Round Trip

Left hand: KoB pounder.

Right hand: mission burrito.

Noise: Doorbell.

Sam: Who is it? Someone ringing my door bell is probs not welcome.

Krusty (sketchily prying blinds apart and peeking): two shady looking chicks and maybe a dog in their car.

Justin: Let’em in.

Sam: No, don’t.

Justin gets off Sam’s couch and goes to open the door. The rest of us hanging, me grinding on my burro and Sam slaking via tallboy and Krusty whipping a switch he got somewhere while this kinda annoying girl he has over asks questions and we hear Justin say hello and the girls come inside. Krusty sticks his head in the hallway so they hear him yell, “Who the fuck is here? Tell’em we got sticks and shit!”

The girls are not at all hygienic looking and one of them is carrying a skateboard which WTF if they drove here and the other has a really bad bleached blonde fashion patch and they step in the room and we see life drain from their faces like they were all stoked then walked into the group of us chilling and now feel ambushed so instead of telling us what they were going to tell us they look at the ground then each other then ground again and make grumbling “um” and “uh” sounds.

Justin offers them beer which downgrades an already awkward sitch because A) he just told us he doesn’t drink during daylight (except on weekends) and B) it isn’t technically his beer, although it is his house, so maybs. They say no which is huge then the one with the BBFP which upon closer inspection we find covers a semi-shaved side of her head, tells us they’re throwing a party and came to invite the dudes who live there, of whom I’m not one but I’m welcome at their sketchy party too. So silence is maybe not the response they’re looking for but they salvage something from the mission and write down their address or phone number or something and give it to Justin and leave.

We watch from the window still not sure they brought a dog.

Everyone is all what was that about and kinda rips on them and no one really knows where they came from or who they are but everyone pretty much agrees they came to invite Justin because one or both has a crush on him. Justin doesn’t dismiss this theory but isn’t stoked about it either.

“The shorter one is actually kind of hot, or she would be with different clothes,” someone says, I dunno who, because I’m like missile-lock level focused on killing off my burrito.

And Justin responds she seems dirty in two ways, skanky and also shower averse, then it’s like Krusty has been waiting for this and he throws a hammer, “Yeah so what she is kinda of skanky, Sam bangs skanky chicks all the time and you live with him. Eat in the same kitchen, share a bathroom, you live with the dude. Same shit.”

“I don’t like where this is going,” Sam says all hang-dog and falls back on his bed with his tallboy in the air defiant and F-you like.

Everyone leaves and it’s just me and Sam chilling on the ghetto DIY stadium seating in the living room waiting for some dude named Creepy Craig to come by. We’re sorta watching “Another State of Mind” when the NY part comes up and it’s like mid morning and one dude is pounding a brew-dog in what is probs Battery Park with the Statue of Liberty in the background and Sam says, “One of my favorite parts about this movie is how they’re always drinking, all the time.” And I can’t disagree really.

Creepy Craig calls to ask what number house it is and Sam tells him then says, “Pound these and we’ll make GT’s to go,” and I’m all yeah whatever sounds good and he goes on, “Creepy Craig’s friend is here from Michigan and he’s gonna drive the van. He’s a librarian I think and XXX so maybe we don’t tell him we have gin’n’ton slurpy cups.”

We hear noise at the other end of the house, near the garage, and think maybs Craig came through there which is kinda sketch but whatevs then a scraggly “yoooo” comes out and it’s definitely not him. It’s Sam’s roommate Slayer, formerly known as Slayer Matt, formally known as Matthew but he is called Slayer because on his body are three (!) different Slayer tattoos and he is way into them and also horror movies and gore and shit but is actually a super mellow friendly dude.

“What are you dudes up to?” Slayer asks as he comes into the living room, shaking a cereal box to see how much is left.

“We’re going down to Denver to see PGMG.”

“Denver, tight. Just came from there,” he tells us.

“Oh yeah? Doing what?” we ask.

Instead of answering he throws his head back, tips the box over and spills a gnar-gnar stream of cheerios in his mouth, way more than I thought he could take without gagging. Slayer reassumes his stoke, like really stoked, probably about cereal but gets back in our convo.

“I was down there lurking.”

“Lurking on what?” Sam asks.

“Lurking on anything… and everything!” he says, kinda loud, and asks how we are getting to Den-vah.

“Booze cruise,” Sam tells him. “Creepy Craig’s buddy is driving his van and he doesn’t drink so we can.”

“Tight!” Slayer and his Cheerios disappear into another room.

