Chapter 7, Part A

Her Denial


They drank up, grabbed their things and made for the door. The weather hadn’t realized that they were leaving and continued to heave buckets on them as they began walking.

"Would you like to see some of the things I’ve done? They’re old, but I still have them, so I guess I still like them," Estrelica said.

"What are they?" he asked.

"Prints. I photograph."

"Yeah, sure. I could show you some things, too."

"What do you do?" she asked.

"Sculptures in ale," he said proudly, "but sometimes I use pilseners and recently I’ve started to use stouts."

They picked up the tails of their jackets to use as rainbreaks as they walked to Estrelica’s house through the shiny black ribbons of the city. Vic overheard a couple passing them who were also using the tails of their jackets for rainbreaks as the girl said to the boy, "But, don’t you think that it’s indicative of a generation? I mean, what with the war and all..." Vic laughed like a drain overhearing the attempts of reluctant lovers trying to shove the world into own little mugs: Anything to divert the attention away from the fact that on this particular night, these people happened to be only with each other and that, yes, although points were being tallied up on each other’s checklists, all they really had on their minds was that they would be able to forget about themselves for at least one more night. Vic laughed and Estrelica knew why. Estrelica laughed and Vic knew why, and they walked down the avenue grading every house they passed for originality of style, upkeep, friendliness of facade, susceptibility to a barbecue, fright level come Halloween and eventual ownership. They passed one old brick house on 13th and Aloha that Vic said was haunted, and at that time of night Estrelica could understand why. With only a bare lightbulb in the entryway shrieking out light, Vic looked up at it and said that the house was over a hundred years old and quite a few weird things had happened in the house, but wouldn’t say anything else. They got away from it as fast as they could.

As they began walking away, Vic felt in his guts something he’d felt before but could never really put his finger on: The feeling of increasing speed both in his mind and his body. It was a feeling that sometimes had too much momentum for him to deal with. He’d felt the sensation at random times before and could never really isolate the situations that made him feel that way. It could have been the beer, it could have been the company, it could be entropy, or knowing that his days were numbered, or the fact that he’d spent most of his life both running away from and also running towards something, neither of which he could quite place. His head started to spin as Estrelica began talking. He knew that to fight the feeling would mean certain illness and he wanted to lose himself anyway, so he fell into it, and let her words guide him where they may.

He listened to her words, mumbling the occasional uh-huh to let her know that he was paying attention, but found himself absorbed by the flow of her voice as it smoothed out the day that was ending, which to him was as incomprehensible as it was perfectly clear. He thought of so many women. Not the women whom he had made a fool out of himself in front of, but the women who had left themselves at his doorstep hoping that he would take them, and the strange small pierce he’d feel when he’d wish he could explain that he could cease the violence of the night for them, but his eyes were too deep to be trusted and he knew it. And when he’d find his eyes attracting others who had so wanted to see eyes like his, he wished he could tell them that if they wanted to make the first move, it was all right with him because he knew too much to lead them on into what he knew was a simple case of mutual masturbation. But he also understood that sometimes it isn’t that at all. Sometimes it’s just the fact that maybe this time it won’t be a rejection. Maybe this time it won’t be a stab at the jugular of worthiness. Maybe this time it’ll just be as delicate as leaning up against a pear tree for a little slap and tickle underneath a canvas sky.

Swept away by Estrelica’s voice, Vic managed to grab hold of the tone she used that informed him that her company was not to be taken for granted, not to be thought of as someone he’d conquered, not to be thought of as just another five-finger Mary, and he pulled his way back into consciousness and slammed his attention back onto the tracks that her train was on. She realized the state that he was in as she, too, was perilously close to just curling up under the eaves of the next house they passed and letting the night finish unchaperoned. But she took advantage of the fact that no matter how preposterous her thoughts were, he was too many light years away to debate them, so she reeled off secret after secret and thought out loud and talked about Vic in front of his back until she couldn’t help but laugh at what she was doing and how he was responding. Vic, realizing the cue to laugh, began laughing as well, which made her laugh even louder until he finally sussed that he was being laughed at.

"What’s the big idea? What did I miss?" He asked.

"A song. We have to sing a song right now. It’s impertinent. Or, I mean pertinent."

"Yeah, sure, let’s sing a song. All right: A song. I know songs. I like songs."

"Okay, it’ll be a blues song. I’ll start it off:

He’ll walk you to the fence-post

and show you what’s in his hand

tell you anything you want to hear

and give you everything he can

ahh, there’s nothing like a sacrifice

to clean your old volcano out"

She stopped singing and joined in with Vic providing mouth noises to the song until she realized he had missed his cue for the next verse.

"You MISSED it. Next time round."

"Oh, yeah; sorry ‘bout that."


"He drives by night by Braille

he’s got the whole world in his hands

with a fistful of romance languages

nobody understands

He’ll dip your feet in lava

and stick bamboo shoots up your toes."

