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Chapter 3. International Bright Young Thing


The thing about working the night shift at a factory is that you tend to lose
touch with what is going on around you, except for what is in your direct
environment. It's beyond even just losing touch with friends or what is going on
in the news. Once, when Marvin and I were between roommates, I worked so
many night shifts in a row that I forgot to pay the apartment bills. I arrived home
one morning to find Marvin sitting on the floor in the middle of the kitchen, strung
out on coffee and crying. It took a while to calm him down enough to understand
what had happened. The cable and telephone were disconnected the day
before, and by the time I found him, Marvin had spent almost twenty-four hours
with only the coffee machine and our old broken radio to entertain him. Any
attempt to justify my position by pointing out that he could have paid the bills,
which had visibly piled up on the kitchen table, and which he was responsible for
one half of the payments, fell on deaf ears. If I had forgotten about them, he
reasoned, why should he have done any different. I cleaned Marvin up and we
paid the bills, but I have never forgotten the incident. Since then, I have made an
effort not to crawl too far into my isolated night-world, and he has tried not to
spend too much time without diversions. It's scary sometimes having to deal with
yourself.


The week after Danny disappeared, I was particularly absorbed in my
world, not even taking the time to check the living room for Marvin in the
mornings. Each day, I could hear the television on, but I was just too tired to
have a discussion. Since no actual production goes on at nights, I am basically a
glorified night watchman. That week, however, we had implemented a new
machine into production for industrial-size foil, and the day crew were still having
trouble working the bugs out. Production spilled over into the night shift every
day, and our skeleton crew was expected to finish the daily production on top of
our regular duties. By five in the morning, all I could think about was shutting
myself off from the morning. Everyday, I slept as late as possible, and then went
to the Coffee Brake for some extra-strong coffee before returning to work.


By the Friday night shift, things had almost returned to normal at work, and
I was able to rest a little more than I had the previous four days. On my way
home the next morning, I stopped to pick up two large coffees. I had cut myself
off from the world long enough, and decided to sit for a while with Marvin and find
out what I had missed.


When I walked into the living room, Marvin was bundled underneath an
old Afghan his mother had knit him as a going away gift. Oddly enough, it had
been her who was going away, moving to New Zealand with her new boyfriend.


TV Ontario was showing an old black and white John Wayne movie. The
Duke had been cornered by some outlaws and was climbing the side of the
saloon to try and escape. I put the coffees down on the coffee table, sat down
next to the bundle of Afghan and lit a cigarette from the pack that was on the
table. I turned the volume up a bit to try and follow the story. It was just a matter
of minutes before the aroma of coffee and cigarettes would rouse him anyhow,
so I wasn't worried about the volume. By the time my cigarette was finished, the
bundle had still not been shed.


"C'mon, Marv," I said, "I brought you coffee." With that, I reached under
the bundle to stir him and felt a smooth woman's calf. Before I could pull my
hand back, the leg kicked away, and the Afghan was knocked to the floor. Vicky,
in one of Danny's T-shirts and a pair of red woollen socks, slowly opened her
eyes and sat up.


"Oh, sorry Al. Was I in your way?" she said, reaching for the cigarette
pack and the remote. I shook my head and sat back, trying to assess the
situation while she lit her cigarette. "Are you watching this?" she exhaled,
motioning to the television. Again I shook my head. She flipped through the
channels a bit before settling on Muchmusic.


"I have to go to the bathroom," I said finally, after searching almost a
minute for words. I climbed over the couch and walked to the bathroom,
checking Danny's room as I went by. The door was locked, as it had been five
days earlier. I washed my hands and face in the bathroom before returning to
the living room. When I got back, Vicky was watching what appeared to be a
middle aged lesbian couple bickering on a talk show. I sat on the floor in front of
the couch and lit another cigarette before asking Vicky what new information we
had about Danny.


