Sunday, January 3, 2010

Empire of the owl (Part II)

This is part II of a random chapter of my upcoming book, F U. It took me a little longer to post this than I had anticipated, but, after re-reading the first part I posted, I decided to take a little more time proof-reading my work.

Please note that certain details will make more sense in my novel as this is all out of context. Please also note that I am well aware that certain details, including certain character names, are extremely stupid.

I have chosen this particular section of my novel to share first because it is going to be used as part of a collaborative project I'm working on with a few friends. We'll see what comes of it (I am very optimistic).

With all that said, enjoy:

Part II

Tires squeal as Brandon takes an oblique right onto North Forest Street. I brace myself against the sub box, subconsciously cursing Brandon and his godforsaken chicken. I start thinking about how I'd been warned previously by Elroy and Marigold, and those other hippy weirdos at that house I still can't find, about the dangers of astral attacks and negative thought forms and then try to make myself think about something more positive, but then I think, I still don't have any idea what any of that means. I shrug it all off feeling angrier than before.

Brandon's words from the conversation we had earlier on the deck, while I was in front of the barbecue flipping burgers, and he was just standing there beside me, rambling animatedly on and on about his crazy post-high school life, run through my head, swirling around, mixing with old memories and judgments of events past and present.

He's completely lost it, I think to myself. And I'm losing it by association.

Smack. I hit my head on the side widow as the car hits a pothole; there's absolutely no give whatsoever to what's left of the hacked up suspension.

“Aah!,” I exclaim, rubbing the left side of my head. “Damn it.”

I don't blame her for killing his unborn child, I think to myself. I don't blame her at all, I repeat in my head, remembering how he told me he broke up with her after her dog killed his dog, and she, never telling him she was pregnant, got an abortion. I don't blame her at all, I think; I'd have killed it too. That must've been after she got out of jail, I ponder and shake my head, marveling at how things can go so terribly wrong so quickly.

The car screeches to a halt at a red light. I stare out the window still rubbing my aching head with one hand, bracing myself against the sub box with the other. A homeless man stares inquisitively back at me from a bench inside the fenced off playground of a YMCA daycare facility, and I think, at least I'm doing better than that guy.

Brandon guns the accelerator again, but I don't hit my head this time around. He puts the car sideways through the next intersection, taking a left onto Holly street. I'm crouching in the very center of the back of the car, my arms stretched out at my sides, one sweaty hand on each side window, my fingers spread apart wide leaving greasy streaks on the tinted glass. An ancient pizza box slides into my left foot, leaving grease on the white toe of my Converse. Some sort of old automotive filter, blackened with greasy filth and rolled in crumbs and pine needles, rolls between my legs and hits the sub box with a silent thud.

The car straightens out and flies down the road, leaving a twisted patch of black rubber behind. I exhale loudly with relief realizing that if Brandon actually knows where he's going, he isn't going to have to make any more turns. I tell myself that after the car's safely parked, I will never, ever get into another car with Brandon again. Never. No matter what.

We cross North State Street, and I look out the window trying to spot the rest of my unfortunate group of friends. But I can't make out anything; we're going way too fast. My head is still spinning, and I can't even pinpoint the reason why at this point; it could be because of any number of causes. Looking through the windshield, I can see the bright lights of the Horseshoe Cafe and the mandatory rough-looking mob on the corner outside the old, decrepit building, a few of them standing in the street.

The car flies right past the cafe, and I start yelling at Brandon to stop, not that he can hear me or anything. Tires squeal, brakes lock and the car goes into a slide, skidding at an awkward angle right into the next intersection at the end of the block. I'm in the fetal position at this point, curled up, cowering amid the trash and random objects littering the vehicle. I feel the vehicle shift into reverse, backing up down a one-way street. I don't get up; I don't look at anything. I just wait for it all to stop. My head is pounding. I wish I were in bed.

The car finally stops. The engine sputters, idling low for a moment before being revved up high again a couple times for no good reason, probably. Maybe he thinks he's showing off for someone, I think, still curled up on the filthy floor pan. The engine dies, and the car shakes to a rough a rough halt.

I take a deep breath and try to convince myself to sit up.

“Not bad for a freebie, huh?” Brandon asks. That's what I hear, at least. I have no idea what he's talking about. He continues on about something, but I don't even try to comprehend. I really don't care what he has to say.

