It was a night just like any other night; a night of good times, a night of bad times, but mostly just a night of times. It was a night to remember, but more over, a night to forget. It was a night of endless ribbing and poking at one another’s blemishes and shortcomings, a night of mundane inebriation and quick fixes, a night of bonding among futile friends and worthy adversaries; in short, another night of explosive mediocrity.
For those who went, The Rock had been a source of nirvana, an escape from everyday troubles, a place to call their own and to hide from the world; regardless of the fact that the world was sometimes less than fifteen-hundred feet away. And, except for the one time, no parents or cops ever came to The Rock and, except for an occasional canoe or kayaker….and Moon, there was never any other signs of humanity at The Rock. It was their safe zone, and would forever be remembered as a peaceful haven in their memories.
Mahdakis stood on the edge of the small cliff, which held the rock and over looked the tail end of the Brandywine River that poured into The Christina, which eventually poured into the Delaware. It was a small river, only several feet deep at its deepest points, and at its widest point, you could throw a Frisbee to someone. But it was peaceful and had a calming effect on him. He stood thinking of the inevitable future, and the nagging past that just wouldn’t leave him alone. At this point he could hear almost every inane conversation going on behind him………………
“Johnny-Boy! What happened to your face? Get stuck in a bear trap? By God, don’t you hate when that happens?”
“Floyd, you talking to me?” Frank asked.
“Yeah you, Johnny-Boy,” Floyd said, putting his hand on Frank’s shoulder. “Who else would I be talking to over here?”
“My name’s Frank, asshole.”
“Do you prefer to go by Frank or Mr. Asshole?”
“Gimme one good reason I shouldn’t toss you in the river.”
“Because it’s cold, and a mean thing to do.”
“I said ONE reason! That’s two.”
“Keep the change.”
“Alright,” Frank conceded. “Who the hell’s Johnny-Boy?”
“Yeah…….Johnny-Boy. Who the hell’s….”
“You took the words right out of my mouth, you know that?”
Carl took a casual drag off his cigarette and spoke for his overly excitable, confused friend, “He’s been watching De Niro movies again. Mean Streets this time. The main character is Johnny-Boy.”
“Johnny-Boy!” Floyd echoed.
“Okay then. Whatever you’re in to.”
“Watched it seven times yesterday.”
“That’s right, Johnny-Boy.”
“HEY EVERYBODY!” Boodles yelled from the top of the hill where the dirt footpath ended. “WHO WANTS SOME WINE? ANYBODY WANT SOME WINE? We got a couple of cases….real cheap!”
Carl looked up at her with suspicion. Nothing was ever free with Boodles. “How much?”
“Five dollars! You can’t beat that price anywhere….….at least not for good quality stuff like this.”
Floyd whipped out some folded bills from the breast pocket of his corduroy jacket. “Johnny-Boy and I will take two.”
“What about me, man?” Frank asked, slightly hurt. “I thought I was Johnny-Boy.”
“Johnny-Boy!……..Alright, give me three,” Floyd said, as he met Boodles half way up the slight incline. He handed her fifteen dollars even. “Keep the change, Darlin’.”
“OKAY, ANYBODY ELSE? C’MON…..GET IT BEFORE IT GOES!”
“A-and by ‘goes’, you mean – turns to piss?”
“Quiet Jack, and buy the little Missus here a bottle of fresh Blue Nun. Don’t be such a cheapskate.”
“It’s okay Boods, you know I don’t drink.”
“So? That doesn’t give your boyfriend here, the right to be a cheapskate.”
“She’s right,” said White Tom. “Just because you’re a person of sobriety doesn’t make you any less of a human being than the rest of us. And being that as such, entitles you to a boyfriend who’s willing to go all out for you…”
“And by all out, we mean shower you with gifts, such as a bottle of yummy Blue Nun!”
“Fresh off the assembly line!”
“I don’t want a wine shower, and isn’t wine supposed to age?”
“That’s what makes Blue Nun so unique; it’s not like all the rest.”
“It’s a cut above!”
“I-if you’re standing …upside down,” said Jack Carrot.
“You’re not gonna shut up until I buy a bottle are you?”
“Hey Cannoli, I’m just trying to share with my friends.”
Copper Tom whispered to White Tom, “Then how ‘bout sharing some of the profits with us. What a fuckin’ cunt. This bitch is always pushing something to swindle money from people. I gotta get out of here, man. I can’t take this scene right now.”
