Friday, February 27, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 12

Note: Zach might seem over the top, and he is. This ongoing prom scene is actually based on a true story that happened in the US (though not in my high school.) A group of students were drinking and driving on their way to the prom. They hit a deer, but didn't call police or 911 because they were scared of being prosecuted for underage drinking/drinking while driving. The report didn't express any remourse.

What a night this was turning out to be.
Gentry hoped the officer would finish quickly, since he knew damn well that no one could reason with Zach about these kinds of things. He reasoned it was a good thing that this was not Alabama, since in Alabama, the officer would have asked if Zach wanted permission to take the roadkill home and cook it as deer-meat. That wouldn’t have ended well.

After a lengthy back-and-forth phone conversation, the officer finally spoke up and said,
“You know what… it might be best to put that thing out of its misery—”
“—No!” Zach exclaimed immediately, and Gentry sighed along with him.
“Hear me out. That animal has lost a lot of blood—”
“—But it’s not dead yet, so stop acting like it is. It’s still moving! While you were taking your time getting here, it was fighting to stay alive... and I'm not about to let you shoot it. You don’t shoot human car accident victims!”
Gentry looked away during Zach’s outburst, then reluctantly eyed the man and asked, “Can the Humane Society come here?”
“I’ll give it a try, but I don’t guarantee anything. But the Humane Society aren’t responsible for these types of things… what you want is the Penitentiary Road Wildlife Center. But don’t you raise your voice at me; you should be happy that you’re alive. People get killed from deer hitting their cars more often than you realize. Transporting a deer is dangerous since it could have ticks—”
Please," Gentry implored him, "just call them already.”
The officer reluctantly dialed a number on his cellphone, and sighed into the receiver:
“Hello, is this the Wildlife Center? Yeah, this is officer Shandy. There’s a deer in the road, it was hit by a car. Get over here.”
He hung up and said, “They’ll be here in about fifteen minutes.”
“Thanks.” Zach grumbled.
The deer feebly lay its head down on the asphalt.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 11

It pulled to a stop by some bushes, and an officer slowly climbed out with a flashlight in hand, shining it over at Zach.
“What’s going on here?” he asked briskly, in a voice that sounded like he was chewing on tissue paper. Zach shielded his eyes.
“My ride hit this deer.”
“It’s a half hour past curfew… Where’s your ‘ride’ now?” the officer asked, lips hardly moving lips to form his words. He was a burly man with hair on his forearms and a neatly trimmed mustache, holding on to a stern expression tinged by late-night tiredness. It looked like he didn’t want to be here, so Gentry kept his voice soft when answering:
“At the prom.”
“Well, you’ll want to call the Sanitation Department for that. I’ll give you their number…”
“I know damn well what the sanitation department does, and we don’t need it.” Zach spoke up, “We need medical care.”
The officer promptly flashed his light at the deer, “I still have to patrol real crimes tonight...” the light fell on the rainbow GSA bracelet which hung loosely around Zach’s wrist, “may I ask what both of you are doing here together—”
“Our girls went to the prom without us.” Gentry quickly answered, and the officer shone his light back on Zach, who snapped:
“Turn that fucking thing off already! What we’re doing here is none of your business—”
“—Zach, shut up.” Gentry fired back at him, as the officer inquired,
“Are either of you aware that deer carry lyme disease?”
“If it was a person with AIDS—”
“—We didn’t want our dates to miss curfew.” Gentry interrupted Zach, “We stayed behind because it’s dangerous to be out here alone, and that deer— we can’t leave a hurt animal in the road. It might cause an accident.”
The officer eyed him skeptically, shone his flashlight out into the tree-lined distance and firmly said, “I’ll take care of it. You and your friend can take the bus... The nearest station is about three miles away, down this road.”
“You just want us to leave so you can kill it!”
“Zach, quiet. Look, officer. Is there anyone you can call?”
The officer stared at him with cool-eyed contempt, yet Gentry went on undeterred,
“We’re not leaving this deer behind.”
The officer gave a gruff sigh and Gentry added, “I can put my coat on the seat…”
“I’ll have to ask my superiors.” The officer pulled out his cellphone, and dialed a number. Gentry looked back at Zach, who gave him a look worth reckoning with.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 10

