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VAMPIRE CITY

Sherry Wood

Copyright 2017 Sherry Wood

Smashwords Edition







































Vampire City



A writer unapologetically deals with grief through adventurous sex with a musician who believes he's a vampire, leading to dark fantasies kept in The Vault.













"…I promised myself that I would try to close myself off emotionally to the world and trust no one."

-Marilyn Manson, The Long Hard Road out of Hell









































Part 1

All The Airplanes Are Going To Fly Away Tonight





Part 2

House of Correction





Part 3

Like Trent Reznor





Part 4

Gian





Part 5

Tell Him I Have His Fang









































For Mario and Marilyn















Part 1

All The Airplanes Are Going To Fly Away Tonight







1

October 2017

Nothing’s gonna change, nothing’s gonna change the world, Marilyn Manson sang on full blast through the speakers I had lined up on the bathroom sink. The fact that the room was so small and wet made the song even more of a banger.

Earlier today, unseasonably warm weather finally broke and there was a chill in the air that reminded me of better nights in my life. I needed danger again. I needed something. If I could find the will to seek danger, I could find the will to keep living.

My roommate’s vanilla snowflake candle burned. The smell was a bit much, but it added to the cloudy atmosphere I wanted to create.

I was constantly bewildered by the fact that I was still alive.

Everything was wet because my bath was that hot – too hot for my skin. I knew this. Maybe the goal was to pass out. To be feverish and feel like I was melting. To be the wetness on the floor someone else would wipe up and that would be that. No more Sherry to deal with.

As I stepped into the bathtub, I felt my skin baking. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. Everything about me seemed to speed up and somehow slow down at the same time.

If you die when there’s no one watching

Then your ratings drop and you’re forgotten

But if they kill you on their TV

You’re a martyr and a lamb of god

The song played on and on. It was the day after the Las Vegas massacre, dubbed the deadliest mass shooting committed by one individual. It was all over the news, Facebook, Twitter. It was also a few days after Marilyn Manson almost died when a giant metal prop of guns fell and crushed him on stage.

The accident made me fall in love with him all over again and thankful that unlike Bowie, Scott Weiland and Prince, that he was still alive. I needed his vitriol back in my life. I wished I had the poster I had on my wall when I was sixteen back in my life too.

My heartbeat sped up and my face got redder and hotter as I immersed myself in the steamy bath. I felt very lightheaded. The walls were melting. The mirror was streaky. This was one lethal bath.

Not good enough.

I turned the hot water on – amazed that I hadn’t used it all up yet. Then again the hot water supply in the Rossi house was plentiful. The bubble bath I used was Oil of Olay’s Almond Milk. It was cloudy too. Nothing better than slipping into a nice hot cloud. It almost looked like semen.

I turned the music up loud as it could go. I wanted it to rape me.

I felt so woozy, so wonderful, so extremely out of it. I picked up my beer, a dark full-bodied fall ale, and took a sip. I could die like this and it would be fine.

All of my nightmares had come true, and all of my dreams too. So what was left?

The hand towel was hanging dangerously low near the snowflake candle’s flame.

Nothing’s gonna change the world. Lamb of God was the best song. It was weird how I could feel the same emotions at 42 that I did at age 18, when I was in love with Marilyn Manson, in love with rock n roll, and didn’t understand fuck else, and that was okay, and I stood in various parking lots waiting for the band. Waiting for that attention.

I got out of the bathtub. There was always this fear that I’d slip, knock over my glass of beer, cut myself terribly and bleed out everywhere. When this never happened, I felt both relief and just a bit of disappointment.

My face was extremely hot and swollen. I made it to my bed. My heart was slamming around in my chest and my skin was bright red and warm as a summer’s dream. All the smoke and condensation on the bathroom walls had entered my brain.

I wrapped myself up in cool white towels I’d purposely left by the open window so they’d be kissed by the fall night air.

I wrapped them around my red, wet naked body and fell to the bed, his music still playing on and on.

A numbness took over. It was euphoric. Almost as good as being in Mario’s arms.

The orgasm in the bathtub mixed with the heat and the drinks and the music paved a straight path into wonderful unconsciousness.

I laid in bed feeling like I was about to have a heart attack or heatstroke or maybe both at the same time, and my face felt like one big melting piece of candy, but it was all incredibly peaceful. I was too hot and sick to feel any more pain.

The fall night air slipped through the window. It might be the last thing to touch me.

The other song with the lyric nothing’s gonna change my world started running through my head.

That song and the one I listened to in my parching bath kept interfering with each other…

Nothing’s gonna change the world

Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes

They call me on and on across the universe

Lamb of God have mercy on us

Jai guru deva om…



2

October 2015

The Pub was dark and cold and exactly what I was looking for. It was mid-October, but it didn't feel like fall in New York and I hated that because it didn't represent any type of mood, but it was dark and cold in the bar.

The weather today was just "nice." It should be cool and mysterious and everyone should be in trench coats so they at least looked interesting. Weather changes moods, as Kurt Cobain once said, and it wasn’t changing.

I tossed my leather jacket into the booth rather moodily and slid into the booth so I was sitting next to it. One last New York brunch and then it was off to the south for who knew how long. I already felt like I was losing everything and this wasn’t even the first wave.

The dark wooden interior of the bar was relaxing. It was almost impossible to know it was daytime out. I played with my leather jacket, balling it up, even cradling it like a leather baby. Eventually I straightened it out and put it on. I took my leather jacket everywhere I went because it gave me a sense of comfort. Maybe it was a sort of security blanket. Also, because it was such a balmy October, some places and even the subway still blasted the AC.

