Wednesday, October 14, 2009
ALASKA PYE text & photos by Walt Cessna
Mrs. Pye hadn't meant to look into her daughter’s diary. It was spare change for cigarettes she was originally searching for, not a book full of her child’s personal, previously unavailable secrets. When she had opened the middle drawer of the kids’ desk, it practically jumped out at her, already open to the page she was about to read.
The diary entries under the date October Thirtieth were scrawled in day-glow green lipstick. The writing looked to be script at first, but after further inspection it appeared more likely to be some sort of secret alien code, unreadable by a mere mortal, but totally discernable to a teenager. The thoughts upon the page were direct, simple yet perplexing. One read;
"Today is tomorrow if it was yesterday." The second went; "But will you still love me...in a minute?" The third, and final said; "I've spent the past sixteen years trying to get to know myself, and guess what? I'm still a huge fucking mystery!"
"Well that perfectly explains my feeling for that brat," she said out loud as she quickly slammed the drawer shut and turned around to face her daughter, staring with cold, dark eyes from the doorway.
"If it isn't my little mystery. Where the hell have you been?"
"What we're you doin' readin' my diary mom?"
"Don't question me like that...I'm your mother, not one of those crippled freaks you insist on hanging out with!"
"They're my friends, mom. It's not their fault that they were born that way."
"Shut up or else..."
"Or else what, mom?"
"Just shut up, O.K.?" she replied as she brushed past Alaska and padded barefoot to her own bedroom. She turned over her shoulder and called out to her daughter one last time.
"Alaska, don't forget to get me up before you go to school tomorrow. Your sisters are visiting from Boston, and you know how annoying they can be. I want everything in tip-top shape. Understand?"
Alaska just stood in her own doorway, silent, with her back facing away from her mother.
"DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
"Yes, mom. I understand."
Satisfied, she walked into her room and closed her door. Alaska could hear the latch sliding through the lock and the unsteady steps of her mother who was probably already drunk. Was she about to finish up the bottle she kept between the mattresses, thought Alaska, or would she open one of the new ones that she hid in the closet in the empty spaces of her vinyl shoetree? Alaska closed her own bedroom door and slunk dejectedly towards her desk where she pulled the diary from its middle drawer and sat down with it on her bed. Pulling a thick black Sharpie from behind her ear, Alaska first scratched the rim of her nose with it as she contemplated how to relay the events that had just taken place onto paper.
In clear, bold letters, Alaska printed, "LOVING THE ADDICT." Then she closed the book and slid it underneath her pillow as she crawled fully dressed beneath the heavy purple comforter that was carelessly strewn across her bed. Alaska reached over towards her lamp and slowly shut it off as she remembered the last time she loved her mother and not the addict.
It had been so long ago, it took her almost a minute to realize that not once in her sixteen years had her mother ever acted like one. Instead, ever since she was old enough to fend for herself, Alaska had become the mom and her mom became the child. Once her sisters had left them to fend for themselves at the age of ten, Alaska had done everything that needed to be done in the house, while her mom boozed it up with a never ending parade of new friends, lovers and general hangers on. She used to sell speed out of the house and pretended it was sugar when Alaska asked.
"The neighbors are just coming' by to borrow a few lumps, sweetheart," she would answer Alaska's curious questions, until one day, when Alaska was about twelve, she figured out what was really goin' on. She had asked her teacher at school if "sugar cost a lot of money?” "Does it make your mother crabby if she uses too much of it?" and "does it keep you awake for three days?" The teacher, bewildered and baffled by such strange inquiries replied as best he could then asked Alaska why she wanted to know. Looking up at him as innocently as possible, Alaska winked her left eye and said she "was just wonderin'."
Inside her head though she was trying to figure out what the fuck her mother had been selling if it wasn't sugar. When she had gotten home from school that day, her answers were answered in a matter of chaotic, freaked out minutes. Unbeknownst to Alaska, her mother had stopped simply snorting speed about a year ago, and was now regularly shooting up. Good veins were becoming increasingly hard to find, however, so lately she had to really work the needle to find some fresh tubes on her sadly sacked limbs. That day had been especially hard, and she mistook a bad vein for a good one, causing her to OD on the spot.
By the time Alaska walked in on her mother, she had fallen off of the couch in the living room where the TV was still blaring and lay crumpled in a pool of her own blood.
She gathered up all of her mothers drug stash, and located anything that remotely resembled paraphernalia. Then Alaska called 911 and waited impatiently as it took an ambulance almost fifty minutes to finally show up. When they did, her mother had begun to show signs of life, and after a few well-assisted heaves and a shot of something very soothing, she rebounded like the true good junkie she was. Alive, but just barely kicking.
The sound of the alarm ringing crashed through Alaska's ears and reverberated like a rocket through her brain. She slunk out of bed like a worm struggling from the soil after a sun shower and robotically made her way towards the bathroom. As she shrugged off the clothes she had fallen asleep in, Alaska carefully inspected her naked body in the mirror that hung on the back of the closed bathroom door.
Her choppy, jet-black hair was cut into a neat square around a gently shaped face, with two-devil horn like tufts angrily sprouting from each side. As a child, her mother used to cut the tufts off, murmuring under her breath about how she didn't want people to mistake her for Satan’s’ child. Right around her thirteenth birthday, Alaska wouldn't let her cut them anymore. A friend had convinced her to cut her hair short and let the tufts grow out, and then groom them into sharply pointed horns of hair. Her mother protested like a banshee, but Alaska's hair was such a hit at school that she soon became known as "Devil Girl" and was voted most popular kid in her eighth grade graduating class.
A massive group of freckles spread across her face much like a connect the dots puzzle, and her deep, emerald eyes were given to turning a hazy shade of gray depending on her ever-changing mood. Her lips were thin, but well defined, often caught in some smirkish expression of a kid apprehended whilst doing something bad. Her skin was, corny as this may sound, pure and white as winter snow, reflecting each of the many freckles upon her face like stars glistening against a white velvet curtain.
She stared harder at her sixteen-year old body than she did her face. Her body caused much more concern since she had yet to develop what seemed to be the sole female attraction for boys under the age of eighteen (and maybe above too, Alaska feared). Her chest was flat as the proverbial board, and showed nary a sign that anything might happen soon.
Alaska raised her arms above her head in a pose she had seen Amber Valletta strike in the last issue of Vogue. As she affected diva status, Alaska looked down at her long, milky legs.
They were thin, but extremely toned from several hours of fierce Roller-blading each day and endless nights dancing along the West Side piers with her friends Billy and Marti. They were two Puerto Rican transvestite prostitutes that had introduced her to the Friday night pleasures of a cold forty, a thickly rolled blunt and dancing under the heavens to the best hip-hop that could be found on the dial of their suitcase sized boom-box.
Alaska ended the brief affair with her nude reflected figure only once she was satisfied. She never was, but pretended to be and soon lost herself under the harsh spray of steaming hot water shooting out of the nozzle from her showerhead. She closed her eyes and tried to block out the day ahead, knowing it would be filled with the same soaring highs and lows that accompanied each of it's predecessors. Then she thought back to Billy and Marti, and of her other friends that she had met during the past year; friends who quickly became family, helping her out of a shell-shocked crisis with her mother so she could finally develop a life and personality of her own. A life that her mother knew nothing about.
She had met Billy and Marti through her friend Rusty. Rusty was partially retarded and practically crippled; relying on two intricately molded crutches that helped him navigate his highly confused mind and the twisted and mangled limbs of his body. Rusty rode the same subway train as her. One day, quite by accident, as Alaska bladed through the open subway car doors, she smacked head on into Rusty who was trying to navigate his way off of the train. After profuse apologies, Alaska helped Rusty off the train at the next stop and walked him all the way back to his, about ten blocks away. Although she could hardly understand him, they exchanged names. She figured out that "Rusky" was Rusty, but had no way of telling if he realized her name was Alaska and not "Akasaka" as he was mispronouncing it.
Rusty did his best to explain that he was picked up everyday at the bus stop by his brother Billy and his friend Marti who lived with the two brothers and their extremely feeble Grandmother, Mrs. Mash (a nickname the kids gave her because she watched endless reruns of the TV series Mash). When they got to the bus stop, Billy and Marti were impatiently waiting, and scolded Rusty for worrying them. Through fractured words and much contagious enthusiasm, Rusty explained what happened to his brother who seemed to understand everything being said.
"What's your name girlfriend?" asked Billy as he looked Alaska up and down as if she were the last dress his size on a sale rack. That wasn't the only feminine thing about these two "boys". Neither of them had any eyebrows, and both looked as if they hadn't eaten a meal that concluded with dessert in a few years.
The final straw was when Alaska looked down at their hands and noticed that each sported ten, very well manicured fingers, recently polished and painted. Billy's were red, Marti's were pink.
"I can never get mine to grow that long," blurted out Alaska, not knowing what else to say.
"Shit, baby, these ain't for real. You can thank the almighty god of Lee Press Ons! Fuck, I bet that bitch Cher even wears them!" Billy burst out laughing.
"Uh-uh. I know for a fact that Cher's nails are so long and grow so fast that she actually cuts off the extra length and sells them to the highest bidder!" cut in Marti.
"How the fuck do you know that? Did Cher call up your ass and tell you? I doubt it!" shot back Billy as he snapped two long fingernails in Marti's face. Marti just snapped right back and said;
"I read it in the Star baby...what reason do they have to lie. It’s the biggest selling magazine in America. I read that in the Post!"
Alaska couldn't believe what she was hearing. She looked over at Rusty, who was sucking on a Blow-Pop, drooling most of it's sticky sweet juice from the corner of his mouth as he laughed at Billy and Marti like they were two silly monkeys in a zoo.
"So what's your name, we're still waitin' for an answer!" Marti asked again, breaking Alaska out of her trance.
"Alaska? Alaska what?" said Billy.
"Alaska Pye," Alaska said nervously.
"What kind of a name is that," asked Billy.
"And where'dja get all those spots on your face," asked Marti.
"They're not spots! Haven’t you ever seen freckles before," answered Alaska, almost on the brink of tears. My Daddy's name was Amos Pye. He met and married my mom when he was working on the Alaskan pipeline."
"How come?" Marti asked.
"Because he got her pregnant," Alaska continued, "and her parents threw her out of the house."
"She was married already? What was your mom, some sort of freaky deaky ho?"
"No, she was their only girl and they felt she had tarnished their family name. My mom, Mrs. Pye, had twin girls. They lived in Alaska until I was born. Then they left for his home in New York so they named me Alaska so that they'd always be able to remember how and where they first met."
