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Authors: Francesca Lia Block

Dangerous Angels

BOOK: Dangerous Angels
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Francesca Lia Block
Dangerous Angels

The Weetzie Bat Books

For Charlotte Zolotow and Joanna Cotler

BOOK ONE
Weetzie Bat
Weetzie and Dirk

The reason Weetzie Bat hated high school was because no one understood. They didn’t even realize where they were living. They didn’t care that Marilyn’s prints were practically in their backyard at Graumann’s; that you could buy tomahawks and plastic palm tree wallets at Farmer’s Market, and the wildest, cheapest cheese and bean and hot dog and pastrami burritos at Oki Dogs; that the waitresses wore skates at the Jetson-style Tiny Naylor’s; that there was a fountain that turned tropical soda-pop colors, and a canyon where Jim Morrison and Houdini used to live, and all-night potato knishes at Canter’s, and not too far away was Venice, with columns, and canals, even, like the real Venice but maybe cooler because of the surfers. There was no one who cared. Until Dirk.

Dirk was the best-looking guy at school. He wore his hair in a shoe-polish-black Mohawk and he drove a red ’55 Pontiac. All the girls were infatuated with Dirk; he wouldn’t pay any attention to them. But on the first day of the semester, Dirk saw Weetzie in his art class. She was a skinny
girl with a bleach-blonde flat-top. Under the pink Harlequin sunglasses, strawberry lipstick, earrings dangling charms, and sugar-frosted eye shadow she was really almost beautiful. Sometimes she wore Levi’s with white-suede fringe sewn down the legs and a feathered Indian headdress, sometimes old fifties’ taffeta dresses covered with poetry written in glitter, or dresses made of kids’ sheets printed with pink piglets or Disney characters.

“That’s a great outfit,” Dirk said. Weetzie was wearing her feathered headdress and her moccasins and a pink fringed mini dress.

“Thanks. I made it,” she said, snapping her strawberry bubble gum. “I’m into Indians,” she said. “They were here first and we treated them like shit.”

“Yeah,” Dirk said, touching his Mohawk. He smiled. “You want to go to a movie tonight? There’s a Jayne Mansfield film festival.
The Girl Can’t Help It
.”

“Oh, I love that movie!” Weetzie said in her scratchiest voice.

Weetzie and Dirk saw
The Girl Can’t Help It
, and Weetzie practiced walking like Jayne Mansfield and making siren noises all the way to the car.

“This really is the most slinkster-cool car I have ever seen!” she said.

“His name’s Jerry,” Dirk said, beaming. “Because he reminds me of Jerry Lewis. I think Jerry likes you. Let’s go out in him again.”

Weetzie and Dirk went to shows at the Starwood, the
Whiskey, the Vex, and Cathay de Grande. They drank beers or bright-colored canned Club drinks in Jerry and told each other how cool they were. Then they went into the clubs dressed to kill in sunglasses and leather, jewels and skeletons, rosaries and fur and silver. They held on like waltzers and plunged in slamming around the pit below the stage. Weetzie spat on any skinhead who was too rough, but she always got away with it by batting her eyelashes and blowing a bubble with her gum. Sometimes Dirk dove offstage into the crowd. Weetzie hated that, but of course everyone always caught him because, with his black leather and Mohawk and armloads of chain and his dark-smudged eyes, Dirk was the coolest. After the shows, sweaty and shaky, they went to Oki Dogs for a burrito.

In the daytime, they went to matinees on Hollywood Boulevard, had strawberry sundaes with marshmallow topping at Schwab’s, or went to the beach. Dirk taught Weetzie to surf. It was her lifelong dream to surf—along with playing the drums in front of a stadium of adoring fans while wearing gorgeous pajamas. Dirk and Weetzie got tan and ate cheese-and-avocado sandwiches on whole-wheat bread and slept on the beach. Sometimes they skated on the boardwalk. Slinkster Dog went with them wherever they went.

