a minute and then finishes his story.
"In the last part of the dream that I can remember, the images sort of clip into film bits. I see her face has healed, like time has passed, but her eyes are distant, and she is only a photograph now. I watch it grow closer to me, this photo of a woman, and there's no terror anymore. It's like only the memory of it. I don't know. I'm not really sure what's happened, but I understand it. And then I hear a voice speak to her—and she smiles. And she's suddenly totally different. Her smile is totally happy and she's totally sincere about it. And it gets bigger. I see her teeth, filed away almost to nothing, and her gums, and they're like pink and fresh. And it totally freaks me out. She's happy, but not. The photo of her mouth, wide and happy, totally freaks me out, and I realize that she's still alive."
Rusty nods. Six wipes his hand across his face, trying to piece together what he is saying. He flicks his cigarette through the fence in front of him. It lands on the freeway below.
Rusty listens to Six. He loves Six and doesn't know why. Six loves him for that. Six says, "I love you for listening to me like that," as he finishes his beer and throws it over the fence and into the traffic below.
"It's cool," Rusty says, "I don't mind listening to you. I like hearing you talk." Six touches Rusty on the leg. Rusty takes a swig of beer from his forty-ounce and smiles, broad and bright. It is terribly sincere.
"You're a good friend, my man," Six says, noticing that Rusty is suddenly different.
"I know," Rusty replies honestly. "I know."