Marnie looks fucking unbelievable as she steps from the shadows into the late afternoon sunlight. She’s gorgeous; a goddess in red crêpe creepers and a floral print dress. She‘s happy to see me and shows it, with a smile that envelops her zit-free, porcelain face. The smile is a gift and if I’m struck dead at this moment I feel as if I will have served my purpose in life. As we walk, I do my best to not look over at her. I want to reach across those electric 3 inches between us and hold her hand. Instead I just stare down at my high-top Nikes. I hate how self-conscious I feel. I want to turn and stare at her, but every time I look up, her unflinching gaze bores into me. I assume she sees the unadulterated longing that screams from every cell of my being.
I wonder if it’s possible. Is there any way I could steal her away? Could I somehow make her mine?
Instead of affirming the reciprocal nature of our eternal love, Marnie offers, “How awesome is this party going to be, huh?” Only then do I snap-to and realize my internal monolog has less than nothing to do with reality. She’s just a 17 year-old girl. How could she possibly know that I’ve promoted her to the queen of my universe?
“Should be pretty awesome,” I concede. God, could I possibly be any more boring?
Marnie is Kevin’s girlfriend. Not mine. She also goes to a different high school, across town from where Kevin and I go. Kevin plays in a band. Not just in a band but he’s the front man. It’s his band. They’re called the Chucklebuckets and they’re pretty good. Sometimes they’re a little bit wussy and do some slower songs, but mostly their stuff is pretty punk and hard and fast. As a result Kevin is like one of the most popular kids in school and the girls go nuts for him, which makes me want to kill him. On the other hand, I know it’s not his fault the girls like him. At heart, Kevin is a good dude, but then he’s also kind of a sleaze-bag when it comes to the ladies. I know he’s cheated on Marnie. He said he felt bad about it, but if I had a girl like Marnie, that just wouldn’t happen. Kevin and I smoke out all the time and lately we’ve been doing a lot of coke together. He’s pretty generous with his drugs, which is a rare thing in a friend. You know what they say, “A friend with weed, is a friend indeed,” which is an expression that is doubly true for coke, it just doesn’t rhyme.
“So where’s Caitlyn? I thought she was coming with us.” I ask.
“She had to do something with her parents.” Marnie replies.
“Aw, that’s too bad.”
“Why? You like her don’t you?”
“No. Not really. I mean, I like her, but she’s not necessarily my type.”
“Trevor’s got a crush! That’s so cute!” She grabs my arm and hangs off of me, my guts twisting with longing at her touch. It’s true Marnie’s friend Caitlyn is hot. She’s a gorgeous blond, but she’s also like an Amazon. Big girls scare me and Caitlyn is almost as tall as me. Also I know for a fact that she has less than no interest in dating me. She only dates older dudes. Guys that aren’t in high school, that’s for sure.
“No, I don’t! I was just wondering where she was, is all.” I protest.
“It’s ok. Don’t be embarrassed. She’s a pretty girl.”
“I’m NOT embarrassed,” I say, louder than I meant to. I feel the blood rushing to my face anyway. I’m blushing despite the fact that I’m telling the truth. I want to scream, “I DON’T have a crush on Caitlyn! I love you, Marnie! YOU! You perfect fucking idiot! How could you be with HIM!? Of all the people! Him? You are smarter than that! He’ll leave you. And soon!” But of course I don’t. Instead I try and keep us moving towards the subway station and attempt to will Marnie into talking about something, anything, anything besides Caitlyn. Eventually, thankfully, our conversation turns to school and brothers and family and plans for college and life.
The thing with Marnie is, she’s in love with Kevin. And who could blame her? She’s 17 and she’s fucking cute. She’s cool and she dresses cool and she seems so comfortable with being a crazy, sexy girl. It makes sense that she’s in love with a teenage rock-star. She’s possessed with a sense of poise and ease and self-confidence and she smiles and looks just the slightest bit cross-eyed but in a way that makes her perfect and beyond description. It all just kind of sucks that she loves Kevin and that Kevin trusts me to pick up his girlfriend and take her across the city to go to a party where he and his band are the main event. If he knew how I felt maybe he wouldn’t ask it of me, but then again maybe he would. There’s one thing I’m sure of in this scenario and that is that Kevin is not losing sleep worrying if Marnie is going to leave him in order to date me.
We get to the subway station. I want to save the buck so I hop the turn-style and ride the escalator down to the platform, me standing just a couple of steps in front of Marnie. I try not to look at her legs, but I fail at least twice. When the subway arrives the air being pushed through the tunnel makes her skirt fly up and I get a look at her pink underwear. It has lacy trim on it. The little lacy flourish makes my stomach wilt it’s so beautiful. I try to commit the image to memory. I’m sure that she sees me looking but she doesn’t say anything. Maybe she’s going to tell Kevin about what a perv I am. I feel the blood in my cheeks again. We walk into the subway-car and sit down next to one another. When I look over at her, she just smiles pleasantly at me. I’m not sure if she’s seen me looking at her, or not. She’s just at ease, pretty much the polar opposite of how I feel.
