“Would that you could touch this angel in a clutch of snake. Oh pretty, pretty I’m aflame.”
I found myself singing to Blake Schwarzenbach in the early morning of a Sunday. I kept my radio on last night, and let it run even after I fell asleep. Inspiring as it was poetic; I picked up my guitar and started to fumble around tabs for this song. It did not take long, for it was conveniently on the top of the pile. The bronze-brass strings rumbled an earthquake and cracked the air of its silence. A million sound waves echoed the room in a symphony of harmonic chords.
I stopped to look at the clock; it read ten forty eight. Kind of early for a Sunday, but I sighed and ran downstairs for Momma’s infamous toast.
Mark left the night before, his parents came blazing by with a Winnebago equipped with its own set of running Christmas lights. Either his dad took a second job, or they sold their two cars for this. I did not really mind it, in fact; I envied his ride.
“Where is your sister?” Momma asked me.
“She’s sleeping,” I said calmly.
“She doesn’t sleep in this late,” she retorted at me.
“She might not be feeling good,” I assured her.
“Okay, eat your toast,” she ordered me.
It does not matter if the toast was black or white, I would eat it anyways. I lost tasting the difference between burnt or fresh toast. After years of constant consumption, daily I might add, it just tastes to same to me, bland and buttery.
Just then, Cap opened the garage door, adjusting her tank tops and jeans as she walks towards the kitchen and up the stairs. She took one foot on the set of steps and Momma stopped her.
“And where were you?” she spoke, loudly.
“I was out,” she said, screwing up my lie. I looked up at Momma, she glared at me; that look that told one to get out of the room. Then she turned to my sister and said, “Come down here, you and I need to talk.”
I got up and walked out the room. Cap strode by me; our shoulders shrugged each other violently. As she passed she said, “There is nothing to talk about.”
“Yes, there is…..” Momma’s voice faded as I took the flight of stairs up to my room. I landed on my bed and laid there for who knows when. “Wish I had something to do,” I yelled at my room. Just at that moment, Momma barged through the door with fearsome might, trampling all over the laying clothes and scrap garbage. She made her way towards me and announces, “The girl at the door wants to see you.” I did not hear the doorbell ring, nor did I hear anyone approaching the house. My room was on the second story, above part of the garage. The two small windows, one facing head on towards the opposite house and one facing to the left, revealing the neighbor’s second story, acted as a watch tower, anything that came and went through this cull de sac. I was losing my touch, it seemed.
“Who, girl?” I asked, puzzled.
“I don’t know her name, but she’s a little small, skinny. She has an overstuffed bag and she has this very light Russian accent. Or was it English?” Momma answered me.
Ingrid, I said to myself. I never noticed her accent, or any light accent. But I have always noticed her overstuffed bag. What did she want? She never bothered me before. We only hung out at Suicide Bridge. During the week, we converse with each other during school and my English class. The only reason she would bother me now, is that because Gerard is too busy to take her shopping – Shopping…In the fashion district is like a hell on earth. I ran down to the door; she was leaning on the porch wall on her back as I opened it.
“Good morning!” she greeted.
“Umm..morning,” I said, shaken.
She eyed me with a look of curiosity, trying to find a crime.
“What are you doing here?” I asked her, which I already knew the answer to.
She still stared at me, a look that made every man cringe. The look of “you should know” but really I did not know.
“Gerard is too busy to go shopping with me, so you are my best man for today,” she reassured me.
I looked at her as if in shock; she could see right through it however.
“I asked you to go with me plenty of times,” she pleaded in order to get me to go.
“And I always assist you in your, fashion endeavors,” I replied, unsure of my decision.
She flipped her hair back behind her ear. She drops down the overstuffed blue bag with a million and one pockets and grabs my shirt at the collar.
“Look, I don’t want to go there alone!” she spat at my face. This was the technique she inflicted on me last time. It was the “do it or else” ultimatum of the month for me.
“Okay, geez…” I agreed, “What is the occasion, I might ask?
“Oh yeah, there is this, I might say, get-together at Shaney’s house,” she added, “Of course Gerard, you and Mark are invited, but it is a theme party.” She changed get-together into a party, which must mean Shaney’s parents are out of town. Mostly potheads and drunken horny seventeen year olds would be there, but I did not care, it beats staying at home.
“What kind of theme?” I asked.
“Stripes,” she answered.
Every year, this girl in Carlson Train High School; Shaney Trumarfield, throws yearly themed parties. I was wondering when it was going to be held. It was basically a secret party for her parents’ anniversary where the parents were not invited. This year would be fun, I expected.
I yelled back into the house, proclaiming my leave. Ingrid and I left the quiet cull de sac into the neighboring rows of houses until we crossed Suicide Bridge.
“We should go to Mark’s first,” I suggested.
“I already went there earlier today. Mark can’t go,” she said, disappointed.