Eddie left the house in just jeans and a t-shirt and looked cold. He even started blowing on his knuckles as we waited to order. I guess it was pretty cold in here. I guess I was annoying him again, this time with the chilly restaurant I'd picked.

"This okay?" I checked.

"Yes." He said. "It's close to where you need to catch the bus."

"Don't remind me," I muttered. I pulled my jacket over my chest. I didn't bother with a bra today and I could feel my nipples sharpen against my Orwells t-shirt. The Orwells was my favorite band and the most exciting thing to happen to rock n roll since 1994. The fact that their singer Mario Cuomo was a strapping blonde with eyes bluer than Kurt Cobain’s didn’t hurt.

The waitress came over the minute we sat down

because she had no other customers besides two guys at the bar staring at the game on the TV. They didn't seem interested in food - I wasn't even sure if they knew they were in a restaurant because they were so immersed in the game.

It was barely eleven on a Saturday morning. We were in Midtown. It was a nice day, even if it was unseasonably warm. The sky was blue as far as I could see – nothing interrupting it but the skyscrapers. I couldn't stop thinking about things Eddie and I would do today if things were normal between us again. We would go to the flea market on 25th street, find weird stuff, buy weird stuff, grab lunch somewhere - maybe at that place that had the three-dollar pitchers of sangria. There were still cheap places left uneaten by gentrification and we knew them all. Then we'd walk through Central Park together and find all the places where the leaves had fallen. I'd play on the swings while listening to my favorite songs (I’ve yet to find a better swing set for adults than the one in Central Park) while he sat on those big grey rocks and read a book. Then we'd eventually go back home or maybe take in a movie.

But things were anything but normal. We didn't do things like that together anymore. He was ready to move on and I had to, whether I was ready or not. The relationship I'd been in with Eddie for fifteen years was ending. We'd grown tired of each other. I don't think we were ever really compatible sexually anyway. I was submissive and he wasn't dominant - but it was more than just that. It was more than just his inability to satisfy my darkest fantasies (and most guys couldn’t because they were terribly dark), now he was already back out on the dating scene and realizing there were better people out there – women less damaged than me.

I myself couldn't fathom going out there. Talking about myself. The who what when why. Hearing someone talk about himself. Joining dating sites was something I couldn't bring myself to doing yet – creating a profile, listing my favorite movies and was I a smoker and did I have pets. It just seemed so unoriginal.

My mother's health was suffering. I had to go home and see her and visit my cousin, who'd been in and out of jail since he got out of the hospital – he caught on fire after working on a fuse box at a Wal-Mart and a piece of metal contacted a live wire.

I needed to find a new place to live, and Eddie suggested I do that while down south. It was cheaper down there. New York was getting more expensive and being erased at the same time.

I had my carry-on bag down by my feet. After brunch I was going to commute on busses and planes to North Carolina. I didn't know about my cousin's current mental state. When Byron was a child, he was awfully disruptive and abusive. I'm sure the fire he was in a few years ago didn't help. He got a million dollar settlement from the accident and bought a house with it in Charlotte and a few new cars and his mom, my Aunt Venus, moved in with him.

We could have fun, he said. Go somewhere and spend some money. Whatever he meant by fun was what scared me. Neither of us were exactly stable.

I looked down at the menu. It was time to make a simple decision and I was grateful for that. That decision being what to eat. And another - what to drink. This would be my last chance to get a decent meal until tonight, once I landed at my final destination of Charlotte, North Carolina. Beforehand, I had to take a bus to New Jersey, a plane from New Jersey to Philadelphia, a plane from Philly to Atlanta, and another plane from Atlanta to Charlotte, and a ride from the airport to my cousin's house in the woods somewhere.

I ordered the chicken on rye with avocado, fries and a beer. I got a rye beer to go with the rye bread of my sandwich. And people said I didn’t have my shit together.

It was quite early for a drink but whatever, my nerves were shot. I hadn't seen my cousin in about a decade. It had been even longer since I'd seen my mom. And then there was my dad which I wasn't ready to even think about. Those big sad blue eyes and whatever went through my father’s mind that he could never speak of. A lifelong stutter kept him in a constant state of silence. We had maybe one conversation throughout our entire relationship, and that was about Jack Kerouac. I’d been reading On the Road and became obsessed with it so I brought it up to my dad. I was surprised to learn that dad was a fan when he told me in a McDonalds that had read On the Road too. It was the one time I felt like I’d bonded with him. I’d been so happy that day.

"WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" A giant cheer erupted from the two sports fans at the bar, making my nerves even worse.

The only time I thought about sports was in a certain fantasy I had about my favorite singer of the band The Orwells, Mario Cuomo. It was a naughty one that included me serving him barefoot while he watched the game and maybe him slapping me around some when his team started to lose. That was one from the Rock Star Dark Fantasies Vault. I went there when things in my life got really bad.

"What are you thinking about?" Eddie asked.

"Sports."

He made a face and continued to look cold. I had no idea when things started to run off the tracks as far as our relationship was concerned. Maybe it was when he banged his secretary right in front of my face at a New Year’s Eve party years ago. Maybe it was all the late night calls I made to a boy in London I met when I modeled for Suicide Girls. Maybe it was the solider in Iraq. The skateboarder in Indiana with the insanely big penis. I had no idea. But now we wanted different things, and I had to be more assertive and fearless and make things happen for myself. That would all start with this week-long trip home to North Carolina.



3

“I guess I’m thinking about…looking for a new place,” I eventually said.

Eddie perked up. “In Charlotte?”

I shrugged. “Maybe.”