"Are you an Eskimo? You sure look like one," said Marti as he pulled the now devoured Blow-Pop out of Rusty's mouth and replaced it with a fresh one.
"My mother is, but my dad is English and Irish. That's where I get the freckles from."
"Can't you get them removed or something?" asked Billy.
"Yeah, they look like they hurt. Have you ever counted all of them?" said Marti.
"NO, I cannot remove them, and NO, they do not hurt. Are you two stupid or something?" bellowed Alaska, more than a hint of having been insulted in her tone. "Now that you know who I am, why don't you tell me why you two look so much like girls?"
"Because we're almost girls!" Shit, if I had thirty thou' I'd cut this fucker off right now!" answered a defiant Marti as he grabbed his crotch.
"Listen Alaska, some people are simply not born into their proper place in life," said Billy. "Take Rusty for example. Do you really think he wanted to spend the rest of his life on this god forsaken planet as a fuckin' cripple? He does everything he can to make his life better, and we help him. Marti and I always wanted to be girls when we grew up, not the boys we were born as. So instead of sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, we're doin' somethin' 'bout it."
"Like what," asked Alaska?
"We're saving up for the operation. In the meantime we take hormones and try to dress and behave as much like girls as possible. You know, we pluck our eyebrows, wear wigs and dress in women’s clothes, shave our legs. Stuff like that," finished Marti.
Alaska looked at her own bare legs and realized that a faint hint of hair was beginning to rear its ugly head across her nubile gams. Then she stared at Marti's legs, uncovered almost all the way to the top of the thigh in a pair of denim hot pants. Marti caught her stare and started to laugh uncontrollably.
"Listen up sweetheart, these shits are so nice and smooth from electrolysis. That Nair shit don't do nothin’ but give me ingrown hairs and a nasty rash!" Marti slapped Alaska on the back as he continued to laugh like a jackal. Billy brought things to order.
"Would you like to hang out with us on Friday night," Billy wondered.
"Where," said Alaska?
"We hang out on the West Side piers. Rusty even comes along."
"What d'ya do?"
"Listen to some hip-hop on the box, smoke a few doob's. Do a little business, if you know what I mean." Billy stared over at Marti who was trying to keep from cracking up. "You'd be a really big help. You're the first person that Rusty has liked in almost three years. Look at how he looks at you."
It was true. Rusty was enamored of Alaska and could hardly keep from holding on to her as if she were his big sister. Alaska was curious about the business end though.
"What kind of business are you into. You don't sell drugs I hope," she said.
"No honey, we may be users, maybe even abusers. But we ain't no pushers. We deal in another business," answered Marti. "Listen girl, we're not embarrassed about what we do. It is for a good cause after all, turning us into members of the female persuasion."
"Well what the hell do you do if you're not selling drugs? What else is there?"
"Shit baby," said Billy, "we're fuckin' prostitutes!"
Alaska looked at the two boys for the briefest second, then at Rusty who was working on his fourth Blow-Pop, this one chocolate. She thought about her own life, and compared living with her addict mother to Rusty's living with two underage pre-op sex changes. For some weird reason, that made sense to no one but herself, Alaska decided that she had the worst end of the deal. At least they're not having kids and fucking up their lives too, thought Alaska as she nodded approval at Billy and Marti, and took hold of Rusty’s hand which was oozing sticky Blow-Pop residue. After Alaska wiped her fingers clean on the back of her lilac stretch vinyl pants, she turned her gaze back towards Billy and Marti and calmly said,
"So where should we meet?"
Billy and Marti looked at each other, laughed, then each took hold of one of Rusty’s hands as they began to walk home. After a few steps, Billy turned around and looked Alaska straight in the eye.
"We'll meet you here Friday night. Come home with Rusty on the bus. We'll get some food from Mrs. Mash, then go hang out."
"Alright," said Alaska. "I'll see you Friday."
"Oh, and Alaska?"
"Your pretty cool for an Eskimo with freckles."
"And you guys are pretty cool too," Alaska said aloud, then to herself, "I think. I hope."
She had had enough of her memories, at least for the moment. Alaska flipped the shower knobs off and strode naked from the peach tiled stall in search of a towel, which alluded her until she found an old musty one rolled up into a ball at the bottom of her crammed to the gills closet. After drying herself off, she rifled through the stuffed clothing racks in the darkened closet until she came across a fierce pair of black patent leather trousers piped in a razor thin strip of neon blue velvet. They didn't have a waistband and rested about a quarter of an inch above her snatch and three inches below her bellybutton, punctuated down the middle front by a thick steel zipper.
After she had shrugged them over her long, milk white legs, Alaska reached for a skintight Lycra chartreuse turtleneck that she layered over her raisin like breasts. On top of this she piled a fitted, but fluid neon blue silk nylon hooded coat that belted tightly at the waist, allowing the bottom length of it to flow out like a billowing dance skirt. Finally, on her feet, she zipped up a pair of ankle length hot pink booties that sat atop a treacherous five-inch molded metal heel that broke into a modified triangle at the bottom. Alaska was ready to roll.
Before she could grab her blades and set off for another day of "school", Alaska had to settle her morning matters at home first. She strode into the kitchen and pulled a tub of Quaker oats out of the cupboard. Grabbing a large pot from underneath the sink, she simultaneously flicked on the range, and poured a double serving of oatmeal into the pot, which she then held under the sink to fill with cold water. As she rested the pot on the now hot stove, she searched through her pockets for the final ingredient. Alas, she was coming up empty handed.
Then she spied what she was looking for sitting right on top of the kitchen table in plain view of anybody with half a brain. A pink glassine envelope, filled to the brim with a crystal white powder. The oatmeal was bubbling, so she grabbed a large yellow bowl from the sink, washed it and then placed it on the table underneath a grass green plate. Alaska then poured a healthy helping of the thick, beige substance into the receptacle and stuck a big silver spoon with a slightly bent handle dead in the center, letting it stick straight up. Then with no hesitation and only a slight hint of remorse, she dumped half the contents from the pink envelope into the oatmeal and almost trance like, stirred it in with the spoon.
Just as she had finished, Mrs. Pye walked into the kitchen, clutching closed an orange velour robe worn over nothing but bare, blotchy skin. Her long black hair was tangled and tormented into a bizarre looking tumbleweed that drooped over the sides of her head and collapsed well past her shoulders. Her eyes, once almond shaped, with piercing coal colored centers, were now marked with deep, jagged lines, forming an unhappy conglomeration of wrinkles below and above them. Her lips were bitten to the bottom layer, scraped by her sharp, yellow teeth until patches of blood would rise to the top and spread across them with her saliva like lip-gloss.
"Is my breakfast ready?"
Before she could even ask, Alaska had lit one of her own Marlboro lights and had thrust it into her mothers waiting mouth.
"Thanks, baby. Do you think you could do me on more little favor sweetie?"
"I'm way ahead of you ma," Alaska answered, as she walked over to her mother’s purse and pulled out a baggy of fluffy green hydro. As she rolled two fat blunts for her mother, she allowed herself the luxury of rolling three fatties for her and the crew to enjoy later. It was Friday night after all, and her mother was always too fucked up to remember how much shit she had anyway.
"Here mom, these should help take the edge off of the speed I put in your oatmeal," Alaska said as she placed her mother’s joints on the kitchen table and returned the bag of weed to her purse.
"Alaska, what would I do without you. You really are the best. Not like those fucking sisters of yours. If I'da known what bitches they were gonna turn into I woulda' had a fucking abortion."
"Well why do I have to fuckin' pick them up from the train then? Why can't we just tell those Double mint freaks to fuck off!"
“Because they're your older sisters and I need you to help me get them off my back. They've been threatening me with all sorts of fucked up shit lately, thanks to you and your fuckin' big mouth."
"What did I do?"
"You told them that I needed to go into a rehab last year!"
"Well you did, you passed out drunk on the FDR drive for Christ’s sake!"
"I didn't pass out, I was trying to cross the street."
"Ma, you jumped on top of the hood of a pick up that had just avoided flattening you by about a half inch. Then you hopped off and jumped into the front seat and proceeded to punch the driver in the face until you broke his nose."
"He grabbed my ass!"
"I hate to remind you ma, but all you were wearing was a plastic pearl choker from Woolworth’s that shit boyfriend of yours gave you for Christmas."
"Leave Myron out of it. You'd hate him even if he was your real father."
"By the way, where the fuck is my real father?"
"You must get pretty thirsty, askin' all those questions"
"I wouldn't have to ask if you'd just tell me what the hell happened and why he left."
"You know I don't like talkin' 'bout it."
"Cause it hurts just thinkin' about his pretty face, that's why. Don't you think I miss him too?"
"You wouldn't know it with all the trolls you parade through here!"
"Watch your mouth you little cunt, I've just about had enough of you."
"You better worry about when I've had enough of YOU, ma!"
"Are you threatin' me Alaska. Don't you have any respect for your own mother? I am fifty after all, I'm not sixteen like you."
"What does that have to do with tellin' me where my daddy went?"
"Oh, we're back on that boring subject. Alright Alaska, you really wanna know what happened to your dear, darling dad?"
Alaska looked at her mother and wondered if she was about to hear a hurtful truth, or an even more hurtful lie. Mrs. Pye was actually shaking with anticipation for her daughter’s answer. It didn't take long to come. Alaska stared her mother down as hard as she could.
"Yes, I want to know, and I hope your telling the truth."
"Your fuckin' father was a fag. He left me for another man when you we're no more than three. Just walked out on us without ever looking back. That prick can rot in hell for what he did to us."
"I don't believe you! I know that you're lying!" Alaska screamed at her mother as she gathered up her blades and started to make her way for the front door, but Mrs. Pye was hardly through with her daughter.
"Are you satisfied now Alaska? Miss thinks she needs to know it all and then can't handle it when it's dumped in her fuckin' lap! Well? Are you?!!"
"Yes, mother, you've properly disillusioned me for life. Now do me a favor?"
"Get the fuck out of my face. I have to go pick up my two darling twin sisters at Grand Central. Ex stars of screen, no stage. Legendary horror movie icons, having only ever appeared in one movie (not even as the actual actresses but as their stand-ins, but the family never admits to this and always says they were really in the movie even though they look nothing like the two twins on screen) in which they shared the screen with a river of blood and an obnoxious tyke on a Big Wheel muttering redrum!"
"The Shining” was a huge movie Alaska! They got a very nice check at the end of it."
"Yeah...I remember. I think it took you all of a week to spend it if I remember correctly! You're such a devoted mother."
"Fuck you Alaska!"
