XIII - Death
"Now seems like too much love is never enough.
You better seek one another road 'cause this one has ended abrupt.
Say 'hello' to Heaven . . ."
Temple of the Dog * Say Hello to Heaven
For once, it seemed as if they had traded places. April basked in the warmth of public awareness, while Chance sat more alone that ever. Only three months until the last date, he sat one night in the Netherlands, smoking his pipe in room 101 of the Kurhaus hotel, Den Hague. It was one of his favorite places even if the Dutch audience was smaller than he liked. The show earlier that evening had been good enough, but the magic wasn't there any more and he knew it.
He became comfortable with the idea of early retirement, even though the prospect unnerved him. Maybe he'd ask Tara to marry him and they could start a family. High on the hash, he decided to call LA, but she didn't answer the phone. He hung up, disappointed.
The girls in the lobby might have been a suitable distraction for his solitude but remembering the night of the rose, no groupie had ever not been judged by the standard that moment. Compared to that feeling, no one had ever satisfied his need to be wanted, to be adored, worshiped like the crowd had made him feel back then. The look of love in a young girl's eye had made him feel special, vulnerable. So perfect had those fleeting moments been, he couldn't jeopardize ruining it. That was his main reason that he was paralyzed to her numerous advances. She had to remain a perfect stranger. His fantasy of her must not be tainted.
And besides that, she's kind of weird . . .
He still hadn't RSVP'd, nor did he have any plans on doing so. By this point, the Party was everywhere he looked. It felt like a trap. He knew that she wanted him there, but who else did she 'want' there. He wanted to know if he was just one of a thousand people that she had a THING for or was he the 'special guest.' The invitation, tucked into the pocket of his suitcase, seemed starkly simple for what he was sure had to have been 'special' for the girl.
Maybe not though.
At that moment, he decided to investigate it further. But how? How could he research the project without raising suspicions? He'd have to get a private investigator in the States. But who? He couldn't ask Greg, or Tara. He jotted ideas into the tattered notebook.
Guest list, I'll need that first. I could just call the people I know on it and they can tell me what they know about her. I'll play it off as just another potential guest, and if she's got a history with them, then that's it. I'll know!
"If she does, then I'm not going to go!"
Chance let that decision become the parameter, the guide by which he would make his final decision. He realized that he'd have to act quickly, even though the concert was not until March. The fact that he was requested to make his appearance before the Queen, as the character of the March Hare, correlated with the date of the event. But maybe, everyone invited felt seduced the same way. Maybe she stalked them all.
If she does, then she's got too much free time on her hands. Wouldn't that be funny, though?
He could picture the revelation:
(during an interview at the Mad Hatter Tea Party)
Q: What made you agree to attend this particular event?
A: Well, the girl asked me to come after singling me out of a thousand guests, and by years of persistent groveling, she finally convinced ME to pay heed to her pleas.
I guess you are surprised to find out that I am the one she did this all for. I am the ONE she chose.
Q: What do you mean? She does this all the time! Hey, Bob, come here. Tell him! How long has she been sending you crap? I've been getting stuff for eighteen years, newcomer.
He wanted to feel special, but in all the articles he read, not once did she mention him. However, she never discussed anyone. The whole event was supposed to be a big surprise, but in reality, April wouldn't know who showed until the day of the Tea Party. She let the PR people of the guests publicize celebrity attendance, if they so chose. No one was allowed to mention which part they would portray from Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass.
The 'special guest' had to remain a surprise.
In her mind, she knew she would be surprised, too.
One way or the other.
April fought off discouraging thoughts, especially since she hadn't heard back from Chance. Ever . . . Now she became embarrassed by her obsession once again. The media was ignorant to the truth of the matter. Now, was she becoming tempted to reveal a little of her secret thing to them just so one of them would track the guy down and ask him, What the fuck?
Luckily, she maintained her composure through each interview, fighting hard to keep silent. And she never let them ask certain questions. She wore the illusion of mystery, with answers disguised within answers that she knew if they really looked, they would see the big picture. To the uninitiated, she was vague. To her, the answers were her little private jokes. Each one screamed the truth, yet no one even realized.
May would see it! She was there!!
But where was she now?
May wasn't well these days. She had fallen into the bottomless pit of addiction and hadn't hit bottom yet. In February, her path crossed Jesse James, drudging up those painful memories of betrayal.
How could they do that to me? My own sister!
She didn't call home because she had nothing to say to any of them. How could Mom not understand how upset she was? Or April for that matter? Jesse James, she could understand. But April?
He hadn't been the first one either!
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha . . . she heard Jan's voice.
April had taken them both!
First Chance, now Jesse, too.
May didn't want to feel this way about the people she loved, but the drugs she turned to for comfort only magnified the conflict within her. The higher she flew, the farther she fell. She had known that Tara was trying to ditch her on Sunset that night with Jesse.
How stupid does she think I am?
Tara and Star had been on the way to meet Ghost, so why did Tara really think that she would believe that he would be at the Rainbow?
Sure, she was interested in Ghost, but he wasn't really her type.
Jesse was more my type. April's, too, I guess.
Homeless and wandering through her drug haze, she hadn't heard the news. Her junkie friends weren't up on current affairs either. The squats she frequented had no electricity, any TVs had long been pawned. It was easy to lose oneself here. Time had no relevance, no future, therefore - no past.
What day is it? replaced, "what time is it?"
Not that she really cared. She drifted through the never ending scene change, the roller coaster film projected across the screen of her life. Angels and demons mingled with the user's reality until paranoid fantasies played themselves out. One wasted guy stared out the window while another locked himself in the bathroom for the day. While some would watch them, others never even noticed. Each person was on their own trip, and May traveled the wrong way down that dead end road.
Who the hell is Tara, anyway?
May knew nothing about her at the time, but when she ran into Tara once just now, again the pain surfaced. Seeing her face triggered the latent hostility. She spoke first.
"Hey, girl, I remember you!"
Tara smiled politely, "I'm sorry. Do I know you?"
May could read her face, which seemed sincere, but you never know. She chose not to remind her. Instead, she said casually,
"Yeah, we've met before. You're Tara, right?"
"And you are?"
Judging from the tracks on the girl's arm, Tara judged correctly the state of this one's addiction.
Clean her up a little, some new clothes . . . Where have I seen her before? She couldn't quite place her, but she seemed so familiar. Tara met a lot of people though, so when she couldn't place the face, she gave up trying quickly. Then she remembered Sunset Boulevard. Jesse James . . . and that girl Star. I wonder what ever became of that one.
Now that she remembered, she said nothing to reveal this. She could use it later if necessary. She'd have to ask him about this May chick, but then again, Jesse had said he didn't know her. Jesse was lying, wasn't he? I wonder why.
Tara wondered what she could get for this girl. She took the first step.
"So, I'm starving . . . Let's go get something to eat, my treat!"
May hadn't eaten in a couple of days, and with no money, had no plans to do so anytime soon, therefore when the 'free lunch' was offered, she jumped at the opportunity. Tara knew she would. They were all the same.
Not much was said during the meal, each lost in their own thoughts, intermittently smiling, but awkwardly silent. Neither recalled the first time their paths had crossed. And for May, it was a good thing they didn't.