Chapter 1 “A Decade Under the Influence”

Fall 2008

ONE

 Nobody can be alone anymore. Oh-so typical – even when it’s over she still has something to say. As if she still had power over me. Nobody can be alone anymore, I think yet again. Alone. I suppose that’s the irony in it, being that in the same two-hour drive when, while playing with her new iPhone and all but ignoring me, she said it, she also had another sentiment – that one being that we should break apart. “Space,” she had said. “It’s just that, y’know it’s our senior year, and we’ve been together for, like, ever. I guess I just want to see what else is out there.” And then, as I put the Audi in park – right in front of the apartment she shares with her former Cheerleader friend and Class-A-Bitch Skye – she said “I don’t know who I am without you Christian. I need to be alone right now. Figure out who I really am.”

I look across the crowded room – everybody drunk and jolly, especially the new fresh faces – and catch a glimpse of Amy and Skye laughing and flirting with two guys whose faces I can’t see through the darkly-lit room. I finish my beer and walk to the keg. “Excuse me,” I say to some random dude hovering over the keg trying to fill his cup. He tilts his head sideways as nothing comes out, stunned – puzzled perhaps – and too stupid to realize it needs to be pumped first.

Typical freshman, I think pushing him to the side. “Hey,” I yell over the music. “Let me help you with that pal.” He’s wearing a pair of Aeropostale jeans with more holes than denim and a dumb fuckin’ T-shirt that may as well be his sisters – why these young kids think baby doll T-shirts that show off their biceps is cool is something I’ve never quite understood. Perhaps it’s a jock thing, who knows. I pump the keg, fill my and the dumbass freshman’s cup and exit through the side door.

Outside on the porch overlooking a fenced-in yard, a pool in great use tonight, it takes me three matches to light a cigarette (Marlboro Reds, forever and always) due to the wind on this August night that is still so young – much like the sea of freshman who, for the first time in their short lives, finally have the freedom to drink, smoke and fuck whatever and whoever without Mom and Dad breathing down their neck.

The night has just begun.

 

I’m still on the porch when Neco comes walking up, dripping wet from the pool and when he sees me, he smiles and we shake and slap each other’s backs. “Christian,” he says, throwing a towel over his shoulder and leading me to the other side of the porch where there’s a table and several patio chairs. “Sit, sit.” I do so. When Neco says something – whether it be a small, kind gesture or a downright command – it’s wise to do as he says or asks of you.

A couple weeks into freshman year me and my roommate Dan, along with Tim who lived in the room next to us (shared the same shitter and shower) wanted to score some cocaine but the only dealer we knew lived down the hall from us and only sold shit-weed full of enough stems and seeds you could start your own farm. I thought back to our first night as free men – the huge party everybody in school seemed to be at and remembered something, someone.

When I met Neco back then, he was a junior – maybe not in credits but certainly in years – and during a chance meeting at the party couple weeks back, remembered him telling me that if I ever need anything – “anything at all,” he’d said – to let him know. That was three years ago. Neco has been my dealer ever since, and over the years we’ve even become friends.

“So how was summer?” he asks, and the memories of what used to be flash past in what seems like seconds and five minutes later he tells me he needs to get changed so I follow him in, once again tossed into the sweaty crowded quarters, and down the hall to his room. He unlocks it, says something about “these cocksucking fucks” and listen to him bitch about some “whore” that owes him money as he takes his shorts off and dries off while I gaze around his room, silently jealous of his new house, and then he throws on a graphic tee and says “catch” as he tosses it – the viva la white girl – and after a few lines courtesy of him, it’s back to the party, the fucking zoo, people everywhere.

I’m looking for Dan and Tim while trying to avoid an encounter with Amy but it’s just so crowded and dark that it’s hard to see much of anything and this pale-looking Asian chick with short black hair and lots of piercings wearing all black and who is likely a vampire (and a freshman at that) gets tossed on me and without even attempting to fuck her, she drops her Solo cup and pushes me hard against the wall and sticks her tongue down my throat and a minute later we’re upstairs. She tells me I’m hot. She says I listen better than Ricky ever did. I go with it and a minute later me and the Asian Vampire are in the laundry room, her sucking me off and me just enjoying it. It couldn’t come at a better time I think, so I let her go down on me for a few minutes before grabbing her ass, tearing whatever clothing she does have on off, and then fuck her. She moans, groans and makes pretty much every other noise in the book while we go at it, her ass atop the dryer with me pile-driving her. After two or three minutes she brings up the fact we’re not protected. “Daddy,” she calls me in mid-come. Daddy? Seriously, what’s with girls wanting to fuck their fathers? Something I never quite understood. But fuck it, what’s there to do anyway? I slam her even harder and, again during orgasm, she calls me Daddy. It’s loud enough – even in the laundry room – in the house for me to pretend I don’t hear her; and when I do, I put a hand to my ear and say “Me speak no Chinese.” After two more minutes and another orgasm (yes, she is a squirter) she starts to bore me so I speed up and as I pull out ready to cum, guess what? Here we go again. Our bodily fluids wind up on her jeans – woops! – but I manage to stay clean so I dress quickly and leave the laundry room so quick I forget my briefs and undershirt. Shit happens.

