I will start where many great stories before mine have started, at the beginning. I will start there and end up somewhere in between, somewhere where my thoughts come to ease, and where I can find a purpose to this story; somewhere where I can find the moral of this entire trip, something not too thought provoking, but something meaningful.
The original objective of my trip to the beach was to prove that Hunter S. Thompsonís technique of Gonzo journalism could be accomplished. That it was possible to report on an event while it was taking place for a long period of time. I was going to succeed where he had failed, and I was going to report on everything that took place during my high schoolís spring break. I was going to tell of every freakish public sexcapade, and every multi-drug filled hallucination that stained that orgy of high school decadence, Cherry Grove. For a week, this beach was a complete whorehouse of under age drinking and all out disregard for every law that has ever been ratified in the United States since the Declaration of Independence. I had planned to slur my way from drunken beach house to drunken beach house collecting notes on anything interesting that happened along the way. My experiments on this method of reporting were a success, at first, but as soon as the heavy drinking combined with a heavy assortment of drugs where mixed into the picture, Gonzo journalism nearly became a complete failure. Where, in my twisted state of mind, I managed to lose two (of three) notebooks full of brilliant verbal photographs and I all but destroyed the last one I had left. This is what I have managed to salvage; these are the stories from the third notebook.
The idea of going to my schoolís spring break at Cherry Grove beach, and recording the trip on paper, had been brewing in my head since the beginning of the school year, but if it werenít for Isaac I might not have even made the trip. You see, I was quite broke, money wise I mean, and my car was a piece of Japanese shit, but when Isaac called and said "get your stuff packed and pick me up in thirty minutes; we are going to the beach." I did not argue. I simply said okay to the spontaneous bastard, and hung up the phone. Isaac is my best friend, you see, and there was no since in arguing with him, because, well I guess, I really wanted to go and be a spontaneous bastard too. So I did. I only had thirty dollars to my name, which is pretty bad when youíre going to the beach because it will disappear like lightning. I cashed in my penny jar and filled the old importís tank with Premium and went on my way.
That poor bastard Isaac had tried to drive down there the night before, but he got pulled over going ninety miles an hour through Cheraw county by some red necked inbreed cop. He said that dirty swine had looked like a cross between Barney Phife and the "Sling Blade" guy. That filthy pig had found a small bag of grass in Isaacís car, and he hauled his ass straight to the county jail. Isaacís parents had bailed him out that morning, and Iím sure he was catching an earful from his old man. I had no choice really in the matter, you see, because Iím a very loyal person, so thirty minutes after that call Isaac and I found ourselves speeding down the highway, half numb from the dozen pain killers we each had taken.
A hundred miles out of Charlotte I turned to Isaac and said. "What about the porn, man? Iím in the mood for some porn." "What porn you dirty pervert?" he said. "The porno magazines for Christ sake, where the hell are they." I said. "I didnít bring any. I donít need any porn." he said. "Why the hell not, you lying basterd?" I said. "Because, he said. I have a good imagination." I shut up then because he had a point, and then I tried very hard to concentrate and get a mental picture in my head. It was no use though; Isaac was singing along with Led Zeppelin at the top of his lungs.
About an hour later we were flying through Cheraw County going ninety-five miles an hour, and we were somewhere near fifty miles away from the beach before dinnertime.
When we arrived on Thirty-second Street; the road was packed with drunken teenagers. The sun had just gone down, and it was probably around seven oíclock. My car was quickly surrounded by a dozen of my friends, offering good drink and good drug. I quickly indulged myself to regain that false since of being that had left me with the comedown from the painkillers. My great friend from school, Jake, approached me with a half-gallon of vodka, and offered me some. I rested against my car sharing meaningless conversation while guzzling liquor for a while. Then I began to wade my way through the crowd. I was being careful not to spill my drink while trying to look as sexy as possible at the same time. I had completely lost Jake. Then, I began to realize that I had been at the beach for almost an hour and I hadnít even seen the beach.
Cherry Grove is made up in blocks of beach houses on streetís perpendicular to the beach. The blocks range from zero to about Sixtieth Street on either side, North or South, I mean. There is a strip of houses that are parallel to the shoreline. That is the expensive beachfront property. The street that is parallel to that property is Ocean Boulevard. From where I was standing, the water was about Five hundred yards away.
Naturally I thought that this shoreline expedition would be a much more attractive idea if I had an attractive gal to escort there. Almost immediately after that thought crossed my mind, my eyes locked in on an ex-girlfriend of mine. She was a girl that you never had to tell to get off your back, or to stop nagging you. She was also pretty good conversation, and I used to love to have sex with her. She spotted me and her devilish grin told me that she was thinking exactly what I was thinking, or that she knew exactly what I was thinking, either way it didnít matter. We approached each other, and just as I was about to seduce her with my love vapors, that old bastard Isaac burst out the front door dragging some unlucky fool to the street in a head lock. I, being the loyal jerk that I am had to monitor the fight to make sure that Isaac destroyed his ass. He did, and as he was walking toward me laughing with blood all over his hands; I was sorely reminded of the reality of our depressing situation. Weíd been at the beach for barely an hour and already I was completely drunk and my best friend was beating people to pieces in the street. This was supposed to be our vacation; you know, away from all the bullshit that takes place in Charlotte.
I had a hard time falling asleep that night, partly because I was squished in my compact car with the seat reclined, and partly because I was feeling so damn lousy. Who knew where Isaac was sleeping? I didnít much care either. I knew he would be all right where ever he was. He had probably found some bimbo who was in love with him since the sixth grade. He probably found her and now he was taking advantage of her crush by banging her and sleeping at her beach house. Damn, I wish I could do that. I probably could have gotten someone to let me sleep on their couch, but I wasnít really in the mood to barter. I was too drunk.