The wind howled through the tall dark trees, swirling a few leaves into the street. Their wrinkled edges rustled against the asphalt, and for a moment it seemed as if though were dancing. Zach caught one in his hand and crushed it in his fingers.
“How’d you find me?”
“I asked.”
The knowing scoff that passed for a reply left Gentry to quietly add, “There’ll be another bus here in five minutes. If you still want to go.”
“And what, leave this deer for a drunk driver to roll over? Seriously; does it take a law for you to do the right thing?”
Gentry breathed a heavy sigh and didn’t answer that, while Zach glumly fell silent and stared out into the darkness, towards the flickering light in the distance. Things stayed like that for about a minute, until Gentry said:
“Never thought you were into Deer Rights. Maybe you should start a club for that. Deer, Christians, gays… same difference.”
“Stop making fun of me.”
“I’m not, I’m just thinking. Why wait for the GSA to promote you? Make a club about anything. Hang up a poster and call it ‘raising awareness,’ ask your parents for donations and call it ‘fundraising.’ As long as you’re President, it won’t matter of what. You should show up to prom just to mention that there’s a deer in the road. Kennedy would probably promote animal rights over gay rights.”
“That’s messed up.”
“You know what’s messed up? Even if that deer survives, the pack will reject it because it smells human. If you care, you’ll kill it yourself.”
Zach made a face, “We don’t kill humans just because they don’t fit in to the pack.”
“That’s not a human.” Gentry reminded him, at which Zach angrily shot back,
“Same concept.”
“What if I told you I’d shoot humans?”
“Then I’d say you don’t mean that.”
“Because if it was someone you liked, you’d take it back.”
At this point, Gentry realized that arguing about this wouldn’t solve a damn thing. So he shrugged carelessly, then turned his attention towards the dusty street. Somewhere in the bushes a frog was croaking, and the undergrowth rustled from the wind and tiny creatures scurrying about their business. Although the burning stink of blood hung heavy in the air, curdling every sense it reached, the creatures of the night went on undisturbed. Life went on, even when it ended. Gentry didn’t believe in any after-life but the one on earth, because the world didn’t stop after death.

“How’s prom?” Zach asked for the sake of asking.
“You aren’t missing anything.” Gentry snuck a glance at him.
“And this is much better.” Came the sarcastic reply.
“You’re here.”
Zach stalled, and glanced back at him quickly enough to catch him looking away.
“And?” he teased, just a little.
At that moment the sirens flashed and yelped in the distance, along with the rumbling noise of a small police car.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 9

Note: Happy B-lated B-day to sweetzsugar! Read her story "An Unforgettable Summer" here. It's really good.

The first thing Zach did was stomp as hard as he could on the attacker’s foot, drawing out a pained,
Abruptly he stopped, spun around, and exclaimed, “Fuck! Are you crazy?”
“You’re crazy for staying here.” Came the quiet reply, as Gentry drew out of the shadows. “What it wouldn’t have been me?”
“Then I would’ve felt sorry for them.”
Gentry grunted as if he’d expected that reply, and brushed past him.
“… I thought you decided not to go. But here you are. Nice outfit.”
“Save the remarks. I said I was going, so I did— stealing that stupid friendship bracelet wasn’t gonna change that.”
“Didn’t think it would. Did he notice it was gone?”
Zach didn’t glorify that with a reply. Instead he sat down on the road, and stared out into the darkness with a dogged certainty.
“Well,” Gentry went on easily, “here you are. All dressed up going nowhere. Now all that’s missing is a crowd of people who think you’re courageous for showing up to the prom and queer-dancing to Elvis… Is that deer really worth your magical evening?”
“How did you get here?” Zach demanded briskly, countering the newfound warmth in his cheeks as he turned to press his jacket on the deer’s wound. “And what are you doing here?”
“I took the bus.” Gentry murmured, sitting down beside him. His gaze shifted to glare down at the the animal, whose wide murky eyes gawked back at him soundlessly. The deer didn’t jump when Zach pressed his jacket into the area, which was growing dark with blood. Its eyes calmly lingered on Gentry, no spark of protest buried beneath the deep dark space. It was enough to make him say with some certainty:
“That deer will die.”
“It won’t.”
Gentry scoffed, sitting back with his elbows on the pavement.
“Why, because you called the police? They won’t come out here for a deer.” he told Zach matter-of-factly, then looked away with discomfort.
“Why not?”
“Because those drunk guys at prom will drive home.”
“He better be there. I’ll call him all night long if that’s what it takes. But he’ll be here. He said that he’s already on his way.”
Gentry groaned quietly, “God, Zach. Do you really believe that? Don’t be stupid.”
“I’m not stupid. You’re stupid for coming here.”
“Yeah, damn right I feel stupid now.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 8

Note: I updated the missed parts from last week, starting on Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 6. Sorry for the late updates! They'll be more regular now that I'm feeling better...

