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Today's Story by Jon Mcgill

She wasn’t his fucking goddamn luggage.

Shooting Stars

This morning Babydoll downloaded the Madonna from the Vogue days and lost the hours to the dresses in her closet because what good is being Madonna from the Vogue days if you don’t have the right outfit? Some days it’s hard, so hard. Some days she just needs to feel loved, and adored, and happy, and has to get away. This time she had told Ken she was flying out, back to LA, and not to bother because I won’t be answering my phone, either—I’m disconnecting, the whole weekend, honey, going on my own cruise, think of it as a showbiz-sabbatical—and maybe you should do the same because you work too much, Ken, baby, I love you but you work too damn much and it’s not like we need the money.

That was a week ago. And that’s where Babydoll is now, free from Vegas, back in LA, at their home in Carbon Beach. It’s midnight and the moon and the stars are glittered above her and she’s just drifting along the shore, occasionally glancing out over the foaming waters, not seeing as much as simply feeling the ocean’s power. Ken’s out there somewhere, touring the South Pacific. When he’s not in Vegas doing his Sinatra gig he’s the guest performer for Oceania cruises—just one more thing she’s never gotten over. Before he left this time they’d argued, again. Maybe calling it an argument was too generous—he’d been packing his suitcase, about to leave, and she followed him around the hotel suite, blocking his way, screaming and wanting to know why theynever went to Bora Bora and why she couldn’t go and then refusing when Ken said she could go because she wasn’t going to tag along—Babydoll didn’t just tag along—because she wasn’t his fucking goddamn luggage.

They were a team, once. She was the Ginger to his Fred Astaire and life had been so good. They did afternoons together at Caesars Palace, but then the casino leaned on him to fire her. She’d shown up high again, this time as the Liza Minnelli fromCabaret, and while he was in the middle of Fly Me to the Moon she burst on stage, not singing as much as slurring Life is a cabaret, old chum! Come to the cabaret! The audience thought maybe it was part of the act until Babydoll tripped and crashed off stage and bruised her hip and fractured her ankle. I’m okay, she said. He pushed me and I fell but I’m alright, no, really, I am. No don’t touch me, no get your fucking hands off me right now Ken you son of a bitch.

It’s an addiction, it’s true—all wonderful things are. Babydoll loves the Swap Shop because they have all her favorite star-downloadables from Hollywood. Ken says she’s out of control, that he doesn’t know who she is anymore and that she ought to give up the Hollywood actress fantasy, but who’s he to judge? Her first night back in LA she went clubbing with her girlfriends as the Marilyn from Some Like It Hot and was up for two days, it was such a blast. Did Marilyn ever find herself in a restroom stall, staring at her face in toilet water, with some boy-toy behind her? Maybe. Who could really say? And isn’t that what Hollywood’s about—kind of?

Promise you’ll visit before leaving, she had said. You’ll come and we’ll slow down and lounge on the beach and figure us out, okay? But Ken never did meet up with her. He took her advice and never called. The moon is bright and full like a stage light and for a while Babydoll stares into it, thinking about Ken, what song he’s singing, if he’s still pretending to be Sinatra or if, maybe, he’s just Ken, staring up at the same moon, thinking like her.


Jon Mcgill lives in Omaha and works evenings at a local hospital where he is sometimes called upon to clean blood off the floor. Occasionally he makes up wild encounters, writes about them, and tries to sell them for money.

Read more stories by Jon Mcgill


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