Crazy (noun) 1 Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results 2 Internet dating

Crazy (noun) 1 Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results 2 Internet dating

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Life and Times of a Jaded Loser Part the 4th

24: The Predator

Not THAT Predator
Even as I met other people after military school, Aaron and I shared a bond that I could never have with the others because of our time spent together at Glenwood. We shared a common ‘thousand yard stare’ that the others could never know. His home was like a bastion of sanity for me and I spent more time with him than I did anyone else. Aaron never really met Grey Jim or Pete but he, Steve, and I would still hang out together every chance we got.

I would learn that first year out of military school that a teenager’s life revolved around bikes. Everyone had one except me. I was a walking mother fucker and I hated it. My mother could be quite intrusive. I never had a sense of privacy, so I spent all the time I could with my friends. Betcha THAT sounds familiar to a lot of people out there.

After moving back home, one of my constant bothers was the train which ran directly behind my bedroom window. This loud intrusive mother fucker would keep me up until all hours of the night. A freight train would come barreling through about every 15 minutes, and between that and the sound of my mother’s snoring in the next room, I rarely got any sleep that first year.

Even now that SAME fucking train still haunts me. I have to cross tracks on my way to work that, when followed south, end up right behind my mother’s condo. They are a constant reminder of my childhood, and a constant pain in my ass as I can’t remember ONE fucking time in my driving life that I haven’t been stuck waiting for a train on those same tracks.

I can remember putting pennies on the tracks as a kid, and even some of my star wars action figures. I poked my first dead animal with a stick on them, and I would aimlessly wander them up and down in fascination of the places they must lead.

Eventually I learned that I could hop on a freight train and take it to nearly anyone’s house that I knew. Literally. The train tracks behind my mother’s condo ran RIGHT past the mall, they ran about a block away from Steve and Aaron’s places, and also ran about 50 feet from where Grey Jim and Pete lived by our high school. It was dangerous as hell, and sometimes I’d wait for an hour or more for a train to come by, but they ALWAYS stopped for some reason right by my place. Usually for about 15-20 minutes, long enough for me to hop up on the ladder on the side of a freight car and just hang there a few feet off the ground as the train jerked into motion again. It was scary as hell the first couple of times I did it, but it was either that, or walk for hours to my friends homes. For some reason there was always hay in small piles along the tracks, and eventually I started to gather up those smaller piles in order to make big ones at the points where I needed to jump off the train.

Luckily, when the summer of 87 came, I finally got a bike. Not because my mother bought me one, and I didn’t steal it…sorta, but it did come to me under nefarious means. One Saturday at around dusk, I was sitting with Steve and Aaron on Aaron’s porch in front of his house. We had just gotten back from the mall, and Steve was bitching because I had to ride with him on the pegs of his bike. As we sat there in the growing dark, we could hear sirens blaring in the neighborhood, police sirens, and they were getting closer.

Just then, from out of nowhere, an older kid came flying down the street on a sweet ass predator dirt bike. It had front and back pegs, breaks, and it was all black except for the Predator logo on the side. As he came pedaling at TOP speed in our direction, he kept looking behind him and we could see this kid was being chased. He saw us looking at him, and turned in our direction coming to a screeching halt as he squeezed the handlebar breaks, right in front of Aaron’s porch.

Out of breath he said “Can I run through your back yard?” We all looked at each other dumbfounded. And then I piped up “You give me the bike; you can run through the back. You’ll have to hop a fence and then there’s train tracks and another fence, you’ll never get away carrying that bike” The guy, who must have been in his 20’s looked at me in amazement, as did Aaron and Steve.

Without saying a word, he stood up and let the bike fall to the ground and then took off behind Aaron’s house. We stood there for a heartbeat and then Aaron grabbed the bike. We all ran to the garage with it just as the lights from the cop cars started throwing blue and red down the street.

The next morning Aaron let me spray paint over the decal on the bike in his garage, then we filed the serial numbers off of it. I FINALLY had a ride and it was sweet ass ride at that.

