You Get the Best of My Love

In the living room of a three-story A-frame house, built 1995, recycled wood-chip-wood and vinyl siding, virtually indistinguishable from the other houses in the labyrinthine neighborhood in which it stood (on Elder Spruce Ct., to be exact, parallel to Elder Ct., tangential to Spruce Dr.), except by shade and save for the backyard, which grew patches of grass in uneven clumps next to inexplicably disturbed dirt, chicken wire, an amateurishly-built shack, attempted gardens of dead roses, lounged thirteen-year-old Destiny Jefferson and seventeen-year-old Virginia Lovelock, on a leather couch, situated in front of a teevee. The walls of the room had wood paneling, and there was no carpet on the floor. The teevee was set, as it had been for the past three days, to news reports about Virginia’s recent disappearance. Between the teevee and the girls stood a glass table with a copy of the Bible, New International Version, and a Star Trek: The Next Generation VHS box set resting atop it. There is Jesus shit all over the walls, some holographic, and some miscellaneous not-too-offensive-smelling garbage around the corners of the room.
    Destiny wears form-fitting yellow shorts and a tank top. Virginia still wears her uncomfortable work clothes from three days ago, and but has just recently taken to donning a large flannel jacket she found draped over a chair in the room.
The room is locked from the outside. Occasionally the door will open just slightly, still latched, and a hand will place two meals inside the room, usually some McDonald’s. The hand has also deposited a few changes of clothes. Destiny has taken the opportunity to wear them, making Virginia close her eyes when she changes, but Virginia has scarcely examined the clothes. This element of anonymous hospitality has, however, made Virginia associate her abductor with the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast [1991.] Destiny knows better.
    Destiny had kissed two boys in her life and had intercourse with one, which latter she did not kiss and whose name was Ray. He was her cousin’s boy out of Philly, and had come to visit once last fall, and apparently decided he was trying to fuck Destiny. She put up little resistance, and the experience was something like what she had expected—painful at first, but sort of a sublime experience overall, in retrospect, confusing and scary but not wholly unpleasant, she guesses because it was in her room and the dusk was especially temperate and blue, and at a certain point it occurred to her that Ray was maybe as scared as she was. Ray had come in her and mumbled something afterwards, seeming slightly disappointed. The two had spoken a few congenial, if formal and meaningless times, since. She had no plans to fuck anyone again until marriage.
    On their refrigerator at home, Destiny’s Moms, with her infinite penchant for tacky commemoration, had hung a home-printed 8 ½” x 11” glossy photograph of Destiny, with differently-lit flowers of an impossible size MS-painted over her, all too stretched out with the pixels too big and shit. Clipped-out photocopied Bible passages and plastic Sesame Street characters with the round flat magnets in their back scattered to the sides of the front of the fridge to make room for Destiny’s picture, like townsfolk from a monster.
    Virginia has slept with twelve guys in the past three years. Her first boyfriend was thirty-two. She once gave her friend an H.J. on the bus on the way back from an eighth-grade field trip. That friend turned gay just recently.
    On Virginia’s refrigerator in her apartment is a magnet with a typical happy 1950’s patriarch and adjacent letters in quotes which read, “I’m here for the blowjob!,” a paper from Central Virginia Community College on feminism in the Twilight [2005-8] series she got a B on, a recipe for chicken pot pie printed off the internet, a magnetic ribbon that reads, “Save the Ta-Tas!,” a grinning cartoon bunny with a malevolent word balloon, and a picture, cut out from a magazine, of Barack Obama shirtless, emerging from the water.
    “Man, if fuckin’ Rudy from the damn Cosby kids went missing, that shit’d be on teevee,” Destiny ejaculates after some time of silence.
    “Or even that bitch Olivia, remember?” Virginia laughs. This comment sends Destiny into a fit of what could only be called bitter giggling, doubled over on the sofa.
    Virginia’s mom is on the teevee, her head floating in one of three boxes that share the screen. The other two heads are those of the show’s host and the Billy-Crystal, VA Chief of Police, Randy Monroe.
    “Where’s the rest of the force? How many people do you have on the case?”
    “We have about a quarter of the force working—”
    “Where’s everybody else? What are they doing? WHY HAVEN’T YOU FOUND MY BABY GIRL?” Mrs. Lovelock’s voice cracks and, as if on cue, a single drop of violet begins barreling down her right cheek and eroding all foundation in its wake.
    “Ma’am, it’s unprecedented in this town to have an entire police force looking for a single girl.”
    “TWO GIRLS, GOD DAMMIT.” Destiny shouts at the screen. She smirks but her eyes are a little red.
    “I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is, ma’am. Just tonight—lemme finish, please. Just tonight while I’ve been entertaining you fine folks we’ve had, lemme just look at my Blackberry here, we’ve had two break-ins—”
    “Well maybe—”
“Two break-ins, several reports of domestic abuse, and a rash of mailbox-desecrations.”
    “Well maybe you should spend less time on your Black berry, officer, and more time looking for my BABY GIRL.” Mrs. Lovelock leans back smugly and brings her right hand to her face, as if awaiting applause from some invisible audience.
    Virginia stretches out feline against the couch, the buttons of her white shirt tugging against the holes. She gives a lop-sided grin and sniffs. “My mom kicked me out of the house about a year ago,” she says.
    Destiny, who is very obviously crying now, chuckles.

