Dr. Nova exhales, then asks, “Why shouldn’t I ask you?”
I’m looking out the window. “Because I asked you not to?” I say softly. “Because I pay you one hundred and thirty-five dollars an hour?”
Dr. Nova takes a drag from his cigarette, then looks out the window. After a while he asks, tiredly, “What are you thinking?”
I keep staring out the window, stupefied, transfixed by palm trees swaying in a hot wind highlighted against an orange sky and, below that, a billboard for Forest Lawn.
Dr. Nova is clearing his throat.
Slightly irritated, I say, “Just refill the prescription and …” I sigh. “All right?”
“I’m only looking out for your best interests.”
I smile gratefully, incredulous. He looks at the smile weirdly, uncertain, not understanding where it comes from.
I spot Graham’s small old Porsche on Wilshire Boulevard and follow him, surprised at how careful a driver he seems to be, at how he flashes his lights when he wants to change lanes, at how he slows and begins to brake at yellow lights and then comes to a complete stop at red lights, at how cautiously he seems to move the car across the road. I assume that Graham is driving home but when he passes Robertson I follow him.
Graham drives along Wilshire until he makes a right onto a side street after crossing Santa Monica. I pull into a Mobil station and watch as he pulls into the driveway of a large white apartment complex. He parks the Porsche behind a red Ferrari and gets out, looks around. I put on my sunglasses, roll up my window. Graham knocks on the door of one of the apartments facing the street and the boy who was over earlier in the week, in the kitchen, staring out into the pool, opens the door and Graham walks in and the door closes. Graham walks out of the house twenty minutes later with the boy, who is wearing only shorts, and they shake hands. Graham stumbles back to his car, dropping his keys. He stoops down to pick them up and after three tries finally grabs them. He gets into the Porsche, closes the door and looks down at his lap. Then he brings his finger to his mouth and tastes it, lightly. Satisfied, he looks back down at his lap, puts something in the glove compartment and pulls out from behind the red Ferrari and drives back onto Wilshire.
There is a sudden rapping on the passenger window and I look up, startled. A handsome gas station attendant asks me to move my car, and as I start the car up an image that I’m uneasy about the validity of comes into my line of vision: Graham at his sixth-birthday party, wearing gray shorts, an expensive tie-dyed shirt, penny loafers, blowing out all the candles on a Flintstones birthday cake and William brings a Big Wheel tricycle out of the trunk of a silver Cadillac and a photographer takes pictures of Graham riding the Big Wheel around the driveway, on the lawn and eventually into the pool. Driving onto Wilshire, I lose track of the memory, and when I get back home Graham’s car is not there.
I am lying in bed in Martin’s apartment in Westwood. Martin has turned on MTV and he is lip-synching to Prince and he has his sunglasses on and is nude and pretends to be playing the guitar. The air conditioner is on and I can almost hear its hum which I try to focus on instead of Martin who begins to dance in front of the bed, an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth. I turn over on my side. Martin turns off the television sound and puts on an old Beach Boys album. He lights the cigarette. I pull the covers up over my body. Martin jumps on the bed, lies next to me, doing leg lifts. I can feel him raising his legs slowly up, then bringing them down again, even more slowly. He stops doing this and then looks at me. He reaches down below the covers and grins.
“Your legs are really smooth.”
“I had them waxed.”
“I had to drink a small bottle of Absolut to endure the process.”
Martin jumps up suddenly, straddling me, growling, imitating a tiger or a lion or actually just a very large cat. The Beach Boys are singing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” I take a drag off his cigarette and look up at Martin, who is very tan and strong and young, with blue eyes that are so vague and blank they are impossible not to fall into. On the television screen there is a piece of popcorn in black and white and beneath the popcorn are the words “Very Important.”
“Were you at the beach yesterday?” I ask.
“No.” He grins. “Why? Thought you saw me there?”
“No. just wondered.”
“I’m the tannest one in my family.”
He has half an erection and he takes my hand and places it around the shaft, winking at me sarcastically. I take my hand from it and run my fingers up his stomach and chest and then touch his lips and he flinches.