The couple, who were actually a man and a woman, and not lesbians at
all, had both lost their jobs at the same time and had been forced to move back
in with the woman's parents. The man went nuts from eating old-person food
and began cross-dressing. The woman, needless to say, was distraught. After a
few minutes, Vicky changed the channel.


"Has Danny shown up?" I asked while she channel surfed.


"No, nothing yet," she replied, not taking her eyes off the screen.


"Oh," I said, trying to figure out what she was doing on our couch on a
Saturday morning if we hadn't heard from Danny. "Is Marv here?"


"Yeah, I think so. He went to bed at around three. He's been staying up,
waiting for you all week, though. I guess he just figured you'd go straight to bed
again," she said, and settled back on the John Wayne movie.


Had I not already been sitting in front of the couch, I'd have been floored
by her response. waiting for me all week? Had Vicky been here all week without
me noticing? I was sure Marv would have woken me up for this one. With
Danny here, Marv could barely stand girlfriends hanging around the house. I
couldn't imagine Marv alone in the apartment with his roommate's girlfriend for an
hour without losing his mind, to say nothing of a week. I looked at Vicky,
searching for some further clue as to what I had missed. Receiving none, I
offered her Marvin's coffee and watched television with her.


I must have fallen asleep at some point during the Duke's escape. When I
awoke the television was still on, but Vicky was gone. On the cooking network,
an older European woman was making perogies from scratch. I was disoriented
for a bit, and couldn't figure out why the apartment smelled of chocolate, if the
woman was making perogies. Once I was awake enough to realize that the
smell was emanating from our kitchen and not the televised one, I got up off the
couch and walked to the kitchen, where I could hear Marvin and Vicky laughing.


They were sitting around our small kitchen table, a large, half-full bowl of
chocolate and nuts before them. Vicky was laughing so hard she was crying,
and Marvin's back was to me, so they didn't notice me right away. The smell of
baked chocolate was mixed with a slight tinge of hash; they were baking hash
brownies! I stood there for almost a minute before the oven timer broke up their
laugh-fest and Vicky saw me.


"Oh, morning sleepy-head. Been standing there long?"


"Not really," I mumbled. "Is there any coffee made, Marv?"


"Yeah, man," he said. I could tell he was already stoned. Marvin was not
a big pot smoker, but would occasionally join in, if there were a special occasion.
Although I had never seen Vicky high before, I assumed that as a girlfriend of
Danny, she must do her fair share of narcotics. I walked over to where Vicky was
pulling the brownies out of the oven and poured myself a cup of thick, muddy
coffee. It was three o'clock in the afternoon, and the coffee must have been
made shortly after I fell asleep four hours earlier. I sat down and stared hard at
Marvin. I wanted to ask him a million questions: what was Vicky doing here a
week after Danny left, why was he getting high on a Saturday afternoon with his
roommate's girlfriend, why had he not told me anything about her being here for
the whole week, what was the deal? He looked back at me, doe-eyed, and
oblivious to my questions. "I'm glad you woke upon your own, Al," he said, "We
were debating whether or not we would have to wake you. You'll be ready for
five, right?"


"I can be, but you two will have to fill me in," they started laughing again.
Vicky almost dropped the tray of brownies before sitting down opposite me.
Then, she spoke.


"The Old Vic is having a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture
Show, because it's Tim Curry's birthday. We're going to go over to my friend
Anja's house for a little pre-show party, then walk over to the theatre for eleven to
join in with the crowd."




The Old Victory Theatre is a theatre downtown that was built in the early
twenties. It used to show Vaudeville performances before the great depression
hit. Then it was vacant until a small community theatre group bought it in the
seventies, remodelled it, and used it to put on Harold Pinter and Henrik Ibsen
plays until the late eighties recession forced them to shut down. About two years
ago, the grandson of the theatre's original owner re-bought it, and uses it to show
b-movies and throw the occasional rave. There had been rumours, when he
bought it, that he would remodel it and open it as an Art-Film House. I guess he
ran out of money, though, because about all he managed to do to the place was
put a screen up on the stage and build a small projection booth. The seats have
large holes in them from years of disuse and rats, and the bathrooms smell of
mold. If you look closely, you can find the occasional "Alvin luvs Jacquie, '26" or
"Jimmy Carter sux cock" graffito above the cracked urinals. It isn't exactly the
most reputable place, but it's alright for the occasional slum party, whenever we
get bored of the usual diversions. Marv and I had gone there about a year earlier
to see Chinatown during their Polanski-fest. I'm not the biggest Rocky Horror
Picture Show fan, but it didn't seem like I would be able to get out of this one.


