Willa St. Thomas and Kiki Roberts were The Oblititrons. Are The Oblititrons. In Phoenix, AZ, they stayed in a tiny, cluttered bungalow with a cute 16-year-old lesbian and her cuter mom. They parked beside this giant cactus that looked just like a cactus from a cartoon. Their car didn’t lock, so they brought all their stuff into their hosts’ house. Willa tucked the Zip-Lock that held all their money into the duffle bag that doubled as her pillow.
In the morning, Kiki couldn’t find their Akai MPC2000LX sampler or their box of 3.5 inch floppy disks, which two things, in combination, were their only instrument, the key to their catalogue of songs, actually all of their music. “So, like, now there’s no Oblititrons,” Kiki stessed after checking the trunk and backseat and front seat and under seats and beside the car on the burning gravel.
“Where’d you put it? When we came in?” Willa asked.
“I thought I put it with a pile of stuff beside me on the floor.”
“In front of Sabine’s closet?”
“Yeah, in front of the closet. Sabine’s the girl?”
Willa nodded and looked at Kiki with, like, way more anger than forgetting some girl’s name merited.
Willa pinched her lower lip and pulled it away from her face. “This morning her mom came in and took a pile of stuff from in front of the closet.”
“Where d’you think she put it?”
“We’ll ask Sabine when she gets up.”
They spent an agitated hour mostly trying to read. Periodically, Willa would get up and look for coffee or Kiki would get up and open one of the boxes stacked by the couch and the back door and the gurgling fish tank.
When she woke up, Sabine went straight to the bathroom. Kiki stood at the end of the hallway with her hands in her back pockets. Willa lay on the couch with her ball cap over her face to try and shield herself from the tension Kiki embodied, the tension that had settled hard on Willa’s gut.
“Oh shit,” Sabine said when Kiki explained the situation, “Mom was taking that stuff to the pawnshop.”
“You’re joking,” Kiki said.
“Where’s the pawnshop?” Willa asked.
Sabine rode in the front seat. Kiki sat in the backseat pinching the opening of the Zip-Lock purse, the money pressed between her thighs.
They accidentally drove past the pawnshop and had to turn around in the parking lot of a shooting-range-slash-hamburger-joint. The owner of the pawnshop was an extremely tall man who was unusually pale for Arizona. When he emerged from the backroom, he said to Sabine, “Your mother came by this morning.” They explained to him what had happened. He held up his long hands and said he’d bought the sampler and floppy disks this morning and that this was a business, so, no, he couldn’t just give it back, but he could sell it to them for what he bought it for, which was $150. Kiki was pissed, but Sabine convinced them that it was OK ’cause her mom would just give them the money back. Willa pulled some cash out of the Zip-Lock and counted it. Kiki double-checked the amount before they handed it over.
They were supposed to be in Tucson to play an in-store in three hours, but they were feeling super ripped off so they waited while Sabine texted her mom to find out where she was working. Sabine’s mom didn’t answer. They were sipping burnt drip coffee from Styrofoam cups at a dying donut shop when Sabine’s mom’s text buzzed through.
They pulled into the driveway of the house Sabine’s mom was cleaning and parked behind a black SUV that seemed twice the size of any SUV Kiki or Willa had ever even seen. The house was oversized, too. Willa and Kiki both got out of the car when they saw Sabine’s beautiful mother step from the front door onto the flagstone walk.
Inside the house someone was practicing the violin.
“Sorry about this,” Willa said.
“Thanks for meeting us,” Kiki said.
Sabine’s mom held out a fifty. You could see she was pissed.
The violin hit a foul note and stopped.
“I’m sorry,” Kiki said, “the pawnshop guy told us it was one hundred and fifty he gave you.”
“For the whole lot, yeah. It wasn’t just your weird old computer.”
“Oh,” Willa said.
Kiki said, “But we paid one hundred and fifty.”
“Guess you should take that up with him.” She turned and walked into the house.
The violin squealed back into action.
Sabine offered to take them back to the pawnshop. Kiki refused; they could find it themselves. Then Sabine asked if the Oblititrons could drop her at her girlfriend’s place, which she said was closer, though she didn’t say to what. “It must be closer to something,” Kiki said as Willa pulled out of the girlfriend’s driveway. “Maybe not closer to where we were or where we’re going, but closer to the neighbour’s place, say.”
Willa laughed. “We aren’t going back to that pawnshop, are we?”
“How it’s supposed to work? Like, what would we say, you know?” She looked at Willa. “Is that OK?”
“To Tucson,” Willa said.
“What have we learned?” Willa asked.
“I have no idea,” Kiki said.
Toronto, May 2015