“I’m going to move.”
Roger sighs, looks at me and says, “You’re getting the feeling that you’re not going to move, right? You’re realizing that you were going to consider it but now you’re coming to the conclusion that it would not be worth the effort, that you don’t have the strength or something, right?” Roger turns away, the elevator gradually slowing, reaching his floor. Roger turns a key so that the elevator is locked into going to my floor and not anywhere else, like I even want it to.
The elevator stops at the floor that Roger has put a lock on and I step into an empty, dim-lit corridor and start walking toward my door, breaking the hush by screaming loudly, twice, three, four times, and I fumble for the key that will open the door and I turn the handle and it’s open anyway and inside is a young girl sitting on my bed, dried blood everywhere, leafing through Hustler. She looks up from the magazine. I close the door, lock it, stare at her.
“Was that you screaming?” the girl asks in a small, tired voice.
“Guess,” I say and then, “Have you made friends with the ice machine yet?”
The girl is pretty, blond, dark tan, large wide blue eyes, Californian, a T-shirt with my name on it, faded tight cutoff jeans. Her lips are red, shiny, and she puts the magazine down as I slowly move toward her, almost tripping over a used dildo that Roger calls The Enabler. She stares back, nervously, but the way she gets up off the bed, walking slowly backward, seems too calculated and when she finally hits the wall and stands there breathing hard and I reach her, I have to put my hands around her neck, softly at first, then tightening the grip, and she shuts her eyes and I bring her toward me then slam her head against the wall which doesn’t seem to faze her and this worries me, until she opens her eyes and grins and in one swift movement lifts her hand, the fingernails long and sharp and pink, and rips a two-hundred-dollar T-shirt down the front, scratching my chest. I bunch my fist and hit her hard. She claws at my face. I push her down on the floor and she’s spitting at me, plugging my mouth with her fingers, squealing.
I’m in the bathtub taking a bubble bath. The girl has lost a tooth and is nude and sitting on the toilet seat, holding an ice pack from room service (who left several) up to the side of her face. She stands unsteadily and limps over to the mirror and says, “I think the swelling’s gone down.” I pick up a piece of ice that floats in the water and put it in my mouth and chew it, concentrating on how slowly I am chewing. She sits back down on the toilet and sighs.
“Don’t you want to know where I’m from?” she asks. “No,” I say. “Not really.”
“Nebraska. Lincoln, Nebraska.” A long pause.
“You had a ‘ob at the mall, right?” I ask, eyes closed. “But the mall closed down, right? It’s all empty now, huh?”
I can hear her light a cigarette, smell its smoke, then ask, “Have you been there?”
“I’ve been to a mall in Nebraska,” I say.
“It’s all flat.”
“Flat,” I agree.
I stare down at torn skin on my chest, at the pink swollen lines that crisscross the skin below, over my ni**les and I’m thinking, There goes another photo shoot without a shirt on. I touch the ni**les lightly, brush the girl’s hand away when she tries to touch them. Once she’s properly lubricated I slide into her again.
A gram and I’m ready to call Nina at the house up in Malibu. The phone rings eighteen times. She finally answers.
“Oh.” Pause. “Wait a minute.” Another pause.
“Are you there?”
“You sound like you care,” she says.
“Maybe I do, babe.”
“Maybe you don’t, ass**le.”
“I’m fine,” she says quickly. “Where are you now?”
I close my eyes, lean up against the headboard. “Tokyo. A Hilton.”
“It is far and away the nicest place I have ever lived.”
“You don’t sound too enthusiastic, babe.”
“Oh shit. Just let me talk to Kenny.”
“He’s on the beach with Martin.”
“Martin?” I ask, confused. “Who the hell is Martin?”