Believe it or not, this did NOT curb my railway transgressions in the least. I would STILL hop on the train, only now I would do it while holding my bike out with one arm by the bar that ran from the seat to the handlebars.

However, armed with this ‘Kitt’ from Knight Rider of dirt bikes, I finally felt a sense of freedom. Instead of taking the bus to school, I would ride over to Grey Jim’s and have breakfast with him and his family. My friends and I could go farther and faster while testing the limits of our neighborhoods. We would get lost in the street lights of faraway places and then back track our way home. When you get that first bike, the world is your oyster and we were all too happy to shuck that mother fucker.

25: Heroland Comics

During my years in military school, I would often come home on the weekends with Aaron and his brothers. His mother was nice enough to take me in on these weekends, and during my last year at Glenwood, I learned that there was a comic book store not too far from Aaron’s house. I became a regular customer at Heroland Comics, and although the owner made me uncomfortable, it was his employee Joe Soltas that always had me coming back.

Joe was in his thirties and had a great dead-pan sense of humor. When I would be perusing the store he would often approach me and make back handed comments about his boss, Lee. I was always an outcast in military school. I got no respect from my fellow students OR the adults on campus who would often turn a blind eye to my being picked on. Because of them, and my mother’s bat shit alcoholism, I always had a problem with authority, and adults WERE authority. But Joe was different. Joe talked to me like I was an equal, and when he made fun of other people under his breath so only I could hear him…I felt like one of the guys.

Joe’s boss, and the owner of Heroland comics Lee Tennant, was a different story though. Lee tried selling me everything in that fucking store when I first started going in there. If I wanted a Spider-Man comic? He would make me buy a Spider-Man poster with it, if I wanted an X-Men Comic, I had to buy the X-Men t-shirt as well. He sold things in a way so as to make you feel compelled to buy it. Like you were an asshole if you didn’t. I learned later that Lee was like this with everyone. He was that intimidating pitch man that could sell ice to Eskimos. We weren’t customers; we were ‘marks’. Looking back on it, I almost have to respect Lee in that he WAS the consummate salesman, the guy that every car dealership wishes they had. That being said, you will never come across a bigger dick head in your life…as I did in Lee Tenant.

Lee was in his forties and he was the biggest man I’d ever seen. You’ve seen those TLC specials about the ‘fat hospitals’? That’s Lee. He was a towering man of about 6 foot, and he was just as tall across. He couldn’t have weighed less than 4 hundred pounds, and he always smelled of sweaty meat, body odor, and pop. He was a Jewish man, and he lived up to all the negative stereotypes I would later hear rednecks say about Jews. Lee had coke bottle thick glasses and a constant five o’clock shadow that looked like play dough being squeezed out of that ‘play dough spaghetti maker’ toy. His skin was the color of an old beige leather sofa from the 60’s that had been left out in the sun somewhere. After eating an enormous meal of hamburgers, gyro’s, and hotdogs, while downing an entire 2 liter of soda, Lee would often burp so loud that the ceiling tiles would lift out of their grating and drop white Styrofoam dander on all of us as they settled back into place with a ‘thud’. This was a man who could destabilize the pressure of any room he was in, using only his various bodily functions.

The back room of his store was ALWAYS closed, and this was the tree where his Keebler family worked bagging and boarding comic books, taking phone orders, and putting shipments together. I later learned that Lee’s wife and mother in law worked back there along with a few straggling employees, and the door was kept closed so as to not make customers uncomfortable at viewing Lee’s management style.

Lee’s wife Louisa was literally a midget. Standing at about 3 foot tall, Louisa was an intimidating presence at Heroland. When Lee wasn’t around Louisa liked to make it VERY clear that she was in charge. I think it was her way of dealing with the beatings that Lee would dish out to her in the back room. I Remember always feeling a bit sad for Louisa, not because of her height, but because Lee didn’t treat her all that differently than he treated his customers and other employees. There was a step stool behind the register for her to stand on when she rang people up, and she was always complicit with Lee in ripping people off.

