One night she dived into my arms
Like the flat edge of a wave.
She hustles the sun
In the merciless desert that calls itself a city.
“Is this a joke?”
“I asked first.”
“It’s a game.”
“It makes me feel important.”
“Yes...it is that. I can see how it would.”
I tossed the card on the immaculate, white linen table cloth. Its gold embossed letters gleamed in the candle light.
“What’s your name?”
“Is that...like some bank?” She giggled.
“King. Like the KING BANK or the KING RANCH.”
“Something like that.”
She was playing with me. For what reason I had no idea but I didn’t have anything better to do and so I decided to let her play out her string.
“How exciting.” She said. “Do you have a first name?”
“Do I need one?”
“Depends on what line of work you’re in.”
“I’m in...entertainment.” I said.
“What about you?”
“You mean other than my day job?” She nodded at the card. Her enormous eyes sparkled with laughter. “I’m a one trick pony.”
“Oh really. And just what might that be?”
“You know. Ride hard once and buck the fuckers off at the end of the ride”
She giggled and rolled her eyes.
The well-preserved couple next to us choked on their lunch.
She tossed her crazy, auburn hair back with a haughty shake of her head.
“I do it for fun. Want to go for a ride?”
“I’m really a good pony.”
“I’m sure, but there isn’t time.”
“That’s a funny answer,” she pouted. “Most guys don’t waste a minute climbing in the saddle. They all get tossed...but you...with you it might be different.”
“A girl friend?”
"Something like that.”
“I don’t mind.”
“We can still play, so can she. I like girls. Or, if she’s paranoid, what she doesn’t know is our secret. After all, this is LA, right?”
“It wouldn’t work.”
“Why? Is she psychic?”
“Something like that.”
“I mean we don’t have to stick around L.A.. We could go somewhere. She would never find us.”
“There’s no place far enough.”
“Wow! What is she? A monster?” She said, round eyed with the pretense of fear.
“Exactly. So am I.”
“Ohhh...I get it, kinky.”She pursed her lips. “Are you going to bite my neck?”
“What is it then, boots and spurs?”
“Are you always this non committal?”
“Is that what I am. I thought I was being nice. After all you bothered me.”
“Is that what I did? I thought it might be fun to play with you. I thought you might get a kick out of me. You looked lonely, sitting here, all by yourself in your nice black suit. Did anybody ever tell you that you look a little like Al Pacino?”
“Maybe I want to be alone. Is that really what you want or are you a glutton for punishment?”
“Is that what you are, a rough rider?”
“Whatever works.” I said.
“I don’t care, as long as it doesn’t show. I mean I don’t want to go to work with a black eye.”
“You never know what kind of people you’re going to run into...” I glanced at the card. ...“Marilyn, you should be more careful.”
“I’m a pretty good judge of what men are like.”
“Are you really.”
“Yah. Besides, what would you do to me?”
She stuck out her tongue at the blue haired matron at the next table whose eyes seethed with envy.
“Anything I felt like doing. Let’s talk about something else. Have you ever been to Mexico?”
She rebounded quickly. “Oh yah! I love Mexico!”
“Oh really. Where do you go?”
“I always go to Vallarta.”
“Where do you stay?”
“At the Hilton. Where else?”
“Do you meet many Mexicans?”
“Oh yah. Everybody that works there is Mexican. We say Si and Hola all the time. It’s really fun. They speak really good English. I don’t have to fuss with that play money they use. They give us some stuff to pay for drinks with, like drink shell necklaces. That’s fun. I think it’s more authentic. The prices are in dollars. My friends are all really impressed that I would go there.”
She took a deep breath.
“My friends are idiots.”
“Oh? Why’s that?”
“Well, you know, that macho thing. At least here a girl has the edge. American men are easy to control. Mexicans are strange.”
“Oh really? You know a lot about what’s strange?”
“Really! Doesn’t everybody that lives in LA?”
“And what about authentic. Do you know a lot about that too?”
“Well really Mr. Man,” she said, “I do work at the Museum.”
“Do any Mexicans work at the Museum?”
“What a weird question. How should I know. If they do they work in the basement and I never go there. Why should I? I like it kinky but I’m not the type that goes for guys in sweaty tee shirts and jock straps. You know the kind. The ones with tool belts.”
