The City of Absurdity Papers & Essayes
Lost Highway: Unveiling Cinema's Yellow Brick Road

Second Toll

The following morning it is not Fred who sits in the cell. He has been replaced by a gentle young man named Pete, who shows marks of a forgotten violence on his face and is uncertain how he got there or why. Pete is released to his parents, his mechanics job, and his girlfriend, but he is not quite himself. At the auto shop Pete's most devoted patron, Mr. Eddy, leader of an underground sex ring, pays him a visit one day in his black Cadillac convertible accompanied by a blond bombshell named Alice who bears an uncanny resemblance to the dark haired Renee. Pete's first vision of Alice, emerging like a myth from the black Cadillac, is one of Lynch's privileged moments, a break into dream-time, music-time, enacting a moment of falling, into love, into an insatiable pursuit, a bottomless darkness, and into the web of the femme fatal. Their clandestine affair will slowly develop across a series of nights of hotel sex under the eyes of two laws: the police investigators and the sinister threat of Mr. Eddy and his friend the Nameless Man. As in _Wild at Heart_ repeated episodes of gratifying sex merely highlight the perpetual gnaw, the itch that can never be scratched away.

As the threat encroaches the lovers are driven into flight. She concocts a plot whereby they will rob her pimp and flee with the cash. At the appointed time Pete enters the pimp's home and is accosted by an enormous obscene screen image of the naked Alice being fucked to the sound of industrial German music. His head hurts, he is ill, transformation is in the air. They accidentally murder the pimp and hit the road but not before he glimpses a photo of Alice and Renee, blond and brunette, side by side in the same frame with the ring boys. Something is amiss, a mystery beckons to be resolved. Alice leads him to the house of a fence who will buy their goods, and oddly it is the same desolate house in the desert from Fred's mind. No one is home. They make love and when he cries out to her in anguish that he wants her she says in a roaring whisper 'you will never have me,' then walks toward the house and enters, becoming the receding destination of desire incarnate. The house is once again the site of exchange.

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