Joe and I would often ponder for hours on end Lee and Louisa’s means of fornication. We came to the conclusion that Lee ONLY married Louisa so that someone could finally clean in between the folds of his ginormous body, like a zoo employee washing a hippo with a giant wet push broom. That theory was soon put to rest though when we remembered that Lee NEVER smelled as though he was washed.

After I was kicked out of military school, I got my first job at a banquet hall called The Glendora House. I was 15 and only worked there on the weekends, but every time I got a check I would take the Pace bus up to Heroland and sign it right over to Lee in exchange for all the comics I could carry home. He was almost certainly overcharging me, and I can even recall him charging me ‘tax’. There have never been taxes on magazines of ANY kind in Illinois. Eventually, as the comic book boom hit in ’88, Lee moved his store to a bigger location and I took this opportunity to offer my services as an employee. I was eager, I was a hard worker, and for Lee the best part was that I would work ONLY for comic books. He didn’t have to pay me a dime.

On Sundays, I would load up Lee’s giant bread truck with all the comics from the store. This disgusting monstrosity spat out black smoke from every orifice and there was no passenger door, so sitting up high on the seat, you could look down and see the pavement zooming past you at breakneck speeds. Joe would drive the truck while Lee followed in his car. I always feared that Joe would take a corner just a little too hard and I’d go flying out the open door.

These comic book conventions were where I learned the bulk of my comic book knowledge. I learned everything from value, to specific events in silver age, golden age, and modern comic books simply because it was my job to cherry pick what would sell at the convention. After unloading Lee’s truck at whatever convention center he had a table at, I would help other comic shop owners unload THEIR product in exchange for more comic books. I never wanted anything overtly expensive, but if I did, they would give me a great discount in trade for my help. Most comic book store owners were fat, smelly, unhygienic loads like Lee. I didn’t mind, because it was their laziness that kept my collection growing. At the bigger comic book shows, I would help various artists and writers with their luggage, get their lunch for them, and do generally menial tasks for them throughout the day in exchange for their autograph on comic books that they worked on. Doing this every weekend for years made me well known in the comic book world. At times Lee would even get phone calls from famous artists before the convention, who were checking to make sure I would be there.

The ONE thing I hated about going to comic cons with Lee was that HE was that annoying salesman who always gives the HARD sell. He would stand in front of his table SCREAMING at the top of his lungs: “My brother just got arrested for stealing all these comics, so now I have to sell them to afford his bail! HELP ME OUT HERE”. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t fun, and it embarrassed the shit out me. He would scream that SAME line at least 20 times EVERY weekend. I just kept telling myself that it was all worth it to feed the beast that my collection was becoming.

It was also Lee’s cheapness that made some of those weekends a nightmare. Not only was his comic book bread truck a fucking death trap on wheels because he wouldn’t pay to get it fixed, but sometimes we had to stay at a convention center for the entire weekend…which meant Lee springing for a hotel room. Yes, ONE fucking hotel room. Lee would take the bed, Louisa would sleep on the floor, and Joe would put two chairs together and sleep on those. If I was lucky there was enough room left over for me to stand behind a curtain and sleep standing up. Cheap fat fuck.

Why did I spend every dime I earned those years on comic books? Well, I lived at home so I didn’t have rent or bills, I didn’t smoke or drink yet, and it wasn’t like I was dating anyone. I had no overhead so Lee got everything I earned in return for the one thing that made me happy. Comics were my heroin, and Lee was content to be my dealer.

Working at Hero comics was probably the best job I ever had. Since Lee rarely came out of the back room, I mostly worked with Joe. Even though Joe was way older than me, we quickly became friends and I discovered that we had a mutual distaste for authority. Joe was funny and patient. He taught me a lot about sales, but it was his friend Paul who would eventually teach me a lot about management. Joe also introduced me to the Patty Melt sandwich at the Worth Diner which was directly across the street from our store, and I STILL go there once or twice a month for that sandwich.