Charlotte was the “big city” in North Carolina. But after living in New York and Chicago, I had a feeling it just wouldn’t quite measure up.

I knew I should be eating faster, and I didn't have time to order another drink because my bus would arrive in about thirty minutes. I did anyway.

"Maybe this trip will make you realize how good you have it here - because I feel like you take everything for granted." Here came the lectures.

I just sat quietly and let Eddie say whatever he wanted to say.

Did I cook it to your liking? I asked him as he watched the game with his baseball cap on turned backwards. He eventually looked at me with those baby blues.


“No,” Mario would say, clinching his jaw. He was angry. He gave me that unflinching stare – the one he gave fans sometimes on stage right before saying something offensive or just plunging into the next song. He stood up as I got on my knees to beg for forgiveness, and his angelic blonde hair would sweep over his shoulders as his fists curled to punish me.

“Please.” I’d shut my eyes and prepare for his masculine fury.



“You guys need anything else?” the waitress asked. I shoved the Mario fantasy into the vault for now. I’d write them out on the bus later, maybe. I had to occupy myself somehow on the long hours of commuting.

I looked up at the waitress as I drifted in and out of fantasyland.

“No,” I said.

The next several minutes ran through my fingers like water. I didn't feel like I took things for granted - I still appreciated and recognized the good things. Music. Hot lattes on chilly mornings. Walks through Central Park. My fluffy ginger cat Booboo. My old wooden writing desk. I was also grateful for building my own client list and making my freelance writing career work. It hadn’t been easy. After getting rejection letters from agents, I about gave up. Then I discovered Smashwords and Twitter and just went for it anyway. I’d written and published my own books and gained enough respect on my own to actually turn it into a kind of career.

So I was grateful. I wasn't blind to the sunny spots on the floor. I just didn’t say it out loud then. I was saving my energy.

"Is she coming?" I mumbled, picking up my heavy carry-on bag from the floor. We were just waiting for the check now.

"Who?" Eddie asked.

"Taylor Swift. Who do you think I mean?" I was a bit grouchy. I was very anxious about this trip. I didn’t want to go – I had to go. Little did I know right then that it would be the start of a grueling pattern.

I was so scared. Was my mom really that sick? She was constantly going to the doctor. Sometimes she was too tired to even talk on the phone. What kind of deranged state was my cousin in? He bit my sister's finger so hard when she was little he nearly tore it off. It happened a couple of days before Halloween in the late 80s. I remember the neighbors across the street, The Kennedys, and their enormous piles of leaves they raked up on either side of their walkway to the porch, and we’d jump in them for fun. One time a spider bit me but it never stopped me from joyously jumping back in, or kicking up a heap of leaves into the autumn air.

On one of these particular evenings, me and my sister thought it would be fun to cut holes in a white bed sheet and drape it over her and have her pretend to be a ghost. She scared the crap out of Byron so he grabbed her hand and chomped right down on it. All I remember was blood gushing over the white sheet and her screaming and it turned into a real scene of horror other than the phone one we meant to create. He was ten years old at the time. His behavior worsened from there. When I was eleven, he threw a ceramic airplane at my head, causing me to get stitches. He peed in my closet all over my toys on more than one occasion, too. My toy piano that I loved madly had sticky yellow congealed urine between the keys by the time my mom discovered it and we had to throw it out.

He spent his teenager years doing drugs and robbing liquor stores. Eventually he decided to clean up his act and got a job as an electrician, and that was when the accident happened.

"Sarah?" Eddie politely responded to my inquiry. His voice was low and Libra-calm.

"Yes." I decided I was still hungry and popped a cold piece of toasted bun in my mouth. “Sarah,” I said. Sarah was his new girlfriend.

"Yes, on Tuesday."

I tried not to cry. This would be the first of many attempts to hold big tears back over the next two years. I stared at my water, and then I zeroed in on the piece of lemon in it until it became a big fat yellow blur.

"You okay?" Eddie asked, shivering from the opposite end of the table.

"Mmhmm."

“You can move on too,” he said. “There’s plenty of guys out there. You’re an exciting person.”

He meant sexually – I think.

“I feel like I’ve dated everybody.” As funny as that sounded, it felt true. Prostitutes, musicians, skateboarders, yuppies.

“You guys have a nice day,” the waitress said, dropping the check off. People were starting to pile in now, lazily starting their day. I was jealous of them all.



I was thinking of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Eddie and I first met, as I boarded the bus. It was the spring of 2000. That sweet smell of honey suckle and backyard barbecues ruled the air. We saw High Fidelity at the theatre - and we had sex that night - on our first date. What he must have thought of me. It probably wasn't anything worse than he thought of me now.

I shifted in my seat. If I could just get passed the fact that I gave him fifteen years I would never get back, I might be able to move on, but I couldn't. Most of my friends married a long time ago, already had kids – some of their kids were even having kids by now. It was crazy. Why was I so different from them? Eddie and I discussed having kids once and he said I’d make a terrible mother.

I watched Eddie walk towards 34th Street. He looked so free now. He looked happy. He no longer looked like he was freezing to death.



4

The bus had the AC on so I pulled my leather jacket over my chest, slipped my fat Skullcandy headphones over my ears and tried to get lost in music and the teeming darkness of my imagination. I told myself not to think about the full day of commuting; just get through one hurdle at a time. Have a drink here and there, buy a magazine. The day won't last forever.

My phone was ringing. It was my mom. I didn't answer.

I just listened to my music and kept my eye on the window as the chaos of Midtown fizzled out and suddenly I was in New Jersey.

I've never seen a diamond in the flesh.

