Blue Country #4

Maybe in a hundred years someone will discover my work and I'll be like Van Gogh...

Peter

Hector says that Grant Helil died smoking crack this last weekend,

“His heart stopped dude.” He’s saying flicking his head from side to side trying to get his hair just right.

I remember Grant telling me this joke when we were in the third grade after school during baseball practice. “What do you call a black guy with a peg leg?” He asked and even though I’d heard it before from one of my cousins I said I didn’t know and he said, “Shit on a stick.”

“Really?” I ask. “He like, really died?”

“That’s what Erin Conner told me yesterday. I mean I don’t know, but that’s what I heard,” Hector says loudly over the music. Comfortably Numb is blaring through the speakers in the back seat.

“Smoking crack?” I ask, annoyed. “Who smokes crack in Maine?”

“Maine? What the fuck does Maine have to do with anything?” Hector asks, lighting a cigarette.

“Isn’t that where he’s living now? I heard he was going to school there.” I say, also lighting a cigarette.

Hector laughs condescendingly, stubbing out the cigarette, lighting a new one.

“No, man. He dropped out. He dropped out like…in the tenth grade I think. He wasn’t going to school anywhere.”

I didn’t know this but I don’t doubt it. I vaguely remember him getting into a fight with the S.R.O, but it could have been someone else, so I chalk it up to faulty memory, too many drugs, whatever.

“Well, that’s fucked.” I say.

Hector nods, checking his blonde razor cut hair in the mirror.

“I wouldn’t touch that stuff.” Hector says. It’s bullshit though, because this kid is into bear tranquilizers. “Too dangerous.”

I say I guess so, and I drive faster because I want to call around and ask if this is true and my cell phone is at home, but as soon as I get home I just take a long cold shower. The water feels, strangely, incredibly good and when I’m done I’m energized for almost two minutes before I wander downstairs and fall asleep on the couch.
Joe

 I’m outside my house, sitting in a lawn chair drinking orange juice, thinking up ideas for movies just to kill the time. A Mexican president who gets tough on immigration, with Casper Van Dien all decked out in prosthetics for the lead role, A remake of On the Waterfront using the cast from American Pie, or, really my best idea, a movie where absolutely nothing happens at all. Two guys sitting in a room, for two hours neither says anything, and I would call it “All That Is” or “This Is Your Life.” Keanu Reeves and Grandpa Al from The Munsters for the leads would be my ideal choice.

 It’s later and even though I’m wearing a blanket, two coats and an Alaskan style parka sort of thing, the frost is starting to effect my comfort level, but the thought of getting up right now, of moving doesn’t excite me, so I pull my environmental shields closer, staring across the street at the old couple in the Brown house, (Biggs? The Biggs’s?) digging there car out of the snow, and even though the old man is at least 75 years old he’s dressed in a long black overcoat and he’s carrying a briefcase, surprising me somewhat. I’d always just assumed they were retired.

I wonder if Hannah cheats on me, does she go out to parties and get “wasted” and fuck my friends, or strangers? I wonder if Hannah loves me or thinks she does, and I begin to wonder if she has fucked my friends, which ones has she fucked? I think of Kevin and the very thought of her even thinking about fucking him makes me smile a little, warms me up inside, and abates the freezing weather just a little, so not wanting to lose that warmth I call Kevin and I ask him if he’s ever fucked Hannah and when he answers “No.” he almost sounds flattered, but I can’t hold it in any longer, I laugh, admit that I know “She’d never touch you Kev.” (But not in a mean way.) “I’m just kidding Kev. I honestly can’t think of a single reason why she’d ever fuck you.” I say, just to explain the joke, to let him in on it, and I hang up. The whole conversation awakened something in me I didn’t know was there, and I’m just happy, comfortable in my womb of cloth and possibly seal skin, that I can’t help but smile and I can almost feel the sunshine reflecting off my teeth, so I try to aim the beam towards the old man trying to start his car, get it in his eye, and though he does slip and fall, I know in my heart that I was only imagining the whole thing, and I think of ways I could help him, perhaps stroll over there and offer him a hand to his feet, but he gets up pretty fast, I guess he’s still spry, so I can stay warm and comfortable and happy a little longer and I actually say aloud to nobody “It’s the little things, it really is.”

