These ants won’t stop

The pilgrimage has settled for the day in Fallon. They have taken two rooms; David intends to sleep in the car again. He is with Roslyn and Elke in the room the two women will share. He wants to use their shower.

Roslyn, in fact, has been thinking she would take a shower and has been waiting for David to leave. She doesn’t like the idea of climbing into the stall after he’s used it but she is slightly beguiled by his oddity and looks to Elke, shrugging why not. He retreats to the bathroom, and soon the women are listening to shower music behind a closed door.

“Do you don’t think he’s gay?” Elke asks.

Roslyn says she doesn’t think so, finds herself considering joining David in the shower.

Elke changes gears, adjusts her position on the bed, and asks Roslyn where that story came from.

“I must have heard it at home or bible class or someplace.” When she was telling it, Roslyn felt as though she was performing again, speaking lines written for her by someone else, words meant for an audience but not for her.

“I didn’t know you came from a church family.”

“Oh, yeah. I was a good Christian girl, loved by Daddy and Mommy and Jesus. Then I became forsaken.” She goes on to tell Elke it started with rock and roll, falling in a secular crowd at school, sneaking off to dances. Then college and coming home at Thanksgiving full of ideas.

“I was so fucking stupid. I thought I had found something my folks would want to learn about. But the more I said, the more determined Daddy got and should have seen it coming.” Remembering it and not for the first time. “I sensed I was crossing a frontier but didn’t understand it until I was on the sidewalk with a suitcase and $87 is cash my mother put in my pocket when he wasn’t watching.”

“They threw you out?”

“I had a chance to repent, to plead for forgiveness.” David starts warbling a scratchy and waterlogged rendition of Almost Cut My Hair. “But, you know, it’s damn hard to do that with a man who doesn’t understand the first thing about Jesus.”

Roslyn doesn’t tell Elke that she has been musing about nunneries, which is probably how that story leaked into her script. She knows it’s just a romantic fantasy. Not feasible. She can’t give up her solitary life – the only thing that allowed her to survive in the adult industry – to join a commune ruled by … well, she doesn’t know who runs those places. Getting to know Jesus again, at least at arm’s length, has faint allure, if only as a silent revenge on her Daddy’s sin. She isn’t willing to give up shaving her legs and armpits for him or Him.

“You told me once that you could do anything with any man.”

“I guess there are some limits,” Roslyn says. Someday she might reclaim her sexuality as hers, not a wholly owned business subsidiary. She has become an objective expert on sex, an engineer or clinician, as much with the actors Lola performed with as for those watching from the shadows. During her career she’d never fucked anyone for pleasure, but she used her off hours to study how people – men and women – respond to Roslyn. The moment Elke came up to her table in that diner, Roslyn knew she was a closet admirer, maybe not gay, but drawn to the flame. She could own Hendrik, even if she didn’t vamp it up. For all his bluster, he is intimidated, afraid to look her in the eye. They would make a boring porn scene, she thinks.

David emerges, fully clothed, wet hair splayed all over his head, scrubbing it with a towel, and asks if he can borrow someone’s toothbrush. “Mine’s in the car,” he explains.

Roslyn gets up from the bed and rummages in her toiletries. “You don’t have a social disease, right?” handing him the toothbrush and toothpaste. A blank look in his face.

“Is this how you get one?” he asks, waiting for her to complete the handoff.

He’s forced a laugh from her, a small and reflexive one, and returns to the bathroom.

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