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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #589173
an outsider's view
Chapter 4




Bastard!




October 7, 2000



                   Bob Leeds went to see a Big Al Vestor concert on Saturday October 7. He couldn’t have afforded to pay for a ticket, so he won a free one. One of the radio stations offered a raffle, giving away free tickets. Leeds figured he had nothing to lose; he had to go to the store anyway. Bob needed a certain type of file called a “bastard” file. It was the most common type of file used in aviation. Spartan School Of Aeronautics offered boxes of all the tools needed for the course. However, Leeds had waived that offer, deciding to stretch out the expense. So he went to the store in question & entered the contest. Leeds kept his fingers crossed as the names were drawn. The 2nd name drawn was his. He actually won 2 tickets, but he didn’t think he’d find a girl to take. He briefly thought of  asking Lynette. But Leeds had gotten to know Lynette Hyatt, the only girl in all his Airframe & Powerplant classes, just that Tuesday, the second day of the 12 week 4th Quarter at Spartan. Leeds didn’t even know her phone number let alone her address. So he nixed that idea. Tickets in hand,  he went to the tool section, and bought his file.

         On Saturday night, Bob went to the Expo Center, right next to the Tulsa State Fair, where the concert was held. Leeds made his way through the crowd. As he did, he spotted 2 pretty women in the crowd. One was blond, the other a redhead. Bob called out to them: “Hey, you two goin’ to the concert?”

                   The blonde nodded. The redhead whispered something in the blonde’s ear, looking at Bob out of the corner of her eye. The blonde giggled as though told a joke. Both women were tall and voluptuous, and appeared to be alone. Bob couldn’t believe what he was about to say next.

                   Holding up his tickets, Bob called: “Either of you ladies care to join me? I gots an extra ticket!”

The redhead flinched and hid behind the blonde. The blonde pretended to faint against the redhead. Bob laughed, but continued on to try to find his seat. The seat number was printed on his ticket. Bob kept the blonde and the redhead in sight. They appeared to go off in a different direction, presumably to find their seats. Leeds sighed and looked for his seat number. When he found it, there was an empty seat beside it for his other ticket. That other seat stayed empty. The blonde and the redhead sat nowhere near Bob.

                   The concert went well anyway. Big Al Vestor was one of the popular new traditional country artists that had appeared on the scene since 1989. Leeds had been a Big Al fan since 1994. A blind country singer named Billy Moss opened the show. Leeds had heard Billy Moss this last year on the radio. He was pretty good. But clearly Big Al Vestor was the star of the show, and the crowd wait impatiently for Billy Moss to finish, so Big Al could start.

         Big Al himself came on stage amid cheers from the crowd. He was six feet tall, with short blond hair under his cowboy hat, deep blue eyes, and a handsome face. He was about 33 years old. He played an electric guitar as he sang. Leeds was surprised at the number of fans his own age at the concert. He’d thought no one his age liked Country music. Big Al started with a hit from the previous year (Goin’ West), then did some of his older hits, such as One Love, before coming back to his more recent hits (like The Hunt Is On) and some songs that were not hits (such as The Ballad Of Monte Evans). The crowd got wilder and rowdier as the concert wore on. Suddenly, somebody fell over the empty seat beside Bob. Leeds looked up to see 2 guy exchanging blows behind him. Gees, Bob thought. It was as rowdy as a rock concert!Finally, Big Al got to the last song, his current hit (“End Of  The Line”). The crowd cheered loudly as Big Al Vestor walked off the stage. Leeds got up from his seat and looked around, but couldn’t find the blonde and redhead he’d seen earlier. Too bad.

                   Leeds made his way back to the car. He drove back to his apartment. On the way he turned on the radio. They were playing Big Al’s songs back to back. Leeds kept the radio on all the way.

                   The rest of the weekend was spent mostly reading the many books he hoarded. He also did some homework, but it didn’t take long. The next Monday started another long week of school.



