Blue Country #8

Surprisingly absorbant!

Peter

I’m talking to this guy from NYU, where I hope to go next fall, and he asks me about any jobs I’ve had or work experience and I’m thinking dude I don’t really have to work my dad has more money than Christ, but instead I say I’ve never really had the time for a job with my extracurricular activities and such. I was definitely in some clubs or something and when he asks me about the summer and the year that I’ve been out of high school I just have to laugh a little and smile sheepishly.

“Oh well…you know. I guess I haven’t been as good as…like I should have been. Not diligent.” I say, but I’m thinking that this guy should just shut the fuck up and be happy with the gigantic check my dads going to write for his fucking university.

“Oh well.” He says, smiling back. He has excellent eye contact I must admit. “Not too big a deal or anything.”

We shoot the shit for a while and he starts getting to know me on a more personal level. His favorite song is Dr.Feelgood I find out, and he had his first kiss when he was 13 in his neighbor’s backyard.

“What about you Peter?” He asks. “What are some of you’re favorite bands?”

I don’t say anything for a minute. I’m put off by the earnestness of the question.

“Umm…I guess I like Pink Floyd. The…Baycity Rollers?” I answer, and I finally have to break eye contact, exhausted from the stare down.

“Uh-huh, uh-huh.” He says nodding.

“Is this like…for your files?” I ask avoiding his intense vacant look.

“No, no.” He says. “Just trying to …you know, get a feel for ya. See what your general interests are. Don’t wanna let the riff raff through eh?” He chuckles and punches me in the arm good-naturedly but too hard. “Just kidding of course.” His face immediately snaps back into the earnest serious pose.

“Well you see Peter with a school like NYU, we try to screen out the riff raff. We don’t like riff raff at NYU. We’re a strictly no riff raff organizay. That’s short for organization. That’s Orga-Nigh-Zay-Shun. Do you understand?”

I nod blinking. “Uh, well you want neither the…Riff…” I pause pursing my lips tight looking for some cue on what I should say but he’s just looking at me with interest, like I’m a rare species of Sea Turtle. “Nor the Raff…” I say. “You’re a no riff raff organizay. Organizay is short for Organization. At NYU you’re very big on…shortening words.”

He looks at me for a second and takes off his glasses and wipes a smudge off with his coat.

“More or less.” He answers.

I begin to wonder if this guy is high and I seriously consider asking him if he’s holding, but decide to err on the side of caution and continue with the interview.

“Peter do you consider yourself to be an…immoral person?”

Alarms going off in my head. Whistles and a big sign flashing YES YES YES YES.
I think about this. Question: If there is a hell do I think I’m going there? Answer: It’s definitely possible.

“No,” I answer in a reasonable voice. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh.”


“Immoral is…definitely not a word I would use to…describe myself.” I say.

“If a man offered you four thousand dollars to perform oral sex on him would you do it?”

I freeze. Look into his eyes; yes it’s a real question.

“Ummm…no.”

He smiles, breaking pose for the second time. “Well, Ok just trying to get a feel for ya Peter. We’ll get back to you in a few days.”

He lets himself out and I take a long hot shower.


 





Joe
 
I spend most of Sunday in a haze, making prank phone calls to strangers pretending to be calling from inside their houses, or asking them if they thought trout fishing was sexy, and even though I know that everyone has caller I.D now, it doesn’t bother me very much. If anybody calls me back afterwards, I just answer in an Arabic accent and deny having called them. If they insist on continuing things I begin to list off Patrick Swayze’s various movie roles. Most people hang up around the time I begin describing Road House But one persistent woman stuck around until Ghost before hanging up very slowly.

By the time Marc and Peter arrive I’m on my second case of Bud Light, attempting to get the high score on the hardest level of Hellish Clown Patrol on my Playstation 2. They arrive with a third kid who I don’t recognize, a slightly chubby kid with thick wavy hair.  Short and cheerful looking, wearing a blue sweatshirt and black jeans over a pair of faded Sketchers. They ask me if I want to go see Marc’s girlfriend’s band play at the Spring Jacket coffee house, and even though I don’t have much of a desire to watch live music tonight, especially at The Spring Jacket, I agree to go.

“This is Gray by the way.” Peter says to me as he’s twisting the key to start his car. “He will be dining with us this evening.”

“Uh hey, Gray.” I say.

Grey looks at me and says “Pleased to meet you.” He offers his short, stubby hand for me to shake, and I do.

“I’m uh, also…pleased. I’m totally pleased.” I say. “I’m very…pleased.”

