Jared was still holding Rumor’s leg aloft as he felt himself soften inside of her. She was panting and holding tightly to his shoulders. A flamingo in kitten heels. Her eyes shut tight. Hot breaths escaping through her open mouth, followed by a sweet shiver down her spine. Jared swept her hair back from her face with his free hand and pecked her bottom lip a half-dozen times. He kissed her eyelids. Above her eyebrow. The tip of her nose. She was soaked with perspiration. His more than hers.
Because she kept closing her eyes, Jared let his eyes wander down to her neck. Beads of sweat glistened at the base of her throat and Jared couldn’t help but scoop up the salty droplets with his tongue while he regained his composure.
He loves the taste of her. Brine and lavender. Coconut water.
“That was…” Rumor’s breathy voice trailed off as Jared slowly backed himself out of her. A globule of his seed coated her velvety labia. The sight nearly readied Jared for round two, for a moment.
Jared ran his pointer finger through his leavings and slipped the finger back inside of Rumor briefly before carefully releasing her leg, staying close to catch her if necessary as she steadied herself again on two feet.
Rumor’s party dress fell back in to position as she shimmied her thong upward to cover the bits of her that Jared most coveted. A most intimate place. Second only to the mind. Jared deposited himself and his mess inside his red-striped briefs, pulled up his jeans and buckled without zipping.
“It was.” he whispered.
TWENTY YEARS EARLIER
Under a city street, beneath the gulch but above the chasm, sat a subway train stained with urine and graffiti. Inside car four of that subterranean train was a twenty-something girl, a dozen transients and a young Jared Leto.
The girl, close to Jared’s age, was oblivious to the sights, sounds and scents wafting around her. Lost in a daydream. The transients didn’t stay long enough to make an impression on anyone. Invisible nobodies. Jared Leto yawned deep, his hand hooked through a ceiling strap, as he waited for a seat to open. He wasn’t anyone special either. Yet.
Regardless that it has been a rather balmy Spring in the city, thus far, the girl in car four wore fingerless knit gloves and a cap that matched. Charcoal Gray over peach skin. A long strand of yarn hung from the thumbs on both gloves. Begging for a tug. Jared fantasized about pulling on one of the strings until the gloves unraveled entirely, before settling in to a seat diagonal from her and shutting his eyes.
The girl started tapping her fingers against a shoe box that sat in her lap. Her beat wasn’t regular. Quarter notes then eighth note triplets. It was driving Jared nuts, but also keeping him awake, so he let it go. He had a long way until his stop. And surely she wouldn’t be the most annoying person he’d encounter tonight.
The subway train shimmied and shook its way beneath Manhattan. Under the high rises, black topped parks and hot dog carts they went. The lights flickered periodically like they do. People got on and off at every stop. The car was empty now, except for that girl and Jared Leto. The only riders, for a brief moment, headed all the way down town.
Inevitably the girl stopped tapping on her shoe box and Jared looked over towards her worried that she may have fallen asleep herself. He felt a little protective of this weird girl now, fifteen minutes in to their trip, riding the subway all alone.
He didn’t need to worry, though, she was wide awake. Occupying herself with painstakingly unwinding the wire to her headphones, then pulling off her knit cap. Her shoulder length hair was so bleached it was closer to white than yellow. Unkempt and wild. Frizzy. Static-y. She had little beads woven in to strands of her hair. Enough that if she whipped her hair, she might jingle. Jared closed his eyes and listened to her movements. He anchored himself to the rustling of her fabrics high above the screeching brakes. Her beads made no sound though he could hear her fidgeting in her seat. Her hair might be dreading, the music trapped in a knot, as part of a look or maybe she is homeless. Jared couldn’t tell. Her getup was either artsy or sad. He suspected she’s both. Abandoned or maybe lost. Mental case or just a girl. Who knows. No one on the train cares. That’s for sure. Not even Jared (on the surface, deep down she intrigued him).
