This is an unfinished preliminary draft of a story start–unedited. It was written in the time it takes to drink enough Jack Daniels to get one loose, but not dizzy, and come down again. There are so many errors that I saw when I read it that I probably will never fix them.
Dark red and blue spotlights shone down upon the table, a foamy latte looked sickly within such confines. Caleb was reclined into the soft 1950s’ vintage couch, a toothpick wiggled around his lips that were framed by days of unwashed gristly beard growth. Jahan leaned forward, anticipating something he wanted to say, but was unsure quite what. A svelte, fashion slave of a beauty floated by, her shiny metallic hiphuggers and pink petty coat left a trail of residual temptation dangling behind her. Caleb thought he remembered her name, but would have to contemplate just what it was, Jahan knew right away. He followed her intermittently throughout every night, but had never spoken to her, besides the “how-Do’s, and the “oh, yeah?”s. Her name was Veronica, she had come from Iowa a year ago (almost to the day), and had found The Happy Saucer on her third night in town, and had seemingly been here since.
Caleb lit a Djarum slowly and carefully, looking down at the process with nonchalant interest, his Ronson lighter swirling around it’s ignited victim. A waft of thick smoke acrobatically plunged from his half open mouth, his placebo toothpick rested on a stained and crumpled napkin, and Jahan watched it roll onto the table and towards Caleb latte, which was lifted milliseconds before the toothpick found it as a stopping point, it fell from sight, to somewhere on the paisley carpet.
Caleb lifting his latte up “I noticed you can’t help but stare at that chick”
Jahan broke from his dazed fantasy of finally sitting and talking to her “who?”
“The hottie with the stainless steel ass”
Caleb chuckled “oh, Veronica, is it?”
“Yeah…” Jahan knew his silent infatuation was now not so silent.
“Well, why don’t you go on and talk to her?”
Jahan felt a lump, that, by this time was all too familiar, it was the lump he always felt when realizing that he’d never get up the gall to fulfill his self inflicted need. “Yeah, right…. it’s not anything, she’s just beautiful, no big thing.”
“Whatever…” Caleb saw the blush through the bad lighting
“…you’re totally into her. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen you look at her, I mean, granted, I look at her too, but usually after your eyes point the way. Just go up to her.”
Jahan felt uncomfortable talking about it, it had become too personal of a desire to let loose in conversation, especially when he hasn’t had the time to articulate his own feelings into words instead of just visual fantasy and conceptual, irrational musings of the funny possibilities of chance.
“Egh, she’ll be around if I feel like doing anything about it.”
Caleb nodded slightly, smirked, and took a drag of the sweet clove. Jahan glanced over to Veronica, felt a slight chill of fate, whether it was fate not to be together, or to be together, he felt the chill, and looked back down to the coffee table, lifted his tea, and turned his attention to the techno music that was half drown out by the forty or so people conversing softly, laughing, and the clinking and slurping that cried out the ambiance of The Saucer.
Kestlë stirred the last bits of cinnamon into Veronicas’ coffee, wiped her hands, then the rim of the cup, and handed it to her. They exchanged a silly face, and a polite thank you and you’re welcome in an exaggerated (and quite bad) Chinese accent. Kestlë turned, and went about her business, a little happier after Veronicas’ silliness, but a slightly more contemplative front was moving into her consciousness, she started thinking about what Veronica did for a living, but she couldn’t work all that much, considering that when she wasn’t here, she would shop, or be recreating in some way. She knew Veronica slept late, and went to bed in the early morning, but she had tons of money. Kestlë chose not to think about it anymore, too often her mind went in tangents that led her too far astray from reality, and she knew it.
Veronica glided back to her empty table, settled down into the green Bauhaus chair, and took a New Yorker from her faux fur tote bag, opened it to a random page and engrossed herself into the annoying glossy page. The scent of the Djarum permeated the artificially chilled air, and brought smoking to the back of her mind, where it repeatedly attempted to coerce her into supporting American tobacco workers. She bent down, still reading her story, and lifted a pack of Dunhill blues from her furry bag, flipped the cardboard top up with one finger, and added another to slide one of the cancer sticks from its fresh, pungent box. She tossed the pack back into her bag, and, in the same motion found a small box of blue tipped kitchen matches. She pulled one out, struck it against the gritty box stripe, and delicately touched it against the exposed dry tobacco for just long enough. Jahan covertly glanced over, and decided to be in love.
