Sandy Point - #6 Big Tree Lane; Midnight
"Why did you go up on the roof?"
"I don't know."
"Weren't you afraid of slipping off?"
"Guess I was more scared of something else."
"This is the deal," Jimmy was saying, leaning forward on the porch rail in the cool morning air, his bare chest and stomach warm against her back. "We got no money. Doesn't sound like we're gonna get anything out of Cooper, doubt that's gonna happen now."
She rested her hands on the damp rail, it was still drizzling off and on, and gazed out, doubtfully, sleepily, at the surf. Jimmy had enough coffee to make four cups, but no coffee filters. He'd used a paper towel. Her mouth still tasted like paper towels. There was half a loaf of 7-11 bread and some nasty cheese but nothing else to eat. "I could get a job."
He lit a cigarette, he still had plenty of those, snickered, and asked, "You ever had a job, Rennie?"
"No." Rayne glanced west past the pilings toward the pier: it lit up at night, some kind of restaurant and bar that always looked crowded. "I could go see what they have at that place. I could be a waitress."
Propping her up on the rail, her legs wrapped around his waist, Jimmy slid one hand down her thigh and grinned. "You would be one real lousy waitress; you don't never do what anybody tells you to do without bitching about it."
"Don't be naive. Depending on how much I'm wearing, it wouldn't matter if I mixed up the orders or forgot the ketchup." Leaning into him a little, she teased, "Let me down. It's raining on me."
Jimmy shifted, exhaled smoke thoughtfully. His blue eyes caught and held the color from the water and sky, sometimes turning dark, sometimes looking almost purple, but right now they were clear and calm. Reflecting her own deep, quiet peace. Emotion swelled in her throat and Rayne circled his neck with her arms: capturing and holding the heat. "You got some naive going there too, Rennie," he said, still smiling. "We are not pimping you out. Me, I got some ideas but you keep your clothes on."
He got up, walked to the end of the porch, scratching one bare foot against one long leg, knocking off sand and peeling paint, looking east. His house was tucked down under the bluffs; you couldn't see the bridge to the mainland from here, but sometimes at night Rayne could hear the traffic. "Come on sweetheart, get on up. We're going on a little road trip."
"Damn," Jimmy breathed, his truck backed up in the driveway, stubborn door finally slammed shut, "didn't think you were in a dorm but damn...what's that place?" Rayne spared a quick glance to her left. Wyatt's beautiful rental soared above her own, three elegant stories of glass and stone. "My brother. That's where Wyatt lives." "One guy lives in that place? In college?" He was still staring at it. It was sort of annoying. "He's not exactly hunting under the couch for spare change, get real Toad. You know who we are. You said you wanted to come here, we're here."
The door shut behind them, and she stood there, dust dancing through filtered sunlight, the glimmer of the pool beyond the arcade, scent of summer flowers and polished wood, every surface gleaming. Someone had moved her Fender Strat, probably the cleaning service. It felt strange to be back here, walking back into time. She'd sat in that chair and talked to Cruz on that phone about something that was a hundred years past now. Looking up at Jimmy, trying to shake it off, she asked in a voice close to a whisper, "Toad, what are we doing here?"
He glanced at the kitchen, toward the room with the pool table, and then gruffly said, "Ren, we need us some cash. I need time to put things together, and you got all this. We got to sell it."
Aghast, Rayne looked around the living room, the sofa, the rugs, the stereo, the plasma TV, the Fender Strat leaning against the wall. Paintings. Stuff in the kitchen she'd never touched but it was the kind of stuff she'd grown up with, china and silver and and a Jura that made coffee you could probably drink even if you shoved a paper towel down its throat. "This is all I have....you want me to sell it? Why don't we take it and sell yours?"
Jimmy was not looking at her, looking at the room. "Because mine ain't worth shit. You grab what you can get from upstairs; I'm taking some of this out to my truck. Go on, Ren. We don't want trouble."
She stomped upstairs, makeup, perfume, bed linen and towels, but she couldn't haul all that downstairs without making multiple trips and she did not intend to march up and down the stairs like some moving man...her photos, she couldn't leave those, soap, shampoo, as if she was going to sell that stuff, she needed that stuff. If Jimmy wanted the big things, he could just come up here and get them himself.
