This story is about a crazy road trip with a couple of heavy drinkers/druggies in the 80s.
|A couple days AFTER my 20th birthday (Circa 1986), I started dating a guy named Morgan. With a smile that would charm the devil, a heavily built chest and 12-pack abs from working construction, Morgan was a 22-year-old HOTTIE.
That said, one very busy Thursday night in February when I was working at a jazz club, the Monarch Cafe, Morgan swaggered in, wrapped his arms around me and whispered, “Wanna go to New York?”
I laughed and said, “Absolutely. We can get breakfast…” but the dark glint of worry in his eyes gave me pause. “You can’t be serious?”
He nodded. “Tonight. I’m…I’m in trouble, serious trouble,” he said somberly.
“What’s going on?”
“I’ll explain later, okay?”
I nodded. However, the word “trouble,” only created a minor BLIP on my anxiety barometer, like being late on his rent or pissing off a crazy neighbor who came at him with a shotgun for keeping him up all night partying or something.
“I have to work tomorrow, and I’ve got class on Monday.”
“So, do I,” Morgan said, sarcastically as if WORK/school were of no consequence. “I love you, Kennedy, please?”
I just stared at him. This was the FIRST time he’d sputtered any allusion to “LOVE” in the 30 days we’ve known each other – except to say how much he LOVED my 38D’s.
“I love you too, but…”
Like a beer fried 20-year-old, I thought about it for a moment, but the possibility of unbridled/entertaining madness with my “new love” QUASHED all sense of logic. So, I said, “Okay, okay. After last call.”
He nodded, smiling, and said, “Thank you! You won’t regret it. I promise!” And he grabbed me and planted the MOST passionate kiss upon my lips that I had EVER tasted.
After work, I rushed out to Morgan’s dark blue, rather battered Chevy van parked out front. Morgan’s best friend, Ryan, hopped out of the front seat, so I could slide in beside Morgan.
Ryan was a good-looking, sophisticated fellow with a jagged smile, courtesy of a chipped tooth. Ryan was studying art history, and I assume he wanted to get his Ph.D. and teach.
“What happened?” I asked, gesturing to the radio now playing THE CURE, while hanging in midair from its cubby hole by a jugular of green and yellow wires.
“I walked out this morning, and someone had smashed the window,” he answered tilting his head toward the driver’s side window framed in jagged shards of glass where he’d haphazardly taped a thick wad of butcher paper. “They scarfed all my cassettes, but let go of the radio once they saw me and -”
At which point, as if ON CUE, I heard barking. I looked back, and there was Caesar, Morgan’s 45-pound dog, a beautiful blond mutt in the back of the van on a dirty mattress, wildly wagging his tail.
“You’re bringing Caesar?” I asked.
“Of course,” Morgan said, starting the van. “There’s no one to take care of him.”
I nodded, but I was worried about the furry addition to our manifest. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE dogs, but with less than 500 bucks between us, another consumer seemed unwise. The animal shelter seemed like a better choice, but it wasn’t my call.
First stop after going to my apartment to pack a few things – was Jackson’s carryout. Morgan bought two cases of Budweiser. I would’ve bought Natty Light** to save money, but, again not MY CALL… Ryan opened three beers and passed them around, then held up his bottle and said, “Let the games begin.”
To-wit, we ALL laughed.
Long about the Pennsylvania state line, a wicked GUST of wind ripped the paper off the lower quadrant of the metal window frame. And the butcher paper began flapping wildly in rhythm to the FULL VOLUME, glass-battering WHISTLE…and the blistering COLD hit us like nobody’s business.
Morgan’s saddened eyes met mine. And I’m sure my gaze conveyed the woe my ears and my FLASH-frozen skin were experiencing.
“Shit,” Morgan said, chuckling.
“Should I sing to drown it out?” Ryan asked.
“If it’ll raise the temperature,” I said laughing through chattering teeth.
“No,” Morgan replied. “I don’t want Caesar diving over the side to 86 the screeching of your vocal chords.”
“That’s harsh,” Ryan said good-naturedly, as his laughter blended into mine.
A truck stop snaked its way onto the horizon, and Morgan said, “Let there be food!” Again, we laughed. Caesar then barked several times in complaint after jumping into the driver’s seat just as Morgan was shutting the door, but we had to ignore him.
We sat in a large booth in the crowded diner/truckstop. We all ordered burgers and fries from the double-wide waitress, who had two ink pens parked in her large tornado of gray hair atop her large head.
As soon as the hefty waitress waddled her way back toward the kitchen, Ryan suddenly cut his gaze to Morgan, “Want some dessert first?” he asked, producing a small film canister from his pocket.
“Hit me with your best shot,” Morgan said, grinning, a tell-tale TWINKLE in his eye.
Ryan laughed, and Morgan popped a little black blob into his mouth from the canister, probably Acid if I had to guess. That seemed to be their drug du jour of late. “Don’t worry,” Morgan said, seeing the gleam of anxiety emanating from my EVERY PORE. “It’s -”
“It’s not very potent,” Ryan explained.
“Is that what you’ll tell the officer when he drags our dead bodies from the van?”
“Oh, my, aren’t we the drama queen this evening?” Ryan slurred angrily.
My eyes must’ve flashed my annoyance rather well because Ryan followed his snarky comment with “I think you two should get married.” Whether as a diversion or an honest statement, you could never tell with Ryan. Being ambiguous was his part-time job.
“What?” I said, laughing.
Morgan gave Ryan an UGLY SCOWL.
