XVIII - The Moon
"Sitting in my la la, waiting for my ya ya, Uh huh . . .
Now she's mighty funny but I don't think she's coming . . .
Hey, Baby, hurry, don't you make me worry
Oh, you know I love you. Yes, I really love you! Uh huh!"
Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers * Ya Ya
December 21 (winter?):
. . . and while nations allied to declare peace, fulfilling the prophesy, which would lead to sudden war, and Hell's gate groaned to hold back the demons of the apocalypse, it didn't stop April from going to the mall.
Exhaust fumes pierced Greg's eyes, stinging tears blinded him for a moment. Sunglasses cut the glare a little he noticed as he scanned the busy Wilshire Boulevard. He opened his car door, barely missed being hit by a sports car. For a moment, Greg told himself in his best radio announcer mind-voice, "It should be a great weekend, . . . if you make it through the week!"
Dark windows reflected his shadowed figure, but he could still see the dark circles under his eyes. Lifting the glasses didn't change what he saw in his face. Sleep deprivation was the least of his concerns. His departure from the tour, and the subsequent cancellation of all future dates, was no secret. Trade magazines and fanzines alike called it " . . . the end of the dream."
A rush of cool air greeted him, contrast to the unseasonably warm day outside. He thought it seemed ironic to go inside for fresh air. In the mail room, he chatted with some young guys who were new to the company.
High turnover, huh?
Greg had closed the office upstairs a few weeks back, but still picked up his mail there. This too had dwindled. Over time, the mail would stop altogether, maybe. Then all ties to the past would be severed.
The box wasn't full like he expected, and after he sorted out the garbage, which he tossed unread into a nearby bin, he noticed the hand-written envelope underneath the junk. He recognized the script.
"What do you want?!"
He tossed into the trash can. Closing his box with the key, he clutched the remaining notices under one arm and left the building. A minute later, he went back and took the letter back out of the can.
Back in his car, Greg took the letter out of the stack in the passenger seat. First, he held it up to the light, but it was too thick to see any noticeable letters. Then he shook it back and forth, listening to the paper within slide back and forth. As a last ditch effort, he held it to his open mouth as if his hot breath could actually steam it enough to release the seal of glue. No such luck.
"What do you want?"
He tried to feel disgusted with her whole pitiful attempt, but even he felt the rush.
"After all these years, don't you ever quit?"
Although Chance never spoke of her after the first tour, Greg knew this one was different. But why, he wasn't sure. It nagged at him at times like this when he held another one in his hand. The handwriting was always the same. The return address was missing. He flipped it over and over trying to decide what to do with it.
"It's her alright."
He considered opening it, as this was the first time he was not under any obligation to Chance professionally, and he wasn't sure about Chance- his friend. Maybe if he opened it, he would finally see just what this was all about.
What should I do?
However, before he could be tempted, he quickly located a slightly larger envelope from his briefcase just for occasions like this. He addressed it to Chance, stamped it and dropped it in the mailbox by the front door of the building.
Chance got a letter two days later in Malibu, on which he immediately recognized Greg's hand-writing. At first, Chance was excited, glad to know that Greg was reaching out to him. But when he opened it, he found another envelope. The postmark read Majestic. It was from April. He smiled when he opened it, but his grin disappeared at once. For inside the second, he found a third envelope already open. Puzzled, he withdrew it slowly.
He recognized it at once, but couldn't believe it. It was the first letter . . . It wasn't what he expected, and it baffled him. It was as if he had reached for his wallet and pulled out a fish instead.
What's a fish doing in my pocket?
Then he thought of Greg's little stunt and looked around for the hidden cameras. But nothing . . . Back inside the house, he called Greg. No answer. Chance grew angry then. All he knew was that someone had taken his box of letters, left him an empty box.
He lost his 'happy thoughts.' Violated and robbed, he began to list all possible suspects. Greg, Tara, April - herself . . . the maid, her daughter, even his mother had a key to the place. Someone at the security company, maybe. Maybe the pool guy.
Now, why would he want my mail?
He is Chance, of course!
Subtly, he began to question everyone, never revealing his ulterior motive. No one knew a thing. And the only person who he could not ask was April. But then again, maybe he could. He called up Lou at the security to see if he would check this out. Maybe go see her in Texas, find out what she is really like.
He made the call.
Lou was rather surprised by the request, it being the second time that week. He said nothing about Tara, and after accepting his offer, said nothing to her about Chance. Double income intrigued him more so than the irony, so he accepted basically the same job in both cases, requiring no explanations in either.
Find the girl . . .
He flew out that night.
His investigation began at Big T's. He had checked into the hotel across the street, a run-down shag, even though he had plenty of money to spend. He wanted to be near the bar. The next day, he wandered over.
His salt and pepper hair mopped aimlessly across his forehead and down his shoulders, matching the scruffy beard he was growing. With a flannel on, he looked like the others.
The posters on the wall caught his attention but he wasn't aware of April's involvement, so he noted them with mild interest as he racked the balls for a second game of pool with Bob, a local guy with a heavy accent. From the look of Bob's oily jeans and burly tattooed arms, Lou guessed him to be a biker, or a really dirty truck driver.
