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Authors: Kate Crash

Plush (6 page)

BOOK: Plush
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    March 10, 2006

We head in the pickup to the practice show. I’m so excited: my first show in Austin! Yeah! On stage, we’re going to be like the real bands like on TV to probably, like, a hundred fans! The boys are amped!

We pull up and go inside, and the moto-gang-like, bearded barman points to the exit sign out back. Maybe a giant bowl-like theater will await us there…?

In the yard of a bar. A YARD! Not even a real stage and not even inside – just a pile of dust and five flanneled guys chugging beers. The mic is half broken and feeding back. No sound check and Jack is too high. The monitors aren’t working right – just emit a loud buzz – and the sound guy has disappeared and all the levels are off. But we try anyway to sound something more than chicken scratch.

No one claps after the first song. They all just drink and text and chat amongst themselves. HAYLEY! THAT’S IT: I will be outrageous and amazing. I will make them love me! 1-2-3-4. I sing harder, and the only things you can really hear are the snares and kick and not me at all. I try to scream louder since the mic fades in and out. This is the worst show EVER. Jack looks at me and frowns and then goes behind his amp and uses some type of drug – I can’t see which. The audience doesn’t care.

I try to dance and jump up around harder, faster, wilder. NOTICE ME! DAMN IT! NOTICE ME! This reminds me of when I was nine and I couldn’t set myself on fire bright enough for the world or my dad to know or notice me at all. Jack was on his three-week stint with the water polo team, so he was away at a meet in the town next to ours, Edcouch. It was just me and all my loneliness.

I wanted to have my father back, to play with him again, to feel like a family, and for him to just sit down and talk to me. I decided if my dad saw me all bloody like I got hit by a car, that he would feel bad and decide to be a dad again. Maybe he would call my mom, she’d come back home, and all the broken pieces would fit back together. My life would no longer feel like half a jigsaw puzzle. I went into the kitchen drawer and pulled out all the little fast food ketchups – dad never bought real condiments or napkins or spoons or plates; they all came borrowed from some paper, plastic, instant, cheap food-place. – I snuck past my dad drinking beer and watching Saturday TV, took all the ketchups out into the front yard, and hid behind some trees. I ripped each white, plastic case-thingy, like dad ripped me from my happy life and mom ripped apart the world I used to understand and love. I squeezed each packet onto a different part of my skin: lots of ketchup on my neck, arms, and chest. A little on the legs. Blending. I made some spots darker than others, like how they do when people are killed on the TV. The vinegar burned a little. Trees’ leaves swayed in the soft breeze.

I tiger-crouched-walked to the edge of the driveway where it hits the walk way and half-laid on it like I was hit, not thinking that no one ever comes this far in unless Dad was expecting them. I positioned myself at an angle. All Dad had to do was turn his head a little and see me laying there, dying in our new reality. The sun was hot. The breeze stopped. My skin was burning. The ketchup melted, and I smelled like tomatoes and sadness. I lay for what seemed like many hours. Flies hatched eggs on me. So gross. Maybe if I limped to the door up through the window he’d finally see me and save me from this world.

I got up and did a hunchback zombie limp, leaving my left leg straight behind me and pulling forward with the right. I moaned, “uhhhhhhhhHHHHHHH!” I twisted my right arm to make it look like it was coming off and zombie crawled. And he didn’t take his eyes off the TV once. I could’ve be dead and he would’ve never known. The world isn’t listening. Nobody cares about me.

“Ahhhhhhhhhuuuuuuhhhhhh..Zombie crawl. Zombie crawl… “Uhh-hhhhhhhhhh.” So infuriated and ashamed and smelling of tomatoes and salt, I gave up on him and the rest of the world. I went to the hose, ignored of this great act committed against me. The red rinsed away, and I watched it fade into the mud I made. Unknown. Unseen. And here I am again. On stage. Unknown. Unseen. Even though they’re right in front of me.

