Sloan, the middle child
When Sloan called, our three-year, scorch-the-earth relationship had been in the rearview 18 months. I’d high-tailed out of Chicago with nothing but the clothes on my back, a hotel bible and an iPod with a broken screen, that only seemed to shuffle between Huey Lewis & the News songs. Spent two weeks kicking in my old college roommate’s toolshed in Seattle. Once clean, I caught a Greyhound to Tucson to work construction for my half brother. Met Alison, a nice PhD candidate in sociology, at my book club. After a few months dating, I shacked up with her and her precocious nine-year-old, who I thought was just swell. Everything was just swell. And then the phone rang.
“Hey, KD. It’s your favorite model-turned-actress.”
“How’d you get this number?” I asked.
Alison, still asleep, didn’t seem to stir. 2:37 a.m. on the digital clock. I took the portable phone into the bathroom.
“I’m just leaving this party at the Chateau Marmont and I’ve been thinking of you a lot.”
“Again,” I said, “how did you get my girlfriend’s home phone number?”
“I don’t remember, but my thumbs been hovering over the ‘call’ button for a couple months. I’m in a limo. My limo. I’m feeling strong right now, so I thought I’d reach out and touch you”
“I have to go. Please don’t ever contact me again.” I hung up and went back to sleep.
Sloan had gone from catalogue model to indie film darling, from whiskey shots to freebasing heroin, and from love of my life to enabling banshee, all with the speed of a mainline. I never noticed she had a stronger constitution for it all than I did. So, while the near overdose and the cutting and the infidelity and the smashed hotel rooms and the assault charges (eventually settled out of court) and the sudden appearance of paparazzi all terrified me, it only emboldened Sloan. She was invincible. I’d barely escaped with my life.
Two nights later, she called again.
“Don’t call here. I can’t take it,” I said.
“Come to LA. No one will ever need you like I do.”
Holding the phone, I stared at myself in the mirror of my girlfriend’s bathroom. I had permanent bags under my eyes. Too many ill-conceived tattoos. 20 extra pounds of dough around my waste. Thinning hair. No talent. No prospects. Dead end jobs forever. I knew she was right.
“Send me a ticket, baby.”
I arrived in LA and immediately bought a cheap pair of sunglasses. I felt ready for anything.
Once in her suite at the Hotel Figueroa, I was met not by her, but by her publicist, a mod with a rectangular haircut, who had some forms she wanted me to sign, something about confidentiality. I didn’t bother to read them. “Where’s Sloan?” I asked. I was assured she’d be up soon.
Sloan’s arrival was oddly formal. No deep embrace. No kiss. No vases smashed against the wall. Just a peck on the cheek. Maybe it was all the suits surrounding us, as we sat down around the coffee table.
“Knox, thank you so much for reprising your role,” she said.
“Yes, we’re thinking it will take 6-8 weeks, wrapping up just in time for the premier of my next film, culminating with a physical altercation between you and me on the red carpet. Don’t worry. We won’t press charges. And the arresting officers will also be in on it. Are you still on the wagon?”
I was too confused not to answer. “Um, yeah. Seventeen months.”
“Great. Good for you. In that case, when we get caught on tape smoking meth together, we’ll use stage meth. At least for you.” The room erupted with laughter.
“So, you don’t want to get back together?”
“Like actually get back together? Is that what you thought? No. This is strictly for the cameras.”
I considered asking to get taken back to the airport. If I was home by that evening, it would be like I’d never left. But I wouldn’t be the man who’d left that morning. I wouldn’t be able to get back into that gear. After a few moments, I sighed heavily.
“So when do we start?”
Photo Credit. Alex Dram, used under CC license
Filed under: stories of heartbreak | 2 Comments