Unfortunately for the staff at Heroland Comics, Joe seemed to be the only one immune to Lee’s outbursts and tantrums. He would often scream at me and berate me in front of customers for not knowing the Silver Surfers real name or some such nonsense, and Joe and I could hear him literally beating the shit out of Louisa and her mother in the back room. Once I even tried to go back there to stop him, but Joe threw an arm around me and told me to stay out of it because Lee had a gun in back and had once pulled it on him for interfering.

Lee mostly left Joe alone, and sometimes it was made obvious as he would go around everyone in the room and yell at us, passing over Joe and not saying shit to him. I asked Joe once why Lee didn’t bother him and he told me that it was because he didn’t give a shit. Joe had told Lee once that if he yelled at him or talked to him like he did everyone else; he’d simply walk out and go work for a competitor. Joe was given many offers over the years to work at other comic book stores because of his extensive knowledge, his loyal customer base, and his friendship with many people in the industry. Joe would often convince writers and artists that he knew in the comic book world to come to Lee’s shop and do signings. This was a huge influx of cash for Lee, so LEE needed Joe a lot more than JOE needed Lee.

During the next 2 years that I busted my ass for Lee, I added another 20 boxes to my collection. I had nearly a complete run of everything from the Amazing Spider Man 1, 15, and 23 up, to the Uncanny X-Men 10 up. I didn’t really read D.C. Comics, but after I collected just about all of the Marvel Comics, I started in on those. D.C. had been around longer, so I knew that collection would take some time. I didn’t mind that at all.

One time Lee told me to come out to his house because he wanted to put all of his personal comic book collection in alphabetical order. I remember imagining that Lee’s house would be this extravagant mansion set high up on hill, and I romanticized his collection being a million times the collection that I had. I was looking forward to seeing the old comics that I didn’t yet have, and seeing the neat rows of boxes lined up on the floor of his basement. That fat stack of cash Lee was so fond of flashing made my imagination flow with the personal wealth I would be introduced to.

However, much like the man himself, Lee’s house was a fucking train wreck. Surrounded by a brown, almost burnt looking and unkempt lawn, it smelled like a desert slaughterhouse before you even walked in. There were no pictures on any of the walls and almost every square inch of floor space was covered in comic books. There were paths, dug out like trenches in World War 1 leading to different areas of the house, and most of the lights were burnt out. It was darker than a vampire’s asshole in that place and the smell almost made being in there unbearable. At one point I had to use the bathroom, and Lee told me it was upstairs on the second floor of the house. The stair case was bowing and nearly caved in from the weight of Lee waddling up and down it. For some reason I imagined the sound of Louisa’s tiny footsteps rumbling quickly down the stairs to greet Lee when he got home, like a circus version of Leave it to Beaver. When I pushed open the bathroom door through the bundles of towels and filthy clothes on the floor, I stepped in and saw that the side of the bathtub had caved in revealing the hollow emptiness of the porcelain. There wasn’t a hint of moisture on the floor, so I immediately assumed that Lee hadn’t showered in at least a week. On the sink, next to the toilet was a Daffy Duck comic book from long ago, with what I hoped were chocolate fingerprints all over the cover, however when I lifted the lid on the toilet to piss…I knew that they weren’t. The shit stains in the toilet climbed up high on the inside of the bowl, and as I lifted the lid to piss, I almost vomited all over myself. The toilet seat was covered in dry crusty poop from front to back. I ran back downstairs and held in my stream until Lee drove me back to the shop.

What kind of person lives like that? The ONLY possessions he had, the only possessions he CARED about were those fucking comic books. It was almost like his house was just a storage unit for that collection. I couldn’t fathom what would drive ANY woman into living there, much less being a cuckold to Lee’s collection. It was nearly enough to put me off comic books all together.