And after 3 songs Jack turns and says, “Hayley… It’s over… Let’s go home.”

All my hopes and dreams





If this is how we are at SXSW, we will surely only end up back in south Texas. Pack up. Go home. My life is up in smoke.


Back to my exile on the porch, a small blanket under me, one over, and a couch pillow under my head. Trees sway in the 3 am sky. And somehow the stars seem so much further away tonight.

I’m depressed. I’m beyond depressed. All I can think of is that really bad, no-audience response and the things Mom said. Maybe she’s totally right. Maybe I do look like an 11-year-old boy. Maybe people would listen to me sing if I had big boobs like her. Men were always chatting her up back at home and were always watching her hips chucka-chucka and all that stuff. I see the last TV-like light go off in the living room. Maybe they are all retiring to their rooms? I slide the glass door – me always on the outside – and move it so it will be silent as I slide it shut. Even OY! is not here. I see Donnie and Jack are not on the floor, so they are most likely out. I head to the bathroom – the bathroom with no lock and a missing knob so it’s just a hole that you put your hand in to pull open the door. I close it so slow and quiet. The world doesn’t need to hear the riots in my head.

I sit up on the sink, perched like a little yellow or black bird laughing at itself on the finger of someone who owns them and knows them all too well. I look deep into the mirror.

All my fears come over me – like a veil of knives.

My face. It’s not as pretty as it should be. I don’t look like the actors on TV or the faces in all those beauty and gossip magazines – meaningless people like my mom read. My nose. It’s not perfectly straight. My eyes are big, but not a perfect shape. I need to take stock of what I got. What do I got? I don’t know at all. How can I be a rock star if I’m not super hot? All famous people are like tens and me?… Maybe I’m a three to six. I don’t know. I have zits on my skin. I hate zits. And when I get nervous I start to pick. I get real close – face up to the mirror, see a big white head mountain on my forehead, almost as big as the pain of everything in there. My head. I pinch my hands to the volcano. Puss squeezes out and some shoots on the mirror, some on my fingers. I wipe my slimed finger on the mirror. I squeeze more until the blood starts to come out. Physical pain causes me relief and at the same time more self loathing.

Ugly, ugly Hayley. Who will want me? And I’m so short. 5’3” is not a supermodel height. I’m so tiny you would miss me if you didn’t remember to look down, like Alice in Wonderland when she drinks the potion that makes her too small. Except there’s no potion to make me back to the size I deserve to be – the size I should’ve been if I had been given all those tall genes that Jack received. I hate myself. I really, really hate myself. My mom was right. Too right. I lift up my tattered tee and see barely mosquito bumps. That’s what a neighbor kid used to say. “HEY MOSQUITO BITES!” If I had big boobs people would like me more. I’d look less like a boy, heck I don’t even wear a bra they’re that small. I pull the bottom center of shirt up and through the top to turn it into more of a bikini halter top. So small. I pull out white toilet paper, lots of it, roll it out, pull, crumple it in my hands the way I crumple so easily. I’m that unimportant piece of crumpled paper, lost blowing in the wind. No one will catch me. I shove the crumples into one side of my new made shirt bikini top. I want to cry. I pull another few feet off the toilet roll, crumple, and stuff the other side. I check my profile in the mirror. Ugh. Still not big enough… I pull the roll again and…


What the fuck is that?

I drop the TP and look where the door is, to the left, and where a knob should be I see eyes peaking at me. I scream. They open the door: the twins that live and die here are pointing and laughing at my newly papered boobs. One of the twins actually falls back and rolls over on the floor, the rolls of his body going everywhere. How fucked up is this? I have never felt more invaded or embarrassed, like I’m some science experiment Franken-freak that everybody has been watching on reality TV. Laughter. So much laughter. The other one of the two actually comes up and squeezes my left paper boob. I try to push him off and run, but there’s too much of him to get around.