Jill

I’m laying on Kristin’s bed staring up at the poster of the Calvin Klein models hugging each other and wearing sweater vests and Christmas hats. They all have these insane abs.

Kristin is making a shirt out of the cloth we bought earlier today, telling me how she’s going to get Jonnies older brother to buy her some whiskey tonight, “He’s so nice,” she says. I stub out my cigarette and ask if she has any Adderall, which she doesn’t. I head to the bathroom and while I’m in there I look through her medicine cabinet but all she has is a bottle of Atvian. I take three of them, washing them down with vitamin water.

Washing my hands feeling the warm water on my palms, I notice my self in the mirror. My eyes are red my lips cracked with a little dried blood on the corners. Skin pale, pupils still nicely green. I smile at myself, then I frown and then I laugh; all the faces melting into the other. The room smells like peach, and I like the way the soft orange light makes me look. I’m examining a blemish under my lip when I hear Kevin’s voice at the door downstairs.

“Hey!” He’s saying loudly through the door. “Hey I wanna show you something.”

I get out of the bathroom and Kristin is still on the bed, her eyes are closed and she’s ignoring Kevin’s yells.

“C’mon it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.” His voice carries well for some reason and we can hear him perfectly.

I stare at Kristin, who finally opens her eyes and looks at me exasperated.

“What the hell do you think he wants?” She asks.

I shrug. “Dunno.”

“God…” She says sighing. “He’ll be there, like, all night if we don’t let him in.”

“Probably,” I agree.

“Kevin the doors open!” Kristin yells, shaking her head, scowling.

Kevin comes up the stairs and he’s wearing this leather jacket with a fur trim sticking out the collar. He has on his sunglasses, and his hair is this expertly styled, frosted and dyed deal. He smiles when he see’s us and winks at me.

“You girls wanna see a dead body?” He asks, grinning in what he thinks is a sly way.

“No.” Kristin answers without looking at him.

“Yeah… not really.” I agree, shaking my head lazily.

“I found it.” He says. “It’s this girl in a red dress, and her throats slit.” He says expecting some reaction.

“Oh my god who cares?” Kristin replies. “Thing’s die all the time.”

“Shouldn’t you maybe…like call the police?” I ask. I’m so calm from the Atvian that I stop caring immediately after asking the question, but I keep looking at Kevin waiting for an answer.

“Don’t you want to at least see it first?” Kevin asks. He looks crestfallen.

“NO.” Kristin says. “Kevin neither of us are interested Allright.”

“Kevin what are we supposed to even do here?” I ask quizzing him. “You see a dead body and your first reaction was to come and tell Kristin about it?”

“Umm, no Jill.” Kevin answers, looking pissy. “Obviously the first thing I did was to check that the girl was dead.”

“Oh my god, Kevin you touched it?” Kristin asks looking appalled.

“What was I supposed to do, just leave her there?” Kevin retorts yelling.

“Did you wash your hands? Jesus wash your hands right now.”

“Oh my god.” Kevin says heading towards the bathroom.

“Not in my sink, Kevin” Kristin yells. “Not in my fucking sink!”

“Jesus,” Kevin says looking defeated. “C’mon don’t you want to see something you haven’t seen before?”

“Kevin,” Kristin begins sighing, “If you bring it here maybe, but I’m not going on some trip with you to go see a dead girl.”

“All right…” Kevin says. “Forget it.”

We’re all sitting now around Kristin’s room. Kevin’s dragging monster bong hits, timing himself on how long he can keep the smoke in before exhaling. Kristin is finishing her dress. I’m fading deeper and deeper into a background role, forever and ever and ever.

Joe

I wake up at noon because my cell phone is buzzing in my ear and even though I don’t recognize the number on the caller I.D, I answer it anyway.

“Hello?”

“Is this Joe?”

“Yeah. Who’s this?”

“Scott.”

I search my mind for a Scott, but come up with nothing.

“Ok.”

“Listen I don’t really have a problem with you. Not yet.”

“…Allright.” I say, confused, “That’s good.”

“But just… just don’t touch Ali. Just stay away from Ali, and we’ll be all right.”

“Yeah. Yeah … of course, sure.”

“Don’t touch her man.”

“Hey.” I say. “Umm… listen I just woke up, and I’m not …sure exactly…”

“Just stay away, Allright. Are we cool man?”

I give up. “Yeah man.” I’m wiping my eyes, looking for a shirt. “We’re cool.