"No ma," whispered Alaska, as she watched her mother devour the oatmeal sweetened with crystal meth. "Fuck you."
"Wait a minute honey, please promise me that you won't tell them about the drugs. If you do, I promise to let you do whatever you want from now on."
"I already do whatever the fuck I want."
"I know you do, only now it would be with my blessing."
"Don't worry Ma, I won't open my trap. But don't expect me to come home and hang with those two freaks. I've got plans after school."
"Like what, if I may be so bold as to inquire?"
"What do I always do on Friday night? I hang out with Rusty and the gang. You know that."
"Excuse me if I was trying to forget the fact that my daughter hangs out with a fourteen year-old paraplegic with downs syndrome, two eighteen year-old transvestites and last but certainly far from least, a thirty-five year old black albino, paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a motorized wheelchair. Yes, I like to refer to it as Alaska's little freak show!"
"Why are you so bugged mama? Does it have to do with the twins threatening to have you institutionalized?"
"How do you know about that?!"
"You said they've been threatening you."
"I didn't say how."
"I know. The twins mentioned it when they called last week to say they were comin'. They have some crazy idea that I'm going to corroborate all their ill fears and help them get the authorities to lock you up cause you're an unfit mother to your highly impressionable sixteen year-old. Me."
"You'd never go along with it Alaska, would you? Just think of everything I've done for you."
Alaska looked at her mother and let out a hearty laugh that soon dissolved into wrenching tears."
"What a laugh," Alaska spit out between sobs as she opened the front door and stepped outside into the hallway. Before she slammed the door shut she gave her mother one last look. "All you ever gave me was a first class ticket to hell ma. And you know what? One of these days I'm gonna send for you, just so you can feel how hot it is down here for yourself. Funny thing is, I actually used to love you."
"And how do you feel now," Mrs. Pye asked as she turned her face away from Alaska's angry glance.
"Don't go there...you really don't want me to go there ma." Alaska retreated behind the slammed shut door and headed towards Grand Central, tears streaming past her freckled cheeks and splashing silently into the folds of her hood.
When she got outside of their apartment on St. Marks and First Avenue, Alaska position herself on the curb and quickly strapped on her roller blades. Depositing her hot pink booties into a black suede knapsack that she flung over her shoulder. Alaska bolted down the street until she had reached Lexington Avenue, from where she hooked a sharp right and pumped her way furiously up to Forty-second Street. Defying the no wheels of any kind warning posted outside of Grand Central, Alaska sailed into the terminal, gliding through the midday commuters and a sea of policemen who looked as if they spent all their time sucking down seafood in the world famous Oyster Bar.
The twin’s train was due in at nine o'clock and it was exactly a minute of when Alaska came to a screeching halt at the information counter to ask which track. Once she got her answer, Alaska rolled over to the appropriate destination, lit a Marlboro light, and puffed away as she anxiously awaited the arrival of her two thirty year old twin sisters that she had secretly been harboring a deep fear of her entire life. After a few moments, the sound of a train pulling into the station roared her away from the nicotine, and the first of several stragglers made their way up the platform and out it's exit.
About midway into the crowd, Alaska could make out the unmistakably eerie presence of her twin sisters swooping through the crowd. As they got closer, she stamped out her cigarette and blew the smoke behind her. Then she popped a slice of Juicy fruit past her parched lips and tried to force a smile for her two least favorite people on the planet. They dressed identically, even though they were way past the age when women are considered cute for such shit. The worst part was that they were also fashion victims of the highest order, outfitted today in a weirdly chic looking sacrifice to the fashion gods.
Black stovepipe wool pants were worn under knee length black leather cloaks that reminded Alaska of an exaggerated artist smock. They both appeared emaciated, with their long, greasy dyed blonde hair worn parted down the middle and combed into jagged tendrils that framed their huge, bird like noses. Since they were each six foot two with size thirteen (men’s) feet, they gave off the impression of being characters from Sesame Street. You know, Big Bird. Big Bird if he looked like a drag queen and was wearing poor imitations of Manolo Blahnik four inch high heel strappy white sandals worn over black opaque tights.
Suddenly two beaks were smack in her face as the twins swarmed up to their sister and flapped their wings, I mean arms, around her in a hug.
"Hello Alaska. That's an interesting outfit!"
"Hi Mattle," Alaska seethed as she tried to escape their embrace. "You look, you look interesting too. Yeah."
"What happened to your hair?"
"Hey Willow. It grows like this, so I kind of shape it a little bit, give it some personality."
"Whose personality?" asked Willow. "The devils?"
"They do kind of look like horns Alaska," joined in Mattle. "It must be the style. You kids are always up to something...interesting."
"Yes we are!" snapped back Alaska as she rolled a few feet away from her sisters and motioned for them to follow her.
"How do you expect us to keep up with you Alaska? We're not on wheels you know!" snorted Mattel as she and her sister picked up their yellow leather suitcases and attempted to keep up with their younger sister who was barely able to keep from laughing her ass off.
"Listen girls, I'm sorry but I'm in an awful rush. I've got to get to school. Listen, here's moms address, I wrote it down for you on this matchbook. Remember to ring the bell for at least a minute, ma likes to play her old Sugar Hill Gang records in the morning after breakfast, and you know ma, she likes to play that shit loud. Hey, when was the last time you've seen ma?"
"It's been almost six years. When we got that hysterical phone call from you last year we realized that maybe mom wasn't up to the burden of taking care of a kid anymore. Especially since she's never really gotten over losing dad," said Willow. Alaska immediately regretted ever calling them. She had only asked them when the last time they were here to see if they even remembered. Alaska would never forget. It was right after her tenth birthday. The twins were twenty-four and had been working to support ma, who although she wasn't constantly doing drugs yet, had become a sort of invalid, barely leaving the house and spending most days in her robe camped out in front of the television.
Mr. Pye hadn't been seen in years, and Mrs. Pye was finally granted a divorce on grounds of abandonment right around Alaska's seventh birthday. They celebrated without the twins who now had boyfriends and spent as little time with their fucked up mother as possible. Mr. Pye unexpectedly turned up in Boston from where he had sent the twins a postcard telling them to come for a visit. He had left his supposed lover and had just married a beautiful black girl, Shalili.
The twins were desperate to escape Mrs. Pye so they wrote Mr. Pye back, begging him to let them move in. He readily agreed. They never expected Mrs. Pye to intercept one of Mr. Pye's postcards bearing travel instructions for the twins.
When Mrs. Pye found out what the twins were up to she took all of their clothes and personal belongings, even their toiletries and donated them to the Salvation Army one day while they were at work. The twins came home and found out that their mother knew what they were planning.
A bitter fight ensued in which Alaska tried to jump into the middle to end it, but was roughly shoved aside by her mother and knocked into a wall. The twins declared Mrs. Pye to be crazy and stormed off to their room to gather their belongings. When they discovered everything missing, they savagely beat Mrs. Pye and took her last two hundred dollars from her purse before they left the apartment for good.
"What about me?" Alaska cried out to them, but instead of looking back they shut the door. Her and ma hadn't heard from them until a postcard came last year announcing their engagement to twins in Boston, the sons of one of the most prominent Republican banking families in the East. They wanted to know how ma was, and if they could pay a visit. When Mrs. Pye saw the postcard, she ripped it up and warned Alaska never to call her sisters. But Alaska had copied the phone number off the postcard, and when ma seemed like she was finally about to do herself in, Alaska thought they might actually be able to help. Boy, was she ever wrong.
Instead of helping, they began to threaten ma with having her institutionalized. It seems they were worried that their fiancé’s family might have a problem with Mrs. Pye and her lewd ways. It wouldn't look too good if their alcoholic mother were to turn up at the wedding. So now they were here to see just how fucked up ma was, and if Alaska was being properly taken care of. For the briefest second Alaska pondered if it might actually be a good thing, having ma put away.
Then she realized that Mattle and Willow would never let her live in New York alone. They would most certainly force her to come and live with them in Boston. Boring, bloody Boston for Christ’s sake! Alaska knew she must avoid this fate in any way she could. A plan was needed, and she knew just the person to help her hatch it.
"See you later girls, I've gotta get to school," Alaska shouted over her back as she bladed out of the terminal, leaving the twins scratching their beaks and struggling with not only their luggage but the situation as well. Instead of heading for school, Alaska whizzed back downtown until she reached the bubble gum pink painted building on Fifth Street between Second and Third Avenue and pressed the buzzer.
"Who is it?" came a delicate, almost dainty voice tinged with intercom static.
"Fat Ann, it's me Alaska. I need your help, they wanna take me away!"
"Then little girl, get your ass in here. They gots to go through me first!"
Alaska usually attended her first two classes, English and Art, and would then split for the rest of the day. She would either go Roller-blading in Central Park, or she would spend the afternoon with Fat Ann, her best friend, confidante and truly dear pal. She had met Fat Ann waiting thirty-six hours on line at Tower Records for a personal appearance and CD signing by Tori Amos. Over the course of a day and a half, waiting on a line that wrapped around the block almost twice, the two of them learned each other’s life stories and bonded immediately.
Fat Ann was unlike anyone Alaska had ever known. She was a three hundred and sixty-five pound black albino, paralyzed from the waist down and confined for most of her thirty-five years of life to a wheelchair. For someone with so much against her, Fat Ann managed not to let it get to her. In fact, she worked her handicap for all it was worth, never letting anyone who came across her path forget that she was just like them and didn't want nor need no special treatment, thank-you!
When Alaska had pushed Fat Ann up to Tori Amos (this was before Alaska, Billy, Mari and Rusty all chipped in to buy her a motorized wheelchair), Tori bent down and kissed Fat Ann, calling her an "angel". Then she kissed Alaska and gave her an equally big hug, after which she signed Fat Ann's CD and Alaska’s arm (which she refused to wash for three months, wearing a plastic bag taped around it even in the bath). When they had exited the store, joyous laughter tinged with happy tears invaded their senses. Alaska suggested having dinner, but both their budgets only allowed a gourmet meal of Gray's Papaya where they each had three dogs with everything and shared an extra large coconut "champagne".
Alaska had just reached Fat Ann's front door when it opened before she could knock on it. Fat Ann broke her from the memories clouding her brain.
"Who's gonna take you away Alaska? What's all this nonsense about?"
Fat Ann was sitting in the motorized wheelchair, driving it back-wards into the living room while Alaska followed. Her shock white hair was extra fuzzy today, forming an atomic explosion that loomed out from the top of her head. Her face was devoid of make-up, save for her lips, which were semi-splattered with a thin layer of blueberry gloss. She was wearing a checkerboard print Lycra top with bat-like dolman sleeves and a long, flowing skirt that covered the bottom half of her massive body like fabric draped over a monument. She was barefoot, and her toenails were painted a tepid blue. On her left ankle hung bulky charm bracelets with each of the Ten Commandments emblazoned across miniature scrolls.
