I really should be doing the other book at this point, but I’m too deep into this one to stop. Have to get it out so those San Francisco ghosts are gone for good. I guess it’s like that – all parts of your past are ghosts until you write about them. The two girls in the house made everything a little lighter for all of us. My attraction to Josephine put all of my plans to move on hold – now everything was concentrated on making her mine.
During those first few nights, we’d both stay up late and dive into to each others lives. She didn’t smoke or drink too much really. At her side, like a smaller sister, Marcy usually preoccupied herself with a doodle that became some scene out of a Disney Movie that never made it to the screen. She faded out usually around 2 or so, and we stayed until the sun came up. I could see her breasts through her t shirt. She talked in a way – her voice just pronounced each syllable and whispered the last part of it. I can’t really tell you what we talked about. I was pretty stoned most of the time, and she was a bit of a tweaker. No, that’s not right. She did much speed – for me, I never really liked the stuff too much but did it from time to time because it was everywhere back then. It still might be, but I’m not in those places now. I don’t haunt empty streets or stay up late nights waiting for the perfect time to make a move while talking about people’s hands.
“How about we go out,” I said. “I’ll take you to North Beach and show you how I see the city.”
“I’d like that,” she told me, putting her head in my lap, then look up past me to the ceiling. “It’s good to see the world like other people see it.”
She went to sleep and I let her just doze off. The sun always came up in a strange way – it kind of jut illuminated the sky instead of bursting out into yellows. Josephine rolled over in my lap trying to get comfortable, but woke herself up with a jolt.
“What is it,” I asked, embarrassed that it might have been my erection that broke her slumber.
“Just a bad dream,” she said, laying back down. “Well, I wish it was a dream. I wake up each day wishing it was a dream.”
She looked at the picture of the boy looking like he was going somewhere. I didn’t want to know the history there because I felt it’s darkness and pain. I felt it through her because it was the only thing that she ever looked at and held her eyes on.
“Want to tell me who it is,” I asked.
“Him?” she asked, finally lighting up. “That’s the kid I killed. Well, I didn’t kill him with my hands, but my mouth and the words that came out of it – I did. See, we were in love before I left for San Francisco. I was about to go off to college and he was older in years and in spirit. I told him he needed to go to Europe and have sex with as many people as he could to get more into the world and not take the physical part so seriously. He always did that. It’s not too serious you know.
“Anyhow, he said he’s go but he wouldn’t be with anyone but me. Told me that I was the only place he wanted to move inside of. Such a boy, but I loved him so. He was a genius. I enjoyed that. I knew though that if we stayed together, I’d crush him, so before he went away, I slept with a few people and let him know about it. I thought it would free him. He took it pretty well – I thought he did.
“The morning he was supposed to leave, he showed up at my house after not talking to me for a few days. I could feel him slipping away from me but I loved him so much – I wanted to let that happen. I wanted to feel that pain for him. I was a pleasure for me to take that away. To make him the person who was in power for leaving. This picture, I took it of him the day he was supposed to leave. Look at his face, how beautiful it was. It is.”
She popped in a mix tape and continued with her story, never changing the tone of her voice.
“He handed me this tape -said to listen to it for the next few hours while his plane took off. It was all of the songs and people he taught me about. Some of them might be corny I guess, but when you love somebody all of that trite thought leaves and you just enjoy what is. He kissed me and walked out the door. I spent the afternoon laying on my bed wearing nothing but his t-shirt and listening to his music play. I thought of him moving through the sky into great experiences.
“I was listening to Sailing by Christopher Cross when my door opened. My mother never opened the door without knocking. She was in tears and looked petrified to speak to me. I had a huge smile on my face though because I didn’t care about anything other than the fact that I sent him on his way out into the world. Then I got the news. He hadn’t gone on his trip at all. He took himself out to the ocean, the place where we first made love actually, and drown himself by walking into the ocean, weighed down by the backpack he was supposed to go to Europe with. He had me listening to the music as his funeral march. He was so smart. He was.”
I looked at her face and the tears were welling up but refused to fall. She smiled wide, a smile I imagine that was reflecting the memory of that day.
“Now, now I have the memory of that. It’s what he left me.”
I had no words. I looked at the picture of him and hated what he did, but at the same time, was impressed that he was able to reach through someone and ensure that his memory was going to live on forever. I was determined then to erase that.