Thursday, July 29, 2010


Gemma is the adolescent girl with wings, a birth defect caused by her mother smoking Fairy Dust.  Gemma is in New York City, searching for her mother, who ran away when Gemma was six.  Earlier posts from Gemma appeared in OGW 9/24/09, 10/29/09, and 2/4/10

Gemma: “Very interesting,” says the woman, peering into my teacup.  “It says here that you must watch out for the hooved poet.”
     “Aren’t you supposed to read the tea leaves?”  I say in a tiny voice, not strong enough to argue, but anxious enough to be a little bitchy about some supposed prophecy coming out of the Lipton tea bag floating in my cup, especially a prophecy that doesn’t tell me shit about where my mother is.  Plus I’m a little p.o’ed at the implication that I have to watch out for a hooved poet, not just any poet -- it seems like racism, or Fant-ism or something, and I take it personally. 
     I feel fragile, and everything seems personal, instead of just maybe this is a crazy old lady who wants some company and wants to give me some tea, and is trying her best.  I’m the one who just wants to cry.  I’m the one with the bad attitude.
     Which is why I let the woman take my hand, and I follow her into a small kitchen with a slanted ceiling on one side, a scarred brown card table with rickety metal poles for legs, a half-sized refrigerator and a teapot shaped like an owl’s head on the stove.  It smells like onions.
     I feel so weak, I can’t even bear to help the woman as she pushes the card table into a corner.  I can’t bear to stand up.
     As if she read my mind, the old woman says, “Sit,” gesturing with a wrinkled, twisted hand, down at the floor, a floor made of a strange assortment of tiles -- patterns, solids, faux stone of gray, brown and red, a row of glossy black granite and a half row of pinkish marble, a large square made of smaller squares of purple and yellow, a circle of blue glass.  She wants me to sit inside the circle.  I don’t think so.
     Goosebumps rise on my arms.  I shiver.
     “You’re cold, just a sec,” she says, stepping into the circle herself.  She spins around, tottering, and I recover enough strength to reach out to steady her, getting a fistful of baby blue tulle which then suddenly I’m afraid will tear, so I let go, and she really sways for a moment, but catches herself. 
     She smiles at me and winks, then closes her eyes, which I wish she wouldn’t do because she’s going to break a hip or something, especially spinning in the long prom dress she’s wearing.  “Spirit of fire, I command you, bring us warmth!”
     It doesn’t feel warmer, but I can’t tell her that, and now that she’s gone to all this trouble, I can’t tell her I wasn’t cold anyway.  My goosebumps are anticipation or fear, but --
     WTF?  She is opening the oven door and turning up the gas.  A whoosh fills the oven with a flash of blue flame, and then heat does ripple out.   
     “So mote it be!”  she yells, which is a strain for her little old lady voice, and for a moment she turns away, bent over with a dry cough that I’m almost afraid won’t stop.  Like I don’t have enough problems, now I’m afraid for this poor old lady who’s supposed to be helping me.  Yet I’m the one gently patting her back.  I can’t believe this crazy lady is my best hope of finding my mother again.  I shudder.

Thursday, July 8, 2010



Lilly:  New Outsider Girl, Lilly, is a teen on her own in San Francisco in the 1990’s.  No home, no job, no life, but surviving thanks to the kindness – or not – of strangers.

Lilly:  San Francisco.  My clubbing years.  My no-real-home years.  Job:  Dancing three nights a week for $75 and free drinks; Troc, Urban Decay, DNA Lounge.  Covers my meth, my E, my weed, my brunch at “R” Bar of bloody mary with shrimp, pickled string beans and celery.  Breakfast of Champions.

I feel like I’m stuck in a permanent weekend.

Sleep wherever I end up.  Today I’m sprawled on a Mexican blanket on someone’s floor.  Can’t remember who.  Is it a she?  A he?  Unusual for me to be on the floor, especially if it’s a he, but often if it’s a she as well.

Mouth dry, lips cracked.  Back aches.  Spine.  Heard when you do Ecstasy your spinal fluid dries up, but I don’t believe it.

Memory:  Dancing afterhours at Chez Luis, basement private club.  E kicking in.  Talking to some girl, name Star.  Talking, talking, talking, yelling over house music spun by DJ Troy, my sometime fuck buddy.  This is not his floor.  Star said, “Where’d you get that New York accent?”  I’m like, “New York.”  She:  “It’s cool.”

Memory:  Huddled against heating unit, naked, crying, pink dildo, trying to jerk off, trying trying trying, can’t.  Curse the tequila at Bar None.  Someone cradles me, picks me up.

Oh that’s how I ended up here.

Push up to sitting.  Naked, great.  Just great.  I frantically scan the room for my duffel, and it’s there on the floor and I grab it, pull it toward me.  Thank God.  Clothes and half a doobie. 