She rolled her eyes. “I like ‘em slick, The Ferrari type.”
“What about love.”
“Love?” She squinted. “What about it?”
“Have you ever loved anybody?”
Her jewel like teeth nibbled at her lower lip.
“Is this a trick question?”
“What do you mean?”
“Not many guys I meet talk about love. I mean L.A. is more the meat market kind of town. You know? Hay! Are you weird or something?”
I laughed. “No, not right now, unless love is weird. What do you think?”
“Yah, right, in Iowa maybe.”
I yawned, suddenly bored with the endless posturing all around me; the primp and preen at every table; the brittle hair and the perfect tans.
In spite of her feigned stupidity, Marilyn Swan stood out. Her no holds barred craziness appealed to me. She played a complex game. Whatever it was, she began to look worthy.
“Come on. Lets get out of here.”
“Change your mind huh?” She tossed her napkin on her plate.
“No, not really. I’m bored.”
Outside, the enormous, immaculate plate glass windows reflected a pustulant full moon, reflected Rodeo Drive, reflected a view like a bloated sack.
Parked on Sunset Strip, cushioned from the freak show behind smoked windows, outside, surreal street parade made bets which one of the tramped up teen runaways would get picked up next. When I won she gave me a $100.00 dollar bill. She won I gave her a $100.00 dollar bill. By the time we got bored the floor was littered with bills.
We cruised the perfect streets of Holmbly Hills- armored, indifferent, and arrogant. Her bright eyes devoured each fabulously luxurious stage set. Her stiletto heels stabbed the carpet as she pranced in place, a beautiful pixie child in a candy store each time the home of someone whose name she knew passed. With her designer original suit, her crazyclassy look, and her cats eyes, She could have lived in any of those houses.
Her smile spelled trouble for anyone who took her image seriously.
Marilyn leaned toward me, playing the conspiratorial hostess to make absolutely sure that I got a good look at her fashionably displayed breasts.
“You like my tits?" She arched her eyebrow.
"You’d better. They cost a fortune.”
“Is that what makes you feel alive? Expensive tits?”
“No silly!” She giggled. “Tits are a part of the costume like my dumb bunny act. The game is more abstract than that. It’s a power thing. A girl’s got to do it. Little tit here, little leg there, bang you get, bang you got ‘em."
She shrugged her shoulders.
It’s a fan dance. A blow mind.”
“Frustrated. Gave up. Saving myself for something better.”
“Bigger, deeper, wider. All the clichés. I want to be fucked by God.”
“A good God is hard to find.” She said.
She closed her eyes and sighed.
“Listen, there’s nothing new here." She sighed again. "Hard work being an outlaw. I had to get real. Now I’m doing the same dance all of us do - the social cess pool."
She flutter her eyelids.
"Imagine it! I’m brighter, cuter, kinkier. I play vacuum brain and I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’ve been waiting a long time for something to believe in.”
She stared at me.
“Maybe you’re it.”
“You're different, You're strange. Not many guys ask me about love.”
“And that doesn’t make you a little afraid?”
“Yah...actually it does, a little. But that’s part of it. The sense that I’m dealing with the unknown. After all, you never know what the journey will bring until you take the first step.”
“That’s a good beginning.”
She squeezed my hand.
“And, you seem like a good guide.”
“So, tell me about yourself, Mr. Man.”
“About myself. Well, you remind me of myself a long time ago.”
“What you said about God. Only with me it was love. I suppose it means the same thing.”
“Oh, just like you, I’m still looking. I never had to ‘get real’ though.”
“You’re lucky. Hay! Maybe we can look together.”
“Maybe. How would you like to work for me.”
She scowled. “What kind of work? I told you I only do tricks for fun.”
“What you do now.”
“What? You mean w-o-r-k work for you? They pay me a lot of money at the Museum.”
“Not as much as I would.”
“You don’t even know how much I make.”
“It doesn’t matter. What’s important is if we can work together.”
“Hmmm. I like money myself.”
“You don’t have to decide right this minute. Just think about it. If you like the idea I’ll introduce you to Dominique.”
“Ohhh! I knew it! She's the one that’s going to bite my neck?”
“You never know.”
“I knew it!”
We drove to the planetarium and talked and watched sun rise engulf the glittering valley.