Caleb sat up, glanced at his Superman watch, sighed, and sat back again. Through the brass framed doors came Jenna, her ragged bell bottomed jeans, tight black tube top, (that had the word “Formaldehyde” emblazoned across it, in bold white letters), and her five inch high platform bowling shoes, just yelled “class”. She puckered her lips as much as she could, and headed straight for Caleb and Jahan, plunked down in a red velvet E-Z Boy, and burped.
“So, how’s it goin’, what are ya up to?” she smacked her gum while she talked, with a coy smile always hanging around.
Jahan fielded the questions “nothing, the usual…”
“Ahhhh, well, what about later? What are you guys doing?”
Caleb chuckled “more of the same, I guess”
She slapped her open hands against her not so new jeans “well, Chezney, you remember her, right? Well, she’s having some people over…. she has the most killer pot, and I think a bit of coke…so how about it?”
Jahan glanced over towards Veronica, who was still just reading away and puffing on her Dunhill.
“Yeah, sure, why the hell not.”
Chezney’ s Apartment was nestled in a quaint complex, a Spanish gate led into a courtyard overflowing with finely pruned bushes, flower patches, trees, unknown thingies with weird buds or something, and a cross between a roman fountain and a birdbath. A cobblestone walkway led further and further back into the dense foliage, finally a wall emerged from the myriad of branches and other green stuff, and stairs wound up to a solid looking door, with one of those little peek-a-boo hatches at eye level. Caleb, Jahan, and Jenna bounced up the stairs, stopped at the threshold. Jenna whipped on some more dark red lipstick while Jahan messed up his hair to the specified chaos. Caleb loosely knocked on the door, the little hatch thing flung open, and a perfect eye peeked out.
Jahan and Caleb didn’t see the crowd hunkered down around a messed up coffee table at first. They were too busy gawking at Chezney, and her long, perfectly shaped body. They hadn’t remembered her, but would be asking about her a lot now. Swarms of people were sitting around the coffee table as if it were some sort of life giving orb. It may have been to some of them, considering the mound of coke and the mungo baggie of bright green puffy pot. There wasn’t much of a threat of these guys being mistaken for cops, and Caleb and Jahan felt at home, and Jenna more so.
“You guys want something to drink?” They looked at each other puzzled at first, wondering how often Jenna came here, they thought she was at The Saucer every minute she wasn’t sleeping, watching TV, or sleeping.
“I’ll have some water” Jahan didn’t want to cause too much of a fuss.
“Any coffee?” Caleb knew what he wanted, and didn’t care if someone had to slave for him. Hey, they ask to get something, he figured, ‘shit, get me what I want.’
“Uh, yeah, sure, I’ll make some.” Jenna didn’t really mind, although her tone may have inferred it, she had had a thing for Caleb ever since he held her hair back while she yacked into the can (back when her hair was longer than his, which was at least a couple years ago, a lot of brain cells under the pipe had passed).
“Thanks” The two, said it instinctually.
Chezney, who was now sitting down in the silent circle of constant consumption, said something with her smoke ridden exhale, it wasn’t exactly intelligible, but they figured it meant something like “do you want a hit?” by the way she was extending the two foot long green polycarbon bong towards them.
“Yeah, sure” Caleb said hurriedly, if not a bit nervously while taking the pipe and taking an offered lighter from Jahan. He swiped the flame across the charred bud, ripped the air out of the pipe until it was almost a vacuum, pulled the slide out with practiced skill, and instantaneously absorbed the liter and a half of yellow smoke. A couple of the table dwellers nodded, appreciating the feat with great respect. Caleb handed the pot cannon to Jahan who followed Caleb’s magnificence with a puttering, slow, hic-coughing attempt. He tried too hard to get “the big one”, he knew his limits, but chose to ignore it every first hit he took, especially in the company of strangers.
The Pot hit quickly, and Caleb felt good about coming, but a slight paranoia crept in and made him itch for more comfortable surroundings. Jahan buried his face into a mirror strewn with messy, finely powdered coke, stuffing a tightly rolled ten-dollar bill up his right nostril and snorting a three-inch path clear. Chezney took the bill, doing the same, then Jenna, then some guy named Carlos. Caleb edged his way over to the action, hoping it would alleviate his stoniness enough to feel comfortable.
The entire room was chitchatting about inane things, looking like a crowd at the intermission of a hilarious Broadway play, just substitute the sideburns and hiphuggers for Manicures and “business casual”. Jahan felt like pouncing on Veronica, every time he looked at Chezney, it made him long for a lay, he mulled over taking off and going in alone, but he felt that there were powers (and security) in numbers.