“What?” I was shocked.
“His mom has to take him to her work for today. Volunteer hours,” she explained.
That reminded me of my volunteer hours; which I haven’t completed yet. A total of fifty or more hours of volunteer service before graduation were what every student at Carlson Train High was required to do. I do not care now, I have two more years.
We reached the fashion district, right behind Heaven Drive. There was a million and one small outlet shopping stores surrounding this center plaza. The center plaza was a place with four small refreshment centers in each of the plaza’s corners. Bright red and oak brown bricks flooded the floor, brightening the plaza. There was absolutely no parking lot. If you park, prepare for a six mile trek.
The buildings were coated with unique and colorful designs. Paint splotches decorated Artists’ World with paintbrushes used as signs. To the right of that was a heavy dark brick coated shop called Urban Living. All of these shops were interconnected so it looked like two rows of very long buildings and each shop of its own category separated were placed in it. Retailed, overpriced fashions were the most common stores in this plaza. About twenty shirt and denim jeans stores covered the ten acre lot. Each piece of torso was about twenty four ninety five, and each piece of denim was over sixty dollars.
As we entered the northeastern side of the plaza, a group of familiar faces waved at us from a distance. A regular group I saw every school day, they were the so-called “smart but cool” bunch. Sean, Vince, Neil, and Kat greeted us with friendly faces as they lift up their stripped attire to reveal their invitations to tonight’s party. We waved back as we walked by; they were heading back to the suburbs.
Light mist blew towards us as we walked by under the shades of the stores’ porch heading. People of variety of ethnicity and gender rampaged through the plaza at an amazing speed. Though the crowds conquer the plaza, getting through and slipping by crowds and groups was our skill. We were adepts at zipping by couples holding hands and groups that were stuck to each other like Siamese twins.
“There,” Ingrid pointed. I looked up, The Ova!
“There?” I questioned her.
“There,” she answered confidently.
It looked nothing more than a cheap, crappy, French-style store. The clothes smelled like plastic and the lady at the front desk had a crooked nose. The place looked dreary and the window blinds were barely open. Lights hung from the ceiling displaying a small, dim circle over each table, shelf, and hangars of clothes. Nevertheless; though the cheap plastic shirts and the cheap plastic jeans were manufactured from a third world country, its infamous retail price was off the charts. Millionaires would scuff their shirts, turn their heads away and say, “Hmph, what these are too expensive!”
We exited the store trying to catch the fresh air and not the toxic melting plastic from inside The Ova! After storming through each retail shop on the northeastern side, we come across to the central plaza, where relaxation and a glass of ice tea rejuvenate the mind and body. We sat outside, in this little bar called The Tropics, and gazed at the menu for an afternoon snack.
“Hello, what can I get for you two?” this tallish waiter asked us. He clicked his pen and started to scribble our table number down on his little handy dandy notebook.
“I’ll have an ice tea, with lemon wedges,” I ordered.
“I’ll have your Strawberry and Watermelon House Special Smoothie,” Ingrid said.
“Mmhmm… Mmhmm...” the waiter mumbled. He un-clicked his pen and look up at us, “I’ll be right back with your orders.”
After that small break, Ingrid and I ventured more down towards the southern side of the plaza. We did not get far as Ingrid pulled me into the Shriek Shack to look at the latest gothic / trendy outfits. Of course, neither she nor I would be able to pull off the look of someone who dresses in black and have piercing almost everywhere on their faces. We finally found what we were looking for; Penny State. This convenient retail store sells their products in fashion almost one hundred and twenty percent less than all of the others we have already been to.
Ingrid pulled down several striped tank tops and examined herself in front of this humungous mirror, where two other girls were examining themselves. I pulled down these pure black khakis with very thin white stripes coming down vertically from top to bottom. The fairest price indeed; only twenty two dollars, and then I patted myself on the back for a good two hours work of shopping. Ingrid paid for my shorts; I had to pay her back during school. I accidentally ran out of the house without my wallet.
“Do you have a striped t-shirt of your own?” she asked me as we exited out the store.
“It’s a little big for me,” I complained, “I bought it a few years ago but it stretched.”
“Just dry it until it fits you,” she recommended, “we should head home now, and get ready. The party starts at six and you do not want to be late.”
I nodded at her and we left the plaza. Drying an already dried shirt sounded odd at first, but then after it was done, it fit perfectly on me. Women do have a wide range of knowledge to these things. Or maybe I did not know and everyone else did. The shirt was striped horizontally with black and grey. When I wear it, it makes me look like a burglar. I did not care for the shoes; I just wore my regular Vans. I did not like the outfit at all, nor did I like shopping with Ingrid. The lines take forever and the people are the rudest.
She was at the door at five thirty exactly. She was with Gerard. She had on two tank tops over this light blue dress and, the skirt fell down to her ankles. She wore black denim jeans with sewn yellow stripes. Her sneakers were wrapped with string, in a hasty attempt to be on time. It did not bother her, the look suited her.
