Day One

1:34 am – Thirty minutes outside of PDX. A little girl stares at her from between the curtains that divide first class from coach. T.S. lowers her phone and looks at the girl. she smiles. The girl, perhaps four, is startled and runs back to her seat. T.S. goes back to her phone. 9 selfies are taken.

2:14 am – Arrived at PDX. T.S. stands, along with three other parties seated in three separate rows in first class. They gather carry-on items. T.S walks to the curtain and peers through. The little girl is asleep. Her parents, gathering their myriad of bags, toys and devices, have yet to wake her up. The mother carries an infant. T.S. exits the plane.

2:28 am – T.S. walks through the airport swarmed by casually dressed but serious looking handlers. Her assistant J. and two bodyguards complete the circle of human beings that surround her like wasps, crawling over a fragile paper nest. T.S. stares at her phone as they make their way to the exit. A blind queen.

2:45 am – T.S. climbs into the backseat of a black SUV. J. sits in the passenger seat, in front of her, laptop already open. T.S. stares at her phone. A second black SUV follows behind them. No music plays on the stereo.

3:20 am – SUV arrives at The Nines hotel in downtown Portland. T.S. is ushered immediately to the elevator.

3:26 am – T.S. enters hotel suite. Three suitcases are stacked in the open closet. Dresses and outfits hang on the rod. Her makeup and toiletries have been carefully arranged in the bathroom. The walls are a papered in a tasteful, muted gray and all of the artwork has been removed. Two acoustic guitars sit in stands along the wall in the living room, under the flat screen TV. T.S. opens her purse and removes a protein bar, opens it and takes one bite.

3:54 am – T.S. climbs into bed, having gone through her nightly routine. Showered, teeth brushed, face cleansed with multiple applications of chemicals, plastic retainer in her mouth, white silk pajamas. She is asleep within minutes.

7:30 am – Cell phone alarm chimes and T.S. opens her eyes and sits up. The covers are almost exactly as they were when she laid down. She climbs out of bed and slides her feet into slippers. She picks her phone up from where it was charging on the nightstand and logs into her secondary profile. There are thousands of messages in at least seven different social media accounts. Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, the message board on her website and email. She logs back into her primary account and looks at the messages curated for her by J. There are a total of thirty-two messages she needs to read. T.S. browses messages as she brushes her teeth, archiving each one with a swipe of her thumb.

7:33 am – T.S. selects one of the selfies from the plane and posts it to Instagram, which cross-posts to Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. In it she wears a hoodie and appears to be half asleep, leaning against the plastic window. It is both cute and humanizing. The caption reads “In Portland! See you in 13 hours! XXOO”

7:37 am – The selfie has accumulated tens of thousands of likes, favorites, reblogs and replies on each of her social media accounts. People tell her she’s amazing. People tell her she’s a worthless cunt and should kill herself. People tell her they are crying because she is so beautiful. People tell her everything.

8:01 am – T.S. answers a knock on her hotel door. a Mexican woman stands with a silver tray, covered by a hard plastic dome. T.S. smiles and steps out of the way, letting the woman enter. The woman sets the tray on a table and takes away the dome. Breakfast. T.S. tell her “Your work is very appreciated. Thank you,” as she puts a fifty-dollar bill in her hand, touching her arm with her other hand, forcing the woman to make eye contact with her. The moment is uncomfortable, but effective. T.S. smiles and laughs at something the Mexican Woman said as she leaves. T.S. sits down to eat her breakfast. Scrambled egg whites, a half piece of dry multigrain toast, cut diagonally, a thin slice of cantaloupe and a teacup of apple juice. She picks at the food with her fork, eating tiny bites like a bird.

8:17 am – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall. In the living room of the suite, a wall clock ticks softly. T.S. picks up her phone and calls J.

8:23 am – T.S. opens the door and a white man in his late sixties enters, carrying a toolbox. T.S.laughs and touches his arm as she thanks him for coming so quickly. He removes the clock and makes his way to the door. She puts a fifty-dollar bill in his hand and says “Your work is very appreciated. Thank you.” The man nods and leaves.