When they were tired or needed comforting, Dirk and Weetzie and Slinkster Dog went to Dirk’s Grandma Fifi’s cottage, where Dirk had lived since his parents died.
Grandma Fifi was a sweet, powdery old lady who baked tiny, white, sugar-coated pastries for them, played them tunes on a music box with a little dancing monkey on top, had two canaries she sang to, and had hair Weetzie envied—perfect white hair that sometimes had lovely blue or pink tints. Grandma Fifi had Dirk and Weetzie bring her groceries, show her their new clothes, and answer the same questions over and over again. They felt very safe and close in Fifi’s cottage.

“You’re my best friend in the whole world,” Dirk said to Weetzie one night. They were sitting in Jerry drinking Club coladas with Slinkster Dog curled up between them.

“You’re my best friend in the whole world,” Weetzie said to Dirk.

Slinkster Dog’s stomach gurgled with pleasure. He was very happy, because Weetzie was so happy now and her new friend Dirk let him ride in Jerry as long as he didn’t pee, and they gave him pizza pie for dinner instead of that weird meat that Weetzie’s mom, Brandy-Lynn, tried to dish out when he was left at home.

One night, Weetzie and Dirk and Slinkster Dog were driving down Sunset in Jerry on their way to the Odyssey. Weetzie was leaning out the window holding Rubber Chicken by his long, red toe. The breeze was filling Rubber Chicken so that he blew up like a fat, pocked balloon.

At the stoplight, a long, black limo pulled up next to Jerry. The driver leaned out and looked at Rubber Chicken.

“That is one bald-looking chicken!”

The driver threw something into the car and it landed on Weetzie’s lap. She screamed.

“What is it?” Dirk exclaimed.

A hairy, black thing was perched on Weetzie’s knees.

“It’s a hairpiece for that bald eagle you’ve got there. Belonged to Burt Reynolds,” the driver said, and he drove off.

Weetzie put the toupee on Rubber Chicken. Really, it looked quite nice. It made Rubber Chicken look just like the lead singer of a heavy-metal band. Dirk and Weetzie wondered how they could have let him go bald for so long.

“Weetzie, I have something to tell you,” Dirk said.

“What?”

“I have to wait till we get to the Odyssey.”

At the Odyssey, Weetzie and Dirk bought a pack of cigarettes and two Cokes. Dirk poured rum from the little bottle he kept in his jacket pocket into the Cokes. They sat next to the d.j. booth watching the Lanka girls in spandywear dancing around.

“What were you going to tell me?” Weetzie asked.

“I’m gay,” Dirk said.

“Who, what, when, where, how—well, not
how
,” Weetzie said. “It doesn’t matter one bit, honey-honey,” she said, giving him a hug.

Dirk took a swig of his drink. “But you know I’ll always love you the best and think you are a beautiful, sexy girl,” he said.

“Now we can Duck hunt together,” Weetzie said, taking his hand.

Duck Hunting

There were many kinds of Ducks—Buff Ducks, Skinny Ducks, Surf Ducks, Punk-Rock Ducks, Wild Ducks, Shy Ducks, Fierce Ducks, Cuddly Ducks, Sleek, Chic G.Q. Ducks, Rockabilly Ducks with creepers and ducktails, Rasta Ducks with dreads, Dancing Ducks, and Skate-Date Ducks, Ducks in Duckmobiles racing around the city.

Weetzie and Dirk went to find the Ducks of their respective dreams.

At a gig at Cathay de Grande, Weetzie stood in front of the stage feeling Buzz’s sweat flinging off him as he sang. He was bald, with tattoos all over his arms. Weetzie stared up into the lights.

“That is no Duck,” Dirk said. “That is one wild vulture bird.”

“But he is gorgeous, isn’t he?” Weetzie said, watching Buzz’s nostrils flare.

She was pretty drunk by the end of the gig. Buzz came out from backstage and grabbed her wrists.

“How was I?” he asked.

“You were okay.” Weetzie swallowed.

“Okay? I was hot.”

“You think you are pretty sexy, don’t you?”

“Yes. So are you. Come and get a beer with me.”