Chapter 5






Tulsa Blues






                             “O.K. guys,” Lynette Hyatt said on the Monday beginning the 6th week of the 12-week 4th quarter at Spartan School Of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Party at my place this Friday!”

                   Bob Leeds looked up from his place at the far right front row of tables in the Basic Mechanics classroom. He looked around and back at the class. 30 people in one apartment? Leeds didn’t see how that was possible. He knew one thing, however. He was going to Lynette’s party. One way or another, he’d make it there. Bob was determined to.



                             The instructor, Mr. Bardot, had just finished taking attendance. Now it was time to begin the lecture in theory. Leeds took notes at a furious pace. Some students were recording the lecture, but Leeds just wrote. He was not just hearing what was said. He was feeling it.

                             After an hour and 15 minutes of  lecturing, questions and answers, and furious note taking, it was time for a break. Bob usually went to break room or the video game arcade at the North Campus. But this time he stayed behind. Lynette usually spent here breaks in the classroom, as now. Bob wanted to ask Lynette for her address. So he tore a page out of his note book and approached. As he did so, he became filled with doubt. Normally, he didn’t have any trouble talking to her. Now though, he recognized his old enemy shyness. There was no one else in the room except Leeds, Lynette, and Jimmy Cormack, who sat by Leeds in the far right front row of tables in the classroom. That helped a little; Bob had always been more afraid of crowds than any individual person. But it didn’t help much, however.

                             Cormack grinned his usual stupid looking grin. He looked just like Bill Clinton.

                             “You want to talk to Lynette, Bob,” he asked. He might have been reading Bob’s mind.

                             “Yeah, I want to ask her for her address but I don’t know quite how to put it,” Leeds whispered to Cormack.

                             “Just say ‘Lynette where’s your house at,'” Cormack told him.

                   Leeds decided to put it in his own words.

                             “Lynette, what’s the address of your apartment?”

                             “It’s called Wood Creek on Garnett,” she said pronouncing Garnett with the accent on the second syllable as the locals did. Bob wrote that down on the piece of paper along with the apartment number she gave him. Address in hand (he would hold onto it with all his might; he would not trust his memory) he went back to his table. Soon the break ended.

                             “You goin’ to go to Lynette’s party this Friday, Bob?” Cormack asked, still grinning that stupid looking grin.

                             “Yeah, I’ll be there,” Leeds told Cormack and himself.

                             The lecture began again with 50 more minutes of note taking, questions and answers followed by another 10 minute break. This time,  Leeds went to the break room, got pop and snacks, and went to the arcade and watched some video games. Some times he played, but not usually during break. For one thing, there wasn’t usually enough time, and Leeds didn’t want to be late getting back from break.

         For another thing Bob  wasn’t that good at video games. So he watched other players in order to learn strategies. Bob found he could double his scores just by learning a single new strategy. Doubling one of Bob’s high scores was no great feat on some games. But he never gave up playing.

                             After break it was 50 more minutes of lecturing and furious note taking. Then finally the day ended. Bob closed his note book with relief, and put the note book in his back pack along with his text books. Then he got up and started to leave. It was raining outside. Leeds cursed silently. His car was still in the garage. He had been in a car accident last Friday. The collision had occurred at the intersection of 2nd Street and Memorial Drive as he was driving up Memorial Drive on his way to the bank as he was driving up Memorial. Another driver had pulled out of a parking lot of a store on 2nd. Leeds had jammed on the brakes, braking to 10 & releasing to 9, but it was too late. Bob’s left front fender hit the other guys rear left fender. It was the other guy’s fault, but it didn’t matter whose fault it was. Both suffered. Leeds was without a car. Leeds had had it towed to the garage, because he thought the engine was damaged in the collision. Leeds had seen steam coming out of the hood. He reported the accident to his insurance company. On Saturday, the garage assured Leeds that his engine was fine. He just needed to repair the dent in the fender. They would give him the estimate on Monday.