8:26 am – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall. Her hands rest in her lap. Her only movement is in her eyes, which occasionally dart from side to side. Her phone buzzes every thirty seconds or so. She ignores it.

9:45 am – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall. The alarm on her phone chimes. She picks it up and logs into the primary user profile. Fifteen missed calls. Nine voice-mails. Forty-five emails. She calls her producer. “I have two new songs I’ve been working on. I would like to play them for you. Yes. I’ll email them in twenty minutes.”

9:49 am – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed, staring at her phone. New messages pop-up as she finishes responding to and archiving the old ones.

9:51 am – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed, playing guitar. An iPad sits on its leather stand on the end table. T.S. sings a song, most of the lyrics have been loosely penned, and the parts that she hasn’t worked out yet she hums. It is a sad song about a lovesick, heartbroken girl.

9:58 am – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed. She plays and sings a second song, this one far more up beat than the previous. When the song is over, she presses the icon on her iPad that stops recording. She saves the file to the cloud and emails the link to her producer. She does not listen to the recording.

10:01 am – T.S. calls J. and tells her that she will be going shopping at an artisan dress shop in the Pearl District. She gives the address and what time she’ll be there. 10:45.

what does inbred hillbilly simpleton taste like? floor candy.

10:17 am – T.S. is dressed and walking to the elevator. She wears red high-wasted shorts, a black and white striped sailor shirt with a Peter Pan collar, black canvas shoes with red laces and she carries a parasol. As she walks down the hall, her people exit hotel rooms and join her. By the time they reach the elevator, she’s picked up five souls, including J.

10:19 am – T.S. enters the lobby. People stare at her as she makes her way to front door. A twelve-year-old girl smiles at her and waves. T.S. smiles back and approaches the girl, laughing about nothing in particular, but it makes the girl relax. They exchange words. T.S. asks J. to take a photo of the two of them with the girl’s phone. She tells the girl to work hard and not let anyone tell her what she has to be. It is one of the defining moments of that Twelve-year-old girl’s life.

floor candy m.c. see you next tuesday

10:24 am – T.S. sits in the back of the black SUV. P. removes and reapplies her make-up. Thick lash, subtle face. Red lip. T.S. stares at her phone. J. stares at her tablet.

10:30 am – T.S. steps out of the SUV into an inferno of flashbulbs and screaming. She smiles coyly and walks into the dress shop. The photographers do not follow her into the store. They have an arrangement. This is their time to take photos of T.S. J. called them all and told them where she would be and when. For the most part, they leave her alone. For the most part.

10:45 am – T.S. exits the dress shop, carrying packages. More photos. Now eager fans with cameras in their phones also want photos. T.S. signs autographs. T.S. is photographed signing autographs. T.S. speaks with every single person waiting outside of the dress shop. She smiles. She is funny and kind and self-deprecating. She makes eye contact. She touches arms. She touches hearts. They take from her. She takes from them. All are complicit.

11:10 am – T.S. sits in the back of the SUV looking at her phone. J. pulls up the hem of her skirt. A plastic IV tube runs down the inside of her thigh, taped to her skin with white medical tape. The end of the tube is capped with a plastic nozzle. J. twists the nozzle and catches the warm fluid the runs out in a paper cup held between her legs. She closes the nozzle and hands the cup to T.S. who drinks it without looking up from her phone.

11:15 am – T.S. sits in the back of the SUV, looking at her phone. She brushes her teeth. J. stares at her tablet. J. holds out the paper cup and T.S. spits her toothpaste into it. The spit is bright pink. T.S. rinses her mouth with bottled water. She swallows the water. She stares at her phone.

who would miss you do it for them

11:26 am – T.S. sits in a coffee shop, drinking tea with an actor/filmmaker friend who happens to be in town filming a movie. J.F. They are photographed together, multiple times.

L.G. tastes like twizzlers soaked in rum

11:35 am – TMZ, Perezhilton, Oh No They Didn’t, Just Jared, Radar and countless other gossip sites have posted the photos of T.S. drinking coffee with J.F. They speculate as to whether the two are dating. J.F. is rumored to be gay.

