CHAPTER THIRTEEN: PARTYTIME
Blazing home from the 7-Eleven Peter doesn’t see the car zipping around the corner, he quickly bails, hops off his skateboard and lets it go right between the wheels of the red Pinto. He waits for the crunch but thankfully it doesn’t happen. His board is in the opposite gutter, and Balbir has his foot on it.
“Oh, Jamtart skateboards now.”
“I’m not a jamtart, and give me back my board.”
“Maybe you’re not jamtart?… No jam.”
“Give me back my board.” Peter demands.
“I didn’t take your board.” Balbir moves it back and forth with his foot. “I find… This one.” And he does a comic skateboard pose. “Maybe I become a skateboarder too.”
“Give it to me.”
“Oh, you want, you take.”
Peter approaches to within about ten feet. Balbir pretends to ignore him but keeps a foot on the board. “Give. It. To. Me.”
“No thankyou.” Balbir replies casually and looks away.
“Pardon?” He turns back.
“Please give me back my skateboard.”
“Is it yours?” He looks at Peter in mock surprise.
“You know fuddling well it’s mine, it’s got my initials on it, JPS.
What’s the ‘J’ stand for? Jarnak? Joginder? Jasbir?… Or is it Jennifer?”
“James.” Peter’s trying to control his angry frustration.
“That’s a PRETTY name.”
“Now give it back to me… Please.”
“OK.” Balbir takes his foot off the skateboard but doesn’t move. Peter comes in closer, stoops and picks it up. Balbir laughs. “Don’t you say thankyou?”
“You’re most welcome James Peter.”
Peter gets on his board and skates off.
A few days later Peter sees Balbir with a really old skateboard, an antique with metal rollerskate wheels. He pauses to watch and tries not to be too amused when Balbir takes a spill. “I learn.” Balbir says determinedly when he sees Peter.
After Balbir’s next fall Peter decides to give him a few tips and he demonstrates some basic techniques on his own board. Balbir seems appreciative so Peter lets him try his board which Balbir likes better. Half an hour later a somewhat bruised Balbir is negotiating the length of the block and back, albeit not very gracefully.
Two days later Peter decides to sell his board to Balbir, he feels he’s outgrowing it, and although he has put almost a hundred dollars into it, counting the new wheels and bearings, he only charges him five dollars. Peter has enough money for a much better board thanks to a friend of Bill’s who is a bit of a nerd. And he finds out that Balbir plays chess, quite well as a matter of fact, and Peter’s game starts to improve again.
Ronald Rotten and Newt are toying with their expressos and sharing a chocolate strawberry cheesecake in the TrendZine one afternoon when Gusher comes in with Indira and another girl. Peter has a crush on Gusher who’s at least five years older despite her small boobs. He has fantasies about spending intimate times with her which Roland also enjoys. While she sometimes passes through the centrefold of his mind it is mainly because of her naturally red lips which on her white skin look like some separate sensual organ, and it drives me crazy when she teases them with her tongue… I wouldn’t mind that. Peter, wetting his own lips retreats into some heavy imaginary smooching. He also likes her eyes which she swoops with shadow at the ends and the way she picks out, catlady like, the peaks of her eyebrows.
After greetings Gusher tells them that her man Borgy Boy has just got out of jail and that there’s a big party at her place that night. Peter’s thrilled, he’s never been to a big party. Ronnie agrees to meet him at the 7-Eleven, it’s not far to Gusher’s from there, about a mile out the highway. Ronnie says the party won’t really get going until about eleven so they dally at the 7-Eleven until after nine.
They make their way through a wide unkempt yard to stairs leading up to a large older house with a circled “A” anarchy symbol on the door. A girl with a striped skunk cut leads them into the kitchen to where Gusher and half a dozen others, mostly girls, are sitting around. Peter finds out that they all live in the house, it’s sort of a commune. Peter wonders what kind. Punch is being mixed in a large green plastic garbage can. Peter’s told it’s mostly grapefruit juice with two gallons of porch climber wine. Two twenty-sixers of tequila have been added for flavour and half a gallon of very potent moonshine purchased from an oldtimer in Lumberton for punch. The blackberries and orange slices are for effect. Borgy Boy, Gusher’s old man, offers Ron and Newt small samples to taste. Peter, drawing on his wine tasting experience decides it’s pretty good.