                             So now Leeds needed to get back to his apartment. His roommate had given him a ride to school, but he was at the South Campus where Avionics was taught. At the North Campus, where Airframe & Powerplant was taught, Leeds was now on his own. He supposed he could just walk, but there were no sidewalks between here and Sheridan Street, the nearest street with sidewalks.  As he was leaving the parking lot, one of the students stopped beside him in his car.It was Robert Delroix, a student in his Basic Mechanics class.

                             “Hey, Bob, you need a ride somewhere?”

                             Leeds nodded toward the other Robert, “Yeah, just back to my apartment.”

                   After he got inside, Leeds gave Delroix his address.

                             “What happened to you’re car?” Delroix asked. Leeds explained about the accident. They didn’t talk much on the way. Bob Leeds rarely did. They got back to Contempra Apartments on East 16th and Memorial Drive. Leeds thanked Delroix and got out of the car, pulling his back pack with him. He went over to the pay phone out side the office. He needed to call the garage for the estimate. Since he didn’t have a phone in the apartment, Leeds had to make all his calls from the pay phone. He fed some change into the phone. The bell rang at the other end. The man who answered was not Jimmy Conway but a man who called himself Terry.

                             “Hi, Bob Leeds,” he greeted Bob. At the other end of the phone, Leeds gave him the 1 finger salute. Leeds got the estimate from the man, hung up, and placed a collect call to his insurance agent. After giving him the estimate, he hung up, grabbed his backpack, and headed back to his apartment.

                             The next day was a shop day in Basic Mechanics. At the end of the day, it was still raining. Leeds couldn’t find Delroix to give him a ride. He had just resigned himself to walking, and started down the grass, when a woman stopped beside him in her car. She was a student not in any of Bob’s classes. She cautiously rolled down her window. Leeds could tell she didn’t quite trust him, but at least she didn’t totally distrust him either. Bob accepted the ride and got in. He gave her directions to his apartment and rode in silence to his apartment. He didn’t hurt her, but he didn’t talk to her either.

                             When he got back to Contempra, Leeds called the garage to ask about his car. They had gotten the green light from his insurance agent to repair the dent in his fender. They had given the money directly to the garage instead of  Bob, so all Leeds had to pay was the $500 deductible. That was a little steep for Leeds, but he couldn’t afford a lower deductible, either. After hanging up, Leeds went back to his apartment.

                   Friday afternoon finally came. Lecture day again. Leeds waited outside the Basic Mechanics classroom with his fellow students for the instructor to come and unlock the door to the classroom. Everybody was talking about Lynette’s party.

                             “Lynette got a bottle of Everclear,” Jimmy Zurito, a husky Hispanic student from Texas was saying as Leeds got there. Leeds had heard of Everclear, a 190 proof bourbon whiskey.

                             “You goin’ to share that Everclear with us?” Delroix asked Lynette. Like her, he was from Illinois.

                             “No! Nobody’s goin’ to drink my Everclear but me!” Lynette said greedily.

                             “You gonna drink Everclear, Bob?” Zurito asked Leeds.

                             “Yeah, I’ll charm Lynette out of it.” Leeds joked, trying to look like the ladykiller he wasn’t. Zurito laughed.

                             “You ready to get fucked up?” Zurito asked Jimmy Cormack. Cormack nodded, said “Yeah” rather absently, as though he were already drunk. He was grinning that rather stupid-looking grin that always seemed to be on his face.

                             Zurito laughed, “He’s always fucked up!” Leeds believed that.          

                             The instructor arrived and finally unlocked the door, letting his students in. As soon as the bell rang, the instructor took attendance, marking  “tardy” any students who arrived late (there weren’t many that day). He also checked ID badges; he wasn’t supposed to admit students without them.

