Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PRETTY VACANT text & photos by Walt Cessna

For Heidi

Going full force into the forbidden reaches of her own mind had at first seemed like a good idea, but as Veruca fell deeper and deeper into a bottomless K. hole she began to seriously wonder why she spent so much of her free time a fucked up mess. Veruca was willing to try anything. At least once. If she liked it, she stuck to it like glue. If she didn't, then it got the boot. At sixteen she was living an utter virtual reality, juxtaposed of conflicting multiple personalities, moods and awkward exaggerations. Her body and her mind had developed early, like at twelve, transforming the former fat and nerdy child into a freaky deaky Russ Meyer super vixen. She shot up to five foot eleven without the aid of the vintage Fredericks heels she had bought for ten bucks on St. Marks and her butt length honey colored hair spilled into straight edges around her face, streaked white on the sides. Her tits defied description and gravity, proudly saluting all those who went by without the aid of a Wonder bra.

It's exactly ten minutes after midnight and Veruca estimates that she has been waiting exactly five minutes in front of the Dead Zone for this pink haired door troll with too many holes in his head to acknowledge her presence and let her the fuck in. She was wearing an aluminum dress that her friend Lurch, a not yet famous downtown sculptor had welded on to her body for the evening and was perched upon foot high platforms that she had been getting customized over the past six months, two inches at a time. Her hair was greased down into jagged tendrils that bounced Medusa like about her face, sometimes getting stuck in her thickly glossed lips that were all-ready drowning under a too heavy coat of ruddy red lipstick.

Veruca had just runaway from home and moved into a small dive on the Lower East Side called Hotel 17. It was a really trendy joint and the owner warned her that the rent was due at 9am on the first of every month as he took her last five hundred dollars and gave her the key to a tiny room with the bathroom located down the hall. This left her with no cash so she hooked up with some of the kids she had met at an SVA party a few weeks ago. They were mostly artists whose work Veruca admired and had wanted to collaborate with. Veruca was a wanna-be designer who loved to draw but hated to sew. The decision for collaboration was not only logical, but it also got her some local press.

It was at an art gallery opening for her friend Berta, an anorexic Belgian girl with a rubber fetish, that her new life began to take shape. She had poured a liquid rubber and lycra body molding substance over Veruca and then shaped it into a Botero-esque mass that convoluted any former impression of the vixenish Veruca and cast her for the evening as a grossly overweight drooling slug with a fierce hair-do. She made Page Six (with a photo!), had lunch with Musto at the Voice, was a subject of an entire column as the new "girl of the moment" in Interview, and modeled for a fashion show at a fourteenth street meat market where a performance artist who shall remain nameless draped her nude body in extremely rare slices of beef as a Maria Callas record played angrily in the background. Veruca was more than willing to lower herself to whatever depths necessary for her art.

That was all in her first month of freedom. The second month had been a total fucking bore. Most of the artists she had worked with were jealous of her press and hunger for more of it. They all dropped her like a hot potato except for Lurch who hated everybody and loved the fact that Veruca was so good at pissing off all those trolls. She had recently become friends with a "lollypop kid" as Lurch called the scruffy ravers that inhabited Hotel 17 along with a myriad of other fabricated yet fabulous drag queens, junkies and tourists. The little green haired girl wearing clothes about ten sizes too big for her and sporting five painfully pierced hoops in each nostril had met Veruca in the lobby one day and gave her an invite for Gila Monsters Emergency Room Party at the Dead Zone on Wednesday night. Veruca's entry into nightlife thus began.

Another minute passed until she was finally granted an audience with the door pope who quickly ushered her into the club. The aluminum dress proved to test all of her fashion victim abilities at once. While it was probably the most uncomfortable creation she had ever thought up it did have its advantages. People could put their cigarettes out on her belly and she wouldn't feel a thing. She waddled through the crowded club until she reached the chapel bar all the way in the back and ordered a Long Island Iced Tea with five maraschino cherries in it. She sipped it at first, then sucked it down like soda water until all that was left was the sound of her obscenely chewing each cherry off of it's pit, which she then spit into the crowd, aiming for the tackiest ho she could find. Instead of hitting a ho though, she hit one of the clubs top promoters.

"Yo! That ain't exactly the best way to make friends!"

"I wasn't aiming for you...I'm sorry."

"I've never seen you here before. What's your name?"

"This is my first time here. I'm Veruca."

"I'm Carissa. I'm one of the promoters for tonight’s party. Most of these trolls are here because of me!"

