Title: Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles, Part 1 of 1
Author: Tomasina Ripley
Pairing(s): Bud/Ed, Ed/Lynn, Lynn/Bud...
Other Notes: Takes the film as canon, I guess--I haven't read the book.
Also, apologies if I have missed or misconstrued any obligatory
disclaimers and/or if this is not formatted correctly.
White wakes, or thinks he does, when he hears them draw the curtain round. Wonders whether it's something to do with him, but no. An old man's just died in the bed beside, and now the glowing blowing curtain obscures the corpse from his sight. Obscures the details of its removal. The truth of its existence. Hides the crucifix hanging on the
opposite wall, way down past the end of the bed, far under White's feet.
Now someone is changing the sheets. Muttering in Spanish. The word god, he thinks, but the rest doesn't sound much like prayer.
He laughs, or tries to--he's not quite sure why--and it hurts. Or it tries to. They've given him plenty of morphine, though. Pain's as distant and vague a concept as lucidity.
Who'd take this stuff, he wonders, if they weren't in pain? He finds it hard to imagine. The dreams and nightmares and hallucinations under it all have a hard black edge to them, slippery, sharp. Who in hell would shoot up this shit if he hadn't been shot?
Especially when heroin's so much easier to find.
White wakes again, and can't remember having gone to sleep. The curtain's been pulled back again, and someone's sitting in a chair between his bed and the empty one. She looks up and sees that his eyes are open. "You're awake," she says. Studies his face. "Are you?"
He nods, tries to, thinks he succeeds. At any rate Lynn rises to her feet and comes toward him. She's lit by a cold narrow shaft of bright light, that moves with her. Everything else is black.
"If anyone asks, I'm your sister," she says, and kisses him carefully. He wonders who'd ask. The world's ended. No cars in the street--no street, even, out beyond the black window. No stars. Nothing but youand me left, he thinks, and reaches out to her, or tries, but he can't move, and anyhow she's gone. It's all black now, all of it, bottomless black.
He screams as he falls.
Someone is patting his arm. "My goodness, you're going to wake up the neighbours." Little hard nurse's hat firmly affixed to heavy black hair pinned tight. "Your sister went out for a cup of coffee." Coffee-brown face above the collar of a blindingly whiteuniform. "I'm going to give you a shot now. Can you roll onto your side a bit?" Of course not. He
can't move. But he does. His body obeys her commands as easily as it ignores his.
The needle hurts. Not like a bullet does, but still, more than you'd think a needle should. But then, just after, god, it feels good, black edges and all. "Go to sleep," says the nurse, and flies away on starched angel wings.
When he wakes again she's there, in the chair, resting her head on her hand. He can't tell if her eyes are closed--she has sunglasses on. Glances up momentarily, though, and sees him looking. "I just went outfor a cup of coffee," she says. Smiles as she rises to her feet. "You were sleeping so soundly."
I wasn't, he tries to say, but can't speak. A car horn blares long on the street miles below, miles away. He turns his head toward the window, sees daylight there like a solid object pressed up heavy against the glass.
He turns away from it.
Lynn is unfastening the little pearl buttons on the front of her sensible blouse. She leaves the sunglasses on, though. Lynn is much more forgiving than Jesus, but then again Jesus is already pretty near naked. Lynn is removing her sensible blouse, revealing a sensible bra. Reaching around behind her back to undo the awkward hooks. Draw the curtain
round. Soft satin skin and heavy breasts he'd reach up and touch if he could move, but he can't, and he watches as her feet leave the ground and she rises and swims in the air above him. It'll probably hurt like hell, he thinks, when she wakes up from her dream and falls down on him. He imagines the pain of her heavy hard hipbone hitting his crotch. Tries to cover himself, but he still can't move.
He opens his eyes.
Lynn is sitting beside the bed. Jesus is on the wall. Our father, who art in heaven, Howard B. thy name.
It hurts to laugh.