Surprisingly enough I am still alive. I can hardly believe I even woke up this morning. On account of how drunk I was last night, I mean. Waking up to the sun blazing through your windshield does not create a good feeling; it is terribly uncomfortable, especially when you have a belly full of burning liquor. Man, I almost suffocated. The heat was so intense that it had devoured all of my oxygen. I struggled clumsily to open my window. At last air; I was beginning to feel better already. I started my car to check the time on my dashboard, but I couldnít see it because my fuse was busted or something. What a piece of shit.
My ex-girlfriend Jessica was relaxing beautifully on the porch. She could always look beautiful doing stuff like that. She was one of those girls who looked beautiful doing almost anything. She could be sleeping, and drool could be dripping from her mouth, and she would still look beautiful. It was amazing. She was sitting theyíre smiling at me. I got out of my car and said, "hey you know what time it is?" what a stupid thing to say. She was sitting there looking beautiful, and all I had to say was what time is it. She laughed and said" I think it is around eight. Why didnít you just sleep inside?" "I didnít want to impose on all you guys." She was staying with about ten people." Youíre so stubborn sometimes, Joe; all you had to do was ask." I was thinking of something sexy to say to her but I guess that I was to hungover. Then Jake came stumbling out of the house looking as bad as I did I guess. He said "Hey itís about time for a beer donít you think?" Jessica rolled her eyes, but I thought he had a good ideaí. I figured I would just drink through this hangover. He went inside and fetched us to cold ones. Jessica said." You guys are unbelievable. You really are. Look at each other." We looked okay. Jake burped in her face and said, "fuck off. Joe, lets go for a walk." I agreed, and I said goodbye to beautiful Jessica.
I had planned to leave for the beach at Charleston South Carolina later that day. Charleston is where my mother lived. She was a struggling opera singer. I never could understand why she struggled, because she could sing better than every other opera singer Iíd seen, and Iíve seen a number of them. She wasnít big and fat like all the ones you see in the movies either, she was very beautiful, and Iím not just saying that because sheís my mom. I hadnít seen her in a few weeks, and I loved to see her.
Anyway, I figured I would leave at about four so that I could still eat dinner with her that night. Charleston was only about an hour an a half away. The drive there was a straight burn down highway 17 through Georgetown. I also figured that if the drive were to be slightly bearable I would have to get nice and liquored up first.
By 1:30 Jake and I had finished an eighteen pack, and we were floating in some girls pool in our boxer shorts. The clouds where swirling like ballerinas. I knew that if I were going to make it to Charleston I would have to sober up. I got out of the pool, and walked right into this girlís house. I was suprised to see the room full of high school girls that I knew. The room became deathly quite as they all focussed their attention to the hole in my boxer shorts where I had forgotten to button. I didnít even care; I simply walked to their refrigerator and grabbed a Coke. They seemed more embarrassed than I did. For minutes they did not say anything. I drank my Coke quickly then I walked outside to get my clothes. "See ya' later Jake." I said "Iím gonna leave now". I told the girl in the pool with him that, "the girls in her house where all dirty perverts." Then sarcastically, I acted real mad, and stormed off. I was walking back to my car when I heard a tun of music, and laughing. It sounded very close, so I decided to check it out. It was the deck of a bar just about a block down the road called, "Crazy Chuckís." It looked like it was on my level. There were drunken girls lying on the outdoor bar having vodka poured into there belly button, and there were people licking it out. Like I said, it looked like my type of crowd. I knew I probably should not be drinking anymore, but I could not resist. I mean there were girls on the bar having liquor licked out of their belly for godsake. Give me a break.
It was easy getting in. You can get into almost any bar if you are by yourself, and you look at least fifteen. I actually look pretty old, on account of my scruffy face, and my mature beer belly. I sat down at the bar, and watched all the freaks in action. The place was electric. The waitresses where walking around half naked; the bar tenders were shouting, and spraying liquor in the air, and the hole bunch of them where as happy as a drunk at a "wine tasters" convention. I fit right in. I ordered a Jack and Coke. The band that was playing a horrible rendition of Van Morrisonís "Moondance", but they were sure playing it loud as hell, and when youíre feeling like these beasts, it doesnít matter what your listening to as long as itís loud, and it sure wasí.
I sat around there for a while drinking a little slower, so that I could make that drive to Charleston. I got a kick out of old Chuckís, and I was hoping I could stop by again sometime. I paid my tab, which was only fifteen bucks, because thatís about all I had, and walked outside. The sun was boiling hot. I was sweating gallons of alcohol. I began to feel a little faint, so I reached into my pocket, and pulled out a pill of speed that a hippie friend of mine had given me the night before. I took it quickly and washed it down with what was left of my drink. When I got back to the beach house where my car was parked no one was around except this guy I knew from another high school. He was cooking burgers on their grill, and he said that everyone had gone down to the beach. I was going to tell him to tell everyone I was leaving, but I figured it didnít really matter because I would be back tomorrow.
The ride to Charleston was short, and I was almost completely sober by the time I reached my momís beach house. I guess it was the speed that did it, but I wasnít real sure because I couldnít even feel it. I did have this horrible headache though, and it was really giving me hell. My mother wasnít there, but she left a note saying that she would be back by six-o-clock. Luckily she left the door unlocked because I had no goddam clue what time it was. There wasnít even a damn clock inside either. I sat on the bed and began to read a copy of "A Moveable Feast" by Hemmingway. It was a good way to pass the time. (I really liked Hemmingway because he made my writing look sensitive.) I fell asleep with the book in my hand. The jingling of the doorknob awakened me, and as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes my mother walked through the door. She gave me a kiss, and said "Do you want to get something to eat." "Yeah I guess" I said "if you want." I was always saying I guess, and if you want to my mom. I donít know why. I know it is probably annoying to her, but I do it anyway. I was really hungry too, and I still said I guess. Kids really ought to talk to their parents more clearly. "Well then lets go get something to eat", she said.
My mother and I dined at a place called the "Wreck". It was a seafood restaurant whose dining room was fashioned from the hull of an old fishing boat. I loved to eat there. The tables and chairs were plastic, and so was the plates and silver wear, but the food was surely excellent. We talked for a while about my brothers, and my dad. We always talked about my brothers and my dad. I guess it was because theyíre the people we like the most, and they always give us something to be proud of, or worried about. Iím sure my brothers talk to her about me to, but I donít really mind because my mom is most happy when weĎre talking about each other, you know what I mean.
