It has been a fucking CRAAAAZY 2 months. In the midst of feature script writing. Sorry, so sorry for the delays.
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I got into Michael’s new car, an electric blue Camaro with a sound system that we unequivocally determined to be “Badass”. As Metallica grinds through “Orion”, the heavy bass notes causing our hearts to palpitate, I filled him in on my Mom’s out-of-character concern. “Ah, man… whatta you expect?” he shouts to me over the blasting music “You’re her only child… she knows you’re leaving and you ain’t comin’ back. That’s gotta be hard on her.” I nod in agreement, then scowl when Michael waved a prohibitive finger in my direction as I’m about to light a cig, making it very clear that the new vehicle must remain ‘smoke-free’. Keeping his eyes on the road, he nodded towards the back seat and the large brown paper grocery bag resting there. I twisted and squirmed and managed to maneuver my upper body back within reaching distance, grinning at what I see. Three fifths… one vodka, one tequila, and one of gin… on top of a sixer of Heineken. I looked over at Michael and he grinned, his eyes shooting over to me for a second before returning to the road. “Can’t have you drinking Schaefer or Lucky Lager on your last night here, man!” I punched his shoulder in thanks, and settled back in the plush bucket seat for the rest of the drive to Vince’s house.
Vince lived in a boxy condo on 5th Street, just a block up from Main Street, halfway up the hill to Pioneer Park. The location provided for easy access to the bars that were less-than-diligent in their adherence to checking IDs, as well as multiple venues of escape in case one of the neighbors decided that the racket or teenagers pissing on their lawn had gone on quite long enough, thank you very much. Vince hadn’t graduated from either Lewiston nor Clarkston High School… as far as anyone knew, he hadn’t graduated at all. Michael and I had discussed on more than one drunken occasion that his habit of hanging out with, and buying booze for, High School kids likely reflected the fact that since he had never finished High School, his mind was still ‘stuck’ in that stage. He’d never had any sense of closure or completion, and hence kept partying with kids 4-5 years younger than he was.
We preferred to think that this was the logical explanation with the combined variable that, since we often partied at his condo, there would frequently be girls… ones we were dating, ones we were interested in, ones we couldn’t stand but had a magnificent ass, as well as their friends… that likewise would show up to party when we were there. Choosing to attribute Vince’s behavior to this was preferable to the alternatives… The possibility that he ‘liked’ teen-aged boys in a way that the citizens of the Valley would definitely frown upon. That he was mentally unbalanced and could only deal with minds that were not-quite-fully-logical or formed. That he was happy to supply us a location for partying since he made a tidy profit from our activities, being our main supplier of booze (with a “service charge” added), speed, and pot. The fact that, three years later, he died from injuries sustained during one of these parties… injuries inflicted with a baseball bat and the butcher knife from his own kitchen… lends credence to the hypothesis that Michael’s and my “happy and harmless” assessment of Vince was, at the very least, flawed or incomplete.
Our small group of friends, which we had dubbed “The Motley Sleaze Patrol” during the summer following our Sophomore year, was already gathered at Vince’s place and had gone out of their way to “send me off” in glorious and tasteful style.
“GET THE FUCK OUT ALREADY” Read one of the homemade banners, a testament to friendship rendered in splotchy tempra-paint lettering on rough-edged butcher paper. “ARE YOU STILL HERE?” read another
The final banner, a obscenely long tapestry of black-humored good will, was draped across the back wall of the living room. Adorned with cartoon tombstones on either end, the brush stroke lettering spelled out “JACK-OFF SAREN, R.I.P. – HE SURE COULD DRINK A LOT FOR A FAG.” The icing on the finely crafted cake that my friends called party decorations were the dozens of condoms that had been inflated with helium, and hung floating in bunches tied with black ribbons over the entire room. As I entered, taking in this scene, someone shouted “He’s here!” and the dozen or so people in attendance turned toward the door cheering in a big whooping cry native only to redneck parties and rodeos.
I noticed that, miraculously, magically, the membership of the Sleaze Patrol had expanded by 400%. This would have annoyed me more if not for the fact that over half of the attendees were female. None of them vengeful or bitter ex’s. I did a slow head-roll to the side, cocking an eyebrow at Michael. “So… this is a ‘small get together’ with just a few friends?” Michael just crossed his arms and shot me a Cheshire Cat grin that said, very eloquently, silently, “deal with it, fucker.”
