by Kai-Eric Fitzner (1994)
We were young, we were mean, we smoked too much, we drank a lot, we despised our parents, and we loved it. Scott Breston was one of the coolest fellows ever; tall, athletic, handsome, and so full of himself, that it was impossible for any girl to maintain a relationship with him beyond the first night. He never made a mistake, knew everything, except issues concerning school, and I still haven‘t got a clue why I hung around with him. We did have fun, though. I recall one time; we had been hanging out in the Graveyard Cafe – actually its name was ‘The Grapevine Café‘, it was just that its owner, Hank Morgueson, could have been the patron saint of all undertakers in both acting and appearance – again, when Scott had the brillant idea to „skip biology and go to Nanaimo.“
„How, do you think, are we gonna get there? It‘s thirty bloody miles away!“ I reminded him.
„We take a car, idiot!“
„Fab‘ dude. Let‘s just go and by a car then, shall we?“
He punched me in the ribs and suddenly started to whisper. „No, man. Hank‘s got a car, right? And he always leaves his keys in the car, right? So…?“
„You can‘t be serious, man. If he notices anything, we‘re history.“.
„Nobody‘ll notice. We‘ll be back by 3.00, nobody‘ll know“, and that was that. We took Hank‘s car, drove to Nanaimo for no apparent reason, hung around there for a couple of hours and then returned. Nobody did notice – apart from our biology teacher, who hadn‘t been too thrilled then, but somehow had started to get used to our absence; and she didn‘t mind, either.
The point I‘m trying to make is, Scott and I shared the sweetest grapes of youth we possibly could. It had never been what we did, but how we did it. I didn‘t really like Scott, but I liked spending my time with him a lot. We never had much in common, but we had each other, and our friendship had been forged with the hottest fire there was between Port Alberny and Coombs. No one was to come between us, that was for sure, however, if neccessary, we had been willing to share our presence with someone not-as-worthy.
And then, there was Jason. It had never occurred to us that our frienship was pointless since we didn‘t have anybody to share our fantasies, our adventures, our memories, our laughs, and maybe even our sorrows. We had been the poorest creatures ever to walk the face of the earth – until we met Jason.
Jason Kalhoon was of a tragic appearance. He was six foot two, with absolutely no neck, weighing about three-hundred pounds, not one of them being related to muscles. His ducklike walk, the intimidating void in his eyes, his full moist lips, even the way he laughed about jokes at his own expense teased everybody to outperform their humorous limitations and fire a salvo of ill-conceived jokes about fat people at him. But Jason didn‘t mind. He had always been perfectly content with being a complete and utter geek, and nothing in the world was going to change that. Perhaps one of the reasons for such a petty behaviour was that he lacked a mind of his own. He always tried to please people by agreeing to everything they said, so that he could talk with them; or rather stand where they talked. He even started smoking only because of the cosiness of our smoker‘s corner, where nobody could avoid him and some of us even greeted him with „Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the Organic Titanic!“ which wasn‘t particularly funny, but we laughed anyway, and so did Jason.
It became apparent that Jason had never met with anybody outside school, which must have made him the loneliest soul in the world – along with us.
Scott and I fell in love with this unfortunate geek, this bear-like creature with no self-respect whatsoever. We commanded him around, told him when to be quiet, let him buy us coffee at the ‘Graveyard‘ and, whenever we felt like it, we simply told him to bugger off. We could have lived quite happily, if not Jason had considered us his friends. He began sharing his dreams with us, something with which neither one uf us was able to cope. We would have immediatly canceled this relationship, but something intruiged me: Jason never expected anything from us, he never complained about the way we treated him, although it did hurt him. He seemed to be a bottomless pit in which one could dump any agression or other negative emotion.
I found out that Jason very well had his own opinion on all sorts of issues, he just chose not to utter it since it could offend someone. He also listened to what other people said, always eager to understand. To be blunt, even though he was an idiot he was my friend.