"Do you want something to drink? I think I have a Snapple Kiwi something in the fridge?" offered Fat Ann as Alaska rolled over to the couch and quickly took off her blades.
"That's OK, thanks. Listen, I've got a serious fuckin' problem. My wicked twin step sisters just flew their broom into town."
"You never mentioned no sisters before honey."
"I know. It's funny, I never even think of them as my sisters. They're like alien and shit, ya' know? I guess I blotted them out for all these years."
"Why do they wanna take you away?"
"I made the mistake of clueing them into ma's little drug problem last year. Turns out they're marrying these hot shot conservative twin brothers in fuckin' Boston and are afraid she might embarrass them. So instead of telling the truth, they're making up a lie about how worried they are about me and how an underage girl like myself "needs proper guidance and New York City is hardly the place to get it". Fat Ann, what am I gonna do?"
"First things first honey. Why don't we go catch a movie at the Angelica? I wanna see that Wigstock flick with the bunny lady in it. Then we'll pick up Rusty from school and take the bus home to Billy and Marti's where we'll eat whatever weird thing Mrs. Mash has concocted for dinner. Then..."
"Then," Alaska cut in, "we'll smoke one of these big fat blunts in my pocket and go down to the piers where the four of you will help me come up with a solution to this most perplexing dilemma!"
"Sounds good to me," answered Fat Ann as she flicked the power switch on her motorized wheelchair and started to roll towards the door. "Now listen rollerina, don't give the usher at the movie theater attitude when he asks you to take off your blades. You know you're not allowed to wear them inside."
"Don't worry, I have an extra pair of shoes in my knapsack," Alaska casually replied as she put her blades back on and tightly fastened the straps shut. "Let's cut through Washington Square Park though'. I have to score some speed for my old lady."
"Alright, alright. But I'm not hiding it in my wheelchair."
"Why do you think I went to all the trouble of hollowing out the armrest then? C'mon Fat Ann, be a good sport. I promise I'll make it worth your while."
"You're talkin' like a drug addict honey. In fact, I bet if you thought about it, you'd discover that you sound just like your mother."
Alaska looked sternly at Fat Ann for a few seconds and then got up off the couch and rolled to front door which she opened for her chair bound friend.
"You know me a little too well Ann."
"That's what friend's are for honey...that's what friend's are for."
"Don't get all Dionne Warwick on me and shit now, Fat Ann!" Alaska laughed.
"You know," said Fat Ann, " I heard that Dionne had an affair with Marlene Dietrich!"
"Well now we know where Whitney gets it girl!" said Alaska and then the two finally left.
It took Mattle and Willow almost an hour to schlep their bags to the front of Grand Central, commandeer a passing cab and then find their way to Mrs. Pye’s apartment on St. Marks. When they finally pulled up to the building, Mattle struggled with the suitcases while Willow paid the driver who took off before he had a chance to give her the change. The twins lugged their stuff up the buildings front stoop and taking Alaska's advice, leaned on ma's buzzer for a good ten minutes before a froggy sounding voice rudely asked whom it was.
"Mother...its Mattle and Willow. We're downstairs. Buzz us in."
After a moment or two of hesitation, and the audible sound of somebody hacking up a load of phlegm, Mrs. Pye pushed down on her intercom and allowed the girls entry.
"It's apartment # 711," coughed Mrs. Pye. "Could you do me a favor and pick up a pack of cigarettes from the deli on the corner first?" Before either of them could answer she said, "Thanks, I appreciate it."
Mattle took off while Willow watched the luggage and about ten minutes later they were standing in front of the apartment door, cigarettes and luggage in hand. Neither was prepared for the shock of seeing ma for the first time in six years. She had tried, unsuccessfully, to spruce herself up for the reunion, and appeared almost worse than she usually did. The twins visibly recoiled, startled not only at how much their mother had aged but more at how unapologetic she was about it. She wore her physical decay almost proudly, eager to finally do vanity in.
Her jet black hair was smushed down with several oddly placed rhinestone covered barrettes, and her face had been liberally doused with a thick layer of hastily applied make-up, with most of the attention having been paid to raccoon like, black rimmed eyes. Her slightly overweight frame was concealed under a black satin wrap dress that went just below her knee that she had gotten on sale at Betsey Johnson in Soho a few years ago. It was a few sizes to small, so her large bra-less breasts were barely encased in the front folds of the fabric, and it's belt buckle looked as if it might burst from all the extra pressure being applied to it. On her feet was a pair of black velour bedroom slippers, with well-worn, flat heels and a hole in the toe of the left one.
Willow immediately decided that her mother had gone completely insane. Mattle, who liked to disagree with her sister from time to time just to freak her out, sensed that her twin was fiercely freaking the fuck out. Instead of going against her however, she was forced into agreeing that Mrs. Pye was extremely on the edge.
"Hello mother," purred Mattle, as she mockingly air kissed her. "Don't you look...interesting."
"Yes mother," mimicked Willow. "It's been too long."
"To tell you the fucking truth girls," snickered Mrs. Pye, sensing their repulsion by her appearance, "I'd say it hasn't been long enough."
The twins looked at her and laughed, then pushed her aside as they invaded the apartment. Mrs. Pye had tried to clean it up as best she could, but no matter how many bottles she picked up, their always seemed to be another ready to take it's place. Luckily, sunlight was a rare privilege in this back apartment and the lights were thankfully low. Mattle and Willow dropped their luggage and sat down at the kitchen table, which was really in the living room, but Mrs. Pye liked to pretend she had a kitchen and a living room.
"The place looks...nice, mom. How long have you been living here?" asked Mattle, leading the conversation.
"I moved here after you two beat the crap out of me and went to your fathers."
"Oh mother," said Willow. "No need to be bitter. We were just angry about the way you tossed all our stuff out."
"You were abandoning me. What should I have done? Had a going away party?!"
"That might’ve been nice," Willow shot back, but Mattle slapped her on the leg and signaled for her to shut up. They mustn’t come on too strong. First they had to figure out ma's weak point, something they could use against her in court.
"Willow’s sorry ma," said Mattle. It's just we've missed you and it has been such a long time. Who can really remember what
happened that day anyway."
"I can. You two miserable little fucks tried to walk out on me, and when I tried to protest, you beat the shit out of me, your own mother and left my house for good. Now you're back, but I'm not quite sure why. You say this is a social visit, but for some reason I doubt that," Mrs. Pye half screamed as she walked over to the refrigerator, pulled out a Fosters oil can and took a long deliberate swig in front of her uptight, ass-wipe daughters.
"Listen old lady," cut in Willow, obviously over playing it subtle. "We don't have to take your shit anymore, you have to take ours and it's not gonna be pretty if you keep talking to us like that. For starters, we know your out of your fuckin' gourd on drugs and we also know that you haven't been paying proper attention to Alaska."
"Since when do you give a crap about Alaska? If you were so worried about her then why didn't you take her with you six years ago?"
"Because then we weren't marrying two of the richest twenty-nine year olds in Boston," Willow retorted. We can take care of Alaska in a way now that you'll never be able to...especially in your condition."
"Oh I forgot, you two are rich bitches now. Well fuckin' excuse me if I don't roll out the red carpet, it's at the cleaners."
"Listen ma," snapped Mattle. "It's time to cut the crap. Once we get Alaska to speak to the authorities about you and your ill conceived behavioral patterns, we intend to have you put into a special place where they'll know exactly how to deal with you!"
"You mean the nut farm, don't you? Well I got news for you two, I ain’t goin' fuckin' nowhere," yelled Mrs. Pye as she simultaneously flung her beer can in the direction of her two vulture like off-spring perched upon her couch. Although the pair ducked, the sticky, pee colored fluid came splashing all over them, forcing a quick retreat towards the front door. Mrs. Pye moved closer to the twins and started to wave her bare fists at them.
"Get the fuck outta' my house you little bastards!"
"Fine," shouted Willow as she defiantly pushed Mrs. Pye aside and grabbed the two yellow suitcases sitting next to the couch. "We'll leave, but it won't be the last you hear of us. You can count on it."
"I'm not afraid of you," Mrs. Pye barked. "And your sister isn't going to help you either, I've made sure of it."
"Don't be so sure mother," whispered Willow as she and Mattle made their way through the door and out into the hallway.
"Things have a way of changing just when you least expect it." Then the door was slammed shut and the sound of the twins piling their bags into the buildings tiny elevator could be heard through it. Mrs. Pye leaned her head against the heavy metal door and looked for an answer to all this bullshit somewhere far in the back of her brain.
Scoring speed in Washington Square Park filled Alaska with a mixed sense of exhilaration and dread. As she Roller-bladed down a narrow, gravely path with Fat Ann roaring up behind her, Alaska allowed herself the luxury of simultaneously lighting a Camel filter tip and sucking furiously on it as she gulped the space around her for air.
They had just come from the Angelica Theater on Houston, right off Broadway. They had gone to see "Kids", the Larry Clark film and Alaska had gotten into a fight with the boys sitting behind her. They had been cheering on one of the film’s characters while he fucked the female lead who was too stoned on drugs to notice. Alaska called them a bunch of "insignificant pricks of the highest microscopic detail", or something like that. They left before a scene broke out, but not before Alaska had hurled a wad of Tootsie-Roll stained spit at the head of one of the boys who was too stoned to even really notice.
Fat Ann was hardly in the mood for illicit drug peddling in broad daylight, but she wouldn't allow Alaska to get the shit herself. She wondered what she would ever do if they actually ran into trouble. Things usually ran so smoothly that the thought of something fucked up happening hardly occurred. What the fuck was she gonna do anyway? She was three hundred and fifty pound black albino confined to a motorized wheelchair.
Alaska swung her wheeled feet to a wide stop in front of a tall black youth with day glow orange dreadlocks that he wore in twelve tightly braided ponytails framing his long, oblique face. His hands were gnarled appendages, with lobster claw like fingers and jagged, cracked fingernails painted pearly white. He reached out for Alaska's hand and she took his, staring as deeply into his eyes as he was hers.
"When did you dye your hair Abdul...it's rad!"
"You like it baby?"
"You know it man. Hey, you got what I need?"
"Well I ain't no mind reader girly, whatchoo be needin' then?
"Some crank. Speed. Meth. Anything that doesn’t rot out yer' nose after a few bags."
