After graduation a bunch of guys from our class and me and Nate rented a house near the university. None of us were planning to go to school there, or anywhere for that matter. Nate and I had the biggest room (we had to pay an extra $50 a month); we moved our stuff in. Well, I moved my stuff in, Nate brought over two milk crates stuffed with clothes, dirty clothes.
My mom came over to help me unpack. We hung a full length mirror on the back of the door and put a dust skirt around the bottom of the bed. My mom had saved a few pieces of furniture for me over the years because 'some day you’ll have an apartment of your own’ she said, ‘and you won’t want to spend your money on dressers and couches’. She was right except it wasn’t that I didn’t want to spend money on furnishings it’s that I didn’t have any money to spend on furnishings. Maybe that’s what she meant.
The dresser was from our old house on Leyden Sreet. It was in the room I shared with my sister Drea. When I pulled open the bottom drawer to put my t-shirts in I saw the big red ‘X’ she in drew in crayon. She had drawn on little piece of paper a treasure map and then hid the treasure under the dresser; a bag a skittles, a crooked little pony whose mane and tail had been “groomed” and a glittery wand.
Mom was sitting on the edge of the bed watching me; she looked tired.
Still in the truck was the gold couch with red and blue striping. ‘This was the first thing your father and I bought after we got married,’ she said. I had spent a good portion of my childhood watching T.V. on that couch. Before we moved it in my mom walked off four paces in our new room to see if the couch would fit.
“Jen, I don’t think there’s enough room in here for the couch. Maybe you and the boy’s would like it in the living room,” she suggested a little reluctantly.
“Oh I don’t know, Mom,” I said, “maybe you can just hold onto it until Nate and I get a place of our own.”
We walked out to the living room and three of my new roommates were sitting on the floor in front of the T.V. playing video games.
“Would you guys like a couch?” she asked.
“Of course,” said Derek, by far the most socialized of the three.
“Well come help us get it out of the back of the truck,” she said.
Within in moments the couch was sitting in the living room with the guys sitting on it playing video games.
“Thanks, Ms. Donatello,” said Derek never looking up from the screen.
We walked out to the truck. “I’ve got to get this back to Trevor before five,” my mom said, “but I’ll pick you up on Monday at 11 and we’ll go out for lunch.”
“See you then. Love you.”
“Love you too Jen.”
As soon as my mom left the boys pulled out the three foot bong and started smoking.
“My sister and I use to build forts with that couch,” I said. They didn’t hear me.
When Nate got home later that night the other guys had made a beer run and some of their friends were hanging out, drinking, smoking and playing video games.
I was in our room lying on the bed. Nate came in with two beers.
“You want one?” he asked as he untied his work boots handing me a beer.
“How was work?” I asked.
“Good. Uncle Denny scored scrapping rights to an abandoned warehouse that use to make plastic bags. The landlord is paying us fifteen hundred bucks to take out a bunch of crap and we figure there is about six grand in copper wire we can salvage.”
Nate worked with his Uncle Denny salvaging scrap metal from everywhere and anywhere and then selling it to recycling centers. The price of copper and aluminum had sky rocketed in the past few years. They made pretty good money doing it. We spend a few evenings a week together peeling the insulation off electrical wire.
“Where did you guys eat lunch?” I asked.
“Oh, we went to Dos Palomas again. Denny has a thing for the chick working the cash registrar. He actually got digits today.”
“How old is she?” I asked knowing that she wouldn’t be over twenty. Denny had a thing for much younger women, and for some reason they seemed to have a thing for him. Nate just smiled.
“Julian has some ecstasy do want to do it? I can pay for your hit.” Nate said as he pilfered through a crate of his dirty clothes pulling out something, sniffing it and then putting it on.
“Yea, sure,” I said pulling a t-shirt out from the bottom drawer of the dresser, “try this on Nate. It’s too big for me but it might fit you.”
By midnight everyone was rolling. We had turned out all the lights, lit candles and Nate and I had built a fort with the couch cushions. It was our own little world. I set up an alter on top of a shoebox covered in a muslin scarf.
“Put something special on it,” I said to Nate.
He reached in his pocket and set up his zippo.
I ran to our new room and got the Ganesh statue I gave Nate for his birthday, a couple of quartz crystals my friend Marie gave me and some rose scented massage oil. In case we stayed in the fort all night I grabbed “emergency supplies”; beer, fruit (to ward off the scurvy), flashlight, and a small radio that was stuck on the Mexican radio station. Musica Romantica.
Bésame, bésame mucho
Como si fuera esta noche
La última vez
Bésame, bésame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Kiss me, kiss me a lot,
As if tonight was
the last time.
Kiss me, kiss me a lot,
Because I fear to lose you,
To lose you again.
