I stared at the boarded up shell of the Down Town Theater. When I was in High School it was the B movie hole in the wall where the hard-core kids made out during the Saturday matinée. Now it’s just an abandoned memory. It reminded me of Scar Face.
The first time I saw her she was standing in line to see Rebel Without A Cause. A scuffed black leather motorcycle jacket hung loose sleeved to the tips of her violet fingernails. Her mouth was wrapped around a cigarette like the rest of the hard girls that stood in line with her, and ratted their hair into improbable lacquered bouffants while they sucked smoke, and hair spray, and waited for the doors to open.
She stood out in a herd that struggled desperately to be uniquely individual. Her hair was a bleach white color she called slut blond. Big black sunglasses hid her eyes. Her lipstick smile matched her eyes, which matched the fuzzy, violet angora sweater that exposed 4 inches of cream white skin above her tight black jeans. I didn’t say anything to her that day. I just stared at her, but I woke up more than once in the nights to come to the smell of her cheap perfume. And then it was summer. As I slumped down Main on one of those days when it seemed like I was breathing underwater I saw her, down the block, staring into the display window of Ritz Jewelers. A cigarette smoldered between her lipstick lips. That was the day I met her.
Everything afterwards happened in a blur. One minute we were strangers and the next she stood on the rough bank of the sand pit amid the condoms, and the wildflowers. Before the chalky remains of a sacrificial fire: the beer can effigy of a drunken god, I stood neck deep in the water on a slick, steep slope. The depths were shivery cold beyond my toes. Scar Face wore big, black glasses again that day. She was smiling about something she said was a secret. She was full of secrets. She told me people like her had a lot of secrets; that it was better to just shut up than to try to explain yourself to people who had no hope of understanding about secrets.
Scar Face was different because of her scar. Different without doing anything but being alive. That bothered her. She wanted to be unique because of what she made of the meat of her, not because of the wrapper. She said that she rode the strange train; that her scar made her feel like an accidental tourist. I tried to explain that if you weren't careful something bad happened that twisted uniqueness into something monstrous but she just laughed and told me not to worry about her. She could take care of herself.
She stood over me outlined in a haze of heat and bright blue sky and stared down with a quizzical expression like she was trying to make sense out of me. I asked her what she was thinking and she just smiled, shook her head, and started slowly down the rocky bank. At the edge she carefully rippled the water with her toe.
˝How’s the water?˝ She asked.
˝Fine,˝ I said. ˝ It gets pretty cold farther out.˝
˝I know. I’ve been here before.˝
˝Before.˝ She said.
She tiptoed carefully into the water.
˝What do you mean?˝ I asked.
˝Guess.˝ She replied, and submerged. A trail of bubbles marked the spot. When she first surfaced only her eyes and hair showed. She looked at me for a long moment and then lifted her lips above the water. ˝Do you get depressed often?˝She asked.
I paddled out into the cold water, and floated on my back. ˝What’s often?˝ I asked, trying to be just as mysterious as she was. Somehow, I sensed I wasn’t even close. She laughed, as if she agreed, and deftly changed the subject.
˝Is it cold out there?˝ She asked.
˝Below the surface it is.˝
˝Maybe I’ll stay where I am.˝
˝It's not that bad.˝ I said.
She stared at me for a long moment. ˝I’m in deep enough as it is.˝
“I’m in deeper.” I replied. She studied my face. Whatever she saw there must have convinced her of something because with a solemn nod she cautiously moved closer until she treaded water, just out of reach. Her look of shocked surprise at the colder water made her look like an animal caught in the headlights. I wanted to hold her- warm her but I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to do.