It was time to make a trip down Epsilon Train. I had been wearing mismatching socks in a dream the night before and went to the extreme to slide black on the left and white on the right.
After his cherry tomatoes and creamy French, Cameron made a daring suggestion. I don’t remember the bold statements that shot from my mouth, but I do recall being fueled by my hatred for The Fear of him. After countless sitting situations when we were ends apart, he sat down in front of me with a plastic sack.
He held out a half for me, and I watched him pop the bright red Jamaican Rose pepper into his mouth and begin to chew. “If you trust Cameron, you can see he obviously decided that it was safe,” said the black sock. “You don’t trust Cameron, and you know this is crazy. That’s why you must beat him at his own game,” agreed the white. I went for it.
Cameron bailed for the trash, spit his out, and briefly collapsed on the floor. With Mandi shouting like a tug-of-war coach, I chewed the shit out of mine…and swallowed. High five.
Then my head went into shock.
Dark kitchen. Cameron leaned over the sink and I hung over the counter, drinking. Bread. Ice cube. Trying to breathe. My eyes were crying and my top lip actually puckered out slightly in suffering reaction. I could hear Cameron’s sick, nasal laugh in between gulps of air and suckage. He was allowed to laugh all he wanted. He knew I’d won.
And that, dear social scientists, was enough for me.
Departure From Wisconsin Ave
As much as I would like to portray the ever-optimistic ray of hope and reason, a dark cloud has descended over our social fuse box and now, when I glance outside the sun room at the Wisconsin Avenue street sign, this gloomy haunting cannot be ignored.
Justin’s home is falling down, falling down, falling down.
My story certainly didn’t start it; the reality is no doubt a sickness that has been eating away at the base, tiny morsels at a time. Now that the situation’s decreasing health is painfully recognizable, the time for a cure has come and gone. I’m just pissed off that I took the symptoms for granted, quite physically – the rooms were collecting dirt and clutter and the carpet began to saturate with water. As we all moved across the floors, we didn’t think twice about the demolishing quality under our feet or around us; we just went about the games.
It wasn’t until I walked up to the porch, saw the front door’s hinges broken and proceeded to walk into a living room with no carpet at all- the long couch missing entirely- and admitted to be standing in a rotting, empty room that I said to myself, “Goddamn. The force is leaving us.”
I sat down in my favorite chair and Justin took his recliner. With no other available seating, it was the end tables, the two chairs and one wide-screen television sitting in an otherwise empty room. You could almost hear J’s voice echo when he instructed to Mandi, “You can sit on the floor, but I suggest using that comforter.” Good advice, as I spotted tiny shards of glass from when Jimmy foolishly broke something.
With the grey sky outside providing half-ass lighting, I spilled the beans about Mandi’s dumbass plan. You see… Mandi is leaving me in one year’s time, to join the fucking navy. You have no idea, the hurt I feel inside. Former partner in crime, illegally insane Manderz Porno is trading everything she has for some discipline, something to tell her what to do, a number and then some. I say again, you have no idea, this betrayal and abandonment I feel inside. My life has been a series of losses. I’ve always held my best friends as high as possible and then their term expired – let’s just say that Mandi had promised Camelot, directed me to Flint and then took back everything she’d said.
She was the radical I had voted for after rejecting the way things had always been.
Now she tells me that Miss Anarchy Rules is going to sign her soul on a dotted line, thanks to some recruitment officer who flirted heavily and insisted that robots could have just as much fun as redheads. The fact that she is merely planning this has caused her to begin falling in my eyes, as cruel as it is to say.
Rage Against The BubbleGum Machine. It’s eating my heart.
I’m not sure if anyone else knows what’s really going on. I sense that Justin feels it in his gut, from watching him shrug the weight off his shoulders, letting bundles of despair fill up the space around him, in masses of emptiness and absence. What concerns me most is the end of the rope around Justin and Bryce’s collective necks – this time, they swear, is the last. Unforgivables, unforgettables, lack of trust, this and that, after 15 years of friendship this pain is outweighing their life together.
