One Day,

Dad decided he wanted to eat out after he’d been drinking, and for whatever reason I didn’t insist that I drive. I think I needed to believe in the way he naturally climbed into the driver’s side. It was one of those days where I was dreading the cold seats before my hand reached the door handle. The cold air hurts a little more, pushes you around a little more. And then you hope for his sake that you don’t get pulled over.

He wonders why the Cadillac isn’t a very smooth ride anymore and I suggest it’s because he has become too cheap to fill it with the correct gasoline. He hasn’t caught on, with his disorder, that the more pennies he pinches the worse things are becoming for him.

We settle into a booth at the Chinese restaurant.

I’m twirling the ice around in my drink, wondering what it is about high school dropouts and their theories. My brother has these questionable friends who live from one drug to the next, the fattest one insisting that not all crop circles are fake. Another one sat down next to Chris the other day, explaining how happiness is really just seratonin – a drug the brain releases that fools you into love. He told my impressionable brother that the drug wears off in four years.

I know better.


She Thinks The Grow-Up Boat Missed Her, or, Writing For Julie

Please note that anything in plain text is straight out of Julie’s mouth. People seem to be reading it, getting it backwards. The whole point is that I’m documenting her voice. Quotations are Autumn May’s words.

Ah, God. *Laughs*

I’m laying on Autumn’s bed as she types.

Just got back from the hotel – can still smell the chlorine in my nose. Spent the night babysitting 3 underage boys at the local hotel. Oh God, I don’t know. Um. I find myself incredibly jealous over the cute Furby residing on Autumn’s computer, as my Furby at home doesn’t even know I exist. It’s not fair.

I’m 26 years old. I have tattoos. And I want a fucking Furby. I’m lame.

Strange creepy men staring at us through the poolroom window, that’s always fun. Found a new game to play in the pool where you hook your feet over the ledge and lean backwards for a rush underwater. Not quite a 100mph rush, but still.

Ended up chasing some freaky girl from the boys’ room, “No, she goes. Out”. Such boys.

Still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with today.

Autumn’s voice is heard in the forefront, “What am I going to do with you, Today? SHITCAN YOU?!?!!!

One week till Boston…Matt’s in Florida.

An addition to my Birthday Wishlist: FURBY.

Julie snickers because her typist says, “That’s great, I love how you keep Furby in focus like that”, nearly bumping the sceen with her nose.

I’m still trying to figure out what in the fuck to do with my day.

“Wait. Did you say ‘what IN the fuck’ or ‘What the fuck’“?

Doesn’t Matter.

“I say we mall it.”

I’m cool with that.

First All-Nighter In Some Time

Last night I popped too many uppers and tried to walk into an old memory only to find myself slamming a lopsided puck into the gaping void at the end of my dimension.

7-5, so what else is new. Like Julie was going to win at air hockey? Sure, selecting manual steering would get a few extra heartbeats out of me, but she didn’t stand a chance against my automatic: trying to show someone the good time that I once had.

Not that I knew what I felt like doing instead, having reversed my hours. Wanting so much for the arcade to look enticing, again. Wanting so much for the envelope sticking through the side of the Oldsmobile to be anything but a parking ticket.

If Julie were to pay half I’d only owe Lansing the same amount I’d asked Codewriter for, last night in my dream.

“Woah, what the hell are you doing here!”
“I’m going to vacuum for you. Can I have twenty bucks?”

“I had a dream that my sister was helping your mom bake peanut buttered croutons,” Julie shared under the blinding fluorescent at 7-11. I’d just bought a crunchy, peanut butter-flavored snack bar and the idea that I was toying with connections made my stomach turn worse than when “Beat It” comes over the radio and all I can think of is masturbation.

Maybe I could fool myself about the ongoing donation to lamedom. On the way home we stopped at a scarce 24-hour joint out of anti-climax, pretending that the envelope in my hand was some innocent thing from the bank that had been swept up from the floor to the crack in my door.

“No one calls it fasting, anymore. Call it detox,” I offered, herded with the other brainwashed females of America. Then I sipped elegantly on my Diet Coke until I snapped and ordered the taco salad, anyway.

I was past full and almost on empty when she asked me if I had any regrets.