Lou let the guy win a few games, even buying the rounds of beer. When he asked if April was around any more, the bartender answered,
"No, she don't work here like she used to. She's got that little thang, up there on that wall."
He motioned toward the poster, shaking his head.
Lou eyed it closely now, memorizing the address of the office. After another round, and a game where he cleared the table in one turn, he nodded good-bye. Outside in the bright sunlight, he fumbled for the keys to his rent-a-heap. A few minutes later, he sat unnoticed in the parking lot, staring at the offices of Yes Oui` Si` and after an hour, watched as the girl in the picture walked into his life.
He followed her to the edge of town, backing off as the traffic thinned. By the time he came to her trailer, he had no one else on the road to blend in with, which made it more intense. Lou was glad when he finally saw her turn into a driveway. He passed by quickly, before making the u-turn to peruse more thoroughly. By nightfall, he had accomplished his mission. He didn't call it in right away.
Tara stretched the latex gloves on one by one, snapping it menacingly each time she let go. She did her doctor impression as she delved back into the box. The sound of paper rustling triggered her ire, and as she flipped through the remaining letters she felt her blood run cold.
Who are you, April? And why do you matter to my man?
It wasn't fair!
She choked back the fury. For two hours she had searched his place, not one of Tara's notes was saved - not that she ever wrote to him, but she had given him birthday cards, hadn't she? Where were they? And yet here was an entire box of crap that Chance saved, in order, from some bitch that he didn't even know. Or did he? The man got thousands of letters each year from fans and yet, here was a single box of April.
There were pictures and poems, jewelry and crystals. Mysterious writings eluded her, which made her furious. Signs and symbols, she decided to research. She wondered if Chance could read them. That thought was unbearable. She had to know.
I've seen her before . . .
By dawn, Tara had a list of addresses, and many phone numbers, that spanned the globe. Who is this bitch?! She even dots her i's with little hearts. How absolutely fucking precious!
The pictures laid in order formed a progression, each was numbered with a Roman numeral or a playing card, which obviously became a Tarot deck. She picked up one that had no person on it, but instead, it had symbols that she knew Chance wore in his custom-made jewelry. She knew who to take it to.
The late night ride through the hood, the 'wood,' was a success. Tara's driver asked several of the gang bangers on the corners where he could find her. It didn't take long to locate her, nor did it cost very much. Information was cheap sometimes. He found her huddled in a vacant apartment with no electricity, hiding from her imaginary demons. She had been strung out for too long.
Back in the hotel by the sea, Tara watched the door handle jiggle, locked. Then a knock followed. She peered though the peep hole, and through the fish-eye lens she saw May. Letting her in with a big smile, the hostess offered her anything. May took the usual.
After a brief chat, Tara decided to bring out the picture. She had put it in a lightweight frame, concealing the writing on its reverse side. She just wanted to know about Chance's necklace.
I hope she isn't too fucked up to see . . .
"Hey, Little Bit," which is what Tara knew her by, "can you tell me what this means?"
May followed Tara's finger to a sign in the center of the picture. Squinting, she tried to remember. She use to know it . . . but,
"It's been a long time since I did this stuff. It's too bad my sister's not here! She knows all about this kind of stuff."
"Well, call her! Where is she?"
"Last time I talked to her, she was in Texas."
"A little town called Majestic."
Tara tried not to show her reaction, intentionally keeping as straight a face as possible, but her eyes betrayed her. May did not notice.
Tara heard the man's voice spew words across her lips, seductively low, "What's her name?"
"What's her name? Why do you want to know her name? Marsha . . . Marsha . . . Marsha . . ."
"Her name is Marsha?"
"No it's April, but I was kidding about the Brady Bun . . ."
Tara heard nothing of what followed. May droned on about TV shows. Tara had to take a moment to regain her composure. Her shock gave way to the feeling that this was meant to be. As she came to grips with the realization that her quest had suddenly become too successful, Tara plotted. How could she ask without asking?
"So, let's call her. What's her number?
"Jeez, what time is it? We can't call her in the middle of the night . . . she's got a kid, and everything. Bitch has got his kid! I'm not calling her!!"
"Fucking Jesse James' kid. She fucked my boyfriend and now she has his kid. How can she do that to me?"
What's the problem? He's family now, right? He can still fuck you, too."
Tara listened as April's little sister purged all the dirty details, the poison which ran through her veins, feeling better for having someone to finally share this torment with who wouldn't judge her. Wasn't involved. That's what May told Tara.
I remember her now! She's the one . . .
The memory returned.
Tara listened as May told about Chance's first show. Front row, they had been, and she acted like a big bitch, wearing all that black witch's costume. Stupid flowers . . . Her sister had basically ruined him for her. She couldn't even play his music after that. She threw it all out one day.
"Besides, his music kinda sucks!"
Tara laughed aloud at that, "It does, does it?"
May ranted on about how her sister always stole her man. She had come to LA with the intention of getting away . . . and guess who showed?