And so, I did.
The other two members of the MSP-proper kicked things off with a game of quarters, played with a shot glass filled to the brim with Tequila. One of my highly valuable life-skills is that my lack of eye-hand coordination in sports does not extend to drinking games involving the bouncing of hard currency into glasses. Even when the glasses are very small. Within 30 minutes, I had managed to inflict five or six shots on each of the four girls at the table, and had blessed the male participants with a couple shots to boot. This all went down to looks of disbelief as I sat with a Heineken in one hand, and a small ceramic pipe in the other, switching back and forth as I took hits from the two intoxicants in my hands, but remained “dry” in regards to having to take any shots of tequila.
Quarter after quarter left my thumb and forefinger, spinning in a controlled arc before hitting the table, bouncing in a shallow trajectory, before landing with a neat “plop!” in the filled shot glass. Soon enough, the fifth of tequila was gone. The group clustered around the table were getting very… very drunk, and I was experiencing a very pleasant buzz. A high brought on by the combination of my unrivaled dominance at the drinking game, the half of a beer I’d drank, and the unexpectedly potent weed that Vince had scored. Usually with the pot Vince had, you’d find yourself smoking an entire 8th just to get a decent buzz, so I was smoking in that pattern… big, looooong hits that were held in until the smoke almost entirely dissipated within the lungs, leaving little to exhale. By the third or fourth hit I could tell… this wasn’t Vince’s usual batch of backwoods dirt weed. Time slowed and my skin began to glow with a warmth that suffused my entire sense of self, while deep inside I felt the urge to MOVE… to make, to create, to drive, to laugh, to sing, to rock out, to run around, to fuck like I had just discovered my cock.
To quote Bettie Davis, ‘Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night’
With hindsight being what it is… 20/20, with crystalline perspective and clarity… it’s entirely possible, even quite likely, that Vince “supplemented and supercharged” his normal dirt weed (usually acquired from the wilds of fields hidden in amongst the smaller farmer’s crops of corn around Walla Walla or Sandpoint), with something to make it into the smokable form of green rocket fuel on hand that night. Over the years, over many states and countries, I’ve… partaken… of crops homegrown, as well as crops cultivated, bred, and developed with a surgeon’s touch. I have never… ever… had an experience smoking pot like I had on that night. The logical conclusion is that, given the number of experiments conducted in the field, and a careful analysis of the data acquired during said experiments, it had been ‘dipped’… in speed, in coke, in ecstasy, hell… maybe even heroin.
Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
My immediate reaction to the onset of feeling like this was simple.
I slammed what remained of my beer, and grabbed a blue, plastic cup, pouring gin into it until it was half-full. I refilled the bowl of the ceramic pipe from the contents of the flimsy cellophane bag on the table, where drops and splashes of tequila lay like a thousand micro lakes of defeat. Craters left in the wake of the Great Quarters War. Someone had put Led Zeppelin on Vince’s stereo, and Robert Plant began moaning… summoning the type of time-space event synchronization that only occurs when one is well and truly high… “We ask no quarter… we give no quarter” I started giggling like a hyena and said to one of the girls “If they have no quarters, they should’ve used nickels… you can still bounce ‘em into the glass…” which got a polite, if confused, smile and nod. The juniper Pine-sol scent of gin clears my sinuses, and ignites a burning river that travels down my throat before becoming a flower in my belly that blooms and grows, and sends it’s flaming tendrils outward… burning through the cold, active focus I had felt in the center of myself until it met with the crackling, luminous exterior. Green flame meeting warm red. Complementary colors. Oppositional colors. Maintaining their own space, they emphasize each other. Make the other “pop” in direct spatial comparison. Hence the nature of Christmas decorations, traditional colors… Red and Green… Fire and Forest… Burning Immolation vs Growing Life. The Devil(death) + The Godhead(life) = please solve the previous equation in essay form. Show your work.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccckkkkk” I wasn’t sure if I was drawing the word out that long, or if it was my perception of a slight slippage in the Wheel of Time. (Get a mechanic to look at that. It’s always a problem with these older models) Billy, a member of the MSP-proper, slugged me in the shoulder with a laugh and said “Dude…Is that what you want to do, a question, or are you reeeeeeallly high?”
