Monday, January 26, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 4

Someone had spiked the punch.
Someone always did, and it was especially important during prom. Each time people pretended not to know, because it was a good excuse to get high and move past the essential stiffness. Gentry poured a full ladle into his tiny plastic cup, them poured it out and diluted the small remainder with water. He liked to see what people did when they got drunk. It felt good knowing what they would scramble to remember the next day. Although he never told them, he saved the knowledge. The other reason he didn’t drink was because he knew how Carly used to snap pictures of these events, and later threatened people with them. There was always one douchebag with a camera phone— ready to threaten you.

But that didn’t stop Kylie, who was on her third cup by the time she swayed up to the photographer in her six-inch heels, staring sheepishly into the lens of the mounted SLR camera. Gentry apprehensively propped her up with one arm, standing on a ductaped “X”-mark with both feet firmly on the ground, back up against a cardboard backdrop of the starry night sky. Kylie took his hand and stood as the photographer told her to— close, but not too close since the parents might want copies. She flipped her hair once and grinned stiffly as Gentry started to wonder why the large red-rose bouquet beside him smelled like soap. The flash went off and the photographer motioned them away with a flick of his palm. Later he would edit the red flush from the photograph, and replace it with a warm glow. The photographer enjoyed editing pictures more than taking them, since editing was where he put in what should have been there in the first place.

Gentry snaked through the crowd with Kylie stumbling after him, until she finally fell into a seat by the wall.
“When are we going to dance?” she breathed.
“When you figure out how to stand.”
Sydney was thrusting his body to the left and right like a bear in heat, until his date finally corralled him into a slow dance. Every now and then she cried out “omigosh! No!” whenever he copped a clumsy feel. But she didn’t really fight him off, either, because one way or another that billowy “mom-approved” dress would come off. And Gentry figured this was just as well, since formal was the way you dressed, not acted.

About fifteen minutes ago Mikey had walked through the door, dateless and alone. This made Gentry downright exhilarated. In fact, if his date had been able to stand properly, he would have waltzed with her up and down the floor.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 3

Zach’s hand clenched tightly around the neck of the champagne bottle, moistening in a sickly cold sweat. Felix gaped. Casey’s knee jerked up and down, and the driver slowly started to clean champagne off his windshield with a tiny piece of tissue paper.
The first to break the silence was Mikey, who demanded,
“Why did we stop?”
“We hit something.”
“I’ll clean the way.” Zach threw open the door and rushed out to the front of the car, as Casey glanced back at the driver and levelly demanded,
“Like… what?”
“Like a deer.”
At that moment Zach pounded on the windshield and Casey jumped in his seat, rolling up the window.
“It’s a deer.” Zach’s breathed, his words turning to fog in the cold evening air, “It’s bleeding, but it’s still alive— we need to move it out of the road.”
The passengers exchanged odd looks, but Zach urged them,
“Come on.”
The car emptied, walking a few steps behind Zach as he approached the mangled deer. Its feet looked crushed, bloat coating the candle-white fur along the hooves. He crouched down beside its heaving, damaged form, then stared up at Mikey, who had already been gawking down at him. After ten heated seconds, Zach snapped,
“You going to help?”
“It might have ticks. Or rabies.”
“Then call police.” Zach jumped to his feet and surveyed the deer again before adding, “I can’t tell how much blood it’s lost, but if we move it, it will lose more. I’ll block the road. You call police.”
With that, Zach marched to the center of the one-way road and wildly waved his arms.
“We have alcohol, Zach, that won’t work.” Casey reminded him, calling at him from a distance.
“What do you mean it won’t work?”
The limo driver piped up, “You’re all underage. I could lose my license…”
“We could get in trouble,” Mikey added.
“Forget that— It will die if we don’t do something.”
“That deer shouldn’t have jumped in front of our limo. Just move it to the side of the road, and let’s get going to the prom.” Casey exhaled, “We have a statement to make.”
“That can wait!” Zach called back, “And if you won’t call, I will.”
“Zach,” said Mikey.
Zach wouldn’t look at him, he just continued wildly flailing his arms with a hurt look on his face.
Zach, listen to me… I’ll call police, we’ll use another route. Now can we go to the prom?”
“We can’t leave it here! Another car might roll it over before the police come.”
Mikey furrowed his brow, “Well. Then you can stay here with the deer. You do whatever you need to do… I’m not going to let it ruin my night.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 2