 

Close to midnight and we’re at The Talion – renamed from G’s a year ago – and unlike the other bars in town, The Talion’s more of a nightclub than the traditional sports bars – The Glider and The Corner Bar – and since we’re in a college-town, it’s cliental is sketchy – stretching from the townies hoping to fuck young, drunk and dumb coeds to shady dealers selling cut garbage and roofies  to the people this club is for: those young, drunk and dumb students both male and female. The Talion’s a good mile or so from the college, just past downtown and straddles the city-limits. It’s last stop – the club doing the majority of its business after midnight. Except on Thirsty Thursdays or even a Saturday night Bar Crawl that students take so serious – y’know, those good old college rituals. What a joke. Rock Bottom University is an understatement.

Red and blue and green and yellow lights illuminate a packed dance-floor while strategically placed strobe lights flash throughout and the club has two separate bars, but the few tables they do have are packed away, leaving the dozen booths the only place to sit. It’s a clusterfuck in here with sweaty assholes dancing like idiots, others standing around spitting “game” to drunk chicks they have no chance of fucking, and then there’s us – the fortunate few with booths. A twenty at the door to some big, black bouncer guarantees a booth every time, without fail.

The four of us (Dan, Tim, Tyler and me) and three sophomores (all pretty and on the soccer team) the guys picked up at the party but weren’t able to close the deal were all eager, despite being underage, to go to the club. Halfway there they began to have second thoughts but Tim is smooth and a natural-born ladies-man, so he re-convinced them, promising we could get them in – something I was unsure of myself. I don’t know exactly what Tim said or how much he paid to get the girls in, but he was obviously successful. Having been here for a little over an hour and getting tired, not to mention bored watching the three of them working to seal the deal, I space out and sit in the crowded booth, smoking cigarette after cigarette and nursing a vodka tonic, ignoring the terrible club-music blasting from speakers I didn’t know existed and scan the scene: despite the overcrowded place, I can see clear as day two dudes and one girl three-way-kissing, all dressed in typical emo-attire (skin-tight black slacks, the guys both wearing beanies and black hoodies and the girl’s dressed pretty similar); the DJ getting head, although it’s difficult to see who the “giver” is; some townie wearing dirty Levi’s, a similarly filthy jean-jacket and a red hat who is definitely over 40 is doing … some kind of dancing, grinding 20-something-girls-asses until they turn to see who they just let rub their cock against them; and fags, everywhere, the majority all clean, good-looking guys and I wonder if maybe tonight was supposed to be “rainbow night” or something; otherwise, it’s all so typical and no different from any other night, so after my attention is lost, I wonder why the fuck I’m in the middle of the booth while six people all but fuck around me, sandwiched between them like I’m goddamn spread and they’re the bread.

Thirty or so minutes later the booth’s cleared out, the girls all gone, Tim having left with two of the three, including the brunette Dan was hooking up with, essentially cock-blocking him from any future sexual activity. The redhead Tyler had fingered while sitting less than two feet from me was the first to leave. She was the shyest of the three, even speaking intelligently while plastered (Props), and I think she was sobering up and started feeling both awkward and embarrassed. I’ve seen worse – much worse – but it’s still a slut move. I give it a 5 on the Richter scale. After the girls left, Tyler and Dan were ready to call it a night so after two more shots I asked the waitress for the bill.

Here they go again, I think, while I listen to them attempt conversation – music of course. But they’re so trashed, I don’t hear a single sentence that makes sense in any world – drunk or sober – for five minutes. Instead I listen to the two of them scream at each other while once again caught in the crossfire and yes, I’m a little drunk but mostly I’m just crashing from the coke and therefore a mind-numbing headache is beginning to set behind my eyes and somewhere in the middle of multi-colored lighting effects and an increasing frustration with two voices screaming over super-loud music I begin to lose control, the anger building at an alarming rate, the headache sharp and throbbing and with no end in sight I simply put my head down and sit there and wait for the fucking check when all I want is to be home, in bed, asleep.

Finally the check arrives and I charge everything to Dad’s AmEx, call a taxi and head towards the door when everything stops, frozen, reality on pause – or maybe the world stops revolving around its axis (I don’t know) – but in that second my eyes lock with hers and I see her so clearly, so vivid, wearing a dress and heels, framed glasses and underneath them the most beautiful set of eyes that are mine and mine alone to observe: hazel with a tint of blue unlike anything I’ve ever seen and she is so beautiful with fine and delicate features, her skin tone not too tan like the rest of them and she’s smiling, her lips luscious, full and a vibrant red; but then suddenly the film starts up again, reality shifts and the play button is pushed and I’m gone, outside, my world shrouded in darkness.

