I opened the front door with my key. They had gone somewhere. A note sat quietly on the table, offering details. It was some artsy thing. She wanted to go. Dave was regretting it. I was sure of that. I turned back to Eve, as I spotted her pacing the living room, staring at pictures and other monuments to how truly pathetic my life at home was. I didn’t think she would come over. The situation that was happening had been one that only scratched the surface of my temporal reality. I figured it would be easier later in life. We would run into each other, and newer versions of previous sparks would fly as both of us managed to come together in our own indifference. She would hate life, and I would be looking for some sort of redemption, long nights spent perusing the ads at cocktail parties no longer offering much of an answer.
She stepped back into the kitchen, looking somewhat bored. I opened the fridge.
“Do you want anything to drink?”
“No, I’m good. Unless you’re having something.”
“I don’t think I am.”
“Well okay… So what is it we do now?”
“Uh… Well we can go hang out in the basement, I guess.”
“Is that a normal thing, or are you gonna take me down there and bury me with the rest of your less than suspicious victims?”
“Ya know, I almost wish I was that guy. It’d make life easier.”
“How do you figure?”
“I could just plead insanity then.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true.” She walked over closer to me. I could feel each breath as her eyes burned holes into my every aspect of being. She knew that this wasn’t a normal thing, and yet the mere fact that I had managed to get her there, made things easier to handle, almost. I wanted to feel those looks as we continued to dance around topics of indecision.
“So is this the door to the basement.” She turned the handle with a smirk.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“Cool.” Eve walked down before me. I wasn’t sure of its condition. I didn’t know if the Fortress of Solitude was quite ready for visitors. It was easier for him to handle things. He was bulletproof, and beyond interesting. Crystals spark interest. Dead Kryptonian fathers with all the right kinds of advice are a bit strange at first, but easy to accept. It would be easier than her meeting my mom and Dave. I wished they were just programmed like that. I wanted them to be faces that were transparent. Holograms that one could easily walk straight through.
She looked around with rolling eyes as I stepped down behind her. My records sat on the floor, in plastic cases, alphabetized and ready for some sort of talking point. She sat down on the couch as if it was her own house. I sighed, something that I felt like I was doing the whole time. I couldn’t calm down. I wished I had pot, something to turn my mind inward and make it relate to coaster rings on the coffee table, rather than my mere obsession, who was all of a sudden reevaluating certain aspects of her supposed perfect existence. It was just a fight. They would be something again within the week.
“So what is it we do now?”
“I don’t know. We can watch something, or listen to something. I don’t know. Whatever.”
“Well, pick a record.”
“I’m usually the one who says that to the guest.”
“I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“Well, okay. I can pick up the slack.”
“Wonderful.” She began to go through the names in her cellphone. Friends were most likely texting her for some kind of inclinations as to why she left the game. They could assume it was Colin. He would tell his friends and they would tell their girlfriends, who were her friends or friends of friends. It would spread quickly and leave us both behind in the dust. Nobody saw me catch up to her, and even if they did, it wouldn’t change anything. I was temporary, and too much myself to change.
I stepped over in front of the records, before falling down on my knees and beginning to browse. I didn’t know where to start. It was mostly older stuff, a few new shreds here and there, bought at shows or ordered from people with similar passions for so-called dead technology. I felt cool as I took it out of the sleeve. Classic black, dusty, and scratched at certain points to which I couldn’t recall. Pet Sounds. It reminded me of heaven.
“This is good.”
“I know.” I sat down on the couch, a cushion between us. I was starting slowly. I wanted to ask a thousand questions, and yet they were all beyond personal, to the point where I knew she wouldn’t answer them. It wasn’t truth or dare. We weren’t getting to know each other fully, just experimenting with different colored chemicals. It wasn’t forced like lab partners. She wanted to be there, or was at least all the right kinds of conflicted about it.
“So this is your life, huh? You spend all your time down here?”
“A lot of it. I like it. I mean, it’s peaceful.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“I mean, don’t you have a room in your house like this?”