The impact of his fist, as light and joking as it was, hit me off balance… threw me back, in exaggerated waves rippling outward from the point of contact… film shutter snaps and clatters, dim the lights and I’m watching educational films from the last four years in slow motion, This film may contain sex bias material stickers on the metal can. Noise filling the dark classroom, choppy and chattering as the celluloid keeps slipping the sprockets… damn it Billy, how many times do I have to show you how to thread the leader into the starting mechanism… my motion echoes recorded footage of Crash Test Dummies. Slow-mo snap back, then whip forward in the recoil…The iconic Yellow and Black pie-divided circles on the side of the head. Creating a black widow, red-on-black hourglass in the afterimage when you closed your eyes. Life and death contrast again. Color as symbol. The government uses these colors to send us messages… transmitted in shape and color. If only I could see… see what… see my… my head feels so heavy… It feels so light… This is your head… as it slams into the dashboard without the protection of a seatbelt… it contains the human brain with more computing power than the most powerful computer man can create… you should make sure that it’s well covered against the cold and elements… 73% of body heat escapes through it… was examined in the 17-1800s for bumps and ridges which Doctors believed could indicate everything from mental disorders to indications of disease… on drugs.
From there, Shit Got Weird.
The remainder of the night… the events that unfolded over the course of 8 hours… is incomplete to my recollection. There are “moments” of clarity. Things That Happened within a short capsule of time, caught, illuminated, frozen, as some mental strobe or square disposable flashcube went off. A momentary POP of chemical glare. Keeping it as a mental treasure for later admiration or regret within a faux-leather binder embossed with faded golden script reading “My Memories”. Time erodes the sticky nature of the contact sheets that kept the pictures and cellophane covering in place on each page. Prone to randomly drop out onto the floor if you’re not careful in handling, or carrying it.
Standing on the (almost) flat roof of Vince’s condo. Screaming, shirtless… at the stars as I felt the starlight and the cosmic rays from far off galaxies pour down from the night sky, filling me with power. I cried out to the heavens that destiny awaited. That I would accept the great power the universe had seen fit to bestow upon me. That one day these puny ants below would rue the day they had mocked me. I began to unbutton my Levis, as I shouted that the girls of the valley should now commence their weeping at my loss, for they would never have the ecstasy and joy to be found within my arms. Billy and Vince and Michael having made it to the roof, desperately, foolishly, tried to stop me as I reached the bottom buttons, howling the important and critical addendum that “Oh, and by the way girls… I’ve got a cock the size of Texas!”. The leather heels of my boots scraping across the asphalt shingles, as the boys drug me backwards… arms looped under mine in tag-team fashion… across the very slight incline of the roof towards the adjoining patio cover, which stood 2 feet lower than the roof.
Vince arguing with one of the “non-MSP-posse” guys about the music playing… so very loudly… on the stereo. Vince was determined to keep the current album, Def Leppard’s Pyromania, in its 33 and 1/3rd RPM. His opponent was slamming the current musical selection with verve, and held up a cassette that he demanded be played by a band called the Cult. He promised that the starting track on side 2 would “blow us away” and that the guitar on it “Totally rocks, dude”. I watched this verbal volleyball, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, neither giving and inch. When I saw Vince’s fists ball up, his face red and shaking with rage, I knew the swing was coming. I could see it happening before the moment. Slow motion prediction of variables and vectors and outcomes. I examined them all, while watching the slow ‘blip’ of movement across the various highlighted arcs and potential paths… like the giant screen seen in images of NASA’s Mission Control, as they tracked the returning vector of men who’ve gone into space… before finally speaking. “Vince…” my voice sounded booming. Chuck Heston in the Ten Commandments. A Jack Kirby-rendered God, seated in all-powerful judgment on his genuine vinyl recliner throne from the future. “Let him put the tape in. Let us hear if the guitar on the song does indeed, rock. If it does, then we will rock as well. If it doesn’t…” My chin dropped and I looked out from under hooded brows, a wicked smile pulling at the corners of my mouth, stretching it up and back to my ears. A trickster Deity. “If it doesn’t… there will be punishment and consequences.” The guy with the tape gave a nervous laugh, trying to figure out what the sweet fuck was going on, and handed the cassette over the Vince who snatched it away, scowling and pissed. He jammed it in to the player roughly, a passive aggressive gesture… perhaps hoping it would break or rip the tape, thus initiating the “punishment” upon this interloper who’d dared to mock Def Leppard. The tape remained intact. Billy Duffy’s undulating waves of guitar became a sea… roaring and engulfing and dangerous and wonderful… and just as you were getting your footing, Ian Astbury’s first vocal line for “The Phoenix” came crashing in, washing you away, pulling you deeper, the currents swirling around you twisting and tugging you out far past safety. Vince stood by the stereo slack-jawed and his hand fell away from the “off” button on the cassette player… a cartoon villain shown that he has no hope of victory. It was undeniable, even to him. It did indeed, rock.