Anyway, we finished dinner at about eight thirty, and we drove back to the beach shack. I was very tired, but I walked down to the beach anyway. I was standing on the shore letting the salt water run in between my toes. I had this really nasty stubíb toe and it hurt like a bitch when the salt water touched it, but I didnít move. I was to busy thinking about all those people only about a hundred miles away at Cherry Grove. I thought, if I started walking up the shoreline, in a hundred miles I would be standing right there with them. It was funny to me, and I tried to listen to see if I could hear them yelling and having a good time. I know it was silly, but I felt really good about it. I knew at that moment, a hundred miles away kids my age were having the time of their lives. It filled me with a wonderful peace, and I never wanted it to end. I walked back inside and laid down next to my mom who was reading another book (like she always did), and fell asleep like a little kid.
I woke up to a beautiful day. One like you see in all those old Fred Astaire movies, you know the ones, when he looks all chipper and happy while dancing down the street before he goes to work. For me, it was always pretty hard to believe that someone could be dancing down the street before work, but I guess I kindaí felt like danciní myself that morning. That was what kind of day it was though, because I donít even know how to dance. Anyway, it was a nice day, and my mother had already left for work at the caféí, so I was alone.
I took a walk on the beach, and took a few pictures with a camera Iíd bought in Charlotte before I left. Then I decided that Iíd drive downtown, and have free breakfast where my mom worked. My mom spotted me as soon as I got there, and got me a table instantly. The place was pretty crowded because they were known for their breakfast. My mom took a break, and sat down with me. I ordered a bunch of eggs, sausage, and grits, with cups of orange juice, water, and coffee. I was very irritated by the waitress who had been rude to me. She questioned my order of a bunch of eggs, sausage, and grits, and every time I saw her I lost my appetite. I still managed to eat though, because I was fucking starving.
After I ate I felt a little less grouchy, and by the time I decided to drive back to Cherry Grove I had forgotten all about that bitch waitress. I kissed my mom good bye and let her get back to work. I promised her I would return at the end of the week.
I had remembered how boring the ride was from Myrtle, so I made myself a gin and orange juice at my motherís house when I picked up my bags. Then, I set my car on cruise control (ten miles over the speed limit, of course) and headed back. My car began rattling loudly as I flew through Georgetown, so I turned my "Wide Spread Panic" album up louder, and forgot about the noise.
I pulled into the Grove at about mid afternoon I guess, because I still had no fucking clue what time it was. I made the trip in pretty good time though, I think. The first person I saw when I pulled on to Thirtieth Street was Jake. He had his shirt off, and he was obviously drunk. It was rare to see Jake this drunk because he had very strict parents who kept a close eye on him. But, they were not here; no parents were, so everyone was pretty much letting loose. Even the most occasional drinkers were either totally intoxicated, or on their way there. I parked, and ordered one of the girls to fetch me a beer because I had some catching up to do. In truth I really didnít, because I had helped myself to a few more gin and juices while driving on the highway. It was really not as easy as it sounds though. I damn near spilled my entire bottle of gin on my lap, but I saved enough to be pretty bent by now, and I sure was. I was at the stage of drunkenness when you feel like you are acting real smooth, and calm; when in reality you are slurring your words, and acting like a complete asshole. That didnít matter to me though, because it was my vacation, and Iíll be damned if I canít get hammered.
My mom let me borrow "A Moveable Feast", and also lent me fifty dollars, so I could now drink somewhat better beer. I sat next to the pool while I read, or tried to read. When the sun began to go down I decided to take a few Hydrocodones, and go to look for a party. I was still drunk, and I knew those damn Hydrocodones were gonna put me on my ass pretty soon. I ran into Isaac and Jake with a few of my other friends on the street. Jake was smiling fiendishly, and I asked him what was up. (Jake drunk was not a good thing, because when he was drunk he became a completely different person, and I knew that bastard was up to something.) He pulled a hand full of Blackcat fireworks out of his pocket. Then he said. "What the fuck you think is up?" He laughed like a crack fiend that had just found a hundred dollars. I knew this was bad news. Jake leaned over with that same freaky grin, and said, "Lets go fuck some shit up." Oh no, I thought, our first trip to jail; I could see it coming, but I went along anyway. My friend Taylor Walker had stolen a megaphone from someone the night before, and he was really adding to the foolishness of the situation. After about two hours of our craziness those damn cops were trying to chase us down like wild beasts.
I donít really remember how I ended up on the front porch of that empty house, but I did, and it was much better than being in a jail cell. I was wondering if Jake and Isaac had made it out okay, but I was also pretty anxious to get to another party. So I drank the rest of my drink, and began to find my way back to my car, and Thirty-second Street. I was somewhere around fortieth, and the walk wasnít so bad.
When I got there, there were only a few people on the porch. Some hippiesí I knew that were toking on a freshly rolled joint. They were always in their own zone, and none of them really noticed me as I sat down next to them.
The night was very clear, filled with a million stars, and lit by the giant ocean moon. I asked one of them where everyone was, and they all said in a monotonous tone, like a bunch of zombies, "out back." I didnít really care; I was quiet content sitting on that porch. The smoke bellowed in my eyes as I took a hit from the joint. The mixture of alcohol, and marijuana was always a tough combination with me. It will make you think entirely too much, and after an hour of haziness you find yourself wondering where the time has gone.
Isaac was running down the street towards us laughing like a madman, and when he reached the porch he grabbed a hold of the column to catch his breath. He lit a cigarette and said, "what time is it? Iíve been running from the cops for about an hour." I had no fucking clue, but I told him midnight. He asked me where I was staying and if I wanted to go to our friend Zeekís place. I figured it wouldnít be bad, I knew that there would be a lot of free booze, and full assortment of a hundred other upperís, or downerís; anything a man needed to extend the night, or end it, if that were the case. I wasnít sure what I wanted to do, but I figured Iíd find out when I got there. Plus anything was better than sitting on this goddamned porch vedging out to the fucking star patterns.