Both the girls started to laugh. Veruca ordered another drink, which Carissa paid for with a drink ticket. She then grabbed Veruca by the hand and pulled the tin girl through the crowded dance floor and up the stairs to a stall in the ladies room. Carissa locked the door and pulled out a small day-glow pink plastic baggie filled to the brim with what looked like sugar.

"What is that?"

"It's K. Have you ever tried it before?" Carissa was scooping little piles of K. out of the bag and placing them on top of the toilet dispenser. She stopped and stared Veruca square in the eye with a most curious expression curled across her day-glow blue splattered lips.

"You've never done Special K? It’s just the most amazing fucking drug on the planet! My boyfriend Sylvester sells it here at the club so I’ve always got tons of it. My boss Gila Monster uses it like Spanish fly, except this shit actually works. He gives his little boys too big of a dose and fucks the shit out of them when they black out! Don't worry though honey, I won't let you get that far gone."

She handed a small red and yellow striped straw to Veruca who was wondering just what she had gotten herself into here.


Why the fuck not, Veruca thought to herself as she took the straw and hoovered a small line up her nose. She hadn't really fooled around with drugs too much. A joint here, a line there. A group ecstasy trip with her cousins in Woodstock before she ran away from home last year. Nothing would prepare her for the feeling that was about to come. It was like being sucked into a black hole and having the floor fall beneath your feet. She grabbed onto Carissa who was busy snorting herself up a line.

"Whoa girl...hold on! The good part will hit you in about three seconds!"

They stopped everything they were doing and each of their body’s turned into human jellyrolls. It all started to seem funny and in a perverse way, Veruca was actually starting to like the sensation of constantly being on the verge of blacking out.

"Where does this shit come from? What the fuck is it?"

Carissa looked at Veruca, but was so high instead of answering all she could do was laugh so hard she almost had to throw up.

"It's a cat tranquilizer...can you believe it? Can you just imagine Felix the Cat snorting a line of K.!”

Veruca rolled her eyes back into the middle of her head and screamed "the monkey likes it!" making sense to no one but her hysterically laughing self.

The last thing Veruca remembered was snorting more K. and being led through the overstuffed club by Carissa, both making spectacles of themselves amongst a freaked out crowd uninterested in two girls just as out of it as they were. She woke up the next day sleeping on a lumpy futon next to Sylvester and Carissa who were, as they say, going at it like jackrabbits. She jumped up and excused herself, then ran to an unfamiliar bathroom and hid behind its locked door desperately trying to figure out where she was and what had happened the night before. When she finally emerged, Sylvester was weighing out a gram of K. for someone who had just come to the door and Carissa was snapping closed the front of a bright green vinyl skirt she had just bought from Liquid Sky.

Carissa explained (a little too calmly as far as Veruca was concerned) that she had passed out around four in the morning in the back of a cab on the way to Save The Robots and Carissa had taken her home to the squat she lived in with Sylvester on eleventh and C. Veruca got dressed and began to explain her fucked up living arrangement. She told her that she had to get all her shit out of Hotel 17 before the owner finds out she's past her deadline, which was three hours ago. Veruca started to leave when Carissa made her a proposition even her fogged out mind found hard to refuse. She invited Veruca to move into the squat, all expenses paid, on one condition; that she work for Carissa at the Dead Zone in the Emergency Room.

"What's the Emergency Room?"

"It's a private part of the club for cute little kids like you with free drugs."

"What do you want me to do?"

Carissa just smiled and took a drag off the joint Sylvester had just handed her. "Don't you worry, we'll figure something out for you! Now lets go get your stuff outta that fleabag."

That was four months ago. Veruca was put to work as a "cigarette" girl with something extra. She had to wear a Vegas looking showgirl ensemble that consisted of a fuschia and hot pink sequined bodysuit with a see through orange organza apron that barely covered her crotch. The tightly corseted waist was festooned with brilliant purple and green feathers and the panties were studded with thousands of tiny multi-colored rhinestones. Bold silver and topaz crusted baubles hung precariously from stretched out earlobes while her long legs were covered in ripped ala Courtney Love hot pink fishnets, the wide kind. Her job was to parade around the Emergency room selling smokes and small packets of K. to anyone whom approached her with a comp card from Carissa. She was allowed one twenty-minute break and was given three bags of K. to keep her in a K. hole till the end of the night.

