Scum Of The Earth
Chapter Five : Save The Whiskey
Yep, that's how Alex's first game went down. We were suspended from school for a week and banned from the rink for life. Alex was still allowed on the team, but the two guys who blind-sided him were kicked off. Two star players too. Serves the arrogant dicks right. I still remember Friedman yelling at us. Every time Friedman opened his mouth to say some generic principal speech Ace would start doing that thing off that one stain-remover commercial. You know, where the guy is in for the interview and all the interviewer hears is the stain on his shirt making those ridiculous noises?
Yeah. Didn't go very well. We were originally going to be gone for two days, but then Ace just couldn't stop with the, "Bobitabobita!" Every time Mr. Friedman tried to talk. We did have some good times, I guess. Before I started I was sure all I would dig up would be these terrible memories, but now I'm starting to see that there was a hell of a lot of good ones as well. I remember these times like I remember waking up this morning, thats how vivid they are in my mind. Unfortunately, for every good time, there must be bad.
This chapter will start to dip into the bad a bit more than this story has been so far. Not terribly so, (When it gets real bad, you'll know) but enough to make me dread it's writing. It'll bring back a wave of feelings I thought long dead. Just writing the last one made me laugh, cry and want to punch something all at once. I can't even imagine what will happen by the end. Charlene is watching the papers pile up with growing amazement. I don't blame her, it's only been a week since I started.
Monday found me in this particular conversation.
"Garbage." Jerome Waller, the janitor for the Help Phone building, snorted. "No one would pay money to read about a bunch of kids who did drugs and got in shit."
"Thank you." I glowered and took a drag of my smoke. I was standing outside the Help Phone building with the janitor, smoking. He was a decent guy, and for reasons I can't explain, I had ended up telling him about my idea for the book. Not that it was real, just the basic outline. I was becoming discouraged after finishing off last chapter. The emotions were starting to get to me, and not for the first time I was wondering if this was worth the trouble.
Apparently Jerome didn't think so. "I mean, people these days want action. They want mystery, violence, sex and fucking vampires. Everyone loves those fucking vampires. What they don't want is the ugly side of their world. They don't want drugs, they don't want teenagers, and they certainly don't want these aforementioned things as protagonists, my man."
"I suppose you're right." I sighed. "But it's just flowing so damn beautifully."
"And I didn't say it wasn't, I didn't even really say it would be a bad book." Jerome interjected.
"I apologize if I misinterpreted garbage." I snorted and took a long drag.
"No, that's probably not what it will be, but that's what the public will call it." Jerome began to pace and gesture wildly. "The critics will tear it a new asshole just because of the content. 'A story about kids doing drugs. What a way to send a message to kids!' Is what they'll say in their snippy little attempts to make up for their tiny penises." Jerome violently kicked one of the ash-posts. "You ever notice that they never come out and say if something actually sucks? They just do those witty little burns they think are so fucking cool. 'A good book; if you're a mongoloid.' or, 'A perfect item, if you desire a doorstop.'"
"Did you used to write?" I asked him, already knowing the answer.
"What was your first clue?" Jerome growled. "I wrote fantasy."
"Like, hobbits and shit?" I chuckled, trying to picture Jerome sitting down and creating a world of elves and dwarves in his head. I just couldn't do it.
"No, not hobbits and shit." Jerome snapped. "I had a world. It was called Geos. There were going to be three books, I only finished one."
"Why's that?" I asked, down to the kill of my cigarette and not even caring.
"Why do you think? It was 'dreck' it was 'a vulgar disregard to the art'. All that happy horse-shit. I loved it, myself. Maybe thats bias from the author, but I fell in love with that fucking book. The characters, the places they went... And those..." He sputtered incomprehensibly then. "Those fuckers ripped them all to shreds before my eyes, Mick. My ever-fucking eyes!"
"I'm sorry." I said simply. What else could I say?