“HAYLEY? You OK?” I hear my prince Jack say, and he’s running down the hall to me. He socks the boy so hard in the gut that the boy tumbles over the other on the floor like circus dogs. Jack scoops me in his arms and takes me out the door. We walk a few blocks of suburban cubicles on black paved streets, tears pouring and pouring. “What happened, Hayley… What happened?” But I’m too embarrassed to tell him. We sit on a curb of some random house. White picket fence broken up. Gun shots somewhere in the background. This place is nothing like my home. All the roads are paved here. None are dirt. I’ve come so far yet still am nowhere.

I scratch into my hand really hard – feel the skin in my nails. Jack takes my hands and kisses them. He looks me deep down. I can’t always hold all this inside of just my tiny self. Ok.

“Jack… Jack… I’m so sad. So sad. Nobody will ever think I’m pretty. And because I look like a boy… nobody will like our music.”

He pulls me close and laughs: “Hayley… you’re crazy! Where did you get that idea?” I don’t say anything but I put my head on his chest, and he holds me so close. I’m surrounded in the cloud of Jack that’s lifting me out of my misery.

“Sis… androgyny is the coolest thing to be. Think Joan Jett or Grace Jones or David Bowie. All the bests are like that… I mean would you rather be Grace Kelly or James Dean?”

He’s right. So right.

“Dean any day.”


SXSW is starting. Annie scrapes me off the living room floor with badges thrown around my neck. “God, this place is fucking disgusting… Whose idea was it?” Jack and I both point hard atDonnie. We open the front screen door and file out, along with plumes of white spam and bong smoke.

We hop into a black rental BMW. Annie’s driving; Donnie’s next to her in the front seat since Jack won’t let him near me. My head’s on Jack’s lap in the back seat curled up. I feel like I haven’t slept in centuries. ‘Alright kids… here’s the plan. You have a show in five days. Meanwhile, go make friends. Get noticed. Get accused. Go crazy. But NOT too crazy. Hayley, keep your lipstick fresh. NO HARD DRUGS! But have fun…”

We are driving through crowds. I’ve never seen so many people, so many colors, so many cultures, so many cars, so many everything. We park on the street. Jack grabs my hand. We run into a magazine party: thrashing headbangers throwing trash cans, swarms of kids sweating in the heat, beer, coke, weed, heat, sunburns, wrist bracelets. Party after party. Streamers, rappers, cussing, little bikini-wearing hussies, electric guitars screaming in the dawn, cars slammed in rows, wild light projections, acoustic melodramas, and fun, fun, fun. I drink. I scream. Boys are chasing me. Jack is howling in the beats. Donnie is with a new girl every few feet. One stage then the next – we watch a band in a bar, watch a band in a yard, watch a band in a club, watch the world get loud and drop out of itself.

My pale skin is red. My feet blistered. I walk like lead are in them. I’m on the shoulders over the crowd, surfing on their hands and heads. Celebrities and nobodies mix in the only-two-weeks-that-Texas-is-cool dream.

We’re home, then crash for three hours, then back out at it again. I’ve made so many friends – I can’t remember anyone’s name – they all just shout JACK & HAYLEY! We all say we’re 22 or 23. Everybody wants a piece of him or me.


Day before the gig.

Annie has sentenced us to stay in and sleep and rehearse and rest and, for me, to not talk over loud music. My throat hurts. I’ve been doing too much loud yelling over deep bass and sad guitars. And I’ve started smoking cigarettes and drinking beer.

No beer today, Annie says. No cigs. She threw them away. But I bum a couple off Sketch – who apologized for the twins. He feels like shit about the whole thing, so he bought me a carton of OJ and now the black-eyed twins don’t even look at me. Sketch hands me a brand new
“fuck whitey”
lighter, so I kiss his cheek and go in the yard. I lay on a blanket, hoping to get a couple hours of sleep and sad that there are no parties to distract me from the frightening truths of myself and my fear of failure at our upcoming show. I light up.

How many days have I been here?

I don’t even notice

BOOK: Plush
6.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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