Gerard had on a jail man’s white and black shirt with a USA top hat. His thick, black hair squeezed into the top hat, making the top hat slip up a few inches. He had striped shorts; blue and orange and green.
“Nice outfit,” I complimented to both.
“Thanks, you too,” Gerard complimented back.
“Are we going or not?” Ingrid was a little impatient; because of the pre-party anxiety. It was catching onto Gerard too; he was quickly shuffling down the sidewalk, five feet in front of us. Down the block, to the left into a two mile trek deep into the suburbs was the party. As we got closer, we saw more striped figures walking the same path as us. This was going to be the party of the century; practically the whole school was invited. Jocks drove down with their fabulous “girl magnet” convertibles, skaters decorated their boards and they rode down the street, and even nerds and their segways sped at an amazing twenty miles an hour.
The area was cut off to unwanted civilians and cops. We could hear the bass from the house booming our eardrums out. The house was overcrowded with two thousand drunken teenagers. The house was worth over a million dollars; three stories, a pool, several balconies, and a four car garage. We were at the front porch; the smell was so horrific it was obscuring my vision. Someone had brought five large kegs of fresh, hard liquor. The rap bass booming music ended and then Blake Schwarzenbach came up along with his band of Jawbreakers playing Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault. A perfect song for the perfect occasion; hopefully the cops do not show up at the end of the party for the last line of the song was “then the cops showed up.”
“They are dancing,” Ingrid said cheerfully.
“They are not dancing,” I said, “They are humping.”
We peered through the window and gazed at the infamous dancing style of the twenty first century. Once inside, Ingrid and Gerard went off to the dancing room. Just looking at what they are doing just sickened me. I took off to the backyard to see what other people were doing.
“Dude, you are finally here!” Vince choked me from behind; a personal greeting of his. He had in his hands a red plastic Dixie cup full of beer. “You want?” he asked me, handing it over. I took it and took a sip.
“It’s diluted,” I complained, “its not hard liquor at all, what a rip.”
“Yeah I know, the guy that brought it here said he had to, so he wouldn’t get pulled over or something.”
Just then, a group of jocks tossed over the man that was on his segway into the pool, which was to the right of us. They tossed in the segway after the man resurfaced.
“Damn, I wanted that segway,” I said.
Vince laughed. He chugged the last of his drink and went inside to the five kegs. I noticed an empty family swing set. I approached it and sat down. The party was utterly boring, more freak dancing went on inside and the jock dumping crew rounded up all the losers and tossed them into the pool. It was like a regular themed high school party, and the neighbors reacted violently to the matter. No one cared for the neighbors, it was almost eleven and no one was leaving.
I noticed the family swing become equally weighted at both ends. The light from the kitchen next to the swing blinded my vision; all I could see was long, black, curly hair. The figure was wearing a fluffy black skirt, with a very long blue and orange striped belt that ran from the belt sockets down to her lower hip. She wore a scarf, which seemed a little peculiar, because it was spring. Her shadowed head turned to me, “Having a good time?” Her voice was firm and sharp, yet soft and relaxing.
“It could be better,” I said.
“How so?” She asked me.
“Alcohol should not be abused for one, and they need better music,” I pointed out.
“Why don’t you just relax and have some fun?” she suggested.
“I don’t know,” then I realized something, “Wait, are you Shaney Trumarfield?”
She leaned forward; her bright green eyes scathed a deep and dark hole into me. “Who me? No, that girl is upstairs getting fucked.”
“Oh,” I said, giving out a relaxing sigh. First rule of a party, never complain to the host, you will just get your ass kicked by her boyfriend. The girl did not look familiar at all. Could it be that she came from another school?
She sat back leaning back relaxing on the swing, but her head was still faced to me. “You are somewhat decent,” she complimented.
I did not know what to say back, so I got up and left.
“Hey, Quet! You goootta come here and dayance with meh,” Ingrid came up to me with a red Dixie cup.
“You are drunk,” I said.
“Come on, relax!” she urged me to dance, trying to pull me towards the dancing room.
“No,” I said, “this is stupid, there is nothing here but freaking dancing, sex, makeout sessions, and bicycle messengers, punks and art school dropouts.”
Gerard came up to me. “Dude, you are being such a total wimp.”
“I’m glad I am, because I hate this place.” I argued back.
They were both wobbling and drinking. The beer had made their brains collapse into their stomachs. Three kegs were already empty. Fights started breaking out in the back. I assumed that there was someone fighting upstairs but it was something else. Some guy behind them threw up what was his dinner, and then he passed out in his own vomit. This was sick; I could not stand it one more second. I headed to the door.
“Where are you going?!” she hollered.
“HOME!” I yelled. I opened the door and did not bother slamming it.
Then the cops showed up.