“Glad to hear it.” Is his reply, not sarcastic but a genuine statement of his pleasure at my being pleased with his being pleased to make my acquaintance.

Driving into town, I see a billboard advertising what I think is a vacation plan, possibly to the Virgin Islands or maybe Luxembourg. It has a picture of three well coifed, bare-chested and well muscled men, lounging on a beach sipping red liquid out of frosty glasses, and it’s caption reads, “Live like there’s no tomorrow.” Staring at it, trying to decipher the jumble of images, words and bare-chested stock models, I slowly mouth the words “Live…like…there’s no…today.” It, admittedly, looks like a luxurious time that they’re having on that beach, but the fact that this image is pasted on a billboard overlooking Dunstable Street fills me with a cold dread that I can’t shake, and I’m practically holding my stomache in agony by the time we get to The Spring Jacket.

Ducking into the bushes before entering I throw up violently, the Bud Light from a few minutes ago and the Bran muffin I ate earlier comes streaming out of me at breakneck speed, almost pulling me down to the ground with it. I’m crouching, wiping my eyes, trying to clear my nose and throat of vomit, cursing myself for being such a prodigious billboard reader and pleading to god, “Just give me another chance!” I’m sobbing violently by the time the music starts and even though I’m employing my entire store of will power into ceasing the painful spasms in my stomache and despite my best efforts to pull myself together, it takes a full twenty minutes before I’m calm enough to go inside.

Inside The Spring Jacket, there’s a smattering of people crowding a makeshift stage, sipping on Cappuccino’s and Latte’s, eating low fat scones or spooning bowls of vegan soup, everyone of them nodding slightly and tapping a foot quietly to the music. I don’t recognize the girl with the dyed platinum blonde hair, who’s on stage, but she’s playing her acoustic guitar decently and singing a song that sounds like it’s about the dominance of American currency in the world market. Her voice is actually an indecipherable high pitched wail, and the smallness of the room causes it to bounce off every single wall in a continuous echo, producing an effect similar to having your eardrums shot at close range with a nail gun.  Trying to keep my head down so she won’t see the appalled look I’m sporting, I walk through the small crowd, looking for Marc or Peter, or that Gray kid.

I see them coming out of the bathroom. The fact that three grown boys are coming out of the bathroom at the same time is odd, but not very important to me right now, so I walk up to them and meet them, not mentioning it. Peter’s sniffling and chatting up some vaguely Asian looking girl at a mile a minute not even stopping to see if she’s listening (she’s half paying attention) and his eyes are dilated, so I suspect cocaine, but Marc and Gray both seem perfectly calm. Gray especially seems like a teenage Buddha; smiling, fat and happy, mixing in easily with the other crowd members, and laughing heartily at jokes that may not actually be hilarious. I’m struck by his more than passing resemblance to Winnie the Pooh, and I’m wondering if that makes me Rabbit, Owl, Eeyore, Tigger, or Christopher Robin. I’m pretty sure I’m not piglet, or Roo, leaning towards Tigger, but I’m unsure so I forget about it, choosing to occupy my mind with other things.

A neon sign flashes through my mind. “Living like theres no today.” It’s meaning eludes me, but it’s significance is obvious somehow, retaining it’s vagueness but it’s repetition in my thoughts is endless and invasive, betraying no true meaning and denying any access to it’s purpose. I sense some kind of power coming from it, an infinitely bending gentle breeze that directs any force back to it’s origin point, some sort of mental Tai Chi. The relief I’m being denied is endless, deep, green, organic, lush and beautiful. A forest of forgiveness. The words permeate my every cell, these guesses I make, but nothing is solved. No deeper anything …exists here at all.

“Hey, man you look worried.” Peter says. “How ya doing there Joe?”

“I’m …very excellent.” I say, forcing an extremely labored smile.

“This chick is pretty good.”

“…Uh, yeah.” I say. “She’s…very retro. Pretty hip…tunes.”

Peter’s swaying to the music, exaggerating his rhythms, moving more robustly than any one else in the room, and when he turns to look at me I think he looks a little pained, but his expression becomes a smile almost immediately and he says “You’re the man, Joe.”

Gray strolls up to the gathering of people we’re in sipping on an apple juice through a blue straw, smiling serenely. His pupils are diamond blue, the whites are like fresh fallen snow, radiating something akin to beauty and ultimate love bringing a sense of well being to wherever their gaze my fall. “Hey, what do you guys think?” He says.

“I think you look very happy with that apple juice.” Pete says, smiling, poking lightly at Grays chest.

