“If it’s making a funny noise, you should,” I say.
“Well, like, I need it. I’m seeing the Psychedelic Furs at the Civic on Friday and I totally have to take my car.” Susan looks at Graham. “That’s if Graham got my tickets.”
“Yeah, I got your tickets,” Graham says with what sounds like great effort. “And stop saying ‘totally.’ “
“Who did you get them from?” Susan asks, fingers drumming.
“Yeah. Why?” Graham tries to sound annoyed but seems tired.
“He’s such a stoner. Probably got crappy seats. He’s such a stoner,” Susan says again. She stops drumming, looks at Graham straight on. “Just like you.”
Graham nods his head slowly and does not say anything. Before I can ask him to dispute his sister, he says, “Yeah, just like me.”
“He sells heroin,” Susan says casually.
I glance over at the actress, whose hand is gripping the surfer’s thigh while the surfer eats pizza.
“He’s also a male prostitute,” Susan adds.
A long pause. “Was that … statement directed at me?” I ask softly.
“That is, like, such a total lie,” Graham manages to say. “Who told you that? That Valley bitch Sharon Wheeler?”
“Not quite. I know that the owner of the Seven Seas slept with him and now Julian has a free pass and all the coke he wants.” Susan sighs mock-wearily. “Besides, it’s just too ironic that they both have herpes.”
This makes Graham laugh for some reason and he takes a drag off his cigarette and says, “Julian does not have herpes and he did not get them from the owner of the Seven Seas.” Pause, exhale, then, “He got VD from Dominique Dentrel.”
William sits down. “Christ, my own kids are talking about quaaludes and faggots—Jesus. Oh, take your goddamned sunglasses off, Susan. We’re at Spago, not the goddamned beach club.” William gulps down half of a white-wine spritzer, which I watched go flat twenty minutes ago. He glances over at the actress and then at me and says, “We’re going to the Schrawtzes’ party Friday night.”
I am fingering my napkin, then I’m lighting a cigarette. “I don’t want to go to the Schrawtzes’ party Friday night,” I say softly, exhaling.
William looks at me and lights a cigarette and says, just as softly, looking directly at me, “What do you want to do instead? Sleep? Lay out by the pool? Count your shoes?”
Graham looks down, giggling.
Susan sips her water, glances at the surfer.
After a while I ask Susan and Graham how school is.
Graham doesn’t answer.
Susan says, “Okay. Belinda Laurel has herpes.”
I’m wondering if Belinda Laurel got them from Julian or the owner of the Seven Seas. I am also having a hard time restraining myself from asking Susan what a Stray Cat is.
Graham speaks up, barely, says, “She got them from Vince Parker, whose parents bought him a 928 even though they know he is completely into animal tranquilizers.”
“That is really …” Susan pauses, searches for the right word.
I close my eyes and think about the boy who answered the phone at Martin’s apartment.
“Grody … ” Susan finishes.
Graham says, “Yeah, totally grody.”
William looks over at the actress groping the surfer and, grimacing, says, “Jesus, you kids are sick. I’ve gotta make another call.”
Graham, looking wary and hungover, stares out the windows and over at Tower Records across the street with a longing that surprises me and then I’m closing my eyes and thinking about the color of water, a lemon tree, a scar.
On Thursday morning my mother calls. The maid comes into my room at eleven and wakes me by saying, “Telephone, su madre, su madre, señora,” and I sav, “No estoy aquí, Rosa, no estoy aquí …” and drift back to sleep. After I wake up at one and wander out by the pool, smoking a cigarette and drinking a Perrier, the phone rings in the poorhouse and I realize that I will have to talk to my mother in order to get it over with. Rosa answers the phone so the phone stops ringing, which is my cue to move back up to the main house.
“Yes, it’s me.” My mother sounds lonely, irritated. “Were you out? I called earlier.”
“Yes.” I sigh. “Shopping.”
“Oh.” Pause. “For what?”
“Well, for … dogs,” I say, then, “Shopping,” and then, “for dogs,” and then, “How do you feel?”