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Wednesday, 09 March
Back To The Top, Shall We?

It was, I think, the summer between my junior and senior year in high school that the big party was announced. Some guy--a popular guy, but whose name I just do not remember--was having an overnighter on some property his family owned down on the river. Everyone was invited, everyone was told to bring their own provisions, and everyone was told that it was for the night: the gates would be locked, mainly to prevent teenagers in assorted altered states from doing what fucked-up teenagers do best, which is run into things, like trees or dogs or grandmothers.

I loaded up the car with the necessary provisions: a cooler of beer and my friends B. and K., who were in charge of . . . watching the cooler of beer, I guess. We set out for the party site. Halfway there we were pulled over by a State Trooper.

"What's in the cooler?" he asked, bored.

I don't deal well with cops, which is to say, I immediately give in to fatalism.

"Beer," I said. He sighed.

I swear to you, it was just then his radio crackled with some urgent message. "BLAH BLAH! BLAH BLAH! ON THE SCENE! BLAH BLAH!" How they listen to that gabble is beyond me, but he stood up very straight and stepped away from the car; said a few terse words back. We remained silent in my awful car, sullen in the knowledge that we were well and truly boned. We were probably all wanted for rape in Saskatchewan or something; the beer cooler only confirmed our rotten character. Finally, the trooper came back.

"It's your lucky day. I have to go to another scene. I don't have time to bust you right now. You best get where you're going and stay there. You get me?"

Boy, did we. This was a warning shot from the cosmos, and I would have to be a stone fool to ignore it. It was time to go home.

We naturally drove like maniacs right to the party.

The scene there resembled something like some unholy Valley of the Dolls/Lord of the Flies mashup. A few guys had built an anemic campfire, mostly out of toxic semi-combustibles like deck-treated lumber and tires; they were deriving some hilarity out of--this still depresses me--tossing live toads into the blaze. I moved away from this place quickly, not only because of the obvious horror of it all, but because I was nervously observing a particular troglodyte named Nate, who eyed me with a drunken malevolence. I didn't know why. (I still don't.)

I retrieved a beer from the car (everyone, for obvious reasons, kept their beer locked in their cars) and wandered over to a ramshackle barn, where I encountered Bobby, who was fiddling with some tiny objects in his hands. I asked him what was up.

"Fucking Tylenol caplets, dude." He continued futzing with the tiny little things. It became apparent that he was trying to separate the two pieces of the caplets, which he eventually accomplished, and weensy little granules of analgesic poured out onto his palm. Bobby honked all of this up into his nose, looking satisfied. "You want some? I've got a ton of this shit."

Well, no. But his Kleenexes probably looked kind of amusing the next day, like he'd been sniffing Smarties. This was coming of age in rural Idaho: Nope, no crack! Want some over-the-counter painkillers?

As the beer continued to flow and the night darkened, things took a turn for the worse. Nate, previously seen roasting toads, for some reason decided that what would really enliven the night was a beating, specifically him beating me. He began a really inept stalking campaign, trying to hunt me down stealthily, but managed to ruin it at about every turn, because he kept drunkenly whispering things like, "Li'l fucker . . . gonna beatcha." (People are going to think I'm kidding, but I'm not.)

It was really just stupid as hell. Nate would spy me, and would try to corner me somewhere (which was even stupider, since it was a pretty open place with not many corners), rasping "Gonna beatcha . . . little fucker . . . don't run . . . " and then he'd lurch out of the darkness, and I'd walk away from him, because he was just blind, and couldn't follow. Don't run? Fuck, I could crawl away from him.

At one point I thought it was all going to be done with. Nate spied me across the bed of a shiny pickup truck and tried to climb over it, and was immediately seized by the truck's owner, a truly immense person named Tim. Tim held Nate by the neck and explained, "Your jacket rivets are fucking up my truck! Knock it off!" He tossed Nate to the ground like litter while I chuckled inside; Nate lay on the ground for a while, and I figured happily that he was done for the evening.

Twenty minutes later: "Where's that li'l fucker? I'm gonna beat 'im." Nate was staggering around looking for me. I wondered if Bobby had shoved some invigorating Tylenol up his nose. It was time to go, locked gate or no.

"Look," I explained to the beefhead at the gate, "I'm not going to spend all night waiting for this guy squash my head with a rock." I was given a look that informed me that I was, pretty irrefutably, a complete pussy, an assessment that I was prepared to agree with. So was the kid who hitched a ride back with me, a freshman. I hadn't had time to figure out what his deal was; perhaps he was being menaced by Ghost Rider or the Toad Spirits. I didn't give a fuck--we just wanted to go home.

Two minutes after we had pierced the town city limits, we were pulled over. I hadn't used my turn signal. A cop approached my vehicle.

"What's in the cooler?" he asked.

I gripped the steering wheel. "Beer," I said.

He sighed.


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Comments

Ah, highschool. What a great story.

Comment number: 005588   Posted by: panajane on March 9, 2005 08:42 AM from IP: 201.224.159.36

That is, without a doubt, the very best story you have ever written. It tells me everything I ever needed to know about you.

Comment number: 005589   Posted by: jado on March 9, 2005 11:08 AM from IP: 63.109.229.19

that story reminds me of a quote by heinlein that goes something like:
"Most young males should be kept in a barrel and fed through the bung hole until the age of 18, and then a decision is made on whether to let them out - or drive in the bung."

Comment number: 005590   Posted by: dolface on March 9, 2005 01:49 PM from IP: 207.1.189.3

My friends really did snort Smarties...

Comment number: 005591   Posted by: lafnear on March 11, 2005 05:19 AM from IP: 24.60.89.30

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