Oh yeah, much better.  Dude or dudette must’ve gone to work?  For coffee?  Bathroom?  No way to know, but don’t care much.  Time for me to exit, stage right.

Locked.  Fucking locked in!  Pound, kick at the door, start screaming in a cracked, desperate voice.  Where am I? 


No one hears.  No one comes.  Palms hurt from banging on the door.  Sink to the floor, clutch the Mexican blanket like Linus does his security blanket.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Nancy is Casey's mother, both from OGW and from the novel I recently finished, Somebody's Daughter.  Nancy's daughter and her friends have been at a party -- their first keg party.  Nancy freaks out and goes looking for them at 3 am.  Read the first 21 pp. of Somebody's Daughter at  Read more from Kayla, Casey, Rain and Nancy in OGW:  10/1, 11/5, 11/12, 12/10, 12/31, 1/14, 2/11, 3/25.

Nancy:   I woke up with a start at three AM, sitting straight up and shaking my head, as if a bucket of water had just been thrown on me.  I rubbed my eyes frantically.  I remember thinking, Something’s wrong!  Casey! and hurrying to her room.  She wasn’t there.  Grabbing my keys and my cell, I was dialing her number as I slid my feet into my Berks.  She didn’t answer, and I left a quick, “Where the hell are you?” message before fumbling with the door downstairs which shit!  -- always stuck in summer.  I threw my shoulder against it and finally smashed through, ran to my car, left the house door open behind me and didn’t care.

Brian Kepler’s house was quiet.  Too quiet.
“Casey!”  I yelled in the backyard.  “Casey!  Casey!”
Backyard strewn with empty and broken bottles.  Pool table in the garage felt torn.  Running, slipping, running, shouting.
“Shut up or I’ll call the cops!”  I heard from the house behind the back fence.
I should’ve called the cops, but I ran into the house through an open door instead, dialing as I went.  “Casey!” I yelled into the house and the phone at the same time, stupid voice mail.  Stupid party.  Stupid mom.
Upstairs, I threw open doors.  Threw open one, and Kayla was in a boy’s bed, but no boy.  She was sleeping, tucked in all nice.   
“Kayla!  Kayla!  Wake up!  Where’s Casey!  Where’s my daughter!”
Kayla opened her eyes, snapping awake the way I had back at home.  “Mrs. Shaw?”  Kayla fumbled under the covers.  “Oh God,” she said.
“Looking for these?” I said, throwing her underpants at her.  “Where is Casey?”
“I don’t--”
“Forget it!  You’re useless.  You stupid little--”  I didn’t say bitch, but I was thinking it as I left the bedroom and continued throwing open doors, shouting as I left open the doors, revealing girls and boys making out, having sex, passed out in vomit, stoned, stupid.  “Casey!”  
The door at the end of the hallway opened, and a boy, Brian, that was who it was, Brian Kepler, I thought.  
He tried to stop me from going in.  “You can’t --”
“Casey!” I yelled, pushing past the boy, into the room.
I froze.
“Look, I don’t know what happened, but I told them they have to go.  I don’t know--”
“Shut UP!”  I yelled in Brian Kepler’s face.  I noticed the top button of his shorts was undone.  He wasn’t wearing a shirt.  “Don’t you move,” I told him.
God help me, I forgot about Casey when I walked into that room.  All I saw was Rain Rikowsky, eyes shut, legs spread. -- (I don’t know how to say this, I’ll just do it) -- a boy with his shirt off and shorts around his ankles, pumping on top of her.  A couple half-naked boys, boys with their zippers undone and their hands moving fast, groans, shouts and cheers swallowed when I’d burst in.  The boy on the bed jumped down and grabbed his shirt off the floor, tried to run.  Brian Kepler stopped him.  I tore a handheld video camera out of another boy’s hand.
“I think you broke my thumb!” he yelled at me.  I slapped him.
“Shut UP!”  I said, rushing to the bed and throwing a stained bloody sheet over Rain’s lower body.  I rushed to her head, I said, “Rain, honey, wake up, Rain, are you there?” Her head lolled.  Someone snickered, but mostly the boys were trying to get away.  Many did escape.  But Brian threw camera boy down and shirtless boy against the wall.  For about half a second I wondered whose side Brian Kepler was on.  He seemed to be on ours.  But I hated him.
I called 911.  I gently stroked Rain’s face.
“Oh God,” I heard from the door.  It was Kayla.  “Rain... Brian... oh God oh God oh God oh--”
Brian tried to hold on to Kayla, but she shoved him, sudden power bursting out of her.  She ran to Rain and held her hand.  I dropped the camera I’d confiscated.  I looked at Kayla.  “Where’s Casey?” I tried to say, but it was hard to talk.  I couldn’t get a breath, and I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t find the ground with my feet anymore.