He turned and backed Weetzie up against the wall. She smelled leather and beer.

“Put your arms around my neck.”

She did it, pretending to choke him, and he pulled her up onto his glossy, white back.

“Put me down!”

She tried to kick him with her engineer boots but he carried her toward the bar.

After he had let her down, he felt the pockets of his Levi’s for change.

“Shit.” He turned to Weetzie. “Let’s go to my place. I got some beers.”

He looked about twelve suddenly, even with the shaved head, the eyeliner, and the skull earring.

Weetzie started to walk away.

“Come on,” he said softly.

Weetzie clung to Buzz’s body as they rode his motorcycle through the night. Wind blew on their faces, a summer wind thick with the smell of all-night taco stands.

Buzz lived in the basement of an old house. The walls were covered with graffiti for his band, Head of Skin, and there was a mattress in one corner. Weetzie glimpsed the
handcuffs for a second before Buzz had her down on the mattress. She kept her eyes on the bare bulb until it blinded her.

In the morning, Weetzie tried to wake Buzz but he grunted when she touched him and pulled the sheets over his head. She got out of bed, wincing, still drunk, and called Dirk. He came and picked her up outside.

“Are you okay?” she asked him. His eyes were red. He had met someone in a video booth at a local sex store and they had groped around there for a while, then gone to the guy’s apartment. Dirk had awakened, looked at the unfamiliar face, and gone home fast.

“About the same as you, I think.”

They went to Canter’s for bagels, which comforted Weetzie because she had teethed on Canter’s bagels when she was a baby. While they ate, a cart of pickles wheeled by, the green rubbery pickles bobbing.

“Oh, God, that’s all I need to see after last night,” Dirk said.

“There are no Ducks, it feels like,” Weetzie said.

 

“What is that?” Dirk asked the next day, noticing a tattoo-like bruise on Weetzie’s arm.

“Nothing,” she said.

“You aren’t seeing that Buzz vulture anymore,” Dirk said.

Weetzie kept falling for the wrong Ducks.

She met a Gloom-Doom Duck Poet who said, “My
heart is a canker sore. I cringed at the syringe.”

She met a toothy blonde Surf Duck, who, she learned later, was sleeping with everyone.

She met an Alcoholic Art Duck with a ponytail, who talked constantly about his girlfriend who had died. Dirk saw him at an all-boy party kissing all the boys.

Dirk didn’t do much better at the parties or bars.

“I just want My Secret Agent Lover Man,” Weetzie said to Dirk.

“Love is a dangerous angel,” Dirk said.

Weetzie and Her Dad at the Tick Tock Tea Room

Weetzie’s dad, Charlie Bat, took her to the Tick Tock Tea Room.

“We’re the only people here without white hair…well, naturally white,” Weetzie’s dad said. Weetzie’s hair was bleached white.

Weetzie’s dad ordered two turkey platters with mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce. The white-haired waitress served them canned fruit cocktail, sugar-glazed rolls, and pink sherbet before the turkey came. They had apple pie afterward.

“Does your mother feed you?” Weetzie’s dad asked between the fruit and the rolls. “You’re wasting away.”

“Dad!” Weetzie said. “Of course she does.”

“And how is your mother?”

“She’s okay. Why don’t you come in and see her later?”

“No, thanks, Weetzie. Not a good idea. But say hello from me,” he said wistfully. “Any boyfriends? You, I mean.”

“No, Dad.”

“What about that Dirk? Still seeing him?”

“Yeah, but we’re just friends.”

Weetzie smiled at her dad. He was so handsome, but he didn’t look well. He reminded her of a cigarette.

“I wish you’d come in and say hi to Mom,” Weetzie said when Charlie dropped her off. But she knew that Charlie and Brandy-Lynn still weren’t speaking.

Charlie came to L.A. from Brooklyn in the late fifties. He wrote to his older sister, Goldy, “Here I am in the L.A. wasteland. I hate the palm trees. They look like stupid birds. Everyone lies around in the sun like dead fishes. I go back to my little hotel room and my sad bed and feel sorry for myself. Saving all my pennies. Still no work. But I keep hoping.”

