September 26, 1996
There's the sun and the cold
Around in the fall.
So much better,
To not think of it at all.
September 27, 1996
100 breaststroke – 1:10.24
400 relay – 3:41.40
100 fly – 1:00.33
500 free – 4:56.10
200 free – 2:30.37
September 28, 1996
100 breaststroke – 1:11.01
400 relay – 3:41.42
100 fly – 1:01.41
500 free – 4:58.39
200 free – 2:32.09
September 29, 1996
It went on and on like that: rows of weird poems, stats, and sketches of junk like dragons and landscapes… It hurt my fucking head trying to figure out the meaning behind them. I flipped page after page, reading all the way up into October, only to find the same repetitive shit through November. The room was getting so dark that I could barely make out the words.
December 13, 1996
He's so good looking. When I sat down in class today, his hand brushed my lower back. But then again I'm probably wrong. I've got to be wrong because when I glanced over, he wasn't paying me any attention. When I look at him, I forget about Alyssa, about her kissing me and her holding my hand. All I can think about is how it would feel if HE were the one kissing me and if HE were the one holding my hand. And I don't care anymore. I don't care if that makes me gay, and I don't care if that sounds sick, and I don't care if I'm going to burn in hell. I like him.
"Hey man, are you still going to Malcolm's with me?"
"'Kay, I'll pick you up in a few minutes."
"What about your car?"
"I'll pick you up in a few minutes."
Exactly forty-five minutes later, the doorbell rang. I stuffed Eli's journal into my book bag and took it with me before I headed out the door.
His Jag was fixed and looking all shiny and sleek and black. The top was down. He had this weird little facsimile smile on his face when he saw me, almost as if he were trying to smile yet was too tired to do it right.
And then two minutes into Santa Monica, I could feel this heavy twist in my gut. Oliver behind a wheel always freaked me out.
"Man, would you fucking slow down," I said. He turned to glance at me and his eyes looked right through me. He was flying high coked up to the sky. More than usual it seemed. I thought of Eli's strange obsession when he wrote about Oliver: dreamy silver eyes, golden skin, gorgeous hair… Christ. It made me fucking sick. To think that this strange, mentally screwed up fool who would have probably sucked a guy's dick for a couple of hits had been the object of my dead stepbrother's affection was like having an aneurism. I wasn't stupid. Despite the lack of description I already knew the storyline. Eli had represented all of the charismatically ideal propaganda that nearly every single person wishes to obtain. He didn't even have to do anything special and under different circumstances it probably wouldn't have even been noteworthy, except he had just been so fucking normal that he had happened to stand out like a goddamn saint amongst our fine population of desperate heathens.
And I don't care if I'm going to burn in hell.
I wish I were dead…
And yet to be so deeply emotional over a person who had no understanding of self-worth, who's only focus was on artificial preservation and moral prostitution in order to feel fine was like the worst love tragedy. And then there's me. Staring at the palm trees lining the scenery with the sun plastered in the blue, blue sky. The weather was great, the atmosphere was great, and yet it was always fake and incomplete. With Oliver sitting next to me, with him and his strange smile whenever he saw me, and the desperate sadness always looming in his eyes. Things were different. He looked at me that way a lot lately; more so the past couple of days. Why? What had happened to cause this? What change had taken place in his brain? And when had it changed? Was it after Eli's death or was it more recent? Maybe it had started long before. Or perhaps it had always been there and I had never noticed until now.
I just wanted this terrible shit to end.
A couple minutes went by. Like destitute silence; me staring out the passenger side with my arms crossed and the breeze blowing my hair into my eyes. Whenever you hit city limits you usually get to see some really weird shit. We passed by this man standing on a street who was wearing either a long black leather trench coat or just a really long black coat. I can't really remember. But it wasn't the fact that he was wearing a coat in eighty-eight degree weather that caught my attention. He was standing maybe ten feet from a light post looking up into the sky, minding his own business and I was going to write him out of my memory forever, but then he suddenly sprang into a sprint toward the post. He darted to the side like he was trying to dodge it and I seriously thought he was going to until he darted back again and hit the metal post head on. Next thing I knew, he's flat on the ground and people are walking around him, not paying him any attention and acting as if they've seen this happen at least six times a day, everyday, for their entire lives. I continued watching the guy out of the side mirror and laughed inwardly when I saw him stand up and repeat the entire scene all over again.