When we arrive at my buddy Dan’s house in Jamaica Plain, Kevin and the rest of the band are hanging out drinking beer and getting stoned.
“Thanks for picking up Marnie, dude. I really appreciate it. Don’t like her riding the subway alone,” he says.
“No problem,” I reply, imagining that I’d pledge to do it everyday for the rest of my life, if I could.
As Marnie greets some friends, Kevin grabs my elbow and steers me into a messy, male-scented bedroom. He grabs a cd from a shelf, sits on the un-made bed and opens a fold that he’s pulled from his pocket. He taps a small pile of coke onto the plastic and uses his ID to split it into a couple of lines.
“I don’t know what I’m gonna do about her next year, dude,” he says and dives head first at the cd, inhaling half the pile. He flips his long dark hair back and cranes his head backwards, using gravity to propel the drugs up his nose and extending the rolled up $5 bill towards me. “…you know, when we go away to school.” He’s referring to the fact that Marnie is still just a junior in high school. Kevin and I are seniors.
I take the bill and snort my little pile. It’s good coke, rock-star coke. I wait for the rush and sniffle a little bit.
“If I had a girl like her dude, I wouldn’t let something like that stand in your way. Hold onto her,” I offer. I immediately regret saying it.
The coke and its predictably pleasant energy surge courses through me. I begin to float ever so slightly. Kevin is looking at me awkwardly, in a way that’s too contemplative for being high on coke.
“Or not…” I offer awkwardly. “I mean, we’re young, right?”
He chuckles softly, “Yeah, right. We’re young,” his handsome face framed pleasantly by his long greasy hair.
We walk back into the dirty living room and join the 12 or so other kids that are standing around drinking cheap keg-swill in the early evening twilight that leaks in through the large front windows of the apartment. The room has a porch that looks out over Center Street, where still more people are gathered. Marnie sees us coming from out on the porch. She practically vibrates with anticipation, as she waits for Kevin to reach her. My heart sinks, even though I know it shouldn’t, that I have no right to these feelings. When we step through the doorway, she drapes her arms around him. She hangs off his shoulders like an accessory or a mink coat. We stand around talking.
Dusk snowballs into night and I drink with purpose. With the cocaine in my system the beer goes unnoticed. I’m trying to get the beer down as fast as possible. It’s just what I’m doing. It’s not jealousy I feel. I think its sadness, sadness because I know what’s in store for Marnie. I wish I was in Kevin’s place so I could spare her the let down that’s surely coming. I’d be true to her. I know how a girl like Marnie should be treated and I wouldn’t let her out of my sight or mistreat her, ever. I should tell her. She deserves to know what I have to offer her. She deserves to know that Kevin won’t, no, no, he can’t be the guy she deserves.
Around 9 or 10, Kevin hooks me up again with another bump and we walk as a group down the street to the enormous loft space that is hosting the gig tonight. I thank god for the blow as I’m really feeling the alcohol. With the coke I’m able to pull myself together a little bit. I wonder as we walk to the gig where I get off telling my buddy how to treat his girlfriend? I seriously need to chill out. On the other hand, what’s her responsibility in all this? She’s a big girl, how would she react if she knew what a scumbag her boyfriend is? How he regularly cheats on her? Would she be able to see how I’m the one that really cares about her if she were to know?
When we arrive at the loft we’re waved through the door and begin wading through the crowd of kids. It’s a big show; there must be 500 people here. Kevin is spotted pretty much immediately and is drawn into one conversation and then another. I decide to go grab more alcohol at the keg in the back of the room. When I return with a beer, Marnie is standing there alone. Kevin has gone back-stage to prepare for the show.
I have to scream over the music playing over the P.A. “He’s a good dude, isn’t he?”
“Huh?” she yells.
“He’s a good dude!” I shout again. I don’t know what I’m saying. Why would I say that?
“Of course,” she says, her face crunched in a quizzical look. “I have a favor to ask. I have to be home by 12:30! Will you ride the last subway home with me?” She looks into my eyes so earnestly I want to melt for the millionth time tonight.
“Sure,” I say. “No problem.”
“Thank you, Trevor! You’re so sweet! I really appreciate it!” She gives me a hug and squeezes me hard. Her breasts push into my chest and her hair covers my face. I’m overcome by the smell of her shampoo and the slight perspiration on her neck. I shut my eyes and inhale. When we part she just stands there, looking up at me with a slight smile on her face. I swallow my cup of beer in three big gulps.