After a few weeks Veruca sunk deeper and deeper into Carissa's web and was snorting more K. than most people did coke. She was hardly an exception however since the nightclub scene she so dearly loved was chock full of kids even more fucked up than her. When she wasn't working at the club she "assisted" Carissa who paid her in packets of K. for her slave-like services. Veruca was starting to hate Carissa but since she was her main drug supply she couldn't really do much about it. Then she had a great idea, or at least it seemed so at the time. One day while Carissa was at a staff meeting and Sylvester was hidden under the covers nursing an especially bad hangover, Veruca climbed into bed with her employer’s paramour and assaulted as many of his sexual senses as she could arouse on such short notice.

The affair had been going hot and heavy until last week when Carissa had thought she was walking into an empty bathroom stall and instead stumbled upon Sylvester going down on Veruca who was sitting on the toilet smoking a joint and sipping on a Long Island iced tea. The shit hit the fan as Carissa proceeded to kick Sylvester upside his fat head a few times. Security was called by a freaked out bathroom attendant who escorted the two of them out of the club. When Veruca returned to the apartment later an eerie peace had settled and everyone solemnly agreed to keep their pants on unless it was with their own partner. Trouble was Veruca was so fucked up all the time she never had the time to find a new partner, until one weird night a week later when she had just about given up all hope.

Sylvester was scoring a new supply of K. and had told Veruca and Carissa to meet him at the third floor bar at two a.m. Veruca was working that night so about ten minutes before two she dragged her strap on tray and sequined ass up the stairs hoping to get there before Carissa. Instead of Carissa though she smacked into a young boy who was stumbling backwards from the bar. The two of them crashed into each other forcing them both to fall flat on their asses.

"What the fuck is up with you? Are you stupid or something?!" Veruca screamed at him.

"Shit! Fuck you, it was an accident...o.k."

"Well watch where you’re goin, o.k."

"O.k. Hey, why are you dressed like Lola fuckin Falana?" he asked as he reached out his hand to help pull her up. She took it and stood up to her well over six feet height thanks to the Westwood platforms she had stolen from Untitled last week. She towered over him, which made her feel a bit better about things.

"I'm a cigarette and candy cunt. I sell sweets and nicotine to the bridge and tunnel assholes that choke the true nightlife out of New York! Whatdga think I was? Another one of these tired drag queens?"

"No. I thought you were just another beautiful girl that I would never stand a chance of getting to know."

Veruca was readjusting her goody tray then stooped down to pick-up the last Kit-Kat bar that had fallen on the floor. She stood up and tightened the bra strap until it left a red impression on her shoulder. She looked straight at him and cocked her head to one side, letting a minute pass before she finally spoke, almost startling the boy.

"Please don't fuckin bullshit me...o.k. I can't handle another fucked up come on!"

"I'm not bullshitting you. Your the most fucking beautiful girl I've ever seen in my entire goddamn life...O.K.?!"

Veruca didn't think he was fucking with her anymore. She looked down at him and took off her shoes so she would be closer to him in height.

"O.k. What's your name kid?"

"Vincent...and I'm not a kid."

"Are you waiting for someone up here?"

"Yeah, Sylvester."

"Really! So am I. I guess we could wait together."

Veruca's invitation was neither an acknowledgement of his presence nor constitution for him to get too friendly. She leaned back against the wall, plucked a pack of Marlboro Lights from her tray and lit up two of them in her mouth at the same time. She handed one to Vincent and took a long, deep drag, blowing out a wall of smoke that sat around them for a few seconds before it was replaced by a fresh gust of poisoned air. She looked him over and decided he was rather cute. Short. But cute. He had shoulder length greasy brown hair and an extremely sullen disposition. She wasn't sure just how much of an act he was putting on but his eyes were bottle green and so sad looking that she almost felt tears coming to her own the longer she looked into them.

"What's your name?"


"Like the band..."

"Please! I'm not that fucking trendy. My mother named me after the character Veruca Salt from the Willy Wonka movie. Don't you remember her, she was the girl who bitched, moaned and complained until she got exactly what she wanted."

"Who do you think the band named themselves after?"

"I don't give a shit. I've been around for sixteen years, when did they pop on the scene? Last week? I'm the true Veruca!"

"Sorry I even brought it up."

"You should be. How do you know Sylvester anyway?

"We have a mutual friend..."

Before Vincent could finish, Sylvester and Carissa walked up. Veruca runs up to Sylvester and gives him a big fat kiss right in front of Carissa just to get on her nerves. It does. Carissa grabs a hunk of candy out of Veruca’s tray and smacks Sylvester with it upside his head.

"Chill the fuck out Carissa! I'm just bein friendly and shit!"