12:16 pm – T.S. sits at a table in her road manager’s hotel room. She talks on the phone. Speaker phone. Her face and hands are very animated as she discusses her current interests. Her new album, the tour, her privacy, feminism, her heroes and her friendships with other pop singers. It’s a pre-recorded radio interview that will air the following morning, the day of the Seattle show. She has two more to do. They will be virtually identical.

S.G. tastes like an astro pop covered in poisonous semen

1:33 pm –  T.S. lays face down on a padded table in her hotel room. She is naked. A large white woman with broad shoulders and masculine hands massages her back and shoulders. The backs of her legs. Her neck ands calp. T.S. flips over, places a folded towel over her eyes and the woman massages her thighs and arms and hands and stomach. The large woman leaves and redhead with facial piercings and tattoos enters. T.S. smiles and greats her.They are familiar. The redhead begins the task of waxing her.

2:25 pm – T.S. showers, her hair in a plastic shower-cap. She brushes her teeth at the same time.

2:58 pm – The cell phone rings. T.S. answers and tells J. to send J.F. up to her room.

3:07 pm – J.F. enters. He reeks of marijuana. T.S.kisses him on the mouth once and pulls him to the bedroom by his belt. She wears a bright blue sundress and a black and white headband and no shoes. She sits on the edge of the bed and parts her legs. J.F. unbuckles his jeans and T.S. guides him to his knees on the floor. Understanding what was expected of him, J.F. goes down on T.S. She pulls her dress up to her waist and parts her legs further. When J.F. slides a finger into her, she hisses through clenched teeth “No fingers” and he retreats. He tries again, running the tips of his fingers along the smooth skin between her vulva and anus. T.S. looks down at him and says again “No fingers” and he nods and goes back to licking her.

3:16 pm – T.S. lays on the edge of the bed, her legs parted, J.F. at work between her thighs, and she has a silent but intense orgasm. The only sound she makes is a low moan through tight lips. J.F. looks at her, a dumb expression on his face, and she sits up. J.F. stands and she pulls his jeans down to his knees and his erect penis is inches from her face. She strokes it with one hand, looking up at him, maintaining eye contact. J.F. closes his eyes and leans his head back, uncomfortable with way she looks at him. Seconds before he climaxes, T.S. takes him into her mouth.

3:18 pm – J.F. sits on the edge of the bed, his hair is sweaty and hanging in his face. He looks confused and unsure of himself. T.S. leans over and picks up a plastic water cup from the nightstand. She spits his semen into it.

J.F. tastes like pennies and salt.

3:25 pm – T.S. and J.F. are dressed and composed. She is smiling and laughing. He is laughing too, because she is laughing, but still isn’t sure what’s happening. She guides him to the door. She puts a fifty-dollar bill in his hand and tells him that his friendship is appreciated and that they would talk soon. He looks at the fifty dollars as she closes the door.

3:28 pm – T.S. stands in the bathroom brushing her teeth. She stares at her phone. When she’s finished with her teeth, she opens a plastic box of baby wipes and drags one between her legs.

Go ten miles out of Portland in any direction and you will find a dark place full of lost souls both alive and dead
How many people disappear here? 
How many are never found?

3:45 pm – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall. Her eyes dance around as music runs through her head.

4:28 pm – T.S. sits on the edge of the bed. She plays guitar. Her iPad records. The song is vaguely about J.F.

5:45 pm – T.S. walks down the hall. Her entourage joins her as she approaches the elevator.

5:50 pm – T.S. signs autographs and poses for photographs with fans outside of the hotel. She wears a loose fitting gray men’s shirt and dark blue pixie pants and blue Keds with white polka dots. There are no paparazzi. Strangers on the street take photos of her with their phones. 

emancipate yourself from mental slavery

6:08pm – T.S. sits in the back of the SUV. She stares at her phone. J. sits in the seat in front of her. T.S. texts J. J. laughs and turns around. T.S. asks “Who’s from Portland? Anyone?” J. seems to think for a moment, then searches on her tablet. After a few seconds she responds. “Sleater Kinney. Woody Guthrie. The Decemberists. Dandy Warhols. Eliot Smith. Courtney Love.” T.S. stares at her phone and nods. “Mason Williams” J. says, reading the list, looking for names she recognizes. T.S. laughs, almost angrily. “I’m not going to play Classical fucking Gas live.”

