On the way out I give Tania money to cover the bill, a goodbye, and see you later. Courtney and I cut a path through the Canadians and make our way down the street. We turn onto the Malecon and in the distance the Hotel Belmar rises up to greet us in all its horrific perfection. The hotel pool waits in the garden with a lifetime of bubbling, infectious bacteria. I hope someone will be swimming when we get there. I put my hand on the back of Courtney’s neck and guide her toward our next fun destination.
The pool is full of green children laughing and pissing underwater, so we move onward, from bar to bar, and like passengers on the Hindenburg we have no choice but to float along until we get to New Jersey. Courtney and I drink ourselves into a morose stupor that involves a lot of shoving, shouting, and spiting. After long bouts of crying in dark streets and one nasty trip on a hole in the middle of the sidewalk, we finally take the elevator up to her hotel room. She collapses onto her bed and starts mumbling about her miniature horse and how her movie-producer father poisoned her mother. This is an old story she just won’t let go. I’d read her newspaper scrapbook about the murder. She was almost five when it happened and a wealthy grandmother raised her in Beverly Hills. The first present she ever got from the grandmother was a miniature pony that drowned in the pool. Courtney remembers the horse better than her father and mother and when she gets mad at me she says, “You’re treating me like a dead pony.”
She’s in the bathroom now throwing up. The room is revolving and I’m fighting with my stomach for the high ground. When she returns we try to kiss, but our noses and teeth get in the way. Our heads are like foam rubber, some sort of non-English speaking pillows. I fumble around with her top and then I lay my head on her succulent breasts and we both pass out. In the middle of the night I get up. My mouth feels like the inside of a hot stove and I take a shower. Naked and wet, I lie on the tile and sleep. She wakes me in the morning by kicking my ribs and tells me to leave. We are both disgusting and as I go out the door I hear her talking to the hotel desk about rebooking her flight for that evening. She wants to return early to L.A. to fuck over some rich men as well as her on-again, off-again B-list boyfriend. For some reason she is displeased with the whole bunch. After she gets back to L.A. she sends me an email that says, one more time, my book is lousy and she can’t help me.
At breakfast the next morning Tania asks about Courtney and I say that she is my older sister who needs money for stem-cell injections. Her Austrian doctor has recommended the stem cells from a pig’s bladder to make her young again.
“That’s crazy. Why would she want to put pig’s blood into her body?”
“I don’t know Tania…she’s my sister, so I gave her the money.”
Tania nods and smiles. “You are a good brother, a good man.”
“Yes,” I sigh and then I order off-menu and she brings me the squash flowers and black rice, plus boiled goat’s milk laced with vodka and two squares of hard, organic chocolate.
I feel like a misunderstood genius with teeth made out of steel.