About a mile later, there was nothing but the sound of engines, muffled music from other cars, the occasional voices and shouts of people, and The Rolling Stone's "Beast of Burden" playing in Oliver's stereo. The song then switched to Simon and Garfunkel's " America." What a fucked up name for a pair. Yet, when we stopped at a red light, I found myself drumming my fingernails to the tune on the door handle. Then he asked, "How's Jill?"
Instead of turning to look at him, I continued to stare out the passenger's side with my body leaning toward the door. I didn't say anything. I didn't even bother to wonder where the hell that off the mark question had come from. I buzzed happily on the inside, minding my own business and feeling weird and distorted. And the fucked up thing was that I was actually sober.
He cleared his throat, "Look, I'm glad you came with me today."
"Hmm," I grunted, not paying him any attention.
I could feel his eyes on me and I didn't like it. We sat there for several minutes, with me silently wishing for the light to turn green, and with Oliver…wishing for whatever the hell Oliver wishes. It was getting hot. The air smelled a combination of exhaust and salt with long, bleary swarms of moist heat. My blood was practically boiling through my fucking eye sockets. God. I needed to relocate to a climate with more reasonable temperatures. Something like Alaska, now that'd be nice. Well, everything except for the random daylight at three in the morning. That would drive me ape shit, I swear. I looked up. The light finally turned green and Oliver just continued to sit there, staring at me, burning a hole through my head.
"What?" I asked, staring out the window.
He hesitated, as if unsure of what to make of the question. He sighed. Not a huge sigh, but more like air coming from his lungs and being expelled without any sound involved.
"Yeah," he said. Then, he gave a short, quick, dry laugh and out of the corner of my vision, I saw his head turn to the front.
"Really glad," he murmured.
He slammed his foot to the floor and sent us sailing down the road again.
And I wanted to tell him to stop it, that only certain parts of the world were about acceleration. But now that wouldn't have meant a goddamn thing to anybody, now would it?
"Fuck!" he shouted. I glanced over to see him jamming a CD into the stereo. He sounded angry. What for? My eyes flitted over him fleetingly before settling on his hand that was messing with the stereo controls. I felt strangely guilty and I couldn't even explain it, not even to myself.
"I fucking hate this backwoods hick shit man. That's all they've been playing on the stations lately," he seethed.
"Why don't you just change the station then?" I asked.
Too late. Some bass heavy trance beat came bursting through the speakers. He smiled at me before turning the volume knob up to eardrum killing levels. It was almost too much. And as ridiculous as it was, I somehow felt that listening to that melodramatic shit in the bright hours of day, and at such intense levels, somehow felt like we were committing some sort of underground party felony. I reached over and turned the volume down.
"Son of a bitch!" he howled dramatically, his eyes dropping down to look at my betraying hand. When he started to reach over to turn the volume back up, I pushed his hand away. He glared at me.
"What the hell did you turn the volume down for?" he snapped. I met his stare silently for a few moments before he finally looked at the road again.
"I hate you sometimes," he muttered through his teeth. I shrugged.
"Thought that you were so glad that I came with you today?" I commented.
For a minute he didn't say anything, just sat in his seat with his back stiff and his knuckles turning white from gripping the wheel so hard and his fucking jaw twitching in weak spasms. He held it for a while before sitting back in his seat, visibly relaxing.
"God," he said sounding tired, "God, why do you do that?"
"Do what?" I asked as I watched a group of six or seven kids standing on a sidewalk smoking, what appeared to be, cigarettes. A boy, with white-blond hair and tanned skin who looked to be around the age of thirteen, was somewhat draped against a light post, almost hugging it, while standing a few feet away from the rest of the group. He had on a pair of green camouflaged board shorts with a white tank top and a skateboard in his right hand. His gaze connected to mine. As we passed by, he turned, his entire body following the direction of the car and his other hand came up to grip the light post. I raised my hand thoughtfully and saw him pause before he waved in return. I smiled to myself.