"No, you're not." Jerome shook his head. "Not fuckin' yet, bro." His cell-phone went off in his pocket, and he rambled on as he dug around for it in his overalls. "Books are a lot trickier than they seem. Unless you pretty much have some divine message to write it, half the time you get so discouraged-" His hand retracted, drawing a deck of cards from the depths with it. "Ah, shit!" He snarled as they splayed everywhere.
I bent to help him collect them and we both stopped dead. Only four cards had turned face-up, though they had literally fluttered everywhere.
They were all aces. We both stood there. me in considerably more awe than Jerome. "I've knocked over a good deal of cards in my life, Mick," Jerome said softly. "But I have never seen that happen before." I thanked Jerome for his advice, but I don't expect to follow it. I don't know if you could call Ace divine, but I know a message when I see one. Quit, buddy? Me?!
Fuck you too, man. Don't worry about me, I'm riding this train through. You just better be there at the end to greet me, with your fucking Yoshi bowl. I need some weed.
If there was on safe haven for me in that week of suspension, it was in Layne's arms. Through all the madness and pain I'd been through she was my light. I haven't talked too much about the relationship me and Layne had together, and I don't know why. We'd been dating for a year on the date this chapter takes place, and were very much in love.
I couldn't help being in love with her. Childish infatuation that people normally feel in high-school was in no way present with this girl and I. We had connected after meeting at a school dance actually. She was Johanna's best friend, and hung out with Brian and the crew before she dated me. I think she'd dated Blaine, but for some reason they had ended it. I actually heard Blaine could be very cold when he was angry. I believed it. That was not a guy you wanted to fuck around with.
All that I gathered about the relationship is that Layne had gotten drunk and kissed another guy, and Blaine dumped her after beating the guy within an inch of his life. Blaine did not forgive, Blaine did not forget. He was not an asshole, and I never thought he was because of what happened with Layne. She'd been younger then, and made a stupid mistake, and that was how Blaine dealt with it.
I'd never had to make such a decision. We had been loyal to each other through thick and thin. She didn't care that her family hated me, and I didn't care that my family hated her. "She's a party girl, Michael." My father confided in me one night, trying to be the father-figure. "All she'll want to do is party. You do too, right now, but when you're tired of it, she'll be tired of you." Yeah, my Dad's a douche. At least he's not like Ace's dad.
Yes, my full name is Michael Steven Russian. Laugh and I'll have you killed. Anyways, the point was, right now I was escaping the havoc in Layne's room. It was Tuesday night, and her parents were at work till 8, and Rain, the cousin she shared her house with, was out with his friends. The truth of the matter is, before Layne, I had never had a serious relationship. I've never even had sex. Again, laugh and I'll have you killed. I didn't really care, to be honest. Sex is such a trivial thing, in my eyes. What does that matter when you have someone who cares about you regardless?
I should have been paranoid about being there, but having layed off the pot for so long was starting to get my head back together. And my solace was in Layne's arms. We were on her beanbag chair, in front of the TV. We'd been playing Guitar Hero, and for some reason had stopped playing and had proceeded kissing. I hate to write this stuff, because I know Charlene will read this eventually, but I simply have to make you see a little bit of our relationship. She was everything to me, or so I would think, especially with her lips against mine and my hands in her hair. There is another reason I recount this story, as well. To show you my relationship and devotion to yet another person...
So there we were, young and in love, locked in a kiss that had already lasted almost half an hour. I wanted her then, not like anybody else in my life. There had been crushes over the years, but nothing like this. I wanted her thoughts, her dreams... Her. I broke off and stared into her eyes, my mind unable to comprehend that she was mine. I smiled, and she didn't. She simply studied my face, and I laughed. "What, babe?" I asked and kissed her on the forehead. "Did you just realize you're making out with a retard?"
"No, Mick." She laughed softly and looked into my eyes again. "I think I'm ready."
