VI - The Lovers
"This is everything that I have in my life - all the stupid junk I thought would bring me luck in finding the bastard. It's time to write a letter. I ain't got no ink besides lipstick and blood. Somehow, that's very fitting!"
Liquid Television / MTV
December 9th: Yesterday had been especially rough on April, as a storm blew Majestic unseasonably rough and hadn't let up a bit. Thunder quaked the tiny trailer, mercilessly. Sleepily, she went to the baby, whose tears streamed down her red, flushed face. Lightening flashed dangerously close. Counting the seconds between the flashes and the crashes, she knew it was heading her way.
As Natasha, whose first birthday was a little over two weeks away, attempted to feed herself, April prepared for the oncoming storm.
Batteries, get the jugs of water, and, what else? She told the toddler how to get ready for bad weather in Texas. Having a kid sure comes in handy when you talk out loud to yourself.
She tried to locate the manual can opener in case the electric opener went out during the storm.
I guess that would make it a can't opener, wouldn't it?
After breakfast, a quick scramble of eggs and toast, the two settled down in the living room. April watched the weather reports while Natasha scribbled on her banner, which was intended to hang in the girl's bedroom. She steadily worked on the S of the huge printed paper, which read N A T A S H A.
Mostly, though, the baby wanted to chew on the crayons.
Today, she would finish the first draft of the invitations. All she needed to do was fill in the blanks. But, she still didn't have the information yet.
No matter, it'll come . . .
When the lights went out, around ten that morning, it scared both of them. A thunderclap boomed, rattling the house, which sent tumbling the pictures that had been on the mantle. Four fell but only the picture of the Virgin Mary (Madonna and Child) shattered on the brick fireplace. Now she's crying! April felt along the edge of the broken glass, secretly hoping to cut her finger. It didn't. That's when she thought about the journal.
I wonder if he got it.
She put Natasha down for a nap and that gave her time to think about all the crap that ran constantly though her mind. Science or religion, politics and life in the universe, would rise to the surface, flit briefly through her vision and then sink back into the quiet recesses.
If nothing exists in a vacuum, then why do I have to empty the bag?
Numerous times, people witnessed her streams of visions, and sat transfixed by her words for hours, even days. They came and went, marked by the meeting with the strange little woman who talked too much. Later they recalled that what she had said was rather important, but which now slipped the mind. One person understood her if anyone did . . . May. It's too bad that she stayed out there. April knew that her younger sister loved California, and while she wouldn't have dreamed of wanting her to come back to this dingy, boring little town, I just pray that she's safe.
While the storm raged on, April let her mind drift back to when she and May went to that first show. She hadn't really wanted to go but if she didn't take her younger sister, Mom and Dad would have. Social death to any teen. All May talked about that month was how Chance Lee is coming, listen . . .
May wore out the forty-five record that she bought, and was still saving up for the album. April had plenty of cash but wasn't convinced by the pleading of her sibling. The album would have to wait.
The day of the show, some of May's excitement rubbed off on April. She felt the chills run through her body as she dressed for the show. She dressed carefully in an outfit that Mom would have hated, had she been there. Luckily, she and Dad went out to dinner that night. May oohed and aahed over it.
Clad in black, April looked like lady evil, lace and leather. Her lace shirt hugged her breasts, then tapered into the full length black skirt. Underneath she wore silk stockings with thigh high black suede boots, and nothing else. The March air caught her by surprise, as it was her first time to go bare. May wore jeans and a t-shirt with his picture on it. April hurried out to the car before she got busted. May read the map and controlled all stereo functions. Of course, she brought the tape she made by holding the cassette player in front of the radio. On the way to the show, she listened to the first song he ever made . . . over and over.
At the theater, the crowd was bustling, trying to get into the building. April and May locked up the car, a 1966 Mustang with pony interior. The crowd looked pretty tame, but by 1985 crime had hit the suburbs. They followed the crowd through the parking lot.
Outside the main gate, a gnarled, hunched woman sold roses. April fumbled through her purse, pulling out a dollar for the yellow rose. The yellow rose of Texas. As she turned to walk away, the woman called out to her.
"You're going to need this one!"
When April turned back, the woman held out a red rose tied with a tiny white ribbon. April shook her head, "No, thank you 'mam, one is enough."
"No, girl, come take this one to the man inside. You're all dressed up for the party. You need to take a gift to the host! Or didn't your mother teach you right?"
The rose lady wouldn't take any money for it, so with a shrug and a giggle, April entered the concert. Their seats were toward the back of the room, disappointing April immediately. It wasn't that far away, but since the venue was rather small, she felt like they were in the cheap seats. But down in front, she saw two seats, first row. Then she saw a whole row.
The first act magically appeared on stage, amidst smoke and lights. Halfway though the third song, she decided to go down front. She dragged May down the aisle, who protested the whole way. By the time Chance came on, it was clear that they had found their seats. By his third song, April stood up to go get a drink. As if that was the cue, everyone rushed the stage. April and May scrambled for position, and landed front and center. The show was on . . .
I was sitting in the doorway, looking at both worlds,
You came right through me. You weren't like other girls.
I had never seen you before that day,
Not really sure, so what more can I say?
Who were you to me?
Out on a limb, I let myself go,
Who were you then? How will I ever know?
I don't know who she is to me.
I haven't met her yet.
She might not even be for real.
But I know that I'll never forget . . .
Out on a limb . . .
Waiting for the call, when did it start?