“Anybody up for some coffee…maybe something to eat?” he scanned peoples expressions, which he found to be accepting of the proposition.
“I’m heading to The Saucer if anybody wants to go…”
“Yeah, I’ll go with you” Jenna wanted to have someone else get the coffee for a change, Caleb had her get three so far.
“Okay…” Chezney clapped her hands, and did her best at an SNL impression “goin’ for coffee, the coffee man, mister coffee, alright, coooffeee, the cafienator.” It was excusable, she was a stranger, she’s on coke, and her lungs probably still had a liter of pot smoke in them. Besides all that, she’s a hottie.
The Saucer was pretty well packed for Wednesday night at one, but there was a sitting area for six open (that was one of the smaller areas, the furniture mostly being comprised of old couches and love seats from the fifties, and a few newer ones that had Bauhaus elements to them). Kestlë came over as soon as she was done frothing a cappuccino for that old spooky guy who was always there alone, tapping away at his laptop, mumbling about something, Kestlë swore he mumbled about conspiracies, and said she even once saw that he was writing about an Alien committee that ruled earth like fate.
“So, what can I get you guys?” Jenna and her did the little cute girlfriend wave, and both smiled mouthing “hi”.
“A la…” Kestlë quickly interrupted Caleb’s order
“I knnnow what YOU want.” She poked him with her Bic rollerball, right in his armpit as he stretched, trying to coax more oxygen into his bleary frontal lobe.
Jahan ordered a latté too, and Jenna, and Chezney, they chuckled a little more each time someone ordered one, Chezney probably ordered one for the hat trick of laughs. Kestlë wandered off to another table, snickering at the silliness erupting at the table. She had to know how messed up the whole group was, she herself was probably going to take a few tokes before bed (just to get to sleep, you see).
Veronica sat four tables down, chatting with some other girl, a brunette with a bleached streak through her hair and a nose ring. Jahan glanced over, but quickly turned his attention back to the table.
“You see that monkey in Japan that held the kitten hostage?”
Caleb Started laughing hysterically, he was there when Jahan had seen it on Hard Copy.
“Whaaaat?” Jenna slapped the table “Nooo way! Get out!”
Chezney gave a somewhat stupefied look “Are you serious? A monkey? What for?”
“I don’t know, I guess the police were chasing it down, and the thing just grabbed a kitty and made out like it meant business” He kept his dignified, conversational tone while Caleb rolled back into the couch, gently pushing into Jenna.
“What, had the Monkey been watching COPS?” Chezney followed Jahan’s lead and tried to make it a good segway into the nights topic line.
“Must have, the cops backed off and the monkey got away…unbelievable, but true”
“You should have seen it, the monkey had the kitty like this…” Caleb made out like he was holding a cat up to his mouth “…and he gave a look” he imitated a mad monkey face, which looked like a nerd squinting to see small writing on a chalkboard.
“It’s so surprising the similarities between primates, I mean, it actually knew that the humans valued the cat enough to stop chasing him” Chezney peeked Jahan’s attention.
“yeah, and the way it just held it toward its mouth showed the threat”
“amazing…did you know that bonobos screw as much as one hundred times a day?” Jenna tried to lighten the conversation, Everyone laughed.
“Now, there’s my kind of woman” Caleb raised his eyebrows.
“You were all done after two times sweetie” Jenna pinned him with a past reference out of the blue. He blushed a bit.
“Well, I was drunk, it took twice to sober up, when I realized it was you…” Jenna slapped him on the shoulder and stuck out her tongue in a tease.
“Fuck you, funny boy, you were the one begging me”
Chezney and Jahan looked at each other and shrugged, smiling. Kestlë came over with the lattés
“anything else, and I’ll be on my ass finally, so don’t bug me” she slapped her ass as she strutted away. The group got quiet as they adjusted and primped their new conversational props. They intermittently sighed and chuckled while sipping.Caleb slowly looked at Jenna.
“Jenna…” he sipped a hot tiny lip wetter “what’s Kestlë’s deal?”
Jenna cocked her head towards him and crumpled her brow. “Whatever do you mean?” semi-sarcastically, trying to make it sound as if he were about to ask if she were married.
“No, nah, not like that…” He gave a pffft “…I mean, who does she hang out with, she’s always working”
“Ohhh…I think she goes to school, I mean, I know she goes to school, I just don’t for what…why?”