Maybe I'd listen to my mom's voice mail at the airport if I could bring myself to. I knew it would be so depressing. Why are you such an asshole? At least be a published, well known writer and earn your asshole-ism.

Okay fine. There was nothing else to do at Newark Airport anyway. I sat at my gate and took my phone out and played my mom's voicemail. Every time she called, she sounded worse in every way. Even more depressed. Even more mad at the world. Even sicker. She was nearing seventy and had a mental illness that had gone untreated her entire life.

"Sherry…this is your mom, listen…I'm not doing well, I had to go to my doctor so…I don't know what time you're getting here so…this really isn't a good time. I want to see you and all. But just call me before you come over. If you can. Okay. Bye."

I put my phone back in my bag. So now she didn't want to see me? All she ever said when she called was how I never came down to visit. How much she missed me. Why didn't I just stay in Chapel Hill? Why did I move to New York?

Sometimes I asked myself that too. Why New York? What did you think you'd find between all those skyscrapers, all the people running around so fast they forgot where it was they were rushing off to?

Eddie got a job in New York so we moved there together a few months after 9/11, vowing to make it. It was a struggle to keep our heads above water but I always thought we’d be there forever. I never thought we’d end.

And now it was all starting to crumble.

A few weeks ago I had a very painful conversation with my mother in which she admitted she had higher hopes for me and was disappointed with how I turned out. How my life turned out. Eddie and I never got married. She saw me as a failed writer. It hurt so much, so much that I just stopped answering when she called. If I'm so disappointing than why do you want to talk to me, I bitterly thought.

I went directly to the bar and downed a beer before I got on the plane. I just wouldn’t think about them. I wouldn’t think about my parents. Maybe on the next plane. Or the plane after that. Or in my Aunt Venus's bedroom later tonight when I'm in that house in the woods. But not right now.

And I wouldn't think about Eddie and Sarah. I wouldn't think about her sleeping on my side of the bed. I wouldn't think about all the places we'd been that they’d go to together now, or how she'd pet my cat while I was gone, or embark into my writing area where my desk was to do her yoga exercises.

I would force myself to think about something else. Anything else. The Vault was getting darker and deeper too. One day I might just plunge into it to never return.

I sat down at the gate and dealt with the awkward moment of total strangers glancing up at me for something else to look at besides the gadgets in their hand, or newspapers or whatever. Everyone had something in their hand these days. I took my phone back out just to look busy. No one had texted. Why did I expect Eddie to text me? Hey, I‘m so sorry about everything, let's just start over. That shit only happened in movies.

I waited anxiously for the minute when I was on the plane - way, way high up in the sky above this world that felt so betraying.

I wanted my favorite possessions between my feet and a cold drink in my hand as the plane got immersed in a big white cloud. Just vast white nothingness.

You had to start over.

I took a deep breath as the first class people were called first. I was section 3. I picked up my bag and got in line, received my "enjoy your flight" from the stewardess and looked at the numbers above the seats until I found mine. I had the window seat and there was a big elderly man on the aisle seat. The flight would be short. I placed my Rolling Stone magazine in my lap. There'd be no picture of my favorite singer. Mario Cuomo was tragically underrated. Here came the clouds.



5

Not From The Vault:

The year was 1995 and summer was winding down. I had to wait until my mom fell asleep and then I picked up my piano phone and pressed the piano keys on it to dial Shannon’s number, and I had to whisper even though I was so excited, “She’s asleep oh my god, oh my god…”

“I’m on my way over.” Shannon hung up, not wasting a second. Shannon was more anxious than me. I knew she was already out of the house once I hung up and began quietly opening my drawers to find all my stockings. Pulling on the gold handle made the drawer wobble and then the gold handle flopped down against the wood and it seemed loud, probably louder than it actually was. I waited for all the tiny sounds to end and started rummaging through my stockings collection. I couldn’t decide between the fishnet or the white and black striped ones that came up to my thigh, but I had a feeling we were going to meet the band – we were going to meet Marilyn Manson – so I had to look good. I was short and flatchested, so I didn’t have a lot going for me at seventeen years old.

Then I hesitated. I was getting paranoid. I had to walk down the long flight of creaky stairs which descended into the living room and mom was sleeping on the couch. If she saw me dressed up in these stockings and combat boots, she would know I was up to something and I was absolutely forbidden to go to the show tonight. If I was just in my usual clothes, I could lie and say I was going outside for some fresh air because I couldn’t sleep. I did go to the sketchy park between here and the golf course sometimes. All I knew was I had to hurry up because Shannon was on her way and nothing would suck more than missing Marilyn Manson perform because they were the opening act, and just getting there in time to see Danzig.

I heard a slight beep outside in the parking lot. Shit. Shannon must have beeped her horn without thinking it through. It was only half of a beep. It was the saddest sound, like she was trying to go back and erase it.

I paused – one leg in one stocking and the other stocking dangling between my legs. I was trying to hear if my mother was awake. I didn’t hear a sound other than the engine of Shannon’s little red Toyota.

I got my stockings on and pulled my green cargo shorts over them. I went with the black and white striped tights. It didn’t matter what kind of underwear I had on but I chose the white cotton ones with the little grey airplanes. I had a jumbo sharpie with me – the same one I used to write I LOVE TWIGGY all over my composition notebook, just in case I met him and I wanted him to sign some part of my clothing.

The walk down the staircase felt like it stretched from one end of the world to the other. Each step inhabited its own little creak. I could see my mom sleeping on the couch once I was halfway down the stairs. She was facing the backrest of the couch. My parents stopped sleeping in the same room when I was twelve.