"What's so funny?" asks--Lynn--no. The figure in the chair shifts shape alarmingly as it slips into focus, sharp black morphine edge altering into Exley. At which the theoretical possibility of a hardon drains down out through pinned feet, numb fingertips, and Jesus looks down on him and laughs.
Where's, where is, where--can't talk.
"She was asleep when I got here. I told her to go home."
Didn't offer to walk her there? White doesn't say, can't talk, but the words get out somehow and float in the air, and Exley twists his mouth up into a smile and shakes his head.
White nods, hisses, the pain's about as bad as it usually gets just before--on cue, the nurse comes in. "Roll over," she orders. Brushespast Exley and flips back the blanket with that sensible shamelessness nurses have. And it hurts like hell, but after, ah. And the window is black again.
Silver sound of the curtain rings sliding along the rail. He turns his head.
Exley is undoing the sensible buttons on the front of his workaday shirt. Shucking it, awkwardly because of the sling, revealing a body as hard white and perfect as that of our lord on the wall looking down with a frown because no-one will give him morphine.
Exley's too heavy to float, of course. Too solid, too sharp, a knife in water. He doesn't try. He slides, glides, over tiled floor and chrome rail. Slides his hand in under the blanket, finds White half-hard. Glides confident fingers. Harder. Exley smiles that smile, bends sharp at the waist, slides his tongue in between paralyzed lips.
White opens his eyes.
Lynn is beside the bed; Christ is above the bed, no more morphine for him, junkie Jesus, our father, Howard B. This bed lit by a cone of skim-milk-coloured light, all else lost in hard darkness, the black of unconsciousness, death. White shouts, screams, and the nurse flies in.The needle stings. Christ writhes in ecstasy.
White wakes to the sound of voices. There's a new old man dying in the next bed now.
"How is he?" Exley asks.
Dying. But quietly.
"Better, I think," she says. "A bit more coherent. Maybe."
"Are you still his sister?"
"No-one's shown up to say otherwise."
"You should go eat something. Get some sleep. You look--"
"So do you."
"I'll just stay for a while."
White watches them. Plastic-perfect, angel-pure, with heroin-coloured skin. Exley pocketing his glasses like Clark Fucking Kent, Lynn tossing her hair, and then they lean in like two halves of a heart, lean into a kiss above his head, and slowly float up over his bed and tangle together in the air above him. He makes a low sound in the back of his throat, or tries to, and tries to rise up and drag them down out of the sky. Screams in pain, and lucidity follows closely. His arms are pinned down by small strong dark hands. "You'll pull out the tube," she scolds, "and then we'll have to strap you down."
He breathes deep as he can. Looks around. Curtain pulled back. The room is empty. Aside of course from himself and the nurse, and Christ, and the dying man. She follows his eyes, his thought processes. "He went out for coffee. And your sister said to tell you she'll see you tomorrow morning."
He laughs, tries not to, winces. Nurse angel smiles. "Oh, I know she's not really." She slowly lets go of his arms. "Come on, let's give you that shot now."
Morphine is sex without end, or at least without abrupt termination, climax, and the contrasting emptiness after. There's just a gradual fade out. He wonders if maybe this is what it's always like for girls. Like a daydream. Soft, slow, sweet. But always the nightmare waiting underneath.
White wakes, hears someone drawing the curtain round. Has the old man died again so soon? He concentrates on trying to open his eyes. Feels something under the covers. Between his legs. Rough tongue, and the touch of teeth, of a practiced hand.
Whose? He wonders whether he really needs to know. Whether he wants to.
He's drawn blood from both--righteous vengeance, mind you. Surely even Jesus would have done as much in such circumstances, if he weren't fucking nailed to the wall.
Lips, fingers, smooth back of the roof of the mouth.
Morphine is the promise of sex without end, but eventually even through fading drug-numbness the pressure and friction compel him to come, and he makes some sort of sound, and injured muscles involuntarily tense, so that the good warm loose feeling is mixed with bright black needle pain. And lucidity rushing toward him like a train.
He opens his eyes.
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