"If you get any friendlier then we’re getting a divorce!"

"Get over it Carissa," Veruca said. "I got my own piece. This is Vincent."

Veruca grabbed Vincent who had been trying to shrink away from the situation and pushed him in front of everyone. She was playing a wild card and she knew it. She prayed that Vincent would support her charade. What Veruca didn't know was that Carissa knew Vincent already. He was Gila Monster’s new piece and Carissa had met him a few weeks ago. Did Veruca really think this fag was gonna make her jealous? Better yet did she really think he would fuck her? Carissa decided to play a little joke on them. She never expected it to get as out of hand as it would.

"Hi Vincent, nice to meet you."

Vincent was confused but took Carissa’s peck on the cheek as a sign to keep his mouth shut and go along for the ride. Suddenly Lester, the owner of the club came up to Sylvester and the two of them proceeded to get into a heated exchange. Sylvester walked over to the bar with him and then returned alone a few moments later. He whispered something into Carissa’s ear and then led her over to the bar while Veruca and Vincent sat down on an empty pew and waited for them.

Sylvester ordered a shot of Cuervo and downed it in one smooth gulp before he finally spoke.

"Somebody just had a seizure on the dance floor..." Sylvester mumbled obviously freaked out.

"So fuckin what?"

"So he's fuckin' dead, that’s what!"

"Just one less lolly-pop kid as far as I'm concerned."

"Carissa you fuckin’ bitch! That kid had just done some of my new shit when outta nowhere he starts twitching and his eyes like completely fuckin’ bugged out! It was some eerie mother fuckin’ shit!"

"Oh my God...what if we had done it first?"

"I know...I know. Look, I want you to do something for me."


"Take the rest of this shit and go flush it down the toilet. Lester doesn't want any of this crap floating around the club and fucking somebody else up. He convinced the cops the kid had epilepsy and it wasn't an overdose. Can you take care of this for me Carissa?"

"Yeah. Sure. O.k."

Carissa grabbed the bag and Sylvester ordered another shot, slam dunked it and headed for the men’s room in search of some replacement for his ill K. stash. Carissa waited till he was out of sight, then she hopped off her barstool and skipped over to Veruca and Vincent who were now holding hands and speaking in slow sentences laced with periodic fits of giggling.

"Don't you two look cute!" she said, masking the wave of repulsion that swept over her at the mere sight of them.

"Listen, Sylvester had some business to attend to so I'm in charge of the drugs till he comes back. Do you wanna try some of this new shit? It's very correct my children...you can trust me. I just did some and I'm flying like a fucking eagle!"

Veruca and Vincent looked at each other and smiled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out five crumpled twenties and placed them in Carissa’s open palm, who then placed five tiny plastic packets of K. into his sweaty hand.

"I can only afford one," Veruca said when Carissa turned to her.

Carissa looked as earnestly into Veruca's eyes as she could without cracking up.

"Here honey, this is a present from me for being such a big help these past few weeks!" Carissa handed over three packets to Veruca and then quite unexpectedly kissed her slowly, almost hard on the cheek. Veruca stared at her and wondered if she was up to something. Obviously not she thought as she shoved the drugs deep down the front of her already packed panties. She had never seen Carissa be generous unless she wanted something. Maybe she wanted Vincent but that was impossible. She was too in love with Sylvester. Veruca decided not to trust her instincts and go along for the ride. After all, she needed to get high.

"Thanks Carissa, it's really nice of you."

"I know!" Carissa said barely loud enough to hear herself as she slowly spun around and walked towards the men room where she sat next to Sylvester on the sink and waited for the shit to hit the fan.

Veruca grabbed Vincent and ran down the stairs to the dance floor where they hopped around like manic Mexican jumping beans, going full force for no good reason at all. When the next song came on they retreated to the side and tried to speak above the throbbing techno.

"Have you ever done this before?" Vincent asked Veruca in a slight, amazed voice.

"Yeah, but thank God unlike coke it always feels like the first time. Have you?"

Vincent looked at her and wondered just how honest he could be with her. She seemed so fucking cool; she'd obviously been through some fierce shit. He wanted her to think that he was more than just some stupid underage club troll sucking off the top promoter to get his ass in the club for free every week.

"Yeah...I've done it lots."

They both began to feel the excitement building up inside of them making it seem as if anything could happen, and it did. Veruca looked at Vincent and bent forward to kiss him. Their mouths became lost in a swirl of smudged red lipstick. As his tongue twisted around hers they both felt the building pressure on the tray in between give way and break, forcing them to fall once again on the floor, only this time neither could stop laughing and hugging the other one.