In 1989 when I was only 16, I asked a professional comic book assessor, who was a customer at the store to appraise my books for me. He visited me at my mother’s condo on a Thursday night and after spending about 3 hours going through my collection, grading key issues, and accounting for autographs, he appraised them at 17 THOUSAND dollars. Even I had no idea they were worth THAT much. Today that number would be multiplied by a factor of nearly 10. However, one of the things I learned from Lee is that comic books are ONLY worth what people are willing to pay for them, and in that sense my collection wasn’t worth much at all.

Lee opened up a warehouse in another city that year, and in it he started a mail order business, and his own brand of bags and boards. He spent most of his time there with his employee’s Jim and Liz, who I would come to meet later. Liz was a heavy woman in her mid twenties with long dark curly hair. I could never quite tell if she was attractive or not, but her ass was the size of a giant bean bag. She would sometimes come into the store to drop things off from the warehouse and flirt with Joe, and I’m certain he banged her at some point.

26: The Courtship of Michael’s Father

Sometimes it REALLY pisses me off that my dad was
so good looking and I ended up looking like my mom
By the end of the school year of 1988 I’d met the 3 people who would become my lifelong friends. My brothers. Although Brian was a great friend at first, we’d have a falling out in a few years, and even when I thought his brother Scott would be the best guy I could ever be lucky enough to meet, we had a similar falling out when I turned 20. But Steve, Grey Jim, Pete and I would remain friends up to now. I love those guys, and I realize every day how lucky I am to have such an eclectic and fantastic group of friends to call my family.

My home life was always something of a mess. Although I loved my mother in that way that all boys love their mother’s, I still didn’t feel like her condo was my ‘home’. I felt out of place there because Glenwood was all I knew for so long. I kind of got used to the ‘routine’ of the place, and at home I was finding that there was no routine and little discipline. Sure when I came home late my mother would bitch, but she mostly worked overnight’s and didn’t know what time I got home.

A lot of the things I say about my mother here paint her in a bad light, and I want to be honest. I loved this woman right up until the day she died. She had an alcohol problem, fine, but she owned that and after she got help, she was a different lady. During those first few years out of Glenwood, we argued and yelled at one another because without the consequences that military school had brought upon me for my actions, I frankly became something of an asshole.

As I got older and bigger, my mother’s beatings didn’t hurt so much anymore so I would take one from time to time in the furtherance of my rebellious nature. Eventually her way of dealing with me was to lock me out of the house all together. Making me ‘fend for myself’, as she put it, would make a man out of me.

The few times that we DID have civil conversations, I would ask her questions about my dad, and she would be honest and tell me things about him…about what he did. And then when she would get mad at me, she’d tell me I was JUST like my father. I don’t know why, but this put me into a rage every time she said it. Based on her stories of him, I hated that man and wanted to be nothing like him.

I would see the way my friends interacted with THEIR families, and I hated my mother because we didn’t have the same thing. I know now that it wasn’t her fault and you get back what you put into a relationship with your mother. I spent so much time trying to be a part of my friend’s families that I hardly spent any time trying to foster a relationship with my own.

In a way, I was still mad at her for sending me to military school. Because I was young I never accepted her reasons and I blamed her for every beating I took while I was there. I hated her and I loved her at the same time…so rather than have that constant feeling of being torn apart by those emotions, I spent all the time I could elsewhere. Sometimes my experiences were innocuous, and sometimes I was just up to no damned good. But I always figured if my FATHER was an asshole, maybe I was one too. Even to THIS day, I try not to be like my father…but it’s a hard road not to follow.

27: The Great Myslinski Migration

How 'bout that vest, huh?
As my first high school year ended, I was looking forward to spending the summer with my new friends. However, my jubilation was cut short one night when Aaron’s mother invited Steve and I over to their house for dinner.

Aaron’s Grandmother lived with the Myslinski’s in their house and she was something of a matriarch of the family. She was a spit fire of a woman who had more sense in her old age than most women do in their youth. Whenever you walked into Aaron’s house, you were immediately met by his Grandmother sitting on a couch next to the door in the living room. She always reminded me of Granny from ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’, only not quite as mobile.

