If There’s a Heaven Above

by Andrew Demcak

If There's a Heaven Above - Andrew Demcak
ISBN: 9781980753094

If There's A Heaven Above" takes the reader on a tour of the Southern California demi-monde Goth scene of the mid-1980s, as seen through the eyes of club-kid, Matt. The novel combines innocence with experience, sex and drugs, Love and Rockets, with just the right touch of poetry. It is a thrilling ride along the freeways and turntables of that era: when AIDS was new, Reagan was King, and hope was a wounded kitten, cared for by the creatures of the night. The novel unfurls like an alternate universe John Hughes' movie, with a fabulous soundtrack by Love & Rockets, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Christian Death, The Sisters of Mercy, This Mortal Coil, and Bauhaus. The story of three young friends navigating love, sex, drugs, and heartbreak in the LA Goth scene is brilliantly rendered. You'll read it in one sitting.


“You know, Anja is pretty stupid,” Annie said bluntly. “Like the time her sister Claire’s boa constrictor got loose in their house. Remember, they looked for it everywhere. It was gone for about three months and Anja found it beneath the bathroom sink. The poor thing was so hungry it kept striking at her. So Anja got out the vacuum cleaner and put on the nozzle attachment and tried to suck it up. That’s so crazy. She could have killed the snake. I mean, a vacuum’s got all those bristles turning inside it. If that snake went into there, it’d be chopped to bits.”

“Or what about when Anja was eating all that bran?” I began. “That super diet she was on to clean out her system? She had to go to the doctor because she was so constipated after a week of eating nothing but those muffins. Remember how puzzled she was?”

“I know, I know. Did I tell you about when I was at Anja’s after she found that rabbit in the desert?” Suzy giggled.



“What rabbit?”

“Well, you know how Anja does really strange things for no reason at all?”

“Really, does she?” I said.

Suzy looked coldly at me and then continued.

“Well, anyway, she found this bunny up at Joshua Tree National Forest, and somehow she caught it. It was living somewhere in her room, under the bed, or in her closet. I was up in Santa Monica and I stopped by to visit her one night. Her neighbor across the alley was being really loud, his windows were open, and he was screaming at someone. Anja and I were fooling around on her bed with the lights off, and we decided to throw something at this guy’s windows to shut him up. So Anja and I were on our hands and knees by her window feeling around in the dark for something to throw. I found these pebbles near her bookcase and grabbed a handful and threw them out the window at the neighbor’s. I did this for about five minutes. When we got up and turned the lights on, I discovered that it was rabbit shit I was throwing.”

“That is so totally gross.” Annie squirmed.

“Yeah, but I can’t help laughing at her sometimes,” Suzy said, staring ahead at the lights along the deserted boulevard.

“She probably just forgot to show up tonight,” I said, finishing the thought we had started earlier. The vodka bottle had about two more inches left, and each of us was feeling drunk just sitting down. I knew if I stood up, I was going to stumble around. At that moment, a green Chevy Malibu swerved to its right side and smashed loudly into a parked car a few feet ahead of us.

“Jesus H. Christ!” Suzy screamed.

We stared blankly as the driver’s brake lights lit, he put the car into reverse, and he tried to back up and get away. His bumper was stuck on the other car’s fender. As he tried to back up, the crushed metal made a horrible noise. There was no one else on the street, car or person. We were the only witnesses.

“Get his license number!” I shouted, Annie scrambling in the glove compartment for a pen and some paper.

“It’s 1RWZ764,” Suzy said. “1-R-W-Z-7-6-4.”

“I got it,” Annie said, scribbling on the back of an envelope from the Auto Club.

The Malibu finally dislodged itself, put itself in gear, and sped off into the night. The rear of the parked car was flattened, the left brake light shattered. Red bits of plastic scattered the ground under the hanging bumper.

“Could you believe that guy?”

“People are assholes. He probably didn’t have insurance.”

“Who can afford it anymore?” Suzy said. “I’d probably do the same thing in his shoes.”

We sank into silence and sipped the vodka.

Fifteen minutes passed.

“Could you roll down your window? It’s getting hot in here,” I asked Annie.

