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Kelly wore her blonde hair long enough for the tips of it to brush the dividing lline between lower-back and upper-ass. Like a signpost-border-crossing letting you know that you've just crossed into a new province her hair was a friendly reminder.

Kelly always wore black jeans and a leather jacket. She wore dirty sneakers and mismatched socks. She was the adolescent template of a future Spartan1. Kelly was tough, she was "metal". She was beautiful.

I was there too. My hair, redder then, was also worn long - too long. I had lots of hair and no idea what to do with it all. This fact, I have no doubt, was immediately apparent to anyone who saw me.

I always wore a tattered jean jacket - complete with a flaming demon skull sitting atop the scrawled word Metallica drawn on the back. My kneeless jeans were tight, my sneakers dirty. I was trying, I was almost, I was obvious.

We spent a lot of time together in school and out - we were both 16 or so at the time - and this caused a fair number of people to wonder how in Christ's name I'd managed to convince a girl like that to fuck a guy like me. A few, I'd bet, would have laid down some reasonable coin to discover my secret. Well here it is for free; I wasn't fucking her.

I tried a few times and was gently shoo'ed away. We'd talked around it and always managed to end with the understanding by analogy that my Ethiopian drought would continue so long as I was in her company.

Sex was out of the question and we were underage so we smoked dope. Four or five nights a week you'd find us at coffee laughing in sputters over bouncing grains of sugar or waxing indignant about society's demand that we conform.

Getting grass was never much of a problem. Between us we seldom had to make more than a couple of calls.

We would locate it and then hike over to pick it up - having pooled our money ahead of time because we were pros. Once we had it we would roll two joints and smoke one with our vendor2. The other was for the walk to A&W. It was a routine that bordered on ritual. All in all life was pretty good.

Life was pretty good, but not perfect. As any of you potheads - active or reformed - know, there are times when you simply can't round any up for bills or blow-jobs. Kelly and I had one of those times.

We'd gone through her book and my memory. We'd tried people we hadn't spoken to in months. It seemed that sativa had gone extinct over night and someone had forgotten to let us know. It was like trying to buy smokes on Rememberance day.

We ran screaming through the neglected hallways of our minds in the hopes of scaring up a hermit connection. It was Kelly who tripped over one first.

"I know a place but I haven't been there in a couple weeks", she said with a face less elated than one would expect. "I don't like going there 'cuz the guy always tries to fuck me. I can handle him but its annoying"

"I can't say I blame him. Do you want to give it a shot or is it too much of a pain in the ass?"

"He probably won't do anything if you're there. It should be alright. But they don't have a phone so we'll have to go there. Feel like walking?"

There was never any doubt that we would try. It was our last hope and the thought of doing coffee straight terrified us. It would seem a dereliction of duty. It would seem a sacrilege.

So we walked. It was about 20 blocks or so to the place we needed to be. That sounds like a lot but when walking is your main means of transportation you get so you don't even notice.

I don't know what we talked about on the way over. It probably wasn't the green leaves of summer or the just-out-of-the-wrapper feel to the air. We were far to cool for that type of shit.

Most likely I listenned to her talk about guys trying to get in her pants or people she had punched out or was planning to lay a beating on.

Or she listenned to me talk about a new poem I had written or how teachers seem hell bent on picking the dullest examples of lit for us to read.

Every so often our talk would touch on something deeper, something more universal and purposeful. She could hold her own in these little bullshit sessions and that was one of many things that made her so damned cool.

So I won't pretend to remember what we talked about. I know we probably laughed a fair amount - we usualy did - and just got off on being around each other. The walk didn't seem to take long, that much I remember.

We came to the house. Once it had been a very large single family home but in Brandon's grand tradition of gutting the beautiful it had been turned into an impressive number of unimpressive apartments. The outside had all the signs of dedicated disinterest.

In through a screen door and then a well-kicked wooden one, into a dimly dark hallway and up to her buddy's door. Kelly knocked.

The door openned to reveal a girl. Kelly looked surprised. "Ummm, is Paul here?"

"No." The girl answered, "He had to go out for a while."

"Oh." Kelly replied urbanely, "We were hoping we could score a gram from him."

"He doesn't have any here but I know where he gets from. If you want to watch the kid for a few minutes I can run."

Kelly and I looked at each other and thought about it.

"Okay" Kelly said as if there had been any doubt.