    Out back in the shed, the Beast is bellowing in his meandering baritone and accompanying himself on a Casio 425C. He is bald, with a long, nappy beard of dark brown and grey. Behind him is a huge stack of demo tapes that he has recorded. Steam escapes his mouth as he sings, like a physical realization of the maximum reverb on the P.A. that amplifies his voice. Rain comes down in small drops all around, syncopated with the horizontal staccato jangle of the keyboard. The night seems to billow up and around in purpureal plumes. A pre-recorded track of drum and fairly amelodic bass plays a simple ¾, and a 4-track records the supplemental music, like think of like the Boss’s “Drive All Night” for instance. Only the keyboard is set to emit a shrill organish clatter, like the breaking of stained glass, the saltshaker jinglebell sound as from a teevee Christmas special like the artificial snowflakes that fall so too do the notes and the insignificant raindrops and his voice transcending it all like some velveteen wraith.
    You
    I’ll be your prince [drum fill, one measure]
    Toniiiiight
    I walk alone

    He stops playing, turns off the rhythm track, sits down. He keeps the microphone close and the 4-track on “record.”
    Who knows it or not. Ought to. I am me, creator. This creator of this don’t worry. A reflection. An Enterprise of thought and mouth. Make music of it all. That’s the PROBLEM. Circuitous. I gotta know you, I got to know you, I had a little baby, I know, mm-mm, what. C# lightning times. Crimes. Orphans. Crumbling. Over and over. There will always be they there and me here and the teevee. Whatever bodies or heads. Changes of organs. Processed from there to here. At least I intend to marry. At least I care about both. I’m not going to disregard the one and get the other one—defiled! All over! Parallel. Perpendicular. I think that this is hugely important, brothers.
I do not engage in pornography like they do. Don’t you know I’m only doing what you’re doing, you’re all doing. I transform. I can change. I am all around me. Inside, all over, it’s you, it’s me, it’s God, in the water there’s Drano, there’s amoxycillin, liquid nitrite, acetaminophen, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, there’s little babies, there’s stars, God will punish ‘em, I will, I will

    “So—what do you think he wants from us?” Virginia ventures.
    “I hope it ain’t the same thing.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Just before he came and got you, he told me he needed brides, and he was going to go find a woman for himself.”
    “And you don’t think you’d be one of those brides.”   
    “He’s my dad.”
    “…”
    On screen, the anchorwoman is giving a lurid description of what could well be happening to Virginia right now locked away in the sex dungeon of some depraved fiend, some pervert. “This innocent girl,” she reiterates, “just out of high school…” A photo of Virginia in which she is coyly, drunkenly tilting her head away from the camera, pouting, materializes on the screen, the city a black and tan blur behind her. Rescue me, the girl in the photo now seems to say, I only have eyes for you the viewer, my savior, and then you can do whatever you want with me. An equally drunk female friend moving towards Virginia in a suggestive embrace has been cropped out, along with the red plastic cup in Virginia’s hand.
    “Well it must be nice to be gettin’ all this attention.”
    Virginia turns her head slowly in disbelief at Destiny’s remark.
    “It must be nice to not have to worry about getting raped!”
    Both girls turn away from each other, fetal.

    Something goes wrong and the program pauses abruptly before cutting to commercial, lingering on a still frame of the anchorwoman’s face, in between the “a” and the “c” in “be right back.” Her head is tilted down and so her eyes look slightly upwards at the camera. Her mouth hangs open like that of a hungry animal. A shadow has formed across the right half of her face and her canines are visible. From outside, the Beast strums a minor chord, plaintive but insistent. In the reflection of the teevee, the girls can see outside, into the shed. Two neon rectangles of mistake, gleaming fuzzy like linen with sunlight coming through, one green and horizontal, one mauve and vertical hang above and in front of, respectively, the anchorwoman’s face for the moment she is frozen like that. A few other video blotches, less discernible shapes, distort the image as well, especially in her hair and in the studio around her. As soon as this image goes away, it is replaced by letters moving across blackness, then lights, then a woman’s face, turning, appearing, disappearing, all accompanied by V/O: Flawless skin? Old news. 100% poreless perfection has arrived. New Dream Liquid Mousse Foundation from Maybelline New York. A new liquid sensation that’s air whipped for 100% poreless perfection. (Prove it!)
    Destiny and Virginia do not look at each other, but Destiny’s hand grabs hold of Virginia’s.
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