“Do you think you’ll talk about me to another girl in twelve years?” As Janie finished asking me this, my cat, Zoey, appeared from nowhere. She jumped onto the bed and then onto my naked belly. I tossed her off.
“God, I don’t know. That’s a really strange question. I mean, I’m kind of hoping that in twelve years I won’t have to pay for it, you know?” Janie glared at me.
“Thanks a lot.” She quipped.
“No, I didn’t mean that. I just, I mean Janie, do you see yourself doing this in twelve years?”
“I don’t know. Wow, I guess that is a weird question.” Janie finally lit her cigarette.
“How’d you get into this anyway?” I began asking Janie. “You’re a smart kid, right? You don’t seem particularly destitute or drug addicted or anything.” Janie got up off out my chair and clamored onto my bed, much the way Zoey had just done. Only Janie rested on my chest, not on my belly.
“I don’t know, Matt.” She began telling me. “I just woke up one day and I had an Audi and I was sucking dick for gas money,” We both laughed at her remark. “It’s just such a stupid story, but I came here to LA to make it and all that and started dancing, just a few nights at first. I kept seeing the other girls leaving with guys and showing up later with expensive shit. It just seemed like the logical thing to do.” I took a sip from the bottle as Janie said this. Then I reached for her cigarette.
“That’s funny that you used the word ‘logical.’” I told her. “I don’t know why exactly.”
“What, you don’t think I’m smart enough to use big words?”
“Logical is not a big word, Janie,” I started. “I’ve just never heard the words logical and prostitution used in the same breath.”
“Well, what’s the word then, smart guy?” Janie asked me.
“No, no, that’s the right word. Its just all absurd.”
“But Matt, I mean, what am I going to do? I have a degree in acting. The next logical step is porn or something.”
“Don’t do that.”
“I guess this is the part where I am supposed to offer to save you and take you away from all this, right?”
“I guess.” Janie said. I chuckled and threw back more of the whisky. “You’re in film, right? I mean, and I’m being serious here, could you do something?”
“Are you good with a hammer, because I manage set design.” I told Janie this as I put my arm around her. “I’m at the low end of shit. If the producer wants yellow nails, I’ve got to use yellow nails.”
“I’m good with a hammer.” Janie whispered.
“You’re good with a hammer.” I repeated, stroking her hair.
“I am. We used to build all of our sets in school. I’m good.”
“I know baby, I know.”
“Hi. I’m Matt Fleming,” I said to the gray haired man who stood inside the house. “Do you remember me? I went to school with Candice.” I was in Los Feliz anyway, helping my Dad change the garage door springs. Truth be told, I could have made the fifteen-minute drive anytime. Since that night with Janie, I had been wondering what Candice was up to.
“No. College friend?” He asked me. Candice’s folks still lived in the same house. Good.
“No, high school, actually. I’m Rick and Laura Fleming’s kid.” A light seemed to go on in his head.
“Oh, sure, Rick’s kid, yeah. Wow, what’s it been, ten years?”
“About that, yeah.” I told him. It’s funny what you can’t say to people. We were both grown men. He owned the house where not only did I lose my virginity, but where I went through many other of my life’s firsts. After all, Candice’s house was just across from my high school. The first place I had ever seen a bong was about ten feet behind where he stood. I was struck that I couldn’t say anything.
“Well, come in, come in.” He ordered. “What do you drink?”
“A Coke or a Dr. Pepper or something.”
“I’m on scotch.” He told me. It was Sunday.
“Scotch is fine, sir.” I said.
“Sir, huh?” He replied. “How ‘bout Dan?”
“How ‘bout it.” I answered, smiling. We went into the family room and sat and drank. He told me about Candice and all that she had done. I thought back to that night in late July, when his daughter had made all of my worldly fantasies come true. I really wanted to go and look in her room at the place where it happened. I learned that Candice was married to a lawyer. She was a lawyer, too. She lived in Portland. She had two children, a girl and a boy. Dan showed me pictures of the kids. They were beautiful.
“My wife died several years back,” Dan said, staring straight ahead. “She got to see Amy, but not Teddy.” This was in reference to Candice’s children.
“My parents told me. I’m sorry to hear about her. She was a nice lady.” I was lying, but it didn’t matter.
“The fucking doctors had to basically put her to sleep, but they’ll never admit that. She had the cancer bad.” Dan wasn’t looking at me.
“I know. My aunt had breast cancer. It’s a terrible thing.” I glanced out the patio door into the backyard. The short grass made me feel uncomfortable.
“Did she make it?” Dan asked, still without looking my way.
“No she didn’t,” I told him. “We thought she might, but then she just faded.”
“Yep.” Dan said.
“I’ll get you another drink, friend.” I told Dan.
“No, I’m good, Mike. You go on ahead.” He replied. I didn’t correct him. I poured myself another and talked with him for a time more. He gave me Candice’s phone number and I left.
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