He shrugged and lit a Djarum. “She just seems pretty cool, a little distant, like she almost has a veil between her and the world, but I just always wondered what she did besides serve schleps like us our little lattés and cookies.”
They all nodded, except Chezney, who laughed “Wow, you seem to have thought that out.”
Jahan smiled “He doesn’t have to think things out, he just sounds smart, but he’s really a quote making machine, bent on making new clichés.”
Chezney snickered “automated cliché generation, what will we think of next…”
“gastro-intestinal overload valves?” Jenna had to shit, but never did in public, or rather, in public facilities, no matter the urgency, she could squeeze her buns together, almost creating a nuclear reaction in the process. Caleb had noticed it once, and thought she had been working out.
“Ewwww…” Chezney made a disgusted face, then smirked “I could use one of those sometimes” She decided not to be too disgusted, knowing that these people held no pretensions in making conversation.
“Caleb could use a butt plug” Jahan opened his mouth, letting his tongue out a bit, knowing it was a good, clean poke. Jenna and Chezney laughed, while Caleb held his arms up as if celebrating his flatulence.
Veronica swept by, followed closely by Kjoren, a Norwegian who came over a few years ago to work at a ski factory as a designer. He drove around in a BMW M3, and Caleb and Jahan always made fun of him, both being jealous. Veronica glanced at Jahan as she whooshed by, giving a faint, almost sad smile of acknowledgement. Jahan didn’t see The Viking Boy (as they called him) at first, feeling a tingle of joy, that, when he realized she was going to get doinked by Kjoren, led to a shower of numbness and depression.
Caleb could see the change in Jahan’s expression, however small it was, and knew he had to quickly cover the growing odor of disappointment.
“So, Chezney, Jenna told me you work in porn, how is that?” Even Jahan couldn’t help but laugh at that one.
“Ohh, you know…” She acted as if it were true “I love my work, and the sex, well, the sex is great.”
“So, you do bestiality, right?” Jahan took his mind off Veronicas perceived adultery off his mind for the time being.
“Of course… that’s where the money is”
They bantered about the various hard core scenes they had seen in porno flicks, and laughed and cajoled.
Veronica got out of the BMW, bent down, and said “good night and thanks for the ride” to Kjoren, glad she didn’t have to walk home from the Saucer this late.
“Coul me?” Kjoren’s accent was thick and had just gotten to the point where people understood most everything he said, but there were still words he didn’t say a lot that were all together unintelligible.
“yeah…sure” She didn’t really mean it, she just had to be polite, even if he were a bum with a bottle in a bag, she might have said the same thing.
“You ave my nuembre, riot?” He bent down in the drivers seat, peering up at her.
“yeah, yeah, I think I do” She knew she didn’t, and had never gotten it, but he had called her once, so she figured she could get away with saying it.
“goud, thin coul me”
“Alright…Good night” She closed the door, turned around, walked two steps, turned slightly and gave a flick of a wave, and entered her Building’s entrance while Viking Boy drove away, over-accelerating to show off his macho car.
They all were getting a little weary as the coke was wearing off, Chezney whipped out a little bullet (which was a small, stout vile screwed onto a valve made out of plastic that gave a small, measured snort with a turn of a lever) and passed it around. There was no chance of being noticed with the lighting the way it was. Everyone took a couple blasts, not even thinking twice about bed or home.
“Thanks, babe” Caleb held up his arm for Kestlë to come over. She strolled over with order pad in hand.
“What can I get ‘cha?”
“Some water?” Caleb sniffed a couple times
“Sure, is that it?”
Everyone looked at each other. Jenna nodded.
“sure thing, any more, before I ignore you?”
They all decided to have another latté. A few moments later she came back with the water, and went back to do up the lattés. Caleb dipped his finger in the water, held it close to his right nostril, and sucked the refreshing cold water over the itchy tissues. He handed the glass to Jahan, who did the same. The girls looked on in half disgust, half envy of what they were doing, not allowing themselves to do the same.
Chezney got up to go to the bathroom, gave Jenna a brow-up look to come with and said “come with?”
Jenna got up without question (women’s unspoken code of honor or something) Jahan and Caleb stayed silent until the girls were a few safe feet away.
“I wanna do her.” Caleb overemphasized the “wanna” falling back in the couch.
“She is hot man, she isss hot.”
“Did you see her ass as she walked away? Did you see that?”
“The way it mouthed “I wanna screw Jahan?”