“It’s the best thing.” Gray says earnestly, taking another sip.

“It’s apple juice.” Peter says, arching one well-kept eyebrow.

“One and the same.” “Grey replies, smiling and ducking a little, dodging a stray hand that almost slaps him in the back of the head, from somebody gesticulating wildly in the gathering of people behind us.

“Suspicious reflexes.” I say.

“Years of practice, most likely.” Peter says loudly. “Gray, you look like someone who people may try to hit from time to time.” Laughing good-naturedly, Peter slapping Grey on the back.

“I’d always suspected that.” Gray says smiling back at Peter.

“Are you two fags going to need a good place to a fuck each other soon? “

“Why, do you know a good place?” Peter asks, making a face at me.

“Somewhere out of the way, maybe?” Grey adds, and they both crack up.

“Listen,” I say. “I just want…” I pause for a second, unsure, not able to put my finger on the correct words, “I just want the number of a decent caterer.” I say, improvising.

“Uh…” Peter says.

“Who doesn’t though?” Gray says nodding in agreement.

“I need good people around me.” I add.

“You’re the man, Joe.” Peter says shaking his head.


Later, Marc’s girlfriends band goes on, and they’re called “The Feminazis.” They play something that’s close to being reggae, but with a faster beat and more electric guitar. The lead singer is this girl wearing a leather vest over a ragged green shirt, natural blonde hair, a nose ring and a red bowtie. They sing songs like “Dressed to Thrill,” and “Mouth Glitter,” as well as an unrecognizable cover of David Bowies “China Girl.”

Marc’s girlfriend, Kyliana, who I have never met before, but whom he pointed out to me earlier, is a petite half-Asian girl, wearing a pair of faded grey jeans and an aquamarine halter-top that says, “Is there a doctor in the house?” in Violet Purple block letters. She plays Bass guitar and sings some back up, flashing some very white teeth and a cherry red tongue when she opens her mouth. Her hair is done up in what I think are Ironic pigtails and I’m surprised to see that she has no piercing of any kind.

“Wow,” Marc says to me later in the parking lot, after the Feminazis finish their set. “That was… not very good…”

“Well, I mean…” I start to say something supportive but Marc cuts me off, “I’m actually a little upset about this. I think I may want my money back.”

“Really?” I ask.

“I may in fact have to break it off with her.”

“That’s…harsh.” I say

“Well, Joe, I don’t like what I saw in there. I don’t really want tone-deaf angry children.”

“Umm…”

“But, Joe you should know, that if I did have tone deaf angry children… I would love them.”

“That’s …wild, man.” I say.

“I would love them, but with strict conditions.”

“If…that’s how you feel.”

“Obviously there would be so singing allowed.”

“That…seems fair.” I say, “That’s definitely pretty reasonable.”

“Also just listening to music would probably have to be forbidden.”

“Sure, man. I’m with you on this.” I say, teeth chattering slightly in the night air.

“Well, Joe the risk of them being allowed out of the house is iffy. It’s all still…kind of up in the air.”

“You should probably have a lot of kids.” I say earnestly, buttoning up my jacket.

The Feminazis leave in separate cars, after Marc and Kyliana have what looks like a few choice words, and the girl who played drums went off into the tree’s behind the coffee house for a minute or two, coming back with a stick that she carefully breaks into three pieces and places gingerly in her shirt pocket, seeming supremely satisfied and very hip.

My panic begins to rise again on the ride over to Eric Allen’s house, where we’re going to pick up a gram, rising slowly at first into my chest but I can’t contain it and my anxiety overwhelms me, consuming my every thought and even though I try counting to a thousand four times in a row, and I think peaceful gentle thoughts, the urge to numb myself is absolute. Every thought I have starts and ends within two words, my brain waves glutting up like molasses and spilling out at random intervals. “I just need,” I start to say and three minutes later finish with, “A diet-Sierra Mist.”

When we get to Eric’s house he turns out to have sold his last gram to some kids from the next county over, and my anger is palpable when he informs us. I’m holding my breathe and gripping my knuckles tight, gritting my teeth in a manner that strips the enamel and makes my jaw sore for the rest of the night from the strain.

Hector

Imagine your insides oozing out through your pores. Every bodily fluid you contain wells up in your throat threatening to be coughed out onto the ground leaving you a dry husk clinging to life, subject to a passing breeze that would rip your hide apart and scatter your flesh and bones to the four winds. Imagine a world without you in it. Is it better? Does it make more sense? If not, what does make sense? Deep down do you think a fire should come and burn away all the mess that you’ve made of things? Do you ever feel like theres nothing wrong with you that couldn’t be fixed by finding out that you never existed, that you’re someone else’s dream?

