“I don’t believe I went too far,
I said I was willing.
She said she knew what my books did not;
I thought she knew what’s up.”
“How did you know Laney?”
Rae had been asked it so many times in the last five days that she was starting to wonder how she knew her, too, or if she knew her at all. Maybe Laney was a figment of her imagination, a collage mix and match of comic book characters, fictional heroines, leading music ladies like Joan and Stevie and Hayley and Tori, and her own late night fantasies. Maybe Rae made her up.
Maybe we all did.
Rae tried to remember the first time she saw her. It was at dusk on one of the many dry, dusty first nights here. Jack was with her, showing her around, giving her the three dollar tour.
They’d been to the video store (they still had video stores with actual videos), to the knock-off and wrongly spelled soft serve ice cream stand, and to the abandoned mini-golf park. The latter was her favorite by far, all spooky and full of secrets and stories. That first time, she and Jack had sat beside the leaning castle swapping horror movie ideas that they would film there.
After the golf course he took her to the outskirts of the church. It was surrounded by a menacing gate and cacti that seemed more razor sharp then all the rest.
“Is it abandoned, too?” Rae had asked, a sense of unease tugging in the pit of her stomach mixed with the pull of curiosity that tempted her to hop the fence.
“No, not at all. People live there.” Jack replied.
“They live in a church?” Rae asked, half-believing.
“Yeah. There’s housing on the other side, farther then we can see from here, and a greenhouse, a barn, well, and probably other things, too. They hardly ever come out, only like one or two of the men who I’ve heard have stopped in at your Uncle’s station, and then there’s the midnight parade…” Jack explained.
“Wait…a midnight parade? What?” Rae interrupted, her eyes wide and skeptical.
Jack had started the story, was only at the beginning, telling her how his sister Laney had told him about it on nights he couldn’t sleep. It was right then that Laney came around the corner, almost out of nowhere, it was like Jack had summoned her, or something.
Rae’s breath caught in her throat and she felt immediately hot and cold, all at the same time. Rae had never seen anyone that looked like that. She was hot and cool and cartoon like and fucking fifties pin-up like and other-worldly, too. Rae felt like she might faint.
“Who is she?” she’d asked, her words prickly like the cacti, her mouth dry like the desert sand, and her breath hollow and near abandoned like the golf course and the way the church seemed.
“That’s my sister. That’s Laney.”