Sharpie Marker in hand, standing on the back of Vince’s stained and ratty couch, the better to reach the heights of the wall it rested against. The better to ensure that the words I was writing would remain untouched long after my exodus. I was writing brilliance and prophecy. Observations and commandments from the mind of god, channeled through my hands. Well, my right hand. My left attempted to brace myself against the wall while holding on to the smouldering pipe in the crook between my thumb and finger. Most of the group were gathered below me… standing on the floor, sitting on the furniture that had seen many better days. Bill and Tim were in the kitchen, attempting to live up to the name of our group as they poured on the charm in an attempt to get the girl standing there with them to accompany the two of them into the sole bedroom of the condo. Vince stood at the edge of the couch, his head clutched in a death-grip between his hands, as he yelled at me to stop. That I was crazy. I couldn’t do this, he’d never get his deposit back. With black, acrid, acetone-scented strokes, my hand kept moving across the wall, rendering line after line. The words kept coming…
The girl was coming… or pretending to come… for the third time. She was straddling me on the floor of Vince’s over-sized closet. The thin sliver of light let in through the cracked door rendered the curves of her skin in a chiaroscuro that was almost painfully erotic. Her name was Becky… or Betty (Beth, maybe?). I hadn’t met her prior to that night. She had arrived with the group from Lewiston that I didn’t know. Her hair was long and auburn, and it windmilled and whipped back and forth as she tossed her head from side to side. She’d led me in to Vince’s bedroom, and finding the bed occupied by Billy and one of her friends, she opened the closet door and pulled me in after her. Telling me “No” when I started to close it behind us. “Leave it open… at least a little bit. I want to see.” Her tongue tasted like watermelon bubble gum and alcohol, and was quick and agile as it darted in and out of my mouth, seeking to taste every part of me. Her breasts were small and firm, and she revealed them to me with a flourish as she pulled her shirt and bra off, raising them over head head… together… in one fluid motion that had to have been practiced in front of her bedroom mirror at least a hundred times. While I stood mesmerized, staring at the serpentine curve running from her ribs to her belly, to the slope of her hips, she lunged forward, pulling my Levi’s open with a brutal tug that threatened to snap the metal buttons from their bases. Her free hand dove into my underwear with a ferocity that was frightening, as if she were a starving wild animal, scrabbling hungrily for meat. When her fingers wrapped themselves around my hard cock, she stopped momentarily… a look of confusion followed by slight disappointment racing across her face. Brief, but still clearly apparent in the shadows and patchy light as she murmured “oh…” before looking up at me. She stared at me, as if expected explanation, her hand still gripping my member. I had a moment of insecurity which got overridden by the ego-maniacal effects of the high I was on, and by the single-minded urge to get off. I cupped one of her tits, teasing her erect nipple with my thumb as I said to her “You didn’t really think my cock was the size of Texas?! How the fuck would it fit in the city limits, much less my pants?!?” She raised an eyebrow at me, as if to accuse me of false advertising before shrugging as if to say ‘oh well, while I’m here…’ and dropped to her knees. Later, as she straddled me, begging me to come already, someone puts on “The End” by the Doors, and once again I’m left wondering if this is all-too coincidental… too many moments of synchronicity piling up, one after the other, overlapping, building upon each other. Surely the structure of the universe can’t bear the weight. Something will have to give. She begging me. Her skin is slick with sweat. She’s wet to the point where I can feel it spreading out from the base of my cock, until it leaves rivulets running down the sides of my hips. I want to come. I want this moments to last forever. I want it to end and be done. As the dead singer exhorts from the crackling black vinyl “Can you picture what will be, So limitless and free. Desperately in need…” I finally erupt. Spraying and shooting and coming into her, so completely unsafe and unprotected. Thinking… hoping… praying… as my hips bucked and spasmed and my fingers dug into the flesh of her ass… that she was on the pill.