Zeek was a good man, a thinker, a talker, and a philosopher. The only problem he had was whipping himself into drunken ramblings of things that he could not control. His points were always valid, but sometimes they were a waist of time. No one really minded though, because he was such a nice guy, and everyone loved him. It was just that when he drank a lot, he let himself get tortured by the tribulations of life. I often enjoyed his sermons, and when his point was clear, he could make the wisest man in the world think.
When Isaac and I reached the condo, he was just getting started. There were a couple empty half gallons of "Wild Turkey" on the coffee table, and a giant cracked mirror on the floor that I could only assume was used to cut lines of Cocaine on. He was preaching to a bunch of half dead drunks, with a golf club in one hand, and a full shot glass in the other. He was pounding the club on the floor yelling something about rapists, and politicianís burning in hell together. Liquor was flying everywhere and I took a seat on the couch and cracked open another bottle of Scotch. Without missing a beat, he patted me on the back, drank his shot, and extended the empty glass in my face.
Zeekís verbal rampage lasted for about two hours. It covered his parents, and high school girls, to little league baseball. I being the only person there who wasnít passed out, or in another room having acid induced sex, was his main line of fire. Isaac had managed to sneak away to god knows where. I did not mind though, as long as the liquor was flowing, I was happy. After those two hours Zeek threw back another shot, sat on the couch in front of me and blacked out. I then realized I was the only one in the room awake, so I figured it was probably a good time for some well deserved sleep.
My spring break was now half way over, and I had yet to get in a fight, get arrested or overdose. I was in a very chipper mood when I woke up because of this. I had slept well, despite the sounds of violent sex coming from every room all night long. I am never disgusted by those sounds, but I am neither aroused. That along with Zeekís raging heaves was simply background to my peaceful dreams. My drunkenness had me quite nicely slumbered.
It was another sunny morning, and my friend Sean was in need of money. He asked me if I would drive him to a pawnshop, where he would try to pawn a camera heíd stolen the night before. I drove him to three shops, and apparently they donít like buying goods from shady looking teenagers. "It was bad business," they said. After that disappointment I decided I needed a drink so I dropped Sean off at Zeekís, and drove back to Thirty-second Street.
When I arrived, everyone was still asleep. Lightweights I thought, they were not cut out for the drifterís life style. These kids were trust fund babies whose parents paid for there shiny Land Cruisers, and BMWís. They had no clue what it was like to work for something, or to pay for the bills on their piece of shit 1987 Nissan Maxima, with two hundred thousand miles on the dash, and no clock because the goddamn fuse was busted. I, on the other hand was getting used to this life, and found pleasure in being a man who could support himself, and his enormous drug and alcohol habits at the same time.
I sat on the porch for a while pouting about being a broke bastard while I drank a warm Budweiser I found in my back seat. Jessica was the first out the door and she sat down next to me. I tried not to look so anxious to speak with her, so I buried my face in the Budweiser. She was wearing a bikini and one of those see through cloth wraps that tie on girlís hips. She didnít say anything, and I could not keep my eyes off her perfectly lotioned legs. (To you I may seem like a guy who could never fall for a girl like this, but underneath my bitter words, and shocking realism, there is a soft side; one that writes poetry, and appreciates the company of a beautiful girl. Hell, I appreciate all girls especially Jessica, with her blinding beauty and witty tongue). When I finally spoke I asked the wrong thing. "Whereís your boyfriend."(Note to self; never ask your ex-girlfriend where her boyfriend is when she is sitting next to you looking good enough to give a blind man a woody.) She got up, and said with a huff, "see you later." I was feeling like a complete asshole and I walked inside. Their lay Jake, on the floor asleep, with an empty bottle still locked in his hand. His shirt was covered in rum stains, and his pants were covered in a few other stains, upon which I do not care to elaborate. My eyes lit up, like a Roman Candle, when I saw that their bar was stocked with full bottles of booze. I quickly made myself a Screwdriver, and retreated back to the porch. The pigs were still making their rounds, and I saluted them with a full glass when they passed by. I wondered if they knew they were chasing me the night before, after all I was wearing the same clothes. Speaking of which I was in desperate need of a shower, and a change. The logical thing to do was to drink all of their liquor before they woke up, and then take a shower. I made my decision, and started drinking. I took my shirt off, because it was burning hot; even under the shade of the upstairs porch, I was sweating. I relaxed by reading old "Hem". I must have made it to about chapter four, when the weaklings began to wake up. The group of them decided that they wanted to eat lunch. I was in no mood for food though; I was working up a good drunk, and I did not want to waist it. Plus, when they all left I could take advantage of their shower, without being bothered.
I was in serious need of a woman. Iíd been down here for to long without some random sex. This should have been one of my main goals all along, but it had been lost somewhere along the way. It was probably because the drinking was getting so heavy that I couldnít see. It was time to concentrate; make it todayís priority.
After everyone left I took my shower, and looking fresh, and sexy, I hit the road on foot hoping to find some action.
A few guys were throwing a baseball on the street. It reminded me of when I played. All the guys staying in the house on thirty-second were part of my high schools baseball team. I was once on that team. In North Carolina we are considered one of the best, and rightfully so. These boys live the game. They play the game habitually, and if their not playing it, they are talking about playing it. For them baseball is always number one, then girls, then whatever else, but certainly baseball is number one. The team is a sort of brotherhood, a click, and I sure missed being a part of it. I gave up on it too soon. To me, it was just much easier to forget about the game with a beer, than to play it without one. It is a pretty stupid choice huh? Well us kids arenít known for making the best choices.
Anyway, I remembered about old "Chuckís", and I decided that that would be a good place to organize my notes, and waste a few hours, until night came around.