Times New Roman is Mightier Than the Envelope Opener

There was a phase years ago where I’d jump into a truck and go soaring down the highway, not so much worried about what would happen if I were to tumble out and splatter all over the road as much as what might happen if a cop pulled the driver over for having loose passengers in the back. They would ask me my name and call my parents, a much greater fear back then.

Julie’s brother was a truck driver who once picked us up from school as a special treat, driving the front of his semi. Seeing that huge monster just outside my place of education and realizing it was my ride home for the day, I climbed on with a rush of adrenaline and embarrassment. It was one of my earliest encounters with a friend’s double-sided life.

When she wanted to get away, Julie would drive out to the park and listen to her big brother hassle his muddied, foul-spoken crew. Within the comfort of a different future she could laugh at the jokes, admire the tattoo art, be there for the anarchic parties and back home whenever the sun left her brother’s trailer especially sweltering.

The whole thing was piss-my-pants frightening at first. I’d go from hanging out with a doe-eyed girl in name brand clothing to sitting at a picnic table with men who looked like they would break anyone in half who looked them in the eye for too long. Julie would be sitting across from me, eyeballing their cooler of beer cans like mystery elixir and I’d be thinking what the fuck are we doing here.

Their idea of fun often involved allegedly haunted sites and trespassing. I remember being driven out to a woody area, able to see no more than 10 feet ahead of me and one from the gang handing me a weapon at one point, telling me I might need it… It was some sort of decorative blade or sharpened envelope opener, perfectly matched to the role playing, Pagan overtones many of them seemed to have at heart.

I surfaced from the pool in her backyard and my eyes almost bulged out of my skull when one of the greasy men lept over the side and crashed into the water – jeans, leather vest and all. Sinking down to nose level, I watched Julie and her sister splash around without a care, creating the oddest harmony between their luxurious lifestyle and their older brother’s pack that I had ever seen.

There are a few scenes stored away, fuzzy and short like cell phone videos, of a black light-reflective arcade with an age requirement. Her older brother stands with one of his friends from the trailer park, partners as they aim and shoot at the House Of Dead machine that wasn’t old, yet. I remember him pitching several dollars worth of quarters into the battle but stopping after they had almost conquered it. There was some talk about holding out until next time. I can still see the “continue” numbers counting down and that feeling you get when you worry you might not be able to dive into your pocket in time to save the world.

Eventually I had a falling out with Julie and we went on in opposite directions. A truck would go screaming down my road and firecrackers would explode on my dad’s property, an indication to me that our feud meant war. Many shenanigans followed.

My last memory of her brother is one I regret – he had shown up to Julie’s graduation where I was performing and picked me out from the crowd. I could see his reflection behind me, shining off classroom windows as he silently followed me down a dead end near the choir room. Eventually I turned around to see that his wife had stepped up to confront me.

“Stop harassing Julie. If I hear of you messing with her ever again, you’re going to regret it.”

But this wasn’t Shady Acres. This was my ground, where there were no rebel flags to intimidate me.

“I haven’t talked to her in months. I’m sorry for everything that’s happened and I don’t know why she’s still mentioning me to people.”

Her brother, this huge, strong guy, was off to the side, seeming uncertain about holding my gaze. I had glanced behind his wife to read his face – where was the anger? Why was he frowning like that? He looked very sad and never said a word.

“Look. I don’t really know what you’ve been doing to her, but I’m here to let you know that it’s time to knock it off.

“Would you like to come threaten me in front of my teacher? Cause he’s right through here and I can have you removed.”

Before the words had finished coming out of my mouth they’d turned and started to walk away. So I gave it up and stormed into the classroom, shouting out labels I thought I had repressed. I’d get word through a source, somehow, that the report was “Autumn was shaking in her boots”. It upset me, but I stopped retaliating.

Long after high school sagas and self-discoveries, I saw Julie’s brother in the paper. He had been in an accident on the road and died at the hospital. Something about seeing his photo influenced me to reminisce about the best of those scary times.

Julie and I have started talking again. Last weekend she took me out to her brother’s grave and I bent down in the snow to see his face etched on the black marble. I don’t know how many of her other friends were exposed to her getaway to the extent that I was, or who can best explain the importance of her hero. But I know that my time with Chris left a great enough impression on me to put our war to rest.