We live for the night, Zin and I. Glitter queens, mothball girls with no back wings, neon cursed sex slaves, cherry boys with Ferris wheels in their eyes. The day will only break our backs. Zin, dressed in her black leather skirt, shin-snug boots, nylons with an incredible run, is rummaging through her latest collection of rare LPs from banned 60s Garage: The Blue Tangerine Scenario, Lovers Under House Arrest, Tulips for Wendy, and Oscillating Boy from Berlin. "When are the Eskimos coming?" I say. "We're out of blue cubes and sugar substitutes." "You know them," she says without turning face. "They're never good with directions and terminal bus stops." Zin bops her head to a record, her body all sheer and leather snake. She turns, wiggles and does a faux Watusi before me without cracking. "The world is full of Eskimos late on arrival, or still under the ice. What makes the world turn, Zin? I mean, serously." She jerks her body towards a wall, imitates her shadow. "Money and sugar, honey. Money and sugar." She skulks in front of me like a thief who lives to frustrate me. I reach up, pull down her panties, and rear end her. Inside, she feels like the empty spaces of 5.5 unlived lives and the cat's ninth†who barely escaped from the suburbs. When I'm finished, she slaps me for not using lubricant. "Oh, did it hurt, you sick fuck." she says with a pout and tilt. "Nothing compared to last time," I say. I saunter to the window. Two gays walking hand in hand. Obviously in love. Mr. Gypsy Moth with the aching eyes and Mr. Clingstone Peach who is always dropping from decision trees. Who will burn who first? Who has the thicker skin? Who can grow wings? "Why can't we be like Jersey couples?" I call out to Zin. "Why can't we refinance love, are we that broke?" "Because we live on Avenue C," says Zin. "The rest of the world waits for us so they can turn." "Love," I say, biting my fingernails down to the skin. "Will it ever come this way again?" I turn. Zin is wiping an LP with a soft cloth. "When the sun goes down, baby. That's when it'll come again. When we become blind, when we've given up on touch and sound. Can anything live below the city? And we can only taste that part of the other that we once loved swallowing whole."
In city windows, our bodies look supersized, our faces, sad steroidal aliens. To whom does each one belong? Itís 5:30 a.m. and wet. Sidewalks are wet. I want another cup of coffee, black, no sugar. On a dance floor of spilled liquor and sweat, Zin and I acted out our fantasies of new wave love and white swan heartbreak. But now the streets are empty. Echoes are not possible. It would take a person or an animal blinded by loss. Beyond the immediate boroughs, Zin declares that the world is melting, lovers are turning one-dimensional or flat. She's still working on that sci-fi story. We pass an oyster bar, then a small gallery featuring Cezanne and Man Ray photos in a magenta-hued light. I try catching the light rain on my tongue. You donít love me yet, says Zin, because I am too many people. I am every reflection I look at. I am every character I create. No, I say, I do love you because you keep raining inside me. You only love what you can't keep. Can you hold rain, Dr. Freud? Are my insides turning lush and verdant? Zin covers my ears and says Shhh. Do you hear them? She asks. Behind every door, you can hear the lovers, and in every lover—a secret. Every lover tries to destroy the other because it's a piece of themselves. Then they try to get it all back. A puzzle for two, all jagged spaces intact. Zin walks backwards shooting me a queer gaze that is forced, that tilt of the head that is uniquely Zin when she is philosophical. A car rushes by. She loses her balance, falls from the curb. I rush to grab her. Weíre both wet, I mean, wetter than what we were in a simple drizzle. With jutted jaw and wide dandelion smile, Zin looks back at me, into my eyes that she always describes as little Neanderthal men who canít quite make a fire. I smile back, then focus on my hand gripping her upper arm. It must be some kind of love. I can't let go. Not in this story.
My mother told me never to trust girls who speak from the side of their mouths. But Zin, with her rainbow bracelets and flat vans, can't speak any other way. A creature of A.D.D. and zip up leather, studded belt and the next No Wave, has mistaken me for the last fuzz boy guitarist who dumped her over a groupie into Goth and 50's horror films that are HYSTERICAL. So it's Saturday afternoon in a life of endless afternoons, waiting for balloons to fall, or poppies to emit milky juice through terminal pores. I mean I'm bored. So Zin calls and says what's up and yadda yadda yadda and I'm definitely leaving for school at the end of the summer and yadda yadda yadda and why is love such an ugly brute and yadda yadda yadda and I'm like Why not? So we're standing in the throng of a Central Park crowd, sweating in our skinny jeans. It's a free concert—Blackie Fenson and the Undertones—who are from the Michigan area and formed as a high school band back in '64 and who have since recorded three singles but can't get picked up by a major label. And Zin is looking too cute with her chubby thighs and Ultra-glow pink lip gloss and I'm thinking of flowers falling but are they free? An announcer enters the stage and lists upcoming acts for the summer. Zin is whispering some crazy shit in my ear, like how she would marry a boy who was her best friend or some lines from her poetry like how the sky raped her but she lusted for the sun, or how the mushroom is not a symbol of the penis, it's just a vegetable that grows in her poems and I say, Zin, like you're tickling my ear. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Blackie comes on stage dressed as some glitter cowboy with shades. I'm starting to think what the Fall will be like with Zin gone. It was always a thing of Almost Love or there's somebody else just a notch above you and that somebody will break your heart. Zin is bobbing her head to Blackie's tune about devil women. Zin is holding my hand. Zin tongues my ear and smiles as if to say Fuck it, right? Blackie asks for a volunteer for his next song. But where is Zin? She's joining a commune. She becomes a shadow underneath your everything. I'm having flashbacks of Zin on a tricycle. We even shared raspberry popiscles at the age of eight. Was it so wrong? I'm raking through the crowd. I'm interrogating faces. Where did you hide Zin? My mother's voice answers: She will not be the girl you will marry. Honey, She's Been Around. No, mom, she's just a showy girl with too much black eyeliner. Inside she's crumpled petals. I was always unripe. I push my way to the stage. There is Zin belting out a Blackie tune. There is Zin on stage, outragous and flirting with the crowd, making them beg for her smile. There is Zin looking down at me. I love you, Raspberry, she sings. Marry me, I shout back. She throws her brassiere into the crowd and I jump into space like the guitar solo I never could play.
Kyle Hemmings holds an MFA in creative writing and loves to cook, bake, and burn whatever he cooks or bakes. He also listens to The Beach Boys sing of an endless summer that never arrives.