She threw back her hair and began to tell me about her boyfriends. Holly was a talker. She had the hard fast intelligent speech of a New Yorker. She never stopped moving, speaking; her face was at its best when still but she kept it in motion, tossing her long hair as though trying to shake off her beauty. She seemed confident, sure of herself, the way I wanted more to be. But I sensed it would take more than an airplane game to get me that way.
Holly sometimes slept with Dan, but she was in love with a man named Rain. He lived in a tree house near Santa Cruz.
I was there for a while in April, Holly said. It's a drag getting down in the middle of the night to go to the john.
She burped long and loud and without shame. She gave the impression she cared nothing about what other people thought. Holly was a type of person who if you talked about yourself would change the subject. I liked this. I had spent my life changing the subject. Everything I did. I watched Holly talk, chew gum, throw back her hair. Her voice was loud and abrasive, though her face had the soft, liquid quality of an undersea plant. I thought of many things while she spoke, none of which I could later recall.
Rain grew up in Corona, New Mexico, she told me. You know Corona? It's where that flying saucer landed in the forties. The famous one. The Roswell one. It's known as Roswell. Rain's father was a kid when it happened. He says he saw a piece of the starship. It was metal, something like tinfoil, except it could not be torn. You could wrinkle and bend it but if you put it down it just went back to its original shape. The pieces were scattered over a half a mile of land. When the local radio started to broadcast the news, the whole station went dead. The D.J. tried to send word on the teletype but the transmission was cut off. FBI. CIA. Special Armed Forces. Who else. Rain says the government threatened the lives of the people who saw it if they said anything about it. Their lives and the lives of their families.
Uh huh, I said. This was one of my boss Kenneth's favorite topics: information blockage and control. I believe he thought the only reliable news source were oversized tabloids hand-printed and circulated by men with bad teeth. All major newspapers and magazines, Kenneth had told me, were controlled by government and big business. Which was, of course, one and the same.
Just another hushed-up government secret, Holly said.
Not another, I said.
I don't know. Rain does say some pretty wild stuff. You know what he does for a living? Paints. But get this. He paints pictures for Hollywood. For rooms in a movie. Set pictures. They're not really real. They are pictures of pictures. He has a business with his sister. She had a crush on me for a while. Talk about a blocked chi, Holly said.
I sat on the floor and let Holly have the bed. She stretched out, sometimes lying with her head upside down over the mattress.
Good for the complexion, she said.
It's possible she once had a pimple, but it would have been on her shoulder or her back, away from sight. I was aware of her arms, the smooth braceletless spot on her wrist, the bump near the top of her nose. She and Dan and I sometimes flirted with sleeping together.
I've always been curious about women, Holly told me. But I don't really feel anything towards them. Anything sexual. Now with Rain it was different. A full body shiver the moment I meant him. I mean met him. Hah! Anyhow, he was trying to pass me in an aisle at a health food store, our bodies did not even touch, only our baskets, but still it was enough.
Everything begins or is manifested in the body, I said, quoting Kenneth.
Holly said, I guess.
She pulled a long strand of dark hair over her face and examined the ends.
So, she said. Do you think you'll stay here awhile?
That's certainly the question.
It might be fun if you did, Holly said.
My heart gave a small turn. I was surprised. I tried to picture Holly as my friend.
I've been thinking of this period as my life between acts, I admitted.
Between acts! Holly snorted. That's cute.
Dan came in and the three of us shared a joint. He crouched by my upside-down milk crate by the mattress in a somehow formal squat. His shoulders were hunched tight although he placed a seemingly casual hand on the bed. He watched the side of Holly's face. She lay stretched out on the mattress.
How's the new job, Dan asked me, but his eyes were still on Holly.
It's a little strange, I said. A rush of ideas and words came through me but when they passed I realized I had said nothing aloud. There was a spot of stillness at the base of my throat preventing speech. Still, words came at me like the dead whispering in my ear, starved for life or attention. I found I could roll them along to the other side if I exerted no effort to keep them away. I was a boat rocking the water. I was the sea. My body was one large mind, a vast ocean of waves which were individual ideas, the white caps words. The mix of the mystery pill and the joint made me very relaxed. When I woke I was alone on the floor and Dan and Holly were gone.