Me and Layne had never gone all the way, and never even came close. I never pressured her and she never had to push me off when things got heavy. We always knew when we were done, it was an unspoken and kind of interesting occurrence. I would simply break off whatever long, drawn out kiss we had been exchanging and we would go back to whatever it was we were doing before. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a pussy or anything like that, I'm just no a pig-headed asshole who cares about sex. I don't think it bothers Layne too much, either. She actually seems to love me more for it, and I'm not complaining.
So this last sentence had my smile frozen in place. "For what?" I asked stupidly, typically Mick.
She laughed and moved in for another kiss. As we broke off again, she pushed her lips to my ear. "What do you think, dumb-ass?" She whispered into my head.
"Oh." I said, still not quite getting it. My head snapped up. "OH!" She laughed again and fell back against the bed, where she smiled up at me. "Erm, I don't really, have any... Um..." I stuttered, caught completely off-guard.
"Condoms?" She finished for me.
"Those things." I nodded stupidly.
"It's okay, I've got a few." She said and went to her dresser.
"You've been planning this?!" I squeaked, still flabbergasted.
"Well, it doesn't hurt to be ready, stupid. Don't you have any laying around at home?" She smirked as she dug one out of her underwear drawer.
"Well, at home, but even then just so I have them. I never bring them when we hang out."
"Well then you're lucky your girlfriend isn't as naive as you." Layne said and slid back to the ground beside me. Her lips crept to mine again and we began to kiss. Jesus Christ, I was ready too, and never would be again, I thought. This was it, the pivotal moment of our relationship.
And that must be why my Dad's old cell, which he let me borrow when I went out, had to ring.
"You're shitting me." I groaned. Layne sighed in frustration (Good-natured frustration, thank God) and leaned against the bed again. "One sec, Layne." I picked it up and was about to say hello when I was cut off by an all-too familiar voice.
"Faggot." Ace's voice rang across the line. "We have a situation." I could hear the wind and the birds in the background.
"Why are you outside?!" I asked, confused. "I thought you were grounded?"
"Yes, but that's beside the point. The point is, you can only be grounded if you have a home to be grounded to." Ace said, as if we were ignorant for suggesting anything else.
"You have no home?" I asked, confused.
"Are you serious?" Layne laughed. "What happened?"
There was a brief moment of silence, which Ace must have been contemplating why exactly is problems involved Layne. "Wow Mick. Let's blast my problems out to the world and his wife."
"It's just me and Layne, it's cool." I assured him.
"Kay, well I guess that's fine. You know how I smoked my Dad's stash?" Ace explained. "Well, he kinda got pissed. One second." There was a large thumping noise. "Get the fuck out of my backpack, you mexican scumbag! That shits gotta last me all week!"
"Wait, how pissed?" I asked him.
"Well, when you combine me stealing his weed with getting suspended for a week, pissed enough to kick me out of the house."
Layne let out a low whistle. "You can't stay here, man. Mom and Dad hate all my friends." I told him.
"I know, I didn't think it'd work out that way. Brody's mom has enough on her plate already, and Alex's parents hate me just as much. So I'm going to be residing entirely in the park."
"Dude..." I groaned. "Is that legal?"
"Who cares?" Ace roared. "It's a party, man! A fuckin' party!" He was shouting, and I really couldn't tell if he was being serious or sarcastic. "But I would appreciate it if you could get your ass over here, my man. I need food and I stole a shit-load of my Dad's whiskey before I left."
"Yeah, no problem man." I said, my thoughts of Layne, I regret to say, were long gone. That was how we rolled. You could say bros before hoes, but it wasn't like that either. We would die for Ace, so I really had no choice in the matter.
"Peace, bitch." Ace grumbled and hung up. I turned to Layne, who was looking at me with a mixture of respect and disappointment.
"Gotta go, babe." I said apologetically. "Ace needs me there. he didn't say anything about it but he's probably in a really shitty mood."
"Yeah, go." She smiled sadly. "I gotta tell you, Mick, you're an interesting guy."
I laughed, confused. 'Why would that be?"
