“I’m sorry,” the pharmacist says, clearly uncomfortable, shifting from one foot to the other nervously. He hands me the bottle and when I try to hand it back to him he shrugs.
“There are reasons why your doctor did not want the prescription refilled,” he offers kindly, as if speaking to a child.
I try to laugh, wipe my face and gaily say, “Oh, he’s always playing jokes on me.”
I think about the way the pharmacist looked at me after I said this as I drive home, and I walk past the maid, the smell of marijuana drifting past me for an instant, and up in the bedroom I lock the door and close the shades and take off my clothes and put a movie in the Betamax and get into washed, cool sheets and cry for an hour and try to watch the movie and I take some more Valium and then I ransack the bathroom looking for an old prescription of Nembutal and then I rearrange my shoes in the closet and then I put another movie in the Betamax and then I open the windows and the smell of bougainvillea drifts through the partially closed shades and I smoke a cigarette and wash my face.
I call Martin.
“Hello?” another boy answers.
“Martin?” I ask anyway.
I pause. “Is Martin there?”
“Uh, let me check.”
I can hear the phone being set down and I want to laugh at the idea of someone, some boy, probably tan, young, blond, like Martin, standing in Martin’s apartment, putting the phone down and going to look for him, for anyone, in the small three-room studio but it does not seem that funny after a while. The boy comes back on the line.
“I think he’s at the, um, beach.” The boy doesn’t seem too sure.
I say nothing.
“Would you like to leave a message?” he asks, slyly for some reason, and then, after a pause, “Wait a minute, is this Julie? The girl Mike and I met at 385 North? With the Rabbit?”
I don’t say anything.
“You guys had about three grams on you and a white VW Rabbit.”
I do not say anything.
“You don’t have a VW Rabbit?”
“I’ll call back.”
I hang up, wondering who the boy is and if he knows about me and Martin, and I wonder if Martin is lying on the sand, drinking a beer, smoking a clove cigarette beneath a striped umbrella at the beach club, wearing Wayfarer sunglasses, his hair slicked back, staring out into where the land ends and merges with water, or if he instead is actually on his bed in his room, lying beneath a poster of the Go-Go’s, studying for a chemistry exam and at the same time looking through the car advertisements for a new BMW. I’m sleeping until the tape in the Betamax ends and there’s static.
I am sitting with my son and daughter at a table in a restaurant on Sunset. Susan is wearing a miniskirt that she bought at a store called Flip on Melrose, a store situated not too far from where I burned my finger at lunch with Eve and Faith and Anne. Susan is also wearing a white T-shirt with the words LOS ANGELES written on it in red handwriting that looks like blood that hasn’t quite dried, dripping. Susan is also wearing an old Levi’s jacket with a Stray Cats button pinned to one of the faded lapels and Wayfarer sunglasses. She takes the slice of lemon from her glass of water and chews on it, biting at the rind. I cannot even remember if we have ordered or not. I wonder what a Stray Cat is.
Graham is sitting next to Susan and I am fairly sure that he is stoned. He gazes out past the windows and into the headlights of passing cars. William is making a phone call to the studio. He is in the process of tying up a deal, which is not a bad thing. William has not been specific about the movie or the people in it or who is financing it. Through the trades I have heard rumors that it is a sequel to a very successful in movie that came out during the summer of 1982, about a wisecracking Martian who looks like a big, sad grape. William has been to the phone in the back of the restaurant four times since we arrived and I have the feeling that William leaves the table and just stands in the back of the restaurant, because at the table next to ours is an actress who is sitting with a very young surfer and the actress keeps glaring at William whenever William is at the table and I know that the actress has slept with William and the actress knows I know and when our eyes meet for a moment, an accident, we both turn away abruptly.
Susan begins to hum some song to herself, as she drums her fingers on the table. Graham lights a cigarette, not caring if we say anything about it, and his eyes, red and half closed, water for a moment.
“There’s this, like, funny sound in my car,” Susan says. “I think I better take it in.” She fingers the rim of her sunglasses.