Veruca was the first to stand up. She casually brushed off the feathers cupping her breasts and pulled the K. out of the nether regions of her panties. She lifted them to her nose and took a good strong whiff.

"They smell like my pussy!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. Vincent followed suit, beating Veruca to the punch as he burst one of his bags open, poured it out on top of his tightly clenched fist and instantly hoovered it up. He had never done it before and didn't realize how at first it feels as if nothing is going to happen. He tore open another packet and sucked it up his nose a few seconds after devouring the first. He stood straight up and looked at Veruca who was smiling at him and rocking back and forth to the music as she fumbled with one of her own hard to open packets of K. He just looked at her in delighted astonishment, marveling at her wild abandon and enjoying the first hard on he had gotten for a girl in almost two months.

Then it happened. Just as Veruca had finally opened up her bag and was about to shake it out onto her hand, Vincent’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and both of his arms started twitching violently up and down giving him the appearance of a hyperactive bird. His face quickly turned a sick shade of greenish blue and his tongue was darting furiously in and out of his mouth until his jabbering jaw came crashing down on it cutting off the first two inches in one clean sweep. Veruca dropped the packet of K. and lifted her hands to her face to cover her now sobbing eyes. When she removed them to take one last look, Vincent was still shaking uncontrollably on the dance floor in the center of nearly five hundred baggy pants club kids, most of whom were oblivious of the beautiful boy dying in their midst.

Veruca couldn't think straight and something told her she was about to throw up. She headed for the bathroom where the first person she crossed paths with was Sylvester. She wanted to kill him but all she could do was puke all over his brand new Fleuvogs, turning the once green suede into streaks of warm yellow vomit.

"That shit is fucked up Veruca! You outta check yourself bitch!"

She looked up at him and weakly smiled before she ran the rest of the way to the bathroom and locked herself in the first empty stall she came across. She threw up everything she had eaten in the past day. Through her stifled tears, Veruca kept hearing the sound of an annoying voice creeping over from the adjacent stall. It was a girl and she was simultaneously whining and snorting coke. She reminded Veruca of the Willy Wonka movie and of the character she had been named for and how she had just explained the whole thing to Vincent before he...Veruca stopped thinking when she started being able to make out what the girl was saying.

"That fucking bitch thought she was gonna make it with my boyfriend. Well I showed her...She won't be fuckin with anybody for a long time."

Veruca recognized the girls voice as Carissa. Then another voice spoke. It was a boys.

"So what did you do to her?"

It was Gila Monster.

"I sold her some shit K. For all we know right now she could be waiting with the rest of the suckers in the emergency room down at St. Vincent’s."

"You are so evil miss thing! Didn't she have a boy of her own to play with?"

"Yeah, but I don't think she was getting too far with him."

"Why, was he a fellow fag?"

"Yeah...he was your fag! Vincent!"

"Vincent? I sent him to buy some K. for me."

"I know, but he met Veruca and the two of them took off together. But boy is he in for a surprise!"

"Why? What did you fucking do?"

"I sold that little sucker five bags of the bad K. too! That's how I scored this coke!"

"You little cunt! He was buying that K. for me. What would have happened if I had done some?"

"But I knew you wouldn't. He was fucking you over for that stupid girl! I was just getting him back for you! He was just using your ass anyway."

"Fuck you Carissa. Who made you God? You didn't even think about my feelings until five seconds ago. You are so fucked up!"

Gila opened the door and slunked out of the john in search of Vincent. Carissa followed him out but stopped at the bathroom mirror and readjusted the day-glow blue clip on bangs that perched over her forehead like a jagged cliff.

"Fuck everyone...I don't need this shit."

She walked out of the bathroom and Veruca let out a long overdue sigh of relief. Except she wasn't relieved, she was more freaked out than ever. She rested her head back against the cold tiled wall and listen to the sound of a guy peeing in the stall on the other side. Several pairs of trendily soled feet shuffled past her toilet and she counted them like sheep hoping that coming to some magical number would bring her peace. She reached into her panties and pulled out the two remaining packets of K. Veruca broke both of them open upon her sweat soaked and trembling palm. She wondered if Vincent was alive and thought about how terrible she was for just walking away from him like that. Then she remembered what Carissa said as she had left the john.

"I don't need this fucking shit!" Veruca mumbled inaudibly to herself as she lifted the handful of white powder to her face and closed her eyes for what she hoped would be forever. And ever.


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