The fact that she had her back to the room gave me a bit of relief. At least if she opened her eyes she wouldn’t see me, and maybe she’d just go back to sleep.

I had four more steps to get down. I could see the glare of Shannon’s headlights hitting the dark pavement of the parking lot. Freedom was so close. Rock stars were so close. I just had to make it down these four little steps. My eyes shot up from the steps when my mom moved, but it must have been related to a dream because she didn’t actually wake up.

That feeling that something crazy was going to happen tonight swelled in my stomach. Oh to be out there, in her car, and we’d make our safe getaway to the show. I walked each step incredibly slow despite how bad I just wanted to dart out of the house. To make things worse, the apartment was infested with camelback crickets. They were drumstick-shaped crickets with extremely large hind legs and for whatever reason they’d taken a liking to our home. In Japan, they were referred to as “toilet crickets.” Their absurd long legs gave them the ability to jump really high and on the second to the last step, one jumped right up at me and nearly hit my face. I didn’t know how I managed to keep the scream in, but I held it together because this was for Twiggy.

Once I was outside in the parking lot, my grand escape was almost complete. The air was nice and cool. I whisper-screamed “OH MY GOD” before slipping in her car.

“Oh shit,” Shannon squealed as we pulled away. Cake and Sodomy was playing in her CD player and we started seat-dancing to it.

WHITE TRASH GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES TIME FOR CAKE AND SODOMY.

“Like, I feel sick,” I giggled. Because it was happening. We were going to see the most controversial band in the world.

I looked back at the dark parking lot of Carolina Grove Apartments and saw the front porch light to my apartment come on.

“Oh shit – she woke up,” I said.

“Oh shit…” Shannon started to look back just as we were about to pull out onto Jake Alexander Boulevard.

“Just go – go – I’ll deal with it later.”

Shannon didn’t argue, and before long we were speeding down Statesville Boulevard and eventually we found ourselves on Julian Road, a quiet stretch of road that would lead us to Winston Salem, where the show was.



6

Twiggy Ramirez was the bassist in Marilyn Manson. Shannon and I both had big crushes on him and the singer Marilyn Manson. All the members of the band took their first name from a glamorous icon and their last name from a serial killer. Twiggy got his stage name from the model Twiggy and the night stalker/serial rapist, Richard Ramirez, who would crawl through women’s windows in the middle of the night, rape them and strangle them with pantyhose. Twiggy was beautiful, I’d seen him without makeup. He was nearly 6’0, a Gemini (so he probably had an evil twin), with dark eyes and dark hair that sprouted like a wild plant and seemed to cover the universe with inky darkness. He was skinny too. Something about the way he did his makeup made him stand out as the extra spooky one in the Spooky Kids.

Shannon glanced over at me once we were halfway to the show. I had my long blonde hair parted into two ponytails held by wooden clothespins, which I’d taken off the clothesline earlier today. Mom was impressed that I helped her take the laundry in. We saved money by washing the clothes in the sink and letting the sun dry them. But the whole chore was a ploy to get the clothespins because I thought they’d look cool in my hair. I hid them in a towel and let them dry because it had rained this morning.

“You look cute,” Shannon said, ruining it.

“Cute??” I didn’t want to look cute. I wanted to look like I belonged at a Marilyn Manson/Danzig show, because some of their fans were crazy. I glanced in the rearview mirror. The wooden clothespins stuck up like tiny wooden devil horns from my head and my long blonde ponytails came down to my shoulders. I put some blue glitter blush on my cheeks. I did look cute.

“I look like a gay unicorn,” I sulked.

“Oh, no, you look cool,” Shannon tried to build me back up.

I kept glancing at myself in the rearview mirror. I would just have to deal with it because I obviously couldn’t go back home and change after sneaking out. I guess I was short and blonde and blue-eyed and screamed innocent no matter how many rain-battered wooden clothespins I put in my hair. I guess the stockings didn’t do much for me either.

“What?” Shannon didn’t see why I’d taken offense.

“Nothing, cool, thanks.”

Shannon had long curly hair dyed purple, her tongue pierced, and had nice muscles from her stint as head cheerleader still gave her arms nice tone. She was very pretty but she could also hold her own in a rough crowd. She was tall and just had that look. I was the complete opposite. I wondered if being in the moshpit to her was kind of like a rough version of cheerleading, because she was used to throwing people up in the air.

“You look good too,” I complimented.

We were trying to remain calm – mature – but after a few more minutes we broke down into another series of giggles and “Oh my god’s” and I rolled the window down and shouted to the highway as trucks passed us by going in the opposite direction on Highway 29.

“I’M GOING TO SEE TWIGGY!!! AND THE CHICKENS!!!”

Shannon laughed as she pulled into the venue. In a recent interview when Twiggy was asked how they came up with their songs, his only response was, “The chickens.” We thought it was hysterical.

“He’s just so weird,” I chuckled, settling down as we inched closer to the nondescript building where the show was. The street it was off of was a strip of fast food restaurants and lone gas stations. The sky was blue with pink clouds and a series of traffic lights all blinked yellow.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” I was giggling and squirming around in my seat. The scent of Shannon’s Manic Panic hair dye filled up the car. The parking lot was rather small and the only spot left by the time we arrived was a space behind a huge silver and purple tour bus. We glanced at each other, giggled, and got out of the car. Across the street at a gas station was a pile of rusty cages with live chickens inside of them.

“Oh my god, the chickens,” I pointed, laughing.

“That is seriously weird,” Shannon said.

“Are you getting in the pit?” I asked her on the way in. This was kind of a dive bar, and we went in through the side entrance where some beefy bald guy let us through.

