Heather In Violet

Dana did the dream again, standing on the corner in her good skirt, with her suitcase in her hand, at the Bus Depot, in the middle of the night. The scene was the same as it always was: the city sky pouring dark like motor oil, alone with no moon, the neon lights and flashing signs showing the grease stains - too bright- too many stains on every towering facade.

The faces of the people at the station: a good man with no teeth smiling brightly, his eyes two scoops of sour cream gone loco, those empty eyes all over Dana, in dark parts, private places, squeezing out the juice. She walked faster, past the mother in the weave beating her child ludicrous, using her cane, cracking the boy’s ulna bone with a pop loud enough to break open a bottle of booze.

The child’s eyes, tearing, took to Dana, asking without a word, “Why?”


She made it up to the corner, standing alone, thinking the dream was almost over, but no, this was how it began: this was just the beginning. Standing alone on the corner in her good skirt, with her suitcase in her hand, at the Bus Depot, in the middle of the night.

Across the street she saw her sister.

And somewhere down deep inside she heard her tiny speaking voice:

'wake up dana'

She heard it, clear, knew it was there, respected the warning but she just couldn't pull herself up... she just couldn't...

Across the street her sister stood on the corner, in her good skirt, with her suitcase in her hand. She was young, and she was unspoiled. She had never been away from the schoolyard, and she would never survive in this sick city. Heather in violet with her hopeful eyes, looking up, eyebrows in awe, soaking in the size of it without seeing under the surface. She was too new to be aware, too tame to be terrified of the profound horrors waiting here for her, waiting, with romance, flowers in hand, dedicated, the only promise that the city keeps.

Dana, waved at Heather with her free hand, five fingers in the night sky. She waved because her voice made no sound, a taxicab speeding by, stripping the streetlight between the sisters. Heather couldn't see Dana from where she stood, looked right through her, eyes wide and gorgeous as the man in the blazer approached, made his way, and Dana knew what was coming.

She looked to her right and she could see the same man on her sidewalk, identical, stepping backwards out of the cab, walking to her in rewind, and she shouted as loud as she could to Heather across the street- a warning- but no sound came out of her mouth. The man beside Heather striking up a conversation.

The man on Dana's side of the street stopped walking backwards, turned to face her, "My name is Mr. Naman." He smiles and then the thunder rumbles low.

Dana looked across the street to where Naman already had his arm around Heather, whispering in her ear, getting the girl drunk with the champagne of absolute possibility. Dana leapt to cross the street but she was paralyzed, couldn't move a muscle, and Naman wrapped his arms around her, holding her back.

'wake up dana'

Across the street Naman led Heather away, her trusting eyes blind to what was coming, and he took her into a door beneath a neon light blinking ‘Save.’

Dana turned, finding strength, scratching Naman's face, feeling the flesh collect in her fingernails, forging wide grooves that began immediate to bleed, harrowing stripes of red flowing freely and distorting his features. Naman was laughing, his face red, looking right through her and laughing hard, harder than he had to, harder than anyone ever had to.

Dana ran across the street, dodging buses & speeding cars, passing the police officer who stood sound asleep at his post.

She took the door her sister did and pulled, but it was locked solid. She could feel the warm water falling from her eyes as she looked back across the street. Naman and her suitcase were gone.

'wake up dana'

When she turned around again the door was gone, now an open doorway leading to a flight of stairs, and as she took her first steps she knew she shouldn't go down. She took the stairs slow, descending, lowering herself... deeper... deep into the building below. It got darker as she made her way down, the neon glow from the city lights dying as she made her descent. She could feel the cold below, saw her breath coming out of her mouth as she called out: "Heather? Are you down here?"

And there at the bottom, in the darkness, Dana could see only one thing: Heather, suitcase in her hand, boarding a bus, while a man with no face watched her closely from the sidewalk. It was going too slow to stop... she felt sick to her stomach as the bus door closed. Hydraulic whine and her sister bounced helpless as the vehicle drove off into the night.

At the bottom of the stairs she stood, cloaked in soot and hopeless. And in the darkness Dana felt the darkness overtake her. She lost her sight and her hearing was gone as the black became the new presence. She closed her eyes, surrendering, falling backwards into a deep sleep.