When I got to "Chuckís" it was not as crazy as before, in fact their were only about twelve people in the joint. This wasnít so bad though, because I would need a little peace to concentrate. I sat at a booth this time instead of the bar. I figured I needed the space, and it would be nice to have one of those cute waitresses to talk to. When she came I ordered a "Jack and Coke". Her nametag said Kami; it was a cute name for a very cute girl. She had one of those squeaky little voices, and when she laughed her entire face lit up. I watched her as she skipped away to get my drink, and I was intoxicated by her energy. She was wearing a tiny little pair of cut off jean shorts. They were so short that you could see the front pocketís coming out from underneath. Her little ponytail bounced back and forth while she skipped. When she got to the bar, I turned my attention to my notes. I pulled about five pages of paper out of my back pocket that I had stuffed in there in hurry. I also got my little dairy type notebook that my friend Emily had given me, and put it all on the table. Emily had gone to "Key West" for spring break, and she bought me the dairy so that I could write her poetry while I was here.
I first met Emily four years ago when I transferred to her junior high schools. I never really got to know her that year, but when we graduated from junior high, and all of her friends went to a different high school, we became great pals. She had been my only constant friend for four years now, and rarely did two days go by without talking on the phone, or just hanging out. She was probably in the "Keys" having the time her life. I probably hadnít even crossed her mind. I couldnít stop thinking about her she is my best girlfriend, not "girlfriend", but girl friend, because I have never dated her. In fact, I hadnít even kissed her before, but one thing was for sure; I love her, like a sister, and I would do anything for her.
I was thinking how much I missed her when my waitress came back with my drink. She looked at all the papers and said "whatcha writing?" "Nothing really, Iím kinda writing a story for college, I said."(Trying to sound older) "Oh yeah, where ya go? She asked." I told her that I went to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She told me that her boyfriend went there and that she took a few classes at the community college next to it. Then she told me if I needed anything to give her a holler, and she skipped back off to the bar. I drank my drinks slowly and wrote for a while. When I felt satisfied with what Iíd written, I decided to leave. Plus, I only had about fifty bucks, and I had already spent about twenty, so I left Kami five-dollarís, gathered my stuff, and took off. As I walked out of the bar I looked for a clock, but could not see one. I thought, "What kind of goddam bar has no clock?" I knew I couldíve simply asked someone, but I was just too lazy to bother, and I just walked out, and headed back.
Word spread like a firestorm about a party being held by those perverted girls that had been checking out my package a few days before. Their place was right on Ocean Boulevard, and it was sure to be a blow out.
Jake and I got ready for it by pounding a few shots of tequila, and singing like mad, while we swam at his place on Thirty-second Street. I had a good feeling that the night would be a good one if not the best so far. All of the girlís were getting ready in the house, and the smell of a hundred different perfumes and lotions filled the air. Lips became juicier, eyes became darker, shorts became shorter, and shirts became tighter. One could hardly contain himself around these temptresses, and I yearned to make love to each and every one of them. How great it was that women did this for us. What a beautiful gift they are indeed! I could not help but to be completely filled with delight at this display of pulchritude, and I was bursting with enthusiasm for the night to come.
I grabbed the half-full bottle of tequila sitting on the counter and took off to Ocean Boulevard. I almost broke out into a jog as I reached the street, but I managed to contain myself to a cool walk. Jake was lagging behind telling me to wait up for him, while he lit his cigarette. I slowed up and sucked down more tequila. "Come my boy," I said "the night is young and there are many girls who need healing, from the doctor of love." Jake howled into the night before he grabbed the bottle from me and drank almost half of what was left. I howled myself and tried to follow his performance on the liquor, which was not nearly as successful. My body grew warm from the booze, and my mind grew sharp for the hunt.
At about seven oíclock the entire joint was full, with maniacs drinking gallons of anything that was put in their face. I sat at a table where some kids were playing cards. A tall kid with crazy curly hair was dealing, he had a chubby girl on his lap and she was kissing his neck. The others at the table were drunk, very, very drunk. They were yelling at each other, and banging their fists on the table. Across the room there was a group of my hippie friends, smoking trees out of a three-foot bamboo pipe. One of them was a beautiful pale faced girl named Melody. She was smoking a cigarette and giggling at what someone had said. Her body bounced to the music coming from the speakers.
Weíd met a year before, through about ten different friends, and it seemed like we had run into each other at every party in Charlotte ever since. I once sat on a porch with her and talked about G-d for two hours. I was afraid that I was scaring her that night, but she stayed with me, and I think she understood my madness. I strolled over to her real cool like, and I asked her what was up. She handed me the pipe, and said "the usual." I gladly obliged her and took a giant toke. I coughed my guts out, and she started laughing. We began talking about our week, and what weíd done so far. She told me she had been looking for me and I smiled. Our eyes were glowing with lust, and booze, and we decided to take a walk on the beach. There was a seeming silence that took over the room, as we held hands walking out. It seemed like everyone there was moving in slow motion. There were no voices just lips moving and the only sounds were the tunes of Dave Mathewís Band blaring from the radio. While we walked out the sliding door onto the porch she stumbled. I caught her without dropping my drink. I said, "I thought I was the drunk one". She leaned back against the house and laughed; "you are", she said. Then it seemed like everything stopped all at once, and she grabbed me by the back of the neck and started kissing me. I dropped my drink, and happily returned the favor. It was a long deep kiss that burned on our lips. She leaned back and giggled then she said "lets go." She bolted down the stairs towards the ocean. I grabbed a bottle of whiskey out of some guyís hand standing next to me; took a huge gulp, gave it back, and calmly walked after her. She was standing in the waves when I got down to the water. She was laughing, and motioning with her index finger to come here. "Well why not", I said out loud, and I walked into the cold ocean water. One of the things that I loved about her was her long dark red hair; it came down to the small of her back. She dipped her head into the ocean, and whipped her hair back, splashing water on my shirt. I took her by the waist and began kissing her neck. She pulled my shirt over my head, and tossed it into the waves. Then I whispered in her ear, "your turn". She stripped off her shirt to reveal a perfectly smooth youthful body. She had on no bra. She wrapped it around my head and pulled me to her, and again our lips touched. Her cold wet hair dangling against my chest as our tongues met.
