by Sideshow Lew
©2003 Sideshow Lew -- all rights reserved
Males can detect female pheromones from over ten miles away.
It's a beautiful fuckin' night, ain't it? Look at that moon. It reminds me of her. She was a white, white girl. Oh, I remember her so well. She wore stone-washed overalls, one strap undone, t'other fastened with safety pins, a faded concert tee, SEX PISTOLS in crackly iron-on, and silly white ballet slippers. Except for two grass-green braids drooping from each temple like the antennas of a clinically depressed insect, her head was shaved smooth as bone.
This was back in '79, you understand. How old were you then, kid? Four, five? Sitting around in your Underoos, eating Frankenberry cereal and watching Scooby-Doo. Or were you even born yet? God, you people have to stop getting older. You're making me get old, too.
We called ourselves punks. It's a carnival term, didja know that? It just meant any young thing, a kid or an elephant or those deformed things in jars, pickled punks they were called. They say any damn thing is punk, now, but I was the real deal. Not some disaffected brat who sneaks out of mommy and daddy's house to go to a rave and then goes back and gets on the internet or calls his girlfriend on his cell phone. Shit! I slept with ten other guys on the bare floor of an abandoned church the cops were too lazy to kick us out of. We stank! I wore my clothes 'til they rotted off. We ate out of dumpsters. You ever looked in one of those things, seen what a grocery store throws away? It's a fucking shame. Apples with one tiny little bad spot, bread that's a day old but otherwise perfectly fine, no mold on it even. We even had a turkey for Thanksgiving once. I'm not gonna tell you where I found that.
When we had money, we spent it on records, or in the clubs. Our world was just a crude cartoon drawn in crayons made of shit, soot, rust and blood. The music was what mattered. Why else would someone choose a life like that? I guess we were all running from something. My family, hell, they'd call it dysfunctional today, but we didn't have a word for it. Back then you didn't go on TV and whine about, hey, daddy's drunk and mommy's an enabler. You just coped, or you didn't. I had an older brother, he joined the marines, two sisters, one ran away when she was fifteen, never heard from her again, t'other killed herself. And then there was me, and here I am.
I met her at one club, can't even remember the place's name. It burned down a few months later, I heard. We were dancing, just two more sweaty people in the pack, and somehow I found myself facing her.
"Closer!" She hit screaming volume, but I still had to read her lips. "Closer to the speakers!"
I shook my head in disbelief. She took it as a no. She let go of my hand and the crowd instantly swallowed her up. I saw her a second later, right by the stage. Lights swirled and flared, painted her purple, green and gold. She had no color of her own. I fought my way up to her.
"You'll go deaf!" I shrieked, pointed at my ears.
She pressed close to me, her body flexing against mine. Her lips in my ear, dry and smooth. "I want to feel the music in my belly, in my leg bones... " I thought she was whispering, but she must have been screaming, too. She went right up and pressed her wrists to the amps, eyes shut tight.
And that was how I met Luna.
Her full name, I found out later, was Luna Actian. Foreign, Greek maybe. She pronounced the initial sound softly, not a sharp 'ack' like a cat coughing up a dead lizard. Ache-tie-an. Luna. Good name. Moon-pale girl. Beautiful girl. You could cut yourself on her cheekbones. We were all so thin, back then. Her heartrending eyes, oh god, overlarge, moist and glittering like those weepy kids in the velvet paintings.
Her stage name, the name of our band, was Imago. It wasn't really a band in the sense that any of us knew how to play music. We made up for our lack of skill with enthusiasm and exotica. There was Remmy and Bruce and Chris and me. Me, I would pick out tunes on a yellow plastic toy piano, over a background of dialog 'sampled' from the TV on a clunky reel-to-reel and distorted by slowing it down or playing it backwards. I stole that machine from my dad when I left home the last time. We mixed tracks in the most primitive way you can. Two or more machines to play, one to record. Luna, she was the fronter. Not really a singer, in the same way we weren't really a band. She'd flail around and scream her five-minute poetic rants -- no, dammit, kid, 'spoken word' is too polite a term -- and we'd throw sheep hearts at the audience. We'd do any crazy thing. Once Remmy swallowed a live goldfish and stick a lollipop mic up his ass to conduct an interview with it. We did everything but bite the heads off chickens. I guess you'd call it performance art today.
If it was just another guy doing it, I think, it wouldn't have been as good. But to see that pretty little pale thing up there. Well! Her skin was velvety, did I tell you that? Like it had been powdered. A fine sheen of down on her arms and belly, a satin sprinkling of invisible hairs dulling the luster of her pale breasts. Lanugo, it's called. All babies have it in the womb, some even after they're born. Adults can have it, too. They must, because she did.
This was the late seventies, remember. AIDS was years away. Prob'ly you can't imagine what it was like. Free love, the me generation, all those nice labels thought up for my generation by yours. All I knew was I was desperately horny, and the only girl to clean my pipes had to be Luna. I didn't just lust for her. I craved her. But Luna didn't give. Oh no, she'd change in front of us backstage but she was pure as the driven snow. So cold, so beautiful. Just as distant and untouchable as her namesake.