The apartment had that sour-milk smell I've come to associate with children and low-incomes. Toys, clothes and cassettes - both toddler and adult - served to break up the faded monotony of the carpet.

"He's asleep so you shouldn't have any trouble. I'll be back in about ten." And with that the girl was out the door.

I went to grab a couple of glasses of water and Kelly flaked out on the couch. Neither one of us saying much.

There were cases of empty Budweiser stacked randomly in the kitchen to offset the undone dishes. some of the cases had fallen on their side, breaking some bottles and shedding some glass to the floor. A child's walker rested by the tiny kitchen table.

I got the water and sat down by Kelly. We watched tv. I don't really know what she was thinking, but I was hung up on the realization that someone would just up and leave her child alone with two strangers who came looking for drugs - and I was one of the strangers.

The girl came back and Kelly and I thanked her and took our dope from. Belated introductions were made but I wasn't paying attention because I just wanted to get out of there.

Kelly must have felt the same because we didn't smoke a joint with the girl and we didn't roll one for the road. We just mumbled our goodbyes, kicked on our sneakers and headed out for A&W.

And now, having written this, I'm not really sure why I bothered. There is no great insight made, no action or conflict to speak of. In fact there is every chance that it is pointless and dull. Mea culpa.


Maybe this is meant to serve as a memorial. Maybe just a tribute to a girl that I remember often and with warmth.

She isn't dead but she may as well be. I haven't seen her since high-school and there is every chance I'll never see her again; isn't that what dead really means?

1 Spartan - The Spartans were Brandon's bike club for a number of years. About 5 or 6 years ago they were dismemebered (in one case literaly)

2 This is just a little bit of stoner etiquette, you always smoke one with the guy you buy from.

------
But would I be a good Messiah with my low self-esteem? / If I don't believe in myself would that be blasphemy? - The Bloodhound Gang Hell Yeah


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Comments

The following comments are for "One Night With Kelly (Footnotes at bottom)"
by enforced bliss

Answer
Hi Jess :)

It is a "friendly reminder" that you (with eyes or hands)have just crossed from one distinct area to another. It is n imaginary line that seperates one province (with all its conotations) from another.

>>>You've not given it any connection with anything other than a crossing sign and again what do those remind you of.

( Posted by: Enforced Bliss [Member] On: April 8, 2004 )

agree and disagree
E.B.

I'd have to agree with Jess on this disconnect in the last bit of the first paragraph. I'm fairly sure I understand your meaning and I like the image, but on the page it's just not as clear as it could be.

On Jess' second point, I have to suggest leaving it exactly the way that it is. It's exactly the proper tone and phrasing for a character caught in that position. It adds believeability to the narrator's voice, and has a good shock value that I think this piece needs.

All in all, I thought this was exceptionally good work. As always i look forward to reading more.

Bart

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: April 8, 2004 )

Ermmm
There was actualy more to my answer but somewhere along the line it was amputated.

A "signpost border crossing" refers to driving down the TransCanada Highway (I don't know if the same applies to the US or not) and coming to a sign that says, "You are now entering Saskatchewan" or whatever.

There isn't a "crossing" per se but it is a friendly reminder that you are now in a distinctly different place than you had been a moment ago.

I'll see if I can revise it to make this clearer.

As to the use of "f****ing", much like Bart says it will stay for the sake of honesty. This is the term Kelly and I, and our peer group, used to refer to any coupling. You wouldn't say, "Are they going out?" You would say, "Are they f***ing". It would be dishonest to Bowdlerize it now.

May you (inclusive) never thirst

Bliss

( Posted by: Enforced Bliss [Member] On: April 8, 2004 )

no story, but
I really enjoyed this piece, it's very well written, and vivid, in a minimalist way; The 'signpost' thing way perfectly clear to me, simply because us guys think that way (honestly, Jessica, we're obsessed with that end of your personalities). As for the use of the word 'fucking', I appreciate the straightforward naturalness of it. It's precisely what you mean.

As you yourself note, there's no overt story here. I spent a long time writing before I finally learned to recognize what made a story. Here's a hint: look for a 'moment of truth', a significant revelation, then think back to what led to it, what made it inevitable. I think there is a story hidden here, you just haven't seen it. Kelly wouldn't fuck you, and where you both went to score, you were shown why: a neglected baby, left with strangers, in a dump.

( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: April 9, 2004 )

boy oh boy
Guess you have to know you and be sober! Say, did I know her? Wonderful piece of work that certainly brings back old times, memories, and feelings- ones that at times am still trying to escape. I think you have to have experienced half of everything to fully- or in some aspects partially- understand your meaning- assuming there is some- here! IE the sour milk bottles etc- great piece of work, especially if it's something a person can say they've experienced- or should I say "admit to"?

( Posted by: queen of the hill [Member] On: April 9, 2004 )

One Hand Clapping, EB
The story is that there isn't one, and that makes all the difference. (girl who wouldn't, child in glass, stoner ettiquette unminded -- and no one comments on the obvious, that's the deal) John is both right and wrong -- right that you should look for the telling sign, the vital clue, and wrong (I'm shocked he didn't see) because they're already in there. (John, how can you love Kafka so and say this isn't a story?)

I love this, it's perfect. It flows so naturally from the first detail to the last portion of the mea culpa. Your descriptions (flaking out on the couch, straight coffee sober) are just spot on.

To the confused, I'd say: You're reading this with the wrong half of your brain, expecting logic where it should be clearly proven to be useless. Switch over (or if need be, indulge in what he did during his long-red days) and you'll see it, too. Pinkie swear.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: April 9, 2004 )

an easy read
Who could ask for more? It flowed smoothly along and was an entertaining piece. It reminds me of things I would like to write of someday...but haven't yet.

( Posted by: brickhouse [Member] On: April 10, 2004 )

Gawrsh
Thanks all :)

Truth is that this was just kind of a one off and it got away from me a bit. To me the most significant thing of the whole evening is that I never did learn the kid's name. I had meant to end on that. Somehow I never mentioned it. :S

Hazel and John - thank you for finding ways to look at it that were deeper than I thought were there. I'm glad you got something out of it.

I'm flattered that you were willing to bring enough of yourselves to the reading that you could fill in the gaps and personalize it.

It is particularly meaningful to me because I like both you guys' stuff and I respect your skill.

Glen - You kmew her to see her but it was during your "Beth" period so we didn't see much of each other. I love you dearly Beautiful.

Mister E - Thanks man (btw cool name). I know what you mean about "it reminds [you] of things [you] would like to write of someday". So many times I read another writer's work and wish... Thank you.

Pen - Glad you liked it :) Yeah, I know about the double "n"s but you can add that plethora to my myriad other errors and chalk it up to idiocy :S

( Posted by: enforced bliss [Member] On: April 11, 2004 )

don't misquote me
Jennifer, I said there's no overt story there, and gave him hints on how to recognize one when it bites him on the leg.

I specifically said:

"I think there is a story hidden here, you just haven't seen it."

You contradict this by saying:

"John is both right and wrong -- right that you should look for the telling sign, the vital clue, and wrong (I'm shocked he didn't see) because they're already in there"

Funny, that's what I said. I said hidden there, because he said himself he didn't see it. How else could I point to the story save by what he had included?

No point in being shocked, read more carefully.

( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: April 11, 2004 )

kelly and that hair
i read this yesterday. so vivid and so true. yuck, man. was this everyone's teenager-hood, or something?

what a story, i say. i see the story and i love it, and it disturbs me.

( Posted by: ark [Member] On: April 11, 2004 )

Bliss
I liked it - very candid, and it really held no punches. Believe it or not, I found a lot os 'story' in this, just not in the conventional sense. The dealer leaving her baby in the hands of two clients is one of those subtle 'story' points I'm talking about, if that makes any sense. True, there wasn't some explosion at the end, or some moral to be learned; it was just real. Hats off to you.

-SD

( Posted by: strangedaze [Member] On: April 14, 2004 )

Lalalalala
There was never any doubt that we would try. It was our last hope and the thought of doing coffee straight terrified us. It would seem a dereliction of duty. It would seem a sacrilege.


BRILLIANT1.

I enjoyed this fully. I also felt tangilbly the section about you being a conflicted baby-sitter. How preciously poignant!

I'm not much for stories. I usually don't have the attention span unless it's a book, but then it takes me longer to get into it. You hooked me, though.




1. You

( Posted by: GibsonGirl [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )

lalalalala
Thank-you Lans. Glad your rare foray into prose didn't disappoint.

May you never thirst

Bliss

( Posted by: Enforced Bliss [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )





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