 

Two days later I’m in class for the first time since May suffering through some new Econ-professor in his late-50‘s with a terrible receding hairline wearing quite possibly the most hideous sweater I’ve ever seen with ill-fitting slacks and a belt that doesn’t match his shoes, and in his introduction to the class, Microeconomics, he attempts to humor us with a lame joke that flies right over my head and I sigh and roll my eyes, lean back in the seat and think how long this semester’s going to be. I’m wearing jeans and a corduroy blazer over a vintage tee I bought in New York City this past summer and when I check my watch I realize only a mere 10 minutes have passed. Forty more to go, I think.

I try to get through it but the torture becomes too much, totally unbearable, and I know for a fact I’ve got a Xanax somewhere so I root through my jeans, find it and eat it but it’s not an immediate fix so I listen to my iPod, randomly landing on John Mayer’s “No Such Thing” and by the time the song peaks the Xanax has too, and I totally fucking agree: there is no “real world,” it’s all bullshit fed to us by a failed generation of parents and a society where MTV and The Daily Show reveal more truth than CNN, and so I say “fuck it” and leave class 25 minutes early.

 

It’s twenty after twelve and I’m still on campus when I run into Dan. Like me, he’s got over an hour until his next class so we sit outside Commons smoking cigarettes in front of the NO SMOKING sign and look at the girls passing by, oh so young – year after year they stay the same age while we grow older – when we decide to grab lunch. Normally I would never eat on campus, especially not the dining hall, but today’s the first day back and for some reason they actually make decent food the first week – my guess, to lure in the newbies because soon it all starts to taste like dog food. It’s no wonder you can’t even take a normal shit.

Upstairs trying to find a place to sit carrying an orange tray with hamburgers, fries and pizza with my right hand, having to raise it above my head more than once as freshman walk in droves not watching where they’re going and when I set my tray down for a quick minute to fill a cup with soda I scan the dining hall: hundreds of kids everywhere, some too young to even buy cigarettes, traveling in packs like wild dogs, it’s all just … too much. My anxiety is through the roof and I’m lost in this crowd and have no idea where Dan is or where I’m going and I realize I’m being stormed upon by a hoard of zombies and everything is blurred and I can’t see in front of me and everything begins to melt away and then

 

Biff, who I’ve known since freshmen orientation, smokes a joint and my father calls twelve times within an hour and leaves at least three voicemails before sending an angry text message which I completely ignore while flipping through Biff’s massive CD collection sitting on a couch watching him play Call of Duty in his underwear, lying on the floor.

I ask how his classes went before taking a huge bong-rip, coughing up clouds of smoke.

“Did they start already?” he asks, craning his neck in my direction momentarily taking his eyes off the screen. He gets hit with an airstrike and dies. “Fuck,” and then, “so what about school?”

“I asked how classes went.”

“Yeah, damn, that’s too bad – fuck!” He screams “IED!” to somebody over the headset and then I hear an explosion and he sighs. “Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.” As an afterthought, he says quietly “I think I need to see my advisor … or someone.”

I say something disinterestedly and toss aside a sleeve of CDs and then stare at the wall opposite me, concentrating on a black smudge that looks like a cigar-burn for the next two minutes before I run a hand through my hair realizing I need a haircut. The last time I got my hair cut in this town, the dumb slut nearly shaved off my entire head of hair. I wonder what I’d look like with a mohawk, picking up a small circular mirror we use to do coke on and inspect my facial features: hair long and starting to curl, check; and since I can’t remember the last time I shaved, I figure I have a week’s worth of stubble. Biff says something odd but it goes in one ear out the other, and then I spend another minute looking at my hair, my face, myself in the looking glass, close my eyes and still have a mild out-of-body experience which leaves me anxious and nervous.

“Anyway, like I was saying,” Biff begins, the controller still in his hands and eyes glued to the tube “my dad got lucky on the horses and he’s wiring me, like, a fuckton.” He stands up and walks over to the couch, sits down and gets out a notebook which he uses to help roll another joint. “We should throw down on an eight-ball,” he says, almost like an afterthought. “A quarter maybe.” When I don’t answer he says “Christian, you still with us dude?” snapping his fingers in front of me. He lights the joint and as he smokes it the particular strong scent overtakes me, beckons me to take one more rip from the bong.

“What?” I ask. Biff starts talking again but whatever he’s saying I can’t hear. It just sounds like a bunch of mumble-jumble but it doesn’t last long – maybe fifteen seconds or so – and after a brief moment I’m all good, everything’s fine. Cool, mellow and relaxed.