"We aren't dressing up, are we?"


"No, no," Marv said, smiling, "we don't have to. It's just that Vicky has this
thing about celebrating celebrity birthdays." Vicky giggled at this.


"I was thinking of dressing up like Tim Curry," she said, "but if neither of
you are going to play along, then I won't."


"I guess the brownies are for the pre-show party?" I said.


"Yeah," Vicky replied. "You don't have to have any if you don't want.
Anja's more of a wine person, so she'll probably have some there."


"Actually," Marv interrupted, "I was kind of hoping you could drive, Al. I'm
not sure I'd be safe."


"That's fine," I said, "I'll just have a glass of wine at Vicky's friend's. I was
planning on staying sober today anyhow." That wasn't entirely true. After the
week I had had, I was hoping to pick up a six pack and spend an evening with
the Weather Network. This would be just as entertaining, though, and maybe I
would be able to get some answers out of Marvin, providing he stayed conscious
long enough. Usually when Marvin gets high, he rolls himself into a ball in a
corner and talks to himself.


I finished my coffee and jumped in the shower while Marvin and Vicky put
another batch of brownies into the oven and started a game of "Somewhere,
Right Now."


Marvin had just finished his turn when I re-emerged from the bathroom.
He was sitting smugly, eyeing Vicky for a sign of how impressed she was. As
confident as Marvin was, he would only use his smug face when he thought he
was in danger of losing. I sat down to watch Vicky's turn, hoping to gain some
insight into what she had been doing here all week. She nodded at Marvin.


"That was pretty cool," she said, readjusting in her chair. "You're wicked
at this."


"I have my moments," Marvin replied, self-consciously trying to hide just
how stoned he was. The two of them shifted in their seats and prepared for
round two. Marvin cracked his knuckles, then spoke.


"Somewhere, right now, the perfect crime is being committed." Marvin
was glowing. My jaw dropped. Suddenly, I felt awful for Vicky. Early on in the
evolution of "Somewhere, Right Now," Marvin and I had realised that certain
people just couldn't grasp the concept of the game. Just as Jeanine the Jazz
singer had done, a lot of people would turn the game into your basic storytelling
routine. They couldn't really understand that what we were looking for was not
story-time, and rather a reflection of one's self within the context given.
Sometimes, these fakers could fool us for a while, though, and there was only
one way to flush them out. The appeal of trying to create the perfect crime,
something that has never been done in fiction or reality, rather than reflect
themselves, was just too much for most to avoid.


Now, Marvin was using the ultimate test on Vicky. I could see now that
underneath his friendly and stoned demeanour, Marvin was really sick of this girl
and wanted her to suffer. Really, I felt awful for her. Her brow was knit, and she
stared at him for a long time. I couldn't tell whether she was concentrating on
forming an answer or trying to figure out why he was being so mean all of a
sudden. Then, without breaking her stare, she began.