6:16 pm – T.S. sits in the back of the SUV. She stares at her phone. “I’m going to do Doll Parts.” J. begins searching on her tablet. “Do you need the chords?” T.S. does not look up from her phone. “No. It’s an A, a C, and a G, over and over again.”

6:30 pm – T.S. enters her dressing room at the venue,The Moda Center. On a long table sits a large bowl full of ice and Waiakea bottled water, a tray of frozen melon cubes, a bowl of unwrapped red Starburst candies, a tray of Turkish delight, five hot pink plastic containers of Bubble Tape, and a single, frosty glass bottle of Pepsi cola. T.S. peruses the candy and settles on a piece of Turkish delight. She pops it in her mouth, licking the powdered sugar from her fingers.

6:36 pm – T.S. enters the bathroom. Her hair is pinned back with hair clips. A stack of white towels sits on a shelf next to the shower. She picks up the top towel and unfolds it, then places it on the floor in front of the toilet. T.S. kneels in front of the toilet and closes her eyes. After a moment she vomits into the toilet. It is mostly black, streaked with red, and chunky with undigested bits of food. The tiny nibbles she allows herself so she can feel normal. The protein bar, minuscule bites of eggs and toast and melon. Tea and apple-juice, all mixed with black bile and red blood. T.S. sighs and stands. She kicks the towel into the corner and flushes the toilet with the toe of her shoe.

6:32 pm – T.S. washes her hands in the bathroom sink for the third time. Sitting on a shelf under the mirror is a stack of four new Super Sonic disposable electric toothbrushes and a box of Crest 3D White toothpaste.

T-Pain: That was the most beautiful thing in the world. Do you know why she was shaving her head? Because it was so important to other people. She is like, “Listen. Don’t touch my hair anymore. Stop touching my hair.” She still had hair and all that (when I worked with her). People were like, “We’ve got to make your hair before you go outside. You can’t leave.” She went … “Now I don’t have hair. What you going to do?”

6:35 pm – T.S. rests the head of the toothbrush against each tooth, systematically, methodically. She stares into her own eyes in the mirror. She does not blink for the two minutes that she brushes her teeth. She spits toothpaste into the sink and rinses her mouth with bottled water. The white froth in the sink is streaked with red. She swallows the water.

6:58 pm – There’s a knock on the dressing room door. T.S. unlocks it. Fifteen people enter, including J. and P. and the bodyguards and her tour manager, R. and dancers and a sound engineer. They eat the candy and drink the water. They busily go about their pre-show business. They all need to ask or tell T.S. something.

7:20 pm – T.S. sits on a stool in front of the lit vanity. She wears a cropped black tank top and a white flared skirt. P. applies makeup and straightens her hair. J. sits on a chair next to them, looking at her tablet. People mill about. R. speaks in his English accent over the cacophony of mumbling. “What are you doing for your cover?” he asks. T.S.speaks without looking up from her phone. “Doll Parts by Hole.” R. scoffs.“Absolutely not!” P. stops applying eyeliner and steps back. T.S. looks at R. “It’s what I want to do. It’s local. It’s a good song. People will love it.” P. stands. “Honey, the last thing on earth you need right now is to open a dialog with Courtney Love. You do not want your name in that disaster’s mouth.” T.S. goes back to looking at her phone. R. looks at her for a moment then continues. “Besides, you don’t want to include her in your influences. It doesn’t look good. You have young fans whose parents don’t want them looking up to a heroin addict.” T.S. is getting angry. “James Taylor is a fucking heroin addict. Ray Charles and Billie Holiday were heroin addicts. Are we holding every song accountable for its writer’s demons? Those same kids look up to fucking Robert Downy Jr. for Christ’s sake. That’s a bullshit reason. I’m doing the song.” R. shakes his head, his hands on his hips. “It’s a bad, bad idea. Fans of the song will hate you singing it and fans of you don’t know the song at all.” T.S. ignores him, scrolling through Tumblr on her phone. P. goes back to applying makeup. R. continues. “I don’t even think the people here want ownership of her. It’s not like she’s some hometown hero. It will impress exactly no one.” R. leans in so she has to look at him. “Please?” T.S. sneers at him and lets out a huff of frustrated air through her nose. “Fine.” R. nods and goes back to the table. He eats a piece of Turkish delight.

