Read Boys in Gilded Cages Online

Authors: Jarod Powell

Tags: #meth addiction, #rural missouri, #rural culture, #visionary and metaphysical fiction, #mental illness and depression

Boys in Gilded Cages (10 page)

BOOK: Boys in Gilded Cages
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Look to your left. That’s the Acting
Conservatory over there, on North Cahuenga, past the mechanic’s
shop. See it? There’s at least one rich actor in there at any given
moment, and he got in for free. All of

the little Mexican girls had to pay a
thousand dollars, and they don’t have it. Can you imagine? Of
course you can. Why pay for something when you actually have the
money? Your way of thinking kills me, Dan. One of those slices of
TV Wonderbread in class with all those Mexican teenage girls, who
probably sold some food stamps to get in? Probably folks more
pampered and remote than you, around those Valley paupers.

That’s what I like about this place, Danny
Boy. People are more inclined to talk to each other, even if they
are faking it. You won’t find people talkin’ to each other in NYC!
No sirree!

My girl wanted to be an actor, an actress.
Had a thing for that guy...

Oh, What’s-His-Face. The one from that real
old movie, with the fat angel trying to earn a halo. Stupid movie.
She liked it because it was her mom’s favorite movie. I wouldn’t be
surprised if she never even saw the damn thing. She lied all the
time. Hated that bitch. She’s the reason I’m here on this bench,
smelling like life’s shit, talking to you!

Aw, I shouldn’t say that. I was fucked a
long time ago. Ain’t no Tree of Knowledge here! Ain’t her fault.
Her ass was definitely God’s doing though. Can you imagine that? An
ass so perfect, it was created in Eden. Perfect, perfect ass.
Expensive ass, someone like you might say. She died after a rough
go with someone a lot like you. Well, not a lot like you. I kinda
like you in some weird, asshole way. You may have employed one of
her friends last night. Ha! How ‘bout that, Danny Boy!

Now, look towards the sky. That’s me
standing behind you. See me? The guy talking into the brick wall
also known as your ear. Take a look and a whiff. This is what will
happen to you if you don’t stay

in Colorado, or Idaho, or Indiana, or
wherever you’re from. How old do I look to you? Thirty-three. I’m
only thirty-three years old. Let me give you some advice, Dapper.
Don’t let that woman of yours take your money. I know you got lots
of it. Because they’ll do it. They’ll do it every time if you let
‘em. Raise your girls, if you got ‘em, to not be whores or gold
diggers and to marry men that will keep them under

control. You do that, Dan, you’ll never see
me again, if you’re lucky. Now, don’t get me wrong, Dan, I ain’t
singing no Evil Woman Blues, and I ain’t blaming my shit on someone
else for no good reason. I love my girl, but she done this shit to
me and now I’m here, talking to people that may or may not even be
there. Women make the world go ‘round, but the first woman ruined
the perfection of God’s world, and don’t you forget that




Even Marcia’s big brown butt didn’t repel
Daryl McAdams. His heart was too open and his head too empty to
recognize a dog when he saw one.

She was really nice and smart and
everything. But she was younger than Daryl and weird and was
clearly obsessed with him, but was open about it unlike his secret
fan club of hot skanks.

In a movie, your narrator
would tell you that every other girl in the world is an empty
vessel with legs and tits who would lead our boy Daryl down a hall
of mirrors until his brain breaks, and Marcia is smart, if frumpy,
for Daryl McAdams but he just can’t see it and be tamed.
Because in movies there are no bad boys, there are only reformed
bad boys and the women who extinguish their demons, for better or

After Daryl’s episode with
Marcia so many years ago, back when the demon was still healthy
inside his head, they weren’t really allowed to speak to each
other. Daryl, being dumb and goofy and fucking myriad customers
since then, going through people like tissue, pretty much forgot
about Marcia.
Nothing against her,
he would say if he was ever asked,
but I just can’t place her. Face looks familiar,
Of course, no one cared about
Marcia so no one ever asked, but I’m just telling you that’s what
he’d say if they did. That’s what he said about most

The fact that they weren’t allowed to speak
only tightened the ribbon around her finger. It wasn’t long until
she was leaving notes in his locker—cryptic notes, heavy on the
Catholic guilt, and decorated with glittery X-tian crosses that
made the pages stick together, signing it only with her initials
because she was too chicken shit to put her whole name. I can’t
remember exactly what she said in the notes, but her writing style
would later be copied by Daryl in notes to people he was obsessed
with for the brief time he could remember them. He was just as
crazy as Marcia, but less focused.