I hang up, not sure who Scott is, or why he sounded like he wanted to club the ever loving shit out of me.

Peter

Sitting outside against a tree, I see a black car pull up not forty feet away from me, and two men step out. The first man is the biggest man I’ve seen in my life, black, with a fully loaded afro. He’s wearing an expensive looking suit and there is a wire clearly connected to something on his belt hanging from his ear. The second man is an older guy, maybe fifty-ish, white, with slicked back jet-black hair. They’re talking to each other, but I can’t see what they’re looking at because they’re eyes are hidden behind identical pairs of dark sunglasses. The white one is holding a magazine, pointing at a picture in it and I can just make out what he’s saying.

“Who’s this? This one right here?”” The white man asks.

“Man I don’t fucking know.” The black guy responds, straightening his tie.

“Is it the umm, the chick who was in the Bike Messenger?” The white guy asks again.

The black guy sighs; rolling his eyes and takes the magazine. He’s studying it for a second, before saying, “Yeah, man. Yeah that’s her.”

“You’re sure?” The white man asks, for some reason desperately seeking confirmation.

“Yeah, man I’m fucking sure. Jesus.”

“Allright then.” The white guy says, relieved. “I just want to get that straight.”

I watch them pass by, leaving the car parked in the middle of the road. I can see their gun holsters.





Joe

The next few weeks I actually keep myself fairly busy; parties, work, late night “raps” with coked up friends, stealing beer, shoplifting, writing lists, things that aren’t strenuous or anything but they take up time and just the inertia of it feels good for awhile.

I steal a bottle of extra virgin olive oil from a local bakery, two cases of Budweiser Select from a local mini-mart, an air-horn, countless candy bars, a stuffed tiger, a jar of honey, fourteen bottles of peppermint extract, and cough syrup that I use to fucking hallucinate.
I don’t bother with concealment, no tricks and I don’t wait for nobody to be looking, I just take things and walk out with them, and nobody seems to notice or care.

I buy weed, I sell some weed, I go to the next nearest state to pick up a pound, people call me and we meet in parking lots and side streets, forty bucks here, sixty bucks there, people telling me about how dry it is here, how nobody has shit, and I smoke up all my profits anyway so I stop selling because I’m just tired of the constant phone calls.

I buy Hannah two shirts, a pink one and a yellow one, fairly expensive and classy, and she thinks it’s sweet that I would do this, but I never see her actually wear any of them and I think she swapped them for a light blue tank top with the phrase “Worth it.” Emblazoned in darker blue on it, and a pair of ripped jeans.

One major movie star is killed in an airplane crash, they hold a vigil for her on every news channel, other famous faces pay tribute to her and a video edited with fast cuts plays on the jumbotron at a concert honoring her and raising money for her favorite charities, maybe save the children or the Wallaby fund. Music from the sixties, maybe the seventies, plays over videos of her dancing at a wedding with an autistic kid with an oxygen tank hooked up to his neck, first it’s “Wish you Were here” and it fades into “Traveling Band”. The effect works nicely, and though the autistic kid is pretty damn clumsy and may in fact have two left feet, he keeps pace well enough.
 
I hear about a kid I knew in middle school who died, too much methadone, when he’s going to be buried and I try and picture his face but all I can remember is how he dyed his hair red and green and stuck it up in a Mohawk like the lead singer of Prodigy; how everybody called him a douche bag when he did it. I go to a party where someone who was on his lacrosse team is crying about it fairly hard and saying things like “He was a good guy, really. He was a good guy when you knew him.” But I think the general unsaid consensus is that he was loud and obnoxious, basically a jerk. When the kid who’s crying starts pouring out his drink in memory of the dead kid, who’s name was Luke Vashon, I think it’s kind of phony but don’t say anything. I think of Luke cold and dead lying stiff in a wood coffin, the blood all pooled in one spot I figure because it’s stopped flowing but I’m not a doctor, and I don’t know, the fact that he’s dead isn’t particularly striking or anything. I haven’t seen him in so long that it’s easy to accept. All it sets in motion for me, the only, I guess, effect on me is that I make a mental list of the people I know who have died and come up with nine and wonder if that’s a lot for somebody my age.

