“I’m here to see Wendy.”
Sounds pretty innocent, doesn’t it?
Shows what you know.
I don’t know how I knew it, but I did, from a very early age. Somebody must have told me. Over at that combo gas station/taco place on the other side of town. There is a man, his name is Leon, and he sits at the corner table near the back. You’ll see him there every day (except Thursday), from the time they open to the time they close. He never eats tacos. I’ve never seen him eat anything at all. He just sits, sipping on a tooth-rotting blend of mountain dew (from the taco place side) and cheap whiskey (from the gas station side).
I can’t remember who told me, but it was common knowledge. Everybody knows: that guy at the taco place is Leon, and you talk to him if you want to see Wendy.
But everybody knows, without a doubt, even if they’ve never asked and can’t remember who told them. Asking about Wendy is something you shouldn’t do.
I did though.
I shouldn’t have but I did. I’ve done it more than once.
I can’t help it.
I go to Leon and I sit down at the table across from him. He looks up and blinks. He doesn’t speak, but the question is there.
What do you want?
He knows of course. How could he not. It’s the only thing people come to him for. But I have to ask for her. I have to say it.
“I’m here to see Wendy.”
Leon smiles. His teeth are black and pitted, framed by his tangled and filthy beard. Still he says nothing. Instead he taps the table with two fingers.
If you want to see Wendy, you have to pay.
I’ve seen people pay Leon all kinds of ways. Money, sure, but other things too. Sometimes people give him keys, papers, once I even saw someone slide a gun across the table. I pay with cash. I know I could pay other ways, but I don’t want to. I’m afraid of what it means.
Leon pockets the payment, no matter what it is. He never counts it, never checks it. Never.
I don’t think he’d care if I paid with Monopoly money, but I don’t want to find out.
Once he has the payment, he takes a long sip from his 32 oz full of soda and booze, then he stands, and I stand with him. He nods his head towards the back door marked ‘Emergency Exit Only’. I follow him through it, into the alley, by the dumpster. Leon looks around, ensuring that we are alone. We’ve never not been alone. At least I think.
Once he’s sure, he reaches into his pocket.
What he pulls out looks at first like some kind of black sand, then (as it catches the light above the back door) like crushed black glass. For a second or two, it might seem like a liquid, or one solid mass, but then Leon moves his hand forward, and it shifts like a powder.
He holds it up for me to inspect, and again there is a question that isn’t spoken.
Are you sure?
Leon always asks. And I can’t help but answer:
“Yes. Do it.”
Leon smiles again, then purses his cracked lips. He blows the powder in his hand into my face. For a split second I feel like sneezing, but when the black sand hits my lungs, everything changes.
I’m flying. Not ‘I feel like I’m flying’, I mean I’m actually flying. I’m off the ground and I’m flying. I think that’s why he calls her Wendy.
You can fly.
It doesn’t end there though. No. You go to Wendy for something more. More than flying even. Because she’s there with you. Flying behind you, wrapping her arms around you, I swear it. She presses two perfect lips to your ear, and she asks you what you want from her. What you really want.
And you tell her. You can’t not. You tell her what you really want. The things you wouldn’t tell another soul as long as you live. The deepest, the most personal, the darkest things you’ve ever wanted. Even if you only wanted them for a second, and did your best to convince yourself that you didn’t mean it, you didn’t want that, that’s a terrible thing to want. The things that make you so ashamed you want to die. The things you wish you didn’t wish for.
The walls you’ve spent a lifetime building up fall in an instant, and that’s what you tell her. All the sickest, vilest, inhumane shit you’re so sure you would never want, Wendy will bring it out of you.
And she makes it happen.
Literally makes it happen. No matter what it is.
Is there someone you want to fuck?
Is there someone you want to kill?
Is there something so much worse that you want to do?
Wendy doesn’t do it. Oh no, what would be the point in that? You do it. You do it all. Wendy just helps you get there. All the while, she’s whispering in your ear, because are you sure that’s all you want to do? Are you sure you don’t want to take it a bit further? No one will catch you. No one will judge you. You’ll never have to feel guilty for this.
The things you can do.
The things I’ve done.
And then you’re back. You haven’t gone anywhere, you haven’t done anything. Leon is still lowering his hand from blowing powder in your face.
He nods and smiles again, he knows how good a time you just had, and he’s gone. Back he goes to his corner of the taco place, with maybe a detour to top off his big cup with fresh dew or fresh whiskey.
And there you are. In the alley. Knowing all the things you just did. Things you only did because you knew you’d never have to feel guilty. But now you’re back, the walls are back, and you know exactly what you just did.
How could you have done those things? You don’t deserve to live. You want to kill yourself.
Some of Leon’s customers do. It’s no secret.
But not me.
Leon won’t serve me twice in one day, but I’ll be back tomorrow.
Sure I feel guilty now, but I know how I can not.