This short is included in Elizabeth Ellen's new collection, Saul Stories, available in hardcover right now!
By midnight we are out of beer. Eli is up in her room with Aidan. There is fake blood in her hair and on her bed. The rest of the house is full of people I have somehow forgotten meeting. I find Lee outside on the balcony. He is dressed as some sort of mercenary. I only recognize him by his teeth.
I’ll go, I say. I don’t think anyone can hear me.
I go into the bedroom, take off my clothes, put on a powder blue mini skirt and matching suit jacket. I put on baby blue eyes shadow, bright pink lipstick, a tiny mole. There is a cut out of a cloud on the bathroom counter and I pin it to my blazer. Pin the sun on the other lapel. I pull my hair into a tight bun, pin the pageboy wig onto my head.
I smile into the mirror. There is lipstick on my front teeth. I don’t rub it off.
I back out of the drive, adjust my wig in the rearview mirror. I haven’t had anything to drink. I have a sudden disinterest in maintaining acquaintanceships.
I drive to the corner gas station, park on the curb.
Who are you supposed to be, the man behind the counter says.
I pretend not to hear him. I run my card through the card reader, enter my password, grab the beer. On my way out I pass a group of teenage boys dressed as convenience store robbers. Two boys I don’t recognize, and Saul.
Hey, Saul says.
Hey, I say.
I make a conscious effort not to look back. I make a conscious effort not to be a witness to anything judicial. I ignore whatever blunt instrument is in Saul’s hand. I turn the music up in my car.
At home I set one of the twelve packs on the pool table and carry the other into the bedroom. I lock the door behind me; sit on the bed. Eli’s room is above mine and I swear I can hear her laughing, though maybe she is sobbing. Or vice versa. There is a knock on the door and I stare at it. I don’t move and nothing changes. I crawl from the bed to the bathroom, lock that door, too. I crawl into my closet with my phone in one hand, the beer in the other. I close the door and sit back on my heels. My phone vibrates. Suddenly I can see everything around me.
What the fuck was that, Saul says.
I’m a weatherperson, I say. I’m Nicole Kidman.
That’s not what I’m talking about, Saul says.
I don’t know, I say.
The knocking stops and a text comes through from Lee.
Where are you? It says.
I don’t know, I say.
I open a drawer in the back of the closet. There is lingerie and porn and a stewardess costume. There are cowgirl chaps and sex toys and a sailor hat.
We’ll be there in five minutes, Saul says.
I stand barefooted on the bathtub, open the window. I drop the 12-pack out first. I leave my phone on the bathroom counter, jump into the bushes. It feels good sprinting to the car through the mud. My feet are numb by the time I reach the road.
The inside of the car is warm and smells medicinal. Darius is driving and Israel is in the passenger seat. I don’t know why I didn’t recognize them earlier. I hand the beer to Saul. It’s the first time I’ve been in the back of a car with him. I feel passive and relaxed. I feel a sense of comradeship that I don’t feel with the people inside my house. Saul hands me a slip of paper and I put it in my mouth without considering the effects. I slide down in my seat without considering where we are going. I look out through the top of the window at the moon, trees; wait to feel as though we are driving through a tunnel, wait to feel as though every thought I have ever had is not abnormal, depraved, degenerate.
Don’t you even want to know where we are going, Saul says.
Not really, I say.
We are gliding through traffic lights and stop signs. We are gliding past schools and shopping centers and churches. We glide past cornfields and pastures and farmland. We glide down dark lanes without street lamps or houselights. We keep gliding until it is pitch black and suddenly we are slowed down and then we are stopped. Saul reaches over to open my door or to lock it. Saul reaches over and every thought I have feels appropriate for the situation. I get out of the car, stand in front of the hood. Stand illuminated by the headlights. I get out of the car and run into the field, into the woods. I get out of the car and there is the awareness that Saul is right behind me. I get out of the car and Darius and Israel are somewhere, too. I get out of the car and I am inside of a tunnel. I get out of the car and the music is all around us. The music is blasting through speakers. The music is egging us on. The music is encouraging.