She didn't screw, she also didn't eat. The only time she mentioned food was when I was trying to impress her, that one time. Just joking around, somehow I got on the subject of being a kid. How bad I was. You know, it could be me, or some Mormon kid in Utah, or the emperor of Japan, the male of the species are all just as dumb as the next guy when it comes to chatting up a girl. So, I was telling her how my brother and I would lock the babysitter out of the house, and she'd go all apeshit and we'd be too scared to let her back in. Girls love those stories. Trying to jump off the roof with a bed sheet tied my neck, playing Superman. Pissing our names in the snow. Biting into an unripe persimmon even though Granddad had warned us it was too sour.
"Dumb kid," I laughed. "It 'bout turned my mouth inside out."
"Aaaaah! I remember persimmons. I loved them, as a child."
"I know where I could get some... "
But she wouldn't have none of it.
"My sole function in life as a child was to eat," she'd said, gazing up at me with those improbably dewy eyes. I figured she must have been a fat kid, and still thought of herself as a fat kid.
"What's your sole function in life now?" I asked, playfully, hopefully. "To mate?"
"Yes," she said. "To mate, and to die."
Well. She was a weird chick, but I'd dated much worse. Anorexia, we knew about it 'cause Karen Carpenter made it news. Bipolar, but I think they say 'manic-depressive' now. Chicks who today would read Sandman comics, listen to Nine Inch Nails and wear ankhs and too much eye makeup. Much worse.
"Women," I remember Bruce saying. "Must have their secrets. They can't help but have secrets. Imagine a brain equally, even superiorly intelligent, in a body as dissimilar to a man's as you can get while still being functionally compatible."
"Pop fuckin' psychology," I said. Bruce always talked like that when he was drunk. He'd actually been to college for a few semesters, till they caught him smoking reefer in his room. Sometimes it jazzed him to lord it over us.
"Plain old anatomy, my friend. Anatomy equals destiny. What does woman want?"
"Now you're quoting Freud. Hell, I've read a book, too, you know."
"Wolves and tigers."
"Different bodies," Bruce said. "Different hunting styles. Wolves have long snouts, slashing bites, hunting in packs because one wolf can't kill big prey on its own, long legs and small hard paws to run down bleeding prey. Tiger, though -- powerful bite, doesn't lend itself to pack behavior, kills alone. That's why we have man's best friend and the cat who walks by himself."
I staggered to the door. "You are drunk. I'm leaving."
Wolves and tigers, my ass. Luna was a girl, and she wanted what every girl wanted. And I thought I was the man to give it to her.
When Darwin discovered an eleven-inch long, night-blooming flower, her immediately prophesied the discovery of a nocturnal insect species with an eleven-inch proboscis to fertilize it. It was discovered almost a century later.
I'd known her for exactly two weeks. I didn't count the days as they occurred. Only in retrospect did I realize how short a time it was.
She slept all day, lived for the night but hated darkness. Every waking minute she needed strobes or stage lights, neon as bright as possible, even an honest-to-god candelabra with candles. She'd never come to the church. When it got cold we burned trash in barrels like hoboes, and otherwise forgot it. We hardly ever were home, anyways.
So the night I decided I was gonna make Luna mine, I told her we were gonna take a walk under the moon.
"Is the moon full?" She peered out of the club's window, but it was too smeared and her eyes were dazzled by the stage lights to see.
"What are you, a werewolf or something?"
"Or something." She frowned, making her antennae-braids curve alertly over her face.
"It's a blue moon tonight. It's special. I wanted to share it with you."
"Blue? I've seen it yellow, orange, never blue!"
She was enthralled. I didn't have the heart to explain it to her. She must have thought she was safe. The night sky was boiling over with clouds, and we walked out of town, through an apple orchard, not talking. Just walking. I didn't know what to say, and Luna, for all her poetry on stage, wasn't much of a talker.
In the field that had grown up in the parking lot of an old drive-in movie theater, she undressed for me. She was slat sided as an alley cat, bone-riding breasts standing out stiff and unmoving, artificial looking, like they belonged on a mannequin. The only softness to her was a little pot belly she called a pooch as she pinched it critically, then laughed. I noticed -- god, why do I remember these things -- I noticed she was the only blonde I'd ever seen who wasn't a brunette down below. Her delta was as albino as her eyebrows, and oddly straight, not curly. Silky, translucent hairs smoothed into a feathered triangle of Angora kitten-fur.
Blue moon. The second full moon in a month. It came out from behind the clouds as I reached for her, and she turned those eyes to me, betrayed.
Her body -- how can I describe this? -- it broke apart. As if made of confetti, or autumn leaves on the wind. Not leaves... pale green, powdery wings fluttering, thick furry bodies, feathery antennae.
Luna... my lunatic... vampire-angel... tear-drinker...
There is a species of moth which exists solely on the nutrients excreted in tears, which it laps up delicately with its proboscis from the eyes of sleeping beasts. A vampire of tears, if you will.
I reached out and the wings slipped through my fingers. The Luna moths swirled away, scattered across the field. The moon was up, so beautiful and cold, just like it is tonight. And that's all there is to my story, kid. You'd better go home now, and try to get some sleep. Leave an old man to hisself. I've got a lot of work ahead of me. There were hundreds of them, thousands maybe. I've been going at it for almost thirty years now, and I'm still trying to catch them all...