He'd already grabbed more than she thought he could and piled it up in the truck bed, swearing over the dining room table, when she slammed out the door and there, of course, had to be, no way it could not be, fate was like that, it was going to be Wyatt. And it was.
"Rayne, what's going on?"
Jimmy dropped the table and stepped back, sat down on the table, lit another cigarette, looking at Wyatt, looking at her, waiting. "I'm dropping out," Rayne told her brother. "I'm getting a few things I need. That's all."
Wyatt looked at her, then strode over to Jimmy and said, "Need a hand with that? I'm Wyatt, Rayne's brother."
Toad slid up off the table, moving slowly, stretching. "Jimmy Breaux. And no, uh, don't need the help thanks. We're done here."
"I've heard of you," Wyatt said , quiet, casual. "Impressive work you've done. If Gemma is as good an agent as I think she is, a lot of other people will know your work too."
"Thanks," Jimmy said. "Likewise of course." It didn't sound like he meant it; Rayne was sure he did mean it, who wouldn't be impressed with Wyatt, but Toad wasn't enthusiastic. He was tired and hot and and grimy and neither of them had had anything to eat, and he was saying thanks to her brother who lived in the glass castle while he was trying to figure out what he could sell or pawn so they could eat. She went over there and stood next to him and put her arm around his waist and he felt thin and sweaty, and he put his arm around her too and leaned into her.
Wyatt didn't seem to know what to think, looking at both of them and at the chairs and tables and guitars piled up in the truck. He finally looked right at Jimmy and tossed off something easy, smiling. "If you're with my sister, I hope you know you're entering the event horizon."
Rayne laughed; that was an old silly family joke about black holes, sharing laughter with her brother who laughed along with her, and then she looked at Jimmy.
He didn't have a clue what Wyatt was talking about. He was standing there, looking lost, trying and not getting it. She knew it. Wyatt knew it. It went wider and deeper than 'event horizons'. Jimmy wouldn't understand anything they talked and laughed about. Jimmy didn't have one single book in his house. Wyatt looked at her, and he was still smiling, but the smile had gone cool and quiet and considering. Rayne knew that look: he wanted to offer to help but thought he'd better not.
"I'll call you," she said, uncomfortable and seeing the gulf, and refusing to look down into it, "I'll call you later."
Sandy Point - Night
"He has everything I've ever wanted."
"Yeah? I thought you said his momma died, he fell over her in the back yard. You want that?"
"That was when he was a kid, Jimmy. That doesn't matter now."
"I don't know. You been chasing that Gabe dude since you were a kid and making one big damn deal about it. Things you see when you're little, they stick. He's got some ghosts just like me and just like you. Quit thinking he's got it all, I'm telling you he doesn't, I don't even know him and I'm saying he doesn't."
She nestled unhappily against him, furniture bumping around in her mind, furniture she wanted and couldn't get back, furniture spinning around, stretching out, ripped apart and sucked down. I love you, she thought, and you don't fit in my world. Does that matter? "You don't understand," she whispered.
Jimmy laughed at her. The floor was almost cold but the air was full of heat, still and pressed as full as a barometer about to burst. "Dollbaby, you won't miss your damn rugs and chairs. Give me a couple days and see if I don't come up with something you like better than a bunch of pretty dishes. You gonna trust me I can do that?"
Surely she didn't care that much about the rugs and the chairs and the dishes. Ornaments hung on her life, loosely attached, the first to go flying away, but the larger and more important pieces would inevitably follow. It didn't matter; it was just a hole in the air. "I will. I love you Toad."
"You sure about that? You gonna tell me what's a fucking event horizon?"
A mathematical concept turned real. Infinity twisted inside out. A place where nothing makes sense and you can bring nothing with you but what you feel. A bed with bad sheets where someone with a scar on his mouth holds tight and says I love you Rennie, tell me you love me, say that to me. There is no answer. There is no time. There is no certainty. There is only this kiss, this moment.
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions Chapter 25