"Because you literally dropped the chance to lose your virginity without even debating it. I love you, Mick." She said, and kissed me.
"I love you too." I said, and leaned over to kiss her. "I'll see you." And I marched off to meet my now homeless buddy.
"I'm a hobo, Micky." Ace said as he exhaled a stream of smoke. "A fuckin' hobo. All I need is the fingerless gloves and possibly a flask in a brown paper-bag." Ace looked at the bottle of whiskey in his right hand and the joint in the other, obviously trying to decide which one to consume first. After a moment he selected the whiskey, taking a long, deep drink before chasing it with a toke.
"It's not that bad." Brody interjected. All of us were there, sitting around our customary picnic table. We hadn't been there for a while, so any impromptu piggy visits would be less probable. Brody was down in the grass, staring at the sky. "I mean, this is Darkhurst, not Chatham or anything like that. Not like we'll get hassled too much."
"Aren't you not allowed to be in the park after 11?" I asked and took the bottle as Ace passed it to me, his blue eyes distant.
"If they don't see us, they can't stop us." Ace shrugged and polished off the joint. "So here's the plan, faggots. I'm crashing here tonight with my booze. Brody has more in his bag. We are getting drunk on a Monday night and puking and swearing the night away."
"Sounds good." I grinned. "What do we do if the cops show?"
"What do you think?" Alex snorted. "Haul ass."
I nodded, as if expecting no less. I wasn't worried, though. For some reason I knew the cops wouldn't be a problem tonight. I ended up being quite right. So we sat in silence, taking drinks from the bottle until it was gone, and then busting out another. We began to talk again after we were quite hammered. I always wondered about strange things when I was drunk.
"Hey guys?" I asked them. They all looked over at me, and I continued looking up. I was looking at the stars now as well as Brody. "Do you ever wonder what happens after we die? I mean, there can't be a God, or a Heaven, or any of that shit. What kind of God would let this shit happen to people. I mean, if you really think about it... What happens?"
Alex shifted his weight. "I think we're all just gone. We just stop being. Oblivion. Sometimes I think that's stupid, but if I close my eyes and try to imagine it..." He did so then, and shuddered deeply. "I can. I can feel being nothing, just floating in black... It's no more than the human race deserves."
Ace had been staring at the ground sullenly, and as Alex spoke, he began to shake his head. "Not quite, man." He took a drink of the fresh bottle and set it beside him, where I snaked out my hand to grab it, listening intently to Ace. "I think you get choices. I think there is no God as well, but there could be a god, or even a couple. Somethings gotta be keeping balance. But Heaven and Hell? No way. Not by the standards of the fucking Bible at least."
He began to roll another joint from his case, and continued talking. "I think you're stood before whatever divine force is up there, and you see it isn't such a divine force. I think if there is a god of any sort, it'll be like a good friend who's always been there. And you'll get to choose. Stay on in your world as a spirit..."
"Fucking ghosts? Righteous." Brody laughed from the ground. Ace cast him an annoyed glance and continued.
"Redo your life with different choices, even. Now, that doesn't always guarantee it'll be better. It could be a shit-load worse. It could always be worse. Or you could go somewhere else entirely."
"Somewhere else?" I asked, intrigued.
"Yeah. Like, another world. Maybe one where shit happens that we can't even believe." Ace looked up now with me, and I thought, no matter how off the wall Ace sounded right now, that he was right. I could almost feel another world pushing against ours, as alive and bustling with life. Anything seemed possible in Darkhurst.
"Dude, I know exactly what you mean..." I said, and then the car pulled up.
"Cop?" Brody inquired, sitting up.
"No." Ace said with a sigh, and stood up as cries of 'Hello faggots!' came from the car. "Worse."
He was right, springing from the car like the world's most generic preppy jack in the boxes was a group of older guys we didn't know. We didn't have to. We knew them. They walked through every high school with their cocky struts and their striped shirts. Their label jeans and their slick and always perfect hair. They were the King Shits of Turd Mountain, and we were about to become the toilet. No, because a toilet can be flushed and move on. We were going to be outhouses.