Tonight, Justin, Mandi and Autumn gathered on the floor of that quiet, spinal cord of an address, and I thought about all of the company that had passed through the rooms. The DJ who had taken a break from his lonely radio shift to visit with Crystal, the Ecstasy fiend… Girls whose names I never caught had floundered around, many having followed Justin upstairs. Bryce had stormed in, wrestling and pantsing Justin countless times. Older brother Lance had eerily paced with tired eyes and humble secrets, responsible for the parade of sex and mystery that was his own gang… everyone tearing the house down because the mother had fallen into a deep depression and was either out of state or rarely emerging from her bedroom, anymore.
Now everything was gone, and we listened to the droning television talk about entertainment culture the way it always had, and we took turns sketching on each others’ exposed skin with ink. Justin mapped out across my arm, “bryce’s hairy ass” and Cameron’s body parts before writing obscene remarks on Mandi’s back, such as “My name is MANdi, and I can’t even get a date at the humane society”.
Jake had gotten home late for curfew, his older brother was in bed, blown out, and Bryce was victim of his job the next morning, in bed after another boring night delivering pizza. Huddled for the company, Justin, Mandi and Autumn were the outcome of the big picture – just us, still burning, still coming down, well aware of the dead end but too afraid to say anything on our minds.
Around 4-5 a.m., Mandi and I exited like senseless zombies – not necessarily tired, but more so drained of any emotion at all, and very slow. We had always taken full advantage of our energy until all desire was drained. Mandi took the wheel and I began to feel hostile towards her. I was upset at her, suddenly, for driving my car. I was upset at her CD in my discman. I was upset for the comments she made. I was upset about all of her things strewn in the back, whatever possessions those were. I hated the way she had turned the key to start the car and I disapproved at how she fumbled to turn on the lights.
Like the leaves, I was turning, too.
“Put this on number 7; it’s the best song in the world.” I hated the way she insisted that Stairway To Heaven was the best song in the world, especially after commenting, “I want to know what they’re talking about, dammit! I wonder what those hidden meanings are.” The best song in the world, because of its age and hoopla, is Stairway to Heaven, but she doesn’t even understand what she “knows”. I decided to not even begin.
Sparing the lecture, we came upon a frightening image just up the street from Justin’s house…a car, crashed into some trees, suspended from its way down into a huge ditch. The thing was totaled and its lights were the only lights on in the entire neighborhood…when no one was looking, someone had lost control.
Now fully alert, the three of us were standing at the scene, exploring. The passenger’s side door had been opened but there was no rider to be found. As Justin phoned the police, Mandi and I disappeared, shaken and hightailing as we probably should have been from the moment we arrived in Flint.
By noon the next day, I was collecting all of Mandi’s shit from around my bedroom. She had left her navy packet on the table, her watch strapped to the bunk, her tee-shirt that I gave her on the chair…was she trying to leave these things behind on purpose, maybe subconsciously? I have the bad habit of leaving items behind…like an unintentional intent to return. I wanted all of that shit out.
She bickered, “you had no right telling anyone I was going into the navy” to which I replied, “I don’t see why it’s some secret, what you want to do to us. Unless of course you don’t want to look like a bitch in case you pull out. I can tell anyone I want to.” “This is my decision” – “it sure is! I sure didn’t choose this for you”, “I would like your support” “well I don’t support it on principle and cannot help that” “it’ll be good for me” “it’ll break you”, on and on. Not a good time.
The drive to her house was quiet. The turn signal broke off into my hands.
When she stepped out, she was gone. The passenger side door had been opened and there was no rider to be found.
Pulling into my driveway, I sat for a moment, looking for a place to put the memories so that I could walk up the front porch stairs and start over. Then I left everything at Starlight, where we are all crammed into the corner booth after a pool tournament. Justin is talking about penis size, Dominic is encouraging him, Cameron is to my left, mysterious and silent, Mandi to his opposite, loud as hell. Bryce is good with the union, slapping hands with Jake over a diss aimed at Justin…the waitress is smiling from the glow everyone has brought to the place….I am watching everyone, very excited and I am thrilled at the escape that the night has been…the only good girl in a thick puddle of testosterone, feeding on their youth and outsider sarcasm. Leaving us all together, in love and at ease…
…I turned the ignition off.