“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” – Kurt Cobain

7:48 pm – T.S. walks down the long hallway. Crew and staff and randos with badges stare at her as she struts to her place under the stage. J. Follows close behind. Every set of eyes meets hers and either looks away or is greeted with an icy stare above a glistening red and white smile. The organic processor of her brain registers and remembers every face, every expression. She knows who is around her at all times and what their demeanor is. She shakes her hands at her sides and someone holds a bottle of water to her lips. She drinks, swishes and swallows. She is not nervous. She is not scared. She is eager to be on stage and eager to be off stage. In her mouth she can taste the chemical mint of toothpaste, and from somewhere deep in her chest, the rancid, sweet bite of putrefaction rises up the back of her throat and into her nose. She has to stop drinking water. She has to.

masturbation in front of a mirror is affirmation. it counts for something.

overheard backstage: 
I’m doing the fucking song. It’s one song, it’s acoustic, it’s in my key and I can play it by myself. I don’t care if she was a heroin addict. That’s stupid reason not to do it. People have problems R. Just because I sing their song doesn’t mean I’m suddenly manifesting into that person. I didn’t turn into a 300 pound bi-polar, schizophrenic basket case living in a giant cat-box when you talked me into covering God Only Knows, now, did I? People loved it.

Brian Wilson is one of rock and roll’s tragic geniuses. More important, he got better. Courtney Love is fucking Beetlejuice, understand? You invoke her and from somewhere deep down in her imaginary, cartoon world, her yellow, bloodshot eyes roll up when she hears her name, then all of a sudden your life is ten times more complicated and you’re putting out fires left and right. Even worse, I’M putting out fires left and right. I don’t need that headache.

Oh, I’m sorry, am I not paying you to put out fires?

Yes. You are. And him and him and those people, and those people, and all of those people and her and those dancers and your lovely assistant all count on you for their dinner. They count on you to not make terrible errors in judgement, like a Courtney fucking Love song on stage in front of a 20,000 kids and their disgruntled, chip on their shoulder Portland parents. Not to mention the fucking internet.

I can make the song work. They will love it.

You listen to me. You CAN NOT sing a song with the line ‘I fake it so real I’m beyond fake.’ Those words cannot come out of your mouth. Don’t do it.

8:30 pm – darkness under the stage. The sound of chanting and stomping and tens of thousands of voices mumbling and screaming and crying and singing. Drums start. There are roughly fifteen seconds before the elevator lifts her out of the floor. Mic packs and ear pieces have been checked and double checked. The band is already in place. They’re just waiting for her. The extended drum intro to S.o.G. gives her nearly a full minute to center up and focus. She meets eyes with the tech standing at the controls for the lift. Those eyes are kind and he smiles. He nods. She nods. It’s something they’ve done many times, at various performances, and even more at rehearsals. He types into his console and the elevator caries her up into the seemingly endless maelstrom of flashing lights, music, screaming and pyrotechnic explosions. The lights are blinding, creating a barrier between T.S. and the audience. She spends the next two hours punching holes in that barrier and attempting to make eye contact with every person looking at the stage. Every movement is calculated. Every smile, every playful laugh or flip of the hair, every hand touched is by design. A mathematical equation. Every joke is meant to be exactly the right amount of self-deprecating and humanizing.

J.M. likes to have his cum spat back into his mouth. he is disgusting. not because of that, but just in general.

