Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 27
Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel. Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remains, can be found in full here.
Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor.
Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.
“This,” said Bobby, “was known as the Saltair II resort.”
Bobby was standing on the other side of the car, door open, one hand sweeping up toward the building in front of us, his short hair standing out like a halo in the sun, smiling, eyes alive, people would turn in the street just to look at him, he looked as young as me, the wrinkles and gray hair just decorations, just making his beauty deeper and sharper, a picture of him like this – one arm out – should be on a coin, or the wall of a building, or a statue in the middle of town, instead of Brigham Young saying This is the Place, my Bobby pointing toward the Valley and anyone could see This is the Place to be, settle down, start a family, all that.
I looked at the Saltair II.
It was crazy.
This shiny-new palace with big onion domes, the walls blinding white, almost as dazzling as Bobby, standing knee-deep in the Great Salt Lake, water lapping up against its doors.
“I worked on this place,” said Bobby, “I helped build it. And I also,” and now he pulled something out of his pocket like a magician, “have a key.”
“What is it? I remember hearing something about it, but what happened?”
“Come and see for yourself.”
We walked all the way around to the back of the place, it was huge, like a city block, where it backed up almost to the shore, and there was one tiny strip of land, if you didn’t know it was there, you would miss it, that had been heaped up, sort of built up to this back door. Our shoes sank in the dirt, and Bobby took my hand to keep me steady.
The sun hit hard off the white walls, the gray water.
Bobby slipped his key in the lock, waggled it up and down for a minute, and then the handle turned, and he led me into a cool, dark hallway. I smelled mildew.
“’Be prepared,’” said Bobby, turning on a flashlight, “I was a good boy scout,” the door swinging to behind us, my eyes taking in nothing but the gold outline around the door.
We stood still for a minute while our eyes undazzled themselves, breathing, holding hands.
There was carpet under our feet, with some sort of complicated pattern in it.
Bobby led me down the hall, blank walls on either side.
“This was supposed to have been an employee entrance, I think. Not for the public. There were going to be arcades at one end, a roller skating rink over at the other, stores and stuff. But when the floods came, it was wiped out, they never got to open.”
We turned a corner, and the hall opened up. The flashlight picked up some darker spots that I guess were other halls, but we stopped in front of a big door. Bobby clicked off the flashlight, and I could see light slipping out from under the door. The carpet here was waterlogged, I could feel the water squelch around my shoe when I pressed my toes down. Bobby stood close beside me, then took in a breath and pulled open the door.
There were a dozen huge chandeliers overhead, crystal and bulbs and hanging teardrops and skylights set between them, letting in the fierce sun from outside, a vast room with rich red and gold stripes covering the walls. Panels set in with murals in Art Deco style, elongated couples in evening wear dancing, drinking, laughingly stepping into Rolls Royces, women in gowns that floated lightly behind them as they moved, bobbed hair tightly waved against their heads, long eyes, long necks, long legs peeking out through slits or handkerchief hems, men in Arrow collars, hair sleek, stiff, classical profiles. Directly in front of me, the saturated carpet covered four wide steps down onto what must have been a beautiful wooden dance floor, sunk in two feet of the Great Salt Lake. The water moved from invisible forces outside the building, lapping up against the walls, a dark, uneven stain running around the room showed the high point of the flood, some feet above where it was now, licking patiently at the walls, pulling away paint and wallpaper, plaster and drywall.
“The ballroom,” Bobby whispered.
To our right stood a couple of chairs, clearly borrowed from another part of the resort. One held a new ghetto blaster, the other a pile of clean towels. Bobby moved to the ghetto blaster and pressed Play. He took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his pant legs, stepped down into the water, and held his arms out, fairly glowing red, I could see the blood moving behind his skin, his eyes sparking out at me, his hands open to me as the waltz began.
I felt like Cinderella, yanking off my shoes and stepping into the water, taking his hands. His hand resting on my hip. My hand on his shoulder.
And we danced.
We danced, our movements lengthened, delayed by the water we pushed at with our dance, shoving back at us, moving with us, then against us, then with us as we half-time waltzed to the middle of the ballroom, the chandeliers above us, the music bouncing off the walls and the water, I broke away from him, making elephant-size chassés and jetés, step-stepping through the heavy water, then leaping above it, moving free before splashing down, I danced, Bobby’s eyes on me while I leapt and splashed, Bobby watching, I was lit up, jumping higher above the water, turning faster, dancing with the water, I could feel it moving and I learned to move with it, and the water and I splashed up against Bobby and then away from him, my heart ready to crack out of my chest, the music clicked off but my dance didn’t stop, I kicked a rain onto our heads, Bobby turning and turning in the middle to watch me, his eyes on me every second, his face showing what I felt, his hands held out to me and I danced into them, into a hard embrace like we were drowning, like we were rescuing and rescued, we held tighter and tighter, dragging the breath from our lungs, our faces in each other’s shoulders, his t-shirt under my lips, the skin of his neck, his jawline, his cheek, his lips, he breathed life into my mouth and we kissed, for the first time in three years, it could have been the first time ever, we stood and kissed in the middle of the salt pool, in the middle of a never-was ballroom, under the light of the sun through dirty skylights, and this time all I thought of was the taste of Bobby’s lips, the feel of his arms around me, and we stumbled to the edge of the dance floor and onto wet carpet, kissing while he pulled a towel around my shoulders, his hands on me through the towel, he kissed me and pushed the corners of the towel into my hands, pulling my shirt over my head while I gave him one arm at a time, sliding my waterlogged jeans and underwear over my hips, the towel still around me, his hands on my breasts through wet bra and towel. His gray eyes looked at me while he undid the buckle of his pants and pulled off his own shirt. He wasn’t wearing garments, and he looked different in boxer shorts, more crude, more naked, bigger and pinker, and he pulled me down onto the towel he’d spread on the carpet, touching my skin where the towel gapped, then pushing it further open, me in a bra and nothing else, Bobby pushing his boxers down and his blunt penis bumping against my thigh, then Bobby hard against me, knocking to come in.
And I flashed on that nightmare day in the Principal’s office, pregnant Alice, my stomach cramping, and blood gushing out of me, and all that horror and confusion.
I closed up, clamped down, opening my eyes to bring myself back to the real world. I thought of asking if he had anything, a condom I guess, but that would be like confessing I was okay with sinning, it was better if it seemed helpless and accidental, and by saying no I could pretend it was virtue, a little late, but virtue of a sort.
“Shhhh,” he said, although I hadn’t said anything, “shhhhhh” like I was a fussy baby, and he put his fingers down there to try and open me that way, but I was done. I pushed his hand away and kept my own hand there, a shield, and he fell back onto his side, but he kept moving his hips, pushing his thing all blind and stupid against my thigh, and he wasn’t really looking at me, but reached for my hand, and I got what he wanted, so I wrapped my hand around him and worked away, I didn’t really want to look but I couldn’t help it, and his breath got rougher and then a scoop of pearly white stuff dribbled out onto my belly, smelling like wet leaves.
We were quiet while we cleaned ourselves up and got dressed, and I felt kind of sleazy and wondered if I’d ruined everything, but Bobby kissed me on the forehead and told me I’d done the right thing and he was glad I was strong enough for both of us.
Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California. Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle.
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