I meet this guy, Marc, at a record store, where I’m going through the W section (Wallflowers, Willie Nelson) and we get into a conversation about how we both actually like Jakob Dylan’s music better than his fathers, and we end up going to get a bite at Taco Bell. I like him because theres none of that feeling out period that a lot of my friends go through, that I hate, where your trying to figure out if the other person smokes pot. Instead we’re walking through the mall and he pulls out a joint that we share in the bathroom, not even bothering to wave the smoke away and I wonder why the sprinklers aren’t going off, but they don’t, so I forget about it. We hang out a lot for the next few days: drop acid and go watch a little league game, taking potshots at seagulls on the beach, just driving around, laughing a lot. We steal Kevin’s car as a joke, but we’re stoned and we crash it into a stop sign and we abandon it, running for the woods. It wasn’t malicious, it was just supposed to be this thing where Kevin would call the cops and report it stolen and then we would drive it back into his driveway, but we never tell Kevin about what happened, and when he tells me about his car being stolen and where it’s found I just laugh good naturedly. We take some pictures of the sun, but they don’t come out well.

Nothing sinks in for those weeks, everything slides off my back, and I can’t settle on anything. It feels like there’s three of me, like I’m just an afterimage left behind by someone who took off a long time ago, I have no substance and it’s impossible to grip things with my ghost hands. I’m circling the drain; I’m balancing on stilts upon a surfboard getting dragged by the undertow but I can’t make sense of anything, the whole sequence of events seems random. It’s all…arbitrary. I’m looking out of the sides of the drain, holding on for dear life and I can see daylight; I’m taking as many deep breaths as I can before my head goes under.
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Jill

I’m remembering this kid I knew who sold oxycontin to anyone that wanted it. He sold it cheaply because his grandmother had practically a whole jar of the stuff and she never took any of it, so he’d steal it from the top of her fridge. I’m thinking of him but I can’t remember his name and even though I’m having lunch with Bob I’m not eating any of the chicken that’s in front of me. Bob is staring at me, “So.” He says, “So…how’s like…” Then he trails off never finishing the sentence.

I look back at him, grasping at something, anything but not finding a crack to put my foot in. “Have you seen your dad?” I ask.

“No.” He answers flatly.

A moment goes by in which Bob stares into his glass of cranberry juice.

“Is he still in…Hawaii?” I ask.

“No,” He answers again automatically. “Africa.”

“Wow.” I say without enthusiasm. “How’s he like that?”

“I don’t…know.”

“Last time I saw your dad was at…” I pause making something up. “Houdini’s birthday.” I finish. “Remember that? Remember Houdini’s birthday? How fun that was?”

Bob looks up, and for one second I think he looks hurt, but he blinks and whatever it was it’s gone now and his eyes are as glassy as a window again.

“Yeah, that was…fun. That was really fun.” He says.

The waiter comes over and asks us how everything is. He’s short, balding and wearing a bow tie. He talks with a slight lisp, and he’s looking at Bob, as if he were just dying to call 911.

“It’s all good.” Bob says, laughing weakly and looking down at his lap. A short trickle of blood starts to drip out of Bob’s left nostril but he sniffs in quickly catching it before it falls onto the table.

A black guy with an Afro walks in, and he’s showing this picture to people, flashing a badge. “Have you seen this person?” He asks a fat lady. She shakes her head and returns to eating her tomato soup.

“So…” I say, keeping my eye on the black guy. “What did the judge say?” I ask Bob.

He blinks, and looks up at me, discarding the cracker he’d been mashing into a ball on his lap.

“The judge?”

The black guy is getting closer to us, and now a white man with black slicked back hair is canvassing the other side of the restaurant with a picture of his own.

“Yeah, the judge. In court. Remember you were in court yesterday?”

“Excuse me miss?” I hear a deep voice say from behind me. “Have you seen this person?” and he shows me a picture of a bleary eyed kid in an orange tee shirt smoking a cigarette and smiling into the camera. I immediately recognize Joe Moore.

“Um.” I say. “No.” The black man frowns and shows the picture to Bob. Bob stares at it for a second from the corner of his eye before closing his eyes and shaking his head no.

“Thank you for your time.” The black guy says flatly.

I’m watching him leave wondering what Joe did to get these people after him, and Bob says. “The Judge…” and I turn to look at him and he’s staring at the ceiling mouthing the words to the ABC song.

“What was his name?” He asks and I sigh, turning away.