“So,” he says and then walks back to the middle of the room and plops back down on the floor, resting his arms and head on a pillow while he waits for his game to start up again.

“So what?”

“Want to split a ball?”

“I don’t know,” I say.

“What’s there to know?” As his game starts back up he stands in front of the television jabbing at the XBOX controller and the apartment is lively once again – shots being fired, bombs dropping and people crying out as they die, everything coming from massive speakers and a surround-sound system. “The blow? Yes or no?” He screams over two airstrikes, exploding grenades and gunfire everywhere with the bass cranked which nicely complements the sound of mass-warfare. Perhaps he realizes this too because the next time he dies (uh, can you say airstrike?) he picks up a remote and turns it down to a low-roar.

“Whatever,” I say, stoned and comfortable on the couch.

“We could get meth,” he says, and while this proposal is interesting, it’s not really my thing.

I’ve never done meth and there isn’t much I haven’t done at least once but the excitement dissipates quickly and I say “yeah, some blow, sounds good,” because, well, fuck it, what else is there to do?

 

My house – Casa 220 – is a mere two blocks down and another three up the hill from Biff’s and is at the intersection between campus and town which makes it an ideal place to live. The actual house is a former fraternity house, one who lost their charter for hazing a few years before my arrival as a freshman, and therefore is very large (once housed as many as twenty people) and equipped with all the necessities of a good party house: a two-room sized dance floor complete with a DJ booth and speakers loud enough to alert the entire block; a downstairs kitchen converted into a bar – convenient in oh-so many ways – with two large fridges and shelves kept full of booze and liquor; another large room in the rear used for beer pong or to play pool; and the patio outside near our parking lot with some picnic tables and a nice yard complete with a horseshoe pit. There’s also three bedrooms on the ground floor, all unoccupied. Upstairs to the second floor where we’ve got several more bedrooms: Tyler’s to the left of the landing and down the hall; and then unfortunately faggot Mark Dreitol (a roommate of ours none of us can stand, especially me); and then there’s Dan and me, next to the bathroom and across from one another. Tim’s Fuck-Pad, easily the most lavish room in the whole house, is upstairs on the third floor and is huge – literally two rooms in one, as he knocked out the entire wall of the bedroom formerly next door (but hey, his father is the one who bought the house the summer before our sophomore year so we’d all have a nice place to stay after that tortuous year in the dorms). So right now it’s the five of us – there was eight our first year but then two dropped out and by our junior year we were down to six but halfway through last year, Trevor (another one of our friends from the dorms) dropped out to focus on his music career – and if I had it my way, it’d just be us four and I’d kick Mark’s faggot ass out for good. Fortunately he’s had a death in the family so he hasn’t yet returned from wherever it is he lives.

My room is very simple, nothing special. A bed, a computer desk full of notebooks and folders with stories and/or ideas I’ve scribbled over the past few years, a dresser and a closet. The walls are white and bare except for one poster, the cover of an album, emboldened with the deadly Reaper who appears to stare into my soul every now and then. Like I said, simple.

I finish the iced coffee I bought from Dunkin on my way home, turn on some music from my iDock – Coldplay, Viva la Vida off their latest album that dropped this past summer – and hum along while I change out of my jeans and into a pair of khakis which I find much more comfortable.

My father calls again and I really can’t avoid him forever so I answer it and of course he starts yelling at me, asking how it’s even possible to spend seven-hundred dollars for one night at a bar and why I withdrew more than a grand in less than two weeks, and then he plays Daddy telling me to be more “fiscally responsible” and reminds me the credit cards are supposed to be for “emergencies” only, not bars and strip-clubs. I tell him I wouldn’t have had to withdraw it if they accepted credit. He calls me a smartass and an “entitled bastard,” and lectures me some more before he asks how my mother’s doing. I tell him I don’t know and say he should call her himself, declaring that “after all she is your wife.” Ex-wife, he reminds me and then I say “Oh yeah, you left your family.” Once again he calls me a smartass and I envision where this could end up so I say I need to go and he says that sounds like a good idea but before we get off the phone he asks if I need any money and even though I really don’t I tell him “yes I need to buy books” and he ends the conversation by telling me he’s at a Western Union right now sending me a thousand dollars and not to bother him for the next month because he’s going to be in Chicago on business and I say “don’t worry I won’t” and he hangs up first while I study the difference between two shirts that look nearly identical before blindly grabbing one and then Biff and I buy an eight-ball a piece from Neco around 9:30 and the rest of the night is a blur – when I open my eyes it’s 6:42 am and I’m lying naked with a hard-on next to some chick I’ve never seen before and I realize we’re in the North Hall dorms but when I stand up to look for my jeans the freshman I’m in bed with grabs my cock and it’s still hard when she sucks me off while some naked dude pops out of nowhere and starts masturbating over top of us and this is all too surreal so after I come in her mouth I find my jeans and leave.