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.
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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