Zach picked up a rock to throw after it, but tossed it to the ground instead. Even if he could hit the car, it wouldn’t ease his frustration. It wouldn't answer the hard and frost-bitten questions which lingered, questions Zach grudgingly cast aside. He loosened his tie, because it felt like it was choking him.

“Where’s your pack now?” Zach shivered, glancing back at the deer and thinly suppressing the trembling sensation which twitched up his spine. Probably it was from the cold, or perhaps it was because flies were beginning to swarm into the open wound, eating away at it like old fruit. Their dreary buzzing filled what used to be silence, aggressively fighting for their share. It was disgusting. The deer looked back at Zach with its large, sad eyes, imploring him in a way logic couldn’t. So he sighed gruffly and pulled off his coat, throwing it over the deer’s. Then Zach quickly turned away and cast a sharp look down the one-way street, reminding himself that, any moment now, the police would be here. Any moment now—

Suddenly a hand closed over his mouth, and pulled him back.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 7

The moon hung high over the sky, and a few feet away a lone streetlight flickered dimly. A bone-deep chill hung in the night air, echoing an equally lifeless silence along the tree-lined street. Occasionally the frantic chirping of crickets would punctuate the quiet, usually followed by a dove’s remote hooting. The deer had stopped screeching and wheezing from pain some time ago; and now just grunted with occasional discomfort. It no longer attempted to stand on its two good legs, since the cold had numbed the pain as effectively as paralysis numbed fear. Presently the animal took to lying on the ground with two murky black eyes patiently staring out at the lonely night, looking up at Zach’s dark form and standing beside it on the lookout for rumbling hot heaps of metal that weren’t coming.

The sudden flash of headlights in the distance made Zach jump, and the deer jolt its head up. A shiny silver shell whooshed so fast down the road that the air wailed with metal cutting wind. It shot through the dusk with roaring grit and steely determination, leaving a whirling trail of leaves in its dust. Zach stood in its way. Legs steady and arms at his side, holding nothing but an unwavering demand for it to break. The car screeched to a bare split second stop, motor rumbling and music blaring.
“Turn back.” Zach’s voice firmly rang out over the booming noise, “There’s a deer in the road.”
“A deer’s in the road!”
The sportscar flashed its high-beam headlights, and its driver leaned his head and elbow out the window to yell,
“Then move it out of the way!”
Zach moved in front of the bumper and leaned his palms flat on he hood, hunching over it as he slowly ground out:
“It’s hurt. And bleeding.”
“Then drag it to the side.”
“If I touch it, it can’t go back to the wild.”
“But uh, hey, why’d the deer cross the road if it didn’t want to get to the other side?”
The engine rumbled and laughter erupted from the backseat. Zach shot them a critical look and said:
“Hah-hah-hah-Go join the circus!” he glared back at the driver and said, “Turn around this car, there are other roads that don’t have hurt deer on them.”

At this, the driver flashed his lights and honked so loudly that the deer’s neck jerked up, and Zach slammed his fists on the hood. Abruptly the music switched off, and the man stopped honking. His face contorted in a grimace of disbelief and he shouted out:
“Crazy motherfucker! If that left even one scratch, I’ll sue you! You either move that deer or move out the way, this road is public property!”
“Make me.”
The engine roared. The exhaust pumped breathed smoke into the darkness, and Zach squinted from the high-beam headlights that glinted in his eyes as the driver ordered someone in the backseat to:
“Hey, call the police---”
“I already did!” Zach retorted proudly, "But go on and tell them how you wanna turn a helpless animal to roadkill!"
After twenty minutes of arguing and countless obscenities exchanged, the driver turned around his sportscar and sped off in the other direction.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 6

His reflection glanced back at him from a long mirror at the other end of the small oblong room; a room ripe with the smell of old caked-on piss and anti-septic air freshener. Stalls were in one corner and a row of porcelain sinks in the other, barely separated through the narrow path illuminated by the harsh neon bulb which glared overhead. Buzzing steadily. Eliminating every shadow to emphasize the gleam of the white-tile floor, so aggressively scrubbed that the rust-colored dirt between the tiles stood out like a grid of rectangular scars. The tiles were so small, Gentry noted in annoyance, that it was impossible not to cross the lines. He lurched forward just as a stall door opened and Mikey shuffled out.
“Sorry, didn’t see you there...”
“Why isn’t Zach with you?”