9:46 pm – T.S. sits on a stool, holding her guitar. it’s intended to convey intimacy in this basketball arena, where she is perched at one end like a queen on the most ridiculous throne imaginable. A one-on-one with twenty thousand people. T.S. thinks for a moment about what she wants to say. “the person who wrote this song was instrumental in shaping who I am as a songwriter and an artist. They wrote about love and heartbreak and alienation and rebellion and not letting the will of others define you.” She hits that first sustained A chord that makes up the beginning of the song Doll Parts and lets it ring through the almost quiet arena. Instead of walking down to the C, she lights onto a series of rapid Ds. Angry Ds. Es and Gs and then back up to A again. The audience roars to life as she begins the unmistakable intro to American Girl by Tom Petty. She hits every chord with as much anger and resentment as she can muster into her perfect little porcelain hands. A pick splits between her fingers and she throws it to the crowd and pulls another from her mic stand. As the words fall out of her mouth, unprocessed and unrecognized, the right sounds on the right beats, images of mutilated, tortured bodies dance across her vision. She stares out at the crowd singing “Oh yeah. Alright. Take it easy baby, gonna make it last – make it last all night” and she imagines carving into them with surgical scalpels and guitar strings wrapped around her fists like razor wire.

Mostof them I don’t let inside.
I don’t want them to feel how cold I am.

10:16 pm – House lights are up and T.S. leans against a wall behind the stage. Dancers, roadies, band members, staff and crew mill about. T.S. picks up a bottled water from cooler and unscrews the top. Halfway through her swig, J. gently takes it from her. T.S. cuts her a look but J. doesn’t give in as she screws the top back on. “No more water. You’ll make yourself sick.” T.S. stares at her “Give me the bottle.” J. shakes her head. “I am not your enemy. You know this. You can have some milk back at the hotel.” The light returns to her eyes as T.S. recalculates. She nods and puts her hands on her knees, already feeling the water she did get down sloshing in her stomach. “I want that fucking limey twat fired,” T.S. says, looking across the room at R. “Maybe. But T. I want you to take a day and think about it. He wasn’t wrong. He could have said it better, but he was right.” T.S. lets out a frustrated moan, almost like a bark. “I would have killed that song.” “I know you would have,” J. says, patting her on the shoulder. “I need to throw up,” T.S. says, looking a little sickly. “You have meet and greets. Can you wait until after?” T.S. nods, her hands on her knees.

10:26 pm – There are about thirty people waiting in the long hallway between the stage and the dressing rooms. These are contest winners and sick kids. T.S. meets with each one, making sure to touch them on the arm in a non-threatening but personal way. She makes eye contact and is sincere. She poses for photos. She makes the sick kids laugh. She makes them forget they are sick for a moment. Two of them will die within a month and those few minutes will be the thing they remember most. It will be what they talk about for the last weeks of their lives. They will listen to her music over and over again. She has that effect on people. When everyone has been meeted and greeted, J. and two bodyguards follow T.S. back to her dressing room. She waves at the sick kids and contest winners and smiles her kind smile.

when i close my eyes at night, i see billions of galaxies scattered across the cosmos like sand. some pop and fizzle as they explode, some collapse into themselves, some spin endlessly outward like a top, making long, languid loops, barely missing collisions with other galaxies. some smash together and become new systems, born of fire and destruction. then i hear the pained moan of a self-aware energy, crying out to be seen like a babe cries for milk. in my dream I lean over and peer into this swirly glob of gas and dust and see myself, arms outstretched, begging to be noticed. to be acknowledged. to be loved. I demand sacrifice.

11:09 pm – T.S. climbs into the back of the SUV. She’s surprised when J. climbs in next to her, instead of taking her usual place in the passenger’s seat. “You can’t fire R.” she says. T.S. makes a face like she’s tasted something bitter. “Of course I can. He can’t contradict me in front of people like that. I can’t let that stand.” “No, you can’t, you’re absolutely right. And you’re going tell him so tomorrow, and you’re going to make sure he knows that he can’t ever do that again, but you can’t fire him. You need him. This tour is almost over. There’s four more shows. You aren’t changing tour managers in the middle of a tour over some dumb song choice argument.” T.S. looks at her phone in an attempt at angry, overt ignoring. It doesn’t work. J. touches her chin and turns her face up. “You’re doing a really good job and I’m proud of you,” she says. T.S. nods softly. “Are you tired?” T.S. shakes her head. “No, not really. Hungry.” J. nods. “We’ll get you fed and in bed soon, okay? Then tomorrow we leave for Seattle.”