Scott probably never knew how I truly felt, and things would have come to a quick end with Jason, if he hadn‘t owned a car. The very instant Scott had set sight on Jason‘s ‘78 Datsun Sport, he had fallen in love with it. No girl could possibly ever have accomplished that severe an impact within the admittedly limited boundaries of Scott‘s heart as had Jason‘s little car. Thus, though our reasons could not have been more different, we both had our reasons to enjoy ‘Big Jay‘s‘ company. Unfortunately, and I still believe this to be the root of what happened then, Jay loved his car as well, and very much so.
It was a warm and sunny saturday afternoon. I was working in the garden since my dear mother thought it was the appropiate place for a teenager to be on his weekends. Furthermore, it allowed her to do two of her favorite passtime activities: first and above all things, she could remind me of the importance that everyone should do their chores and help their parents to live a life worth living, and secondly, she could snore another perfect day away watching reruns of ‘The Wild, Wild West‘ on KVOS 12.
The only distraction my rather pointless work allowed me was harassing our unbelievably stupid dog Lucky, and, of course, smoking. A perfectly normal weekend it was until a tremendously bright reflection caught my eye. With the offending quietness of a Rolls Royce, Jay‘s little Japanese imitation of a racing car floated onto our driveway. I could sense its owner‘s pride emerging from within the two-person cabin when I suddenly realised that there were two people in the car. But then again, Jason didn‘t have a license and most certainly he would never allow Scott to drive off with his baby. On the other hand, seeing the two of them together in the car was odd, because it meant that they started meeting on their own, and that was by no means something I had expected from Scott; it made me glad, though.
The doors opened and out came first Scott, who had only been co-piloting, and some time later, Jay managed to shove himself onto the driveway. In a ridiculous attempt to be cool he said, „Yo, dude. We‘re on our way to Victoria. Wanna come?“
„Gee, Jay, sounds cool. Want me to sit on the hood?“ I replied. This was a two-people-only car.
„No, man“, Scott interrupted, „there‘s ‘nuff room in the back. You just won‘t be able to sit up.“
„Sure, why not. Sounds stupid enough“, I said and prepared to get into the car. „I just hope Jay won‘t be driving.“
„It‘s my car, isn‘t it? Besides, I am a pretty good driver.“
„Sure you are, Jay. It‘s just that there might a few people in uniform disagreeing on that one. After all, Victoria is, what, 200 miles down the road?“
„I‘ll drive.“ That was all Scott said. It sounded like the final word on judgement day. He looked like a crossing between a Tomcat-pilot and a gunman of the Apocalypse with his dark, mirrored glasses and his grim expression of determination.
Jason cast a quick glance at him before he agreed noddingly and started to push himself through the minute door into his car. Scott waited until Jay had disappeared inside the toylike vessel. Lighting a cigarette, he took a step towards me. While looking over my shoulder he started to talk like Marlon Brando in „The Godfather“.
„You know,“ he whispered, „I have been thinking.“
I‘ve always found thinking not being one of Scott‘s prime attributes, but he really scared me this time.
„About what?“ I volunteered.
„What about him?“
„You know, man, he‘s not exactly a … You know!“
„You know. The girls, man.“
„No kidding!“ So that was what he was getting at. I couldn‘t imagine Jay even talking to a female. „What about it?“
„I think we owe him one.“
„What?“ Now he had me really startled. „We owe him a woman?“
Much to my surprise Scott answered my question.
„Affirmative, man. Get in the car.“
He couldn‘t possibly be serious. „You‘re gonna buy him one?“
„Yeah!“ And that was that. He didn‘t want to discuss it, he merely wanted to inform me and the seriousness with which he said it sent shivers down my spine. I shrugged and did as I had been told.
Much to my surprise, the back of Jay‘s car was even smaller than I had imagined. I could do nothing but cuddle myself around the spare tire and support my back with a blanket Jay had provided for the poor soul facing the great opportunity of travelling in his car as a third person.
„Are you ready, guys“, Scott asked while starting the engine. As he let the vehicle roll back, off our driveway, I could hear Lucky howl.