Zach had stumbled out of the house late, yet everything else was going according to plan. The limo had been on time: a long black ride purchased with pooled assets from Mikey, Ethan, Felix, Casey, and of course, Zach himself. Though Zach knew that none of them really had any of their own money— most got it from their parents, and passed it off as “allowance” to look respectable. About a week prior to the event, Mikey had e-mailed specific instructions as to how everyone needed to look in order to make “a statement of individuality":

· Powder blue tuxedo jacket.
· White t-shirt
· White satin tie, tinted blue
· Blue formal pants.
· Polished blue suede shoes
· Powder blue tophat.

Although Zach wasn’t part of the GSA, Mikey convinced him that they needed to “stand out” in order to make an important statement of gay solidarity and pride at the prom. Zach couldn’t quite grasp the concept, but it wasn’t the first time in his life that something did not make sense. Although he originally wanted to wear baggy pants, he sternly decided The Cause was more important.

“Zach! Glad you could join us.” Mikey grinned, as Zach ducked into the limo.
“Now that the gang’s all here, I propose a toast.” Casey lisped, pulling a bottle of champagne out from inside his coat.
Mikey’s mouth dropped open, and he said, “You better not let someone photograph you like that. It’s illegal.”
“Psh, our chauffeur can keep a secret, there’s no camera; and it’s only for the limo.” Casey grinned and shrugged.
“We have eight more bottles.” Felix added, excitedly. Casey shook the bottle wildly then shoved it into Zach’s hands, while cattily urging him to “do the honors, 'cause Mikey the Humanitarian here won’t.”
Zach grinned frozenly throughout the while, mostly trying not to look like a dork, then pulled the cork so suddenly that the champagne shot forward and hit the windshield.
Immediately, the limo swerved and screeched to a halt with an untimely thump.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 1

“High Rollers Casino” was the prom theme.
Every year, Kennedy High held its Senior prom on a rented yacht, which was anchored in place to avoid potential lawsuits. The decorations were recycled year after year, yet this time they had saved enough money for a roulette table and Monopoly Money to gamble with. Some people sat around playing cards, others sat around pretending to watch them, loudly admiring each others’ outfits. Although music was pumping through the first-rate speakers, most people stood around awkwardly unsure of whether they were better off dancing or looking good. You didn’t want to look stupid in your yearbook photograph… the place was creeping with yearbook photographers. And unlike prom night, a yearbook lasted forever. Yearbook cameras could be anywhere, and the risk of a bad picture was particularily high when you were dancing. A roll of fat could become dislodged, lipstick could get smeared, anything was possible. So most people stood stiff as a board, exchanging wooden smiles. Girls kept their heads stiff to keep their calculated curls in place, as they exchanged stale smiles and compliments.

Gentry nearly laughed when he came through the door, and the scene had washed over him along with a cheesy Elvis Presley rendition of “The Impossible Dream.” Here were a bunch of beautiful useless people standing around waiting to be noticed, and the irritating buzz of conversation waiting to be heard. At some point the band geeks had flooded the stage, and were loudly conversing about tubas.

Gentry had unintentionally rebelled by not wearing a suit. He had “borrowed” one of Carly’s dark tuxedo blazers to wear over a t-shirt and jeans, the same coat Carly had worn the year before. It was good that they had the same dress size, he supposed, although Kylie had fussed over it throughout the limo ride. That and the lack of a corsage, an unforgivable offense. Gentry kept his mouth shut as she chided him, until she grew tired of complaining. He didn’t think it was such a big deal not to wear a suit, but now that he eyed the others, he wondered if this was what rebellion felt like. It felt good.

“You should’ve dressed more formal.”
“A tux is formal.”
“The jacket alone isn’t. And jeans aren’t ever appropriate for prom.”
“Prom isn’t appropriate for anything.”