And when will it all come to an end?
And the crowd sang in unison, Momentary Magic . . .
Chance's eyes met April's.
By the fourth song, her heart was pounding. He was the one running back and forth on stage, but she was perspiring. She stood transfixed while all around her screaming fans jostled her about. In her left had, she remembered the rose. She held it out for him. A moment later, he came back and gently took the rose from her. He kissed her hand,
"Thanks for coming to see me!"
May screamed in her ear.
Lightening crashed again, startling April. She looked at the television, brought silent by the storm. Nothing on TV today.
After that first show, April remembered waiting in line for a t-shirt. She put it in her purse, making sure no one followed them too closely. Some people jumped others in the parking lots for their shirts, or so she had heard. Outside, the two stepped up to cross the street when a white stretch limousine pulled slowly past. April froze in her tracks.
Inside the limo, Chance watched the crowd outside. He expected attack, but people were more intent on beating the traffic than noticing the car. That's when he saw her. Their eyes met, but how? These windows are tinted, aren't they?
She crossed the street behind the limo, which pulled to the intersection and turned left. Across from the theater was a parking lot, which was emptying out rapidly. She and May approached the stairwell, which led to their car. Before May went through the door, April stopped her.
"Wait a minute!"
The limo had made another left and was slowly cruising in front of them on the street across the lot. At that light, it signaled another left.
"May, see the car? Do you think that it might be Chance in there?"
"I doubt it."
"Well, they are watching us, whoever it is!"
Both girls stopped to watch. Now the car headed back toward the theater, having made the circle. April waved. Suddenly, the car veered wildly to the right, made the right turn without signaling and with a screech of tires, it disappeared into the distance.
April smiled, secretly hoping it was him.
Back in the car, April asked May, "What did you think of the show?"
"It was awesome! What did he say to you anyway?"
April sensed jealousy, "Oh, I don't know. I couldn't hear him, really."
May stared out the window, "You're so lucky! Did you see? He put your flower on the piano. What do you think happened to it?"
"I don't know. Somebody probably threw it away."
Back at the hotel, the band piled into the lobby, fighting for the elevators. Security had been alerted but the motley crew dissipated before anyone could react. Chance led eight people to his room. Inside, the party began. Clothes came off, and the alcohol kicked in. Two girls later, he noticed the rose.
"Who brought that in here?!"
No one replied.
"No really! Who brought that rose in here?!"
Eight blank faces turned to him, but no one spoke. Greg sat upright, looking through one bloodshot eye. The girl next to him slept.
"Maybe the maid brought it for you, Lee."
Chance didn't argue but he knew that rose. It still had the ribbon on it.
Who are these girls?
"Greg, I'm going to your room. Gimme the key."
Chance packed up his stuff and left the room. The last things he grabbed were a bottle of Stoli and the rose.
At home, April had gone straight to her room, having to sneak quickly past her parents' room, evading a sighting. Mom hated when she wore her favorite clothes. And this outfit was the best, the worst.
Stevie Nicks ain't got shit on me tonight.
Shutting the door behind her, April put on the t-shirt. It smelled so new. In the mirror, she looked at his face. Then she lit a candle and smoked a joint. Snapping on the stereo, she heard a re-broadcast of the concert. Quickly, she slammed in a cassette and pressed the record button. May had passed out in her clothes, so she knew better than to wake her. She can hear it tomorrow.
Music swelled in her ears, the headphones hugging her warmly. The silent room glowed in candle light, hazy from the incense. Her eyes glimmered in the mirror, like his. She studied his face. Then the song came on.
I was sitting in the doorway, looking at both worlds . . .
She moved rhythmically to the beat, when she contemplated,
I wonder if you can hear him say it.
"Thanks for coming to see me!"
Her heart skipped a beat. It's there!! She laughed, exhilarated, and hugged the shirt, No, thank you!
That's when it started.
By dusk, the storms had subsided. The power came blinking on, making April clap. Right away, she put on the first album As Fate Would Have It. The first cut on it was Momentary Magic. Chills ran through her, standing her hair on end. She listened to that version, then followed it with the live album. There, right on the album, it said it:
"Thanks for coming . . ."
That night, Gramma (Mom) came to take Natasha home with her. The stillness of the house left April daydreaming endlessly. She forced herself to get back to the project. A month had gone by without any work, but since she had no deadline it was easy to slack. This time, she felt like she made progress but it was still the same old song.
Envelopes and invitations mounted in the finished box, but there was still so much work to do that she had to distract her thoughts to keep from becoming discouraged. The memories returned.
After April had gotten a buzz, she got an idea. Slipping out of the shirt, she posed topless momentarily in the mirror. Her nude body curved, shadowed in soft light, and she wondered if Chance would have liked it. Amused, she sat back down on the bed. Flipping over the shirt, she read the upcoming dates for the tour. The itinerary was right there! She got a wild idea.
She found an envelope. In a week and a half, he'll be in New York . . . Hello, I need the phone number of the Light House . . .
In a matter of minutes, she had what she was after.
The first envelope she sent had to be simple. She just wanted to say hello and remind him that she had been there. But what should I say? It had to be perfect.
I LIKED YOUR SHOW!
You are really sexy!!
Thanks for coming!
She sent it the next day.
She would have stopped there, except the dream came back. Six nights in a row, she floated down the aisle. On the seventh night she saw Chance. Behind him at the altar, she saw something else. A dragon.
The next day, she and the baby hung up the banner in Natasha's room.