“Yeah,” Annie cracked the window about halfway. A car hushed by in the street, a bunch of gang-bangers cruising by. The streetlights glinted off the twisted metal of the parked car in front of us. Just then, the crisp sound of high heels could be heard, clicking over our shoulders to the rear of our car. Two girls in black tight dresses strutted by. They looked like Scream goers. At once, the taller of the girls dropped her purse onto the cold sidewalk, and rushed up the smashed car in front of us. She threw her hands up, her friend coming up to her side. They inspected the damage, the bumper hanging like a frown.

“Oh, my God! It’s her car!” Annie said.

“Quick! Get out and tell them we got the guy’s license.”

“Yeah, she looks so pissed off.”

Suzy checked her mirror and got out on the left, Annie and I emerging on the right. Annie held the envelope in her hand like a Valentine.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” The tall girl screamed and paced behind her car.

“Hey, you guys!” Suzy shouted at the girls. “We saw the guy who hit your car and wrote down his license.”

“Are you serious?” the girl responded.

“Yeah, here it is.”

“Oh, my God. Cool,” she said, her anger fading like lipstick on a shirt collar. The taller girl walked over to the sidewalk and picked up a two-by-four lying near the chain link fence. She turned and walked to the car again and began slamming the board onto the trunk, denting it even more, and smashing the other brake light.

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked.

“I want to get more insurance money,” she said, pounding away. “Do you guys want to help me?”

“Okay!” Suzy said and began kicking the fender until it dropped off completely.

We were all really drunk. Up close, I saw the car was a BMW. I went over and grabbed a large rock from the scrub-grass and slammed it down on the back window, the glittering crack spreading across it like a spider web. The tall girl’s friend picked up the bumper and brought it down hard on the top of the car. Within minutes we were all laughing, totaling the car. Annie was beating the back end with her purse.

“Hey, let me go get the vodka,” Annie shouted then she ran back to our car and got the bottle. The vodka gurgled as we swallowed down the last of it with our new friends. It was a frenzy of loud metallic banging, drinking, and hysterical laughter. The cars that passed took no notice, as if this happened every day in downtown Los Angeles. It was like an elaborate fertility dance. I’d switch places with the tall girl, she’d switch with her friend or Suzy. We circled the car for about ten minutes, denting and cracking it. It was a complete wreck after we had finished. The tall girl dropped the two-by-four loudly on the asphalt and walked over to the sidewalk. Her friend joined her. We continued over and sat down against the chain-link fence. The sky was dark with no stars between the shapes of the skyscrapers. The sweat poured off me in thin rivulets. Each of us had felt a tremendous rush.

“What’s your name, anyway?” I asked the tall girl.

“Chouli, like patchouli, and this is my friend Diva.”


About the Author

Andrew Demcak* is an American poet and novelist, the author of four poetry collections and six Young Adult novels. His books have been featured by The American Library Association, Verse Daily, The Lambda Literary Foundation, The Best American Poetry, The Nervous Breakdown, and Poets/Artists. He was a *FINALIST* for the 2017 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Poetry Prize and the 2016 Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence in Poetry. About his latest Teen GLBTQ Sci-Fi Coming-Out novel, A Little Bit LangstonKirkus Reviews raved "This book really ... takes its place in the marginalized-will-lead-us genre, as popularized by The Matrix and the X-Men franchises." His first Young Adult (YA) novel, Ghost Songs, was published March 13, 2014. His first literary novel, If There's A Heaven Above, was published January 5, 2013 by JMS Books, and was nominated by The American Library Association as an "Outstanding"novel for older Teens (17+). His first play, The Inevitable Crunch Factor, won the Cal Arts' New Playwrights Series and was cast and produced in a multi-week run. His fourth book of poetry, Night Chant, was published by Lethe Press. His other poetry books are: A Single Hurt Color, GOSS 183::Casa Menendez Press, 2010, Zero Summer, BlazeVOX [Books], NY, 2009 and his first poetry book, Catching Tigers in Red Weather, three candles press, 2007, which was selected by Joan Larkin to win the Three Candles Press Open Book Award.

*"Andrew Demcak." Contemporary Authors, Gale, 2017. Literature Resource Center, go.galegroup.com. Accessed 27 May 2017.

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