Estelle’s standing at the end of my walk with a crowbar. I panic and throw my mug of coffee at her. It misses and smashes on the ground.
“Come here, you little shit,” she says. She looks really bad. Like she’s been up all night and even older than usual. I remember I’m still wearing her wig. I throw that at her too. It doesn’t even make it there. She comes toward me and bends down to pick up the wig. “Come on. I got something I need you to do for me.”
“You were very mean to me last night. I had to take a cab back.”
“You deserved it. You know you did. You don’t have the magic feet. You are a comatose lion.”
“I really thought we were developing something.”
She’s too close for me to stop her now and she moves around behind me and presses the crow bar against my throat. “Are you going to help me or not?”
“I’ll help you. What are we doing? I don’t know if I feel like killing anyone right now.”
“You haven’t killed anyone. We were just correcting the balance of things. Vacuuming up the dust, remember? Just a little housecleaning.”
“I don’t feel like cleaning right now.”
“This is something different.”
I follow Estelle. I think she’s walking to her car or another stolen car but she just keeps walking. Over two blocks and up to a house and I have exhilarating flashbacks from last night but she just opens the door and walks in and this house looks and smells just like an old person’s house. Not anything like that apartment that she had taken me too on the first night. The one with the burning carpet smells and the passed out old people everywhere. There’s part of me that wishes this is Estelle’s actual house.
Once inside she flops down in an armchair that looks at least sixty years old.
“Kyra will be here any minute.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I’d like you to go into the kitchen and talk to Don. Don’s my husband. He’s a maker of stars. He has strong hands.”
The doorbell rings. “But first you can get that, you little fucker.”
I open the door. A pretty young blond girl stands on the porch. She is holding a book. It isn’t Dick Swap.
“Is Estelle here?” she asks.
“Yes.” I turn to look behind me to make sure Estelle is still here. She makes a threatening gesture with her finger across her throat.
“I’m here to read to her.” The girl holds up a trashy paperback. It’s the really sleazy kind where the author has a completely fake name with an “X” in it. It’s called Passionate Frenzy. The girl notices the way I’m looking at the book and says, “It’s what she likes.”
I retreat into the kitchen. Don is in there.
I hear the girl say, “Who was that?”
“That’s my grandson.”
“Why doesn’t he read to you?”
“He’s retarded, honey.”
I suppose this could offend me but I’m distracted by Don and trying to fight the urge to either scream or vomit. If it is Don. I’ve never met Don. It could probably be anyone. There are a lot of bones clogging the kitchen sink and strips of skin hanging from the ceiling. Blood drips slowly from the skin and this makes me feel a little better. If it were partially rotting, I don’t think I could help but puke. I look for an exit but the one door in the kitchen and all the windows have been boarded up. So I stand there horrified and unable to do anything. I can hear the girl reading from the book. The book is really really filthy. Exactly the kind of thing I can imagine Estelle liking except I wonder why she isn’t reading herself. I’ve seen her drive so I know she’s not blind. Maybe she’s just really farsighted or has some cataracts or something. Maybe she’s just letting this girl read to her as some type of community service. But that doesn’t really seem like Estelle at all.
After about a half an hour, the girl stops reading and says, “Well, that’s the end of the chapter. Might as well stop there. Do men really like to put their... things there?”
“All the time, honey. All the time. But it’s good for a girl too. You won’t get pregnant for one thing and if you still believe in saving yourself for marriage you can consider yourself saved ‘cause they’re really just talking about the pussy.”
“Oh. So, you said you’d bake some more of those brownies for me if I came back.”
“Was that all I said?”
“No. I’ve got it right here.”
I go to the door to see if I can tell what the girl is talking about. I’m hoping Estelle isn’t trading sexual favors for reading. But the girl is giving her money.
“Boy!” Estelle shouts. “Bring that plate of brownies in here.”
I bring the brownies out. The girl grabs one and devours it. Then she grabs another one. Her pupils grow very large and she slumps back onto the couch. She stares ahead of her with her mouth partially open.
“Now Kyra. Do you think your friends would like some of these treats?”
“Oh yeah.” Her speech is slurred.
I start to say something and Estelle makes that threatening gesture at me again.
“I’ll give you these treats and you can give them to your friends. How does that sound?”
“Sounds wild. I bet it’ll cost a lot.”
“I’ll let you take this plate of treats for free. But the next time you want some treats, you’ll have to pay me a little something for them. How does that sound?”
“I’ll pay whatever.”
“Well, you won’t have to pay quite as much as you’ve been paying but if any of your friends want any, you should charge them what I’ve been charging you. That’s called making a profit. How does that sound?”
“That sounds beautiful.”
“My grandson loves my treats, don’t you?”
I don’t really feel like being drugged but before I can say no, she’s threatening me again and saying: “He likes to sit right on my lap and let me feed them to him.” She pats her lap and I’m sitting in it, careful to avoid sitting on her breasts, and she’s raising a brownie in one gnarled hand that still smells like gasoline and shoving it into my mouth and then another one and then another one and then I know it’s going to be another insane night and I’ll be lucky to remember any of it.