I have finally, FINALLY finished editing ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up’. Now, I have to find the time to send it out. And not screw up anything as I have in the past.
As I mentioned in “A Reintroduction: The Prologue,” I intend to post edited chapters every few weeks. Here’s a sample from Chapter 3. As always, feedback is STRONGLY encouraged via the contact tab or comments section.
“Toga, man, just…toga,” Tommy sputters, his face indiscernible behind a veil of smoke. He passes me the soda can he turned into a bowl. Which makes me feel like a crackhead.
Still, I accept it, breathing in and watching the emerald leaves flare neon amber until I’m coughing out, “Togaaaaaaaa!” and my head’s swooning and I’m disoriented and my lungs are trying to pry themselves from my chest.
Am I content? I wonder.
In the background, the Caesars are singing, I’ll be running circles round you sooner than you know, and Pete’s talking about their album like he always does when he hears an obscure song on the radio, that the song is from 39 Minutes of Bliss as if anyone else actually knows besides maybe Tommy who’s not in the conversation – he’s too busy nursing Candace’s baby bottles.
And she’s eating it all up, locking her arms in the back, stretching it out, and letting those beach balls flop around for everyone to see. “Tommy! Haven’t you ever heard of cavalry?”
“Chivalry, Cand,” Lilly corrects her as she usually does. “Chivalry.”
“That’s right” – she nods knowingly – “civilly, got it.”
Marie snickers to herself. She can’t stand the girl who’s been ardently campaigning since freshman year to be included in her and Lilly’s two-girl clique that was never actively seeking new members. Not that Candace ever had a chance. Always on the outside looking in, allowed to hang on but never hang out, she’s just not someone you call; she calls you.
“Cand, man, let’s go grab a smoke; I’ll show you exactly what kind of gentleman I am.” He winks at her sleazily. Naturally.
“I’m like” – she spins her diamond nose stud – “not that type of girl.”
“She was when I bagged her!” I blurt out, even though it was probably the lowest I’ve ever been in my life.
Still, I slap Pete’s hand and Tommy’s slapping mine when he doesn’t know why because that’s what guys do. Becky’s not surprised; she shrugs her shoulders at Marie who’s relishing the comment or the drugs – I’m not sure – laughing vacuously, sinisterly.
“Like don’t flutter yourself, Andrew,” Candace says, her animus hidden behind a veneer of mascara-caked eyelashes and disbelief. “Tommy, you ready for that smoke? Let’s go.”
“Don’t have to tell me twice, man.”
“Flatter, Cand, flatterrrrr,” Lilly calls back to her. The door glides shut.
“Seriously, that girl IS retarded.”
“Marie! That’s not nice! She’s my friend.”
“I CAN’T stand her. She seriously has brain damage or something.”
Lilly flashes an eye at Becky. The tiny thing shrugs again.
“Brown, you finally decide where you’re going?” Pete asks. He’s underneath Marie’s long legs, which are draped over him, and she’s putting a happy pill on his tongue. There’s no malice in his voice. He seems sincere.
“Last week, Pete. Going to Fairfield to study communications; thought you knew,” I say, trying to play it cool, though it hurts me to say it because best friends are supposed to be the first people you tell about that kind of stuff. But since he’s been so preoccupied with his girlfriend and since we haven’t hung out since what feels like junior year, the only person I told was Jess who I can’t stand. And it hurts him too.
“How…come you didn’t tell me?”
I shrug. “You didn’t ask.”
He bites his nail but doesn’t say anything. Despite our Hallmark moment at the minimart, the tension between us is still there. And it always will be as long as Ms. Benevo’s around.
“Andrew!” Lilly, such the clairvoyant, interjects. “Now, we really have something to celebrate!”
I clasp my hands in thanks, trying to be modest, but she’s taking a shot with Becky and gyrating in place and doesn’t notice.
Pete, all drunk and sensitive, looks wounded, completely ignoring Marie’s finger that brushes across his face. Trying to make-out? Not interested, he dismisses her advance brusquely this time and pushes himself to his feet. He takes a vicious pull straight from the bottle of vodka.
Not that I care because this is how Pete made it, how his teacher made it. I’m more interested in the graceful flame dancing atop the can and the wisps of smoke emanating from it as Becky takes a pull and her forest eyes are set ablaze and that tiny body of hers that could’ve worn a washcloth toga wrenches and recoils and becomes rheumatic. Marie looks at her unsteadily.
Cause it’s easy once you know how it’s done…
Somehow, Lilly’s bringing up the prom and how she’s “psyched” for us all to take pictures at the country club and get the biggest limo anyone’s ever seen and go up to Marie’s lake house after it gives way to a discussion on religion. Because that’s what happens when you’re high and stringing together vague, disjointed thoughts as if they’re connected in some profoundly complex way. And on some level, it’s like we’re having an adult conversation because the ideas sound weighty and important.
Do we believe in God? No.
Can priests actually be rapists? More than ever before.
Can’t you hear you talk too loud?
Will the sickly Pope survive our trip? Only God knows.
Is it a sin to masturbate? If it is, then we’ve got a ton of sin on our hands.
Is there a heaven? I’ll never know.
Is there a hell? I’ll see when I get there.
Am I content?
The door opens. “Toga, man! Toga!” Tommy yells and Lilly’s shushing him as he hurries in, the sweat on his chest fresh. Candace slinks in behind him, her hair looking like he fucked it. He probably did.
You can’t stop now; it’s already begun…
Everyone’s all gay and drunk and underage and on drugs, lauding the courageous Tommy for sneaking the pot through Customs. What a guy, Tommy Callahan is.
Lilly seems intrigued by him. “Who’s your worst hook up, Tommy?”
“Man, that’s tough” – Tommy leans back in his chair, stretching, deep in thought – “actually, na, it’s not.” Lilly’s face is filled with anticipation. “Melissa, last summer at Bruiser’s grad party. Man, that was a real kegger. You were there, right?” Bruce “Bruiser” Murray was the star linebacker and the captain of the defense. Kid could barely read.
“Pretty much all of Balaam was there, Tommy,” Lilly says, her voice hinting at a snooty tone, “so, yes, I was there. And Melissa, that’s gross by the way.”
“Yeah, but a man’s got needs, man” – his eye wanders to Candace who’s dosing in an armchair – “what about you, hot stuff?”
Lilly crinkles the bridge of her nose. It’s like she’s going to inform him that girls don’t kiss and tell because it’s immodest. But she’s only thinking of a good one. “Bruiser, probably,” she says, so casually. “Oh, wait! Danny McDermott was pretty awful too. And I only gave him head.”
“Only gave him head,” Becky repeats to herself, in disgust or disbelief or both.
“Ha! Seri” – Marie hiccups, her head bobbing up and down – “seriously?”
“Such a bore.”
“Ha! McDermott. Allthoseguyswere…bad,” Marie slurs, the pills beginning to eliminate the pauses between her words. “AllenLund…the worst. Or…RichieDunlap.”
“Oh, God, I forgot about Richie Dunlap! He weighed a ton.”
I remember the story where that prick and Lilly sweated it out in his pool house last summer. Right after he and Marie did the horizontal shuffle in the loft at his grad party.
So prurient, yet so proud they are, I can’t take it. And I can’t stop myself from asking, “If you died today, would you be content?”
Copyright (C) 2017 Andrew Chapin