"If you so worried bout' your pretty looks, little woman, then why you be doin' that evil white powder?"
"It ain't for me."
"Who it be for then?"
"It's for my mo...friend."
"That's what they all say, honey, that's what they all say."
Abdul shook his head and pulled out a half dozen glassine baggies full of speed. As he handed them over to Alaska, he stroked her fresh, white freckle spotted face with one of his crusty tipped claws, catching a single tear that had escaped even her own notice.
"Don't cry baby...Ja will make it all better," Abdul whispered into Alaska's ear as he pocketed the one hundred-dollar bill she had just shoved into his lap.
"I know, Abdul. I know. But will it make me better. I don't think even Ja can do that."
"Ja can do anything my pretty woman."
"Maybe", Alaska whispered to herself as she spun out of his grip and Roller-bladed at break neck pace for the park's exit, leaving Fat Ann struggling to keep up with her.
"What did you say to her Abdul? Why you gotta go fuckin' with her head?" Fat Ann angrily demanded as Abdul simply ignored her and shook his day glow bangs into his face to avoid any further communication.
The last thing Alaska and Fat Ann expected was trouble, but that's exactly what lay in their path. First it was the bus, then along came dinner. First the bus. After waiting almost a half-hour for it to drop off Rusty, Alaska and Fat Ann’s patience had already worn quite thin. As the bus finally pulled up in front of them, the girls walked over to the back door. It had a motorized lift that would lower Rusty without his having to conquer the steep steps in front on his hard to maneuver crutches.
When the doors swung open, Rusty, as usual, stood atop the steps waiting for the motorized lift to shift into gear. After waiting almost a minute and still no lift action, Rusty started to yell at the driver, swinging his crutches to get attention. The driver, new on this route, responded by trying to shut the door and take off without allowing Rusty an exit. Just as it seemed the doors had almost closed, Rusty shoved one of his crutches in between its jaws.
"Move that thing out of the door kid!" the bus driver wailed.
By this point, Rusty is on the verge of tears and several of the bus passengers are yelling at him to stop holding up the bus and get the fuck off. The driver is almost out of his seat and ready to make a move for Rusty, when Alaska grabs hold of the door and pries it open. She hops up the steps and takes Rusty in her arms, depositing him on the sidewalk below next to Fat Ann. The bus driver is now standing in the doorway, screaming his bloody head off at them when Alaska hops back up the steps and smacks the poor fool in the face, knocking him back on some old woman wearing a violet crocheted dress and no underwear.
"You got a problem, mister? My friend can't get down the fuckin' steps...he needs the lift. Can't you see he's practically crippled," Alaska screamed, swinging Rusty’s crutches menacingly at him. Then she spit a huge wad of phlegm smack in his face before hopping off the bus and retreating down the block with Rusty sitting on Fat Ann’s lap and crying as her motorized wheelchair roared down the pavement. Alaska spun around on her blades to see if the driver was stupid enough to follow them. He wasn't. A few moments later they pulled up to Mrs. Mash's house and entered through the sliding door into the kitchen and a look of horror on the old woman’s face.
"Hi. Do you remember me? I'm Alaska and this is Fat Ann."
Mrs. Mash looked at the pale freckled girl with black horn sprouting hair standing in front of her and immediately began clutching the huge silver cross worn on a black silk choker around her neck. Marti and Billy had just walked in from the living room where the sound of Rikki Lake could be heard scolding a guest on TV, when Mrs. Mash started having a serious hissy fit.
"Devil child...devil child!" she screamed at Alaska.
"What is she on?" Fat Ann whispered.
Rusty started imitating his grandma, causing even more noise and hysteria in the cramped kitchen. Suddenly, a pot of boiling spaghetti begins spilling over it's side, while the tomato sauce also left on too high a setting begins to bubble from it's cauldron and spit about the range like lava.
"Devil child! She is a devil child!" Mrs. Mash continued.
"She's not the devil Gran, she’s Alaska. Alaska Pye. She's our new friend and we’ve invited her to dinner before. She's been helping Rusty, you should see how great they get along", Billy babbled but it was too late. Mrs. Mash had lifted the pot of boiling spaghetti and was holding it in front of herself, crying and screaming that God had allowed this devil child in her house because it was finally "her time". Fat Ann wheeled herself in front of the insane woman and abruptly knocked the pot out of her hands with one of Rusty's canes. The pasta flew everywhere and Mrs. Mash recoiled in terror.
"Cool it Granny!" Fat Ann yelled, then aimed her wheelchair out the sliding door with Alaska following closely behind. Alaska spun around, tears in her eyes, and a streak of blood spilling from her bit to the base lips.
"I'm sorry...I didn't mean to freak out your Grandmother..."
"Wait up girl, we might as well start the night early. It doesn't look like we'll be having Italian food tonight anyway!" Marti crowed as he and Billy kissed their stunned Grandmother goodbye and exited with Rusty hobbling on one of his canes alongside them.
"You sure freaked Mrs. Mash out. You gots to do something about that hair girl. It gives some people the fuckin' creeps," Fat Ann said as they headed for the subway that would drop them off by the West Side piers. When they got to the entrance, Alaska jumped all twenty steps leading down to the station, then turned around to watch Billy and Marti struggle to help Fat Ann down the steps as they precariously carried her wheelchair one slow step at a time. Rusty had his own solution. He tossed his crutches down the stairs and went down on his ass right behind Fat Ann and the boys. They each paid their fare and waited silently for the subway to fill the station with its thunder and whisk them away to another place. Another time. A place they called their own.
It had been almost six hours since Mattle and Willow finally left Mrs. Pye's apartment. They had hailed a cab and were headed uptown to the Wellington hotel. They could have afforded to stay someplace a lot nicer. The Royalton. The Plaza even. But they had an agenda that included much more than simply resting their weary bodies on expensive sheets for the night.
The cab pulls up to the hotel and the twins throw the driver a twenty before they get out and run into the lobby. Mattle checks them into a room while Willow uses the house phone and places a call.
"Yes", says the hotel operator.
"Room two-sixteen please," whispered Willow.
Within a few seconds the other line began to ring.
"We're downstairs. Do you want us to come straight up?" asked Willow.
"Yeah. Do that. I'll be waiting", the voice said. "Oh yeah, could you do me a favor?"
"Bring me up some Kit-Kat bars, OK?"
Willow hung up the phone, picked up her bag and joined Mattle who was waiting for her by the elevator.
"What's our room number?" asked Willow.
Willow let out a sigh, followed by a small chuckle.
"Guess what room our friend is in?" said Willow.
"Don't tell me. Two-eighteen?"
"Isn't that convenient. Do you think he's up to something?" Mattle wondered, sounding slightly worried as she craned her bird like nose around and let out an audible gulp.
"Either that or it's a coincidence."
The elevator doors opened in front of them and the twins dragged their bags into it slowly. When the door shut, Mattle turned to Willow and asked the question Willow knew was coming.
"Willow, are you sure we should go through with this?"
"Listen Mattle, do you want to get married or not?"
"Of course I do. I just don't want to kill anybody in the process."
"You know as well as I do that the moment their family meets Ma, it's over for us, they'll think we're as fucked up as she is!"
The elevator door opened and they walked down the hallway in search of room two-sixteen.
"I know they won't accept us if they knew where we really came from. It's just I never killed anybody before", said Mattle.
"That's why we've got our friend. No muss, no fuss. We're not even there when it happens. Now stop worrying," Willow begged. "This is it. Room two-sixteen."
She knocked on the door and the twins waited a semi eternity for someone to answer it. They were about to give up when the knob finally twisted and the door burst open. It took Mattle a few seconds to recognize the man standing in the doorway, but when she did she let out a blood-curdling scream that echoed through the hallway like a bullet ricocheting in a pipe. Willow struggled to calm her sister, then addressed their host.
"Hi Dad. I guess I should have told her first, but you know how much she hates you."
"She should get over it", he answered before pulling them into the room and locking the door behind them. "Did'ja remember my Kit-Kat bar?"
"No," whispered Willow. "I'm sorry Daddy, I forgot."
"Forget about it fuck face. Now, let’s get to business. How are we gonna kill your mother?"
The West Side piers on a Friday night played host to a wide variety of characters that Alaska had become fascinated with. There were drag queens, fags, lesbians, transsexuals, straights, junkies, hookers. Almost all of them plying their trade, or to be more specific, selling their ass. Alaska had been coming here for almost a year now and she knew everybody and everything that was going on.
Billy and Marty would change in one of the bars that dotted the highway, entering as young Puerto-Rican boys and leaving as full-fledged women. Billy was the more masculine of the two, looking more like a butch, hard woman in too much make-up. Marti was the pretty one. Very thin, big hair, long nails, soft skin. He looked like a thirteen-year old girl dressing up like a sexy woman. Every old mans fantasy.
Alaska and Fat Ann would hang out at the end of one pier. Alaska would dance with Rusty to the music supplied by hundreds of boom boxes circling in the night and smoke endless joints with Fat Ann while Billy and Marti worked. Every hour or so, Marti or Billy would casually walk over to Fat Ann and deposit all the money they had made so far in the secret compartment in her wheelchair. At the end of the night they would count it up and give Alaska and Fat Ann a cut each for helping out.
"What'choo doin' tonight, Miss Thing?" Marti asked Alaska.
"What'sit to ya' boog-a-loo?" answered Alaska as she slowly counted out the five twenty dollar bills that had just been handed to her.
"We was just wonderin' if you wanted to come out to an after-hours with us?" returned Billy. "Even Fat Ann is comin' out tonight, right girl?"
"You got it baby! Come on Alaska, just for once, stop thinking about that wack mother of yours and come out with us," said Fat Ann as she counted her own five twenties and placed them in the secret compartment of her wheelchair.
"You don't understand, I've gotta bit of a problem," whispered Alaska.
"Was' up baby?" said Marti as he put his arm around Alaska and softly stroked her shoulder.
"My twin sisters are here. Mattle and Willow. They're awful. They wanna put Mrs. Pye in some sorta loony bin. I know she's fucked up, It's not like I love her or anything. But truth of the matter is...she's all I fuckin' got. I need he...I mean she needs...me. You know what I mean? If those fuckin' evil step troll's of mine have their way though, I may never see her again...and since I'm sixteen I'll have to move to Boston and live with them!"
"You ain't goin' nowhere child," soothed Fat Ann as she wheeled over to Alaska and pulled the now sobbing girl firmly into her lap. "If you need our help, you've got it. Now, what can we do?"
"I really don't know. I haven't been home all day, I have no idea what kinda' shit went down between her royal fucked upness and the troll twins. I guess I should get my ass home and find out."
