Big-Dicked Sheila was barefoot, and it was a pronounced barefootedness. She had bought the pants, the leather ones with the lace-up crotch, from Creepy Ernie’s House of Inappropriate Trousers on Arimorto Street. They were priced at $400, but Sheila paid $340 because she let Ernie watch her try ’em on. They were the ones she’d been thinking about. Tight under her ass and around her thigh and across her calf, and the hem was below the protruding bumps of her skinny ankles, and the leather was so black that it accentuated her pale foot. Her toenails were also black, and so was her spiky hair. Sheila’s lips were redder than Communist Santa. She was feeling very rock and roll at the moment. She was barefoot.
Left ankle over right up on the ratty blue couch. Sheila is a lefty, and so she put her left ankle over her right up on the ratty blue couch. The carpet is brown–ish–and worn, but clean. The wine is red, and she does a sit-up to sip from the glass, and lays back, and replaces it on the shitty carpet to her left. Vintage tee-shirt. The Snug: Live at Absalom. It was black, too, except for the exciting parts, and it was a size too small, so you could see the bit on her arm where the bicep turns into the shoulder.
“Did they move the walls in?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Seems like it. You should ask.”
“I won’t,” Tiresias Richardson said. She was also barefoot, but it was less noticeable because she was in a robe that had flopped halfway open so you could see all of her leg; the nudity of the foot did not disagree with its context. The robe was black, and softer than an impotent chinchilla. Tiresias’ nails, all twenty of ’em, were black as Sheila’s, but it was not because Tiresias was feeling rock and roll. She was Draculette the Horror Host, and so was contractually and dramatically obliged to wear black nail polish.
She was laying on the ratty blue couch. Sheila’s feet were by her left hip, and her hand was on Sheila’s ankle. Her other hand, the hand attached to the arm nuzzled against the back cushions of the couch, held her red wine. The glass needed refilling.
They were watching that evening’s movie, The Desert Has Teeth, which was about a haunted high school. The lockers chased freshmen; they were bearing machetes and furious for having been repeatedly slammed. The vice-principal’s office generated digestive acid. Several classrooms contained krampuses, and not just at Christmas.
The teevee was on a table along the wall, both of which were covered with tapestries. The walls in Tiresias’ dressing room were beige, or maybe tan–the color of a poor person’s teeth–and it did nothing for her, and less for her complexion or mood. KSOS’ owner Paul Loomis, Jr., refused to repaint. The tapestries were red and yellow and swirling green. The teevee was color, but the movie was in black-and-white. Tiresias looked down at it. Sheila looked left.
At the pep rally, the cheerleaders formed a human pyramid, and then sealed the quarterback inside.
“This school is haunted as fuck,” Sheila said.
“At a certain point, you’d expect parents to start pulling their kids out. Like when the French Club got skinned. AAAAHahaha!”
A chair behind Sheila’s head. Wooden legs with no casters. Padded back and seat, white. In front of that, the vanity with the makeup mirror. Lightbulbs the size and shape of grapefruit to the left, right, top of the reflection. The vanity was white like the chair, but not the exact same white–the two pieces were not originally of a set–and the surface had only a clean hand towel, also white but a third shade, laying on it. Tiresias’ makeup was in the drawers, lined up and organized in the drawers which had fresh paper towels laid down on their bottoms.
The chemistry teacher was turning students into human soup; they were the consistency of neither consomme nor chowder. Somewhere in the vicinity of bisque.
“Is soup a beverage or is it food?”
“Depends on how much stuff’s in it,” Sheila said.
The soup-teens shlopped down the hall, still human-shaped but far more liquid and nutritious: they were part of a balanced diet of terror. They came upon a janitor and stuck spoons in him, ladled out all his blood, sprinkled oyster crackers over the corpse.
“Are oyster crackers made with oysters?”
“No. By them.”
“That’s why they’re so small?”
“Yeah,” Sheila said. She put her bare feet on the shitty brown carpet and pushed against the bottom of the couch so she squiggled across the floor a few inches, and then stretched her arm above her head towards her bag, which was black and leather like her pants but not as complimentary to her ass. Her fingertips brushed a fold of the purse, and she streeeeeeetched a little further so her tee-shirt rode up her belly and showed off her navel. Which was an innie. She walked her shoulderblades backwards and up and there it was, she had the bag in hand and she yanked it towards her side and then hoisted it up on her stomach and began rummaging through.
“Come to LA with me.”