“Reinhold?” He asks himself. “Judge Reinhold.”

“I um. I don’t know…” I say.



Joe

I’m riding in the back of Peter Rhodes sedan, looking out the window, counting the telephone poles, vaguely listening to the slow machine gun bursts of chatter, just about stoned. We’re going to pick up some blunt wraps at Cumberland farms, even though we’ve already got one joint going around now, and Jill’s rolling another one on the dash.

“She gave me some diseases.” Peter says, talking about some girl he had sex with somewhere, sometime.

“Whatever.” Jill says back.

“No seriously, my dick burned for like two weeks.”

“I’m sure.”

There’s a few seconds of silence. Fourteen poles on this rode alone.

Then Bob, the skinny kid with greasy blonde hair sitting next to me pipes up with “At least you got to have a threesome though.”

“Yeah.” Peter says.

About four more minutes of silence passes, now we’ve got the second joint going around too, the entire car is filled with smoke, and even though it’s march and the roads are still icy and theres still about a foot of snow on the ground, Peters speeding.

“It’s dark.” Jill says.

Peter just says “Mmm” and passes the joint to me, but I wave it away and it goes to Bob instead.

My phone rings, it’s Hannah and even though I really don’t want to answer it, for some reason I do. “Hey, babe what’s up?”

She sounds tired, a little drunk maybe, and she tells me about how when she was at work “Some bitch stole all my table’s, and she knows that we don’t pool tips.” And I just let her talk, half listening, too stoned to really make an excuse to hang up, but I prick up when she says “Joe”.

“I want you to come over.”

I consider this. “Are your parents there?”

“No, there still in Nova Scotia.”

“That’s… news to me.” I say wanting to want to care about this conversation but falling just short of the mark even though the idea of fucking her tonight does sound pretty good.

“I think… I told you.” She says. “They won’t be back until next week. This shouldn’t be news to you Joe.”

“Well… it’s good news though.” I say lamely. “I’m glad.”

I agree to come over later, not sure whether I’m actually going to show up or not, and I hang up the phone. Bob is sleeping now, actually snoring; it sounds horrible like someone’s electrocuting a crow, and when we pull into Cumberland Farms I slap him hard, just to wake him up, and he kind of murmurs something like “What da fugh mah…?” but he doesn’t wake up. I realize he must be way more stoned than I thought he was, that’d he’d probably been smoking all day.

“Get Cherries.” Jill says to Peter.

Peters in the store and Bob’s asleep so it’s just me and Jill sitting in Peter’s Sedan with the motor running, and all though she looks pretty good tonight, the light outside the store complex making her look like she’s backlit, glowing sort of, her black hair done up in a pony tail, I don’t feel like flirting with her, or even talking. I feel tense, my back aches like I haven’t cracked it in ten years, my neck muscles feel like a tangle of wire chords and the pot isn’t making me pepped up, just tired and out of it.

“Do you have a cigarette?” She asks.

“No.”

About ten seconds go by in silence.

“Say something funny.” She sighs.

I think for a moment, I think of a joke I heard, that goes “Q: What did the Zen master say when he ordered his hot dog? A: Make me one with everything.” But I don’t tell it.

“I can’t think of anything.” I say and it sounds like I don’t care.

She looks at me, seriously for the first time, eyes sharp. “It looked like you were thinking something.”

“I wasn’t.”

“Just say the first thing that comes to your head.”

Fuck you. “Haberdashery is an excellent trade.”

She smiles a little, kind of a half laugh, seems satisfied and turns back around.

Later were driving again and I’m rambling on pretty much because it seems like everyone’s listening to me and nobody else was saying anything.

“I remember this one time that I hadn’t shit for five days but I wasn’t scared. I didn’t feel fear or trepidation, or anything like that. I felt…something else.” I pause and let that sink in, wondering if I’ll get a response from this and to my surprise Peter says something “What did you feel?” and I keep going, making up something; anything to fill the silence.

“Pride. I would have to say I felt pride. Instead of assuming that I had a serious medical condition I just said aloud to myself “I must have a serious one brewing up on deck.” And this thought, this very pirate-like thought slowly took over my being.” I look around everyone’s listening, but nobody seems amused, just interested and I feel like an old man telling a war story.

“Go on.” Someone says, so I do.