"Alaska, we're going to come with you...just in case those evil girls try something. And you can forget about going to Boston, girlfriend, cause' you are gonna move in with me. I'll hide you from anybody that comes lookin'. In fact, I'll be your new mama!" beamed Fat Ann as Alaska got off her lap and straightened her rumpled appearance in the mirror.
"And we'll help out to. Don't worry about Mrs. Mash. We'll tell her that Satan will posses her if she doesn't help his Devil child!" joked Marti.
"Thanks Fat Ann, I love you, and Billy and Marti, I love you to!" gushed Alaska. Rusty grabbed her from behind and groped her in a child-like embrace.
"And I love you to Rusty! I especially love you," Alaska said as she started to break away from the loving glow of her newfound family.
"C'mon guys, follow me. You're about to share in a unique experience!" said Alaska.
"And what would that be honey?" Billy queried.
Alaska turned around and looked him sternly in the face.
"You're about to meet one of the most difficult women in the world," said Alaska.
"I thought we were meeting your mother," said Marti.
"We are. Trust me...we are," Alaska replied through clenched teeth and a building determination to push things to the edge, starting with this. The next five hours would determine the rest of her life. If only she knew it.
At the age of fifty-two, Mr. Pye looked more like seventy, thanks to his ill fitting toupee' and the thick, coke bottle glasses that perched near the tip of his nose like a snake about to strike. Dressed in a long, mysterious looking brown leather coat, fiercely belted at the waist, he resembled some mad European scientist gone berserk.
He was pacing back and forth across the hotel room as Mattle and Willow pecked at a plate of fries they had ordered up from room service. When they had finished, he finally sat down on the couch across from them and fished a worn looking green vinyl eyeglass case from the deep confines of his coat. Casually, he pulled the spectacles from their compartment and replaced the ones he already had on with them. When he had put the other pair back in the case he turned his attention to his twin daughters who were staring at him with a curious mix of fascination and apprehension.
"Does your mother know about how loaded those fuckin' fiancé’s of yours are?"
"Not exactly," said Willow as she wiped a smudge of ketchup off the corner of her mouth with the long, pink tip of her tongue.
"What'ya mean not exactly," barked Mr. Pye.
"Well, we sent her a postcard letting her know, but she's always so fucked up, who can say what she'll remember," Mattle cut in.
"Who the fuck cares what she knows, let's just kill her and get her outta' the fuckin' way!" said Willow
"I agree," replied Mr. Pye. "The question is, how should we do it? For instance, we could all take turns kicking her to death."
Mattle looked at Willow, who was already staring at her sister in equal disbelief. After a few seconds of telecommunication, they looked Mr. Pye square in the eye.
"We thought the deal was you would take care of everything and we would pay you $25, 000 in cash after our wedding," said Willow.
"What if you forget," laughed Mr. Pye. "Why don't you wanna help me? You beat the crap out of her once before. Are you above kicking some ass now?"
"No," Willow answered through quick spurts of tears clouding her eyes and crashing onto her stark cheeks below. "It's just that you said you would handle everything. We're counting on you."
"And I'm counting on you," Mr. Pye angrily shot back. That bitch never got remarried. I've been paying alimony to her for almost twenty years now and I'm sick of it!"
"We never knew that and besides, it's not our fault you turned out to be some fucked up faggot," bristled Willow, no longer able to conceal her dislike for this fraud of a father. "We made a deal, you have to stick to it."
"Well, there's gonna be a change in plans, kids. And if you don't like it, then I'll go to the police and tell them you contacted me about killing your mother" Mr.Pye said.
"But it was your idea Dad! We're not little kids anymore, you can't pull this shit on us!" Mattle screamed through a rough, clenched throat. A flood of memories collided with her brain and she remembered exactly why she hated him. After they had beaten up Mrs. Pye and left to join their father and his new bride in Boston, things went smoothly for awhile. Dad had chilled out considerably and his new wife, Shalili, treated the girls like sisters, since they practically were. The twins were twenty-four, Shalili a worldly twenty-one. Then the trouble started.
Mattle had been having horrible dreams almost all of her life, ever since she was old enough to remember. It was always the exact same scene; a little girl is sleeping in bed, clutching the white shaggy dog doll that her Dad had given her before dinner. She had insisted on naming it Fluffy and sleeping with it in her bed, relegating her other twenty or so dolls to the cold, wood floor. After playing with Fluffy for awhile, the little girl falls asleep only to be awakened a few moments later by a pillow being placed over her face. As she struggles to escape, the girl is held down by a pair of gloved hands and then raped repeatedly until her small body is numb and her voice nothing more than a scared whimper.
That was it. She'd wake up screaming, cry her eyes out and then fall back asleep. It wasn't until the move to Boston that she started seeing a face in the dreams. It would last only a second, but each time she saw it, it would seem a little bit more familiar. Suddenly, nothing else mattered but the dreams and finding out just whom was behind that face. Mattle had never told anyone what her dreams were about, nor the fact that she thought that she might be the little girl.
Just as she thought she might never come up with an answer, Mattle practically fell over it. While ice-skating with her Dad, Shalili and Willow, Mattle fell and was knocked unconscious for over twenty minutes. While she was out, Mattle started having the dream again only this time when she saw the face it didn't just flash before her eyes. This time the picture remained in her head and was still there when she finally opened her eyes. She would never forget seeing that face looking down at her, acting concerned and desperate to help.
"Mattle, my darling...are you alright?!" she remembered him saying, to which she had replied almost in horror; "Yes Daddy, I'm alright."
It had been her Father. That night as she slept in the hospital her dreams had gone even further. When the little girl’s face appeared, it was her own. Mattle walk up in a convulsion that ended up in a massive seizure. It meant she had to stay another week in the hospital. It was almost as if God was blessing her with a little more time so she could figure out what to do. She debated calling Willow but decided against it. Willow was a real Daddy's girl and might not believe Mattle, even if she was her twin sister. It was two days later, during a brief visit from Shalili, when she finally decided what to do.
Shalili was bouncing off the walls, indulging in an infectiously good mood. It rubbed off on Mattle who propped herself up in bed and smiled for the first time in almost four days.
"Why do you look so positively radiant?" Mattle asked her almost underage stepmother.
"Girl, I'm pregnant. I'm gonna have yo' Daddy's child!"
Mattle's smile turned to a frown and she immediately imagined the fate of that child.
"How many months along are you," Mattle shyly asked.
"Honey, I'm almost five months, can you believe it! The doctor said I'll start showing real soon, I'm just a late bloomer. I just came from there now. He told me the tests show I'm gonna have a baby girl...good thing too, after what yo' Daddy told me this mornin'!"
"What did he say?"
"Well, I only told him I was pregnant this mornin'. I wanted to wait until I was really sure. I thought he was gonna be all happy and shit. When I tol' him he just looked at me and didn't say anythin' fo' almost five minutes. Just ate his waffles, drank his coffee...you know the usual shit. Then he looks over at me and says I better get a job or get rid of it. He wasn't paying for another kid he didn't even ask for or want."
"You mean he wanted you to get an abortion if you didn't get a job?" Mattle asked with more than a hint of disdain in her voice.
"Sure sounded that way honey," said Shalili. "Yo' Daddy doesn't like to bullshit."
Mattle realized she had to tell Shalili what she knew about her father. After almost an hour of trying to convince the young girl that she had married a child molester who would most likely one day rape her unborn child, Mattle finally gave up, and begged the now freaked out Shalili to not talk about any of this with Mr. Pye, but of course, she did. When he found out he became furious and called Mattle a little conniving liar whom was jealous of Shalili's baby. Willow took their side and Mattle was treated like an outsider.
When the baby was born, Shalili wouldn't even allow her to hold it, fearful that she might try to runaway with it. It wasn't until almost a year later that Mattle was finally vindicated.
They had been sound asleep for almost an hour, when Shalili's screams suddenly woke them. They ran into the hallway and chased her shrill drone to the baby's room. She was standing in the corner, cradling the baby with one arm while swinging her free one at Mr. Pye.
"What's goin' on in here?" barked Willow, but Mattle already knew.
"He was touching the baby, wasn't he Shalili?! Wasn't he!" screamed Mattle just as her father spun around and knocked her in the head with his right fist. As she struggled to get up, Willow ran to her aid, blocking the next blow dealt by Mr. Pye with her outstretched arms, cursing at him under her breath as she was knocked to the floor.
Shalili took advantage of his break from menacing her and ran hysterically from the room, out of the house and into the street. The police showed up ten minutes later, taking Mr. Pye away to jail where he quickly returned to his faggot ways. Shalili disappeared with the baby and Willow and Mattle lived in the house alone.
That had been six years ago. Willow still didn't believe that Mr. Pye had ever done anything wrong, but she had never admitted it to Mattle. Instead she preferred to think that him and Shalili were just having an argument, plain and simple. Mattle was always imagining things anyway. Unbeknownst to the twins, Mr. Pye had been released when Shalili disappeared and missed her court date. He returned to his lover, the guy he had left Mrs. Pye for in the first place and moved to New York City to live with him. Mrs. Pye had dropped him a note after she had gotten the last alimony check to let him know he had short-changed her by fifty bucks and did he know the twins were engaged?
After a little detective work he found out that they were marrying into a prominent family. That's when he decided to get in touch with them. Willow had received his call first and set the whole thing in motion. She explained to him about what a mess Mrs. Pye had become and that they were going to New York to try and convince Alaska to testify against her so they could get her placed in a home before the wedding. That way there would be no chance of her showing up and embarrassing the twins. Willow asked for his help and offered him $50, 000 to make it all the more enticing.
Mr. Pye had his own reasons for getting rid of Mrs. Pye. The alimony was draining him and his lover refused to help him make the payments anymore. Since Mr. Pye had developed his own nasty little drug problem, he wasn't able to come up with all the money he needed to keep the bitch off his back every month. If he helped the twins put Mrs. Pye away, he would still have to make the payments. That just wouldn't do, so he chose a more drastic course of action. Mr. Pye decided that Mrs. Pye would simply have to die.
It took a lot more convincing than he thought it would to get the girls to go along with his scheme. Willow, ever the shrewd one, insisted that he cut the fee the twins were paying him by half. He reluctantly agreed. It was still a lot more bread than he had seen in awhile and the thought of doing that old junkie troll in was getting him off.
Mattle had been purposely left in the dark. After years of being treated like a lying traitor, she could only take so much. Murder to her just seemed a bit extreme. She also hated Mr. Pye. If only she had gotten that phone call from Dad, she would’ve told him just what she thought of his plan. But when Willow told her that he was going to help them, it was all she could do to keep from vomiting right at her feet.
