Drew's descent into madness over the generic blond woman eventually
landed him a state away in a home for troubled authors.  It was like
he just couldn't learn this certain lesson in life.  The building was
a big building at the end of a cul-de-sac next to a chocolate factory
that stank up the whole neighborhood like Mark Twain in August and
never gave away free chocolate.  The building could have been
considered Soviet in miniature.  Five stories of hundreds of studio
apartments.  It was on the big island in the estuary where they used
to make sure all the black people stayed.  It didn't take Drew long to
start meeting his neighbors and having trouble socially.

Christie and Eliisa were sisters.  Eliisa was shorter and shy.  She
was quiet.  Christie was the older one; taller, exuberant.  Their
mother was a woman named Rose who everyone knew had been to prison and
sold weed.  Drew had grown up with a fraternal twin who was also the
shorter and more introverted one.  In his new home, Drew was out of
his element and unsure of himself.  As he started finding his voice,
he thought about his brother and made a conscious decision to just
talk less.  He was in a new place, he could decide who he wanted to be
here.  He definitely wanted to be friends with these people.

Christie had a guy named Dennis totally obsessed with her.  She said
it was creepy.  It was especially bad because Christie said her dad
had been named Dennis too.  Dennis was absolutely a real weirdo.  Drew
wanted to impress Christie, so he went to get to know Dennis a little
bit.  Dennis turned out to really like this TV show about the crew of
a spaceship and aliens and stuff.  He had all kinds of memorabilia.
Drew told him how much he loved that show too.  He didn't tell Dennis
or even consciously admit to himself how sad it was that he loved that
show too.  Eventually they went to Dennis' apartment for him to show
off all the toys, and Drew installed malware on his computer so he
could spy on this creep later.  Dennis had a folder called Christie.
He was making a slideshow presentation of pictures of the actresses
from the show and Christie.  Drew had all he needed to go back and
tell Christie.

Christie acted so impressed and grateful.  She knew Dennis was weird
but not that weird.  She ran circles around Drew in a way that kept
him off any fragile balance.  He wasn't sure where he was on a
continuum from really liking her as a woman through pointedly fearing
and avoiding her.  She was extremely manipulative in ways a derpy male
author can never truly capture.  He couldn't figure out what she
wanted until he settled on a disturbing feeling that he was a toy to
her.  Mental illness can't be an excuse for bad behavior, but people
can really use it against someone.  The characters were all crazy.
Christie would push and pull Drew and he would just spin like a top.
She acted like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.  Eliisa
wouldn't say much.  Occasionally her straight flat line of a mouth
between very nice but inscrutable lips would turn to a shy smile or
smirk but mostly it was hard to tell what she ever thought.  He got
more and more curious about Eliisa.  Who was she, really?  For some
reason the game Christie played highlighted Eliisa in contrast, like
Eliisa was an angel to Christie's demon.  For some reason Drew just
kept playing Christie's game, like he couldn't stop.  It became about

One day Drew saw them coming and the dynamics were again such that he
put a cigarette out half-finished and started to leave, but Christie
called out to him.  It really didn't occur to him he should stop
participating in this game.  Drew still somehow didn't know better.
People never see your pain, but they always see your mistakes.  The
sisters came up to him and Christie invited him out to go drinking.
She said Trina would be there and wanted him to come.  Trina was worse
than Christie about games.  Trina was genuinely cruel.  She really had
it in for Chelsea.  Chelsea was as black as deep space but she was
more sure she was Mormon than that the sky was blue.  Chelsea had said
to Drew that Satan keeps people chained up to clap for him like a
Soviet dictator doing a television broadcast, when deep in their souls
they know they are just supposed to be Mormon.  Chelsea said a lot of
people share that pain.  For some reason Trina had it in for Chelsea
as bad as if she were Dennis to everyone.  Drew didn't look over at
Eliisa and he didn't ask if she was going.  He had been thinking about
her more and more.  He agreed to go.

They all went to this giant hanger in an abandoned part of the
shipyard.  Drew was the only guy.  He was at the American
football-shaped oblong center of a Venn diagram of the only guys
willing to be a toy like this, and guys that everyone didn't yet know
were as bad as Dennis.  Drew himself would probably go the rest of his
life not knowing he was as bad as Dennis.  Trina was already
leading-the-pack-plastered.  There might have been a dozen of them or
so.  In the hanger were some areas marked off with faded bright yellow
reflective paint in four inch brushstrokes.  They brought a little bit
of driftwood.  It was a little bit cold, but it was the party that
warranted the bonfire.  They set it up and got it started with grain
alcohol right in the center of the hanger; right in the center of a
big yellow circle.  Pretty soon everyone was drunk.  Trina and another
chick were sumo wrestling in the circle and even trying to push each
other into the fire.