"Got some booze for me, fuckers?" One of them yelled, strutting forward, I kid you not.
"No." Ace called, beginning to get up. He then held up his whiskey, corking it. "This shit is mine."
"Get him!" One yelled, and they were off, but so were we.
"Save the whiskey!!!" Brody screamed as he vaulted over the fence. We all went in different directions except for me and Ace. I was short, and agile, but I was not gifted with being fast. I knew this.
"Ace!" I panted from beside him. "Fake it!" I motioned with my hands. He nodded and held out the bottle. It was dark, but there was just enough light to see the mock exchange, but not the fact that it was staged. I pretended to stuff it in my shirt and took off to the right, as Ace went straight, his legs pumping furiously. As predicted, they came directly for me. One took me down at the legs, and I toppled. They were on me, but my feet knew better than to lay down and take it like a bitch. One of them got my shoe in his eye and keeled back swearing. They then got the bright idea to hold my legs.
This worked better for them, and I stilled, glaring. Drunk yet, but not drunk enough to be below pride. They searched me up and down, and narrowed their eyes at me. "That's right you fucks." I laughed wildly. "I have shit! Nata! Tricked your American Eagle asses!" They fired their kicks into me, and everything became a blur. The pain was numbed by the booze and I didn't much care. It wasn't about saving the whiskey, it was about being better. We knew we weren't, we always knew how truly worthless each and every one of us was, but the joy was in their eyes when we tricked them. I slipped into unconsciousness laughing.
I came to bare moments later, to see them taking off over the horizon. I was aware my wallet was gone, and laughed to myself again. The jack-holes must have seen there was nothing in there but ID. And they fucking took it anyways. Bet you anything one of those sons of bitches won the "Best Smile" award in the yearbook before he graduated. Perhaps if the judges were Pennywise the Clown, Adolf Hitler and Sauron, I would agree with that choice. I then realized that Ace was now in danger, and trashed or not, I was up.
My legs worked, but I already saw the scene that was before me. Alex and Brody were back, and they were on the ground, tossed over a huddle object I did not at first recognize. The dicks were kicking furiously, much harder than they kicked me, but neither of my friends moved. I looked left and right and noticed another park bench sitting beside me. I moved toward it and raised my leg before bringing it down like a lightning bolt. I didn't feel the pain of my ankle breaking till the next morning, but a large bit of wood busted off the bench and I picked it up.
"Hey!" I yelled, and they whirled. I moved towards them, holding aloft my weapon, and they took off. Only after they were back in the car did my battered buddies move. Only then did I see what they were protecting, and my heart jumped. Ace lay in a ball on the ground. I dropped the wood and bolted over, relief blooming in my chest as I saw him uncurl.
"Ace!" I roared and slid to the ground beside him. "Are you okay?"
"Am I okay?!" Ace practically screamed, and I could not read his voice. He then held up the untouched bottle, it's amber contents catching the moonlight. "Of course I am, you fuck. I still have this!" Ace grinned and then puked upon the ground. "Fuck this town, man." He gargled. "Fuck this world, and fuck all it's inhabitants. Look around man, we are now past the arboretum and in open park. There is a ring of houses around, all their lights on. Look, you can see them in their windows. Think any of them called the cops?"
I studied the houses with intensity, and then shook my head. "Not while we were getting beat. They will now though, seeing as you're holding up our whiskey like an Mayan Idol. They know who we are, alright. Let's go man, fuck my parents. Let's get you in a bed." So we hefted Ace up, me on one side, Brody on the other. With a broken ankle I did not feel, and Brody with three cracked ribs, we limped down the streets of Darkhurst and to my house. That was the sign that the party was over, that night. From here on in, things were darker. They always got darker in this god damn town. Still are, for all I know.
I'd stake my life on it.