I was recklessly navigating the uncut grass in Nina and Kerry’s backyard, looking for the small orange vial of pills that I thought I heard falling out of my purse when he was kissing me. Victor heard it too, but didn’t want to stop and take the time to look. It always had to be fast with him, even when we had the time to lie around and discuss our doomed future. He never stopped to think about baseball or possibly my potential orgasm. It was more so about him cumming and in record time at that. I hated it, but at the same time, the illustrious thrill of speed had become somewhat addictive at that point.
That’s what was in the container. I had bought them off of Bill’s older brother Albert. He was a townie who lived in a small one-bedroom with his girlfriend Ruth. She was some kind of a crazed Jesus freak, which always made the thought of going over there for a pick-up somewhat unsettling. I would sit uncomfortably in the fluorescent green beanbag chair and try not to focus too much of my attention on all the crucifixes lining the walls. She had a portrait she painted herself of the Virgin Mary. It was beyond abstract, like something an Elephant would have splattered if they gave it just enough tranquilizers to feel a buzz.
At the same time, the picture always stared right at me, like I was the number one sinner in the room or something. I could have had elaborate conversations with just it. Although, I didn’t understand how the highly drugged-out individuals of our dead-end college town could maintain any kind of religious beliefs, especially Albert and Ruth. They would sell coke to frat guys knowing that the shear purpose of the exchange was to hopefully amp up one of the blondes wearing black leather boots and a short skirt enough to get them to fuck after two beers. It was like common practice at that point, part of the guidelines, the unspoken rules between dealer and recipient.
I remember my roommate freshman year, Emily, falling right for the coke pool. She was always looking for future therapy sessions and usually something fucked up enough to want to get her shrink to fuck her. I remember her telling me he finally went there at the end of the spring semester. He taught abnormal Psych., a fact, which made my A. in the class beyond satisfying.
I suppose, in retrospect, I could have done the work and played fair or whatever, but the whole problem with that would have been how much time I would have lost. I never really studied when I was in college. My mother would call while I was stoned or sometimes about to screw around with Victor and I would have to patiently lie and tell her I was catching up on the books. She would always attempt to dwell on her college experiences, only to later have her stories be drowned out by even more narcotics I consumed. I couldn’t handle ever talking to my mother straight. It was just too painful having to think about how exhausted her voice always sounded.
“What are you doing out here Wendy?” I recognized her shrill before I even turned around. Bekah could barely ever fend for herself at social events. It was slowly starting to become less than amusing, having her around, constantly leaching off of my already highly diminished sense of living. I wasn’t sure how it worked, how I was somebody in college with a new best friend every three months or so, but for some reason or another that was what inevitably happened.
Joann got pissed about Victor. She had a thing for him too, and was willing to go there, even though all of us were well aware of the whole Marie problem. I would later hear about how he fucked her a few weeks after I left for my semester abroad. I suppose that’s how feeling left behind works sometimes.
Darleen was too much like every other obnoxious college girl looking for a companion to suck the life out of. I didn’t understand myself really during that period of time. Shit was just getting started with Victor, and yet it was when I was in the position to still get somewhat hurt over the whole Marie thing. Darleen and I would go out to the bar dressed in our sluttiest attire and look for whatever was in the least bit appealing. The one night both of us fucked this guy on the football team.
I think his name was Bruce or something. He was on scholarship meaning the three of us had to drunkenly take advantage of each other in a dorm room single. It got weird somewhere in the middle when he started telling us about how proud his father would be of him at that very moment. Needless to say, Darleen and I kind of went our separate ways after that. I heard she joined the Peace Corps looking for a way out and ended up committing suicide in front of all those starving people. It was strange to think about, as she was always a borderline anorexic anyway.
Bekah was sort of friends with Nina and Kerry, although they usually only invited her over when she had good weed. They had falling-outs all the time, mostly due to the fact that Bekah would try to fuck pretty much anyone they knew, once she thought she was drunk enough at a party. Kerry got pissed when it was her little brother, who was fifteen and just up visiting to see The Nullifiers play The Den. She had to get an abortion about a month or so after that, following some poor planning from the adolescent end of the spectrum. I was the only one around to drive her to the appointment, which meant I once again had a new best friend, regardless of how awkwardly silent the ride back home was afterwards.