Daryl’s parents never knew who threw him on
their porch step that night, so they had no opinion on the Cruz
family except they were Mexican (when they were actually Cuban),
and so were probably really good workers should Daryl’s dad ever
need to hire someone for real cheap. Marcia’s dad smelled trouble
and knew that his daughter would probably cause it with a
charismatic white boy she could play doctor with, and pamper like
she was his wet nurse. He knew she’d grow up to be a “fixer

Around the time the notes started, she and
her ugly friends started camping out in the weeds across the road
from Daryl’s house. They’d have binoculars and a pad of paper that
they said was to take notes but really ended up being a doodle

They’d watch his house for about fifteen
minutes. He’d be gone or passed out—never present. When watching
became pointless, they’d gossip about random people at school they
never talk to, diet tips from pro-ana websites, and occasionally,
Daryl. But the only person really thinking about Daryl was
Marcia—her friends could give a shit, and really were kind of
freaked by him. They followed Marcia, though. Gross and dorky that
she was, she was also sort of a force of nature. Even the bimbos
that teased her, did with a vague reverence for her strength. There
was a fire in Marcia that smoldered quietly. The bimbos stoked it
just enough to keep it alive.

She had an innate worldly knowledge. It was
not learned, as her Catholic-bred parents made sure she saw no
evil. It was psychically sought after, however.

She knew what her pussy could be capable of
if she just lost a few pounds, and let puberty take its course. She
was born with the knowledge that people are stupid and easily
fooled by people like herself. What she lacked, that Daryl had, was
a pretty shell. What Daryl lacked, that Marcia had, was everything
else. She wanted to implant everything else into his chest and
watch it grow.

Marcia walked up and down her county road
sometimes, on restless nights. Even though the gravel hurt her feet
and her sweat was overwhelming on typically muggy nights, she did
it, looking for ghosts or Daryl’s insides or UFO’s to take her on a
journey of probes, experiments and fortune telling. One time, she
ran into Daryl after whatever transaction he was completing at that
hour and after that she paced the road for a few hours every week,
but I’m sure their chance encounter had little to do with it,
because Marcia was always up to weird shit late at night—trying to
witness something the world would sleep through.

Because of her innate worldly knowledge, she
had an inkling of what Daryl did, but had no proof and no concrete
narrative played out in her fat head. It was what she desperately
tried to piece together, but never could.

Daryl floated around. That’s what she never
understood. In her mind, she was in the audience, and he was doing
performance art or something, in code, so only she got it. It was
so stupid.

I saw what she saw in Daryl McAdams, but no
one else did.

He did what Daryl does, in the semi-charming
way he does it, and that was his role, both in town and in his
whole life. Marcia had a girl-boner for him, therefore magic
surrounded him. He had rubies in his eyes, a diamond in his teeth,
and pearls out his ass.

He was beautiful, but a scruffy,
donkey-dicked piece of trailer trash that would probably never
escape Hawthorn, and would never really try. Marcia just liked to
facilitate a fantasy of sweeping a dude off his feet while an 80’s
song played just outside the threshold. A dude her dad feared. A

When Daryl started dating Vanessa, Marcia’s
mortal enemy, you would think that a broken heart would have at
least slowed her down, but she was more determined than ever.

Vanessa, with big floppy tits and a tiny
little waist, Rapunzel hair and a delightfully-loud girlish giggle,
was actually just a sidekick to the homelier, and much bitchier,
Janessa, who flirted with Daryl relentlessly when no one was
looking. Daryl was a whore; he was not into them.