“You wanna share a bottle with me first?”
“Huh? Yeah, alright…..Hey, give us two, Boods! I’m gonna meet up with my girl later. Who knows, maybe this crap will put her in the mood.”
Pock looked scornfully at Copper Tom and uttered, “Inda mood for some su-cide, maybe. Dang…..fuck it, mane. Gimme one dem bodulz.”
Down below, next to the edge of the river, Pablo and Rizzo sat, cutting lines on a smaller rock, and sharing them amongst Alex, Charlotte, Snowy, Nicki and Tony. They stopped for a moment to listen to Boodles.
“Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark.” Pablo él Dente observed. “Where’d she get that wine, I wonder.”
“Me too, pal.” (inhale) “You know she’s not doing charity work for the Red Cross.” (exhale)
“Why the fuck would the Red Cross hand out wine to people?” Nicki said.
“They wouldn’t.” (exhale) “That’s how I know we’re about to be scammed.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Tony said in Rizzo’s direction.
“Let it go,” she waved him off.
“Ten to one says that she and Mahdakis robbed a convent, or a church.”
“So what,” said Rizzo. “I want some. Besides, that makes it holy wine! And I have to talk to her about something, too.”
Alex examined the bottle. “Good quality stuff, my negro ass. Heck, I wouldn’t use this to cook with! All this does is give significance to a trash can.”
“We’ll take one regardless,” Charlotte said, handing bills over to Boodles DiNero.
“Hey! Gimme one, too,” said Tony.
“Ten dollars??? For one?”
“You just said two.”
“That’s not what I meant when I said two.”
“When you said what?”
“Two it is then,” Boodles said, shoving a pair of Blue Nun bottles at him and snatching the bill from his hand. “Thanks Tone!”
Snowy scratched his scalp frantically, “Fuck it. Why can’t I control myself?” (inhale-exhale) “Gimme two….No…Three….Wait, better give me four; some for later.”
“Yeah? Gonna get that make-believe girlfriend of yours nice and drunk so you can have your way with her, huh.” Cannoli instigated. “What’s her name?……Andrea?”
Shake-shake-shake. “Yeah that’s right Cannoli, you stupid whore. Andrea.”
“Hey! Hey! Take it easy there, Snowman.”
Just then, Alex stepped in front of Jack and put his arm around Snowy. “Four bottles of Blue Nun! Now here’s a man with little or no regard for himself, whatsoever! I have a curious respect for a man with a healthy appreciation for the repugnant. Lord knows……….”
“…..Aliens, dude; they’re out there, man,” said Pumpkinhead, inhaling a joint. “It’s only a matter of time.”
“Before they land you mean, Johnny-Boy?”
“Yeah,” Pumpkinhead said, while holding in the hit. “Yeah. My premonition is that it’s going to take place within the next year.”
“Here? You mean on Earth, or in Delaware?”
“Right on the Brandywine, here at The Rock, man.”
“Ooh Johnny-Boy, don’t you think it would make more sense to land on the
Delaware? It’s more spacious and shit, you know?”
“That’s just the problem. Too many people could see. It’s too conspicuous.”
“I’d like to be here when they land. That’s gonna be somethin’.”
“You bet your ass it will be.” Pumpkinhead took another hit then held it out as an offer to Floyd. “Let’s plan to be here when it happens. You want to?”
“Hell yeah!” Floyd inhaled a hit. “Right here about next year, you say?”
“More towards the summer, after their harvest season.”
“What do you suppose they harvest up there on Mars?”
“Mars? These dudes are from another galaxy, bro. Let me clue you in on something…….”
“…..S-so Carl, you wanna, uh, give me a hand on Sunday installing my new headers?”
“On the Z28? I can do that,” Carl said to Jack. “What did you end up going with?”
“The chrome wides.”
“Ah man, I don’t know. You’re gonna be sorry when that shit starts turning blue eventually.”
“Nah…I, I don’t plan to drive it all over creation every day, you know. Besides, I got ’em for only eight hundred.”
“Sweet deal,” Carl said puffing on a Marlboro. “What are on there now, the stock originals?”
“Yeah, the sixty-eight GM dull black Kustom’s. I’m gonna hold on to ’em in case I ever sell it.”
“Keep the Kustom’s on it,” Pablo él Dente interjected. “There’s a reason they’re a stock part.”
“These will run good, too,” said Jack.