“Let’s get more beer,” I bark and she nods in assent. I take her hand and make way through the crowd to the keg again. I have to fight with about a hundred alcohol-starved teenagers to get to the keg with our cups, so when I finally do make it to the spigot, knowing it might take a while to get back, I fill one cup and hold out the other. As the second cup fills, I shotgun the beer I have in my hand. Spillover beer cascades down my t-shirt and across my belly as I gulp down the entire cup’s worth of beer. I manage to finish it and maintain my position in the keg-line though. I refill the empty cup and head back to Marnie. From there we fight our way to the stage and wait for The Chucklebuckets to come on. As we work our way through the crowd I start to get the spins. I could sure use some more of that rock-star coke to straighten me out a little bit.
We finally make it to the front and we have to fight to stay there. Kids, trying to get to where we are, pull and push on us. Thankfully, it’s only a minute or two before Kevin steps out onto the stage, looking like a male model and kicks the show off with the group’s signature song, “Fatally Familiar.”
Another stupid day, no way…
I’m gonna listen to these fools,
Motherfucking stay in school,
You, my Mom and Ed, just feel free to go ahead and suffer,
the Fatally familiar! Fatally familiar! Fatally familiar!
The kids are going nuts, the room having erupted into a seething mass of bodies. People trample one another in an attempt to get onto the stage, but somehow Marnie manages to maintain her place and stares up at Kevin. One of the stage-lights has framed her upturned face perfectly, her rapt adulation for Kevin is as clear as the bodies pressing me against the stage. Maybe this is my role. Maybe I’m meant to be here and Kevin is just the vehicle to bring the two of us, Marnie and I, together. Will she be able to see it when I tell her? She stares at him and I’m turned from the stage looking at her. I want to cry for joy, for the 3 of us, locked in this dance of emotion, of intimacy and love.
And then, BANG! I’m on the floor. Someone is standing on my hand! And now I am being kicked in the ribs and my leg is being stepped on. I can feel hands trying to pull me up, the music still so loud I can’t hear anything else, the music and a ringing in my ears. Feet and boots and sneakers are stomping all around me. I put one hand down to push myself up and someone steps on my pinky. Hands are under my armpits pulling. I’m dead weight though, with my legs splayed out in front of me, and it’s too much for whoever is pulling and I’m dropped back onto the floor. Somebody stomps my foot and pain shoots through my ankle. I flip over and I’m able to rise to my knees and more hands, more than one person, helps me to my feet. Finally I’m standing again. I try to push my way out of the crowd as whoever helped me up is gone, they’ve done their part and I’m alone. I can’t put any weight on my foot though! It fucking hurts, bad. I lean on the moving bodies in the crowd and I make it to the back of the loft. I sit on the floor. It’s disgusting, there’s beer and cigarettes and lord knows what else all over the place but I can’t stand on my leg. So I just sit. My hands are black with soot.
The music continues, the whole room a riot of activity and I’m alone here. So fucking alone. I’m not drunk anymore, just hurting and sitting, not able to hear anything but the music and the ringing in my head as I experience the pain from the stomping I just took. There’s pain at the back of my head. It’s a headache and it hurts, bad. I put my hand to the back of my skull and I can feel the blood. I look at my hand. Now it’s black with soot and smeared with blood. And then I look up and Marnie parts the bodies in front of me and kneels beside me. Her smile is the most potent balm I can imagine at this moment. And then I realize, I can see right up her skirt!
“Oh my god! Trevor, are you ok?” She inspects my head, her beautiful hair enveloping me as she fingers my skull.
“I saw it! I saw the whole thing. That asshole kicked you in the back of the head! Do you remember? Did you get knocked out?” She looks right into my eyes from about 6 inches away. The experience is fucking intense! Her eyes, they are so beautiful. She makes me follow her finger. I guess I’m able to do it, because she looks relieved.
“Do you remember any of it?” she asks.
“I guess…” I say, although I really don’t. I must have been knocked out. That’s the only explanation that makes any sense.
“I tried to get through the crowd to help you up. But I couldn’t.”
“It’s ok, You’re here now.”
“I know,” she laughs and I see a tear slip from her eye. “Aw, Trevor. My poor little Trevor. You gonna be ok?”
“Yeah I’m alright. I’ll be ok.” I look down at her legs, I can almost still see her underwear. Despite the pain in my foot and in my head, I feel my dick get hard.
“Good. Do you want to get out of here?” she asks.
I don’t want her to see my hard-on. “Can we just sit for a minute?”
“Of course.” She smiles at me and puts her head on my shoulder. I shift uncomfortably trying to get my dick into a better place inside my pants.
Twenty minutes later Marnie is holding me up as I limp into the entrance of the subway station. I’m too injured to hop the turn-style this time, so I pay my fare at the booth and lean against Marnie on the escalator down to the platform.