So it’s like the next to last stop on the ASoM tour when Craig shows up. His buddy’s name is Zed and he really doesn’t drink, really is from Michigan, and even though later he admits he is not a librarian yet he wants to be and is maybe training or studying for it and all around pretty geeked because it involves not doing shit, being around books, and you can do it anywhere in America and I guess that all makes sense but the thing about being a librarian is that, you are still, a librarian.

Creepy Craig volunteers to pilot the van on the way there under the agreement Drop-Dead-Zed will take his place on the return and slips a GT Pro disguised as slurpy in the cup-holder. Cruising down 36 I realize it’s my first time out of Bro-Town in two weeks and spring is for real. I’ve been wearing shorts for a while but in Colorado winter lurks waiting to suckerpunch you. The threat never really fades but the receding snowline on the Flat Irons and petting the warm arm with my hand out the van’s window I’m pretty convinced.

Riding shotgun Zed lets it be known he’s never heard of Pretty Girls Make Graves and isn’t too amped to be doing so because they took their name from a Moz song. And I know the response but don’t make it myself but instead listen as Sam-A-Lam-A-Ding-Dong lets him know that might be true but the Mozzler himself jacked it (pun intended, what….) from  a Jack Kerouac story so using it is really not stealing but repatriating the name. And I can tell Zed isn’t totally sold but doesn’t know how to counteract and just throws out that it’s not about what side of the ocean it’s on at all, trying to snuff out the debate.

We park about six blocks away because its kinda early and have to hang in the sketch-wagon killing off our gin’n’tonics and it gives away to Zed that we’ve been boozing which I thought he knew but he doesn’t find too awesome. I’m getting a vibe he’s not crazy about the start his vacation is off too. We walk over to Rock Island aka Cock Island aka Jock Island aka the Rock where Zed and CC go in right away but Sam-of-the-Internet and I max out front. He is finishing a cigarette and I’m not doing that but hanging when some rando comes up and asks what band we’re in. We tell him, simultaneously, we’re not in a band and he nods and says his name again because maybe we didn’t hear it the first time or maybe he forgot and he just stands there not saying anything else but not leaving and not doing anything but creeping. We walk in and he follows, gives me his business card, and tells me to check out his website the next time we need some work. It takes a moment to realize he is a photographer and thinks we’re in a band and also lying about not being in one and really, really, really wants to take our pictures. Enough to bring him to the humiliating position of admitting someone is lying to you and trying to impress him and solicit his (our) business anyway.

We know the first band sucks so we miss them on purpose. We don’t know the second band sucks but find out pretty quick so we go for wobbly-pops then an additional piece of shitty news hits us. To our surprise and dismay Rock Island cordons off the bar area so once we buy our drinks we lap a caged-in room stalking a couple of tables. No one is giving up so we cruise to the small section with a chicken wire fence looking at the stage but it’s really far and behind people and it’s loud and just sucks. So Green Eggs and Sam and I hang for a bit, sipping reebs, coolin’ out. And for a split second we are distracted, Six-Can-Sam texting someone and me just zoning out and are approached by two kind of seedy kind of needy looking ladies. Separately but in coordination. We know they’re a team because as soon as we both make the hesh-asses…ment and disengage we reconvene with identical stories of their approach. Same lines, similar tats, more than kinda skanky. The one distinction is that mine told me she loves Los Angeles and considers it a “real city” because it has a Chinatown and Denver doesn’t.

Everyone knows where the car is and by everyone I mean Sam, myself, and ZZ-Zed. Or: Creepy Craig doesn’t remember where he parked and thinks it would be more fun to find out by exploring than listening to someone who does. So in a half hour we’re back in the car and sauced which is fine by me. Zed behind the wheel is huge but we’re out of booze which is bunk. The first clue CC isn’t navi-savy comes when he yells “don’t miss this shit!” and reaches over at the last minute to pull the wheel  from Zed’s hands and bring us across two lanes in time to make the entrance to I-25.

Zed is pretty cool about it. He is less cool when he finds out we’re on the interstate going the wrong direction. Markedly even less cool with the fact it takes Craig twenty minutes to realize and/or acknowledge the mistake. So now we’re on the southern side of Den-vah and the buildings are losing stories and gaining space between them and it’s not my place to say anything but, like the Sunshine Square Proposal, we are fucked. Sam knows it too so he nudges me and makes the handy-sig for drinking brew-dog and I nod and he tells Zed-Head to hit the next exit and we’ll ask someone and get gas.

And what that means in practical terms is Super-Slam-Sam and me run in and dive for a 12rack of reebs because the liquor stores are about to close and we know we’re in for a long drive. So a few minutes later Zed comes in and is like really, really, really bummed to find us sitting on the floor with our backs against a freezer door eating potato chips and a case of beer sitting on Sam’s lap and we are talking to the woman who works there in a way that is friendly and very caj which signals to him she condones this and it might be kinda funny to her but he knows it’s very much a mess he will inherit.