Steve took the brunt of her gregarious greetings because she had a crush on him. Every time we came into the house, Granny would beckon Steve over to her under the guise of needing some kind of help…and then grab for his crotch and cackle uncontrollably. You don’t think of a woman of that age as having a crush on high school kids, but this lady had a fucking mouth on her. She would TELL Steve how she was going to ‘make him hers’ one day, and we would all bellow laughter as Steve’s face would light up in embarrassment.

The night Aaron’s mother invited us over just before the summer of 88 however…Granny wasn’t waiting for us in the living room, and as we walked into the house…we could feel that something wasn’t right.

We walked through the living room, and as we passed the basement, we noticed that all the lights were off. It was only 6PM and ever since I’d known Aaron, Mike, and Frank, ONE of them was always down there playing video games, working out, or watching TV. We went on to the kitchen and noticed boxes on the floor with various kitchen equipment in them, and we could hear noises coming from behind the house.

We opened up the patio door and found the entire family sitting in lawn chairs around a blazing fire. The Myslinski’s always had a fire pit in their back yard, but they rarely used it. Everyone was there: Aaron, Frank, Mike, their mother: Tess, Granny, and even their little sister Missy. Missy lived with her father, and as much as I knew Tess loved her, I rarely saw her at the house. They all noticed Steve and I enter the back yard from the porch and a somber silence fell over the group.

As we came closer to the fire, we could see that Tess and Mike had tears in their eyes, and Frank wouldn’t look at me or Steve. We didn’t quite understand what was going on, and then Aaron got up from his chair and silently approached us. He put his arms around us and gave us both a hug. Aaron started weeping, and Steve and I embraced him back and asked him what was wrong with the true concern that youth affords.

Aaron took a step back, and with one hand on each of our shoulders he said “you guys are my best friends…we all love you like family.” Then he hung his head and sniffled. When he raised his eyes to us again, we could see they were red and puffy from crying and before he even said it…Steve and I started crying too. “We’re moving to Florida…this Friday”.

A ton of bricks just landed on my heart. These people were my family. They looked out for me in military school; they took me home with them every time they could. During my eight years at Glenwood, I spent more time in THEIR house than I did at my own mother’s condo. This house, hell this neighborhood was my own, what the hell was I going to do without my family? Without my REAL family?

As I looked around at the people surrounding the campfire through tear filled eyes, I saw them all in a different light. I looked at everyone long and hard and realized that in a few short days…I would never see any of them again. Frank, the older brother that made me proud to know him. A strong and hard future military man who made Aaron and I want to follow in his footsteps. Mike: the responsible smart ass who always had a plan. Because Mike was older than me, at Glenwood he was the NCO of my platoon. In that position he often looked out for me and stopped the other kids from bullying me. Tess: My surrogate mother. Always there to comfort me when I felt the low throbbing heart ache of a mother who didn’t care. Tess knew that my mother was an alcoholic and did her best to make me feel a mother’s love when mine wasn’t there to give it. Granny: the colorful old lady who brought laughter into that house every time we entered it. And finally…Aaron: The brother I never had. My best friend. We shared that friendship that says ‘fuck you’ to uncomfortable silences. We could sit for hours doing nothing and not say a word to each other. We were around each other so much that it was almost like we could feel what the other person was thinking. A kind of ‘twin telepathy’ that best friends share when every corner of their lives is not only compatible…but is also a drug that needs to be taken daily. As Aaron told us the news…I started going through withdrawal immediately.

I’m sure that Steve felt much the same way, and because this was a sad occasion for all of us, neither Steve nor I asked the obvious question: “why”. We simply sat around the fire and talked about the good times we all shared, and I like to think that doing that made the Myslinski’s feel better and more hopeful about their move…and made Steve and I feel closer to them, before they were to travel so far away.

28: The End of an Era

Aaron, Mike, and Frank now
The Myslinski’s rented a U-haul. The plan was that they would move everything into the truck on Friday, and then they would leave first thing on Saturday morning. That Friday night was some of the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on…kinda.