Now imagine that every one of these feelings could be ripped from you and cleansed by a single exploding vortex of harmonious divinity. A star shattering under the weight of gods kiss, filling your spirit with a contentedness that you’ve always suspected existed somewhere but were never able to grasp. Imagine finding out that there is a perfect being out there and he loves you and he is inside every one of us. That we’re are all in fact one, each of us a component of a wider spiritual net that encompasses everything and swirls around all things as a benign intelligence fueled by love and truth. Do you dig it? Does this mesh with you?

Who am I talking to? Is anyone listening? Is there anybody out there? Hello? Just …nod if you can here me.

Falling…down the hole. Sucked into a backwards slice in my soul. White is everywhere, black in between the spaces of the atoms. I can taste the blood in my heart beating to the pulse of the Milky Way bleeding silver streaks of life into a reverse time womb. Woah.

Wow.


               What’s going on?

                          
                





Where is…I?


                                          I?




Who am…



 

         Who?


                  Human?




         My bones…


Human bones.








            Uni…                       …verse.






                Kef…frey



Can you…




                                                               Loyal. I am loyal to…







Hector.


                                  Hector?


He…                         …ct…                      Or.







Hmm.



                              ?



I feel so warm now. Everything is gone. Everyone has left. Everyone has… yet to get here.


It’s nice to be loved, isn’t it?



Money is used to exchange for goods and services. Jackson T. Jackson.


Got to remember to buy more crust.

Jill


Kristin calls around six thirty, asks if I want to go to a party in South Grelton and I answer yes, that I do want to go. I shower and smear my face with Neutrogena and wash my hair with Vidal Sassoon. My phone starts buzzing the minute I step out and I answer it without looking and it’s Hannah. She wants to know if I’m going to the party in South Grelton and I tell her that I am and then she asks me if I know the kid who’s throwing it and I tell her no, and she says it’s this girl that went to high school with us for like a month or something and that she’s a complete bitch, but oh well because supposedly theres going to be less people there then usual because this girl, who’s name is apparently Jeweless, doesn’t want the cops to come. I sigh and continue to towel myself off.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cop in South Grelton.” I say, checking my teeth in the mirror. Slightly nicotine stained but still white, good.

“Well, like, I’m sure that their there. Like they must have some kind of presence.” Hannah yawns.

“Yeah.” I’m fixing on some gold cross earrings.

“Should I wear the…” Hannah pauses, changes course. “Are you bringing pot?”

“I wasn’t going to.” I answer, dropping Visine into the corner of my eye.

“Could you?”

“It is something that could be done.”

“I know you have some Jill.” Hannah coughs, yells something to her mother.

“I’ll make sure to bring a lot, ok?” I say, not sarcastically.

Picking up Hannah with Kristin, sharing a cigarette between us, stopping at a Cumberland Farms, picking up more cigarettes. A boy leans out the back window of a car and starts trying to flirt with us but we ignore him.

“She got pregnant and she was like, you have to come with me, and I really didn’t want to but I mean well… you know?” Kristin crinkles her nose, gesturing conversationally.

“Right.” Hannah answers, interested.

“So we get the money from who knows where, and I go with her to this really sketchy little…like abortion clinic.” Kristin says.

“Pretty sketchy.” Hannah takes a drag off her cigarette and blows the smoke out her nose.

“Yeah.” Kristin agrees. “But afterwards she’s just like, I mean it’s like she doesn’t care. I heard her talking about it with Juliet and she was just like ‘yeah so I had an abortion’ and like she’s all…laughing or whatever.”

“Oh god, what a slut.” Hannah furrows her brow looking disgusted.

“I know right?” Kristin waves at somebody she knows in the car behind us.

“Is that Hector?” Hannah asks, disinterestedly.

“No, Carlton and Patina.”

“Oh, spare me.” Hannah rolls her eyes.

“Totally.” Kristin says. “Anyway she’s like all whatever about the whole thing and I’m like ‘Gina you just had an abortion on Thanksgiving.’ And I swear to god she just looks at me like so?”

At the party everyone is clustered in little mini groups talking about whatever, arranging themselves in circles and half circles, including me. Abigail McPhee grabs a piece of my shirt, a blue button up, and tells me “Cute top.” And I nod and say thanks and she hands me a bottle of Jack Daniels and I take a swig, and then wish I hadn’t. Then I change my mind, take another swig and see that somebody invited a retarded kid. This kid with Down syndrome, I’m pretty sure, is hanging out with a crowd of pretty girls and athletic looking guys in polo shirts, and somebody has stuck a big fat joint in between his mongoloid lips. He’s wearing faded khakis a red turtleneck and a blue baseball cap that’s been turned sideways, and he’s smiling, clearly drunk and high.


