Susan A. H. Grace
After driving a light-year through a hundred shades of beige, I roll into the Scottsdale Hilton on the corner of Indian School Road and Drinkwater Boulevard—bars, shopping, blabla.
I barely have time to shower before I have to GPS myself to this cocktail party at someone’s desert mansion where I’m expected to mingle—business, blabla.
An hour later, I’m ready. 108 Fahrenheit—the address. I plug it in the app. More light-years. More beige. 108 Fahrenheit—the temperature in the shade. I turn up the air. Winding roads in the middle of nowhere. And finally: the mansion, a glass mirage. 108 Fahrenheit—the fever at which brain damage begins.
The entire place is a nebulous galaxy revolving around the black hole of money. Which means, I’ll get as close to the core as I can without being ripped to shreds. Excuse me, I say, and thrust my way in.
Black dress, ruby lips. My champagne flute—a salve and a shield. Me and a zillion other bodies tessellate through the corporate continuum. Mingle here, turn. Mingle there, turn. A spiral of rising stars in search of the gravitational gradient of success. Goatees, Wite-Out teeth, Maybelline eyes. Trays of booze and caviar float by at periodic intervals.
The constant jostling boomerangs me to the outer reaches of the cluster.
I’m utterly stunned when Rod Serling drifts into my orbit. He cocks his lips, grins. Those intense brown eyes, bushy eyebrows. The perpetual cigarette—his salve, his shield. For an instant, we’re locked in mutual synchronous rotation.
You’re Rod Serling.
I’m in love with Rod Serling.
He died in ’75.
Yeah, that’s a challenge.
Love is like that.
A slick-faced financier tumbles through and nudges him on another trajectory. I spiral away, gravitate to a glass wall. I watch him from a distance, fascinated. Those divine hands samba in a cloud of smoke as he makes a point. His words flow Serling-esque through clamped teeth.
I get a text. I respond. I look up.
The financier satellites a doe-eyed blond now. I panic. Where is Serling? Faces emerge and retreat. Heads on long necks, torsos on lanky legs, bend and blend in a vacuum of colliding egos. He can’t have gone far under this great dome of chandeliers and glass ceilings. He can’t have—
Coat flap, pant cuff, black derby shoe vanish beyond the closing door.
I sling myself from vertex to vertex, through an infinite matrix of bodies. To the foyer. The door. The platinum knob. I kick off my heels. I rocket after him into the twilight. A zigzag of streets gives way to sharp gravel and asteroids, cactuses, patches of scrub. Vast stretches of nothing in the beige shadowland of a different kind of party. Light-years away I see him shimmer in a vortex of heat waves. I run, cutting my feet on the desert floor.
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