What an unusual, mysterious story.
Our unnamed narrator is a scientist living in Los Angeles; he develops a blue paint that makes people float away into the sky. This is what he does with his one-night stands, the men he takes back to his apartment. He wants these men, sometimes desperately, but doesn’t want to linger with them or see them again. There’s a sense that by releasing them into the atmosphere, our narrator is protecting himself, distancing himself from what he really wants.
Of course, not all of them go quietly or disappear unforgotten. We can understand, perhaps, why the narrator is so uneasy.
Anonymity dominates not only in his life but also in the city itself, a peculiar hybrid of shiny Hollywood glamour and “Good old American filth.” Where all the women are named Marilyn and even laundromats turn into something very different at night. No one is exactly as they seem or as they claim to be, including—especially—the man telling this story.
It’s a story rich in the unspoken, the undeclared, which becomes more than a little unsettling (in the best way). There’s very little dialogue, aside from the narrator’s conversations with Eugene, an old friend from school who works on movies. And even his time with Eugene eventually lapses into silence at the story’s conclusion.
Then the narrator must make a decision: to stay or float away himself and join the men he’s sent into the sky.