Somehow we ended up in a bedroom, our warm bodies pressed tightly against each-others. She fell quietly asleep in my arms. I lay there, starring at the ceiling fan. I wondered what she was dreaming. Wild sounds echoed from another room, and I could here Isaac yelling at someone, over the music. The moonlight painted pictures on the pale walls. Shadows reflected the scenes of the room. How in the hell did I get here, on this bed in this room? How the hell have I made it this far? Only seventeen years and I am already exhausted. Life can sure make a man tired. The thought crossed my mind that most people who commit suicide probably do it because theyíre exhausted. They just want to rest, and forget about the noises in the other room.
There is a certain peacefulness that you get waking up to a girl, a feeling that is right and holy. I watched the expression on Melodyís face change as she slept. It was a smirk that said, "I have you figured out, and I know everything". I have watched many girls sleep, and they all have that smirk. The smiles are all different, but they all say the same thing.
All of the sudden the bedroom door burst open. A beastly woman was screaming at me to get out. Melody jumped awake. "Who the fuck is she?" I asked. "Thatís the lady we rented the place from", she said. The lady began kicking in all of the bedroom doors, and yelling that everyone had to be out in an hour. I could not believe this haggard beast, and I thought that it was a joke, at first. This woman was serious though, and she was threatening to call the police on us. She had the look of an uncostumed drag queen. She had a deep manly voice, and a thin mustache that she covered badly with concealor make-up. Her black hair was tied back in a bun. She was horribly overweight, and the khaki shirt she was wearing had dark sweat stains on the armpits. It seemed as though she had been walking up the beach all morning long evicting her tenants. I was so shocked by the cow that I did not say a word. Then she said that she would be back in an hour and that she hoped for our sake that we were out by then. I thought about slapping her in the lips, but my damned reason got the best of me.
The girls all began to gather their suitcases roboticly, and all conversation stopped. They were all scared of what was going to happen when their parents found out they were evicted. They were all moping around feeling sorry for themselves. It depressed me, and I tried to tell them that getting kicked out of your condo is just part of Spring Break, and that just because they got kicked out doesnít mean they have to pack their bags and go home. They all ignored me and kept packing. I couldnít take watching them, so I grabbed a couple cold beers and walked out to the porch, hoping that the ocean would cheer me up. My friend Travis joined me a few minutes later. He had a huge hickey on his neck, and his eyes were squinted because of the sunlight and a hangover. I offered him a beer and he shrugged, so I gave him my other one. "Did you know they got kicked out?" he asked. "Yep, I said, itís to bad. I was hoping to have sex with another one tonight". "Who did you fuck", he said. "Nobody", I replied. (I did not want anyone to know about Melody because she had a boyfriend.) "Did you?" I asked. "I sure did" boasted Travis, "and it was damn good too". "What was his name?" I said with a chuckle. "Pretty funny", he said laughing. "I think the girls are pissed that we are out here relaxing, and theyíre in there cleaning up". "Fuckím", I said. "Letís walk down to Bobbyís place on Twenty-ninth. He nodded his head. We didnít even say goodbye and I think those girls just drove back to Charlotte.
Bobby was a wildass who went to Myers Park high, across the way. When I got to his place he was in full swing, running around talking to every crowd. He greeted Travis and I with cold beers. Bobby frequently impressed me this way. He also impressed others. (Especially girls) He was the guy who had the two best-looking virgins on his lap at the beginning of the night, and by the next morning they had both been deflowered, if you know what I mean? He was a scumbag to all the girls, but a hero to all the guys. We exchanged a few brief laughs, and then he told me he was going to the beach. I told him that I was just down there, and that I would probably catch up with him later.
I spotted a Jacuzzi outside and jumped in, cloths and all. One of the pretty Myers Park girls asked me how the water was. I told her that it was perfect and that she should join me. She was wearing an incredibly tight pair of short shorts, and a tiny tank top. She said that she did not have a bathing suit. I laughed and said it would be ashamed to miss all of this relaxation. She reluctantly agreed and got in. Carefully, she dipped her tiny feet into the bubbling warm water. I sat there patiently, enjoying every second.
Just when I was about to make my move, a herd of drunks came stumbling up. They all wanted to get in the Jacuzzi. Damn you g-d, I thought. It was a sure score, and youíve fucked it up. It was just as well though, because I would have probably been no good anyway. (On account of the night before, I mean) I was worn out. It has been my experience that hippie girls are extremely good in bed, and Melody was no exception. I guess itís because of that free love thing. I was still upset by their rude interruption though, and I figured I better leave before I started a fight. I got out of the water and left the girl there.
Isaac had somehow made it there, and he was passed out on the couch in the living room. I shoved him, to wake up. He sat up on the couch. "Whatís up man?" I said. "Iím so fucking tired man, he said. Iíve been wondering around the beach all night long. I got in a fight last night, and almost killed some stupid kid." Why the hell did you do that?" I asked. He lit up a cigarette, "I donít know," he said. His hands were covered with scabs, and he had a small gash above his right eye. "How many days we got left down here?" he asked. "Todayís Friday, everybody is leaving on Sunday," I think. "Iím leaving for Charleston tomorrow," I said. He nodded. "Well I guess that means weíre getting real fucked up tonight." I slapped his hand. Then I walked over to the refrigerator, and grabbed two "Milwaukeeís Best." "Cheers, my friend." He said. We popped the top and guzzled down the beer. We began pounding beers, and one after another they disappeared. It was no drinking atmosphere either. In fact, we were the only people in the house. We kept drinking anyway. We were quite content on just sitting there.
