Last night I was at Jill’s apartment in Hollywood. We were shooting oxy’s and talking about childhood. Jill grew up in a wealthy, chaotic home. She had an older brother and an older sister. Her dad had a high-up position at Fedex and was rarely home. Her mom was kind of crazy, Jill said, like her head seemed empty. I understood that Jill wasn’t being euphemistic; she really thought her mom’s head seemed empty. “Like when you talk to her she looks at you but her eyes aren’t seeing you. Her eyes look flat. You think she’s listening because she’s quiet but when you stop for a minute, like when you wait for the other person to say uh huh or really, she doesn’t say anything. She just stays quiet.” Jill told me this without any emotion, like she was reading the track list on a CD.
Once Jill’s mom came to LA because they were trying to save Kevin, Jill’s brother. Kevin was a crack addict who lived in motels and committed petty crimes to support his habit. At the time Kevin was staying in a motel down the street from Jill’s apartment. He refused to open the door of his room because he was convinced that the cops were after him. Not only cops. Detectives and government agents were spying on him and he had to be very careful with his movements. He had a gun, and that’s why everyone was nervous. There actually were cops after him. He was wanted for a bunch of thefts, some assault charges, something else. He wouldn’t even open the door for Jill or her sister. That’s why the mom came but he wouldn’t open the door for her, either. Everyone went back to Jill’s apartment to figure out what to do. Jill’s dad was still in Memphis, making money.
What I remember about that motel: it was on a SE corner of a small street and a big one (maybe Santa Monica Blvd), and kind of seedy. The motel office was on the busy street and the building stretched back parallel to the quiet street and turned in a ninety degree angle at the end, making a big L which ended at the sidewalk. The parking lot of the motel took up the inside of the L. The outside was painted yellow, and each room had a screen door. I remember those screen doors very clearly. Kevin’s room was about halfway down the long part of the L.
I was waiting outside Jill’s apartment when they arrived. Jill’s mom was dressed all in pink – pink jeans, a pink tee-shirt, a pink purse. Her hair was blonde and grey and held up on the top of her head with a pink scrunchy. Jill helped her to the elevator, and to the apartment, holding her arm like she was disabled or weak.
“Momma, she’s the one I was in the hospital with, Allison.” And the mom sort of half smiled and stared at me.
Jill’s sister Ellen was standing outside the apartment, talking on her phone and looking annoyed. Ellen was not an addict and she had her shit together. She lived off of Melrose in a Spanish style apartment with antique cabinets and stained glass lamps. It was tidy and organized. Jill had a key so sometimes we went over there when we got tired of Jill’s tiny room. We only liked to go when we knew Ellen was out rehearsing with her scene-partner or going to Kaballah class. There was almost always a fancy bottle of wine on the kitchen counter that Jill would pour into two etched glass tumblers even though she knew I didn’t drink. I hadn’t drunk since I’d started doing opiates because I hated to dilute the high. But Jill thought each new substance complemented the mix, and she would do whatever she could find. She always poured two glasses, and she always ended up drinking both of them. I mostly just wandered around, touching Ellen’s designer clothes and sniffing bottles of expensive perfume. We had to go to the sidewalk to smoke because Ellen would freak out if she smelled any stray fumes.
Both Ellen and Jill worked as cocktail waitresses at Borracho Cantina on Sunset. That’s how they supported themselves. Jill was always almost getting fired. She came in late, or hungover, or sick. She asked for advances and tried to get the best tables. They didn’t fire her, though, because she looked good and the customers loved her. And Borracho Cantina liked the idea of sisters working there: southern sisters with long blonde hair who liked to flirt.
I was high and nodding, but I was able to keep it together enough to talk normally between the nods. I didn’t feel obligated to participate in this intervention because I wasn’t part of the family. Jill had taken two footballs (“football”= 1mg xanax) and they were beginning to affect her. Her eyes were half open and she needed to lean against the wall for support.
“Jesus, Momma,” Ellen said when she came into Jill’s room, “do you really think she can do anything?” Ellen waved vaguely towards Jill who smiled.
“I love Kevin,” Jill slurred, “he’s my bro.”
“Jesus,” Ellen said again, and walked out of the room.
I lit a cigarette and closed my eyes.