“Yeah,” Shannon eventually answered my question as we went into a small grey room with a stage just big enough for the bands. There was a rumor that Marilyn Manson kissed girls who were in front of the stage with his red painted lips so they were marked as girls he wanted backstage, then backstage he’d release his penis from his rubber underwear and screw the girls as Twiggy sacrificed chickens or something to that nature. If I didn’t make myself available right in front of the stage then my chances of meeting him were slim to none. Then again, if I was one of the girls he didn’t bother kissing, that would suck too.

The people up front intimidated me, like the girl with the long red hair who had her elbows on the barrier, more than claiming her spot front and center, and glared back at me when I even tried to stand directly behind her. She had bruises and freckles all over her arms. The bruises may have been from being a moshpit warrior, or something else. Who knew.

I ended up standing back some so I was by the side door we’d entered through. I was the most inexperienced, shy virgin and I never felt like I belonged in any particular group. The outsiders at school had sex and did drugs. Some of the rich preppy kids were quiet but I was poor so they wouldn’t hang out with me. I just constantly felt out of place, but because of all the things that happened at home, I understood the anger and rebellion of certain music. When the lights went out and the band came on stage about to perform the songs that got me through everything – there was no feeling like it in the world. And with this particular band, there was a feeling of danger and mischief. It was addictive.

Shannon found me after Marilyn Manson performed, all sweaty, and her face was swollen but she was so giddy.

“Holy shit,” she said. “That was insane.”

“Are you okay?” I just asked.

“Yeah,” she looked away as if embarrassed she’d gotten pelted in the moshpit. Or maybe she was upset that Manson hadn’t marked her with his red lips.


The Danzig crowd was even more hostile and I wasn’t enjoying his performance. I got a headache during Mother so I coaxed Shannon into going out to the parking lot. We went to hang out by her car.

In the glare of the parking lot lampposts all we could see was a tall thin guy with dark hair standing by the silver and purple tour bus we parked behind. At first I thought it was Marilyn Manson.

“That’s Twiggy,” Shannon gasped.

“No!” Our squeals caught his attention and he lifted his hand, which was wrapped in white gauze, and waved at us. He had on a green dress and his makeup made him look like a deranged nurse about to go on a killing spree.

He waved us over.

“Oh. My. God. I’m going to pee myself,” I giggled.

“Chill,” Shannon said. I think her swollen face was bothering her – I think she got punched in the moshpit and I imagined it was that mean girl with the red hair. “Go, I’ll be there in a second,” she said, raising a coke can to her red, puffy cheek.

I looked back at Twiggy, who was now talking to a girl dressed as a cat. It was the kind of costume I wore for Halloween when I was ten.

I started to walk over to him, black jumbo sharpie in hand, when Shannon yelled at me from her car.

“You dropped a clothespin!” she was teasing me, and Twiggy looked up at me as I went over to him and Cat Girl walked away.

“Hey.” My voice was barely above a whisper. I looked up at him. He towered over me and all I saw for a moment was his big, dark brown eyes and handsome Roman nose.

“Hey,” he said back. His voice was low but deep.

“That was a really cool show…um, would you sign my shorts?”

“Yeah sure.” He took my sharpie in his hand that was all wrapped up like he’d cut himself, but it was impossible to tell if it was real or part of his whole look.

His lipstick was smeared over his lips so it looked like his mouth went from one ear to the other – sort of like the joker – and his eyes looked like two big black holes. His face was painted white.

“Oh’d you hurt your hand?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” then he went into some story about something happening to him on stage. Then he got down on his knees with the sharpie and pulled on the left leg of my shorts and pointed to a spot next to my zipper.

“Here okay?” he asked, taking the cap off the sharpie before aiming his brown eyes up at me and a whiff of the jet-black ink went straight up my nose and I imagined my whole brain becoming a black puff of smoke.

“Um, yeah.” I sort of parted my feet a little. He looked up at me again. I stared at his square jaw, and wondered what went through his head when he smeared his lipstick on like that.

“Where do you want the T?” he asked.

“Anywhere…”

So he signed my shorts near the crotch, going outward to my thigh. I couldn’t see the T because he wrote it between my legs, but I felt the T. I definitely felt the T.

“Sorry, it’s taking a while because of my hand,” he said. It almost didn’t seem like his mouth was moving because of all the lipstick.

“It’s okay.” I parted my legs some more and stared over at Shannon, who stared back at us bewildered.

“What the hell?” she mouthed. I just stared at her wide-eyed.

I looked down at Twiggy’s dreadlocks. His hair looked like a giant fuzzy spider busting out of the top of his head. I lifted my hand and started to touch his hair, since the sharpie was still roaming around between my legs.

“You can touch it,” he said. I barely put my hand down in his hair the way one might if they were feeling curious about touching a flame to see how bad it would burn.

His signature took a while because his hand was hurt and he was pressing and pressing. He stood up and smiled.

“That okay?” he asked. With his lipstick the way it was it made him look like half of his face was smiling and the other half was dark eyes. His dreadlocks flopped around.

I couldn’t see the autograph in the dark. I tried to see it. I pulled my shorts up and tried to arrange them in an effort to read my first rock star signature.

“It’s cool. Thank you.”

He nodded and stared down at me. I’d never been so scared and so excited in my life. We waited for Marilyn Manson but he never made an appearance, which only made him more godlike to me. (Or antichrist-like). I’d heard Marilyn was very shy, except when he was on stage and felt in control of it all. He was probably partying backstage – hopefully not with the redhead.



7

Shannon and I giggled about my shorts the entire ride home back to Salisbury. A bunch of “what the hells” infested with giggles.