The train arrives and we board it. There are only a few other people in the car at this late hour. We sit next to one another. It feels to me like we’re a couple, with her arm hung around my shoulder. I chew my lip wondering if I should tell her how I feel. I can’t imagine a better time.
“You know, Kevin never stops talking about you, you know that?” She says softly.
This is surprising news. “What? Why?”
“You know, he just tells me what a good friend you are. How he really appreciates having you around. How excited he is for the two of you, for the future.” She’s cradling me like a mother would a baby. This is not good. It’s not the direction I imagined our conversation going.
“Oh.” I say.
“Yeah, oh. What do you want me to say?” I add defensively.
“I don’t know. I just thought you’d like to know that he says nice stuff like that.”
“Well thank you. But, but, I don’t know what to say. That’s nice of him I guess. But at the end of the day it’s not him I really care about.”
“Huh? That doesn’t make any sense. What do you mean?” She sits a bit more upright and takes her arm from around my neck. “Who do you care about then?”
I take a breath. Just fucking say it. I say it. “You! That’s who I care about…”
She doesn’t say anything and turns away. I prod her, “What? What do you have to say about that?”
She turns back and she’s seething. “That’s fucked up, Trevor. What do you mean, you care about me? Like as a friend?”
I exhale. Maybe this whole thing was a bad idea. “No. Not as a friend. You should be with me. Not him. I’d treat you like you should be treated. Can’t you see that?”
“What are you talking about? Are you out of your mind? I love Kevin. You know that!”
Alright, I’m going for broke. What the fuck. “It’s not that simple, Marnie. You don’t have all the information. He doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated! I’m the one who really cares about you…”
It’s like I’ve slapped her. She pulls further away from me on the bench and her eyes quiver on the verge of tears.
“What are you saying… Wait. I don’t want to know. Kevin treats me exactly how I want to be treated and YOU are being mean!”
“I’m being nice, Marnie. You just don’t know it. You’ll thank me later, when you know the truth.”
The train pulls into a station, somewhere in the middle of the city. Marnie transforms in an instant. Suddenly she’s not going to cry anymore. She’s angry. The subway lurches to a stop and the doors open. “I won’t be thanking you, Trevor and I’ve heard enough of this. Good night.” She stands up, grabs her bag and runs through the doors and out onto the platform. The doors close behind her and the train starts up again before I make the decision to go after her. I stand up and through the window I see her walking toward the exit, not looking in my direction. Nice going, Trevor.
I spend the day in bed on Sunday and sleep late on Monday too, trying to recuperate from the stomping I took on Saturday night. I’m also worried about what Kevin is going to do when Marnie unloads on him about what happened on the train ride home. Thankfully my Mom doesn’t hassle me too much when Monday morning rolls around and leaves me to sleep in.
On Tuesday it’s mid-day before I see Kevin at school. I’m shitting bricks, hoping he’s not planning to pop me in the face for my transgression. I guess I deserve it, but I’m already pretty beat up, so I’m not looking forward to enduring more physical pain.
I spot him hanging out on the “freak stairs” where me and my friends usually hang out. When I see him through the window, I decide to keep moving, but he sees me and comes rushing into the hallway after me. I see him coming and run a little faster, but my hearts not in it.
“Trevor! Dude! Hey, hold up!” He comes bounding down the stairs and catches me on the landing. I brace myself, ready to hold him off if he comes at me.
“Are you ok? I heard you got knocked out at the show.”
“Oh, yeah, I’m ok. Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Oh good! I was worried when I didn’t see you yesterday. I was wondering…”
“Yeah, I mean I twisted my ankle I think, but no big thing.” I say.
“Cool man. Glad to hear it. That was a rad gig. Sorry you couldn’t stay for the end, but seriously man, I owe you big time for taking Marnie home,” he says earnestly. I look into his eyes, trying to see if he’s fucking with me, but I can’t tell.
“So what’s up? You free now? Wanna go blaze?”
I definitely want to go smoke but I gotta get to the bottom of this, “So Marnie? She’s ok? She’s cool?”
“Yeah man, she’s great. Seriously, thank you so much for bringing her to and from the gig. She said she had fun and that she felt terrible for you, that you seemed pretty fucked up, you know, after the gig. After you got knocked out.”
“No doubt man. Talk about a headache. I woke up on Sunday and wanted to die.” I say, still processing the situation. It seems as if I’ve gotten off scott-free.
Man, what a piece of work that Marnie is! Maybe she’s not the virtuous, innocent flower I initially imagined. Maybe she and Kevin deserve each other! She didn’t tell him? How fucked up is that? Does she think I’m not important enough to mention to her fucking boyfriend? Am I that laughable? That’s seriously out of whack. Fucking cunt. I dodged a bullet on that one, I think to myself as we walk off campus to go get stoned. I wouldn’t want Kevin’s sloppy seconds anyway. What a fucking dickhead.