“Yeah? I thought it said “I want Jahan to screw off so I can get some from Caleb”” Caleb imitated an ass talking by squeezing his cheeks with both hands. Both of them laughed until Kestlë came up and slapped Caleb on the noggin.
“You guys want the bill?” She fluttered the multi-colored scrap of paper in Jahan’s face.
“We have to PAY for service like THIS?” Jahan snatched the paper from Kestlë’s loose grip, took at look at the numbers and reached in his pocket for the wad of twenties.
“Nice wad… what’re you doin’ later?” Kestlë bite her tongue and raised her eyebrows smiling.
Jahan nodded and gave a quiet chuckle. He felt a little uneasy with so much money always around, he never got used to it, even though he had been dealing pot for a few years. He didn’t bother with eighths and quarters, only QP’s and Pounds. He stumbled into controlled substance brokerage (as he liked to call it), his older brother had been growing the shit in his basement, and needed to sell about ten pounds, so Jahan hooked him and his friends up, next thing he knew he had thousands upon thousands of dollars. Only a couple people knew that he dealt, Caleb, his brother, Micah (Ponce de Crayon was his nick name, or just crayon, he was colorful, but simple minded) He was an old friend that lived in western Massachusetts, dealt the shit to the young bohems, and Jenna, who knew, but didn’t buy any (she didn’t have to, Jenna got free pot just for being around).
Jahan handed Kestlë forty bucks and she meandered off, going table to table giving out checks, slapping people, laughing and collecting dough. She Made enough working here, about fifteen dollars an hour on average, which allowed her to drive a nice used Jeep, live in a decent one bedroom, and buy cool enough threads, which, to her, was a version of happiness.
Chezney and Jenna came back looking like friendly, familiar cats who just munched a friendly, familiar parakeet.
“Let’s go boys…you get the check yet?” Jenna still had a devilish grin lurking behind her façade of “oh, nothings up”
“Yeah, we got it” Jahan tried to peer into Jenna’s eye’s to see something in her thoughts.
“Whhhhat!?” She got defensive about that look…THAT look.
Jahan shook his head “Let’s boot”
The Clock glowed 2:53 while Caleb started up the ’79 Volvo 240. Jenna snagged the front seat before Jahan got anywhere close, when she got in she turned back and smiled at Chezney as she was sitting down into the paper strewn backseat. Jahan slipped in, bumping his knee into the front seat, which was pushed all the way back, just how Jahan liked it. Caleb checked the rear mirror as he snapped the car into reverse, catching Chezney leaning over and whispering in Jahan’s ear.
“Where are you sleeping tonight?”
Jahan had to catch his breath, caught completely off guard. He looked her in the eyes, and spoke softly “What about your apartment?” She grabbed his upper arm and squeezed, her breath warming his cheek.
They didn’t say another thing until Caleb and Jenna were driving away from the Spanish gate.
“So, How was she?” Caleb hadn’t been sitting for more than three or four seconds, he was still adjusting his butt into the couch. Jahan just smiled, shook his head like saying “you wouldn’t believe it” but he coyly said “I don’t fuck and tell”
“yeah, right, you’re so full of shit” Caleb was disappointed that he was hearing about asses wagging in the air, but he didn’t really expect to get the skinny.
“You did Jenna last night, didn’t you?” Jahan turned the tables
“Why would you think that?”
“You always do her when you guys are alone”
“You tell me about Chezney, I’ll tell you about Jenna’s new jewelry”
“A month ago”
“what’s it like?”
“Ohhh man………..that’s so funny”
Kestlë came up with two lattés, her order book in her arm pit. “Here you go” she carefully clicked the saucers onto the burlwood table, took a cloth and wiped around the sides to make sure that they were completely dry on the outside.
“We don’t have to order anymore?” Jahan was looking at Caleb, but it was meant to be an open comment.
“Well, if you guys want something else, I can charge you for these and bring them back” she bumped her butt against the couch as a silly insult, making a fart sound as she left.
“she’s a freak man” Caleb shifted his cup closer to the edge of the table, ready to get comfortable for the next few hours of sedentary social meditation. Jahan sat forward, held his elbows on his knees and opened his hands outstretched slightly.
“You know, last night was odd as hell, I never expected in a million years that that would happen… she just asked me outright “wanna fuck?”, I mean, what do you do? Well, I know what to do, but, I mean, how the fuck does shit like that happen? She must be a slut or something…I swear”
“when did you guys start getting along so well?”
Jahan searched an imaginary hat bill with his eyes, pfffting.