The bluntness of the question startled him. He didn’t expect such a lack of subtlety, but it was not unusual enough to make him hesitate in his reply:
“Because my private life is none of your business.”
Gentry’s hands reached out before his mind chose to act, and loudly shoved the metal trash can against the door.
“Your posters are all over the locker room, even the bathrooms. I can’t take a shit without knowing how out and proud you are.”
“Gentry.” Mikey said possessively, taking a deep breath but not breaking the shallow focus his eyes had on Gentry’s face. On those old dark eyes and the freckles so youthfully out of place, a gross reminder of childhood not quite overcome. He kept a safe distance with his feet pointed towards the blocked door, perhaps in a subconsciously futile effort. Yet it was more instinct than fear, because he already knew why Zach protected him, and understood that behind Gentry’s firm-footed stability was a wanton sickness that coursed through his veins, a nature he could not do anything about. It fulfilled Mikey in a way he wasn’t entirely aware of— he had seen that picture, found it beneath Zach’s old clothes, and it told him everything he needed to know:
“Your closeted act doesn’t fool me. Or anybody except you. The only reason Zach does anything for you is that he feels sorry for you, and now I can see why. He’s gone for just one moment, and you can’t take it. But even if he would have come, he would leave with me. Because he’s my boyfriend, and frankly, none of your business. So back off.”

Gentry pulled him into a stall and latched it shut. It happened so quicky he didn't need to think about it, and now the two of them were more than alone, with Gentry leaning against the steel bolt and Mikey staring back at him with thinly-veiled disgust. Mikey steadied himself against the white porcelain toilet, pressed into the other side of the stall, as far away as possible.
“I called the press because I expected you’d try something. You can beat me, kick me, piss on me, but I’m not backing down because I’m not scared of you. Violence won’t change the truth—”
“This is not about you.” Gentry said, to which Mikey blatantly replied:
“I know who this is about, and he isn't yours. You should be out there instead of in here. They haven’t even called prom queen yet, and your so-called date—”
“Is so drunk she won’t notice I’m gone. No one will miss you, either. Prom isn’t for connecting with people, it’s for setting yourself apart from them.”
“You can’t just lock me in a bathroom stall.”
The reply came as a shrug.
“Whatever you do to me, it will be in the paper the next day.”
“I’m not hurting anyone.”
“This is ridiculous.” Mikey sighed.
“Your excuse is ridiculous.”
“So, are we going to spend the whole night like this?”
“As long as it takes.”
Mikey looked away with exasperation, stiffly leaning back against the narrow walls. This confrontation felt surreal enough for him to pinch at signs of some hidden motive, idly searching for some spire of truth, and the stinging sensation of that lone barb of intent. It seemed like Gentry was making up the rules as he went along, as if the more in control he was, the more out-of-control things became. Mikey's thoughts were briskly interrupted by a pounding at the door, and Gentry’s quip:
“There is another bathroom on the second deck. They won’t notice that this one is closed.” His eyes stared past Mikey’s with a fishy determination, bruised hands blocking the lock from both his reach and vision. “This is what Gay Solidarity is all about, isn’t it? Using people to get what you want. I want to know why Zach isn’t here, and I can wait all night until you tell me.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Because You Suck: Chapter 20: Part 5

He watched him intently for roughly five minutes, scrutinizing every step before setting his gaze on the double doors. By the large blue-balloon arch. He’d seen what he needed to, and heard what he didn’t. Clear on what Mikey was here for and why every guy in the GSA was wearing a blue tux, unable to ignore that mild voice preaching to each member of the yearbook staff about gay solidarity for the 33% of gay teens silenced by suicide, speaking up for the silenced minority while posing in pictures with every girl on the floor. Prom could never just be prom, there was always more to it. It was used to show how much money people could throw around, how much hotter they were than everybody knew, or that they really did care for the poor sap who sliced up their wrists in high school. Nasty would probably spend all of tomorrow assuring the principal that although everyone was hammered, not one student was inappropriately dressed. Perhaps this was one of the reasons the disoriented local newspaper reporter was heading for the punch, and probably why this kid named Jake had spiked it with the small tin of vodka hidden in his sleeve, pouring it into the blue plastic cup that would later be dumped into the bowl during a refill. Slowly, because as long as you didn’t look like you were doing something wrong, people left you alone.

“We’re doing this to promote gay solidarity. We’re wearing blue because that’s how people get beaten black and blue. Gay teen suicide attempts are four times more likely than those of heterosexual teens.”

Yeah? I don’t see it. Gentry contented himself in knowing Zach wasn’t here, but suppressed the nagging curiosity of just why until it got the better of him. So he eased Kylie into a seat, and told her, “You wait here— I’ll get us more punch.”
She smiled goofily and clasped her arms around him, “But I loooove this songgg…”
“Me too. Stay.”
He pushed her back to free himself, then snaked through the crowd and up to Mikey, who finished talking to Jenny and started for the bathroom. Gentry pursued him, and slipped in before the heavy blue door slammed shut.