“What, you mean one that I can just hide in?”
“My bedroom, I guess.”
“Well yeah, me too.”
“So why didn’t you take me up there?”
“Because the record player’s down here. It’s more comfortable.”
“I guess so.”
“But uh, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“How did this happen?”
“I mean, I can think about it a lot, in all the normal ways. You’re pissed at Colin. You’re reevaluating your life somewhat, or maybe you just wanted to look at things differently, but in any case, I was expecting for some sort of excuse twenty minutes ago when I asked you to hang out.”
“So you’re asking me why I’m here?”
“Yeah, I guess that’s it.”
“I can leave if you want.”
“No, I don’t. I don’t mean it like that. I mean, C’mon Eve, let’s just be honest for once, this isn’t like you.”
“So, I can’t help but be a little interested in the idea of why this is happening. I mean, this is something I think about happening. I never really saw it coming together.”
“What do you think’s gonna happen here Henry? We’re just hanging out.”
“Yeah, I know, but even that’s something.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It’s something I wouldn’t really consider a big deal. Man, it’s weird we live this close, don’t you think?”
“I guess. Gail doesn’t live far away either. We’re all kind of in this bubble.”
“Yeah, it’s the truth.”
“So why don’t you get out of the bubble tonight?”
“Dwelling on the show again, are we?”
“I guess. I mean, it’s what I’ve been looking forward to all weekend.”
“I can’t remember the last thing I remember looking forward to.” She looked over at me with her brown eyes at a loss. She meant what she just said. It was her opening up, and I didn’t expect it. She hated it, and was somehow always going to be a part of it. We couldn’t run away together, or imagine ourselves as larger than life. We were grounded in the bubble, and if anything else, I wanted to tell her that it was going to get better. I didn’t trust such a notion, though. I never would. We weren’t like that. I couldn’t say the right things with her, and she couldn’t say the wrong ones with me.
“Well that sucks.”
“Yeah, it definitely does.” We were both quiet again. I tried not to stare. I saw her looking at my posters as I tried to look into her soul. It wasn’t on the surface. We had been hiding from each other since each of us knew the other one’s secret. I wouldn’t tell anybody. She would tell everybody.
“So I’ve had a crush on you for a very long time now.”
“I know Henry. It’s obvious.”
“Well, I figured I’d just let you know.”
“Okay…” I sighed again as I felt myself sinking into the couch. She started to bite her nails. I didn’t find it at all unattractive.
“So should I not have told you? Would it have been cooler if I didn’t, because I know how these things are. I mean, how you’re supposed to act, but I’m different. I kind of sort of have to be, ya know? But if you wanna go or…”
I didn’t get to finish. She attacked me. Her lips coldly pressed against mine as I fell back on the couch, trying to think about where to put my hands. Her tongue was down my mouth, as I attempted to breathe out of my nose for once. I had been silenced by her essence. I could feel something downstairs, and she rubbed against my jeans. I attempted to shut my eyes, as she stopped for a second.
“That was out of nowhere.”
“Good. That’s how it’s supposed to be sometimes.”
“So does this mean you’re going to show?”
“Just shut the fuck up about the show for once Henry.” She kissed me again, as I obliged to all her wishes. We ran through the motions with each other for a long time. It was the simplest form of young lust. My hands drifted to places I could only imagine, and it would have continued for awhile if we hadn’t been interrupted by the front door opening. We could hear their footsteps, as both of us fought for our own senses of composure. My mother yelled down as I yelled back. She was surprised by Eve. I had been as well. The conversation was brief as she went back upstairs. We had a return to reality as I walked over and flipped the record.
“I think I might go soon.”
“I’m just sort of tired.”
“Oh.” It was beginning to become normal again. Our house of cards only standing for the briefest of time periods. I didn’t know how to deal with anything that had happened. We crash-landed far too quickly, and I was walking around bloody and disoriented through the wreckage looking for some kind of divine answer or intelligent sign of life.