I guess I just got used to Bekah after that. We weren’t all that different, although I saw myself eventually screaming at the top of my lungs for her to simply fuck off. At that particular moment, though, as I looked for one of the few seemingly available uppers in my life, her company was almost comforting.
“I lost that speed Albert sold me earlier.”
“Since when do you buy speed?”
“Since it became available to me, Bekah.”
“You’re fucking crazy.”
“Yeah, yeah, look for an orange pill container. It’s gotta be around here somewhere.” She began to attempt to focus on the ground, although I could tell that each drunken step Bekah took would eventually lead to her retreat from the party. She would never last that long, a fact that I sort of took solace in. It was nice to have a fake best friend who hung out long enough to make me look more attractive and then meticulously blew it enough for me to refrain from picking up the pieces every time they fell.
It took her about thirty seconds of looking, before she eventually started to cough, and threw up the double cheeseburger (I watched her eat in my living room two hours earlier) straight into the backyard like it was one of those fifty-cent streamers bought for mediocre surprises and celebrations. It was more than a little revolting, and I was in no mood for being the comforting nurse type at that very moment.
“Awe fuck… I’m sorry. I’m so fucking drunk Wendy,” Bekah said, scraping around the bottom of the barrel for her last few shreds of dignity. I couldn’t necessarily see her finding them that night.
Luckily, I spotted the container right around the same time she laid down in the lawn close enough to her own vomit-ridden remains to make me less than amused with the majority of the human race. She fell asleep fast as I popped two of the white lifesavers, before turning back towards the house.
“You’ll be okay, right?” I asked her out of my lingering sense of morality.
“Yeah, yeah… Just gotta sleep for awhile and then I’ll be cool…” She laid her head back down in the grass. It was almost high enough to hide the substantial red ketchup stains in her hair from the burger. I took one last misguided look at the available train wreck on display and headed back towards the house, the same mindless focus present in the depths of myself. Victor and I hadn’t talked about anything once again. It was always going to be the same.
I stepped in through the backdoor and into the kitchen. Bill was flirting with Nina by the counter, trying to pop the cork off of a cheap bottle of wine. He most likely slipped the rufees Albert gave him as a birthday present in her glass that night, although no one would remember such a minor incident the next morning as we walked down the garbage-ridden streets, past the crowds of believers just letting out of 11:30 mass.
I calmly searched for Victor in the living room, only regrettably finding Marie flirting with some German exchange student. He was tall with blonde hair, an Aryan poster child that she could see herself marrying if things ever fell apart with her number one man. Marie was the biggest naivete I have ever known. She didn’t come to realizations about any of us. Me, Joann, the lead singer of that one all-girl group we thought was a dyke, but ended up proving us wrong after Victor bet her to make-out with him. Marie was the type of girl who was oblivious to everything that was right in front of her dolled-up face.
In that same sense, it was her lack of substantial detective skills that made Victor all the more attracted to her. She was his sweet and innocent suburbanite to which he carefully molded into a fashionable accessory contently at his side at all self-gratifying social events. We all kind of hated her, and yet every one of us was strangely jealous of her affinity to latch on to somebody so unexplainably obscure. He would always talk about fleeing, packing a car full of bare essentials and whisking himself away from everything he once knew, and yet with Victor it was always just words, usually brought on by the ability of his mind to wander into fanatical bliss the first few minutes after he removed the condom and threw it in his plastic green garbage can.
I became somewhat used to his hypothetical rants, sometimes placing myself in the proper context. The girl he really loved, stationed in the front seat with an unfolded map and no real sense of direction. It was strangely comforting for awhile, up until the point where I realized such frivolous scenarios only existed for his own piece of mind. I could always be replaced by another body, another disfigured mold of where he wanted his life to go.
