Star Jasmine  
    Diane Lefer

Heather's Dad had once fucked David Bowie which was weird because in those days, said Heather's Mom, he looked just like him. Back in the Sixties, just about any kid could fuck a celebrity "and I," Heather said, "have to make do with you." She was sixteen and so was her boyfriend Gregory.

They drove past the bank. An armored truck was parked in front, two men unloading money from the outdoor ATM while two guards stood on the sidewalk with guns drawn.

"Jesus," Gregory said. "You would never see that in New York."

What Heather enjoyed most about having a boyfriend was getting educated. There were boys who'd humiliated her, hurt her, used her. She never referred to them as dirtbags, instead: "a learning experience." Gregory, because he was a recent transplant, served to expand her horizons though she was beginning to think New Yorkers weren't terribly attractive and they were always indignant. When the supermarket started fingerprinting customers at the checkout line, Gregory carried on about fascism and the police state. "It's for our benefit," Heather said, which is what she'd heard on the TV news, but thanks to Gregory, she was beginning to see there were at least two sides to any issue. Most of the time, though, she believed a positive attitude was more important than seeing two sides.

They were in Heather's car. Gregory didn't know how to drive and as it turned out, he didn't know where the theater was, though it had been his idea to go.

"Try the next block. Around here somewhere," he said.

The only play Heather had ever seen was You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown and that was in junior high school, and she'd played Snoopy.

"It's got to be around here," Gregory said. "The number is 1200."

They drove around the block and around again. Heather said, "The cops are going to get us for cruising."

No theater. Instead they kept passing the Pacific View Apartments. The building looked familiar. "It's where that man lived," she said.

She'd been over at Gregory's when it came on the news. "We're learning more about the gunman," the news anchor said. Gregory said, "He was a very quiet man. He paid his rent on time." On-screen, the apartment manager repeated those words and when Heather grabbed Gregory's arm and said, "You're psychic," they had a fight.

Gregory said he'd been surprised to find himself so impressed by Southern California. Contrary to stereotype, people were very intellectual, very bright but it got to the point where he'd longed to meet a true California airhead and he felt very lucky to have found Heather.

She said, "Well, you're no David Bowie," and started to cry.

That had been a week ago and now, passing the gunman's house, instead of remembering Gregory's cruelty, she felt close to him, as though they'd both survived the rampage.

"Pacific View," she said. "You'd need a telescope on the roof to see the ocean from here."

A man came out of the lobby and yelled at them. "Aren't you people tired of gawking?"

Heather explained they were looking for the theater.

"Other side of town," the man said. "You came east. The theater is west. It's nice to see young people take an interest. What are you going to see?"

Gregory told him.

"You mean the thing what's-his-name wrote with Patti Smith? I'd like to see that. Think you need reservations?"

"Not likely," said Gregory. "Not in this town."

The man got into the backseat of Heather's car.

At the theater, he insisted on paying for all three.

At intermission, Gregory said, "We weren't gawking. But did you know the guy?"

The man said, "I did. And I can tell you, as I once heard a priest say in a similar context, he was better than the worst thing did." Then he asked Heather what she thought of the play.

"I don't know," she said.

He nodded. "It was better in its own time and place."

The streets were dark when they drove him home.

"I can't get you into his apartment," the man said, "but if you come in, I can walk you past his door."

"I don't have a morbid curiosity," Heather said.

The man said, "My own apartment has the same layout. If you'd like."

"No thanks," said Heather.

"At least roll down the window," said the man.

She did.

"Smell that. Star jasmine. On the whole block, they planted it for ground cover. It's the little white flowers."

"Yeah, I know," Heather said. "It's nice."

"Star jasmine and motion sensor lights. I come home after dark and walk down this street and it's like a red carpet being rolled out. I walk along and the lights come on one after another. Magic. I love it here," said the man. "I've been here almost a year." He said, "When the police came for him, I didn't know it was for him."

He got out of the car and before entering the building he turned and waved.

"What do you think he did?" Heather asked.

"What makes you think he did anything?"

She said, "Once you could fuck anyone. Now you can kill anyone."

Gregory said, "The Sixties weren't all that great. Turn here," he said. "Left. Left again."

"Where are we going?"

"Not straight home," he said. "In case he's watching."

Heather pulled over to the curb and parked. There were stars but no moon.

"What are you doing?"

"Can we get out and walk a while?" she said. "I thought you liked to walk."

He wouldn't put his arm around her or hold her hand, but that was all right. They walked and the lights by the houses came on for her, one by one.

Diane Lefer is the author of two story collections, Very Much Like Desire (Carnegie Mellon University Press) and The Circles I Move In (Zoland Books), a forthcoming novel, Radiant Hunger (Authors Choice Press), and American Buggery, a play with music that will premiere in March at Trustus Theatre, Columbia, SC.

In Posse: Potentially, might be ...