Monday, December 17, 2012
Video Game Crusader-Chapter 8 part 1
The War was devouring her husband. Joanna Reed could see it, and do nothing.
She was born in 1985. Her mother was fifteen. Her father was twenty. It was an unstable beginning, in the heart of Los Angeles. Her early memories, her Grandmother taking her into the backyard, where she could see the Hollywood sign. Things fast-forwarded several years. She was living in the Antelope Valley now, in Palmdale. Her father had rebounded from a rocky start as an eighties style gang-banger to run a chain of rehab clinics. Her mother had sunk firmly into the grips of living off the county. She was the sort of welfare queen that set right wing talk show hosts on edge, a victim of the system that had been set up to help her. Most of the time she thought about it, she hated her mother, hated the endless drinking, the refusal to pay simple bills.
She worked and went to school. She worked as a teachers assistant for a class of disabled children. The teacher, Ms. Perkins, had twenty years seniority in the system and did not care overly much about the principles of bringing knowledge to children. That left the actual job to Joanna and the other teachers assistant, Christina. She loved children.
People called Joanna Turqouise. That was her middle name, the one her mother had picked out for her in origin. Joanna was her grandmothers name. The story she was told is that her father had begged and pleaded for her to be named Joanna, and her mother had finally relented. She thought of herself as Turqouise. She had a sister named Tuesday, on her dads side, who was her half sister. All her siblings were only half hers, divided by a parent or another. She went to school at a community college, and was studying to become a teacher.
Her love life was a complicated thing. She had found out that she preferred White men as a teenager. She had cried after the revelation, as if it were akin to a discovery of self-homosexuality in a zealous Christian. But she had embraced it, nontheless. Her first boyfriend was not her boyfriend. He let her follow him around and pay for things. They would make out and afterwards Turqouise would give him a hand job. He was named Jason and very handsome. He had dreams of designing t-shirts, or playing in a band, dreams which were as translucent as creations shaped of cloud. he left her after the accident.
She was driving the car, which white aunt had bought her, for school and work, and the next thing she remembered was asking for a glass of water in the hospital. Three months had passed in between. A boy which was her cousin had t-boned her at a stop sign, fracturing her skull, and totalling the vehicle.
She had one friend that visited her, before and after. Desiree Blake was her best friend since ten years old. Desiree was a white girl, or at least three-quarters white. There was hispanic lurking in her mothers background. Desiree had her own issues. At eighteen she had decided that she wanted a baby, and the thing to do would be to get pregnant. She found an ugly boy named Cody that was also stupid, and fucked him daily, until his seed took hold and the thing was done. Her mother disowned her and Desiree gave the child her own last name. It was a boy. Desiree was also going to school to be a teacher, although Turqouise suspected that her friend was esentially rudderless, and had simply picked the same major. Out of the pair of them Turqouise was outgoing and Desiree was reserved. They happened to fit their astrological signs, Leo and Virgo, almost exactly.
Turqouise recovered and found herself on her own again, but without a car. She had spent another stint living with her mother while she was recovering, which had been intolerable. Her only solace had come from a video game. She would make up families on the Sims, whole neighboorhoods and storylines that played out grand legacies. It made up for what she thought of as her own intrangescence.
She had finally met Conner on Myspace. It was an emo-themed Myspace message board, aptly titled Love is Suicide. He was moaning about some girl that had jilted him, a mexican bitch named Lila. She had written
I noticed what you had written and think that we are a lot alike. I dont know if you would be interested or if you think I'm weird or whatever, but if you want to talk I'll listen.
She sent the message on her T-Mobile Sidekick, lacking a computer.
James Conner had a computer. What he didnt have is a sofa, television, or a real bed to sleep on. He bought most those things the week before Joanna came to visit.
The sofa and matress came from a furniture store that promised easy credit, and was more than happy to extend that offer to him once he told them he worked for Homeland Security. He bought both as floor models, and reasoned that an actual bed was unnecesary. He got the television from goodwill, an ancient unit that set him back the sum of twenty dollars. The actual bed was much more comfortable than the air matress he had been sleeping on. He reasoned that this was the way people collected things, piece by piece. When he moved to Texas the only pieces he had brought with him were his clothing and the computer. He reasoned that was a fine choice, as that was all he had needed to meet Joanna.