“So this isn’t because my parents just got home, is it?”
“No. It’s nothing like that. I just feel like I have to recoup for awhile, before I figure out the rest of my night.”
“Well okay. I suppose I can understand that.”
“I figured you could.” She began to smile a little as she bit her lip. I stood up from the couch and walked over to the stairs. She stood one ahead of me.
“So uh… Pet Sounds is pretty great.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“I’ve never really listened to it before.”
“Well, you should start.”
“I don’t have a record player.”
“I could burn you a copy.”
“You have it on CD too?”
“Of course I do. I know it’s kind of weird owning things on multiple formats, but my dad, my real dad, not Dave, bought Bat Out of Hell on vinyl, cassette and CD.”
“Well that’s sort of funny.”
“Yeah, I know. He really loves that record for some reason.”
“What is it? Bat Out of Hell, I mean?”
“Oh… it’s a Meatloaf record. It’s pretty funny actually. Here, I’ll show you.” I couldn’t believe myself. Things were sinking off the deep end as I began to look for the red cover. She looked like she wanted to go. I could hear vibrant tapping in the back of my head like it was that scene from a movie where each second ticks and the person is stuck waiting to start their day, night and life. I found it and showed her the red cover. I always felt as if the cover was better than the record, and also that Molly Hatchet took pride in ripping off the idea of Meatloaf covers for every record they put out. It was a joke she wouldn’t get.
“Wow. That is kind of funny.”
“Yeah, I know.” She set it down on the table and walked up the stairs. I followed her to the front door, past my mother sitting and attempting to zone out the buzzing from the living room TV just enough to try and piece together what it was exactly we were talking about. I didn’t want her to know. It would always be beyond embarrassing.
She stood in my front door, zipping up her red sweatshirt.
“So I guess I’ll talk to you later then.”
“Well uh… I guess you said you didn’t know what you were doing tonight, right?”
“Yeah, pretty much. Maybe I’ll talk to Jen, see if she wants to drive to that show.”
“Well that would be cool.”
“Definitely.” There was the longest of pauses between us as her eyes drifted away from me, towards the street.
“Well, I guess I’ll see ya. It was fun hanging out Henry.”
“Yeah, I suppose.”
“It’s funny we live so close. We’ll have to do this more often.”
“And burn me that CD, if you could.”
“Yeah, I will.”
“Goodbye.” I tried not to stand there too long. I was always dwelling in past moments or previous made-up ones. I wasn’t sure what to think about any of it. It seemed so brief, and while my intentions were of the utmost honesty, I couldn’t be sure of hers. It felt like something she would normally do. There would always be another person who was somewhat willing to sit in an empty room. I felt like I executed my particular attempt with the closest of precision. I had done everything right, and what she was doing, or at least thinking about doing, shouldn’t have been of any interest to me. It seemed easy to think about such a mess as Eve Cardellino in terms of the simplest definition. She had used me, and I enjoyed it far too much to complain. I would tell my friends, or at least what remained of them, and she would maybe get too drunk one night and mention it in passing. It wouldn’t be anything other than adolescence to her.
I walked past my mother in the kitchen and went back down to the basement. I listened to Darkness on the Edge of Town before Lucas called. Five, on the dot. I reheated some leftovers and sat the kitchen table, shoes tied, waiting for my ride. My mother was keeping her checkbook company.
“So what time do you think you’ll be back?”
“I don’t know. Whenever the bands are done playing.”
“Well just be careful, okay?”
“Yeah, I will be.” I sat silently wishing that were the end of it. I knew that it wasn’t, though.
“So is Eve going?”
“No… Actually, I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“Okay.” Once again, there was time to wait for my mother to dwell.
“Ya know, she seems like a really nice girl.”
“Yeah, she is.”
“So is she like your girlfriend, or…”
“Mom, stop. It’s nothing. It’s just hanging out. We’re not the type of people who talk about this stuff together.”
“We’re not, huh?”