Now here she was, trapped in this fucking hotel room with them, her rapist father and her unbelieving sister. It was almost more than she could take. Something was nagging at her though, what was it? A voice breaking through her recollections, someone’s voice combating her own self- narrative deep within. Then she recognized it. It was Willow. She had been speaking to her for the past five minutes and Mattle hadn't heard a single word said.
"Mattle, what the hell is up with you?" asked Willow as she playfully swatted her sister on the side of the head.
"I'm sorry...what were you saying...?" Mattle answered as she slapped her sister back, a bit harder than she had intended. Willow recoiled with a disgusted grimace.
"Thanks for re-entering reality. Now lets figure out how were gonna do that bitch, I mean your mother, in," interrupted Mr. Pye as he unbelted his brown leather coat, took it off and got down to business.
It was almost midnight when Mrs. Pye finally awoke from one of her self induced stupors. She was rested and ready for more, the hunger to get high eating away at her brain and signaling some hidden time bomb in her stomach which exploded like clockwork, hitting her with endless waves of nausea and gut wrenching cramps. She was feeling it full-throttle tonight and she could barely make it into the kitchen before her legs gave out and she collapsed into a chair at the kitchen table.
Groping for her cereal bowl from this morning, she practically licked the crystal meth residue off it's bottom before she noticed the small glassine envelope of speed lying next to two fat joints in the middle of the table. Mrs. Pye shoved the cereal bowl on the floor and hungrily grasped the drugs just a foot from her reach. She ripped the baggy open and poured the white rocky powder onto the table before dropping her face flat against it and sucking all the shit up in one clean snort.
She slowly raised her head and felt a dull sweep of electricity surge into her head, ringing from inside her ears and setting off an inner alarm that something seemed wrong. Maybe she shouldn't have done a gram of speed all at once. Especially on an empty stomach that was already battling two Percocets swallowed earlier. The familiar feeling of losing her mind began to settle all around her.
Blacking out was nothing new to Mrs. Pye, it had become a way of life for her. It was like getting up, brushing your teeth and taking a dump. Only problem was she usually remembered doing those things. When she blacked out her memory was erased completely.
Suddenly the chandelier that hung from the center of the kitchen and precariously low to the table seemed to steadily increase it's illumination as each second fell behind her. The longer she sat still, the brighter the bulb became, until eventually the kitchen was coated in intense white fluorescent splendor, spilling into her eyes and through her veins with a pulsing sensation that matched the rapid rise of heat in her blood. It seemed that it could get no brighter, yet it did, drawing Mrs. Pye, transfixed in her elevated state, to the bulb. Suddenly she was sitting under it and holding the uber hot light receptacle in her frail, paste colored hands.
The burning sensation only tickled her, and as she held the bulb tighter, she watched in fascination as her milky skin turned flame orange and bits of her skin began to burn off and melt onto the glass between her fingers.
After an hour like ten seconds, Mrs. Pye forced the bulb in her hands too hard, causing it to explode in a series of jagged pieces sprung up at her and painlessly settling with freaky precision into her hands, neck and face.
She got up off the table and clutched her orange velour robe with her glass imbedded fingers, smearing a trail of blood with each knot of it's long, twisted belt. She could have sworn the floor was moving and that the walls had started to sway. The kitchen was now dark, punctuated only by the crunching under her bare feet as they padded slowly through the broken glass now covering the floor. When Mrs. Pye had finally made it to the bathroom, she glanced casually at her reflection, forcing a sickly sweet smile that masked the fear growing in her eyes.
She began to pick away at the small shards of glass lodged into her heavily rouged cheeks, brushing the slow trickles of blood away with her dirty fingernail tips that were covered in chipped purple polish. Her other hand had picked up a brush and was combing through the light bulb remnants that were glittering from her bush like black hair, catching the reflection of the bathrooms light with each trembling stroke she took. She never heard the doorbell ring. She never heard the front door being broken and the three sets of footsteps parading towards the bathroom. She was still studying her face in the mirror when a man’s face appeared over her shoulder, sharing the reflected space with a very familiar smile.
"Hi honey! We're home!" Mr. Pye said mockingly, then grabbed his already battered ex-wife by the back of her head and slammed her face first into the bathroom mirror. As she sunk onto the sink below, underneath an avalanche of cracked glass and spurts of blood, the twins stepped back in fear, finally realizing the full scope of what was to happen. This wasn't just something being talked about anymore, this was for real. And Mr. Pye loved every demented second of it. He ripped her barely moving form up from the now cracked white porcelain and tossed her into the bathtub.
"Aren’t you even gonna ask me if I had a nice day?!" laughed Mr. Pye as he pushed the twins out of the bathroom, locked the door and returned to Mrs. Pye. As Mattle and Willow pressed their gangly frames up against the door, the sound of the showerhead being turned on full blast mixed with the pernicious screams of Mrs. Pye filled their ears, forcing them to wonder if they had gone too far.
Alaska had never dreaded going home so much in her entire life. Usually she would try to just sneak in without Mrs. Pye hearing her. If she were lucky, her mother would usually be passed out on the couch, a vial of speed in one hand, and a cold forty in the other. If she wasn't lucky, Mrs. Pye might be waiting up for her, holding the same shit but perched in the kitchen like a vulture, waiting to pounce on Alaska when she walked in.
First it would be the questions, then the accusations, immediately followed by flying fists, meaningless insults and the inevitable short fused apology. They would go to their separate bedrooms and come out swinging again the next morning, a pattern that hadn't been broken in several years.
Tonight would be different though. If those evil twins were there, at least she wouldn't have to face them alone. And if it was just Mrs. Pye, then it was high time she met all of Alaska's friends anyway. As they rode the subway across town, Alaska looked at her friends and never felt in her entire life as secure as she did right that second. Fat Ann was sitting silently in her wheelchair, ignoring the rude stares aimed at her by the other passengers and smiling at Rusty who was sitting on the first seat next to her, leaning against his crutches and whistling as she stroked his tousled hair. Billy and Marti were adjusting their make-up and flirting with a huge black construction worker sitting across from them, whom surprisingly, didn't seem to mind at all.
Alaska sunk against the window behind her head and stared at the lights flashing quickly by the train as it zoomed through the black tunnel. It was then that she decided tonight was the last time she was going home. It just didn't make any sense to stay there any longer. She would take Fat Ann up on her offer to hide her out. But she had to come home just one more time. It wasn't even really just to get her stuff. She had to say goodbye to Mrs. Pye and tell her that she loved her. Even if she didn't believe it herself, she still had to tell her. Mrs. Pye had nobody but her and Alaska would be damned if she treated her mother as badly as her sisters and father had.
The train creeped into the station and the five of them maneuvered through the rest of the late night people jam and made their way out the exit door and to the stairs. The huge black construction worker had followed them and watched for a second as Alaska, Billy, Marti and Rusty fumbled with Fat Ann's very heavy presence and her hard to lift wheelchair. Without being asked, he pushed the dumbstruck kids aside and lifted Fat Ann and her wheelchair effortlessly up the two flights of cracked concrete steps. Once he had safely positioned her at the top, he leaned forward and planted a soft, almost boyish kiss upon Fat Ann's perspired brow. The smile that ripped across her face was the first thing the kids noticed as they reached the top themselves and found Fat Ann patiently waiting.
"Where'd he go? That was awful nice of him to help," Alaska said as she stood in front of Fat Ann who was still wildly grinning.
"He couldn't stick around sweetie," laughed Fat Ann before she flicked her electric wheelchair on and directed it towards the street corner.
"They never do honey," cut in Billy. "They never do!"
With that all five of them broke into laughter and headed in the direction of Saint Marks, pushing their way through the end of the evening crowds on their way home as well. It wasn't until they had reached the front entrance of the apartment that something told Alaska this might not be such a good idea. Instead of listening to her intuition as she usually did, however, she led the group through the lobby and into the elevator, every bone in her body suddenly shaking with dread.
It had been almost an hour before Mr. Pye unlocked the bathroom door and slowly sauntered out into the hallway where Willow and Mattle were crouched on the floor chain smoking a pack of cigarettes they had fished out of Mrs. Pye's pocketbook in the bedroom. He stepped over them and headed for the kitchen, where he swung open the door of the refrigerator and bathed the dark room in the Frigidaire's cold white light.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to smoke?" he shouted into them as he popped open a Bud tall boy and slugged the beer down until his breathing echoed into the empty can.
The twins ignored him and finished their cigarettes, slowly putting them out on the already ash encrusted wood floor beneath them. With much hesitation, they stood up and edged closely to the bathroom door, peering in with curious, frightened eyes that grew as wide as saucers when confronted with the gruesome sight within.
Mrs. Pye was laying naked in the tub, her torso covered in scabrous layers of splintered glass, fresh trails of red blood oozing over patches of dried blood. Mattle was frozen in the doorway, the need to puke up her guts making itself apparent as Willow moved closer, bending down next to the tub and feeling for a pulse in Mrs. Pye's lifeless, outstretched arm.
"She's alive...Mattle, she's still alive," Willow screamed, just as Mr. Pye had returned to the bathroom and lifted Mattle’s immobile body out of his way.
"Yeah, but she won't be for long," Mr. Pye said as he startled the girls even further by pouring a newly open forty over Mrs. Pyes head, causing her to jerk up and mumble something unintelligible through her cleaved and bleeding lips.
If I put my ear directly next to her mouth, I might be able to make out what she's saying thought Willow. As she lowered her head next to her mothers she heard Mrs. Pye's weak voice and it's near silent plea.
"Help me...Alaska," Mrs. Pye croaked. "Please help me baby!"
The second that the elevator door slid open, Alaska knew something was up. Her front door was located just a few feet from the elevator and as Alaska cautiously poked her head out for a peek, she noticed it was slightly ajar and partially broken down.
"Was' up girl?" Marti said as he tried to squirm past Alaska who was blocking the way. "I've gotta get outta' this box...I'm highly claustrophobic and shit!"
"I don't care how fuckin' claustrophobic you are!" Alaska whispered loudly as she forcibly pushed him back. "Somethin's wrong, my front door is open.
"You didn't tell us this might be scary," said Billy, sounding as if he wished he had made other plans. Alaska had cleared the doorway and was fighting with Marti who was getting more and more freaked out. Before anyone could say anything else, Rusty had broken loose and was headed toward the open door.
"Rusty, stop!" mumbled Alaska, but it was too late. He was already in the apartment.