Indira arrives in a pink and black check sack and magenta stockings to match her hair. Sleazy, the tall pimply faced boy Peter met before, is with her. Sleazy approaches Borgy Boy, “You got any DA?”
Borgy takes a paper out of the thigh pocket of his black jeans, Gusher hands him an old Silver Spring Brewing Company mirror plaque and he unfolds the paper, a four inch square cut from a magazine cover with a picture of Nancy Reagan on it. “How much do you want?” Borgy Boy asks dumping a brownish powder on the mirror.
“Just a couple of hits for me and Indy, and do you have any caps for it?”
“No. it’s my first day back in business. Time to restock.”
“Yeah, I heard you were away for a while.” Sleazy comments.
“They had me out at Jordon River Camp the last stretch, cutting trails and whatnot. I think they let me out early because we were just getting ready to harvest. Some of the plants were over six feet high and budding like crazy.” Borgy Boy chops the MDA with a razor blade and separates two small piles. “Do you want to snort it or drop it? It’s five a hit.”
“We’ll drop it.” Sleazy says. Indira tears off two small squares of Kleenex and Borgy Boy drops a pile of the brownish powder into each. Sleazy and Indira roll them into darts, pinch off the tails, slobber them around and swallow them. Borgy Boy offers punch as a chaser and Indira gives him ten dollars.
“Hey Newt, can we get some DA too? Ronnie nudges Peter, “I only got two dollars.
“But it’s a Drug.” Peter objects.
“Yes.” Ronnie replies with wicked glee. Peter looks at him uncertainly. “Like it really mellows you out, like it makes you feel all sort of… like you like things.”
Peter’s already heard about MDA. One of the world’s largest factories used to be nearby until the police discovered it. Now someone wants to reopen it as a tourist attraction to create jobs. Peter peers cautiously about the room, Indira smiles at him, Gusher smiles at him and all the girls smile at him in a knowing sort of way. Peter buys three hits, one of which Ronnie snorts and they drop the others. Peter’s reassured by the fact that almost everyone else has also done some DA. He hangs around the kitchen after Ronnie wanders off. He’s never even seen most of the people who begin to arrive and feels more secure with Gusher and Indira. And he can hone his tasting proficiency with occasional samples of punch. Borgy Boy entertains a steady clientele, mostly for quarters and grams, and Peter watches as hundreds of dollars change hands. So much money.
Peter remembers that he did some DA. I’m on drugs! I wonder what it’s like when it hits you? Maybe it won’t affect me because I’ve got a strong mind. It must be over half an hour now. Peter simply feels warm and comfortable. Maybe I should find Ronnie and ask him. Ronnie’s not in the crowded living room where people are sprawled out listening to DOA at high volume. He’s not on the back porch and doesn’t appear to be upstairs. Peter meanders stunned through the house, he can’t find Ronnie and when he returns to the kitchen Borgy Boy, Gusher and her friends are gone. However the house has become less threatening, the MDA has relaxed him and Peter feels a fascinated awe for the scene around him and he forgets he’s looking for Ronnie. People seem to be standing or squatting in groups throughout the house. Some of the costumes—or are they?—blow Peter’s mind. He’s glad he still had that old black T shirt he’d never worn, and he would have had tear it anyway because it was so small. He sees a plump blond girl with short spiked hair that he decides would he perfect for the radiant mountains of Evilon. And when he sees her outfit, It’s sort of like a skirt only it goes high up and it’s made of these shiny black plastic loops, Sadisto has found a wife and empress.
And then down in the basement Peter peers around a corner and there’s a whole bunch of BIKERS, including one enormous fat guy, and Ronnie. They didn’t see me. I hope Ronnie’s OK. Maybe I should stay close so I can run if anything happens and tell people… Maybe it’s just something to do with that bike there that’s all apart. Maybe I should take another look, like they’re all sitting down and I could make it up the stairs quick, and the back door is nearby. But maybe there’s a basement door they could use and they’d have me trapped?… I’ll just take a quick peek.