My ears are ringing. I can barely hear the irrelevant words spewing forth from his grinning mouth; I can see him smirking at me in the rear-view mirror.

Gradually, I sit up and just stare back at him silently, dumbfounded.

He starts to laugh.

I'm silent. My whole body is shaking. I have no idea what he's laughing about. I open my mouth wide, and my ears pop.

“Open the hatch,” I tell him.

He unbuckles his harness and turns back to face me, smirking arrogantly.

He's enjoying this, I think. I stare at him for a moment, rage building within me. My whole body is shaking. Two scruffy looking guys draw my attention in front of the car. The shorter one crouches down a few feet in front of the hood, stretches his arms out in front of his face, squints and frames the car with his hands. I see his mouth move, but I can't hear a word.

I turn my attention back to Brandon, watch him feed what looks like a pizza crust to the chicken still sitting on the passenger seat.

“Brandon,” I begin, trying to sound serious, like I'm not messing around. I try to convey that I'm not at all amused by any of his insane antics. “Let me out of the car.”

He grins at me a minute not saying a word. He pats the chicken on the head, tosses it another pizza crust and then turns to open the door.

I'm staring at the chicken as Brandon walks around the car. It's sitting there on the seat, clucking quietly, pecking at the crust, it's feathers even more unkempt than before. Feathers are strewn all over the floor in front of the seat. I'm looking at a couple greasy splotches on the dash, next to where the glove box is supposed to be, when I realize, there's no way that chicken could have stayed sitting on that seat the whole time.

The rear hatch opens. Shaky and angry, I climb out and then slam the hatch shut.

“Careful, man,” Brandon says, “It's an old car.”

I stare coldly back at him, my thoughts shifting from wondering whether or not helmets for chickens exist to whether or not anyone would miss Brandon if he never came home from his trip up to Bellingham. I'm most concerned about whether or not I'd be considered a suspect in his tragic disappearance.

He laughs.

“Whoa, man,” says the greasy, shaggy black haired guy in dirty plaid pants who had been framing the front of the car with his hands. He approaches the back of the car where I'm standing, staring daggers at Brandon, wishing him unspecific harm.

I take a step back. Then another as he starts waving his hands wildly, excited about something.

“Whoa,” the guy says again, crouching down framing the back of the car. “Man. What is this thing?” he asks.

“'67 Volkswagen Squareback,” Brandon replies proudly.

“Whoa,” the greasy man exclaims once more. “You could live in there,” he says. “You could paint it flat black.”

“It is flat black,” I mumble to no one, staring at me feet.

“It is flat black,” Brandon tells the guy.

I turn and look down the street, hoping to see the rest of my friends coming. No such luck. I kick a pebble at the curb. It ricochets off, striking the rear quarter panel of the car.

I look at Brandon, trying to look fearless, intimidating.

He says nothing.

I stare at my feet all smudged and greasy from being immersed in filth in the car. I shake my head and wipe the pizza box grease off the toe of my converse on the back of my opposite pant leg, rubbing the back of my non-existent calf.

“Whoa,” the greasy wierdo says again. “These wheels. These wheels are so shiny. They're like, like–” he trails off. “Whoa, man.”

I turn to see the guy down on his hands and knees, one leg in the gutter, one up on the sidewalk, his face just inches from one of the Squareback's rims. He strokes one spoke of an Empi rim from top to bottom with the back of his index finger. I shake my head, turn to look at the greasy guy's taller companion standing on the sidewalk a few steps back from his friends, hands in the side pockets of a tattered black trench-coat. A skinny black cigar hangs out of the corner of his mouth, ready to drop to the ground at any moment.

“He's tripping,” he tells me, shrugging his shoulders and pulling the cigar from his mouth. He blows a cloud of smoke my way.

I take another step back and turn my head to avoid the smoke. I look back at Brandon who looks fascinated by the greasy guy admiring his car.

I kick another pebble, look for my friends again. They're no where in sight. What's taking so long, I wonder.

I turn to look towards the Horseshoe Cafe. I stare up at the old, yellowed mural depicting cowboys and prospectors above the windows facing the street. I read all the signs on the outside of the building. Open 24 hours. No smoking within 25 feet of this doorway. No loitering. I sigh.

“Sorry we're not better company,” the guy in the trench-coat tells me, cigar in hand. “But who did you expect to meet here at four in the morning?”

I shrug my shoulders and walk towards the cafe staring down at the pavement.

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