“I don’t know, we barely even said anything the whole night, probably nothing directed at one another. I think in the car was the first time she actually even said anything to me, which was the “wanna fuck” thing. Did Jenna say anything to you about it, ‘cause I’m lost in this whole thing, I mean, who just meets someone and doinks them? Besides me.”
Caleb held his hand over his mouth and laughed at Jahan’s realization that it takes two.
“no man, she didn’t say anything, she just said that Chezney thought you were funny is all, I don’t know, ask her what happened, I don’t listen to much Jenna says, except the “now, now, NOW!”
He makes the nows sound high pitched and short breathed
“See” Jahan raised his eyebrows in an “I told you so gesture”
“Yeah, well, she loves my thing…so, what’s the deal with you and Chezney? Are you guys hooked up, ooooor?”
“I have NO idea” He shrugged and paused, sipping a little and reaching into his front pocket for a smoke. Caleb did the same.
“Hey, there’s a new movie at the Wilton town theatre, an indie thing”
“Which one?” Jahan knew that most movies at the Wilton town theatre were pretty good, the theatre couldn’t ever afford to get Hollywood stuff, so it took the high road and got independent films from Europe and New York.
“I forget the name, something like Le Blahblah de Blah”
“Le Chein des Chiniose?” Jahan almost sounded like he knew what he was talking about, but Caleb could just feel the sarcasm.
“No, Maybe it was Le Chein Des Your Ass”
“Cool, what time does it start?” Jahan looked at his watch, saw that it was barely four.
“Ten” Caleb took a huge gulp of coffee “I have to call Jenna, I’ll be right back” He got up and headed for the back, where there was an old British Telephone booth.
Jahan Collapsed in the couch, laying on his side. He closed his eyes and let the borderline too cold artificially cooled air penetrate his skin, it felt like his childhood bed for a moment, the drafty pre-revolution boards letting the Canadian coldfront air have its’ way. He could smell the candle he had keep by his bed, and the faint pine of the time hardened beams. Veronica sauntered by, a soft attaché case slung over her shoulder, and a rolled up glossy magazine in her hand. She came across the red leather Hepplewhite smoking chair that sat under a tall brass and stained glass reading light, placed her attaché on the small table that finished The single, separated setting. She pulled a thin laptop from her attaché, powered it up and sat quietly waiting for Kestlë to come over. Caleb slowly shuffled his way back to the table, waving hi to some chick he recognized from some party or another. She smiled and waved back, half excited by knowing someone when her friend (who she was sitting with, in the midst of gabbing) didn’t. She had to be about seventeen, maybe eighteen, but the way she was dressed made her look mid-twenties, a long loose fall colored dress led up to a tailored suit vest type thing, all matching like butter. Her friend glared at him like he was interrupting a cabinet meeting during a nuclear stand-off. He half jumped into the couch, and bopped his head, apparently with nothing to say. Jahan sat up quickly, feeling as though he were caught sleeping on the job.
“getting’ some rest, huh?”
“uh, yeah, well, I feel like a tractor trailer went up my nose and skidded on my brain”
“I felt that way this morning, but Jenna had some more, so it went away”
“what were you calling her about, anyway?”
“Just seeing if she needed anything”
Jahan was more than a bit confused, perplexed, really, even mystified.
“What the fuck happened to Caleb, ‘cause he was here a minute ago, I was talking to him…” He pointed towards the phone booth “…he went back there, but, I don’t think he ever came back. What the fuck is up with that?”
Caleb shook his head laughing “Fuck you man, fuuck you”
“No, no, no, no, no…fuck you and your…” Jahan started a mocking tone “…”I don’t listen to a word she says”” He laughed heavily and pointed at Caleb “She got you, she did, what’d she say? What the hell did she con you into? She trapped you into saying something didn’t she? Ahhh, she’s a clever girl, she is, but I never knew HOW clever…until now.”
“You’re right, whatever….whatever you say” Caleb tried to kill the subject by pooh-poohing it, but Jahan had heard too many times things like “Dude, what? You think I give a shit about her?” and “She’s just a lay” not omitting “I never would call her, she calls me” Jahan knew it was the Big Lie now, he was the orator of truth.
“You are such a dick, are you just doing this for a constant lay, orrrr, are you falling from the good graces of other women, and playing it safe?”
“Hey…she’s cool, why are you dissing it?” Caleb got a wee bit defensive about it, knowing that Jahan was right that he had always dealt with Jenna on a very selfish level, but feeling that he could do a one-eighty if the need suited him, which, with no other women at his beckon call, this was that time.