“Hey Newt.” Ronnie calls out.
“Come here.” Peter turns around and slowly approaches. “Want you to meet my friends… Newt, this is Cal, he does tattoos.” The massive man half raises himself from a sturdy bench and extends his huge hairy, tattooed arm to him. Peter watches as his own conditioned reflex thrusts out his slender pale arm to meet it, overcoming the dread in his mind. The pressure of Cal’s clasp lingers on.
“Hi Newt, I’m Cal. You can hang your ass here.” And he moves over on the bench. Through Cal’s open leather vest Peter notices how his long stringy beard blends with the hair on his tattooed breasted chest. Ronnie introduces Peter to Righteous, a tall slim red bearded man with a Harley eagle tattoo, who shows missing teeth when he smiles back at Peter. The other three introduce themselves.
“Cal’s going to give me a tattoo, right here.” Ronnie indicates his upper arm. “A skull, like the one on my jacket. Stupid, the guy who plays bass for the Dayglos has one just like it.” Peter stares at Ronnie’s skinny arm across from him, an arm much like his own. He tries to imagine the skull already there, and wonders what it would feel like on himself. But. “They’re permanent,” Peter objects, “you can’t get them off.”
“That’s what’s so neat about them.” Ronnie replies.
Peter has never thought of it that way. Tattoos have just become a more exciting and frightening idea in his mind. They’re more of a commitment than a mohawk. “But doesn’t it hurt?”
“No. You’re a bit sore after,” Cal explains, “but I haven’t had any complaints.”
“It’s not like the way they do them in juvey, I almost got one of them last time.” Ronnie adds, “Cal uses a machine.”
“You know you’re supposed to be eighteen to get a tattoo.” Cal says to Ronnie. “You don’t look It. You got any ID?”
“Sure, I got this card.” Ronnie shows Cal an Official Identification Services card. “Cost me twenty bucks to send away for, some place in New Jersey, and it’s got my picture and it says I’m nineteen, so I can drink too.”
Cal takes the card, pretends to rip it up and bands it back. “Good luck to you at the bars, Boy. I can get you better looking ID from a buddy here in town for fifteen. And Ron, you’re sure you really want it?”
“Yeah.” Enthusiasm burns in Ronnie’s eyes and Peter admires his decisiveness.
Peter feels a skull does not adequately portray his true nature, and he wants to be Different. His eyes shop around the designs on display about him. The most impressive being Cal’s other forearm where a woman’s face is entwined by a blossoming, barbed rose vine. A tear like drop of blood runs down her cheek. Peter denies his fascination. I’d want something more real like… I know. “Cal. Could I get a mushroom cloud with my initials on it?”
“You can get anything you want, when you’re older.”
“Wouldn’t go very well with Newt.” Ronnie teases.
Peter’s thoughts aided and abetted by the many tattoos about, flirts with more than arm designs, he indulges in the coils of an inken serpent and shudders. Back to his arm. I could have one of the tied up dark chic and I’d have her buns start right at the shoulder muscle, he tenses the muscle a couple of times. And if I ever get big and fat? He laughs to himself. And the tied up dark chic’s got nice eyebrows too—I’ve been looking at other pictures of her. Small boobs are neat in a way. But they should do the tying up in prettier designs, and chains would look good too—that way you’d show them off better. But I still like the picture of her arse the best.
