Real Goth gripped the driver’s wheel. Everyone called him R.G. for short. When he was thirteen, R.G. stabbed himself in the face and now had to wear a mask every day to hide the hideous scar. The mask was black, embroidered with crushed velvet and marked with a seductive six-eyed snake pattern. When people pried, he’d say he was, actually, a very powerful mutant and walk away.
On the ridge of the mask were the following words:
𝔖𝔬𝔩𝔳𝔢 & ℭ𝔬𝔞𝔤𝔲𝔩𝔞
R.G. slammed his palm against the wheel, exorcising a massive high-pitched scream from his chest. Even though he couldn't feel it for himself, he knew the asphalt outside was hot, sticky, dangerous. The heat-index was hellish. A syrupy white sun slapped the rearview mirror. Squinting, R.G. banged his head against the wheel out of frustration. He rubbed the tender spot on his forehead and stared at the SUV stuck in traffic ahead of him. It was the Sunday.
He'd seen Calvin pissing on things before. But not like this.
Calvin was squatting and peeing on a tombstone. To be fair, R.G. had also pissed on a fair number of tombstones in his lifetime. The license plate was from out-of-state. Of course, today would attract a crowd. All kinds.
Everyone was driving to the new house. The grand-opening promised many new opportunities for the local understimulated youth. Specifically, the young adults sweating off their eyeliner at the local dead mall. R.G. had seen them before, piled over each other’s shoulders squeezing in the men’s public bathroom, to struggling to re-apply their make-up while Sears went out of business. Central air conditioning didn’t make it past budget cuts that year. But that only even made the mall cooler; deteriorating capital mass grave buildings were raging sexy.
And yet, R.G.’s current pilgrimage spat in the face of those anti-institutional ideas. He should've been ready to burn the new house down, not gaze in awe at its innovative glory. The new house, Omelas, did not belong to them. It was already sold. For men who already owned homes. The real, real goths would have nothing to do with it. Faker.
Calvin inched a few feet ahead of R.G. He let go of the brake. The wheels slowly dragged. He hit the brake. Calvin stopped inching. White syrupy sun. Oozing asphalt hot hot hot hot hot hot hot hot hot —
Someone knocked on his door. They kept knocking.
R.G. unrolled it, pursed his pretty lips behind his mask. He was gonna give this person a sour look whether they liked it or not.
“Can you lend a hand?” the stranger asked.
A skinny young man, damaged black dyed hair, his pores soaked with acne-scarred oils. He nursed an energy drink in a boney fingerless-gloved hand. A nasty patch of purple swelled on his face. Might’ve gotten into a fight and lost. He stuck his thumb out and was obviously pleased with himself.
“I don't have cash,” R.G. replied. “Fuck off.”
“You’re going there, right? Can I come with?”
“Jesus, no. That's dangerous.” R.G. had seen movies like this before. He knew things.
“You won't even notice me. Please? I'm sweet.”
R.G. had seen this kid before. He was in worse shape during the Sears clearance sale, barely dressed, stupid gaunt. Now, he was wearing one of those bootleg Looney Tunes shirt with Bugs spanking Lola. Lola’s red, swollen rabbit ass loudly presenting itself in public, bullseye attack into his eyeballs. R.G. glanced at all the other cars in traffic, full of people. Someone might see them. The kid looked maybe twenty, radiating severe Virgo energy, because R.G. was just good at telling that. Today, he liked Virgos.
R.G. unlocked the door.
“What's your name?”
“Smiley.” He took the seat behind R.G. and crossed his legs. “I hear it’s built on a swamp. Haunted.”
Calvin pulled ahead when the light turned green. His perfect tombstone pee arc never moved, like a true piece of art that can be appreciated from any angle. Atop the shrinking violet protective foil of the SUV, a sliver of white sun beamed between the peeling cracks to give pissing Calvin a halo. When the streetlight finally hit red, R.G. released the brakes. He shirt collar felt wet. Goths and summer didn’t mix.
“You were walking there?” R.G. adjusted the rearview mirror.
“Yes,” Smiley said with a frown. “A good friend’s moving in.”
They drove in silence for a little longer.
“Don’t you hate it,” Smiley said with another frown, “when people stare.”