“I’m just giving you flak for being such a dick to her”
“We never had any sort of commitment, we could do anything we wanted, I wasn’t being a dick.”
“Oh, what about the time you told her you that she was this and that to you, and you’d never hurt her, and then the next day you stood her up and did her friend there, what was her name?”
“How the fuck did you know about that? That was like three years ago”
“I don’t know, the guy writing thought did, but I actually don’t know anything about it, and oh yeah, her name was…” dramatic pause “Stephanie?”
“Yeah, yeah, but that’s so old, we were, what? Like nineteen? And you never did that shit to get laid? Like…” mocking Jahan’s last comment “…Gretchen?”
Jahan gave up, Caleb had dug up the one-two punch with perfect timing. Gretchen was this chick that he had totally pursued for three months, ignoring everybody else, Every party, every chance, he was on her like road kill on pavement. He spoke nothing but Gretchen propaganda, even made sure his answering machine was Gretchen friendly, with a little ditty on it, just in case she called.
They finally went out, Jahan got his weenie wet, and never called her again. Everybody knew, everybody heard the story, it became the Jahan story amongst the group, and THE Story behind the closed doors of Gretchen’s bedroom door for the next two months. It was a villainous, slimy, putrid thing to do. He didn’t mean to do it, just as Caleb hadn’t ever meant to hurt Jenna, or any man hadn’t wanted to hurt any woman, but it just happened that way. Men find themselves in awkward, unbalanced, illogically situations at times when it comes to sex. In the animalistic view, men are probably much like other primate males, become the go to guy, fight off competition, and always look for more genetic pools to dive into, but “civilized” people don’t believe in that, although they practice it. So Caleb and Jahan are really the victims (I see you crying for them, oh, I do…you’re crying on the inside). Anyway, Jahan felt a sting of guilt, he knew he fucked up, but, at the time he wasn’t thinking about it, he was much more interested in who he was, what his wants were (which were always combating, juxtaposed wants, some of which seemed like needs for bits of time, only to end up as fancies not worthy of contemplation, Gretchen).
“Isn’t that Erin?” Jahan switched subjects with relative ease.
“Is that her name? She was at that party we had for Micah, right?”
“yeah, she slept with him, I think, at least that’s what Micah said”
“No, Micah said he did that chick from the grocery store…” Caleb searched for the right name “Lara… Dara…Tara…”
“Sarah?” Jahan saved Caleb from overheating his frontal lobe
“That’s a strange name” he shook his head at the absurd things people call themselves
“Must have been hippie parents”
“Who’s her little friend?”
Caleb looked back, and turned around with disinterest “I don’t know but she gave me the evil eye a minute ago, she was all…” He made a bitch face, raising his upper lip, letting his lower just hang, and crossing his eyes a little.
“She must know you then”
“have you eaten?” Jahan sounded as though he were inviting Caleb to dinner
“Nah, I’m not really hungry”
“I take it you haven’t had anything today, huh?”
“Well, I should, did you want to order something?”
“I don’t know if anything here is what I want…”
“What do you want” Caleb extended the do to make it sound philosophical, itching for something deeper to evolve from long lazy times at a coffee shop in east butt fuck. He was like that with a lot of things, just waiting for it to become more, rather then either making it more, or realizing that it was what it was. He came across like a wayward Buddhist, indulgent with a softness of spirituality, atheistic, yet moral (relative to the surrounding world of the twentieth century, where cash siphoning organized religions and PAC loving politicians are near the top of the moral standard)
“I want a big, steamy, salty, soft pretzel, like that one at J.F.K. that I had, man that was so fucking good.”
“I didn’t have one of those, why the hell didn’t you tell me about that?”
“You were off getting that grease ridden pizza for one”
“bastard, I spent ten minutes on the can because of that damn piece of crap”
“I know, I could smell it…why do you think that cute chick didn’t want to talk to you after that”
“no way…aw man, I always wondered about that…one minute we’re exploring each others eyes, then, bam, she just kind of was….was…all shy”
“she was disgusted, not shy”
“yeah, you made an ass out of yourself”
Caleb refused to even laugh at that one, a flash of past embarrassments swarmed his consciousness. A few years ago (when everything seemed assured in the world, where who you hung out with could be assumed to be allies, the acknowledged mysteries of life and death could be summarized in less than three hundred words, when immortality was a right somewhere in the constitution, and love was two dates and twenty minutes of sex) he had taken acid, it wasn’t the first time, but definitely the last.
