He has been busy, loading a cooler with 40-ounce bottles of Mexican beer we picked up at the 99-cent store. There's another one of our roommates coming along. Big Red, we call him. He's very broke, but he charged a coupla bottles of gin to his father's gas card. Me and Nasty spot him some cash and take our bottles at discount.
Big Red is to be our chauffer this afternoon. His ride is a Subaru BRAT, late-'80s edition tan, with brown piping along the sides. It is filthy with the slime of polluted rain. Big Red has installed a cap that covers the bed and the rear-facing jump-seats. He uses this as a sort of mobile trailer. On the weekends, he "does props" for an independent film company. He stuffs me and the cooler back in amongst the fake knives, weird hats and plastic breastplates. Nasty cracks a beer, Big Red yanks the clutch, and I clunk my head against the aluminum siding of the cap as he cuts a questionable u-turn across three lanes of traffic.
We are headed for the nicer part of town, one of those neighborhoods with many circular driveways, where the curbs are all painted red. Nasty got us on the guest list because he has a particular way with words, in that he can use them without stuttering or losing eye contact or forgetting what he's talking about. Through the little window in the back I can hear him working his cell phone:
"Hey man, you know any sluts. . . girls?" He says this and then he laughs.
After a buzz on the intercom, the gate ratchets open in front of the BRAT. We exchange fist-pounds and secret handshakes as we roll to a stop next to an oversized Tahoe.
The hostess of this party goes by the name Lynx. Her real name's something Armenian, Nasty once told me. Her agent suggested that she change it. I met her one time before, at an all-night bowling alley, where she was looking good in a vintage Poison t-shirt. I too had once enjoyed hair metal, and we ended up having a goofy time, drinking tequila out of a plastic flask and poking each other in the ribs. But before the flirting could turn into anything more, Nasty, who had drunk a bottle of butterscotch schnapps, picked a fight with a bunch of guys wearing t-shirts that said Milwaukee, and I had to hustle him home.
We walk around back of the ranch, and there's a good little scene going on. People are using the guest house to change their clothes, lawn chairs and bikinis surround the pool, and there's a picnic table packed with food nobody is eating. Lotta new clothes on display, some very nice haircuts, coupla skinny cell phones, and lots of lite beer.
The girls in the skimpiest bathing suits are passing a joint around with some guys who have muscle definition and lots of tan. Big Red catches an eyeful of fake boob and he says, "That's who I want to be hanging out with." He pours a stiffy of a gin and tonic, makes half of it disappear, and ambles over to say hello.
Me and Nasty mix up some drinks of our own and converge upon Lynx by the diving board. If I wasn't a sucker for the fake red hair, I certainly would be one for those nerdy glasses she's wearing. She is in the middle of talking about how she wants to get a new nose, which makes a little bit of sense now that I'm being asked to examine it, because the one she's got is kind of big. But I tell her to save the money for a fire pit or something cool, and I think she appreciates this because she gives that look which is kind of like a kiss before a laugh. Lynx is tall, and as she goes back to mingling, I envision four bare feet hanging off the edge of my rented twin bed.
Soon, I'm floating in the pool with my beer. The only other person in the water with me is an actress, around my age, who just got her braces off. She's doing handstands in the low end so everybody can look at her ass, and when she comes up for air, chubby drops of water roll down her cleavage the same way they would off a waterproofed windshield.
She talks about how chlorine is supposed to be a carcinogen, and I think maybe so, but it's no worse than the shit-mist that passes for sunlight in the valley.
Nasty decides to spice things up by jumping off the roof. He flips lazily in slow motion and misses the diving board by about an inch, but he is alive, it was an awesome stunt, and things are now getting groovy in the pool. People are dunking their friends, shooting each other with water guns, and someone begins to organize a chicken-fight tournament. There's even a huge dog paddling around with us, chewing holes in all the floats.