Then Peter sees a NO SMOKING sign on the wall with a circular ‘ban’ symbol over it, his imagination tries on a body tattooed with many small ban signs with a big one banning all rest on his chest, and he becomes ANTIBANMAN. He can belch tobacco smoke, materialize litter out of thin air, and he has a special bionic hand, that when not operating as a paint sprayer has a special device for removing bolted and riveted signs. Peter decides he should be able to fly too. Stopping only to pee in the city water supply, he strips signs from the highway—Should I leave the stop signs or not?—into town in a matter of minutes, leaving a heavy black diesel fog along the way. He’ll save his special essence of burning tires for another occasion. Peter’s getting a bit of class these days and his litter is heavy on half eaten Big Macs. And he starts ushering children into bars, night clubs and formerly restricted movies. Deep Throat is playing at the Odeon. I really got a lot of work to do in the schools. AntiBanMan reflects as tosses signs into the fiery crater of Mt. St. Helens. But even after you took down all the signs and got rid of some rules it still wouldn’t be right. Like you should be able to do what you want to do more. You’re taught too much and you learn too little. Like I’d study science all the time and learn other things when I needed them, like I’d need math. And when you got started you’d just keep going on and learn.
The conversation seems to revolve around bikes, which Peter doesn’t know much about. He’s feeling left out and Cal without realizing it is gradually pushing Peter off the bench. Every time he laughs, he quakes, and sends shocks through Peter’s body nudging him over. He’s down to a one buttock hold. Looking at the partly disassembled bike in front of him he recognizes it as the same kind as the one in the centrefold of the big boobed blond tattooed chic. “Is that an SX Soft Tail?” he asks, as much to make his presence known.
“Yeah,” Cal answers, “Righteous here is custom painting it for Gusher’s old man.”
Righteous nods. “Gusher’s letting me set up a spray booth here so I can make some extra money. The fire inspector closed mine down and I can’t use it anymore. You know anything about bikes?”
“No, my brother has an old police issue Harley Electrodrive he’s fixing up, and I sometimes look at his pictures and magazines.”
“What’s his name?” Cal asks.
“Sure, I know him, he wants to come on a run with us when he gets his trip together… I didn’t know he had two brothers.”
“We don’t hang around together much.”
Righteous explains that he’s going to use a metal flake paint and put about seventeen coats of lacquer on the gas tank, and the talk becomes rather too technical for Peter to follow. At one point Righteous asks him if he’d like to go for a ride sometime and Peter nods uncertainly. A couple of bikers leave and Gusher and Borgy Boy show up. Righteous reaches into his vest pocket and pulls out a baggie full of a leafy green substance which Peter immediately suspects is marijuana. Righteous twists a joint and lights it. Peter knows a little bit about marijuana, like most kids he knows it’s relatively harmless and a very dangerous drug. That’s what people say. He wonders if he should leave, but what about Ronnie? Peter hopes Ronnie doesn’t do any. Suppose they all go crazy like they’re supposed to? Righteous passes the joint to Ronnie who takes it, sniffs approvingly and tokes deeply. Peter watches closely, trying not to stare. Ronnie casually passes it to Peter.
“No thank you.” Peter sounds more polite than firm.
“It’s SKUNK Man,” Ronnie enthuses, “go ahead, two tokes and you’re blasted. It’s real righteous weed.”
“I don’t smoke.” And in a lower voice Peter adds, “Like it destroys your mind.
“What’s wrong with that?” Ronnie demands. “They only want to use it anyway.”
“Don’t push him if he’s not into it.” Cal interjects and Peter detects a challenge.
“But it’s only weed.” Ronnie tries by way of explanation.
“Well I…” Peter’s in a difficult position. He doesn’t know what he fears the most, refusing or the pot. “I just had my tonsils out a couple of months ago.” He tries. The expressions around are quite amused and Cal gently quakes. “Well I’ll just try a little bit.” The information that it’s an indica hybrid, grown hydroponically under metal halide lamps makes it sound somehow scientific and more acceptable. Also it’s a local product and Peter knows that consumption helps create jobs. Finally Peter is reassured by the fact he has a strong mind, he’s sure the DA hasn’t affected him, perhaps weaker minds, and he becomes more confident.
Ronnie demonstrates the technique of smoking, getting another toke for himself in the process. “And take in some air with it too. Like this… And don’t hold it too long.”
Peter takes a little toke, and with encouragement especially from Ronnie, he takes another longer, deeper one. When he’s able to speak again he declares, “All it does is make you cough. It’s not affecting me. I can still do anything.”
