My unpublished manuscript ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up’ chronicles Andrew Brown’s struggle to reconnect with his best friend Pete Goodman as a lurid secret Andrew has never told threatens to break them apart for good.
As I mentioned in “A Reintroduction: The Prologue,” I intend to post edited chapters every few weeks. Here’s a sample from Chapter 6. As always, feedback is STRONGLY encouraged via the contact tab or comments section.
It’s unbelievable how little you care about when you’re loaded.
A couple days ago, I was shitting my pants about getting caught by Bags and getting sent back to the big, hollow house. Now, we’re sneaking out to that “hot club” Lilly’s sister set us up at, and it only took a happy pill and a half to get Lilly to stop worrying about her mother and the future and everything that could go wrong – everyone besides Pete.
He was staring at the fuzzy TV screen in the dark when I left, staying in tonight, not feeling “too hot,” he told Tommy. I’m sure, since he miraculously came down with something the second his phone buzzed, which was about 10 minutes before we left. And everyone bought it. Besides me.
Maybe that’s why I’m lagging behind Candace’s meaty ass, waiting for her to turn the corner and catch up with the rest of them. Because I know any minute, that door’s going to swing open and he’ll be lighting up to her, his only her, Ms. Benevo.
With all their lovey-dovey, soap opera, hanging on each other like snug scarves crap, I can feel the noose tightening around me and Pete. It’s already too tight to breathe. And he doesn’t realize it, but she’s the one pulling the rope.
I can hear Tommy’s whispers bouncing around the stairs. Not covert in any way. Oblivious. Typical.
There’s something else, behind me, another sound that stops me.
I want to believe it’s one of those shitty juniors with the definite social aspirations, but I know it’s our teacher before I smell that characteristic lilac perfume or hear her announce authoritatively, “Room check.”
Obviously, it’s not really a room check, we both know it, so I don’t bother turning – not that I can; I’m trembling. The door clicks open and there’s music – Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now – and I know she will. Then, I’m around the bend. Gone.
When I catch up to my friends at the side exit off the stairwell because even Melissa would’ve realized sneaking out through the lobby was a bad idea, I don’t mention anything to them. It’s bad enough Becky knows. No need for anyone else to. Even Ant who I still can’t get off my mind. That’s assuming I ever talk to her.
The walk there’s not terrible although I can’t remember the last time I walked anywhere. It’s about 15 minutes after we sneak past the snoring security guard, would’ve been a lot longer if we didn’t have the directions Marie’s conveniently-placed thong had bribed the concierge to print out for us.
“Like, is this the place?” Candace asks, as if the jackhammer-techno thumping against the ground or the girl with star-shaped pasties covering her areolas weren’t dead giveaways.
Marie sighs audibly. “Howcansomeone SUCK somuch?”
“You know you go to Balaam Academy, right?” Becky reminds her. They both laugh.
Lilly’s not listening, too preoccupied with the bouncer leading us to a private table filled with silver ice buckets and oversized bottles – a virtual treasure trove of debauchery – and Lilly slips him an arbitrary bill, eyeing all the greasy, slicked-back hair she’s going to run her hands through tonight.
“Gratzi, Francis,” she says to the behemoth. He looks like he eats Americans. For fun.
Every person inside fits the same M.O.: smoking, sweating, staring at the LED lights, dancing and dancing and dancing in their tight and trendy clothes. And there’s us in Abercrombie jeans and Polo tops and BCBG dresses, stinking of America and everyone in the place knows it, for their panning heads reveal what their shielded eyes hide. Acknowledging, but resenting. Acknowledging, but rejecting. At home, we might be exalted royalty, but abroad we’re savages.
“Man, how, how’d you pull this, man?”
“Kate, my sister, I told you, Tommy. She knows the bouncer.” I’m sure she knows him the same way me and Tommy and a hell of a lot of other guys know Candace. “Where’s Marie?”
“Damn, man, she’s already getting after it, that’s where.”
And she certainly is, rubbing up against a tall, dark-faced, 30-something year old with a mullet – of course a mullet – going down, down to the floor, slowly, really slowly. And he’s checking it and Tommy’s checking it – everyone’s checking it – and she knows it, holding it there, her hands in her mussed hair, looking back seductively, before shaking it all out.
Clearly, she’s done this before, but I’m not interested in her stripper moves or her fluffy lips like the rounded edges of Ursula’s pancakes. I don’t even care about all the exotic, olive-skinned, belly-shirt and leather-pants-wearing girls with the moves that would make Britney Spears uncomfortable. I’m not interested in any of them at all. I don’t give a shit about Ms. Benevo or even Pete right now. And it’s because Ant’s still the only one dancing in my head.
How bad I was at kissing, I remember, that first time down the block from her house – our first date, my first kiss – our lips lagging like five-dollar bootlegs. Whenever I opened my mouth, hers was closed. At one point, I almost ate her nose. Makes sense since the only female I’d ever kissed was my Great Aunt Susan. Accidentally.
Night fever, night feverrrrr.
“Lilly! The song! Lilly!” Becky’s practically convulsing.
We know how to do it.
Gimme that night fever, night feverrrrr.
We know how to show it.
A reminiscing smile etches itself onto Lilly’s face. “We must’ve watched Saturday Night Fever a 100 times in the basement–”
“That big leather couch. Popcorn–”
“With extra butter! And that grape juice stain on the rug…”
“We must’ve scrubbed it for hours” – her voice trails off. She itches her neck and grabs Becky’s hand. They’re running to the dance floor.
I light a cigarette I can barely taste. The smoke is suffocating in this carcinogen clinic.
“Man, I’m going to get a real drink, you want anything?”
I shake my head, watching Tommy eyeing some streetwalker-type at the bar. Guy always has an angle. And I’m kicking myself, should’ve taken the walk, because I, of course, am the one who gets stuck with Candace sweating all over me, smelling like a damn zoo. I don’t know if she thinks she’s being sexy or trying to remind me why I only bedded her once, but she’s literally bludgeoning me with her ass. I sit down before I end up sterile.
“Like, what’s your problem?”
I down my Tanqueray and tonic. “Not a thing.”
“Then, why’d you like stop dancing then?”
I want to say If you danced like you screwed, it would be a whole lot safer, but instead I wink at her and say, “Because that’s Tommy’s job now, Cand.”
She takes a sloppy slurp from her drink. “But, like, not really.”
All she needs is a compliment and she’ll be underneath the table and I’m almost drunk enough to consider it, but before I can make a bad choice Becky comes back talking to Lilly who’s fresh off the pole about these “cute baskets I love from Bed, Bath & Beyond.”
“Bed, Bath & Beyond is like so…pediatric,” Candace says in between pronounced drags on her pipette cigarette. I’m assuming she meant pedestrian.
Becky winces in my direction. “How do you do it?”
“What’s that, Beck?”
“Put up with her.”
I light another cigarette. “Just stare at her boobs. That usually helps.”
Copyright (C) 2017 Andrew Chapin