With his zippo I lit a little candle. The inside of the fort transformed into a golden cave of flickering light.
The shadow of Ganesh cast a large shadow on the couch cushions. Nate and I tripped out on it.
“Everyone outside the fort is crazy,” I said.
Nate took my hand and started to massage it. He poured some scented oil in his hand, rubbed them together building warmth and then clasped my hands. My stomach fell as I gasped. Our eyes were locked, our mouths parted, our breath syncing.
“I love you soooo much Nate.” I whispered as we undressed.
“I love you too!” he whispered back as he poured massage oil onto my stomach.
Everything turned electric. Our skin melted together. Our energy passed through each other. Everything became a golden flickering bliss of roses, oil, me and him and oh fuck yes…
“I think I got some on the couch cushion,” said Nate as we lay together catching our breath.
We laughed a rolling laugh that tumbled out of us.
Outside the fort, in the world of crazies, the front door slammed open.
“Masternate? Where are you Masternate?” The voice tore us out of our womb like a back alley abortion. “Come drink some Jager with me you fucking pussy!”
“Fuck, it’s Jimmy,” said Nate as he scrambled to get dressed.
Jimmy is the worst. He is an old friend of Nate’s and still has some macho control over him.
“Just relax Nate,” I said rubbing his back.
“Derek where’s Masternate?” Jimmy asked, “What the fuck is going on here? Turn on some lights and let’s play quarters or something.”
“We were just going down the park,” said Derek, “but Nate and Jen are around here somewhere.”
We heard the door close behind Derek and company.
“Nate you have to get rid of him, please,” I pleaded.
“Okay give me a second to think, shit.” Nate said as he pulled on his shorts and slid out the “front door” of the fort. On his way out he knocked over the alter with his foot. Hot candle wax splashed onto the carpet and the cushions. The flame was extinguished by the time the candle hit the floor.
“Fuckin’ Jimmy, what the fuck are you doing here? I thought you were still in Pueblo.” I heard Nate say in an affected “dude bro’” tone.
“Way to tell me you guys were having a party asshole. What the fuck is going on in here?” He paused as, I assume, he looked over the scene. “Nice fort dick weed.”
Jimmies words wrapped around my stomach and squeezed. I was no longer high; I wanted to puke.
“Are you going to drink some Jager with me or what?” He asked Nate again.
“Hell yeah man! Pour it up!”
I sat quietly in the dark fort listening and picking at the dried wax on the carpet. Nate, Nate, Nate? What the fuck are you doing? Get rid of him. Shot glasses clanked on the counter.
“Cheers asshole!” said Jimmy.
“Cheers cum guzzler!” said Nate.
Oh fuck, I thought, this cannot be happening. Cheers cum guzzler? Nate? Really?
“Put on some tunes,” commanded Jimmy.
“What do want to hear?”
Zep, I predicted.
“Let’s get the Led out!” Jimmy said.
If Nate puts on House of the Holy I am so out of here.
The intro starts … “Since I’ve been loving you.”
Nate is not as dumb as he looks. I’m not a Zeppelin fan, but god I love this song.
Said I've been crying, my tears they fell like rain,
Don't you hear, Don't you hear them falling,
Don't you hear, Don't you hear them falling.
Gropping around in the dark for my clothes I pick up the zippo, candle and Ganesh putting them in the shoebox we used for the alter.
“Put on Zep Four dude, this song kinda sucks,” Jimmy said.
The music stops and then…if it’s stairway to heaven I will personally pour lighter fluid on both those assholes and light them of fire…When The Levee Breaks.
The fort collapsed when I crawled out.
“Jen, what the fuck?” Jimmy asked as I walked past him toward our room.
He grabbed my wrist and spun me toward him.
“You are so fucking high.” He laughed. “Check this out,” He put his hands next to my face and started making little karate chop motions, “you're running down the hall, you turn left, you're running…” Oh god I want to knee you in the balls so fucking bad.
I walked away.
“Fine be that way,” he laughed. “Dude, Jen is such a stoner.” I closed the door before I could hear how my “boyfriend” would respond to that insult.
Before laying down I set up the alter on the dresser and light the candle. My stomach began to unclench as I watched the flame dance in the dark and reflect off Ganesh’s large blue head. He looked like he was swaying. The little radio played another Mexican love song.
Reloj no marques las horas
porque voy a enloquecer
ella se ira para siempre
cuando amanezca otra vez
Nomas nos queda esta noche
para vivir nuestro amor
y tu tic-tac me recuerda
mi irremediable dolor
Clock, don't mark the hours
Because I'm going to become crazy
She will leave for forever
When its dawn again
We only have this night
To live our love
And this tick tock reminds me of
My unrepairable pain
My pillow absorbed my tears.