Poppy Z. Brite - 1992 - Lost Souls (5 page)

BOOK: Poppy Z. Brite - 1992 - Lost Souls
9.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

eye, green because his pen was green. A tooth.


far away across the wide green front lawn, past the pink granite sign that
looked like a gravestone except for the snarling tiger carved on top (Gift of
the Senior Class, 1972), a black van sped by. The road past the school was long
and straight, and the van was going too fast for Nothing to catch more than a
snatch of the singing that blew back on the wind out the open windows of the
van, borne on the wings of the sweet September day. But he was sure it was
Bowie. Someone in that van was singing a song by David Bowie. The voices were
clear and loud and drunken. Nothing watched the van disappear and wished more
than anything else in the world that he were going with it, going with those
happy singers, drinking and singing and going away on the open road.


sighed. Peebles was staring at him. The rest of the class paid no attention;
they were elsewhere too, in their own worlds, driving away on their own roads.
“What?” he said.

were discussing William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. You have read the book?”


perhaps you can tell me about the rivalry between Jack and Ralph. What allows
it to grow so bitter?”

attraction for each other,” Nothing said. ‘Their love for each other. They had
this fierce love, they wanted to be each other. And only when you love someone
that much can you hate them too—”

ripple of laughter went through the class. A couple of boys rolled their eyes
at one another—what a fag!

pressed her thin lips together. “If you had been paying attention, instead of
doodling and staring out the window—”

he was too tired to care what happened to him. This was empty, all empty
useless crap. “Oh fuck you,” he said, and felt the class suck in its breath and
silently cheer him on.

an hour later, sitting in the principal’s office waiting for the hand of petty
academic fate to descend upon him, he thought again of the ghosts that had
visited him last night. Visions, or whiskey vapors? It didn’t matter. You’ve
got to get out of here, they’d told him. You’ve got to get out of here.

school, a bunch of kids met in the parking lot and went over to Laine
Petersen’s house to get stoned. Laine’s older brother had gone off to college
and left behind his water-bong, an elaborate ceramic affair shaped like a skull
with worms twining in and out of the empty eye sockets. You put your finger
over one of the nostrils to hold the smoke in.

girlfriend Julie had a bag of pot, real ragweed, the kind of stuff that scoured
your throat and made your lungs feel like parchment if you held the smoke in too
long. Still, it was all these kids knew, and within fifteen minutes they were
stoned out of their minds, Someone put a Bauhaus tape on and turned it all the
way up. Laine and Julie rolled around on the bed, pretending to make out.

had his doubts about how much Laine really liked girls. The walls of his room
were plastered with posters of the Cure; he had seen them in concert three
times, and once he had sneaked backstage to present Robert Smith, the singer,
with a bouquet of
roses into which he had
tucked two hits of blotter acid. Julie wore her hair wildly teased in all
directions, and she favored lots of black eyeliner and smudged red lipstick.
Nothing suspected that Laine liked her mainly because of her superficial
resemblance to Robert Smith.

looked around the room. Several of the kids were groping each other ineptly,
kissing each other with sloppy wet mouths. Veronica Aston had pulled Lily
skirt up and had two fingers inside the elastic
of Lily’s panties. Nothing stared at this for several minutes, dully
interested. Bisexuality was much in vogue among this crowd. It was one of the
few ways they could feel daring. Nothing himself had made out with several of
these kids, but though he had tasted theft mouths and touched their most tender
parts, none of them really interested him. The thought made him sad, though he
wasn’t sure why.

lay back on the floor and stared up at a poster tacked on the ceiling above
Laine’s bed: Robert Smith’s lips enlarged several thousand limes, smeared with
hot orange-red lipstick, shiny and sexual. Nothing wished he could fall into
them, could slide down Robert Smith’s throat and curl up stile in his belly.
The marijuana made him feel restless; he wanted to do a hundred things at once,
but none of them here. He realized that among these kids he called his friends
he felt much more alone than he had felt in his room last night.

Bauhaus tape ended, and no one put anything else on. The party began to break
up. A hippie-looking girl Nothing didn’t know flashed a peace sign at Laine as
she left.

got up to leave too; she was supposed to be grounded, she explained, because
her mother had smelled beer on her breath when she came home from a party last

said Laine, not sounding as if he cared very much.

stared at the floor, feeling depressed. He had seen Julie so strung out on acid
that she thought the flesh was melting from her bones, and her parents couldn’t
even deal with her drinking beer.

she was about to leave, Julie reached into her purse. “You can have this,” she
told Nothing. “You said you liked it, and I never listen to it—sounds like
music to me.” She handed him a cheap
home-produced cassette tape. The crayon writing on the liner said LOST SOULS?