“Who’s that?” I ask pointing at him.

Abigail swallows another sip of Jack and looks up at me with wide blood shot eyes.

“Oh my god isn’t he hilarious?” She begins. “I think he came here with some Weston kids. He’s just like the sweetest little retarded boy I’ve ever talked to. He told me that my shirt was pretty.”

“Oh, um nice.” I say.

Hannah cuts in to the conversation, “Um it seems kind of inappropriate…”

Abigail rolls her eyes, sighing. “Oh my god Han c’mon, downies need to party sometimes.” Then her eyes brighten up and she turns to me, “Oh my Christ we should get one of the freshman to blow him.”

“Definitely.” I answer, looking through the window. I sigh and fish around in my pocket for a Parliament Light.

“Oh my god that’s terrible.” Hannah says but she’s laughing and she gets sucked into a conversation with this kid who’s apparently visiting a friend and goes to NYU. Red hair, well dressed, handsome, probably gay.

Everywhere I look I see Christmas lights and tan girls chugging alcohol, girls with bleached blonde hair, girls with dyed black hair, girls sitting on lacrosse players laps. There’s a pair of soccer girls passing a blunt between them and all of the sudden I’m thinking that even though I’ve only been out of school for a little more than a year, I’m still too old to be at this party. Vaguely depressed and humming the first few bars of this light jazz song I heard in Hollister this morning, I walk outside where I try and call Bob but he doesn’t pick up.

Drunk sitting outside smoking a cigarette talking with a blue haired boy, thinking of what I should get Bob for his birthday. Maybe a decorative plate? Heroin? Do I want to buy heroin? Wouldn’t it be easier just to get him a gift certificate to Footlocker?

“Wanna shroom?” The blue haired boy asks me. He spits out a big purple wad of chewing gum, and produces a baggie with what looks like bread crumbs that he assures me is good shit.

“Do you like footlocker?” I ask him.

He nods, doesn’t look up as he rifles through the baggie. “It’s all right.”

“Let’s get…fucked up, I guess.” I say, and he smiles and hands me what’s left of the bag.

“What’s your name anyway?” He asks me.

“Stephanie.” I answer. “My family owns half of Best Buy.”

“Wow.” He says, arching his eyebrows, obviously nonplussed. “Could you get me a discount?” He asks.

I turn to him, eyes narrowed. “On what?” I ask.

“I dunno.” He answers, and I notice he has a slight southern accent. “How about a TV?”

“Absolutely not.” I answer, and I break into laughter and later when we’re having sex I’m thinking that Bob might actually like a gift certificate at Footlocker.







Joe


I pick up Hannah in Kevin’s car, which I’ve borrowed for the occasion, because it’s undeniably nicer than my car. It’s a jet-black, 2005 hatchback Renault Achilles, with a v6 engine, leather interior, and a custom license plate that says “Jazzman” for some reason.
Kevin’s great-great grandfather invented some sort of circuit that the military used to pilot the first jet fighters, so his family has lived off investments, patent rights, and other such things for like 3 generations, and Kevin generally has the nicest stuff out of anyone I know.

Hannah is waiting outside Chili’s smoking a cigarette when I pull up next to her. She told me on the phone that she’d been having lunch with a friend there, that the birthday singing crew had been called out four times in the 15 minutes she’d been there, and asked me, “Isn’t that hilarious?” and I nodded that it was, but am actually thinking that it must have been hell on earth in there.

“Wow, this car is…something.” is the first thing she says to me, obviously impressed by the blackness of the paintjob.

“Custom job.” I say, not knowing if it was or not.

“Well, it’s very …powerful looking.”

“Baby, yeah. It’s French.”

Neither of us knows where we want to go, so I just start driving around, and I’m speeding to impress her, even though I don’t know why I want to. I look over at her, laughing as carelessly as I can and even though she looks nervous, she’s smiling, so I step on the gas.

“Oh, my god, oh my god, oh my god.” She’s saying over and over again, pushing back against her chair as far as she can, subconsciously trying to separate herself from the road, which is hurtling past us at an ever-growing rate.

“Joe!”

“Yeah babe.”

“Joe!!”

“Hannah?”

“Slow down, Jesus Christ slow down.”