“I started wearing striped shirts everyday. I kept a parrot. I plundered British naval ships. I made a difficult move to the Caribbean. Then, about three months into my reign of terror, my pockets lined thickly with Spanish gold, a rank shit exploded out of me like a cannon and a little man with a black beard and a peg leg seemingly… rose out of my steaming pile like a phoenix from the ashes, ran to the where the ocean met the sea and rowed off into the sun.” I finish, feeling less tense, like I’d just confessed something, amazed that the whole thing came out in one seamless story, and I look around at bored faces, somewhat confused, red eyed and glassy.

“That’s… wild…” Jill says, and I’m suddenly deflated.

“Yeah… I was like… “Man what the fuck?”…” I say but I’m bored now, Bob’s drooling on my shirt, slumped over like a mannequin and for a second I wonder if he’s ok, but I can feel his breathing so I just deal with it.
Jill

Bob is in the other room, sitting with some of his hippy friends and I can hear him yelling in a thick voice, “I’m gonna get higher than I’ve ever been.”

They’re all chanting something. “DMT, DMT. DMT!” I think it’s the name of some drug that this kid who looked like Jesus was telling this other kid that looked like Jesus about.

“The machine elves. The fucking machine elves.” Somebody shouts.

Kristin, tripping on acid and looking at the wall with eyes like pinholes, whispers in my ear, “It’s a new drug. It’s a brand new drug.” And I’m trying to ignore her but she’s getting persistent, throwing herself into my field of vision when I try to avert my eyes.

“I’m so high. I’m soooo high.” Bob is yelling.

“Think about it Jilly. It’s new. Nobody knows about it.”

I look at Kristin and try to smile. “What new drug?” I ask coyly.

“The two guys. These two guys. They have something. Something…” She’s saying.

Theirs a candle burning under her face giving off the only light in the room and for a moment I think her shadow doubles in size and her pupils are fixed and dilated, her mouth hanging open near my cheek.

“They won’t let go until they know either. They have a new drug. Think of the…investment they must have put into it.” She says.

“Yeah…” I say meekly.

“They’d be crazy to let it go.” She says, her eyes finally shifting into a new position, snapping into place like a copper coat button.

“I can’t feel my ass.” Bob is yelling.

“It’s there. Don’t worry its still there.” Somebody replies to him.

“Where? Where’s my ass?”

A kid who looks like a blonde Jesus comes through into where me and Kristin are, and he flops down next to me, counting his fingers out loud to himself.

“Umm…” I stammer. “What are you guys doing in there?” I ask.

“We’re exploring. We’re like…doing important work.”

Kristin is pushing back against the couch seat, a blanket corner in her mouth and she’s eyeing this blonde Jesus harshly. Another Jesus comes in and grabs the blanket out of Kristin’s hands and she screams and he laughs in her face, spit foaming at the corners of his mouth. “Whatcha gonna do motha fuuuckaaaaaaaaa?” he says.

“Found it.” Bob is saying.

“I fucking told you man.” A thick deep voice replies.

I close my eyes, sighing, touching my fingertip to my forehead.
Peter


It’s a high school flashback and I’m sitting on the bench outside the front entrance watching some juniors play hackysack. Kevin is sitting next to me and this is around the time that he started wearing sunglasses all the time and dying his hair blonde in just a few spots. He’s fiddling with a lighter and talking to John Pitts, this senior who wears the goofiest gold chains you’ve ever seen every single day. Kevin is smiling, looking at nothing, eyes probably fixed on a stray cloud hidden behind his glasses. I see him and I picture him in third grade at my birthday party running around trying to tackle the girls with me and how he gave me a game for my gameboy, and we swore something to god, but I can’t remember what it was.

“They don’t want to come if you’re going to be there.” Kevin says to John.

Johnny squints, scrunching his face up and asks “What, why?”

“Well apparently they think that you raped two of their friends at Hayley’s birthday party last month.” Kevin says, smiling coyly, half laughing to himself.

“Umm…who is saying this?” John asks.

“The girls.” Kevin says, lowering his sunglasses. “You remember? The girls?”

“And they’re going with rape on this?” Johnny asks, meeting Kevin’s stare.

“Well what would you call it?” I chime in, watching a bird fly over the school, passing the flagpole.

“Well, umm...like I mean define rape.” John says.