“We’re in LA,” Sheila said.
“No, not this one.”
“I know, but it’s where they keep all the money and the cameras. AAAAAHahaha!”
Pack of Camels with six smokes left. Unopened pack. Lighter: Bic, plastic, black. (Sheila was feeling very rock and roll lately.) Nail clippers, nail file. Scissors for hair and a comb. Three pill bottles of varying fullness and prescription. Dead blue pen, also Bic. Appointment book. Business cards. Tissues. Sig Sauer .380. Receipts. Lipstick. Eyeliner. Compact missing the applicator poof, compact with. Wallet. Folded-up flyer warning of arsonist werewolfs. Flick knife. Cigarette case
She bought it at a thrift shop in the Low Desert, right outside of Jeremiad Springs. Antique, the woman who owned the store said. Silver and brilliant and with seven pinstripes etched vertically down the front. Elastic belts on the inside to keep your ciggies safe. And on the front was an inscription. FOR CA.
“Cara Amici,” the woman told Sheila.
“She never changed her name.”
“That’s what he called her.”
Sheila was 99% sure that the woman had a boxful of identically-inscribed cigarette cases in the back, but she bought it anyway. In the mornings, she’d roll six doobies and capture them behind the elastic for use throughout the day. Sheila believed marijuana was topical: apply as needed. Sometimes, she ended the day with all six joints intact. Other days required a second doobie-rolling session over lunch.
There was one left. FFT. PHWOO. She sat upright using only her abdominal muscles: the joint was in between her lips and she wrestled the bottom of her shirt back down to her waist. Spun on her ass like a ballerina with no legs. Buttock-walked backwards until she was reclining on the base of the couch. Tiresias fixed Sheila’s collar, then left her hand on her shoulder.
Sheila handed Tiresias the joint PHWOO she did not hold the smoke in her lungs for very long. She had a show that night, and she was a professional.
The guidance counselor at the high school in The Desert Has Teeth was named Arnie Bladder, and he wouldn’t stop reading kakosacrial rites over the PA system; each morning’s announcements ended with him summoning demons. Today’s was the hobgoblin, Ampusa.
“What’s a hobgoblin?”
“They outrank regular goblins, I think. Come to Los Angeles with me. Two months.”
“Granted. We’ve established this. But it’s Pilot Season.”
“Is that like Fleet Week?”
“Not at all,” Tiresias said.
“No cute guys in uniform?”
“Cute guys in military costumes. ”
“I can get that here. Pass.”
The wig was across the room from them, next to the vanity with the makeup mirror on it. Real hair. That was as much Sheila would ever tell Tiresias.
“It’s real hair.”
Eventually, Tiresias stopped asking. The wig averaged the aesthetic space between Evil Dolly Parton and a goth lion. It was enormous, and heavy; it altered Tiresias’ center of gravity and her neck would ache after a few hours strapped into the itchy nightmare. She wore two wig caps at a time. They were the color of a cartoon white person’s flesh, and diaphanous and clingy. Both would be soaked through by the end of the show, and she threw them out. New pair the next night. On the weekends, she would take the enormous hairpiece home and sit it out on her balcony to let the stench bake off.
The wig was on a styrofoam head on a short, three-legged table. There was a small bin below it, a dresser-less drawer, with the dress. It could not be thrown in the washing machine, and Tiresias did not trust the dry cleaning process. She sprayed it down with fabric de-stinkifier until it was dripping every night, but the funk had interlaced with the garment’s DNA and the only way to truly get the smell out was via the cleansing power of fire.
Don’t ever smell show biz.
Sheila passed the joint back to Tiresias PHWOO and then she turned around and leaned over Tiresias’ stomach to grab her almost-empty wine glass. The bottle was on the vanity. She was sitting cross-legged and stood up unspooling herself upwards. To the wine and back. A tremendous journey, and she sat back down.
“Thank you, sweetie.”
“Come to LA.”
“I have a business to run.”
Tiresias waved her hand at that.
“You have a show to do.”
She waved her hand at that, too.
“They’ll show reruns. No one’ll notice.”
“Your stalkers will notice.”
“That can’t be helped. Stalkers are by nature observant. AAAAHahaha!”
Tiresias handed Sheila the joint over her shoulder, and they sat there watching the black-and-white movie on the color teevee. The dress and the wig were waiting, stinking but neat, and the door was closed and locked. Shortly, the show would go on, but for now it was calm in a dressing room in a television studio on the Main Drag of Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America.