" . . . and then she gets pregnant, and she had to go home!" May roared, and did more to catch a buzz. It was her only barrier against feeling.
"If there was a Good Witch from the North, bad ones from the east and west, then April is the Weird Witch from the South. Yeah, let's call her! Why not?!"
"No, I've changed my mind now. Maybe next time."
"Hey, where are you going?"
Tara was packing up for the night, leaving abruptly. May was sorry to see her go.
"Hey, I guess I'll see you tomorrow . . ."
"Yeah, maybe . . . Later!"
"Uh, Tara, can I get a little more from you?"
"Jeez, bitch, don't you have any pride? Quit being such a fucking bum!"
The door slammed behind her. As May sat bewildered at the change in her, a knock came on the door. She thought it would be Tara, coming back to apologize. It was Ghost . . .
"Hey, babe, let me in!"
May backed up into the room, stunned and delighted. What timing!
"Hey, Ghost, Tara just left."
"Yeah, I know . . . look what she left behind," he held up a bag.
May's eyes grew wide, then narrowed when she smiled. She didn't know how he got it out of Tara's grip or if he 'found' it, which meant he stole it. She didn't ask, and he didn't volunteer. Ghost kept her entertained all night, per Tara's request.
May thought it was good luck that she had his company. After all, he was fine looking! She thought he might make a move on her but he didn't even suggest sex for the whole night. May made a few hints but he never responded except with a laugh. Even after she took a shower and returned wearing nothing but a towel, he still made no move. She gave up, more intent on getting high than getting rejected.
"So where did Tara run off to?"
"Couldn't tell ya," he told her, even though her did have an idea. Tara always kept a room around the corner during night like this. She always made sure someone was close by as well. Another room across the hall from . . . whoever stayed in room 101. Even though it was on the first floor, room 101 had no balcony or patio but instead, a wall of glass over looking the ocean. Beneath, the waves crashed on the jagged boulder on the beach. No escape that way . . .
"Nice view, huh?" Ghost commented, laughing privately.
"Yeah, it's better than where I was staying over in Hollywood."
He knew that. He had seen her there before.
When Lou checked in, Tara said nothing about her new friend. She scribbled the information and went to work.
The Majestic gossip was not about the mysterious stranger in town, but rather about one of their own. April's name was on everyone's lips, it seemed to Lou, as he set about to finish the second segment of his operation. His first instinct was to wait until the next day to begin the job of 'getting to know his mark.'
It was a surprise when April entered the bar.
Lou heard the woman behind the bar holler,
"April is in the house!"
He watched as the woman crossed over to give her a hug, a sight that excited him a bit. Both were knockouts, and together . . .
The two disappeared into an office, causing his imagination to erupt. He crossed the room only to lean up against the wall by the door, trying to eavesdrop. He had no luck.
Once he saw April came out of the office, he moved into position.
"I understand that you are in charge of this event, and I would like to donate some money toward it. Do I give it to you, or is there someplace else I should send it?"
"Come by the office and we'll be happy to have your contribution. I don't have a receipt book on me, but if it is tickets you would like to buy, you can talk to my girl behind the bar, here."
April continued to walk toward the door.
"Maybe we can do lunch?"
She turned with a sideways glance over her shoulder,
"I haven't heard that in a while! Maybe . . ."
A few days went by, and Christmas brought with it Natasha's second birthday. Her arrival on that special holiday had inspired the newborn's name. Nativity has to do with natal, pre, post, neo, or chart.
New Year's Eve brought with it the first date of April's since the baby's arrival. She dressed with care, smiling at her reflection. The evening promised a new possibility, which she pondered with reservation. Lou and April . . . what might come of that? Her eyes tried not to read too much into it, but her mind ran with images just the same.
By midnight, she kissed him.
It's been so long . . . but I can't . . . yes . . . No!
She tried to resist his advances but between the loneliness and the champagne, April was unable to say no. It was the first time since the baby. It felt so good, so bad. Her vow to abstain until . . . until what?!"
In the morning sun, she watched Lou dress to leave, secretly happy to see him go. She saw the used condom in the trash, which she took outside immediately. Back inside, she showered for a long time. She stood under the running water for so long, she never even heard the phone ring.
Three days later, Lou met with Chance. He gave the client the facts.
"Here is her address. I went to her house, her trailer, to be exact . . . and I didn't see anything out of the ordinary."
"At her house, were there . . . uh, any . . . uh, any pictures of me, anywhere? Or anyone else that, you know, wasn't like her friends or family?"
"You mean, did she have any other famous people on her walls?"
"Other than a picture of the Virgin Mary, a broken one, no."
"Will that be all?"
"Did she seem like a religious fanatic, a freak, or anything? Any guns?"
Lou had to laugh, remembering her nude body glistening in the light of the moon, "No . . . She isn't too strange."
"Okay, thanks . . . Here's what I owe you."
Chance peeled off four hundred dollars from his wad, handing it to the detective. Lou put it in his wallet as he stood up, heading out the door. As his hand reached the door knob, he couldn't resist the temptation,
"Oh yeah, by the way, she's a really good fuck!"