“Hang on…” I say. “I think…I want to try and get it up to 150.”

“No, no way! Joe, what are you doing?!”

“Umm…” I say, confused by the question, thinking it’s pretty obvious what I’m doing. What are you doing?, I’m thinking, continuing to accelerate, the needle pushing slowly up and up and up…

“Joe! FuckingchristjoeIswearIswearfuckjesus.” Hannah’s closing her eyes now, yelling, curled up in an almost fetal position, trying to escape the almost complete lack of empathy that I feel for her position, which I bet is pretty terrifying.

“Hang on,” I say soothingly, but loud, trying to make my self heard over the roar of the engine. “Baby, it’s … just a little speed. I’m almost there. Look, baby,” I say, “Look, were at 142, just a little more.”

“Fuck you,” She’s saying, almost in tears, cursing my very bones between her incoherent yells. “Fuck you, I swear to Christ, fucking fuck you!”

The needle pushes to 150, and satisfied I begin to slow down, gradually decelerating until I’m cruising at a comfortable 40 miles per hour. Hannah is looking very pissed, not saying anything now, and just staring straight ahead. The silence continues for a few minutes, me occasionally darting my eyes her way to assess the situation.

I finally break the silence, “Uhh…baby?”

She doesn’t answer, doesn’t even acknowledge my existence. She’s just sitting there with what I think is an extremely bitchy expression.

“Are you…mad or something?” I ask.

She gets this shocked look, turns to stare at me and looks like she wants to bitch me out, but she doesn’t say anything, her mouth just hangs open unable to, I guess, find the words.

“Hannah, if you don’t say anything I’m going to assume that you’re cool. Are you cool? Is everything cool?” I say, testing the water.

“Oh my god Joe!” She says, finally speaking. “Joe, are you seriously this dense? Are you like putting on an act, or are you really as dumb as you seem?”

“Relax,” I say soothing her, “Baby, you look good tonight, don’t worry.”

“Oh my god!” She says looking up for some reason, tossing her head back. “Jesus, what’s, like, wrong with you?”

Her attitude is bugging me, but I attempt to cut this spat as short as possible so I just say, “I’m cool. I feel…fine.”

“Joe, no, you are not fine. You are clearly, like, not fine.”

“You’re the one freaking, babe. I’m not the one yelling here. I’m just driving.”

“I’m yelling because you don’t, like, listen!” she says, looking like this is such a trial. I think it’s pretty clear that she could just let this go, and we could go see a movie or something, but she has to be all cool and act like she’s too good for peace and quiet.

“I’m yelling to get through your head. Joe I mean, like…” She trails off, unable or unwilling to finish the sentence.

“You’re the one who’s unbuckled babe.” I say, “You’re the one who’s playing dice with like, your safety. The car has airbags, Hannah. It’s been field-tested. It’s a safe machine.”

“What are you talking about?” She yells. “Joe, like just shut up, ok? If you’re not going to like, say anything I want to hear, just like, shut the fuck up. Ok, Joe? Just don’t even talk.”

“You’re being very un-cool.” I say. “Hannah, relax, stop being gay.”

She’s looking at me like she’s never seen me before. “Oh my god Joe. Stop being gay? Did you just tell me to stop being gay? Did you seriously, like, just say that to me?”

I don’t answer; instead I focus on the road and turn on the radio.

She tells me that she thinks I should take her home, and even though I kind of actually want to hang out with her tonight, by the way she’s looking I think it probably wouldn’t be that great being in her company, so I do. As she steps out of the car I see her shirt has the message, “Princess Sexy” in black lettering across a purple background. She’s walking away in a huff but suddenly she stops and turns around heading back towards the car. She leans in looking apologetic, or possibly embarrassed. “I’m sorry.” She says. “Thing’s have been a little hectic lately. I just…you know I was scared.”

“Don’t worry, babe. It’s …understandable.”

“Joe, I’m still going to go to bed though, I’m just tired.”

“Goodnight.” I say.

“Love you.” She’s saying.

“I love you too.” I’m saying.

She goes inside, and immediately after stepping through her front door, the laughter I’ve been holding in for almost twenty minutes bursts out, and I have to drive away quickly just in case she looks out the window.
Peter

Tonight an unsuccessful attempt to pick up girls at the football game followed by a bonfire in the woods that I guess people are calling “Penguin Rock” where I get somewhat drunk and get into a conversation with this hopelessly annoying junior kid in a football jersey. I then get ridiculously drunk and try to fight the blueberry bush adjacent to the campfire, ending in what I would call a technical knockout, victory mine.
I leave early with Marc and Joe in Jonnies pick up truck. Marc rides up front and Joe and Me chill out in the bed of the truck. Joe produces a joint and attempts to light it, but can’t so he taps on the glass and tells Jonnie to pull over, which surpisingly he does, and Joe is able to get it blazing. We get high and Joe tells me that he has some cocaine at his house, but doesn’t offer to share, which pisses me off slightly but I cope.