heart quickened. When he had heard this tape at Julie’s house, something in it
had sung out to him. He remembered a snatch of lyrics: “We are not afraid… let
the night

come … we are not
afraid.” The singer’s golden voice chanting those words had awakened in him a
courage he didn’t know he had, a belief that someday his life would be more
than this. But to show an excess of feeling in this crowd was considered
; as far as Nothing could tell, you were supposed to
act bored all the time. He only smiled at Julie, said “Thanks,” and stuck the
cassette in his backpack.

soon as Julie was gone, Laine got up and put on a Cure tape. Then he came and
lay beside Nothing on the floor. His bleached white-blond hair fell in long
strands over his eyes. His hand found Nothing’s and squeezed. Nothing didn’t
squeeze back, but he didn’t pull away.

you want a blowjob?” said Laine. He was one of the youngest of the crowd, only
fourteen, but he cultivated arcane talents. Nothing had seen the legend Laine
Gives Killer Head inscribed on more than one bathroom wall at school.

about Julie?”

doesn’t turn me on much,” said Laine. “I like you, though. I think you’re
really cool.” lazily he propped himself on his elbow and reached over to touch
Nothing’s face. Nothing closed his eyes and let himself be touched. The contact
felt good. Laine hugged him, buried his face in Nothing’s shoulder; he smelled
of shampoo and clove cigarettes.

he said. “I haven’t given you a blowjob since August. I want to.”

Nothing told him. He pulled Laine’s face to his and kissed him, nudging his
mouth gently open. Laine’s mouth tasted delicately salty, like tears. He
suddenly felt terribly sad for Laine, who was too young to know so much. He
wanted to show Laine some gesture of tenderness, something that might make them
both feel as young as they really were.

Laine’s tongue was already tracing a wet path down Nothing’s chest; Laine’s
hands were already unfastening Nothing’s jeans and tugging them open. Nothing
stared up at Robert Smith’s magnified mouth. The singer’s lush clotted voice
surrounded him, making him feel again as if he were tumbling between those
lips. Laine’s hands and tongue worked him with a skill born of practice.
Nothing felt something twist inside him. He put his hand down to touch Laine’s
brittle hair, and Laine looked up at him with clear, guileless eyes.

he began to come, Nothing thought again of the black van that had driven past
the school today, of the snatch of song he had heard trailing from its windows.
He wondered where the van was now.

it was, he wished he were there too.


road was long and hilly, the black van was hurtling along like a roller
coaster, and the day was fine. Twig drove with an elbow cocked out the window.
Molochai hung out the other side, gnawing on his sticky fingers, letting the
wind blow in his face. Zillah lolled on a mattress in the back, luxuriating in
the clear autumn warmth.

mattress was filthy, parts of its fabric caked with stiff stains that faded
from dark’ maroon to nearly black. They would have to unload it at a dump and
find a cleaner one soon.

his head as they passed the school. “Hey!

swatted him. “Small game. How boring.”

be plenty to do at a high school. All those candy boys, all those sugar girls

pictured himself gliding through shadowy afternoon halls when almost everyone
had gone home, his nose and mouth full of the dry smell of paper, the soft
scent of years’ dust grimed into the corners, the underlying thrill of odor
left behind by healthy young flesh shot through with sizzling hormones, greased
with quickening blood. Maybe one of them would have stayed behind, kept after
school: a bad girl, sulking in an empty classroom, her eyes downcast. She would
never see the shape coming down the hallway, pausing at the door. Molochai
thought of ripping soft
, white and firm
just above the tangle of pubic hair. That was his favorite spot to bite girls.

temple of boredom,” Zillah offered from the back. He was braiding his hair. He
kept a streak of it dyed purple, gold, and green, and he was weaving the three
colored strands together, toying with the braid, then delicately pulling it
apart with his fingers. “Boredom is a sin.

is unholy.”

snorted. “What do you know about it? When have you ever been bored?”

a hundred,” said Zillah, studying his long fingernails critically. He produced
a bottle of black nail polish and began painting his nails, neatly, carefully.

two are only seventy-five, but I am one hundred years old this very year. I
have been bored. I’m bored now.

a hundred.” Twig reached under the driver’s seat and found a bottle. “And this
wine was born last Tuesday! Let’s drink to it.”

a hundred,” Molochai mumbled around the neck of the bottle. The wine was
sticky, sweet as rotten grapes. He licked his lips and took another swig.

kept driving, kept drinking, never looked at a map. They did not need maps; the
possibility of alternate routes, charted yellow and red and green roads,
cryptic legends, held no fascination for them. By some warm alcoholic magnetism
in their blood they were drawn on to the next city and the next. Twig always
knew what roads to take, what highways he could roar along the fastest, what
country blacktops were haunted by state troopers and God-fearing folk.

BOOK: Poppy Z. Brite - 1992 - Lost Souls
9.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Deception by Fiona Palmer
Lakeside Reunion by Jordan, Lisa
Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Alluring Infatuation by Skye Turner, Kari Ayasha
Fat Louise by Jamie Begley
American Music by Jane Mendelsohn
Tackled: A Sports Romance by Paige, Sabrina
The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons