Baby, please dont go
Estrelica plugged in her iron and began smoothing out the skirt she was going to wear to see her landlord to ask if she could have a week's extension on paying her rent. She tried to make some sense out of her mind and thought to herself: I was put through the grinder, I escaped and sought out the tender, but it was the tender who shattered my armor and in my fright I lead them on without realizing; and without realizing, I put them through the grinder. She thought about it for a minute, then decided that it made as much sense as anything else. She tried to think through her line of reasoning again and realized she must be crazy. She thought of the times J. Dove would say that everyone is crazy but only the sane admit it.
She thought of how she and Vic had been shot at the night before. She thought of Vic. Another beggar-king shed fallen for. J. Dove had been gone six months and Vic had been gone five minutes.
She finished her ironing, sat down to write a letter to J. Dove and reached into her pocket for her lighter to light a cigarette as she popped open the Zippo. As the excess fuel spilled onto her fingers her hand caught fire and she dropped the lighter. Vic, she thought.
She flipped open her pad of paper and saw the words she had written the night before, read them again, turned to the words Vic had left for her, turned to a blank page, put down the pad and went over to the phone to call Demetre, a friend of hers who tended bar at the New Orleans Restaurant in Pioneer Square. Her phone was dead; already disconnected.
She put on the skirt she had just ironed and found a wooden balsa wing painted with red and yellow stripes Vic had left in her pocket, grabbed a jacket, some money and her car keys and flew out of her house.
She walked down to the bus stop that was just at the end of her block, waited for the 11:13 and walked the last few blocks to the New Orleans. The place was closed but she could see Demetre inside getting the bar ready for the day and rapped on the window. Demetre made a few faces at her before he came to unlock the front door.
"Now, you do realize that if the liquor control board--" Demetre began.
"Oh, fuck the liquor control board. I need a Hurricane. One of your Hurricanes."
"Oh, so youre just here for the booze, huh?"
"No, I need to talk to you...and the booze."
"So, whats up? You look like youre in a hurry." Demetre said as he went behind the bar and Estrelica straddled a stool.
"Demetre Demetre Demetre"
"Estrelica Estrelica Estrelica"
"What would you do if a girl came up to you, you met, went out all night and had a great time, woke up and had a great time and then she tells you that if you marry her you could work in any European country of your choice for as long as you want?"
"Id go over to my folks house and get my tuxedo."
"I didnt want to hear that."
"You mean this actually happened to you?"
"Yeah, and I told the guy to piss off."
"Is it someone I know?"
"Maybe. His name is Vic. Vic someone."
"You know him?"
"Yeah, he used to come over to Castle Greyskull all the time. Pretty cool guy."
"Is he worth it?"
"Is he worth marrying and heading off to Europe? Yeah, I guess Id say so."
"What do you mean I guess?"
"Well, if thats what you want to do. Yeah, hes a good guy and all."
"Does he have any money?"
"Do ANY of us have any money?"
"So, you sent him on his way?"
"When is J. Dove coming back?"
"Okay, I see. You two really hit it off, huh?"
"It was scary. And thats what scares me."
"Jitters. Oh-no-maybe-this-guy-ISNT-a-loser type of thing."
"Is he a loser? Tell me hes a loser."
"Well, he does travel quite a bit, and always talks about where hes been and where he wants to go next. But he really must feel something for you to use marriage as a pick-up line." he chuckled.
"It wasnt a pick-up, though. He called it a business proposition.' Its a gift,' he said. I dont even have to stay with him, he said."
Demetre thought for a second, then just shrugged, saying "Dont you just hate decisions?"
"But, anyway, I have a small favor to ask."
"My car ran out of gas yesterday near the railroad tracks. Can you give me a ride so I can pick it up?"
"Yeah, sure, but what about your Hurricane?"
"Could you just put it in a cup for me? I dont want to waste an authentic Demetre Hurricane."
He closed his eyes, smiled from ear to ear and said "Sure thing," as he finished pouring the rest of her drink into a Styrofoam cup and they headed out as he locked the door behind him.
His car, a white Valiant with the antenna bent spiraling upwards, sat only half a block away from the restaurant as they both got in and drove off. They talked on the way of the errands Estrelica still had to run, of how her photography was going, and of the offer that Vic had made to her. Demetre listened and put a card in her hand with his new address and phone number.
They found Beatrice, still there, untouched, and drove to a gas station to get a cans worth of gas and drove back to Beatrice. Estrelica started her up and came back around to Demetres window to thank him.
"Oh, dont worry about it."
"But, youre a life-saver."
"Nah, Im a bastard just like the rest of them."
"So, youre working tonight?"
"All night. Stop by and Ill see if I can freshen up your Styrofoam for you."
"Okay, I will. Thanks a lot, Demetre."
Demetre drove off, leaving Estrelica with her newly resuscitated buddy.
"All right, Beatrice. Sorry I left you so long. Do you forgive me?"
Estrelica drove off to go and deal with her landlord, a slippery old fool named McElroy who had given Estrelica the apartment she wanted because he could tell in her eyes that shed settle for nothing less.
She arrived at his place to find him watching reruns on television. He set her down next to the television so he could talk to her without getting interrupted. Estrelica talked and talked, trying to explain her situation and found McElroy too engrossed in an episode of Quincy that had something to do with Quincy knocking over a drink at a bar and getting the blinding revelation of the concept of flow mechanics. McElroy finally just gave up and asked Estrelica if she could make an appointment to come back and see him later. She reluctantly agreed and left, as he didnt even bother to get up and see her out the door. She got back in her car, felt the wooden wing in her pocket jabbing her thigh and drove to the bookstore where she used to work dayshifts a few months ago.
Estrelica & Vic, Chapter 12
I need something to say to someone like that