„Bastard!“, Scott informed us of his great displeasure with a fellow traveller in a Corvette, who had just overtaken us. I opened my eyes. Although I had tried to sleep, which was for all I could tell the only thing one could do, I couldn‘t. Strange thoughts about Jason being raped by a woman twice his size and Scott‘s style of driving had seen to that. The sun was already setting and I had cursed myself at least a hundred times during the ride for having been so foolish to join these two crusaders on their quest for fun. Jay had complained about as often that Scott should drive more carefully. Little did he know about Scott‘s plan. I tried to sit up and managed somehow to stick my head between my two comrades. My stomach hung between my knees and hunger wasn‘t the only reason for it. The more I thought about it the less I liked the idea of forcing Jay to retreat from his innocence. He had the damn right to remain a child as long as he wanted, to decide when it was time to join society, when it was time to mate. I tried to catch Scott‘s attention but he was involved with piloting the car as skillful and reckless as he possibly could, as well as singing along with Billy Idol‘s ‘White Wedding‘, which sounded rather sadly from the spartanic radio.
„Alright“, he yelled as we drove by the very Corvette, that had been pulled over by the police. Victoria‘s illuminated silhouette presented itself as hauntingly beautiful as ever as we were approaching the harbour from the hills.
„What are we gonna do now“, I asked as innocently as I could.
„We‘ll park the car near the promenade and just walk around a bit“, Jason suggested.
„Sounds cool“, I volunteered, hoping Scott would have forgotten all about his plan. However, he didn‘t respond. He steered the car toward the harbour and started to drive around the streets just beyond the city‘s promenade. Right, left, right. We had stopped in front of a red light. Scott turned around displaying a sinister grin, and, unfortunately, started to talk.
„Jay, man. We have been thinking.“ We? Did he just say ‘we‘? „You know, man, you‘re a cool guy.“
„No, I‘m not“, Jason said, rather embarressed.
„You are, man. Right?“
„Right“, I said. „And a good friend.“
Jason‘s face turned red with embarrassement. „You guys“, he mumbled.
„No, seriously, we owe you one, man“, Scott started.
„No, you don‘t owe me anything. You are the fin…“
„Shut up, will ya? Now listen. Answer my question, honestly, man. D‘you ever get laid“, Scott asked while he opened the door.
I am not sure, but I think I recall tears in Jasons‘s eyes as well as a severe struggle within his soul, whether to tell the truth or to be cool.
„No“, he whispered.
„Now, look, man“, Scott continued, „we‘ll leave the car with you. This,“ he said pointing around the corner, „this is the Street of Dreams, man.“ He dug deep into his pocket and conjured a very handsome bundle of dollars. „You will drive along that road, over and over again, ‘til you‘ve found the lucky girl. You‘ll meet us at the Promenade.“ He got out of the car and pulled the seat forward in order to let me out.
Jason stared at me. I believe, that was supposed to be a cry for help, but I ignored it. Instead, I nodded assuringly – and left the car.
Scott bent down to give his prey final instructions. „I‘ll search you when you get back. If I find a single dime on you, I‘m gonna kick your ass, man. Now, give me your wallet.“
Jay obeyed. He shoved himself over, behind the steering wheel and cast a final sad glance at me. Scott shut the door and waved Jay off. He then turned to me.
„You owe me fifty bucks, man“, was all he said and with that he started to walk toward the harbour. I followed him, startled and angry. I did, however, say nothing.
We found a lovely bar, we had a couple of beers, we pretended to enjoy ourselves, and left thereafter. As we were walking down the Promenade Scott suddenly stopped. He supported himself against the quay wall and stared off into the abyssmal darkness of the ocean. I did the same. We stood there for some ten minutes, contemplating what hideous a sin we had just commited. Scott finally broke the silence.
„D‘ya think he‘s having fun?“
„No“, I said. „He‘s probably having the worst time of his life.“
Scott tried to smile but something deep inside him started the long awaited struggle with his cool appearance.