He took the dose at about nine at night, everyone (the group of twelve that always hung out) had decided to go to a place in the woods where there was an old fire pit. It was a mile or so away from a relatively new development of houses that had sprung up during the 1980’s when most of the town was employed by government contractors. A small dirt road extended from the development, and meandered down a hillside to a remnant of old New Hampshire, a bow hunting practice area. It was as primitive as it sounds, a few Adirondack style shelters, a small sign made out of burlwood that simply said Watannic (which must have been an Abanakki word for something relating to either hunting or maybe immediate area) Bowman (which, of course, meant what it said). There was an absurdly large uneven dirt parking lot, which bore the scars of thirty years of peel outs and donuts from the local teen (and drunk) population.
They left their cars there, and filed down a trail no wider than five feet. At night, the going was slow, the over hanging pine, oak and birch limbs absorbed most of the moonlight, and the rest shifted quietly on the forest floor, playing constant tricks on the eyes that focused so intently on the small dirt snaking trail. The short drive to the parking lot from the meeting place (which was a light pole at the local shopping plaza, not too classy, but easy and efficient) was enough to bring on the first bits of the acid, which would hit with full force in about another hour. No one used a flashlight anymore, the path and them had a certain relationship, built over four years of weekly run-ins, and Caleb had no problem seeing in the dark with his pupils expanding to overshadow his irises, leaving a small ring of sky blue. The walk through the woods was always done as quietly as possible, maybe a lingering genetic reaction to the woods, no matter how devoid of predators. Everyone held the rogue branches that attempted to block them back for the next person, and waited at the other side of fallen trees to warn each other. It had become a ritualistic exercise in cohesiveness, a little like the blind fall backwards into a groups ready arms. Bullfrogs bleated their calls, and echoing rustles of squirrels and awakened birds scurried through the damp cool New England air.
Jahan was behind him, also beginning to feel a need to giggle senselessly with the clean chemical accumulating in his blood. The trail branched off four ways in the span of fifty feet, but the group stayed true to their destination. The trail exploded into a vast open area, which was about one hundred feet across, and ten times that long, pouring down a hill to a three acre pond, with a pretentiously loud brook, which was all of nine feet across, yet bellowing like a spring river. The fire pit was close to the edge of the woods, a natural amphitheater curved around it about one hundred and fifty degrees, reaching up a total of twenty feet in a semi-steep incline. A few small shrubs sat in attendance, along with gravel and sparse wild grass. At the bottom of the slope were a few large rocks, painstakingly rolled into place as seating, a wide stout cross section of a tree, fairly smooth from the thrice weekly asses polishing it, and a stack of logs and kindling built upon every time they came down, gathering more than they used, insuring that one day, they could build ten night long fires, and never run out. On the other side of the pit was a fifteen foot log, old and dried, branchless and barkless, the best seat in the house. Everyone started half stumbling around the area for kindling and dried branches, Caleb ended up back in the pitch black woods, picking up tiny sticks and leaves as the group got further and further away.
Blue and red geometric shapes started to hover around the air, and a cold chill shot up his back, dissipating with a prolonged tingle in his scalp. A gentle hum became noticeable, the trip had begun. He knew he could hear people chatting and a fire starting to crackle, but the sounds bounced around the trees, the crickets tried to over power the beacon of safety, and the confusing darkness challenged his curiosity.
The cracks of bio-mass under his feet frightened him as if the sounds weren’t a result of his existence, but rather his primitive stalking predators, too close to ignore, yet still hidden in the bleak darkness that ensured humans would never be a nocturnal bunch. Caleb would assure himself that everything was okay, rational thought was still possible, as he moved on, fumbling on for fodder, stopping every few moments to listen to an animals scurrying, or his own heart thump with the rush of psychosomatic adrenaline. He stopped, felt for a good place on the ground to find solace, and crouched taut, for hours. The rest of the night was a blur, he knew they had found him at one point, and he could barely communicate, but mostly he remembered the coldness the terror of interaction caused him. He remembered he had wandered off after they had left him alone, and found his way to the parking lot, then the road, and another, and another, the whole time darting into the woods every time a cars lights came blazing through the stillness, then continuing on after a random amount of time.
He made it home, hours later, relieved to have made it without getting on the news during a rescue attempt or arrest. The relief of laying in the bed that bore his own scent flowed like Valium through his muscles, the paranoia and rushing thought, combined with ten miles of walking had drained him of fear for the time being, the weightlessness of coming down had set in.