"On a hill, two men are sitting, looking out over the rooftops of a city. It is
just before sundown." I dropped my head a bit and looked at the floor. She had
not started well. The idea with this type of question was not to set up narrative.
She continued. "It is early summer, and the men are wearing leather jackets to
guard themselves from the brisk wind. They have lived in the city below their
whole lives. The man on the left, let's call him Bob, turns to the other, Rob, and
speaks. 'We've lived here forever, Rob.' The second man nods. Bob speaks
again. 'I've wanted for so long to leave this place and see the world. I've wanted
to find out what I've been missing. Even staying here, I've had so many good
ideas: about how the world works, about how people in Zimbabwe ought to live,
about what the perfect song must sound like. I've thought things that I'm sure no
other man has ever thought, and yet, I stay here, in this small town, with you, day
after day. We work the same shitty job, we eat at the same restaurants, we
watch the same local news, with the same newscasters. I feel as though I'm
trapped. If only there were a way for us to escape. If only you and I could steal a
car, and drive as far as it would take us. From there, we could pool our
resources - we're both fairly creative men - and we could escape. If we stole the
car in the middle of the night, we could be hundreds of miles from this place
before anyone noticed it missing. You know how sleepy this town is, Rob. By the
time the find the car, we could be on another continent, discovering the world
together, sharing our ingenious thoughts with other great thinkers.'


"The first man pauses for a second and stood, as if he is going to walk
down the hill, into town. He looks down at his friend and speaks again. 'If only I
could get my hands on some musical instruments, I could write the perfect song.
I've heard it in my head so many times that it keeps me up at night. You've heard
me humming it at work before, yes? If I don't do something soon, it may
disappear on me, fade from my memory, and then the world will never get to hear
what it sounds like. Wouldn't that be a shame, friend? I've seen on the news
that the University of California has the largest collection of musical instruments
anywhere. Maybe if we could get to California, we could break into the school,
and before anyone knew what we had done, the song would be recorded, and
our sins would be absolved. I know we could do it.' At this point, Bob sits next to
Rob and puts his head on his friend's shoulder.


"'Rob, I know you know how I feel. I know you've felt the same way.' Bob
jumps to his feet again. 'All we have to do is go down there, smash a window,
splice some wires, and nothing will be able to stop us. Can't you see how easy
this could be? I just can't bear to spend another twilight sitting on this hill with
you, dreaming of what we could be. I'll go mad. My pain at being stuck here is
far greater than I could possibly explain. Will you come with me?' Bob looks at
his lifelong friend with pleading eyes.


"Rob then picks up a stone from between them, sizes it up, and tosses it
as far into the darkening sky as his arm will permit. Without looking at Bob, he
starts to speak. 'Bob, as long as I've known you, I have never heard you speak
such bullshit for so long without laughing yourself to tears. Quit your whining, sit
your ass down, watch the sunset, and shut the fuck up. You make it sound like
this town is a cross you have to bear. Well, you're not Jesus Christ, and you're
not a suffering artist. That song you hum to yourself at work is "Best of My Love,'
by the Eagles, and it is not even close to the perfect piece of music. You don't
know how to hotwire a car, and your so far from winning the Nobel prize for
thinking, it hurts. Every goddamn weekend, you say the same shit, and by
Monday, you're back behind your desk, stamping papers like the rest of us. It's
really not so bad, and you know it.' Rob laughs, shakes his head, and mumbles
the lyrics to "Best of My Love" under his breath.


"Bob looks at his friend. He looks as though he is going to cry and his
lower jaw quivers a bit. He stands up and walks down the hill, toward the slowly
illuminating city.


"When Rob descends the hill about an hour later, he heads to his friend's
house to apologize, but Bob is not home. The next morning, Rob hears at his
son's little league game that another parent's car was stolen the night before.
The car is recovered three days later, in California, and Bob is never seen again."


By the time Vicky spoke her last sentence, she and I were both grinning
widely at Marvin. He looked confused for a second, then slumped over in his
chair.


"That was pretty good, Vick," he conceded.


"Brilliant," I said, turning to her.


"I have my moments," she said, never taking her eyes or her smile off of
Marvin.


"The only thing though," Marvin said, "is that I don't think the crime is
really perfect if the car is found, or for that matter, if Bob doesn't succeed in
becoming a great thinker."


"That's because neither of those are the perfect crime," Vicky grinned.
The oven timer went off again.