We stood in front of apartment B for maybe twelve seconds before Malcolm, a thirty something year old male with his slick dark blond hair and his even slicker smile, answered our knocking by flinging the door open. His outfit sucked. He was dressed all in tight black: black leather pants, black leather boots, black t-shirt…it was fucking ridiculous.
"Jordy, baby! You came!" he exclaimed in some sort of unrecognizable European accent that I either had just noticed or he had never had in the past in the first place. He opened his arms wide to pull Oliver into some sort of macho back patting hug. And Oliver, that sly piece of shit, grinned and opened his arms in return. When the two were done with their exuberant hellos, Malcolm then turned toward the door.
"C'mon in Jordy, c'mon man! Don't stand out in the open like that. You'll catch cold!" he said and then laughed as if he were the wittiest fucker on the whole planet. He left the doorway and walked inside. Oliver turned to look at me. He shrugged and nodded his head sideways, signaling me to tag along. And even though all I wanted to do was leave and loiter the fucking sidewalk, with a cigarette hanging from my mouth, just so as to remove myself from the incredibly foul atmosphere, I followed him inside, and the door slammed behind me.
The room was electric. Oliver was right; it was nice. I saw the wood floors and even though the interior was done in Spanish Mediterranean, Malcolm still had the urge to try and ruin it with his vices. The furniture was all black. The ornaments and decorations were all black and even though flowers are not black there was a black vase sitting on a black marble coffee table filled with roses dyed black. There was also a black piano sitting in the corner of the living room beneath a window that had black drapes and when you turned to walk into the other room, which was the kitchen, you noticed that the cabinets and the countertops were all done in black. Surprisingly enough, the walls were left alone to their own egg shell white stucco. Some sort of Latin music was playing at a moderate volume from a huge black entertainment system.
"So Jordy! Vat can I do for you baby? 'Vould you like to get right down to the nitty gritty or 'vould you like to…chat for a few?" Malcolm asked in that accent that was so incredibly belligerent that I barely took notice of the little innuendo.
Oliver glanced at me with a slightly embarrassed, slightly guilty expression. And then to make it all better, he flushed slightly.
Malcolm, curious as a street whore in Venice, followed the direction of Oliver's gaze and his eyes widened when they fell upon my appearance, almost as if he had just noticed me standing there for the first time since we arrived. Judging by the surprised look on his face, that's exactly how it was.
"Ohhh…and who is this Jordy?" he murmured eyeing me with his hazy eyes. I felt like a fix for a heroin addict going through withdrawal.
Oliver's feet shifted uncomfortably when he answered, "My friend Kyle. You've met him before."
Malcolm slowly shook his head. "Nooo…I don't think so. I 'vould remember a beautiful face such as this," he said softly, leering at me.
Oliver looked at me helplessly. "Well…don't know what to tell you then – sorry," he finished lamely.
"Yesss…he is very beautiful…gorgeous really. Almost as gorgeous as…what was his name, Jordy? That last boyfriend that you brought here?"
I looked sharply at the two of them.
"I don't remember," Oliver answered nervously.
"Don't remember?! How on earth can you not remember such an angel?! Yesss…now that boy was absolutely stunning! In all my years I have never seen hair the color of his. Like corn silk, it was, and natural too if you can believe it. Not one drop of bleach!"
I knew where this was headed. I was starting to feel sick.
"And those eyes! Have you ever seen eyes so blue in your life? Blue like the Pacific. Yes that boy was extraordinary…and so shy…it is so very rare," he murmured wistfully.
All during this, my gaze had been fixed on Oliver whose face had become increasingly pale. You could almost see him flinch at each word that poured out of the older man's mouth. When he saw me looking at him, he turned his eyes away. I stood there for a couple more minutes, staring at Oliver, only vaguely listening to Malcolm's wistful ramblings. Finally it was enough.
"Eli," I said.
The older man paused, obviously surprised at my interruption. "Pardon," he said with wide eyes. I glanced once more at Oliver who was staring miserably at the far wall to his left. He was crying now, not outright, but tears were streaming from his eyes and his nose was starting to bleed. He swiped at it feebly.
Malcolm was impatient, "I'm sorry what did you sa –?" His voice died down when I turned to look at him and he saw the blood in my eyes.
"Eli. The one you're talking about it. His name was Eli."
And I don't care if I'm going to burn in hell.
So much better, to not think of it at all.