Later, at Marcs house, Jonnie is falling down a K-hole, Joe and me are playing Super Smash Bros. and I’m kicking his ass with Ganondorf. Joe gets tired of the game and produces five hits of ecstasy, which we split between us and go outside to finish the pot.

Around four am Joe is incoherent and throwing rocks at mailboxes from the woods near Marc’s house. I go out to ask him why he’s doing this, but he yells at me when he see’s me calling me a parasite and he charges me and he’s surprisingly stronger than me and I cant get out of his pin. He seems to recognize me very suddenly and gets off of me.

“Can I have a cigarette?” He asks me, and I give him one.

Neither of us sleeps and I leave around ten to meet Jill for breakfast where I eat nothing, smoke five cigarettes and order water after water. I’m wearing my sunglasses and Jill’s not saying much and neither am I, but she does tell me that I look thin and I answer, “So do you.” She nods and eats her eggs.

“So,” I start trying to make conversation, thinking about where I’m going to go after this, coming up with nothing, “Have you seen Kevin around lately?”

The answer to this is an annoyed shrug, and then relenting somewhat she answers, “Yeah I see him around all the time.”

I nod, frowning, “Yeah me too.”

She sighs, lights her first cigarette asks me if I know who the black guy with the old guy who have been asking about Joe are.

“No,” I say. “I mean I don’t…know anymore than anyone else.” I add.

She leans over to get money out of her purse and I see her cleavage and I’m thinking to myself, not bad, when the waiter, who happens to be this kid who I was friends with up until tenth grade when it became apparent to me that he was a douche bag, stops by the table and starts making small talk.

“So have you seen The Bike Messenger?” He asks me after some initial bullshitting.

Instead of kneeing him in the heart I just shake my head no and smile.

“Oh, it’s fantastic.” He says, earnestly. “Colin Hanks is fantastic.”

Theres a pause in which I sincerely wish a bomb would go off, a drunk driver could crash through the side of the building, anything to get this kid the fuck away from me.

“A career making performance.” He adds, smiling.

…Fuck…your…self… I’m thinking. “I’ll make sure to see it. Could we get our check please?”

He looks slightly stunned for a moment, then snaps back to his smiling happy self and tells me it will be out in a minute and heads towards the kitchen telling me we should hang out sometime and I think you should hang yourself sometime and agree enthusiastically.

Pull on the sunglasses again and lean back in my chair, ignoring Jill and smoking my cigarette. “Worse than a god damn girl,” I mutter under my breath but Jill hears me and doesn’t care at all.








Joe

“Hello?”

“Hey, fuckass.”

“Umm…I think you have… the wrong number.”

“Shut up, fuckass.”’

“Who is this?”

“I told you not to touch her man, I fuckin told you.”

“I…uh…I didn’t.”

“Don’t fucking lie. Don’t lie, fuckass.”

“Is this...like a joke?”

“Alison told me. I know all about it.”

“Listen…like, you have the wrong number.”

“It’s Scott you fuckass. This is Scott.”

“…I’m not ‘fuckass’. Nobody… with that name lives here.”

“Shut the fuck up, just shut up. I’m going to kill you. Watch your fucking back asshole.”

“…Listen, Steve…I think you have the wrong number.”

“I’m going to break your fucking neck, asshole.”

“…Is this …like a prank? Are you ‘pranking’ me?”

 “Get ready to die shithead. I hope you’re ready to get your ass beat by someone who’s better than you.”

“…I’m really not ready for that Steve. I’m…very sure… I cannot stress that enough”

“Do you think I’m stupid? Did you think I wouldn’t find out?”

“I can’t stress this enough… If this is a joke, I don’t actually get it. I’m…not sure what you’re going for here.”

“Just be waiting for me Prick, you fucking fuckass piece of shit. I’m going to kill you. KILL YOU.”

“Hey, wait a minute… are you, like, a… radio DJ or something? Am I on the air?”

“Jesus just shut the fuck up. “

“I have to go, Allright. I have to go…check on the baby.”