Joanna was the first girl Conner had talked to in a long time. When he found he had needs pent up that he could not fix, through internet porn and masturbation, Conner had found a massage parlor in Houston that was really a front for a whorehouse stacked with Philipino women. The quality of the sex was different from girl to girl, but it was enough to sustain him, and not overly expensive if he only went once a month, or every other month. Sometimes when he thought about it he realized the women were most likely slaves to the place, but he tried not to let it bother him.
Chatting on myspace with Joanna led him to chatting on instant messanger, which he had never used and didnt like. This led to phone conversations, which mostly happened after nine pacific time when she could call for free. The meeting was set for Thanksgiving. Conner offered to buy the tickets, and Joanna offered to pay him back, when she could. At the last minute, at the airport, wearing a new shirt and carrying flowers, Conner panicked. He called Sawyer on his cell. To his suprise, Sawyer answered, and Conner explained everything.
"Did you give her any money?" Sawyer asked.
"Thats good. Try not to give her any money. What does she look like?"
"I dont know."
"She didnt have any pictures on her profile?"
"No, I mean, yeah she did, but its hard to tell. I mean, I think I could tell."
"Did they look like fake pictures?"
"No, they looked like real pictures. I mean, in some of them she looks really skinny and pretty. Kind of hot."
"Did she send you any naked stuff?"
"No, but she sent me this one of her in a bra."
"How did that look? With cup size and everything."
"In between a C and a B."
"Yeah. I mean, she's twenty-one."
"Well, shit, dude. I dont see the downside."
"I mean, I just bought this ticket and I havent met her yet. So she could be four hundred pounds. Or a man."
"Your safe on the first part."
"Why do you say that?"
"If she was four hundred pounds they would have made you buy two tickets."
"Hey, I'm just being pragmatic."
There was a moment of nervous silence in which Conner thought his phone was cutting out on him. He looked around. The receiving area was full of people mulling around and trying to look busy. "Do you talk to anyone else?" He asked.
"You mean from Chosin company?"
"I dont talk to anyone at all."
"Your talking to me right now."
"You called me. When you call me your talking AT me. But in order for me to talk TO you, I would have to call you, and I dont call anyone."
"Where do you live? Are you still in Ocala?"
"My dad moved to Minnesota a few years ago. I moved with him, and so I'm here. Or, to be more specific, I moved into some guys basement in Duluth where I mostly sit and drink beer."
"Why? I enjoy drinking beer. Are you still at the prison?"
"Detention center. With Homeland Security."
"Do you think I could get on there?"
"I dont know. I think your discharge would be a problem."
"You have no idea how much I hate what I do."
"I mean, every Friday, this huge fucking crowd rushes in to get their goddamn checks. And I'm like, fuck, I panic, but I cant panic because I'm the teller. And I have to hand these assholes their money. Because I'm the teller. And all the while I'm going batshit in my head. I'm just thinking, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, like over and over. Do you think about that shit?"
"Well, right now, I was thinking about Joanna."
"Is that her name?"
"That was the name of Johnny Depp's girlfriend."
"What, was she an actress or something?"
"I mean, not Johnny Depp. From the movie, Sweeney Todd."
"I missed that one."
"Its pretty good. He's like this English barber, that cuts people up and Helena Bonham Carter stuffs them into meat pies. The whole thing is a musical. And he's singing about his wife, or his ex-wife or whatever, while slashing people with a straight razor. And her name's Joanna."
"Sounds weird. I might like that."
"I'm sorry, man, I just went off on this fucking tangent."
"I've been drinking."
"I mean, not more than I usually do."
"A case...about half a case of natty light. The cans."
"Look, she's a black chick. Does she talk real ghetto on the phone?"
"How does she sound?"
"She's got a...this California accent. Like a valley girl accent."
"So she sounds like a white girl."
"Yeah. Her best friend is white. All her other boyfriends were white."
"So thats like her fetish. I mean, not saying its bad or anything. It just makes the situation more legit. Does she have any kids?"
"Well, fuck, dude, go for it."
"You think I should?"
"A good looking black chick that talks like she's out of Clueless with no fuck trophy in a stroller? Thats a keeper, dude."
The phone cut off suddenly, when an airplane landed, and when Conner tried to call back no one answered.