Charlie got a job as a special-effects man at the studios. Making cities and then making them crumble, creating monsters and wounds and rains and planets in space. But what he really wanted to do was to write screenplays. He finished
Planet of the Mummy Men
and showed it to a producer, Irv Finegold.

“I like it, I like it,” Irv said. They were having martinis at the Formosa. “And I’d like to make it.”

Brandy-Lynn was a starlet who got a role in
Mummy Men
. She was on the set, having a fight with the director because she thought the mummy rags were unflattering, when Charlie saw her.

“Love at first sight, I swear,” he would say later. “The most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.”

She was bleach-blonde and sparkling with fake jewels, although she was wrapped in bandages. He wrote a new part into the movie for her so she didn’t have to dress like a mummy.

“He made me feel like crying the first time I saw him,” Brandy-Lynn told Weetzie with a sigh. “How right I was!” she added cynically.

They made love in the heat in Brandy-Lynn’s bungalow, the filmy white drapes blowing with an occasional desert breeze. They drank tequila sunrises and bathed in gin. “That was your father’s idea.” They drove to the beach and made love in a tent under a pink-flamingo sky. They drove down the strip in Charlie’s pale-yellow T-bird, Brandy-Lynn kicking her feet—in their gold mules with the fake fruit over the toes—right out the window.

When Weetzie was born Charlie said, “Best accident I ever had.” (He had crashed the T-bird twice, because Brandy-Lynn was distracting him with kisses.)

“Where did you get a name like Weetzie Bat?” Dirk had asked when they met.

“Weetzie, Weetzie, Weetzie,” she had shrilled. “How do I know? Crazy parents, I guess.”

“I’ll say.”

She wished that the romance between Charlie and Brandy-Lynn had lasted.

But Brandy-Lynn turned bitter, that’s what Weetzie’s dad said. “Bitter as…what’s the bitterest thing, Weetz?”

And Brandy-Lynn said, “That man was incorrigible.
Chasing women. A real lush. And who knows what other substances he was abusing.” She downed her cocktail and patted the corners of her mouth with a cherry-printed napkin held in tanned and polished fingers. “I need a Valium.”

They had screamed and thrown glasses at each other in the heat. One night, Weetzie saw them by the luminous blue condo pool; Brandy-Lynn threw a drink in Charlie’s face. “That’s it,” he said.

Charlie moved back to New York to write plays. “Real quality stuff. This Hollywood trash is bullshit.”

He sent Weetzie postcards with pictures of the Empire State Building or reproductions of paintings from the Metropolitan Museum, Statue of Liberty key chains, and plastic heart jewelry. He wanted Weetzie to move back east but Brandy-Lynn wouldn’t hear of it. And although Weetzie adored her father, who reminded her of a cigarette, of Valentino, of a prince with palm trees on his shoulders, she couldn’t leave where it was hot and cool, glam and slam, rich and trashy, devils and angels, Los Angeles.

“Okay, baby, so you can come visit me, at least.”

When she visited him, he took her to the Metropolitan and to the Museum of Modern Art, took her to Blooming-dale’s and bought her perfume and shoes, rode with her on the Staten Island ferry, took her to the delis for pastrami sandwiches and Cel-Ray tonic, bought her hot pretzels on the street.

One night when they got back, the power had gone out
in Charlie’s apartment building and they had to walk up nine flights in the dark carrying the lox and bagels and cream cheese and bon-bons. He sang to her the whole way. “Rag Mop. R-a-g-g M-o-p-p. Rag Mop doodley-doo.”

When Weetzie left, she cried into his tobacco jacket. But really she couldn’t live in New York, where the subways made her nerves feel like a charm bracelet of plastic skeletons jangling on a chain. She wished that Charlie would move back to L.A.

Instead, he came to visit and took her to the Tick Tock Tea Room. And he asked about Brandy-Lynn. But he never came into the house.

BOOK: Dangerous Angels
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