Buying Twilight Books
J. E. Kellems III
I remember the day I spent a third of my paycheck getting someone murdered and thinking I could live with it. It all started in an unusually hot May in the City of Angels. As a Hollywood punk rocker, my life was mostly a series of awful decisions and reckless investments but other than causing my parents nauseating disgust, the chaos I created usually only affected me. Then, one day I wasn’t prepared for, I fell in love.
I am not one to use excessive sweet words to describe falling in love. One day I was walking out of my office at Tower Records, I bumped into a girl walking through the doors in the other direction. I squeaked out an apology while I looked into her brown eyes and saw her pink smile. I walked away exhausted, in love, and already burdened by it. That night I couldn’t sleep a wink as the butterflies in my stomach did the Macarena all night. I played My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless album over and over.
You can guess what happened next, nothing new here; we dated and forgot about the rest of the world as we kissed without ceasing and spent way too much money on each other and loved every moment of it. On my birthday she baked me a delicious vanilla cake and afterward we drank a gallon of ice tea and had rough, tender, and thoughtful sex as we listened to a mix-tape of Spanish rock she made. For the next six months we wrote stupid love letters, brought each other tacos at work, and at least once a week we lied to her mom about going out dancing so I could play deejay for her while we made love to The Pixies, Front 242, and Cocteau Twins. However, the thing we did most, at all times and places, was hold hands.
Six months later, we sat holding hands in the doctor’s office, completely silent. My check was direct deposited the night before and I withdrew 300 dollars on the way to the office. The lobby was full of people in pairs: a Hispanic mom and her teen daughter; two older teenaged Cholas crying and messing up their already bad make-up; and a creepy white guy with a much younger black girl with terror in her eyes. We all knew this was not a clinic for the common cold. We all left our humanity at the door as we thought to ourselves that somehow we were more justified in the transaction than the others in the room. She and I sat patiently waiting for her name to be called but secretly hoping that they would somehow overlook her or that one of us would be brave enough to get up, take the other person´s arm, walk out, and face the day and its consequences. Two hours later they called her in and after a hug, I didn’t see her for two more hours.
When she came out, she was only a shell of a person; especially compared to the girl I was so enamored with. We got in the car and she just said, “Drive.” So I did; for hours, of a day that had a million, all around Los Angeles. About five hours later, when she was thirsty, we stopped at a Safeway market and walked the aisles, arms around each other like we were trying to hang on for dear life. When we stopped in front of the juice section she finally spoke, “They had a big machine and they sucked it out.” Then she started crying and all I could do was hold her.
The rest of the day I uncharacteristically thought nothing of myself. My job was to take care of her with as much passion and compassion as I could muster. I did my best through long stretches of her crying and even worse, the silence. My stereo was off and air conditioning was blasting and I thought over and over, how could I love someone and put them through this?
When she fell asleep in my arms that night, it hit me hard. This was entirely my fault, even if we did mutually plan the day together, the blood was on my hands. It was more than just the money I spent; it was being a man neither of us believed in. That long emotional day wasn’t about saving our relationship; it was because it could never be saved by people who were so selfish, they only cared about each other. She opened her eyes for a second and whispered, “It was a girl.”
That summer brought the inevitable breakup. I walked the streets all day listening to the Misfits and walking past the gaze of Venice Beach sugar skulls. I tried to get away, but everywhere I went, there I was: a demon in the mist of brown LA haze, Ten Commandment checklist completed in back pocket. I missed her and hated myself. I couldn’t remember what we were so scared of that we felt that we had only the cruelest of options. It was the most pivotal point in my life and I had to come to grips with the fact that I thought some lives were worth less than my own. I realized I was at war with God, and that sometimes the price you pay for something is not what the true cost is. 300 dollars - the bank statement is truly a Theological statement.
Ten years later, we met at the record shop where we had worked together. She said she cries on the date of the procedure every year and that it was always her deepest regret. After a few tears she said her mother always thought she would get pregnant by me and that it would have been okay because she saw how much we loved each other. After a long, bittersweet hug we went our separate ways again, our relationship defined more by a horrible day we recklessly created instead of the many days we were blissfully hand in hand.
I will not lie and say I think about it every day, but sometimes I feel like I should be buying Twilight books for and talking to a daughter who yells at me about how I don’t understand what a girl her age is going through; truth is: I wish I did.