first thing I noticed was that she was a mess; haggard and worn out. She
was showing Jacob her breasts, and she came over to me. "No, no thank you,"
I said. This was a marker on the times we spent. Orbiting the same axes
were myself, Jacob Carroll, Nathan Atkins, Jeremy Holcomb, Ryan Dorman,
and occasionally others who would catch in the spiral and drain. Stratified
in the lowest rung of high school, we bonded like... well, like only freaks
can. Unified by a collective retreat into fantasy, we lived a subterranean
life uncool, sick and sad, running through abandoned apartment buildings,
staying up late, late, late.
by an unsavory collection of personal obsessions; rudimentary behavioral
patterns not yet cemented into habit, i.e. comic books, pornography, role-playing
games, pathological lying, nascent punk rock &c, we congregated at one of
our houses, never mine of course, as my mother was always a little too attentive,
and it was better when we could be someplace without parental supervision.
My house was always the cleanest, though...
was usually a good option; he had the basement of his house all to himself,
and he demonstarted his unchallengeable rule there with a pyramid of Coke
cans, standign at least four feet high, a monument to caffeine consumption,
artificial frenzy and the stilted, staggered social life of the misfit.
We could gather, hunched around a table, rolling polyhedric dice of various
sizes, complaining bitterly about the injustices of worlds both real and
imagined, seething with frustration, unrepentant masturbators of the mind.
however, had an even better place, an apartment that technically belonged
to his mother, but she was always either working on a fishing boat up in
Alaska or in jail. So he had no supervision whatsoever, despite the assurances
of his sister, a coke-fiend and (accused) crack whore who drew a stipend
for "taking care" of Jake. Since she obviously had better things to do,
the apartment was rapidly transformed into a shrine to adolescence run riot;
a clubhouse that nobody had to build. All he had to eat was saltine crackers,
and we were all poor as rats, but it was heavenly for a while, when nobody
vanished is when it all seemed to start for us. He was gone for four days,
on the streets apparently, and his sister, fulfilling her obligations, called
all of his friends. I had been out of touch with him for a while, so I decided
to get out and find him, which I did. He was hanging out with this girl
he had met. Her name was Drifter.
met her as part of some live action fantasy gaming thing that Jeremy Holcomb
was playing. She had a boyfreind, but he went somewhere, and so now she
was Jacob's girlfriend. I told him about his sister, and he said that he
was going to move back into the apartment this weekend, and that I should
sneak out on Sunday night and come over.
out of the house, at that time, was incredibly easy; I lived in a basement
room, and all I had to do was slide my window and climb out, being careful
to not make any sound, dropping three feet to the ground, climbing up a
rock wall through our neighbor's property, and voila! I was free. I had
done it before, taking night walks up to the 50/50 convenience store to
buy snack food.
I went, ears tingling in the newly cool autumn air. The leaves were almost
off the trees by now; I could feel winter coming south from Canada. I put
my hands in my pockets and walked up the hill to catch the 54 bus, which
would take me close enough.
had moved in with Jacob, and he had for some reason moved their bed, the
bed that they now shared, into the living room, perhaps to faciliatate ease
in watching TV. Jacob smoked 7 cigarettes. Drifter smoked 4. I didn't smoke
any. They ran out. We went to buy more, Jacob using his fake ID. Interbay
is the west face of Queen Anne Hill; there's a Darigold ice cream plant
and softly clacketing, passing trains. Freeways arch and curve over it,
deserted. A golf course where we ran crazed lays deserted; mini-markets
and fast food places line the streets. We walked, and for the first time
that year, I saw my breath.
we returned to the apartment, chapped lips and clattering teeth. I paid
for groceries, being remarkably flush from my paper route, and Jacob put
a tape of pornographic animated cartoons into the VCR. I felt uncomfortable.
her shirt, she leaned over in my direction.
went into the room that Jacob's sister would sleep in, if she ever did,
and closed the door. Fully clothed, I lay down on the mattress, and through
the paper-thin walls overheard Drifter trying to convince Jacob to let her
try and seduce me into having sex with her. Jacob told her I would never
do it. I closed my eyes and sank my face into a pillow, but sleep came so
up with a head full of fog, I heard two sets of gentle snoring in the front
room. Pulling open the window, I climbed out under a sky ludicrously peopled
with stars, so they shone without differentiation.