Daryl started flirting with Vanessa in the
library—where she worked--one afternoon after school. He must have
been on detention because Daryl never read a book he wasn’t
assigned, and even then he read ten pages and fell asleep and took
a “D” on his assignment.

Anyway, flirting with Hawthorn girls was so
easy. You just had to find the trigger. The trigger didn’t have to
be a certain phrase, it could be anything, if you had the right
inflection to go with it.

It looked easy, but I guess it wasn’t,
because you also had to beam a light from your eyes. The light had
to hit the prism on your cornea just right to be seen by a bitch.
It’s not something you can learn. Daryl was born with it.

Anyway, it was easy for him, but like I said
before it was impossible for me to even attempt. Some people have
it. You’re either gifted at one end of the spectrum or the other.
I’m gifted at the other end. Marcia is too, I guess.

So anyway, after Vanessa and Daryl shared a
cigarette outside the gym, Vanessa said she needed to go home.

I’d give you a ride,”
Daryl said, “but you know…my condition.”

You can’t drive?” Vanessa

Nope,” Daryl feigned
mopiness and kicked some gravel.

That sucks,” Vanessa said
with dumb girl sympathy in her big doe eyes.

Of course, who was right around the corner,
but Marcia. She saw it spark, the crazy bitch. How she managed to
time it like that is a good question. But, there she was. Sometimes
I think psychosis and psychic ability share one side of the

So the days turned to a whole week, and they
still hadn’t broken up. Marcia could smell Vanessa’s baby powder on
Daryl as he walked by her in the hallway, which meant he and
Vanessa had probably just messed around—a mental image that both
horrified and aroused her.

Even after her gaggle of butterfaces got
tired of spying on Daryl at home, Marcia made them come with her.
Even after they stopped showing up, Marcia kept looking through the
McAdams’ windows. She never saw anything. Not one thing. The only
time she witnessed anything that would have given her the slightest
characterization of Daryl McAdams was by chance—creeping in and out
of Jonathon Black’s house, stumbling out of the Cue ‘n Brew, arm
wrapped around an old lady’s waist as they walked to her car,
dealing to some of the kids from Daddy Redmond’s youth group right
outside the church.

He didn’t take notice of Marcia until his
church birthday party. That was also the night he refused to
continue with church. He saw Marcia as an omen or a sign, probably.
He thought in those terms. Stupid as hell, and superstitious as a

He’d run into her in the hallway after that
and actually remember her. She melted.

When she got invited to see him at
graduation a couple years later, in place of his dead mother and
some of his drug buddies that probably wouldn’t show up anyway, her
fat ass almost had a heart attack.

When he invited her to a party in
Springfield, Marcia Cruz got scared for the first time in her life,
probably because she knew she’d witness something terrible. Daryl
was bringing along a luck charm, and he still couldn’t figure out
whether she was a good charm or a bad charm.

Marcia spent all afternoon dressing for the
party. She even tried on her mother’s maternity dress. It still
didn’t fit, but it was the best option.

Daryl picked her up in his beat-up red
sports car, which to Marcia of course looked like a pumpkin
carriage. Marcia’s parents looked out the window at him.

He’s smoking a cigarette,”
Marcia’s mom exclaimed.

Yeah, cool. See you
later!” Marcia rushed out of the house before her parents could

The crowd at the part was a mix of preppy
boys dressed as Kennedys, and drug dealers from the bowels of
southern Missouri. Seeing the glint of fear in Marcia’s eyes, Daryl
took her hand. “Come on, girl. Let’s get something to drink.”

Marcia sat at the kitchen counter, which was
cluttered with coke bottles and Jim Beam, while fun happened all
around her. She peered into the next room, and saw Daryl smoking
from a small, glass tube. Her image of this boy – this bad boy she
wanted so badly – suddenly became simply a choice with bad

She couldn’t leave, but she needed to cry.
After a couple left a bedroom, presumably after sex, she jumped
into the empty room and locked the door.

Shortly thereafter, there was a knock. “Who
the fuck is in there?” It was Daryl’s voice. Marcia opened the
door, standing there in her frumpy dress, mascara down her

What are you doing in


BOOK: Boys in Gilded Cages
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