“Yeah but what do you got in there, a 350?”
“350? Yer ass!” Carl said grimacing.
“It’s, it’s a 302 Pablo.”
“Ah right, a 302. But still, it’ll give you better torque if……”
“…..You still need some sort of education, Goiter. You can’t just not do, or be anything.”
“Dakota…… I know…..okay? I’m not saying that. What I’m saying…”
“What are you saying then?”
“Will you let me talk, Nicki?”
“I’m saying they don’t have a right to force it upon you. It should be an elective.”
“Education? Knowing basic things should be an elective? Why would anyone not want to know things?”
“Because some of us don’t need it.”
“Oh I see,” said Nicki, “you have a surplus of smarts in that head of yours, huh?”
“Yeah,” Dakota laughed, “and it’s become a real burden for him to drag them around all the time. The last thing he needs is for any of them to start breeding and generating more smarts.”
“Maybe he just wants to share with the less-fortunate and the needy. You know, make sure that everybody gets a piece of the pie. Why should he get the whole thing?”
“Wow, Goiter, that’s really nice of you. Is that what this is all about?”
“No. It’s not. It’s about the system and what it can do, and about the man telling us what to do, when what he makes us do may not really be what we want do.”
“Hey babe,” said Tony, approaching the group, “what’s all the ta-do?”
“Goiter’s explaining the negative ramifications of free education in a democracy.”
“Yeah? This oughtta be good.”
“OH MY GOD! THAT GUY’S NAKED!”
“Hey, c’mon Johnny-Boy, put some fuckin’ clothes on, will you?”
“Huh-huh-huh….Hey Moon, how about some pants, buddy?”
“Sorry. Didn’t know anybody was here.”
“You didn’t know that twenty people were here? Most of them, young girls. You perverted bastard. I should knock your fuckin’ head off right here, once and for all,” Carl said, extremely agitated at the naked, hairy, thirty-two-year-old man.
“I-I I don’t know what your fuckin’ story is,” said Jack, confronting him nose to nose, “but you put your fuckin’ clothes on now and never come down here again when any women are present, or I’ll fuckin’ kill you. You understanding me, you fuckin’ child molesting perv?”
“I just came for a swim. And I’m not a child molester! I live here, Goddamn it! I was doing this before you……people…came around!”
“Then swim with a bathing suit on, or you’ll be swimming with the fishes.”
“I’m just being as God made me!”
“Leave me be! Just leave me be!”
“He’s got moxie, I’ll give him that,” Charlotte Cummings noted.
“Go on, get outta here!”
Mahdakis stare at the cold stillness of the river with questionable reflection. The trees had long since lost their leaves. Winter would be here very soon, and while the powers that be had predicted a mild one, it was still winter, nonetheless. Another few months down the drain, another season change. So much seemed to have happened since that last day at school, yet nothing much really happened, over all. There were some dead people here and there, some gigs lined up, money earned, money burned, but nothing on the inside seemed to be changing. This was not only true with himself, but it seemed to be the case with most everyone else around him. Maybe there is something to be said for hanging out with people who are different from you, people who have different attitudes and beliefs to offer, as opposed to hanging out with people who offer the same exact things to you on a daily basis as you offer to them – recycled dreams, plagiarized aspirations, mirrored memories – these things seemed to run rampant amongst this crowd.
Jack Carrot and Cannoli Spitzer offered a different view of the world, as did Charlotte Cummings. Rizzo was capable of it, but too often fell weak to the powers of peer pressure. Angelica Knight would’ve been perfect for a lifelong friend in that vein. But Angelica was long gone. It just wasn’t meant to be. Charlotte would never be a real friend, as she was locked into the bizarre concept of marriage to a man she didn’t love, in the name of social standing. Cannoli Spitzer, a woman he had long fawned over and dreamed about, seemed to be rowing away from him now at lightning speed, skimming the banks of normality as she set course for her inevitable destination on the isle of conformity. He only saw Cannoli Spitzer once in a while, when Jack didn’t have plans with his muscle car friends, and they both needed some lighthearted amusement. Why couldn’t Mahdakis be content with the many friends he had; Friends who loved him very much, and would do most anything for him? Why did he secretly yearn for the approval of those who did reside on the isle of conformity; yet, all the while maintaining his loathing opinions of them, and upholding the front that was his rebellious, individualistic nature? Seriously, what the fuck was wrong with this guy?
© 2012 Mark Rogers