„You know, man, we shouldn‘t have done this.“
„We shouldn‘t have done this?“ I suddenly yelled at him, „We shouldn‘t have done this? It was your damn idea!“
He turned around in obvious anger. „Hey, I thought we were in this together!“
„Well, you‘re wrong“, I said, knowing he was right.
„Some friend you are“, was his response and I finally lost my temper.
„Now listen, pal, and you better listen good. It was your goddamn idea, you didn‘t even ask me.“
„Now, hang on a sec…“
„Shut up!“ I cried. I noticed some passerbys stopping at my words and listening with extreme interest and amusement, but I didn‘t care. „You never ask, that’s your problem. You always think what you think is right. But it isn‘t. You know, man, you are not the glowing center of the fucking universe.“
Scott only stared at me, panic in his eyes. He‘d had enough but that didn‘t stop me. „You just go around screwing other people‘s lives, and you don‘t give a damn. Now, you better listen good, mister. I‘ve had it with you. I don‘t like the way you command me around, and I don‘t like the way your running Jay‘s life, either. He‘s not your toy. Hell, I‘m not your fucking toy.“ I was panting. I was angry. Angry with myself. Angry I had allowed this to happen. I stared at him, waiting to beat me up, showing me I was right after all. But he didn‘t. Damn! Instead, he just stared off into the dark again. I felt I had to say something, but I just didn‘t know what. Trying to calm myself down I listened to the perpetual monotony of the sea. It was as if it laughed at me, and cried bitter tears, too. And so did I.
The moon had risen high, casting its silver light onto the sea, when Scott broke the silence again.
„He probably doesn‘t have the guts anyway.“
I nodded in silent agreement, knowing what he had meant was ‘I thought we were friends‘. I knew for certain that Jay wouldn‘t ask a hooker to spend a couple of hours with him. And I also knew, that no woman in the world would ever spend a night with him.
„Oh, there you are“, came the voice from behind.
We turned around simultanously, only to look into Jay‘s moon-shaped face.
„Hey, man, how‘s it been“, Scott asked cheerfully. Apparently he had forgotten all about what had just happened. Jason said nothing but instead he displayed a huge grin.
„You didn‘t do it“, Scott suddenly cried. „Where‘s my money?“
Jay was as startled as any man could ever have been.
„I…I did…“ He couldn‘t finish his sentence for Scott‘s fist exploded in his face. Jason fell flat to the floor and I felt the earth shaking. Scott searched through Jay‘s pockets only to find nothing. He then took a deep breath: „He‘s drunk. The bastard got drunk.“ He stood up again. Jason moaned. I could see the expression on his face and what I saw there was pure and true confusion. But I didn‘t believe him.
„You shouldn‘t have done that, Jay“, I said. „You should have told us, that you didn‘t want to push through with it.“ I helped him to get up.
He started to cry. „You guys. I have…“
„Shut up“, Scott yelled furiously. „Where‘s the car?“
Jason sobbed heavily. „It‘s just over there“, he said while pointing in some vague direction.
„Gimme the keys“, Scott said cooly and Jay did. I felt as if a nuclear bomb had detonated within my very heart. ‘Moonlight catches silver tears I cry‘ was the only thing that came to my mind knowing that Jay had betrayed me.
Neither one of us spoke on our way back home. I knew that whatever it was that we had had before, it was over. The crusaders had failed in their quest for fun. I had failed to tell either one of them how I felt toward them, though it had been my last chance. Scott had never been my friend, that was for sure. Or had he?
Maybe it is just, that I had never been his friend. We did meet again after our crusade, or ,rather, their crusade but things had never been the same again. I couldn‘t stand the fact that Jay had lied to me.. And as for Scott: he dropped out of school to pursue a career as chief-steak-master at ‘Mr Mike‘s‘. When I said „Goodbye“ on the day I left for good he only replied „See ya!“, no „man“.
Two years later, Jason died of AIDS.