“He said he hurt his hand,” I said.

“How?”

“I don’t know, I think someone threw a bottle on stage.”

“Was it bloody?” Shannon inquired.

“I don’t know, yeah, or maybe it was lipstick.” The smeared light of the parking lot made everything askew.

I made it through the door at four in the morning, crept up to my room without my mom ever waking up. I took the shorts off, carefully folded them and placed them on top of a throw in the closet and went to bed.

A week later, my mom did laundry while I was at work at my job at Record Bar in the mall. When I walked in, I saw her leaning over the kitchen sink, soapy water sloshing around and splashing over the counter’s edge and a bottle of cheap detergent by the toaster. I ran upstairs and stared at the throw without my shorts on top of it and ran back down the stairs too mad and fast to care about the jumping crickets.

“MOM!!” with the crazy way I screamed you would think I was being murdered. I ran to the sink and pulled the wet balled up green shorts out of the sink. “MOM!!” I screamed again, spread the legs and looked at the crotch where there was now just a black smudge. Water was dripping all over the floor.

“Sherry, what are you doing?” Mom yelled.

“YOU WASHED THEM! YOU WASHED HIM OFF!”

“What are you talking about?”

“His autograph.” The words left my mouth in hushed regret just like Shannon’s faint apology of a horn the other night, once she realized it was a mistake. I’d just confessed that I’d gone to the show. It was too late now.

“Whose…autograph?” mom snapped. Her arms were crossed over her chest and her cheeks were sunken in and her face was turning red with anger. She waited for me to respond.

“Twiggy’s…”

Mom gave me a weird look, but she’d heard the moniker before, and seen it written on my notebooks and knew enough to know it was not the British iconic model I was referring to.


“Marilyn Manson?” she said, snatching the shorts out of my hand. “You weren’t supposed to go and I want to know why he signed your shorts there,” she demanded, waving the shorts at me and slinging cold soapy water everywhere. It stung my eyes. Dad glanced up from his Salisbury Post to look at the leaky shorts balled up in mom’s hand but his intrigue was very shortlived and he looked back in his paper again.

“Answer me, Sherry, why did he sign them there! He could have signed them anywhere.”

“Because…that’s the place that soaks up the most ink.” I had no idea why I said that, but mom was not amused.

“Get upstairs!”

I wasn’t going to protest that, because I didn’t want to be down here. She’d ruined my shorts. I started to take them anyway, thinking I could salvage them, maybe once they dried his autograph would still be there, though faded.

“Nuh uh!” she snapped, tossing them on the counter by the toaster. “You are NEVER getting those back!” she pointed her finger at me and I felt like she was seconds from hitting me like she’d hit my sister once.


“I HATE YOU SO MUCH!” I just exploded. Years later I’d regret it, but right then I was just so livid. I ran upstairs and slammed the door and stared at the same spot on the wall for the next hour. I’d had a remarkable meeting with my favorite bassist and he did a remarkable thing with me, with my shorts and now they were ruined and I had soap in my eyes instead – HOW – how did that happen? Mothers. That was how.


A timid knock happened to my door a few minutes later.

“Huh,” I muttered, my stinging eyes still peeled to the wall. Beyond it was The Vault. Beyond each wall of a disappointing room was The Vault. Steps that led down to the craziest things you could do with the most fabulous, famous people in the world.

“Sherry, can I come in?” mom asked. She certainly didn’t sound mad anymore. She’d unknowingly gotten the perfect revenge for me disobeying her and sneaking out of the house by washing his name off of my crotch.

“Yeah,” I said.

She walked in, the controversial green shorts in her hand. They’d dried some. She placed them on my bed.

“I didn’t mean to upset you, but you have to realize it was an inappropriate thing for him to do.”

I didn’t say anything at first.

“He asked me…where to sign them,” I just said. Then she didn’t know what to say at all.

I reached for the shorts and inspected them. I noticed fresh ink over Twiggy’s autograph.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“I tried to go over the name for you.”

“What?!” I looked at the thin blue ink she used to go over the thicker black lettering.

“I thought it would help.” Mom honestly didn’t know what to do at this point. Years later I’d think back and realize she was just being nice, but it didn’t matter then. She’d just ruined the entire point.

“DO YOU NOT GET WHAT AN AUTOGRAH IS?! ARE YOU THAT STUPID?” I threw them across the floor and started crying.

Mom looked extremely hurt. She turned and left to go back downstairs.

Later that afternoon, I asked Mom if I could go to Denny’s with Shannon. She wouldn’t look up at me and I could tell she’d been crying. She gave a meek “yes” and I left.


8

“I mean was it that big of a deal? And now I have my mom’s autograph on the crotch of my shorts.”

Shannon laughed darkly. “That’s crazy. Well maybe you’ll meet him again.”

“No, I don’t think so. I think it was a one-time thing. She said I can’t go to concerts for a year.”

Shannon looked completely torn up by the news.

“You have to go to ‘Palooza,” Shannon stated. She looked up at me, seeing how upset I was. The whole fight had drained me.

Shannon started to collect all the tiny half and half creamers that were in a bowl by the napkin dispenser. It was that time of night. She started to stack them on top of each other. The bottom row had seven little containers and the next one, six, and the next one five and so forth.

“Look, I’m building you a milk castle, you and Twiggy can live in it.”

I just started laughing before the whole thing collapsed. It may have been due to the family of loud kids and unhappy parents that made an obnoxious entrance. The door slammed behind them, causing commotion and the whole castle collapsed. I picked up my knife and took one of the little half and half creamers and stabbed it right in the middle so milk squirted out on our faces and we both exploded in laughter.