"Brilliant," I repeated, as Vicky removed the Hash Brownies from the oven.
Occasionally, if you're lucky, you get to be a part of something that you don't
quite understand, but can appreciate anyway. This was one of those times. I
had underestimated Vicky. Half an hour later, the three of us piled into my old
Datsun and drove to Anja's. Marvin sat shotgun, and looked like a lost puppy
most of the way there.


Anja's house was a mid-sized one-and-a-half story brick house that looked
like it had been built fifty or sixty years ago. It was in some obvious disrepair and
was probably only still around because it was so close to the University. When
we walked in the front door, a wall of smoke and the smell of patchouli hit us.
There were about twenty people in the front living room, most of them dressed as
the party-goers at the Frankenfurter mansion. The half dozen people who
weren't were huddled in the far corner, dressed in black, in the midst of a rather
heated discussion. A large woman dressed as Meatloaf's biker character came
up to us quickly and took our jackets. Vicky made her way through the crowd
and the smoke and Marv and I followed her closely. Neither of us knew anyone
at the party, so my plan was to stay as close to her as possible. When we
reached the kitchen at the back of the house, Vicky shrieked and hugged a
gorgeous almond skinned woman dressed as a french maid. Then she turned to
us.


"Guys, this is Anja. Anja, this is Marv." Marv nodded impatiently at the
beauty and looked around the room suspiciously. He was well into his paranoia
stage. Next stop, a secluded corner and catatonia. "And this is Alan." I shook
her hand and shouted a greeting to her over the loud electronic music that was
flooding in from the living room. Anja leaned into my ear and spoke in a thick
Haitian accent.


"It's nice to meet you, Alan. Vicky has told me much about you and Marv."
I smiled and thought, I wish Vicky had told us more about you, you lovely
creature. Then, she continued, "Make yourself comfortable and I will get you a
drink. Is wine alright?" I nodded, but added that Marvin probably didn't want
anything. By this point he was floating back into the living room, toward an empty
armchair near the plain-clothes group.


I moved closer to Vicky while Anja disappeared behind the fridge door.


"Hey, Vick, how many people do you know here, anyway?" I shouted into
her ear. None of them looked like rave-kids. In fact, most of them were my age.


"Actually, just Anja," she shouted back. "She's a masters of Fine Arts
student at the University and these are her classmates and profs."


"The corner group are the professors, I assume?" I waved a hand toward
Marvin, who was sprawled on the armchair, staring, mouth agape at the group.


"No, actually. I think they are film students. The profs are over there."
She pointed to the couch near the door, where Meatloaf was sitting with a few
other older men and women dressed in drag. I laughed louder than I ought to
have.


"Meatloaf is a professor?!?"


Vicky nodded, "Yeah, and she's one of Anja's roommates. She and the
guy next to her-- the one in the sequined gown-- rent the basement room to Anja.
They're really cool, Al. I think she teaches sculpture and he's a film prof. The
party was actually their idea. They saw the movie in '75, when they were
undergrads."


I did some quick math in my head. They were about fifty years old.
Suddenly, I felt much younger than I had on the ride over.


Anja came back with a tumbler filled to the brim with red wine. She was
walking very slowly, trying in vain not to spill the wine. With every step she took,
someone would bump her and spill wine onto her hand. After about ten seconds,
she reached us and handed me the glass. I thanked her and stared a little too
long, as she sucked the wine spillage from her fingers. She noticed me staring,
smiled sheepishly, then grabbed Vicky by the arm and yelled to her that she had
to show her something downstairs. Vicky waved to me and told me to keep an
eye on Marv, then disappeared through a door off the kitchen.


I sipped the first half-inch of wine out of the tumbler, then made my way
over to Marvin, who was still staring at the film students. They seemed to be
looking at something that one of them was holding. The conversation had not
gotten any less busy, but had at least toned down a bit. I sat next to Marvin and
tried to peer through the huddle to see the object of their attention.


"Check this out, Al," Marvin said. "This is the funniest shit I've ever seen.
These people actually exist." The music on the stereo had changed from
electronic to some dreamy folk music that allowed me to hear some of the
group's conversation.