He just barely managed to strut past Ms.Nasty, who stood prim-lipped at the bright red double-doors to ensure that everybody was dressed appropriately. She gave him a sharp look, but let him pass after gauging that Kylie’s hem was the correct number of inches to make a pair fit for yearbook pictures. Kylie was dressed to the knives, and looked pretty good, he supposed, with her pin-straight hair and navy blue gown, the kind which ruffled along the shoulders. Her make-up covered the only thing they had in common, and sharp six inch heels elevated her tiny feet above the confetti-strewn ground. and her tiny feet were elevated six inches in sharp blue heels. She looked good, Gentry thought to himself, especially when she lit up after her friends in the yearbook committee decided that they made a cute couple. Gentry initially thought was some sort of sly joke, but then decided that perhaps fashion just meant looking stupid and uncomfortable.
They took pictures.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 19: Part 38

Note: This scene starts on Chapter 19: Part 36, and has three parts. This is part 3/3!

Ducks only see black and white, so don’t forget to accentuare the key colors on your decoys— it is surprising how successful you can be by exaggerating size and brightness

Gentry was staring, too, taking it in as he crudely wiped his blood-stained hands on the sofa. The voice rang out over the footage of the dead duck, probably recorded after the fact:

We were successful here, but normally you want to keep moving. Be where the ducks are. So don’t get too attached to one spot— don’t get left behind, or you get left with nothing. Remember, you need to hunt after what you want.

“Don’t you ever think about your mom? Why she doesn’t look for you?”
“She doesn’t need to.” Gentry replied.
“Don’t you wonder if she cares?”
“All those years she knew what he was doing. She let you walk out of her house, just like that. My mom is sending me away, because that’s what you do when people are dead to you. But yours is something else. Would she notice if you died; would she care? Would anyone?”
Gentry quietly stood up, and Carly took one look at him then groaned, “Where the hell you going? Buying more beer?”
“Like you need more beer.”
Carly leapt off the couch and stormed in front of him.
“Here you are, burning your hands everyday. You burn yourself, you think that’s normal? That’s what crazy people do.”
Gentry brushed him aside and began to walk down the hall, barely listening. Carly could yank his chain all day long, because fact was, Gentry didn’t care. There were things that needed to be done, things that needed finishing.
Carly bellowed after him,
“People just think you’re normal!”
“You’re as normal as a stick in a hand-jar.” Gentry murmured, opening the bedroom door, “If rehab can’t fix “fucked up,” at least you’ll fit in.”
Carly stormed after him and slammed the bedroom door, “I’m fucked up but I’m not crazy! Crazy is not feeling anything, being numb without drugs! And you walk around like you’re sedated. I can tear down this house and you don’t have a reaction— and then you think you’re better than me? You only think you have control, but you don’t. And one day, you’ll crash—”
“Prom’s in two days.”
Gentry glanced away from his cold hard mirror reflection.
“Where do you keep your tux?”

Because You Suck: Chapter 19: Part 37

Note: This scene starts on Chapter 19: Part 36, and is one of three parts! This is part 2/3.

Gentry eyed him for a moment, then looked away and nodded slowly. As Carly pulled away, Gentry fixated his eyes fixated on the hunter’s mouth, watching it move to fit each word. Trying hard to remember what that bird was called. Attempting to recall all those times his father had told him about the birds, swearing how important it was to know what you were dealing with; which type. He only vaguely remembered the feel of that leather-gloved hand guiding him to the trigger, and a clear voice telling him when to fire. What Gentry couldn’t remember was if he’d liked it, because nothing was clear about Alabama except the cold dead-weight of the rifle in his hands, and a lump building in his throat.

“But I won’t be here much longer, Gentry. I want you to know.”

What was that bird? He couldn’t remember, it was all very blurry… but it was there, somewhere between the rising pitch of the choir and the bullet’s hollow pang. He just needed to find it.

The pintail is an alternative to the standard mallard duck call. This mallard whistle works in most situations, but every duck hunter should be bilingual. That’s how you tell ducks what they want to hear, and draw them in. Always carry a pidgeon and pintail with you, and make sure to identify the duck before calling it

“You listening?”

Whistling’s also great way to get kids into the action, because it is hard to mess up...

“They’re sending me away.”

Gentry looked up startledly, as if he’d nodded off to sleep a few minutes ago. But he was awake, more awake then he’d felt in some time.