Click. Hummmmmmmmmmmmm…
Jackson T. Jackson


It’s not like I don’t know that these two McDunna fuckers are bad news. Jacob keeps telling me that he doesn’t want to mess with psychos. I know their psychos. I know it’s a bad idea. I know we should use professionals. I know how much is riding on this. I know all about it. The thing is we have a certain time frame in which to get this thing done, a certain amount of money we can use and a very difficult objective. If the people we use are a little more sadistic then we’d like, well hey man that sucks, but we’ve got a job and we’ve sworn a damn blood oath and I’m not about to forget that.

No, I don’t like the little brown haired one either; yes I can see that he’ll turn on us in a second if he thinks it’s in his best interest. We’re just going to have make sure that it isn’t in his best interest to do so. Yeah I can see that the blonde ones got a hair trigger and would gladly forget the fucking mission to beat the tar out of some little whelp if the poor bastard happens to be unfortunate enough to earn his ire. We’re going to have to keep him on task. I think sometimes Jacob see’s this as too much of a personal thing, and not just his job. Well I can understand that, I empathize, hell I’m just as guilty, but I don’t forget that it has to get done no matter what. The job takes precedence over all other things and we can’t let our personal beliefs get in the way, no matter how offensive or disgusting we find a particular objective.

Ten confirmed dead. Forty missing. Nobody cares or notices. We’re going to find out what the hell is going on in this town. Somebody has to.








Joe

I’m sitting in homeroom, and this is near the end of the ninth grade, around the time I first started smoking pot. Cindy Allen is making eyes at me, smiling when she see’s me, giggling at something to herself, and I’m embarrassed by the way she acts around me. The teacher, Mrs. Starill, is lecturing the class about getting to school on time, because we’ve been trickling in to class late, in groups of two and three. She thinks we should sit boy girl boy girl for some reason, and the desks are arranged accordingly. Cindy is on my right and to my left is this girl Sasha, who I heard snorts cocaine and who’s probably a lesbian. Cindy told me earlier that she heard that Mrs.Starill had sex with one of the kids on the golf team, some Asian kid named Doug. She’s sure it’s the truth for some reason, and even though I’ve heard it before, it sounds a little stupid to me.

We get out of homeroom and I’m walking towards French class, Kevin’s telling me that he thinks his parents would be better off divorced, and how’s he’s so sick of hearing them go at each others throats all the time. I laugh, but I’m not sure if he’s joking. He tells me he’s serious, and I tell him that I’m sorry. I borrow a dollar from him to get an orange soda, promising that I’ll pay him back. Hannah Tepes is passing us at that exact moment and I get a little nervous because I have a crush on her. She looks very pretty as she walks by us, talking to her friend Stephanie Green, who is also very pretty but neither of them acknowledge us at all even though we’ve all been in the same class since the second grade. Somebody taps on my back and I turn around to See Cindy smiling. I smile back, and ask her what she’s doing, but she doesn’t say anything she just keeps walking towards me. I back up a little, she’s intimidating me a little and even though I have to admit that the girl is gorgeous, I’m just not that into her. I’m also kind of afraid of her brother Eric, a senior, because I’ve heard he sells heroin to 7th graders. “You wanna walk with me?” She asks. “I have to get to French.” I say. “I’m already late, Cindy”
“Fuck French.” She says. “Who cares? What do you think will happen?” She asks.
“I’ll get a cut.” I say. She rolls her eyes, looking disgusted. “You’re a fucking wimp, Joe.” I smile at her good-naturedly, a little embarrassed by how upfront she is with this, a little guilty that I’m not brave enough to skip class and go make out with Cindy.

“Like, grow some balls dude.” She says.

“Sorry.” I say.

“Whatever man.” And she turns around and walks over to a group of girls in expensive clothes who always stand near the auditorium between classes.

“That was good.” Kevin says, as we continue walking towards room 56.

“Well, you were a huge help Kev. Thanks for everything you did back there; that was huge.” I say.

“Hey, man she was talking to you.” He replies, shuffling through his pocket, eventually pulling out an orange capsule that looks like it’s filled with tiny crystals.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Adderall, you want one?” He offers.

“No, that’s ok.” I say. “I’m good.”

“They’re awesome for concentrating dude.” He says.

“I’m good.” I repeat.

“Whatever dude.” He says.

I don’t understand a word of what Ms. Grear says during the entire class, partly because I’m not really that great at French, and partly because Kevin’s so wired that he’s squirming around, chewing on nothing, his jaw making snapping sounds, and he’s writing so fast that the sound of it is like a piece of glass on a cloth sheet, and it’s much more interesting to watch than anything else in the room.

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