I walked towards the stairs, once again on the search for conversation hopefully directed toward some kind of mediocre solution, some haphazardous answer to all my temporary feelings of what could be defined as love or possibly a hormonal imbalance. In any case I would need more medication to stifle all the effects of that night and the many after it.
Kerry walked past me on my way up the stairs. She was on her cellphone, most likely having it out again with Peter, the on again off again love of her life. He was almost twenty-seven then, and had been a permanent fixture in her personality since her freshman year, his third senior year. She subscribed to Peter’s particular brand of Antarctic flattery early on; handing in her virginity for what she thought was piece of mind.
Instead it sort of ballooned to a constant abscess on her life, and one to which she couldn’t ever simply remove after a few scheduled appointments. Their half-hearted attempt at a relationship was much more fucked up than Victor’s and mine. Then again weighing out the pros and cons of any collegiate mistake was a strenuous process, full of less than satisfying results.
I found him at the top of the stairs, having just walked out of the bathroom. The speed was gradually kicking in as I had about a million thoughts sputtering off in the back of my head. Things to say and scream, tell him in whispers of sweet nothingness, and write on bathroom stall doors. Victor really wasn’t having any of it, though, as I could instantly tell he was less than pleased with me the second my foot touched the stained brown carpet lining the second floor hallway.
“I was looking all over for you.”
“Oh yeah, I was taking a piss. I gotta get back down to Marie. I think we’re leaving soon.”
“Well, what about earlier?”
“What about it Wendy? It always happens when we’re at parties. We get drunk and make-out. It’s no big deal, ya know?”
“Well what about when you call me later this week and you wanna fuck, what about then?”
“Well, we’ll come to that card later.”
“You can’t keep doing this to me.”
“I thought you didn’t mind. I mean, haven’t we been over this like a thousand fucking times? It is, what it is, ya know? I’m not in the mood to get into any of it right now. I mean, we’re at a fucking party for Christ sakes.” He brushed up against me as he walked past and back down the stairs. I could smell his lack of sympathy as it lingered in the air along with the cigarette smoke and sweat.
I took a breath and leaned against the wall. The ceiling was slowly starting to spin above me. I was fully awake and yet less than thrilled to be alive. Everyone’s diminishing sense of tact had somehow infected me. I was no different from all the others, and although we had our tiny intricate stories of little to no significance, all of them were passing fads pinned to dresses and upturned collars.
I didn’t have much of any motivation to walk back downstairs and look for a minor plot hole to fill. I didn’t necessarily need to fuck anybody that night, and yet as I felt the slow turn of the second pill, I could see myself falling right in with one of the stereotypical intellectuals lining the living room walls. I either needed to substantially calm down or run a few laps around the house. Luckily, the reliability of disappointment managed to peak its head out of one of the nearby bedrooms.
Jim looked fucked up as always. He was likely just stoned, possibly half drunk, as Jim was always one to bide his time before the inevitable downfall of human society. I knew that he hated most aspects of forced social situations, and yet just like everyone else, would flock to them like moths to a flame. I spotted the joint stationed perfectly behind his left ear like it was a television show I couldn’t miss. He looked at me with his familiar bloodshot blue eyes, and gave me yet another A-typical look of my diminishing quality as a person of value.
We had been through all the motions before. Friends at the start of my freshman year, quickly leading to a few offshoots into sexual arousal, and yet I never let any of it stretch past the common make-out session. I wasn’t really that into him. Jim had a certain lack of a spark engraved in his inner most depths. It was almost impossible for him to fall for anybody; myself included, without eventually realizing that all of his pent-up feelings disguising themselves as love were mere temporary offshoots of drugs or a hormonal imbalance; Jim always discussing how he took the high road when masturbation was concerned. Only in the morning, only to stifle the subsequent erections he would pop in class when it was just warm enough outside for skin. It was sad that I knew so many minor facts about his life, and yet he was always one to place them right on the table, at arm’s lengths for all acquaintances to see.