She is no more.

"Wake up, Dana."

She opened her eyes to find herself in a small office: desk, four chairs and a potted plant. Black and white tile floors, wood paneled walls... and hanging by the door is a framed photograph of a man standing next to a horse. She sat on a leather sofa across from a desk.

"Are you awake?"

The man behind the desk, pencil mustache, dark thinning hair combed back above his head. He wore a blue suit, and Dana remembered his name was Gomez. And that she hated him body and soul.

And that's when she knew she'd been awake the whole time.

"You have to stay awake if you’re going to make it in this business." Gomez opened a desk drawer, looked inside and closed it.

Dana, who had nothing to say, said nothing.

"You cannot fuck this up, Dana. You cannot FUCK THIS UP!" Gomez pounded his fist on the desk to emphasize his point.

His voice was raspy, and he seemed to her like a bad actor playing a part. He seemed to have trouble remembering his lines.

"I will not let you fuck this up!"

"Where is my sister?"

"Your ass…" he took a deep breath in, exploding out, “BELONGS TO ME!!!”

Dana eyed the orchid on the windowsill, dry & neglected, flowers alive out of self-preservation.

"Today I want you to take some pictures with Anton. There’s a man there- I told him about you. He might be expecting the New Orleans pussyfoot.”

"Fuck you.”

Dana found her voice, speaking low, and slow. It took every ounce of energy to force the words out.

“Fuck you, Gomez. Where is my sister?"

He pounded the desk again, two sharpened pencils rolling off and falling on the floor. "I want you to take some nudes with Anton! I'm gonna make you a star!!!" His anger was a pantomime.

"Where is my sister?"

"If you do good today I'll take you out for Chinese food. I'm in the mood for Chinese myself." He rubbed his stomach to express hunger. "Get in my toilet. Fix yourself up and put on some goddamn makeup."

"My sister."

"Make it sparkle."

"Where is my sister?"

"She just went on a very high-profile assignment."

"Where?" Dana sat up, slow, the gravity of the dream taking its toll. “Where is Heather?”

The phone rang, and Gomez grabbed it. "Yeah hello?" He listened, silent. Dana waited.

Gomez listened, bristling. "I don't know what you're taking about."

He hung up the phone. Dana was losing her patience. "Where is she?"

"You have to do your job first. Bring your nighties, your neglige, and all of your lingerie."

Dana found herself standing, against her will, crossing the room, opening the bureau that was waiting for her. She opened her suitcase and threw in all of her lace panties. All of her bras. All the lingerie. They all went into the suitcase.

God stay with me.

She was out on the street now, Gomez standing beside her, the dark night bright by the beam of the full moon. The bus pulled up, exhaling as the door opened, as if it had been holding its breath since the last stop.

And that’s where Dana found herself: standing on the corner in her good skirt, with her suitcase in her hand, at the Bus Depot, in the middle of the night. Gomez, helping her board, waving goodbye, watching her pull away, as Dana found a seat, and for the first time ever she let her head fall back in tragedy, in surrender to the inevitable, ready to finally get some real sleep.

And in that holy minute, a miracle: Dana closed her eyes and found herself wide awake.

She sat up in her chair and pulled the cord above her head, music as the bus screeched to a stop before it started. Dizzy rush of sweet relief: the dream was over- she was in overtime. She left her suitcase full of magic tricks and stepped off the vehicle, walking over confident to a confused Gomez, gently inserting her thumbs into his eyes and gouging them out, the white meat giving easy, mashing without resistance, the blood pooling fine on the city sidewalk.

Gomez, mouth open in horror, hollow sockets leaking, couldn't find the words so he bobbed back and forth between his two feet cheerfully before dropping to the ground, an empty suit on the sidewalk.

The cycle had been broken. Dana's assignment was complete.

She didn’t stop to think about how long she’d been riding this line, or how many others had ridden it before her. She was ready to taste victory, the white light of divinity: she could see success, understood that she had finally broken the spell. Now she was ready for the things she could never feel before: righteous joy and pure elation, the power of creation.

As soon as she found Heather.

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