The last thing before leaving the gas station is actually two things. First, the woman becomes the second (2nd) person to think, unprovoked or lead on, we’re in a band. She asks about touring and Sam says something and I don’t even think about it. And then also she tells us to be careful as we leave and she means it, all genuine like, because she is concerned about us!

So Zed-belly comes to terms with being a trooper and pushing through this, and for the most part he is. I’m sitting shotgun giving basic advice re highways and he is pretty polite but I can tell he isn’t that stoked towards Craig LeCreep who is safely unconscious in the way back. Almost an hour since we left the gas station with a 12 of Sam (not that one) Adams and Zoom-Zoom-Zed’s patience is now like really threatening to no longer exist, I see something I hope he doesn’t but he does. Even though you have to be a total pussy to let it scare you and we’re like probably fifty miles away to begin with Zed freaks out about a sign that warns of a super high maximum security prison and the dangers involved in parking on the shoulder and warns you not to, under any fucking circumstances, pick up a hitchhiker.

It makes him kind of a lame-o but not a bad guy. A few minutes later I recognize the true deleterious effect of Zed’s risk-averse nature. I have to pee, pretty bad, and let him know. He’s all sors’ bra’ not my probs, just saw a gnar-gnar sign telling me not to pull over and I fully intend to take that advice. And I’m all well that depends very fucking much on what you consider “a problem” because homeboy’s packing a max-capas bladder about to unload. I try again one more time being all suave and diplomatic and persuasive-like to get the Z-child to pull over, even tell him to keep the car in gear and I’ll open the passenger door and if some sketchy dude jumps out of nowhere he can pull away but he is not down. In fact Foot-of-Lead-Zed is pushing along, eager to make up the time we lost wandering around and on a mission to get back to Bro-Town ASAP. So I take matters into my own hands and move into the backseat of the van. Creepy Craig is passed out snore-boring on the back bench and Bam-Bam-Sam is in and out of consciousness on the other one. I think about an empty Sam bottle back there. I can wedge myself securely into a spot between the back of the passenger’s seat and the door and although Zed has us moving we’re on a straight highway and there is a reasonable expectation of stability. I’m about to open the spigot when I think of how many wobblies are sitting inside me and know it would overwhelm a single 12oz bottle.

So in light of my harsh circumstances I elect what’s been a fallback option for some fifteen minutes now. I raise the arm rest, get on my knees perpendicular to the van, whip my schlong out, take a deep breath, and slide the door open.

The wild air licks the inside of the cabin as I watch the sketchy outlines of rural Colorado flying past us. It’s a totally shady sitch but it’s now or never, with obstinate Zed still at the wheel if I don’t relieve myself now I will, to put it delicately, have an accident. So I let it fly. And it is liberating. With the door open the overhead cabin light is on and from my station, kneeling and leaning back toward the relative safety of the passenger bench the light coming over my shoulder illuminates the stream, a dull gold shooting straight then bending hard right in the wind once past the door, trailing off into the darkness behind us. For a moment it’s going okay, a state of calm begins to return, decompression relaxes my midsection. And then… after some rustling behind me I feel a stiff push in middle of my back and lurch forward, buckling at my waist.

“Oh fuck!” I hear as I pull myself up again. I can feel the wind on my face.

And now this is the focal fucking point, the whole reason you are reading this, this is the moment when life and all it means reveals itself amidst my struggle to stay inside a speeding kind of shady kind of sketchy van driven by an aspiring librarian and tells me just why it is I’m alive. I feel the beginning of another brunt of contact then a hand clasps my right shoulder. I’m pulled backward onto the bench before I can protest and see a foot shoot out, hook the door and slam it shut. Now I have about given up my effort to control the situation at all and in a kind of defeated state witness my urine stream splatter against the closed door. It’s dark inside and the only thing that confirms its happening is the flimsy sound of the spray of liquid against metal that slackens as the point of contact drops to the floor.

“Dude!” Sam says, alive now in a way he has not been since we left his house.

“I know!” I don’t know what I am agreeing to.

I look over into the rear bench and Creepy Craig is sound asleep, oblivious to what just happened. I wonder what he’d think if he knew Zed made me pee all over his car.

————————

Andre Medrano grew up in northern New Jersey and attended the University of Colorado. Things he likes include skiing, politics, football (soccer), South America, and hanging super hard. His fiction has appeared at Anderbo and Summerset Review. He currently lives in New York State.