Kevin laughs weakly turning away, licking his gums and rubbing his eyes saying “Ahhh, Jesus. Fucking Adderall…”

“Keely had an abortion didn’t she?” I ask. “Would you say that you had something to do with this?”

John turns his head to me, blank look on his face. “No. What do I know…about doing an abortion?” He asks sounding confused.

“It’s not as hard as you think.” Kevin answers, smile still plastered across his face.

“Hey, guys.” John says sounding bored changing the subject. “Think of all the girls that…you think I could fuck.”

“Why?” I ask. “Are there… a lot?”

“I don’t know.” John says, looking stunned, shielding his eyes from the sun with his hand. “Probably.”




Joe

I’m with Marc sitting on the seesaw outside a grammar school in the next town over from where I live and theres all these kids bumming around kind of getting on my nerves. There’s a no smoking sign and a tobacco free zone sign right under it, and though I don’t personally smoke very many cigarettes, Marc has a very well cultivated nicotine habit, so he’s having a fit, and the oppression he’s being ground under has got me pretty upset as well. There’s about fifteen kids all eyeing the teeter-totter, a bunch of mom’s or caretakers, looking at us like we’re going to try and rape their kids, and I don’t know exactly what everyone’s problem is; it’s not like this is a school day and as far as I know theres no age limit to the establishment.

Eventually we max out the amount of enjoyment you can really get out of a see saw and we head over towards the swings, mothers trying to subtly draw their kids attention away from anything we seem to be heading towards, and because of this we have free reign over the whole area., but theres still a couple kids swinging with us and some of the less paranoid mothers stick around to watch them.

“This whole fucking place… kind of sucks.” Marc says, “All the fucking shit’s too low to the fucking ground… and everything looks fucking soft and foamy.” He says.

“Yeah, I fucking remember when we went to fucking grade school… everything was made of wood and the structures were like… ten fucking feet off the ground.”

“It’s those fucking cunts on the school board. They’re so fucking afraid of a little fucking law suit, that they’d sacrifice a little boy’s asshole to avoid a court case.”

“Motherfuckers.”

“Fucking god damn shit stained cum guzzling pieces of shit fuckbags.”

“It fucking… It makes me fucking sick.”
The mothers are getting a little bitchy now, I guess we’ve been swinging too long, taking away swing time from their kids or something, or maybe they don’t like Marc’s Che Guevara T-shirt, and their pulling their kids away from the swings towards other attractions where they’ll have more fun maybe.

“Your kid’s need to learn to share! They gotta learn sometime!” Marc shouts, apparently noticing the exodus away from us at the same time I do.

“Little bitches.”

“It’s just inappropriate. I mean… talk about… Talk about making someone feel unwanted.” I say.

Theres a kid in a wheel chair, that’s apparently been watching this whole thing and I don’t see any parents around him, nobody watching or taking care of the kid, he just seems to be on his own but he’s so out of place so far from any flat surfaces that even though we hadn’t noticed him before upon setting eyes on him he calls immediate attention to his strangeness. Plus he starts giving us shit.

“Don’t you two have something better to do?” He asks in a snotty precocious little voice.

“Shut up you enfeebled piece of shit.” Marc says.

Later we’ve left the playground; we’re sitting in a parking lot between a Denny’s and a pizza hut waiting for Jill to bring us XTC that I paid for last night. Marc’s writing with a black magic marker on the ceiling of his car, drawing little doodles of smiles, experimenting with different styles and ways of writing his name and coloring big patches black.

Jill’s car comes into view and my phone rings and it’s her telling me she’s here ,and that we should drive around back to meet her which we do. She pulls up next to us and throws a bag with four pills in a sandwich bag towards our window but it’s not heavy enough and it doesn’t make it all the way. For a brief but horrifying moment I think the winds going to take it to the street, but it doesn’t and I get out of the car and pick it up.

“Sorry.” She says, “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“I’m fine.” I say, “What have you been up to?”

“I’m good.”

She starts to drive away, pulling out from the parking spot she’s in and I can hear the music blasting loud from her radio; it sounds like eighties music maybe Culture Club.
I look at her neck the whole time she’s driving away, at this tattoo that I saw that I don’t think was there before, and I’m thinking about how oddly typical that whole exchange was and how, even so, it didn’t feel quite right and mostly how she seemed completely freaked out by something, maybe me, the entire time.

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