All About Spike

Chapter: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9

The Ballad of Randy and Joan
By Annie Sewell-Jennings

Chapter Nine: Athens, Greece

*****

Ten Years Later

*****

"her green plastic wateringcan

for her fake chinese rubberplant

in the fake plastic earth

that she bought from a rubber man

in a town full of rubber plans

to get rid of itself

it wears her out

it wears her out

it wears her out

it wears her out"

--Radiohead, "Fake Plastic Trees"

*****

It was a mistake to keep her in America.

He knows that now, of course, though it doesn't do much good. Damage done and all. But he knows it now, and it's a mistake that he won't make again. The United States is a wasteland, and while the rest of the world is not faring much better, all of her memories reside in California. It is a danger zone. A bad place.

The miraculous colors of dusk are beginning to settle on the Athenian coast, staining the incredible Mediterranean with the myriad shades of amethyst, sapphire, turquoise, and other precious stones. Waves caress the flawlessly white sands of the beach, and broken shells are scattered along the water's edge.

The silvery peals of her laughter float over to him as she stands up to her calves in the immaculate waters, the hem of her plain white linen dress floating on the water's surface. "God, it's gorgeous!" she cries, her sunburned face alight with pleasure and awe, her white hair twisting and spiraling around her cherubic face. Turquoise jewelry slides around her neck and twines around her wrists and ankles, her smile bright and resplendent, her arms thrown up with pure joy.

All that he can do is smile tiredly, because he is worn out.

How many women has she been now? Six, maybe seven. He has loved them all. All of her different incarnations, all of the women that she has been. The girl who loved jazz music, feather boas and thigh-high stockings. The girl who read poetry and made love to him in Venetian gondolas, surrounded by the crumbled ruins of Italian architecture. He has loved them all because they still have her eyes, the smile that can make a thousand suns rise at once, all of that sinful poetry. She's a constantly changing piece of art, the world seen through a kaleidoscope.

Her world is always broken.

*****

"she lives with a broken man

a cracked polystyrene man

who just crumbles and burns

he used to do surgery for girls in the eighties

but gravity always wins

and it wears him out

and it wears him out

and it wears him out"

--Radiohead, "Fake Plastic Trees"

*****

He remembers the journey over to Japan, the first city where she dressed up like his geisha and fed him plum rolls and fucked him in the rice fields. She slept the entire way over, just like she always sleeps after she destroys herself. He considered abandoning her then, destroyed and shattered by what she had done to herself yet again. But he can't leave her because he understands her, and he loves her. Stupid, stupid fucking heart.

But fuck, nothing hurts like that first moment when she opens the eyes he has always known and asks him who he is.

Wading backwards toward the depths of the Mediterranean, farther from the ruins of the old Greek statues, the loose sash of her white dress ripples and waves like a slender white banner in the wind. She holds her hands behind her back in a coquettish manner, snowy eyebrow arched, turquoise earrings dangling from her earlobes. "Get naked and come in here," she commands boldly, teasingly, and he smiles from the sand.

He thinks that he has changed a lot in the last twenty years, since all of this madness started and he fell in love with eight different women. Or is it nine? He should not be able to lose count, but that's what is beginning to happen. He finds himself drifting into daydreams more frequently, a quieter man, less prone to violence or fun. Just as Buffy stole his romanticism, the first Joan stole his sense of humor. He'll never laugh at stealing cigarettes or write a poem again. Instead, he'll just sit on European beaches and watch the tide ebb and flow.

He's ruined her, of course. She's nothing but ashes now, collected into the shape of a woman with slender hips and albino hair. She kills without guilt, does not see the right from the wrong, does not weep for the broken bodies who lay in her wake. His fault. He taught her everything that she knows about the world, about herself. The irony of his love is gone. A villain loving a hero... She's just an afterthought now.

He tries. Tries so hard to protect her. But in the end, she always falls back into history, waking up remembering what she has done to herself, how low she has descended, and it destroys her every fucking time. Memories of her down on her knees, holding onto his shirt, crying and begging for him to do something. Kill her. Drown her. Take it all away. He used to fight her, trying to tell her how special she was, but it always fails and he gives in. She's his addiction, and she's addicted to a blank page.

*****

"she looks like the real thing

she tastes like the real thing

my fake plastic love

but i can't help the feeling

i could blow through the ceiling

if i just turn and run

and it wears me out

it wears me out

and it wears me out"

--Radiohead, "Fake Plastic Trees"

*****

Laughing wildly, she runs from the water, saltwater clinging to her shapely legs and bare feet sinking into the water-soaked sands. Long white hair trails down her back, and she has a seashell in one hand, amazed by the shape of it. The spell fucks itself up sometimes, makes her forget simple things, like what seashells are or how to read, and he always teaches her. Stupid him.

Pillars of white stone arc above them, majestic and regal, the houses and temples of gods. Desperately, he looks up at them, thinking that he should kill himself and her and then this would all be over. Done. Buried in the Greek sands. But he can't do it. Love is a cruel, cruel thing.

She throws her salty, damp body against his, the soaked hem of her simple cotton dress clinging to her wet legs, and plants a seawater kiss on his mouth. "You never told me how beautiful Greece was," she says accusingly, teasingly, wrapping her fingers around the base of his neck. "Silly vampire."

Helplessly, he shrugs his shoulders. Always defenseless against her. "Wanted you to see the rest of Europe, luv," he says, and she shakes her head, looking past him at the fallen temples to dead gods, the majesty of the mythology cut into mountainsides and coasts. He knows instinctively what she sees, and he finds it terribly, dreadfully appropriate that she find a home in the Greek ruins. She's an artifact of the past herself.

Tangled up, intertwined, they fall onto the sands where the ocean meets the earth, the incoming tide lapping seductively at his feet while she pulls away his shirt. Swept away, he is, trapped in her tidal pull. He'll live an eternity with a thousand different visions of her dancing through his head because it's all that he knows. He lives her life. Carries the memories that she willfully abandons. But it's all got to be worth something, right?

Right?

Suddenly, he clasps her tattooed forearms in his hands, fingers spreading over the inked marks that only he can read and decipher, and stares hard and long into her youthful, cherubic face. "Tell me why," he demands. He has to hear it. Something in this disaster must be his; there has to be some reason why he can't leave her. Some reason to make him stay.

The smile that spreads across her face is slow, fond, endearing. Passion and purity, innocence and impishness. "Because I love you, Randy," she says simply, stroking his cheek.

Wildly, insanely, he laughs at her and at the skies, at the decapitated statues of forgotten gods, at the twilight that he'll never quite shake.

"I love you too, Joan."

*****

"if i could be who you wanted

if i could be who you wanted all the time"

--Radiohead, "Fake Plastic Trees"

*****

The End

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