“I told you I was going to tell her,” Ryan replied with a devilish grin.
“What the hell’re you talking about?”
“Nothing. Ryan had a stupid dream, and we-”
“You love her, don’t you?” Ryan asked.
“You know I do,” Morgan said, his eyes not wavering from Ryan’s somber face.
“Excuse me, but I’m RIGHT here, guys!” I retorted.
“Then, don’t be a coward,” Ryan said.
And that statement RANKLED my innards! “What the HELL are you talking about, Ryan?” I asked rather confused by the really weird segue in dialogue, which could have been chemically induced, but they had just consumed their little happy blobs less than five minutes ago...which I thought was probably not enough time for Pink Floyd-ish modes of conversation.
“Can we talk about this later?” Morgan asked.
“Okay, but it’s your funeral,” Ryan said.
Which made ABSOLUTELY no sense, especially considering what happened when we ARRIVED…which I’ll get to momentarily...
An hour later, we retreated back to the WHISTLING van. After about my seventh beer, the incessant shrieking from the wind bashing Morgan’s broken window became a whisper, and I fell head first into the soft darkness of sleep on the mattress with Caesar snoring beside me. HOURS later, I was awakened when Morgan shouted, “Look only two miles to the beach!”
“What Beach?” I asked crawling back into the front seat beside Morgan. I noticed that daylight was cresting upon the horizon when I muttered, “Where are we?” …just as a HUGE and disappointing sign appeared:
WELCOME TO VIRGINIA BEACH
“What the FUCK are we doing in Virginia?” I asked, laughing, thinking that neither of them is EVER allowed to tease ME for getting lost.
Ryan and Morgan laughed in unison, followed by a glassy-eyed wink between them. Oh, fuck…we’re not lost. We’re in search of Spock’s LOST UNICORN that lives at the BEACH, of course, in the world according to ACIDIC HALLUCINATIONS.
“We kinda decided to hit the beach first,” Ryan said.
“I see that.”
Ryan and Morgan broke into little girl giggles like I’VE never seen, followed by horse laughs. “Oh, my God,” Ryan sneered, “she’s right. You can’t. Oh, fuck…(insert more GUFFAWS)…We’re doomed, doomed I tell you until we find the man behind the curtain!”
Note to self: SEEK a really brilliant SHRINK immediately UPON RETURNING HOME.
For almost an hour, we stood on the WHITE cold beach as snow spit in flurries all around us. Morgan and Ryan chattered on and on about their UNICORN summer when Morgan’s cherry got popped by some bimbo from Alabama, and Caesar barked NONSTOP while chasing the surf.
FINALLY, after slogging through 10 inches of new SNOW and 20-mile an hour traffic throughout PA and southern New Jersey, followed by getting stuck for THREE hours on I-95 behind a truck that had spilled gasoline in the wake of its WRECK, finally 3+ days later, we traversed the Holland Tunnel, crossing into the blessed LAND of Manhattan – at 11 a.m.
First stop, a tavern, of course, by the name of RIPLEY’S on the lower East side. We ordered some breakfast and a round of Mimosas.
We wandered about lower Manhattan and Midtown all day, trekking in and out of bookstores, swanky-ish shops and various watering holes until around 8 p.m. when we ducked back into Ripley’s. Not FIVE minutes after Morgan ordered a Tequila shooter for himself and a Heineken for me, a girl named Delilah joined us.
Delilah was a very pretty redhead, and I just ASSUMED she was with Ryan. I knew that Morgan and Ryan had spent many weekends here in the last couple of years, so I didn’t suspect anything unseemingly was going on until Morgan turned to me around midnight and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t stay with you tonight.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“I need somewhere to stay.”
“You have a warm bed WAITING for you at our hotel -!”
“I can’t go back to West Virginia.”
“I know that, but why-?”
“Here. Read this,” he said, handing me a very wrinkled document from his pocket.
I glanced at the legal SLOP on the document as he continued, “I stole $2800 from First Savings when I was a teller there. I’m moving in with Delilah.”
Can you say WHAT THE FUCK?
The full impact of his statement hit me like an ASTEROID on CRACK! I was COMPLETELY stunned. I stood up and stared at him for a moment. And he had the NERVE to be TEARY-EYED. I wanted to break his goddamned nose, turn those teary eyes BLACK, but instead, I yelled, “Then, why the FUCK did you bring me here?”
His only answer was to LOOK AWAY.
Delilah tossed wicked EYE darts at me, then signaled the waitress for another beer.
“And I blew off my JOB for you!? What was I then, your back up plan?”
At that, Morgan cut his gaze to mine, “I’m sorry, I really-”
“Fuck off, you low-life bastard!” I SCREAMED launching Delilah’s beer bottle against the wall. The CRASH was rather loud. Glass scattering EVERYWHERE, and at least TWO dozen CURIOUS eyes sought me out from across the room, but luckily, the 1/2 ounce of beer wash merely ran down the wall – avoiding any patrons. Thank God!
“What the fuck?” Delilah screamed. “What was that for?”
“You fucking whore!” I shouted.
A comment that brought Delilah to her feet, “What’d you call me, you stupid HICK!?”
“You heard me, SLUT DOG!” I retorted barging my way past her and POUNDING out the door as fast as I could, once again into the BRUTAL cold.
STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOLKS for all the gory DETAILS…
OVER AND OUT FROM FUCKED UP CENTRAL…
To read the SEQUEL to NYC or Bust, go to: http://tenaciousbitch.wordpress.com.
**NATURAL LIGHT for those just joining CRAZYTOWN