Exhaustion was catching up with Isaac too. He knew it, just like I did. We were both on our last legs. The two cowboys were losing their edge. We were the last of a dying breed of men, we did not care for moderation, or planning, we only cared about now. We believed in pure excess, and we spent our days indulging in every possible kick. Recently though, it seemed that all the elementís of life were stacked up against us, and we both knew that we were losing the battle. Fate would catch up with us, one of these days and there would be no couch to fall asleep on. We were sure of it, and we spent every second running from it. Doom breathed down our necks like a speeding freight train, and all we could do was wait for it run us over. The hollow emptiness of depression filled the air, as we drank ourselves into oblivion. To us the only answer was at the bottom of the can, and it may not have been the best way to alleviate our problems, but it was the only way we knew.
The time past torturously slow and the sun began to fade. I didnít know what time it was. I didnít see a clock. We were a mess, rambling, and blacking out constantly. "Are you trying to drink yourself to death?" asked Isaac. "No." I said. "Are you?" "Yes man, I am", said Isaac. I looked at him; he had tears in his eyes, and I became silent. "Forget it man", he said. "Letís go find Jake."
We zigzagged our way through the blurry streets, looking for a party. Screams shuttered out of car windows; girls whistled. Isaac poked through his pocket and pulled out two pills. He shoved one in my face. "Eat it," he said. "What is it," I asked. "Ecstasy. Itís good, I bought them from some drunken kid last night, for ten dollars a piece." I swallowed the thick pill. Isaac chewed his up.
"Ecstasy" is a synthetic drug that is a mixture of cocaine, heroin, and the chemical MDMA. The combination of the elements is an incredible kick. Your body will tingle all over. It is like there are little insects crawling on every inch of your body. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and every sensation is tripled. When used responsibly the drug is pure enjoyment, but when abused it can be as sickening as Michael Boltons voice. The problem is that, the doses are frequently inconstant and often times too much. The heroin will turn your stomach inside- out, and you will spend three hours trying to regurgitate the pill. I wasnít sure what this was going to do to me, because I was already loaded on alcohol. On a few occasions Iíd eaten ecstasy, and my tolerance for alcohol was infinite. The drugs would cancel themselves out, and I would become perfectly sober. But there were also the times when the combination was brutally dangerous. I would become incoherent, and my mind would melt into fearful recoil. Your limbs go numb and your jaws lock up. You grind your teeth and bite your tongue. Your body temperature changes dramatically, and hot and cold flashís take over. Nausea inflames your belly and your breath shortens. Hours become torturously long. The only way to stop the sickness is to simply, wait it out.
The drug came on slowly, as we were walking. It first took the control of my neck, and I started to bob my head, and weave it from side to side. Then my fingers began to tighten. My jaw locked up, and I thought "oh dear G-d here it comes." I maintained a steady walk and reached Jakeís place just in time to vomit on the tall beach grass to the side of the condo. I barely made it up the stairs, inside. The house was full; everyone was dancing and yelling. I sat down on the sofa. The room was spinning, and the drugs were coming on stronger. All around me lights flashed, and the walls began to move. Isaac was leaning against a wall with his head bowed on his chest. I yelled to him but he did not answer. My heart was beating very fast. The room was laced in a hazy fog of smoke. Isaac was standing on a table dancing with some girl, and kissing her neck. My brain bubbled I could not concentrate. Somehow a joint was in my hand, and I took a hit. It was just what I needed to dull the effects of this ruthless drug.
I tried to get up. I needed to move. I had to get the blood flowing or else Iíd vomit. I managed to stand. People were speaking to me but I could not understand a word they were saying. I screamed for them to leave me the fuck alone. Jake could see that I was in trouble. He approached me, "whatís wrong with you?" he asked. I could not explain myself. I was trying to speak, but all the words were mumbled gibberish... Isaac was crawling over to the spot on the sofa that I had just leftÖ Jake tried to walk me outside, but I bit his hand. "Get your goddam claws off of me, you bastard." I pushed Jake away. "You need some fresh air man, you are out of control." Iím perfectly alright; I have complete control," I said. Jake managed to tug me out the door and sit me down on the porch. He told me to smoke a cigarette and chill out, before I killed someone. This was an absurd thing to say because I was in no condition to kill anyone, and I wasnít even in the mood. I donít smoke cigarettes, so I just sat there. I tried to clear my mind. Jake brought me a cup of ice water, and I gulped it down. It made me feel a little better. My breathing slowed down and I could see more clearly. I relaxed myself and tried to become sociable. The transitions to a new drug in your system will often times give you a bad spook. The body under goes a change in enzymes, and the reaction can be very sudden, and a bit hard to handle. I looked through the back door and saw Isaac tossing cards out of a deck, one by one. His body was slouched on the sofa, and his eyes were empty and black. The party roared on around him.
The baseball players were sitting at the kitchen table playing drinking games, and I decided to join them. They werenít real drinkers and they could not hold their alcohol. They would push their limits for an hour and then one by one they drop like flies. I always found it entertaining to watch and wait for the first to blow. On the way into the kitchen I picked up a half full Rolling Rock. I sat down at their table, and joined the game. I was a hazy mess. The people in the room looked like cartoon characters, and they were acting like them too. I managed to form a few complete sentences, and have a simple conversation. The clarity did not last long. The climax of the drug took hold of me and I froze up like a statue. My muscles tensed, and my sight got fuzzy. I sat back and enjoyed the ride.
The night faded into the dullness of early morning. The party began to decline and the drug went with it. The screaming kids now sat calmly, discussing the night. The sound of an acoustic guitar whispered sad cords through the lonely rooms. I listened to the tune as I crept through the house. Isaac was asleep in one of the bedrooms. He had escaped, his hellish night was over, and now all he had to worry about was the brutally violent hangover he would have in the morning. The other bedroom doors were locked; I would not be the lucky passer-by of any orgy tonight. I accepted the truth, and returned to the den. Jake was gone; he was probably in one of the locked rooms. I wanted to watch the sun rise along the edge of the ocean, so I headed for the beach.
When I got there the beach was empty, and it was still dark. I laid down on the cool sand, and listened to the sound of the waves rolling across the shore. I fell asleep and missed the entire thing.
