I wake up to Mavi shaking me violently.
“Look, I need a favor,” she says, frenzied. “I have a friend coming to stay with me from Austria today—some kid I met while street casting punks for that shoot in Pop last year—but I’m working all day. Can you look after him while I’m gone?” Mavi works in fashion. She’s almost always head to toe in Rock Owens. Her true love, however, is her myriad of weirdo sidekicks. She’s constantly collecting new fuck-ups and freaks to incorporate into her exotic circle of friends. I guess in a way they’re like her ultimate accessory. After all, that’s how I got here. “Karley!” she screams again. “Are you listening to me?”
“Wait, what? Who?” I’m half asleep. I’m having trouble understanding words.
“His name is Johannes,” she says. “He’ll be here in half an hour. Just make sure he’s entertained, yeah?”
“Uh… I mean yeah I guess that’s…” but she’s already gone.
“You’ll like him…” I faintly hear her shout as she slams the front door. “He looks like he’s dying.”
An hour later the doorbell rings. I answer it to find a tall, slender boy. Roughly twenty years old. His head is shaved apart from a triangle of neon blue fringe, which hangs lankly into his eyes (I think it’s called a Chelsea?). He’s wearing a homemade crop top with Blixa Bargeld’s face on it, awkwardly high-waisted jeans and floral DMs. He’s picking something out of his front teeth with his thumbnail. “Uh, hi. I’m—“ I start to say, but he doesn’t even look at me, instead shoving his duffle bag into my chest and pushing past, toward the living room. “…Karley,” I finish.
“Johannes,” he snarls in his thick Austrian accent. “I need fucking cigarettes. Are you housekeeper? You have food to eat? Hungry.” I look down at my skintight black lace dress—the same outfit I’ve been wearing for two weeks.
“Um, do I look like a fucking housekeeper?” I say. He laughs. Too bad he’s such a dick… I think. His face brightens as he studies the rest of Mavi’s apartment—a converted ballroom with rich wooden floors and majestic, floor to ceiling windows. “This house,” he says carefully, “is very beautiful.” He runs his hands slowly across the mahogany walls. “So beautiful, so beautiful, so beautiful… I just want to fuck it.”
“You want to fuck the apartment?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says flatly. And just like that, I’m interested.
Twenty minutes later we meet Bunny for lunch at a nearby café. I stare blankly at the menu. Everything is made with lentils, legumes and dirt. “Wait, are we at a vegan restaurant?” I ask.
“Yeah,” says Bunny.
“Because I’m vegan now.”
“But WHY?” I ask again. “I saw you eat an entire brick of cheddar cheese in bed like two days ago.”
“Well,” he begins, “given the poor standards of contemporary factory farming, animals are forced to undergo horrifically unethical treatment, not to mention the hugely negative effects commercial agriculture has on the environment.” He wipes some snot from his nose onto his sleeve. “Also, I read that Natalie Portman is vegan and she’s like hot or whatever.”
“Ugh…” I execute a really loud and over dramatic moan to illustrate my annoyance. I don’t hate vegans; I just don’t want them around me. They smell funny and they have really bad taste in music. I consider complaining but before I get the chance a red-headed waitress in an ill fitting brown dress walks up to our table.
“Can I get you guys something to drink?” she asks, sprightly.
“Coke,” commands Johannes.
The waitress wrinkles her nose in disgust. “We don’t serve Coca Cola,” she snaps, her mood shifting suddenly. “This is a vegan restaurant.”
“Uh… what the fuck?” he hits back.
“Do you know what Coca Cola does to your body?” she asks. We stare at her. We don’t know.
“The massive amount of sugar in Coke is seriously damaging to your organs, and can lead to Diabetes,” she says smugly. “Not to mention it contains ethylene glycol, which is used in anti-freeze. It’s essentially a slow poison.”
Johannes rolls his eyes. “Lady, me take so much fucking heroin, one Coke not make a difference.”
She stares down at him in disbelief. I laugh nervously, trying to gauge if he’s joking or not. I don’t think he is. I look to Bunny for help. He’s blowing his nose into the paper tablecloth.
“We’ll just have three waters, thanks,” I say. The waitress leaves quickly, followed by a long silence that seems awkward only for me. I look at Johannes. I study his face—the way his crowded teeth sit behind his thin lips, the way his dark eyelashes crash into the white of his eyelids, his pierced nose, his erratic freckles. He seems deep in thought, gazing toward some nonexistent point in front of him. I have the sudden urge to say, You’re so retardedly beautiful it makes me sick, but instead ask “What are you thinking about?”
“9/11,” he says flatly.
We order some food that tastes like worms and eat it peacefully. As we sit in silence I wonder how long Johannes is going to be in London for. I wonder what he looks like naked. I wonder if he has any tattoos, or if he has one of those ribcages which protrudes slightly, making visible each and every one of his perfect bones. I wonder if he thinks I’m pretty. I wonder what sort of face he makes when he comes. I wonder what’s going to happen next.