The tallest of the group, a gaunt, goateed man with glasses, who looked
just a little like early Elvis Costello, had just pulled from his pocket a cell phone
and was explaining to his cohorts the qualities that made his cell phone better
than all of theirs. By craning my neck slightly, I could see that most of the half
dozen people assembled had cell phones in their hands. Marv and I sat silent for
a while, listening as the gaunt man spoke.


"That's nothing. Mine is the new Nokia smart phone. Not only do I have a
full address book, a fifty-six K modem with full e-mail service and a beeper
function, like Martha's toy, but I also have a twenty-four hour a day weather
service, a ten meg memo memory, and insta-calibration." He looked smugly at
the defeated and dejected Martha.


"What's insta-calibration?" Martha asked.


Gaunt man rolled his eyes as if everybody knew what insta-calibration
was, then said, "You know when you're in your car, Martha, and you get a
staticky line every once in a while?" Martha nodded. "Well, that's the signal that
your phone is using fading, and your phone trying to find a new signal. My Smart
Phone anticipates these fading signals before they actually fade, and finds a new
signal, so that there is no switch-over fuzz." Everyone seemed fairly impressed.
A short, stocky man with a too-long buzz cut took a half step forward, pulled his
phone out, and nervously began to speak. He seemed desperate for recognition
by this crowd.


"Well, mine doesn't have as much memo memory, but who really needs
ten megs anyway, unless they're Bill Gates." He snickered at his joke, but no
one else did, so he continued on more cautiously. "It also has Insta-calibration
and the address book, plus, I have four different games available on my LCD."
He looked around the group, hoping for some oohs and ahs. Getting none, he
pushed his glasses up from the tip of his nose, stepped back, and added, almost
inaudible to Marv and I, "Snakes, Pac Man, Pong and, uh..." and I didn't hear the
last game. He had lost, so it didn't matter.


The last person to reveal a phone was a tall, severe looking woman, with
cat-woman frames and a black turtle neck. She pulled her phone out like John
Wayne did his gun in that morning's movie. The group crowded around the
phone, so I couldn't get a clear look at it, but by the sounds of their grunting and
cooing, it must have been impressive.


"Check it out, children," she said in a school-marm voice,
"Twenty-four-seven weather service and stock report, high speed modem,
address book, beeper, ten meg memo memory, insta-calibration 2000," at which
point, the gaunt man whistled as though he had just seen it's owner naked, " not
to mention, this is the first cell phone with a brain."


The crowd was silent. The winner had been declared, hands down, for
her incredibly complex telephone. Why, with a phone like that, you'd never have
to leave your home. Maybe, if the beeper in it had a vibrating function, it could
even be her boyfriend. After all, it had a brain. After a sustained silence, the
winner looked at the stocky man and added, just to be mean, "Sadly, however, it
has no games." The crowd burst out with laughter, while the stocky man went to
the kitchen to freshen up his drink. By the time they had moved enough to
unblock my view, the winner had put her phone away, so I never did get to see
this marvel of technology. Marv could only shake his head and giggle, without
averting his eyes from their huddled mass. It was around this point that I notice
they were all wearing glasses. In fact, they all looked alike: dark hair, vintage
glasses, all black clothing, ageless faces and cell phones. I couldn't tell whether
they were all in the same program, all roommates, or if they were all different
fragments of a genetically split embryo in some government experiment. There
was something about them that I didn't trust, and it wasn't just that they knew
what the weather would be like before I did.


As their conversation turned to less competitive matters, I lost my interest
and started to discuss with Marvin the situation with Vicky. I wanted to hit him at
his most honest point, without risking losing him to his buzz for the rest of the
night.


"So, Marv, Vicky did a pretty good job with the Perfect Crime, didn't she?"


He shrugged. "She did alright, I guess. She's not a stupid girl, Al. I've
been quite impressed with her this week."


