I wake Lindsey up.
“Heyo. We gotta take care of this stuff.”
Lindsey lurches to her feet. She’s wearing a grey prison uniform and she’s got deep circles under her eyes. Gerard watches her, and I feel sort of weird that I’m with his dead wife’s robot replacement.
Lindsey pulls herself up, glares at Gerard, and then gets to the van. Gerard wanders off, and I ask “What’s up with that look?”
“He looks like you, but prettier.”
Lindsey searches the glove compartment, and finds some matches and a bottle of Jack Daniels. I open the bottle, and it smells pretty foul,so I give it to Lindsey. After that, I manage to haul in the guards-I don’t want to do it, they’re Lindsey’s murder victims, and I feel creeped out and icky- into the van, and shut the doors.
“Gimme your socks,” Lindsey demands. I take my shoes off, and do as she demands. Lindsey stuffs my sock in the neck of the bottle, and then lights it on fire.
Lindsey gestures toward the hood of the van, and I pop it open.
Lindsey drops the burning-sock-and-Jack mixture into the inside of it.
The entire thing goes up in a matter of seconds. The Killjoys showed up to see what was going on, and stopped when they saw Lindsey and I.
Lindsey’s watching the fire, face upturned and eyes that are dead. Drowned girl eyes, fish eyes, eyes with nothing behind them.
Jesus, Lin, what happened to you?
Lindsey doesn’t even look at me.
“Ain’t that just so pretty?”
The highlights over the next three months:
Meeting Doctor Death-Defying. He’d been living out in an abandoned motel (known as “Motel Bates”) and running a secret radio show. I embarrassed myself by proclaiming to become a Killjoy all thanks to him and that he’s the one who got me out of the city. He was surprisingly cool with all of it. Lindsey said I was a retard.
The three of us-Lindsey and Jim and I-got to stay with Doctor D at Motel Bates because there wasn’t enough room at the Diner for us.
Assaulting a police officer. During my first raid, I was peeling potatoes when a Drac told me to turn around slowly. I did, and then threw the potato at him. Lindsey smashed his skull in with a crowbar from behind, yanked out his teeth and set him into a shallow quicklime grave.
Yeah. Three months, and two highlights. There were plenty of lowlights.
Lindsey’s Killjoy name. She took Abra Cadaver, which freaked me out a bit, because apparently, she told Gerard I had killed the two soldiers and then instructed her to take the teeth. She also subtly threatened me with death if I tried to change it.
Finding out exactly what happened from Doctor D. Apparently, after Lindsey died, the entire world just fell to shit. There was a revolution in the United States, because the poor people were really poor, and the rich people were really rich. The poor killed the rich, and a lot of celebrities died, being the epitome of rich. Frank’s wife died (can’t believe he got married) along with his two kids. When a whole bunch of Killjoys tried to reclaim the city of Los Angeles, thousands died, Killjoy and Better Living both. Kobra’s wife Alicia had an affair and ran off with Kobra’s kids, and he hasn’t seen her since. Jet Star (real name’s Ray) and his wife Christina are still together, and she’s in Nevada somewhere running a safe house for orphans because she’s either heavily pregnant or missing a foot. I forget which.
Next low point was Toto. She had to have schizophrenia, or something. Spider veins had begun to bloom on her arms, even though she tried to hide them with longer clothes. I remember walking in on her once, and she had her shirt off. Toto liked staying with us during the day, wedged between the dumpster out back and the diner itself. Toto said she didn’t want to be alone, which confused the heck outta Gerard. “She’s been alone for eons, why’s she bugging me now?” Gerard muttered once.
Toto scared the bejesus outta me too when I saw her. There were spider veins, and sores like leprosy on her shoulders and back. Her bones stood out from under her skin, like matchsticks. Tendons ran like...like....
I don’t know. They stuck out and were scary, okay?
Toto was crying, and running her hands through her hair, which was falling out in short blonde puffs.
“Toto Ohmigod are you okay?!?”
Toto whipped around, and covered herself. Not her tits, clad in a dirty white bra, but her stomach. “Don’t tell anyone, please? I can still work, I’ll be okay,” was her only request.
I accepted. What was one more secret?
After I asked Show Pony about her. “Oh, Toto? She was fine until about six months ago. Her brother got sick and died. Toto disappeared for about six months and then showed back up crazy as a loon with that big-ass dog of hers.”
“What was her brother’s name?” I asked.
“Dunno. Brutus? Yeah, it was. Brutus Toledo.” Show Pony said, staring out at the flat line of the desert.
But it wasn’t enough. Yes, the Killjoy lifestyle was full of stuff that looked fun, but I couldn’t be apart of it because I couldn’t fight.
Jim could outfight me. Once, Jim and I were up on the roof of the Killjoy diner, and he stuck out a foot, shoved me over the edge, and pulled me back up by my coat. What a fucking jerk.
Lindsey could outfight me. Abra Cadaver and Rocknrolla Sonata got to be honorary Killjoys, while I got to be servant. I cooked a lot, I cleaned a lot.
“Dexy, you’re humiliating yourself,” Lindsey told me once, when I was undone after a simple forearm smash to the forehead.
“I’m scared. Dex, you know about what I’m involved in. What if they come after you?”
Lindsey was carefully avoiding words like murder and serial killing. Two weekends a month, she was gone, and I waited by the window for her to come back. I waited, scared outta my mind, waiting for her to come home smelling like other people’s blood and with her dead eyes.
“Dexy, you’ve gotta fight ugly.”
Lindsey’s theory was bulletproof. I learned to fight ugly, just because I was able to be flipped on my back by Fun Ghoul, who was a full head shorter than me. Lindsey taught me to go for nerve endings, fingers and eyes. Lindsey taught me pressure points, like the ones behind jaws and in necks and shoulders. Bulletproof Diva fought for his life, even if it meant disfigurement of his opponent.
A lot of it was dark, but there were good things. Ghoul chain-smoked, with haunted eyes and sarcastic comments. Jim and Show Pony spent a lot of time together. They were alone a lot. At least Jim’s found a friend, right?
Speaking of friends, Jim had a bite mark on his neck one morning.
“Hey, Sonny, what’s that?” Jet asked him, pointing. Jim clamped his hand over his neck and muttered “It’s nothing. I went out walking and I fell.”
Ghoul pounced. “On your neck?”
“Dammit Jim, do you have a girlfriend?” I finally asked, leaning on the diner’s counter. Jim blushed, and stammered “N-nope. No girlfriend....”
The other guys got a weird look on their faces, but I didn’t get it. I just assumed Jim had a secret girl. Yeah, I cheated on my I.Q. test.
So everything was fine and dandy until Ghoul got sick. It started with a cough. He blamed the cigarettes, Gerard blamed cancer, and Toto looked on with pity. Ghoul got sicker, with his skin turning a white-green and his breath rattling low in his chest that left him gasping for air and coughing fits that he couldn’t seem to recover from. Nobody said it, but we all knew it. Ghoul was dying, and we didn’t know how to fix it.
Actually, Gerard knew. Nearly did it too, except there was me.
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