Christie stomped a beer can and let out a loud whoop that sounded like
a police car's siren.  There was an echoing clank way up in the
darkness of the ceiling of the hanger, and this giant piece of rebar
fell from above.  This iron rod several meters long fell directly
toward Trina gaping up at it with an open mouth, like she was going to
be a sword swallower now too.  It was surreal.  She flinched down at
the last second and it went through the top of her skull, down through
her neck, and deep into her body.  She crumpled to the polished
concrete like the beer can, a bit off the center of the big yellow
circle.  Eliisa leapt to her feet and screamed.  Everyone paused and
then started to stampede.


Nobody really talked about it.  People said the police launched a very
half-hearted investigation, but as far as Drew knew, they didn't seem
to want to talk to anyone.  Nobody really cared about any of these
people.  Drew felt bad wondering if even he cared about any of these
people, so he probably did a little bit.  Drew thought of drugs as
tools, and he needed to just forget.  He started going to see Rose a
lot more often.

Rose had three of the studio apartments for herself and her girls.
She pretty much just blatantly sold weed out of one of them.  It was a
nice little office with a couch in it that particularly stood out.
The couch had a weird zigzag pattern on it.  It was weird to look at.
It was confusing, a little sickening to look at somehow.  It was like
a shape selected to confuse radar.  She had a big, empty steel desk in
there with her computer on it.  Everyone still had a computer in this
apartment complex.  Rose lent him a book to read.  "Still Life with
Woodpecker." That was like she was trying to say something, and Drew
was lying to himself that she was not.

When they hung out to smoke, Rose never asked Drew about what had
happened.  She probably knew enough.  She didn't want to know any
more.  Rose seemed to understand Drew perfectly.  She seemed able to
just look inside him somehow and see anything she wanted to know.  She
asked him about computers sometimes; about the trick fucking Dennis
over.  She said she didn't know much about computers.  When Drew tied
the subject of computers into comments about no one caring, Rose was
critical.  No one knew Drew, why would they care about his pain?  If
Drew cared so much about this issue why didn't he seem to care about
anyone?  Did he care about Dennis and his pain?

Drew got closer to Rose.  Christie and Eliisa were almost always
together.  They were around sometimes.  Drew felt a little sick around
them.  It was hard to look at Eliisa.  The vibe was more like Drew was
Christie's boyfriend, but he was still just a toy to her.  Once he got
this weird feeling she had snuck in and stolen one of his shirts.
When he went home he found the same shirt, like she went out and
bought a matching shirt.  It was weird.

Rose said it wasn't a game, it was a lesson.  She said Christie was
trying to teach him a lesson he had never learned properly.  Rose
asked him how he ended up here.  She was sitting in the desk chair
spun around to face him sitting at the left end of the couch from her
perspective.  Drew just stared at her.  He didn't say anything.  Rose
knew, of course.  Somehow Rose knew everything.  She got up and stood.
She was such the mother of those two.  She was pretty muscular, in a
way that made her seem like an older, weathered Eliisa.  She was just
like Christie now too though, playing the game to teach him this
lesson.  She came over and sat at the other end of the couch, and she
leaned over and lay down across it, putting her head in Drew's lap,
looking up into his startled blue eyes with her unreadably blank brown
ones.  He struggled not to show himself as a man.

Rose started telling him the big story of her life.  She had been the
city of Oakland's first female African-American SWAT officer.
Christie's father had been a man named Dennis.  He was built from the
head through the soul to the toes like a giant robot bull for a SWAT
team to ride in with a nose ring probably the size of a hula hoop.
Someone had killed him when Christie was two years old because Rose
was a cop.  The murder had never been solved.  Within a year she had
married Eliisa's father, a man with utterly blind, stupid courage.  He
had a really weird name, Dimez.  Not pronounced like ten cent coins.
Less than a month before Eliisa was born, someone had killed him too.
When Eliisa was a year and half old, Rose had heard a call on the
scanner about a young man seen walking into a very well-known office
building very suspiciously cracked out.  The office building was the
hub of a group of rich white philanthropist psychopaths.  The call was
about arresting this unfortunate up-and-coming crackhead.  It was
going to be another example of the police department fulfilling these
evil men's complicated wishes.  Rose went down to her own personal
car, drove over there, took an assault rifle into the building, and
she executed nine rich white philanthropist psychopaths in their
boardroom.  She gave the crackhead a stern lecture about keeping it to
weed and sent him on his way.  He was wearing a dark baggy hand-knit
hoodie with an image on the back of it as he turned to leave of a
green alien smoking a Sherlock Holmes pipe.  He smelled like the piss
that darkened the crotch of his rust-colored corduroy pants.  She
waited for her colleagues to arrive, surrendered, and that's why she
went to prison.  In prison she led the way repairing race relations
among even the guards as well as the inmates and keeping the peace.
Everyone loved her in prison or paid the price.  She did twelve and a
half years on a ten year sentence.  Different times.  Rose had no pain
left and she did not make mistakes.

Drew was harder than Rose's steel desk.  Rose must like men with names
that started with the letter D. She sat up and they started making
out.  Rose took her to the studio apartment she slept in.  There was a
big four post canopy bed with a comforter and pillows with the same
weird zigzag pattern.  There was a creepy little stand covered with
the stubs of many differently colored candles.  It had a big oval
mirror behind it.  There was a real human skull on it, with a
shattered hole in the top of it.  The skull was marked all over with
weird symbols.  There was a wooden tray there with dried blood on it,
and a wooden bowl next to it filled with some kind of nut.  They had
sex like an experienced male author of smut for women who could make a
modern marriage last might describe.  It went on this way for a couple
of months.  They didn't tell anyone.


So it went on for a while, but eventually Christie and Eliisa walked
in on them.  "I told you so," Christie said to Eliisa.  Eliisa's mouth
was like a D lying flat on its patrician spine.  The look in her eyes
was frightening.  Dull.  Full of hatred.  Christie's eyes were wet
with tears, her mouth trembled.

Drew was higher than the first Voyager space probe.  He tried to
reason with everyone.  Imagine there was this evil robot in the
future, and you had one chance to convince it to spare humanity, what
would you say to it?  What could you ever possibly say to it?
Christie said Drew was real deep, if he just wanted to be a real cunt
that just made him a real deep cunt.  Drew told her to get fucked, and
accidentally called her Lucy, then Drew told Eliisa that he was madly
in love with her.

He looked to Rose for support, but she was snarling, and started
screaming at him, spit flying from her mouth.  He was just in
everyone's computer, huh, just like everyone is just Dennis to him?
Just stealing everyone's material like a truly great artist and their
souls to be characters?  Who is the toy, spoiled chickenshit white
boy?  Who died and made sure of your grandeur?  Like some great work
of fucking literature.  He was confused.  Rose reached back and hit
him so hard right in his indigo chakra he should have learned the
lesson right then.  He stumbled and reached for his pants and Rose
kicked him hard in the balls from behind.  He was never going to learn
this lesson and now he was never going to have kids.

A bunch of people saw his pain and his mistakes as he ran stark naked
and raving mad back to his apartment through the building, taking the
stairs three at a time, slipping once as he ran up to his apartment
and just biting it, losing both of his front teeth out of his living
skull, blood everywhere in the stairwell on up, down the hall, into
his apartment, running on and collapsing.  He passed out.


He woke up confused and just stayed confused.  He didn't leave his
apartment.  He was extremely confused for a few days.  He probably had
two simultaneous concussions.  He eventually recovered enough to just
be genuinely confused.  He put his other pair of pants on, and an
inside-out t-shirt to stay incognito, then he tried to go buddy up to
Dennis and figure this out.  Dennis didn't bat an eyelash, he just
welcomed Drew in and started talking about that show about the crew of
a spaceship and aliens and stuff.  Drew struggled to continue where he
had left off winning Dennis over, and he just fumbled it kinda, and
asked if Dennis had seen Christie and Eliisa recently.  Dennis got
really strained and awkward and just noped the topic on back to the TV

Dennis turned out to be on some really weird drugs.  He said a lot of
them were genuinely pharmaceuticals.  Psychiatrists avoided this whole
area like a leper colony, so Drew had some questions about that.
Dennis turned out to know so much about pharmacology that Drew found
himself learning stuff from him.  He figured out some pills to buy
from Dennis that smoothed him out a little bit.  He went back to hole
up in his apartment and write the perfect love letter to Eliisa.  At
least by now he had forgotten all about how badly he had upset and
terrified that wonderful blond woman who had just burned herself out
to nothing on really weird drugs long before Drew entered the story,
God bless her.

He roughed the love letter out and went over it a lot, until it was
just a good short paragraph.  He took the letter and went out to look
up at Rose's window.  The street outside their window was right by a
bus stop with a big concrete city garbage can.  He stood there for a
few minutes trying to decide what he should really do here.  He tried
to let out a loud whoop that sounded like a police car.  It didn't go
well.  Christie, Rose, and Eliisa appeared in the window looking down
at him.  Down where we belong.  His feet planted apart.

He looked back up at them for a long few seconds.  He lit the love
letter on fire and he dropped it into the trash can, then he just
stood there.  Holy burning hand of wrath.  Piercing forever through
the heart.  They just stood there too in the window, looking down at
him.  Rose was in the middle, laughing hysterically.  Pretty soon he
heard a bunch of loud whoops that sounded just exactly like fucktons
of police cars coming to pick him up at the bus stop dumpster fire.