The waitress marched over. She’d clearly had it with us. She’d dealt with us before and called us gremlins before telling us to get the hell out. Every time we came we built a milk castle that always ended up collapsing. This was the first time however that a stabbing was involved.

“Get out, now, both of you,” she snapped. She left the check on the table and collected all the little half and half containers, scooping them up and letting them fall into the white bowl they’d been in. She ignored the spillage of milk on the table.

“Oh come on Darla,” I said. “It was just one creamer, man, it’s not like it was a total creamer massacre.”

“Get out,” she snapped yet again and now the fat greasy-haired manager was on his way over.


I was upstairs in my bed later that night. I had my door locked. No one could yell at me now. The night was quiet except for a few crickets and cicadas. I thought about Twiggy Ramirez, the sharpie, his wild, wicked hair, his exquisite long nose and dark eyes. I could not stop thinking about him.

I turned over on my side and shut my eyes. There was the vast parking light with random lights – headlights, the smear of the gas station self-serve sign, but other than such things, me and him were lost in a pool of darkness. I thought of the T carving into my vagina. Of course in my fantasy it was all more vicious.

I thought about why I’d stabbed the little milk creamer so the 0.3 ounces of milk sprayed along my face, across the bridge of my nose and lining my cheek so a little pooled in my ear. I supposed there was something sexual about it. At seventeen, I’d still not had a single sexual experience. Twiggy touching me with a jumbo sharpie was the closest thing.



9

“Excuse me?” A female voice spoke to me suddenly and I turned my gaze from the little airplane window where the stubborn window shade constantly fell back down after I’d push it up, and looked up at the stewardess trying to hand me the thick fall issue of Elle magazine. The flight from Philly to Atlanta was half-empty and very relaxing, though the boy with the wild curly hair in the hockey jersey sitting next to me looked stressed out.

“Thanks,” I reached for the magazine.

“Sure, I know these flights can be boring,” she smiled and went on her way.

Not if you have a Vault of awesome rock star fantasies in your head, I thought.

I let the magazine rest in my lap and explored The Vault instead.

One fantasy from The Vault began where my weird meeting with Twiggy Ramirez left off, right after the sharpie incident.

Me and my best friend did not just leave after go home in the fantasy. We were both virgins, and we were not interested in the pimply-faced boys that went to our school. Or the sweaty athletes. We wanted the best – we wanted rock stars.

We stayed by her cherry-red Toyota as Danzig’s performance ended and people poured out of the side door. One of the them stood out because of his 6’1 height, his white dove pale skin, his shock horror makeup. His half-goon half-rock star presence demanded attention. Some people were just born to be rock stars. They just had something extra in their blood.

“It’s him,” I turned to Shannon. “It’s Marilyn Manson.”

“Oh wow.”

I walked back to the tour bus, where Twiggy was still hanging out.

“Oh hey again,” Twiggy said to me and then he looked up at Marilyn, who had a few inches on him.

“Hey.” I was shy and my southern accent made me sound shyer somehow. Now Twiggy and Marilyn were both staring down at me.

“Let’s take her on the bus,” Marilyn said in his astonishing deep, gritty voice.

I was too shy and awfully intimidated, my rosy cheeks seemed to beam redder the shyer I felt, like a stoplight no one paid attention to. I didn’t say anything as Marilyn took me by my arm and pulled me onto the bus and Twiggy towered over me as if he’d stop me if I changed my mind and tried to run back to my best friend’s car.

Marilyn’s tour bus was big. There was this soft electric hum running through it and tiny lights twinkled from various radios that were on. It was comfortably cold, but he still asked me, in his gravely voice, if I was too cold.

“I’m fine,” I turned and smiled. My southern accent managing to make the word “fine” sound so long and whimsical. Something smelled of champagne and leather.

He stared down at me, still as a rock. One eye was white and the other black. They looked like marbles – the kind I played with on Sundays when my parents were fighting.

Marilyn had long black hair and tattoos. He still had eyebrows at this point.

I knew how dangerous he was. I knew when they were first getting started as a band, he kept a girl in a cage during their performances and sometimes he’d beat her.

“Okay, I just want this to be pleasurable for you,” he said to me. His tone of voice exuded a perfect balance of calm and control, meanwhile my heart was pounding. “Of course discomfort can be awfully pleasurable as well, depending on your preference,” he grinned.

I was a virgin so I didn’t have a preference. I needed experience first.

He spoke so eloquently. He sat down on the couch and looked up at me. His eyes were so bewitching. Twiggy Ramirez, meanwhile, stood right behind me in his usual bizarre silence, peering down at me.

Marilyn studied my shorts.

“Are those cargo shorts?” he asked.

“Yes…sir.”

“I signed them,” Twiggy actually spoke.

Marilyn grinned at Twiggy. “Well if they have your name on them, then they belong to you.” Then they both looked at me in great expectance of something.

Marilyn Manson aka Brian Warner reached for the green string to undo the waist. He paused though, and looked up at me.

“May I?”

“Yes…”

Marilyn was actually sweet and polite, while Twiggy loomed over me, and played the ghoul character he dressed as to perfection.

Marilyn gave the long string a slight tug because that was all it took. My shorts loosened and slipped right down to my black Sketcher boots and I stood there, completely embarrassed and exposed between them. He looked at my white panties from K-Mart with the little grey airplanes on them. They were part of a five pair for two dollars pack. Another pair had cars on them. I think one pair had boats. The entire pack was labeled TRANSPORTATION PACK FOR THE GIRL ON THE GO.


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