Something ice cold, wet my shirt, and I opened my eyes. That bastard Jake was standing there, smiling ear to ear, while he poured beer on me. I jumped up and wrestled him to the ground. I held him in a perfectly executed headlock and made him drop his beer, until I had to let go, so I could vomit. As I gagged I told him that he was a motherfucker, and that when I could move I was gonna kill him. He rolled on the ground laughing.
The beach was crowded and I saw other high school kids throwing football, and shootiní the shit. No one payed any attention to me. I got up and kicked some sand over what I had expectorated. I asked Jake what time it was. "Hell if I know man I was up all night gettin' laid." There was sand all over me, and I was wet with sticky beer, thanks to Jake. "I gotta' take a shower before I drive to Charleston," I said. "You can use the one at our place, I donít care," said Jake.
We walked back to his place. I grabbed some shorts and a clean T-shirt out of the trunk of my car. Everyone there was awake making breakfast, and telling jokes. I got into the bathroom without being noticed, and I took a long bath. When I was done I used someoneís razor and shaving cream to shave. I washed my face and looked at my reflection in the mirror. I looked good considering the week past, and I couldnít help cracking a smile and giving myself a little wink, as I thought about it. I went into the kitchen fresh and sober. Jessica offered me some breakfast and I happily accepted. The girls of the house cooked a marvelous southern breakfast, with eggs and grits and bacon. I chowed down and thanked them graciously.
The boys were outside throwing the baseball around, and I hurried to join them. I grabbed my mitt out of the back seat of my car and got in the rotation. I felt good and I reminisced about the old days with the team. They reminded me that I used to be a hell of a player and I never missed the game more than when they said that.
I put my glove back in my car and sat down on the porch. I needed to leave soon. My friend Ike was rolling a joint. He offered me a hit but I told him no. I wanted my head to be crystal clear when I got to my momís house.
Isaac came out the front door with Jake. "Iím leaving boys, I said. Iíll see you guys in Charlotte, I guess." Jake stroked his goatee and put out his hand, "drive safely, wildman," he said. Isaac just stared at me. "Itís been another crazy ride," I said. "Yep, he said." "It seems like there all crazy rides nowadays." Yeah, I said, but were always standing when the smoke clears." "That luck ainít gonna last forever Joe," he told me. I nodded and then gave him a hug, "weíll be alright," I said. I spun around and leapt off the porch, giving out a loud "woohoo", while I was in the air. I mooned everyone with my bare ass, as I walked to my car. I hopped into the old piece of shit and started the dusty engine. Jessica was watching me through the window, with her pale blue curious eyes. I blew her a little kiss, and then roared off into hot afternoon.
I weaved my car down the busy highway. Ocean air blew through the open windows. "Pink Floyd" hummed melancholy notes on my stereo. I surveyed the scenery along the highway. Hundreds of empty overgrown wooden shacks, and lonely white southern churches sat with vacant parking lots.
Family vacationers cruised along in packed cars. Fathers sang to the radio and focussed on the road as their families slept peacefully. They just floated along in the slow lane; they were in no hurry. Others, alone like me, raced through the herds of SUVís and minivans. We all had business elsewhere. Our families were waiting for us.
The road was shorter than ever and I pulled into Charleston beach before the sun went down. I stretched my back as I walked up the wooden plank walkway that led to my motherís door. The dramatic soprano of Mozart poured out of the open windows. I crept in the door and went straight to the bed to sit down and take my shoes off. "Iím here," I yelled. She peaked her head through the kitchen door and said "Hey sweetie, how was the drive?" "Good," I replied. "Whatcha makiní?" "Itís black bean salad; youíll like it." "I know I will mom, I said, Iíve had it before."
She had fresh flowers in a vase on the coffee table. Lazy yellow, purple and orange pedals rested against the cold glass. I did not know what kind they were, but they sure made the room smell wonderfully.
She brought our food to the coffee table. "What time is it,í I asked. "Time to eat," she said. I nodded and said nothing else.
When we finished dinner we took a long walk on the beach. The sun was barely hanging on to the horizon, and it was splitting through the rolling clouds of the west. Moonlight soon came, and the evening tide of the Atlantic crept up the white shore. I wondered if Isaac would make it back to Charlotte. He was far too gone from there, to go back now. His whole life he had been told that he was a fuck-up, and now he was starting to believe it. When he was arrested all those times for getting into fights or being drunk, his parents never talked to him about it. They just sent him away to some horrible drug rehab center. He had survived those pits of hell, filled with dirty H heads and certified psychos. He had survived them all; at least his body had survived them. The scars are still there though, and they are evident to anyone who knows him well. They are the critical and often times fatal wounds of a broken spiritÖ And now, still, after all of that, they donít understand. His parents canít see that all he ever wanted was them.
It had been a long week. I laid in my motherís bed and finished the rest of "A Moveable Feast." Then I fell sadly asleep.
My mother scratched my back to wake me up. I opened my eyes and smiled at her. She was the same beautiful angel that had awakened me like that all those years ago. "Youíd better hit the road soon, she said. Itís going to be a long drive." "Okay," I said.
I packed my sandy bags and took them outside to the battered Maxima. Then I returned to say goodbye. My mother kissed me on both cheeks and told me to drive the speed limit. I hugged her tightly and left for the open road.
I sped past the palm trees of the Charleston streets and roared up the on ramp to the highway until I was cruising along with the wind at my back, through the grassy flowered hills of Jamestown, and the swampy wetlands of backward ass South Carolina. Through the redneck backwoods of a lazy town called Summerville and a hundred miles-per-hour into the college town of Columbia, where I filled my tank.
The sky began to rumble and moan, and the bruised, heavy clouds finally gave way. For the first time all week it began to rain. I walked slowly to the cashier so the water could soak my hair. I hadnít ever found out what time it was and I realized now that I didnít even care. I started the tired import and followed the black clouds home.
It was definitely all behind me now, the beach, Isaac, Jake, Jessica. They were all pieces of my wonderful past; an irreplaceable part of my youth, which I wouldnít change for anything. They were the essence of an important time of my life; and how beautiful they all were indeed.