After Steve and I helped them move everything into the truck, Tess lit up the bonfire in the back yard and we all began drinking. Now, I’d had alcohol before, but never in the copious amounts that I consumed it that night. We were having a grand send off for my family, and before I knew it I would be drunk for the first time in my life.

We all decided that the fire should be the biggest one any of us had ever seen. We built it up to a grand scale, tee-peeing logs almost as tall as we were. We stuffed the middle with all the kindling and brush we could, and when we lit that son of a bitch, it burned the asses of the gods in heaven. As the night progressed we danced around it, jumped over it, ran through it, and even tossed everything that the Myslinski’s weren’t taking with them into it. The fire jumped high, and coughed out smoke. It hissed it’s embers at us and cracked with defiant laughter. It was like a tough kidnap victim trying to escape, but that fucking fire was OURS, and it wasn’t going anywhere. We stuck our middle fingers up at the elements and dared them to make this anything less than a joyous occasion.

When you’re drunk at a party, people tend to spread out and disappear. You get so engrossed in the conversation you’re having with someone that you don’t even notice when everyone else has gone off to different corners. At some point in the evening, the festivities continued inside while Aaron, Steve and I stayed with the fire.

At around midnight, while we were tossing things into the fire, Frank ran up to us from inside the house, as giddy as I’d ever seen him. He told us Mike had passed out in the basement and we should go fuck with him. We were only too happy to comply. As we tiptoed down the stair trying our hardest to hold in our laughter, we could see mike lying on his side near the couch. His mouth was wide open, and there was a puddle of drool underneath it.

All of us at this point had our hands over our mouths trying unsuccessfully to hold in our snorts and reflexive need to laugh hysterically at what we were about to do. Franks idea was to pull Mike’s pants down enough to reveal his ass. Then we were all to draw on it with Markers that Aaron had in his school bag. Every time Frank would tug on Mike’s pants, he would shift and say something in his sleep. The rest of us were doubling over with internal laughter, we were ready to explode. For the next half hour we Picasso’d Mike from head to toe. Drawing dicks with cum shooting out of their tips on his ass, writing ‘insert dick here’ on his face with an arrow pointing to his mouth, and ‘I like boys’ on his arms.

When the four of us got outside we fucking exploded with laughter, we couldn’t believe how drunk Mike must have been to pass out in THAT deep of a state. Frank was a senior in high school and although he was around Aaron’s house a lot when I was there, he was usually on the phone with a girl, or generally doing things that shouldn’t concern the young such as Steve and me. But that night, we had a moment with Frank that closed any distance there had been before, and he wasn’t done yet.

Because I was young and not well versed in ‘handling my liquor’, eventually I drank myself into a state of depression. It was around 3 AM when the terror of losing my best friend and his family hit me…hard. I don’t recall a lot of what happened because I was so drunk; all I know for sure is that Frank saved my life that night.

I got it into my head that I just didn’t want to live anymore without these people in my life. That’s how strongly I felt about their leaving, and because my mother had told me SO many stories of death in trying to warn me to stay away from the railroad track, I figured that was a good enough place to end my sorrow.

While everyone was in the house ignoring the fire, I hopped the waist high fence of the back yard and mounted the railroad tracks just beyond it. I stood there for a long time with a bottle in my hand waiting to see the single bright eye of death loom at me from the distance. I don’t know how long I stood there, and I truly don’t know if I would have done what I intended to do, but eventually I sat down on one of the wooden cross beams of the track and I guess I passed out.

I was awoken to a furious noise, and I could feel myself falling. I didn’t know what was happening because the deafening sound of fury and rage filled every sense in my body. After that initial jolt of uncompromising loudness, I heard the familiar ‘clickity, clack, clickity, clack’ of the metal wheels of a train. It immediately hit me where I was, and I jumped up wide eyed and scared to death. I was in deep pain all over my body, and my hands were red with blood. I FREAKED the fuck out thinking that a train had just hit me and I somehow survived.