"I've been meaning to ask you about that. What's the deal?" He looked at
me as if I had just asked him why the sky was blue. I tried to clarify things. "A
week ago, I got the sense that you could barely stomach the girl, and now I find
out that you two have been hanging out all week. I mean, Danny hasn't even
been around. Has she been sleeping on the couch all week?"


"No, man. I think she stayed over three nights. She has been over
everyday, though. At first, it was a little annoying. I thought maybe she was just
worried about Danny or something. But no," he said, leaning in closer to make
sure I understood, "In fact, she says that things are pretty much over between her
and Danny. She's been hanging out because she thinks we're neat."


"You mean neat, like clean?"


"No, I mean she digs our shit. She likes hanging out with us. When
you're not around, she talks about us, you and Danny and I, like we are slacker
gods or something. And you know what? I dig her shit too. She knows a lot of
stuff, you know, stuff that we don't really know. And she's been picking up
Network Gumboism like she was born to do it. I feel like Mister Miyagi to her
Karate Kid when she gets that remote in her hand."


"So you gave her the perfect crime because you thought she could handle
it? I thought maybe you were making fun of her."


"No way, man. I wanted to see what she could do with it."


"And she kicked your ass with it." He laughed at this.


"Fuck you man, you didn't even hear my scenario. I didn't get much to
deal with."


"What'd you get?" I asked. He smiled sheepishly.


"Somewhere right now, someone is stuck in the rain."


"Yeah, so what?" I said, "What so tough about that?"


"Al," he said, "it hasn't rained in almost six weeks. I can hardly remember
what rain looks like." This was true. I remembered seeing something on the
Weather Network the day before Danny left about how the lack of precipitation
was due to an nearly flat jet stream and how farmers were worried that the soil
was going to dry out over the winter if it didn't rain substantially before the ground
froze. Because of my isolation at work that week, I hadn't noticed that the rain
still hadn't come. I fed Marv some line about giving credit where it was due, then
we sat back and watched the people for a while.


Anja and Vicky came back upstairs about fifteen minutes later. Marvin
was almost catatonic by this point, so the two girls led me around and introduced
me to some of the partygoers. The couple who owned the house were pleasant
enough, although they were on a little too much acid to be coherent. When I was
introduced to the film students, I wanted to ask the winner, whose name was also
Martha, what the weather was going to be like, partially to see the phone, and
partially to find out if there was any rain in the forecast. I fought the urge,
however, for fear of seeming like an eavesdropper. They may have tried to make
me a part of their genetics project if I showed too much interest.




By the time I had been introduced to everyone, it was time to head to the
theatre. Vicky, Anja, Marvin and I rode in my car, the film clones rode together in
a van, and the rest followed in their vehicles.


The movie itself was sort of a bust. Only about a dozen people had shown
up, aside from our crowd. Everyone was pretty sedate inside the theatre. I
guess the aisle dancers from the seventies had to stay home and baby-sit their
grandkids. That's what happens when you get old; you trade in your codpiece for
comfortable slacks and reading glasses.


Vicky decided to stay over at Anja's that night because Marvin had not
sobered up yet and catatonics are not much fun. When we dropped them off at
the old brick house, Vicky promised to come by the next day to help clean up
from the baking. Anja, whom I had tried desperately to flirt with all night to no
avail, thanked us for coming and patted Marvin on the head. Through all of this,
the poor guy could only grunt and nod. We drove home in silence.


When we got home, the door was unlocked. We walked in, followed the
sound of the television to the living room, and found Danny asleep on the couch.
Marvin grunted again, mumbled, "Roommate's back," and went to his room.


Danny woke up to the sound of Marvin's door closing. As he sat up, I
noticed that his hands were streaked with dirt. He rubbed his eyes, looked at me,
sighed deeply and said, "Al, we've got to talk."


I nodded and pulled a cigarette out of an old pack of Marvin's that was
sitting on the coffee table. It was going to be a long night.

------
"No, the was no way out and no one can imagine what the evenings in prisons are like"
Camus, from L'étranger


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The following comments are for "commercial, ch.3: International Bright Young Thing"
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