There was a moment of calm. So cliched… So expected… So predictable… before the storm. Michael and I standing on the concrete front porch of the condo. Both of us leaning over, forearms resting on the wrought iron railing as we looked down on the incline of 5th Street below. I smoked cigarette after cigarette. Michael nursed a beer. We stood there, in silence. Both of us well aware that my leaving Changed Things. That neither of us knew when we would see each other again. Both of us saddened by the possibility. Neither one of us willing to say anything that would allow those thoughts to gain a hold on us, or overtake us. We stood, and we smoked and we drank. Silently thinking. Enjoying just being there, in that moment, before everything changed. Watching the night drivers pass us as their cars made the slow, steady, climb up the hill.
We were standing in the parking lot on the hill behind Vince’s condo. A flat circle of black asphalt overlooking 5th Street below. Standing there, talking, under the yellow sodium beam of the streetlights. Standing, four of us… Myself, Michael, the girl who had fucked me in the closet… Becky/Betty/Beth/whoknows, and her friend. The friend-of-the-girl-I-fucked wanted to drive Michael’s new car. His prized possession. The girl was cute with long, curly blonde hair, and Michael was smitten. He was reaching for the keys. I was telling him… for the love of god, don’t do it man… but he was grinning and telling me “You already got laid man, she wants to drive me and her over to her apartment. Don’t worry…” I was worried. I was coming down, sobering up, getting tired… but I could still see the future. All the variables lay spread out before me, and I could examine their trajectories and predict the outcome with precision. I told him that it would end badly. I pleaded for him to not do it. I failed to give him details. I didn’t tell him she would crash. I didn’t give him the fact that I could see so clearly… that there was the emergency room involved. I didn’t tell him I saw tears. I just said “Man, we don’t need this tonight, just chill out… she’ll prob’ly give you a beej here if she’s anything like her friend.” Michael laughed, and threw the blonde his keys. She caught them mid-flight, her fingers closing around them in a fist of upraised victory. The silver of the keys glittering and sparking against the night sky as the streetlights bounced off the metal. Michael laughed, and I kept saying “No… don’t.”
The chain-link fence was twisted and ruptured like flimsy tissue paper. It splayed outward. Two deep ruts in the grassy dirt beyond it marked the path of the car. Vectors, positions, variables, probable outcomes. Becky/Betty/Beth/whatever was on her knees next to me. Mouth open wide again. Not to receive, but to expel. Howling. Screaming. Animal fear and terror translated into pure, guttural sound. Vince and Tim and Billy and the others were flooding out of the condo in confusion. Some looked over the railing to the street below, some were rushing up the concrete stairs to the parking lot. Vince stood on the porch, his eyes shooting back and forth between the two locations, saying the same word over and over… his voice rising and falling, changing pitch and octave, altering intensity and volume, as if he was a student actor, trying out all of the possible ways that he could deliver a given line. “Fuck… fuck… fuckkk. Fuck… FUCK… fuck…” I stood in the parking lot, aware of all that was happening around me, not averting my gaze from the hole in the fence. The exact point where the car had shot through the metallic links as the girl gunned the car. Thinking it was in Drive, when instead the car was in reverse, it had sped backward with terrifying velocity before parting the flimsy metal barrier as it flew straight out into empty space. A female Evel Kenevil daredevil performing an unintended stunt that got a shocking amount of flight time before disappearing from sight as it dropped downward to the street, scores of feet below. I stood there. Movement everywhere, as some rushed to the spot below where the car landed, blocked from my view by the edge of the hill, while Tim ran to me, asking if I was OK… was I hurt.
I stood there.