Yet, I suppose, in retrospect one of the main reasons Jim and I didn’t necessarily work out was because I fucked his best friend, Doyle, after his birthday party freshman year. It was an action to which managed to always capture the same look associated with lost feelings of what could have been, every time his eyes met mine. He gave me that look upstairs that night and two weeks later before he attempted to shave his wrists. It didn’t work out, and I avoided the hospital visits, figuring that most people eventually come to and get back on their feet, out of society’s ability to regularly ostracize those who simply enjoy the alone time.
“Hey Jim,” I said, once again trying to find my bearings between the floor and the ceiling.
“Hey, have you seen Kerry?”
“Yeah, she walked downstairs like a minute ago. She was on the phone with Peter, I think.”
“What’s the matter?’
“Nothing. Just… Well I thought he was kind out of the picture.”
“He’s never out of the picture. Everyone knows that.”
“Yeah, I guess. I mean, she seemed real into me tonight, though. I mean, we were just about to smoke this joint in her room before she said she forgot something downstairs.”
“Did she say what that something was?”
“Well okay, that means she’s probably not gonna be back up here for awhile.”
“Fuck,” Jim walked completely out of the room, pulling the joint from his ear and lighting it, in quick succession. He then leaned against the wall, exhaling a large cloud of smoke, which surrounded us like a bubble of calm familiarity.
“Are you gonna smoke that whole thing yourself?”
“I’ve been thinking about it.”
“Right in front of me?”
“Another drifting thought.”
“Come on man. I’d really appreciate it.”
“Fine.” He handed me the rolled masterpiece without thinking about all the doubts he was most likely having on the taboo subject of us. It had passed with the ages and was now like a question in an updated version of Trivial Pursuit. Only some members of the team knew the complete right answer.
“So you honestly can’t be into Kerry that much. I mean, especially if you’re as aware as the rest of us about the whole Peter thing.”
“Yeah, I know. I guess I was just trying to forget about all of that shit. I mean, place it in the back of my mind with all that other useless information I try to remind myself not to think about.”
“It doesn’t always work out, though, does it?”
“No, it never really does, which is kind of fucked up when you think about it. I mean, I can’t even get the slightly defective girls to sleep with me, what does that say about my life exactly?”
“You just haven’t hit your stride yet.”
“Right… That would almost be comforting if it was coming from anyone else.”
“Ya know, my life’s not perfect.”
“Yeah, I know. Everyone knows about the whole you and Victor thing, with the exception of Marie, which is like normal at this point, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know. It’s weird to think about any of us or the things we do as normal, ya know?”
“Yeah, I suppose. I mean, I still kind of prescribe to the idea that I’m a good person, although I’ve been having some serious doubts lately.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, it’d be so much easier just to be like the other guys. I mean, Peter manages to make Kerry jump with a phone call, while I stand here stoned by her bedroom door, waiting for some kind of mediocre solace.”
“She could still come through tonight.”
“Yeah, I know. Hell, even if she doesn’t, I don’t see myself being all that hurt by it. I mean, I’ll just go home, smoke a bowl, listen to Pet Sounds, and attempt to forget that tomorrow’s Sunday.”
“Well that sounds like your kind of a plan Jim.”
“Yeah… I know. Like I said, it’s pathetic.”
“Right… So where’s Doyle tonight?”
“Why, are you looking for someone to fuck?”
“No… I was just sort of curious, asshole.”
“He was here earlier, but he ate a cut of mushrooms, so I guess he’s looking for the Emerald City right now or something.”
“Aren’t we all?”
“Nevermind.” I handed Jim his joint and left it at that. Victor and Marie were gone when I walked back downstairs, the majority of the prospects at that party having already booked vacations in more secluded areas. I grabbed my coat and walked out the back kitchen door, without saying any kind of a good-bye to anyone. I would see them all in the subsequent days and weeks that followed, all of us returning to similar locations for get-togethers focusing on dancing around the fact.
Bekah came to faster than I expected, leaving an indented portion of grass and a pile of puke as her last testament to the night’s unlikely turn. She understood that the party no longer offered her any kind of social redemption, a sentiment to which I would casually search for the next few years in-between sips and swallows from various bottles of indifference. It was always a longer walk home all by my lonesome.