“That’s a mandarin duck.”
“What that guy’s holding. Its long claws let it nest in trees.”
Carly eyed him for a good long, long moment. And when Gentry added, “It rarely breeds with the wood duck, even though they come from the same species” he responded by irritably turning back to the TV. Without looking away, he reached over and tossed Gentry the remote, which Gentry caught without trying.
“How’s nationals looking?”
“Good enough.”
“You still getting in enough practice?”
“Always do.”
“Good. Just make sure you act like a team, even if Zach’s in it. The audience can mess with your head, but everyone loves a close-knit team. The closer you look, the more intimidated the other side gets.”
Carly abruptly fell silent, realizing that talking was fruitless. There was nothing he could say that Gentry didn’t already know, or hadn’t already heard. Nothing. The hunter had stopped talking as well, and silently held the bird’s wings together for a moment longer before releasing them from his hands. The duck flapped wildly, camera swerving to capture how its wings glinted against the sun. It looked downright surreal, the way it caught the clouds with its passioned strokes— Carly watched it soar up until the shot rang out which sent it plummeting from cloud nine, back down to Earth. Immediately the camera flashed to it. After taking it in for a good five minutes, Carly decided that a dead pile of feathers wasn’t as gruesome as he thought it would be. It was actually very boring.

Because You Suck: Chapter 19: Part 36

Note: Sorry for the delay! I'm posting this scene out in three posts, because lumping it together in one post makes it read heavy. It's an important scene, promise--- I spent New Years editing it! This is part 1/3.

The house was dark inside and out, and its floor was pool of dismantled furniture. Papers fluttered through the air, in and out of the moonlight, raining down on him as he opened the door. Although it was dark, he could make Carly’s silhouette out against the sparse natural light, hacking away at the couch with a steak knife. The moonlight shadowed his face and body, and like the night he was silent, save for the the ragged breath which occasionally escaped his lungs.

Gentry flipped on the lights.

His dark eyes drifted over the torn books strewn across the floor, and he barely spent one minute in the doorway before he started to kick the pages out of the way. Crinkling paper was particularily loud in the dusky quiet, loud and efficient, as he stalked down the hall. Crunching over broken furniture and fizzling remains of the telephone, stepping into the shattered pieces of the urn. What was in his way was soon kicked out of sight, forming a neat carpet path while the TV buzzed on like a malevolent fly.
Carly stopped stabbing the couch, and leered over at him. He threw the butcher knife at the wall, from where it rebounded to the floor with a heavy clang; then stood up with his wobbly legs on the cushions with yellowed stuffing in his clenched white fists. He threw it in the air and yelled at the top of his lungs,
“Four walls make a tomb!”
The bathroom door clicked shut.
Carly took the lamp and smashed it into the wall, again and again until it flickered off, sparks lighting the air from the exposed wires. The overhead light was still on though, shining down on him like a cold sun. But he was tired now, so he exhaled deeply and sunk into the folds of the leather sofa, groaning as steam began to creep out from underneath the bathroom door.
“For Christ’s sake.”
He stormed out of his seat and threw open the door, his eyes meeting Gentry’s complacent stare, and then drifting to the gnarled red hands. Bruised and disfigured, turned leathery by constant heat, cracked with sores and wrapped around by river-like scar tissue. Those hands bothered him; they did not break.
“Ever draw blood?”
The faucet squeaked off and Gentry brushed past him. He quietly sat down in front of the TV, shoving the beer cans off the table. The television blared on with some hunting show. It flickered across the screen in its color-saturated glory: some guy with a thick gray-brown handlebar mustache was a holding some kind of bird, pinning its wings together with one gloved hand while steadying its head with the other. Every now and then it would jerk wildly, before reverting to rigid stillness, while the guy continuously jibbered on to the camera about how to cook it.
“I don’t like hunting shows.” Carly confided, awkwardly. “The hunter is always an idiot, yet he always wins. Who watches this stuff? You ever wonder that?”
Gentry shrugged emptily, then slouched back in his seat to watch the screen. In the corner of his eyes, Carly’s old swim team trophy glistened on the mantle. It wasn’t from Nationals, though. The school kept those. This one was probably from another match, and it was beautiful. Mounted on that white limestone, hard and resilient. Amidst the dirt, the little gold men stood tall— Gentry wanted to put it in his mouth and suck on it, feel his teeth scrape against the gold-painted metal. Take it and put it in something, didn’t matter who; shove it into anyone and just thrust away. Up. Up. Up—
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I destroyed everything?” said Carly, temporarily blocking the view.
“Why?” Gentry droned out, absent-mindedly picking at some new scab. Pulling away layer after layer, trying to see how much his skin could take. There was no other reason he did it. There was no release in it.

“Same reason you do.”