11:15 pm – J. looks at her tablet then over at T.S.” Did you actually fuck J.F.?” T.S. shrugs, not looking up from her phone. “Why?” “Perez Hilton seems to think you did,” J. says, looking annoyed and turning around her tablet to show a pink screen full of exploitation. T.S. doesn’t look at it. “Who gives a shit what that sycophantic vampire thinks?” J. chuckles and closes the screen. “A lot of peopled do, unfortunately. Besides, I know you fucked him. I just wanted to hear you say it.” “Okay. Sort of. It was quick and pathetic and utilitarian and not exciting at all.” “Why did you do it?” J. asks. T.S. shrugs again. “Because I could. He has a story no one will believe and I’ve got a song.” J. shakes her head. “You keep pulling shit like that and those stories are going to become more and more believable.” They sit in silence for a long moment before J. follows up.”You didn’t… do… anything to him, did you?” They look at each other for a moment. “No. I didn’t.”

11:33 pm – T.S. enters her hotel room. J. follows. They both stare at their phones as they drop jackets and purses and keys on the table. J. opens up a suitcase from the closet and takes out a long, clear plastic tube and walks to the bedroom. T.S. follows, still looking at her phone. J. pulls her skirt up over her hips and sits on the edge of the bed. Taped to her inner thigh is an IV needle connected to a short plastic tube, which is clamped and attached to a nozzle. J. unhooks the nozzle and attaches the plastic tube.

11:37 pm – T.S. kneels on a towel in front of the toilet, her head leaning back. After a long moment, she falls forward and vomits into the toilet. Water and chewed up chunks of undigested candy. A small amount of blood. Mostly it’s water. She stands, kicks the towel into the corner and flushes the toilet with her toe.

11:39 pm – T.S. stands in front of the bathroom mirror brushing her teeth. Her hair is pulled back with clips and her face is covered with a clear, sticky cleanser.

11:45 pm – T.S. is wearing a robe now, her face is still shiny with the mask. J. sits on the edge of the bed, holding the clear plastic tube, her skirt pulled back down. T.S. pulls one of the pillows from the bed and sits on the floor at J.’s knees. J. hands her the tube. “Are you ready?” T.S. puts the end of the tube in her mouth and nods. J. unclamps the tube and blood makes its way down into T.S.’s mouth. She closes her eyes and lets her head fall back as she sucks on the end of the tube. J. picks up her phone and sets a timer for 2 minutes then leans back on the bed.

11:48 pm – The phone’s alarm startles T.S. out of her daze and J. plucks the tube from her mouth. A small, slobbery drop of blood hangs from the middle of her bottom lip. “Are you okay?” J. asks. “Yes,” T.S. says, nodding. J. clamps the tube and unhooks the plastic extension and stands. “I put an alarm in your calendar for 5:30 tomorrow. Get some sleep, okay?” T.S. nods, still out of it. “Do you need anything else?” T.S. looks up at her and blinks, then shakes her head. “No, thank you. See you in the morning,” she says as she climbs to her feet. J. nods and leaves. T.S. stands in the middle of the bedroom, her robe falling open. She can feel the blood surging through her body, and while it doesn’t make her any less sleepy, it is speeding her mind up. Guitar licks and chord progressions, lyrics and ideas and melodies dance through her mind. She goes into the bathroom to finish her nightly routine.

12:03 am – T.S. lays naked in the hotel bed, her phone illuminating her face. A soft buzzing sound comes from under the blanket and her hands shake as she flips through photos in her phone. Scooting down the bed a bit, the comforter tents up as she bends her knees and rolls her hips forward. Her arm works in a rhythmic motion as her thumb swipes each photo to the left and off the screen. She sucks air through her teeth, not to breathe but as a gasp of surprise as the sensation intensifies. More photos. Dead people. Murdered people. Burned people. Bodies with mortal wounds inflicted upon them. Living people with limbs cut off. Suicides and traffic accidents. Victims of violence. Victims of murder. Dead women with stab wounds in their naked bodies, dead men with no heads. These aren’t only photos collected from the internet. Many of these are photos she’s taken. With a series of spasmodic jerks, she cums and drops her phone. After laying still for a moment she takes the electric toothbrush out from under the covers and tosses it in the general direction of the trashcan. With a full belly, T.S. rolls over and goes to sleep.

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