“No, I’m sorry, but we’re not.”
“Well, okay. Ya know, if you wanna talk about it with Dave, I’m sure he’ll listen.”
“Why in the hell would I wanna talk about it with him?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, okay then.” Lucas beeped his horn just in time as I gobbled down the last of my spaghetti before running quickly out the door. I wouldn’t let her get two words out, and she would stay up that night waiting for me to return so I could hear them. It would be something along the lines of be safe, don’t drink, or take drugs. Invite more girls like Eve home. No more of those girls that wear black and have piercings that their mothers hate.
I stepped into the car as “Teenage Riot” just hit in. He had put it first on the tape. It fit nicely before The Clash. I didn’t know how to attempt to explain the day’s events. I had been holding it in, trying to think of a way to make it believable. None of it had truly hit me, and yet like all our conversations, it lingered. I couldn’t take a step or think a simple thought without her filtering in over the airwaves. He backed out of my driveway as I made it simple for the both of us.
“I made-out with Eve Cardellino today.”
“I’m completely and totally fucking serious right now Lucas.”
“No, you’re not.”
“I went to the game. She got into some fight with Colin. I saw her walking home, invited her over. We listened to Pet Sounds in my basement and made-out.”
“Wow, you are serious.”
“That fucking rules. Holy shit. She must’ve been pretty pissed at him.”
“I know. I think she was. We didn’t really talk about it. I told her I liked her, and she kissed me. It was pretty stellar, I’d say.”
“I bet. So how far did you get?”
“I can’t really recall many of the details. I mean, there was breast contact. I know that, and what could be considered borderline dry humping.”
“Really? How do you mean, though? Borderline?”
“She could feel it, and so could I.”
“Oh. Okay. Well that’s pretty great. I did jackshit this afternoon. I watched Jedi on HBO.”
“Really? Was it the special edition?”
“Yeah, fucking Hayden Christenson at the end. George Lucas should be shot for that sort of shit.”
“That and the fucking Muppet dance number in Jabba’s Palace.”
“I hate that fucking new one. I swear to God they just put all that new shit in to sell more action figures.”
“And cards and bed sheets, all of the above bullshit.” It was a normal thing for us to quickly downshift to more appropriate forms of conversation. It wasn’t the time or place to think about possibilities. I just wanted to slowly drift into a location of true comfort.
We were there fast. The lot was mostly full as Lucas pulled into one of the last spots. It seemed warmer than the previous night. Maybe it was just the environment. I saw some familiarities as we stepped in past the smokers and paid. As years would pass, both of us would later be grouped with those listening from somewhat of a distance, sticks in hand, new packs of buy-one-get-ones in pockets. We would discuss nights like that one, or days spent in basements with thoughts of girls like Eve Cardellino always rushing around in the back of our heads. Moments would become memories as each season passed with similar outlets and faces seen fewer and farther between. It was good that things were one way. I couldn’t imagine them changing dramatically.
I walked in and felt overwhelmed. We had smoked a joint on the way there. I could smell it on my fingers. My hand was soon marked with a sharpie as I stepped into the thick of it all. I couldn’t see who was playing. There were too many in the front, all doing their own things. Lucas was sectioned off by some girl with issues. I could foresee something happening after the show, somewhere. I would order something small, eat it fast, and sit around with friends talking shit for as long as possible. Our night didn’t need to end so early. We all had so much time to spend thinking about nothing on Sundays.
I stood behind two girls, who looked like freshman from my high school. I couldn’t recall seeing them at shows before. She stood off to the side, with what looked like her best friend. Black hair and eyeliner, stares that pierced every aspect of myself. She smirked a little as I looked over at her with a similar glare. They yelled into each other’s ears over the distortion. It looked like they were whispering if everything managed to somehow shut down for the briefest of moments. Their attention turned back to the front and so did mine. I took a breath and tried to act like I wasn’t somewhere somewhat content with it all. It was an undeniably difficult façade. I had mixed feelings about everything.