Estrelica laughed and continued with her next verse.

"He painted his horns like a halo

hocked his pitchfork for some wings

moved his birthday up from Christmas

to sometime in the spring

a magic carpet bag in one hand

and eyes that could cheat you out of your heart"

Vic had finally come back to Earth and realized he was singing the blues, which always woke him up. He was all set for the next verse.

"Well, everyone that you see

is in your family--"

Estrelica stopped him.

"No, that’s a different song. That’s got a different rhythm."

"No, it’s the same song; it’ll work, just follow along."

Vic started again.

"Well, everyone that you see

is in your family

it’s just that there’s so



you don’t see

all the time

that some of these old faces just

slip your mind."

Estrelica had it down, realized her cue, and followed it up.

"But you’d lie to tell the truth

you’d rip out your back tooth

da da da duh da duh duh da duh

oh, go on"

"Want me to take over?"

"No, I got it. your instrument."

She found her way back into the song as Vic kept making noises with his mouth.

"and it’s been a long time

Since I dealt with your kind

You keep so far away then you tell me

that I’m blind"

Vic chimed in.

"Now you’re on the high stool

just dinking with the boogaloo

oh, there must be someplace somewhere around

that you can call school."

Estrelica’s turn.

"Well, I ain’t setting myself up

No, no, it ain’t like that

I’d rather crawl all around the world than just lie here

on my back."

"Are we singing the same song?"

"I think we are." she answered.

"Well, what is all this about lying on your back? I’m talking about high stools and you’re talking about lying on your back."

"Oh, right. Yeah, uh, I guess I MISSED that." she poked at him.

"Oh, my little hamster-head, you hurt so easily."

"My little WHAT? My little HAMSTER-HEAD?" Estrelica wanted to pummel him into tomorrow, but she was laughing so much that all of her anger faded away.

"I think our song is finished." Vic noticed.

"No shit, Sherlock."

"Oh, and what do we have here, then? Master of the Obvious, perhaps?"

"MISTRESS of the Obvious, thank you very much."

"Oh, la de dahhhh; MISStress of the Obvious."

"Just when I thought I had you trained..."

"There you go again, talking in riddles. What is this ‘trained’ stuff?" Vic prodded. "Huh-huh-huh?"
"Yeah, I used to love you." Estrelica spat at the sidewalk.

"USED TO? Oh, oh, you’re gonna...oh, oh..."

"I’m gonna what? Huh?"

"Oh, you’re so nice to me and I’m so nice to you and we’re so happy."

"Oh, Christ, get out of my face."

"You know, would you be really offended if I married someone exactly like you?" He asked.

"A-HA!! So THAT’S what you’re after. You want a wifey, huh? Well, I’ve got news for you, buddyboy, where I come from there’s no such thing as women, just guys with floppy skin."

"That’s okay, honeypoo; where I come from there’s no such thing as men, just girls with guns."

Neither Estrelica nor Vic were paying attention to the car that had crept up behind them as they were walking. Just like neither of them knew what the sound was that cracked behind them. Vic’s head snapped back as the car tore off down the street.

"YOU ASSHOLES! YOU--" Vic cupped his hand around Estrelica’s mouth and dragged her between two houses.

"Shut up. Get down." He sternly whispered.


"Just shut up for a minute."

Vic listened and waited until the car was well out of sight and sound before turning back onto the street.

"Come on, let’s hurry. Where is your house?" He asked.

"Just a little bit further; across the block and past those trees."

Vic rubbed his neck gingerly with his hand and looked at his fingers expecting to see blood.

"Christ. I heard that thing go off right between my ears. In stereo, you know."

"Do you know them?" She asked.

"Hell no. That was just a drive-by."

Vic took off the red bandanna he had tied around his knee and tossed it out into the street.

"Bye bye little red knee thing. Nice knowing you."

Estrelica bent down to pick it up and stashed it in her bag as they crept the last few blocks to her house as the rain started to let up.

Vic noticed something in the middle of the road that resembled a mound of moss, but only as he got right next to it did he realize that it was some sort of garden rodent that had been run over and left to die.

Estrelica motioned to him that they were in front of her house as she took her keys out of her bag to unlock the front door as Vic gave it the once over. Although it was dark, Vic made out that it was a stately old brownstone of a house probably seventy or eighty years old that may have looked just as stately as it should have if not for the fact that it had been divided into apartments years ago and, as such, the comings and goings of such transient tenants gave what care they could to the general upkeep of the house, but only in proportion to how long they actually planned to live there.

The house was almost surrounded by poplar trees with little swatches of grass on either side of it that extended out of sight, and a spacious tarred driveway that led to a porch crammed with cans of paint, a barbecue and old newspapers.

"Does this house have a name?" he asked.

"Hearts Ease," she whispered opening the front door.


Estrelica & Vic, Chapter 7, Part B

Her Denial