Then I felt a sharp pain in my head and turned around. It was Frank and he just slapped the shit out me from behind. “WHAT THE FUCK?” he shouted incredulously over the noise of the train. I just stared at him. Normally this type of thing would sober you up pretty quick, but I was still buzzing pretty fucking hard and didn’t know what to say.

Apparently, everyone in the house had been looking for me. They even called my mother to see if I’d walked home. Frank came out back to check around the garage and heard a ‘clink’ sound coming from the railroad tracks. I had dropped my bottle on the metal track as I slumped over. Frank looked and saw my silhouette in the light being cast from a back yard on the other side of the tracks and then heard a train coming. Slow at first, but as it grew louder, he knew he had to hurry. He hopped the fence and ran up to the tracks. The light from the train was getting bigger and bigger as the train approached and Frank slapped me and kicked me trying to wake me up. I was as passed out as Mike had been earlier in the basement.

There was no more time to try to wake me up because the train was travelling so fast it would be upon us soon, so he put his hands under my arms and tried to pull me up. Frank always worked out, but even so he had a hard time because I was so fucking fat. With seconds to spare, he put his body into it, and threw us both off the track just as the train came barreling through. We both landed hard on the rocky slope leading up to the tracks and tumbled down to the fence line behind his house.

I actually didn’t find all of that out until AFTER they were in Florida, but fuck did that blow my mind. Frank saved my life like a fucking hero, and I never ever gave him the ‘thank you’ he deserved because I was SO wasted right up until the time they pulled out of their driveway.

As everyone in the house passed out, I sat by the dying embers of the fire until the sun started poking its head out of the east. As the sky went from pitch black to a dark blue, I realized that I was smarter than this. How could I want to kill myself when the answer was so simple? I would just go with them.

Sure it was the delusional thought of a drunken teenager, but my mind worked furiously trying to piece together an argument that I would give to Tess. I had to have a full proof reason if I was going to convince her to take me with them, but every idea I came up with, I easily debunked just as I knew Tess would. Time was fading fast, and it was now less than 2 hours before they would all be awake and getting in that truck to leave forever. Then it hit me: I wouldn’t present an argument at all…I’d simply go with them, without them knowing until we got to Florida.

In the U Haul truck, there was a small metal door that led from the cab of the truck to the back. It slid open, and if there was room, I could probably slip into the back with all their belongings and they’d never know I was there. I climbed into the cab of the truck to see if I could fit through this metal door, and it WAS big enough. However, there was so much furniture and general belongings crammed into the back that it looked like there wouldn’t be enough room. Tess had the key to the padlock that held the back door of the truck secure, so I couldn’t get in that way, so what to do?

I reached into the opening and found that there was JUST enough ‘give’ to move things around a bit. After I adjusted things as best I could, I squeezed into the tiny space I had made. A chair leg lodged itself firmly into my kidney, a lamp bar rested securely under my chin, and my knees were crammed up to my chest, but I had gotten in enough to pull the metal door down and secure myself in uncomfortable darkness. Florida, here I come!

I must have passed out again, because the next thing I knew I awoke with a terrible cramp in my side and bright daylight filling my vision. As my eyes adjusted to the light, the words ‘Insert dick here’ filled my vision. It was Mike, and he was tapping my leg and telling me to wake up. I sleepily said “are we there?”

Mike laughed and helped me out of the hole. Everyone was standing around the truck in amazement that I had squeezed into such a tiny place. Mike told me that when they went to get into the truck, they heard me snoring so loud that they thought a bear was in back.

Tess gave me a teary eyed hug and told me how much she appreciated my dedication to their family that I was willing to journey all the way to Florida in that uncomfortable place. Frank and Mike shook my hand and wished me luck, and then Aaron and I said our goodbyes followed by a hug. They all climbed into the u-haul and drove off, leaving me to fend for myself in a cruel world of family uncertainty, and leaving Steve passed out on the concrete floor of their basement with the words ‘I heart cock’ written on his forehead.

To Be Continued…

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