All four of them raced from the elevator and burst through the door, none of them knowing what to expect. Nothing could have prepared them for the sight of Mattle and Willow wrestling with Rusty and his swinging crutches in the foyer while a man was carrying the limp figure of a badly beaten woman out of the bathroom. Alaska thought she recognized the man. She could remember seeing photographs of him somewhere. Could it be? But this man looked so old, while the one in the pictures was young and cute. Alaska stared harder until she realized the woman in his arms was Mrs. Pye. It was him.
"Oh my God, Daddy! What are you doin' here?!" cried Alaska.
"Something that should have been taken care of years ago baby."
"I'm not yer’ fuckin' baby...I'm not your anything," Alaska shot back as she rushed over towards Rusty and kicked her surprised sister Willow in the back of her head. Mattle had already retreated but was being blocked from the door leading out by Billy and Marti, doing their best to appear fierce even though they were scared shitless. Mr. Pye continued to walk forward, as if none of this was happening. Fat Ann sensed her chance to move in and switched her electric wheelchair into its highest gear, aiming herself directly in the path of Daddy dearest.
About a second before collision, Fat Ann screamed for Alaska.
"Alaska! Help me out girl!"
The wheelchair catapulted into Mr. Pye at his knees and sent him and Mrs. Pye's immobile body tumbling to the floor, landing in a tangled heap at Fat Ann's still feet. Alaska raced over and tried to kick him in the head. Mr. Pye was down, but he certainly wasn't out. He shoved his ex-wife to the side with his feet and grabbed hold of Alaska's flailing right leg with his now free hands. Pulling with a force not unlike a giant octopus, he sucked Alaska into his grip as the girl desperately fought off his attack. The last thing anyone expected was Mattle's static like voice, screaming at a catastrophic decibel for her father to stop.
"What the fuck are you doing? Are you gonna kill Alaska now too!" bellowed Mattle as she broke free of Rusty and his crutches and raced towards Mr. Pye, pulling something small and shiny from inside her coat at the same time.
"What are you gonna do Mattle? Powder my face?!" laughed Mr. Pye, thinking the object in Mattles hand to be a make-up compact.
"No Dad, I'm gonna kill you!" Mattle cried as she lifted the tiny pistol into full view and lunged towards her father as a shot rang out from the other side of the room. Mattle collapsed a few feet from Alaska, whose head was now caught between Mr. Pye's legs in a vice like grip. Willow had been carrying a gun too and like her now dead sister, had also kept it a secret.
Billy and Marti had ducked for cover in the hallway outside, only Rusty dared to confront the situation. Slowly and with a steady rhythm that so often alluded him, Rusty had crawled over to Mattle's limp figure and grabbed her pistol out of her hands. With one steady hand calming another trembling one, he stood up and started screaming, pointing the gun at Mr. Pye.
"Let Akasaka go!" rumbled Rusty through thickly slurred words as he fired off the weapon. The first shot missed, and in the interim, Mr. Pye was able to stand up on his feet, holding Alaska's head by her two jet-black horns of hair.
"Rusty, shoot him...shoot him!" Alaska screamed as Fat Ann positioned her wheelchair behind Mr. Pye and drove it directly into him just as the gun exploded in Rusty's twittering hands. The bullet ripped into Mr. Pye's chest, catching him by surprise. He slowly released Alaska's hair and she ran over to Rusty. Mr. Pye was slumped face down on the floor, a carpet of blood softening the blow.
"Oh my God...you killed him Rusty," Alaska said as she sank slowly, sobbing to her knees. It wasn't until Fat Ann started moaning that Alaska realized something was wrong. She got up and walked towards her wheelchair bound best friend with Billy, Marti and Willow not far behind. Fat Ann was slumped in her wheelchair, her once full-voice now a hollow like whisper. It filled Alaska with chills and she almost turned away, but she knew if there was something wrong she had to help. Fat Ann was family.
Her second mother. Oh please God...don't let this really be happening.
Alaska noticed that Fat Ann was holding her stomach with her shawl, tightly. A little too tightly as far as Alaska was concerned. She put her hand on the lime crochet shawl and pulled it away from Fat Ann’s weak clutch. As it came free, a river of blood began to flow, soaking Alaska's fingertips, turning the shawl from lime to red in a matter of seconds.
"Fat Ann!" Alaska screamed as she shoved the shawl back against the wound and placed Fat Ann’s hands firmly against it to keep it in place.
"Oh shit, she's been shot," cried Billy, dropping onto the couch and swabbing his eyes with stiff, scared hands. "How did she get shot, there was only one shot fired."
"It went through Dad and smack into Fat Ann, that’s how. We've got to get her to a hospital," Alaska said, firmly, hoping to make her point. Willow had other plans.
"Fuck that shit...I'm getting the fuck out of here," seethed Willow, as she took hold of Marti and aimed her gun into the crotch of his pants. "If you fuck with me I'll turn this little faggot into a woman a lot sooner than he might have been planning!"
"What are you gonna do Willow?" asked Alaska. "Somebody's bound to have heard that gunshot and called the police by now. It's only a matter of minutes before this place is swarming with cops!"
Fat Ann’s sudden sharp cry for help interrupted the bargaining session. Alaska stroked her hair and cradled her head in her hands, ignoring the heavy flow of blood that creased the bottom of her sleeve with splashes of red. Willow was inching closer to the door, almost there when Rusty threw things into a tailspin yet again. Without a thought he had raised the gun and pointed at himself, screaming for "Akasaka" at the top of his lungs.
"I kill her...Akasaka I'm sor... I'm sor..." Rusty's broken voice trailed off in an avalanche of gut racked sobs and tears.
"Rusty, please put down the gun...you didn't kill Fat Ann. It was an accident!" offered Alaska, but Rusty refused to listen and shot the gun at the ceiling, causing everyone to momentarily duck for cover, not quite sure where the bullet would end up. Willow was the first to rise. She tried to grab hold of Marti again but he had managed to crawl over to Billy who was a few feet away from Rusty and Alaska. As Willow groped for Marti, Rusty spun around and screamed at her.
"Lee' him a'one!" shouted Rusty, and the sound of a third shot crashed into the air and ended in the back of Willow's head, entering at the tip of her bird like beak and spreading her face open into several jagged stretches of shredded skin.
"Rusty, please put down the gun," Alaska pleaded.
Rusty had started to walk towards the door and Billy and Marti were trying to follow him as Alaska tended to Fat Ann. The sounds of a police siren cut into the stillness of the room and Rusty spun around, panic spread across his expression like never before. He hobbled into the hallway and jumped into the still open elevator door. Billy and Marti dodged the broken bodies of Mattle and Willow sprinkled across the foyer and tried to stop him, but the doors closed a second before they reached them.
It was almost a moment later, just as Alaska had placed her ear against Fat Ann’s heart that the sound of gunfire broke out from the lobby downstairs. When the pounding of bullets came to an end, she realized the pounding of Fat Ann’s heart had ceased as well. When the police came through the door the first thing she said was "Rusty's dead."
"Yes, we shot and killed a young man," answered one of the officers as another gently handcuffed Alaska and slowly led her out into the hallway and into the elevator with Billy and Marti who were also handcuffed. She looked around the tiny elevator and noticed the explosion of riotous red blotches that punctuated the once beige vinyl walls. Her eyes sank to the floor and she noticed that their feet were standing amongst the scrappy bits of bloodied flesh that had erupted from Rusty's fragile young body when he was blown into a million tiny bits.
"I think I'm going to be sick," Alaska quietly sobbed as the officer walked into the elevator and pressed the lobby button. With much force and a slow, sick satisfaction, Alaska then puked all over the nice cops sturdy blue uniformed back, causing Billy and Marti to burst out laughing as trails of her vomit splashed onto the floor beneath their feet.
"I'm sorry," said Alaska, as unmeaningfully as possible. "But this whole thing simply makes me sick!"
The next six days were a haze. A fuzzy blur of questions, answers and in-conclusions. In the end, the only one the police were actually able to charge was Rusty and he was dead. Billy and Marti had been released almost immediately. They had to tell Mrs. Mash, which wasn't going to be easy. Alaska had gone through the brunt of the questioning. The detectives at first didn't believe her story, but after a few days of some rather intense grilling, word arrived that Mrs. Pye had indeed survived the horrific beating and was awake and able to fill the cops in on the missing pieces.
They escorted Alaska to her mothers hospital bedside where the two of them at first acted cool to one another, then started wailing like hysterical two-year olds. Mrs. Pye corroborated Alaska’s story and the two were left alone in the hospital, possibly appreciating one another for the first time in their lives.
A month later, Mrs. Pye was ready to leave the hospital. Alaska picked her up and took her home in a taxi, which she paid for herself. She had gotten a job at the Anjelika during the week and on the weekends she still helped Billy and Marti with their business. It wasn't the same without Fat Ann, but in a rather twisted homage to her dead friend, Alaska would sit in the motorized wheelchair dressed like her in a white Afro wig and a stuffed fat lady blouse.
Mrs. Pye noticed Alaska’s suitcase the minute they walked through the door.
"Your leaving aren't you?" she stated matter of factly, a trace of sadness detectable in her voice.
"Yes Ma, I'm leaving. I'm moving in with Mrs. Mash and Billy and Marti. Do you think you'll be alright without me?" Alaska said, pulling her mother close to her and resting her head on her shoulder.
"You know what Alaska, I think I will. I really do," Mrs. Pye whispered into her ear then sealed her statement with a soft and much appreciated kiss. Alaska started to cry, but got up and grabbed the suitcase with a fierce determination as she stomped towards the door. It really didn't matter what happened now. Mrs. Pye could live or die, it was up to her. Her outcome was no longer a priority of Alaska’s life and as she closed the door behind her, she felt free for the first time ever.
The next night at dinner, Mrs. Mash laid out the pasta and the stuffed peppers, then motioned for Billy, Marti and Alaska to join hands in prayer. As they finished, Alaska begins to comb her hair into even more devilish points than usual, much to Mrs. Mash's distress, who started fumbling with her rosary beads and crossing herself in between bites of ziti. Noticing her for the first time since sitting down to dinner, Alaska smiled at Mrs. Mash and then looked at Billy and Marti who were sitting on the edge of their seats wondering if Mrs. Mash was about to freak out. Alaska broke the ice as only she could.
"Don't worry Mrs. Mash, the devil makes me do it!" Alaska said, then burst out laughing, forcing the old woman to snap her head back in counterfeit astonishment and fall off her chair in a dead faint.
"Sorry..." said Alaska as Billy and Marti smiled non-challantly and took another bite of the ziti, which was rich and cheesy, covered in just the right amount of tomato sauce.