Jared kept himself awake by imagining a background story for her – he made her clothes a costume he would wear. He mimicked her hand movements in his own lap. Tapping an imaginary box just like she did. His long fingers curled in a feminine way. He gave the girl an accent, then changed it twice when the lilt didn’t come out right under his breath. He decided she’s from that part of New Jersey: Too central to pick up a New York affect, too close to the shore to abuse the English language like they do in Philly. Some middle-ground place in the middle of the Garden State.
The girl was oblivious to his starring, his rewriting of her history.
Softly, she moved her hand from the shoebox to a spot of exposed skin near her collarbone where she must have had an itch. She rubbed the tip of her pointer finger back and forth against her skin while she gazed out the window (or perhaps at her reflection since they weren’t moving again just yet).
Jared noticed she had a strange tattoo below her collarbone. A triangle and words in Latin, maybe, that he couldn’t translate. An arrow shot through the center of the triangle and crossed the T in flagratus. A triangle split in two…or is it three? He drew it on his hand. A triangle with a horizontal line through the middle.
Jared scanned her skin for more ink and didn’t find much. Inside the girl’s earlobes were delicate hoop earrings. Along her helix, a row of faux diamonds. The girl settled her headphones over her ears and pressed play on her walkman. Her fingernails were visibly dirty. The cassette tape clicked and whirled with great fan fare.
Jared looked away again. Maybe his character should be from the Bronx. Bamboo earrings, spit-curled baby hair and bright yellow Reebox. She’d be on a different train, listening to Heavy D.
The girl’s music was loud, Jared could hear it all the way on his side of the car, but unidentifiable. He chewed on the end of a pen as he stared past the other riders in car four and directly at the girl again.
He heard an underground sound. Deep base but inaudible vocals. Jared prefers the vocals. He strained to listen closer. To identify a note. He isolated the bass, maybe a cello. The girl was listening to an orchestra. On volume ten. Jared put his hand in his back pocket and slipped out his beloved memo pad. Forty pages from the front he wrote the words: Mary was a different girl. Had a thing for Orchestra*.
The girl shifted in her seat and Jared chewed harder on his Bic pen. Her corduroy overalls were two or three sizes too big for her frame. She looked lost inside them. Vulnerable. Jared couldn’t really tell if she was wearing a shirt at all, though he was measuring every inch of her with his eyes. She kept fiddling with the lid of her shoe box. Tapping on it. Then lifting it. She might have been nervous. Incessantly checking and then rechecking the contents of her box. Or maybe she was saying hello to a critter. Either way she kept lifting the lid, taking inventory and closing it.
She flipped the cassette tape over, fast forwarded to a song, reversing until she was cued up to the first note of the song. When the music came on, she started tapping again. In perfect time with the music Jared could only sort-of hear.
At the Fulton Street Station, the car emptied out and Jared lost sight of the girl. He sighed and put his head in his hands. Another weirdo lost in the night. He looked up again, when a transient bumped his knee and noticed the girl’s shoebox laying on the seat where she had been sitting.
He couldn’t believe, given her attention to the box the whole ride, that she left it behind. Jared scooted past the other riders to retrieve the box. On top it said Stride Rite. Inside were art supplies. Good quality supplies. Charcoals. Chalks. Thirty, maybe thirty-five, five dollar bills were tucked in the corner of the box. Jared scanned the car for her again, hoping she’d hopped back on when she realized she left the box behind. A girl like her, probably needs this $150 bad. For survival. Rent. Life. Jared turned over the lid of the box “portrait or caricature, $5” was scribbled in black marker. A rolled up sample inside. A bald man, toothy smile, I love NY t-shirt. Cartoonish. Sweet. And quite good.
Jared hopped off the train at Chambers Street, the girl’s box tucked under his armpit and quickly flagged a taxi cab to take him back uptown. He was going to find her, if he could, and if it took all night.