“Sure, but do you still want to?” Ronnie inquires jokingly.
“I’m not stoned, it may make you feel lazy, that’s all. My mind is still the same. I can probably take more than most people.” Peter doesn’t often brag like that and soon wishes he hadn’t. A newly lit joint, a skinny pinner courtesy of Righteous, appears in his hand. With Ronnie and the others watching he can’t just pretend and after two more tokes is coughing again. “See, it doesn’t affect me at all.” Peter stands up and pretends to walk a street centreline, like the cops make drunken drivers do. “And I bet I could fly it straight too.” Peter flaps his arms this time and everybody including himself laughs, only Peter can’t stop and crumbles into a giggling sprawl. “And I bet I can swim it straight too.” And he makes more motion than progress on the floor.
“Hey Newt,” Gusher beckons to him, “get off the floor, it’s dirty.” She helps him to his feet, he stares open mouthed up into her green shadowed eyes. Henceforth all Siliconians shall have green shadowed eyes.
“You sure got rad eyes.” Peter’s still staring.
“Why thankyou my little lizard.” She gives Peter a smoochy kiss and he hugs her around her neck. She lifts him off his feet with his lips still attached to her special sensuous organ. Peter decides he feels like swooning anyway and he helicopters himself into the chair beside Ronnie.
“How’re you doing Lizzy?” Ronnie asks.
“Huh?” Peter’s confused.
“Well it’s better than Betty.”
Peter gets into studying the back of Ronnie’s Dayglo jacket. The skull seems to be oozing out its contents faster. It’ll be empty soon… And one eye is bigger than the other, only it keeps changing sides… And it must be 3D, only you can’t tell when you touch it. He becomes lost in reveries that sail with the music throbbing through from the floor above.
The next thing Peter recalls is Righteous bringing him a coffee, everyone else is gone, and after a few minutes Righteous leads him out into the yard to join the others around a smoky trench where several large salmon are being barbecued. They’re apparently illegal having been bought from the neighbouring Indian band. Peter’s not hungry until he starts eating and then he stuffs himself. After he goes back inside, meets more people, mostly friends of Gusher and Ronnie. He even tells a rather embellished story about when he went gold panning, and has his moment of glory. He experimentally samples the punch a few more times, but is soon claimed by the comfort of the living room sofa and dozes.
Peter can’t remember much about the last part of the party after he crashed out in the living room. He has vague recollections of being helped onto the pussy pad of Righteous’s bike, holding on around his leathered waist with the chill wind cutting into him, and having a joint of skunk pressed into his hand when he was dropped off at home. But it does occur to Peter that almost everything that happened that night was illegal. The DA, the pot, and what did I do with the joint Righteous gave me? And the moonshine punch, and me drinking it, and the salmon, and I rode without a helmet, and Righteous said he had no license either. And I bet Righteous is a queer too, that’s also illegal. I mean nobody would be that nice to you if they weren’t queer. That’s how you can tell them… And Ronnie’s getting a tattoo and he’s not eighteen either. But it was the best time I ever had. I guess lots of things have to be illegal… And think of the jobs it creates.
A couple of evenings later Peter is still thinking about tattoos. He takes out his felt pen set, he has a thick black one too, and starts to play around. Fortunately they’re the washable kind. A recognizable red and blue Saturn rocket comes into being on his left forearm. There’s supposed to be a big boobed reclining chic on the other but Peter can’t draw very well with his left hand and it looks more like an aborted fetus. He decides, nevertheless, to show ‘He’, and ‘He’ suggests to Peter that some hair on his chest would look good. So Peter takes off his shirt and closes the curtains because he knows things can get out of hand. It would have looked more real if he had used a fine tipped pen and not squiggled all over his chest. Inevitably the rest of his clothes come off, and but for the drawn curtains Mr. Hicks might report a Susquatch sighting. Also inevitably Roland gets into the act. After being completely blackened and telling a few jokes, Roland is anointed with Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion, Peter’s told Mom about his dry skin, and Roland gives a sterling, well timed performance.
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