My beer has been mixed pretty well with pool water by this point, but I gulp it all down, burp chlorine, and decide it's time to get out. I hook up with Lynx, who is looking sexy with a cigarette, sitting on a patio chair next to the hot tub. My smokes are in the car along with my towel, so that's convenient, and I get Lynx to bum me one of hers. She's still smiling despite getting a chance to see close-up-and-wet the stretch marks on my shoulders, which are framed nicely by the hair on my back. She pokes me on the thigh a few times and says something about me needing to be more aggressive. I realize that I could do anything I wanted right now short of pulling a boob from her bathing suit and fondling it there on the edge of the pool.
What I do next is ask her about the cat I saw in the bedroom I changed in earlier. I see by her face that this is a somewhat unexpected question, but yes, there is a story about the cat. As she starts to tell it, I grind my smoke out in the ashtray on the ground between us. I let my hand rest on the side of her lounge chair. As soon as I get another one of those signals, I'm gonna do The Overlay. Avoiding eye contact, because I know that is the outlaw way, I see Big Red giving a back massage to some girl too old to be sporting lip acne. He doesn't mind, so I shouldn't either.
Lynx heads into the tail end of her hilarious cat story, and I think THIS IS IT!!! I brush my fingers lightly over her hand, and this is just the start of what I have planned for her this evening. Since this is Movietown, it makes sense that right now is when her cell phone starts in with a digital rendition of Motley Crue's "Dr. Feelgood." She looks at the flashing screen for a second, looks at me, then answers the phone with a laugh.
"Hey Robert, why the fuck aren't you here right now?" is what I hear as she paces away.
I prop myself up and go in to change. My clothes were folded up inside my backpack, but somehow they seem more wrinkled than when I put them in earlier. I look around for something to steal, and they have some good movies in a rack by the television, but nothing worth getting caught carrying out. I mingle my way through the kitchen where I drink some whiskey before heading back outside.
The sun has bombed its way past the hills, and the tiki torches are now burning. There are plenty of people still wobbling, but the party is starting to thin out. Somebody is walking around with a garbage bag, picking up empty plastic cups, and Big Red lets us know we're going to be heading out soon.
I go to say goodbye to Lynx, and there's this guy in a muscle shirt all up in her personal space. "It's not that cool working in a warehouse, but I really do enjoy it for the workout," he says with a ham-bone shrug. He puts his arm over her shoulder for a few moments, perhaps to transfer his merriment.
"Hey, if this guy's drunk," I say, "we can give him a ride home."
"I don't go anywhere unless it's my own wheels takin' me," the guys says, pointing a finger.
"Yeah, I think we'll be all right," Lynx says, and that is her goodbye and her goodnight as well.
"Looks like that guy's gonna get some puss tonight," Nasty says, closing the hatch on back of the BRAT. The seats can be flipped over by using this handle that sticks up from the floor. As Big Red grunts and fires up the car, I pretend this handle is a fighter pilot control stick, and I shoot imaginary missiles at those snazzy cars in the driveway.
We compare notes on the way home. Nasty has met some sluts, and carries three phone numbers to prove it. Big Red met a guy who might be able to get him into some softcore stuff. "He told me all they do is put a sock over it, but a lot of times, it falls off."
I rummage through the collection of props in the back of the BRAT until I come upon a plastic shopping bag filled with DVDs.
"Where the hell did you find these?"
Inside the bag is a gruesome smorgasbord of fetish films, titles like Airtight Midgets, Granny Gangbang and Human Toilet. The production group that Big Red works for shares an office-park spot with a mail-order smut distributor.
"I actually didn't have to go into the dumpster," he tells us, "somebody just left them on top."
"Is this shit even legal?"
"I was gonna sell them on eBay but I guess they don't let you sell porn on there."
A few blocks from where we live is an elementary school, and I tell Big Red to pull over. Underneath a sodium light, the three of us take turns flicking the discs over the fence and into the playground area. I didn't see my first pornography until I was almost in high school. They way I figure it, if we can get these little guys asking questions now, they'll be better off for it later in life.
We pack back into the BRAT, and likely we've broken yet another town ordinance, but at least I'm smiling again, and there are still a few hours until midnight.
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