                             During the 1st period of the class, the instructor showed them a videotape of a plane crash. It was a small passenger plane with retractable landing gear that wouldn’t go down. The pilot had to land the plane on its belly. The pilot flew around until he ran low on fuel, then he brought the plane in on its belly. Just before it touched down, the pilot cut the engine, and the propellers stopped turning. The belly of the plane crumpled under the weight of the landing, but none of the passengers were hurt. The reporter, who had been talking nonstop since the landing began suddenly finished with: “____no explosion, no fire, just about $8,000 worth of damage.” Then suddenly the landing started over again. Exactly the same action, sound, and commentary from the reporter ending with: ‘____no explosion, no fire, just about $8,000 worth of damage.’ Then the crash landing repeated itself a third time, ending again with: “____about $8,000 worth of damage.” Leeds and Delroix exchanged glances with each other from across the room. They both laughed at the three-time repetition. Others in the room mocked the reporter’s accent, but Leeds never forgot that video. If it’s funny, you’ll remember it, Leeds thought.

                             After the video was over, the instructor lectured about the video until break time. Then when break time came, Lynette for a change left the classroom. Leeds saw her in the break room during break talking to other guys, Delroix among them. Jimmy Zurito was also there, smoking a cigarette as usual. Leeds saw Zurito talking to Lynette, but was to far away to make out what he was saying. Bob didn’t go over; there was too big a crowd over there and he didn’t like crowds. He went into the video game room to watch video games.

         Second period was pretty normal, with the usual lecture and note taking. But during third period, the instructor said:

         “All right folks, take out a clean piece of paper.” with emphasis on the word “clean."

                   Zurito, who was sitting next to Cormack, who sat next to Leeds, looked up in dismay. The instructor was notorious for pop quizzes. Sure enough it was another pop quiz. Bob got out a clean piece of paper. Leeds and the other students in the classroom wrote down the  questions and answered them.

         After the quiz was finished, the students handed in the quizzes. The instructor collected them, then handed them back to the students in random order. After making sure nobody had their own quiz, he gave the answers, and the students corrected each others quizzes. As soon as they were corrected, they were handed back. Leeds got his, and was pleased to see he got only 1 question wrong, giving him over 90%. The pop quizzes counted for only 10% of the final grade in Basic Mechanics theory, but they still counted. Leeds and the other students handed the quizzes in to be graded.

                             Finally coming to the end of another Friday, Bob, like everyone else felt the familiar sense of freedom that comes with a weekend. Bob’s car was still in the garage, however. the dent had been repaired, and the fender repainted, but they said the paint was still drying. It had been raining all week and it was still raining. They said the humidity that came with the rain was causing the paint to dry slowly. All Bob knew was he still didn’t have a car. Or a ride home. Maybe because it was a Friday, or maybe because he spotted Jimmy Zurito alone at his pickup truck, Bob was bolder than usual. He went right over to Zurito, who waved and grinned at Bob. Leeds asked him for a ride. Zurito invited him. Leeds sat down on the seat beside Zurito. Leeds gave Zurito directions to his apartment, and settled back in the seat for the ride home. Leeds was still not sure his car would be ready tonight. They rode in silence for a while. Then Leeds asked Zurito of he could have another ride that night.

                             “Oh, the party?” the Texan asked. Leeds nodded. “Well, I don’t know if I’ll be there or not. It all depends on this girl I’m seeing.” Leeds nodded; he couldn’t rely on anyone else for transportation. That just meant the car would have to be ready tonight. If it wasn’t Bob Leeds would kill Terry. Then he’d go to the party anyway, even if he had to walk all the way in the rain. one way or another, he’d get there, soaked or dry. Zurito pulled into the driveway of Bob’s apartment complex. After thanking the Texan (“No problem, Bob” Zurito replied), Bob got out of the truck and headed directly for the office, and the pay phone. He placed a call to the garage to ask about his car. The call was answered by Terry as usual.

                             “Hi, Bob Leeds,” he greeted Leeds as usual. At the other end of the phone, Bob again gave him the one-finger salute. “Yeah, we have your car ready. As soon as you pay the $250 deductible, you can take it out of here.” Bob was not sure he heard right: $250? Leeds could have sworn the deductible on his insurance was $500. Leeds asked Terry to repeat what the deductible was. Just then, a plane flew over, drowning out Terry’s reply. It was impossible to have a conversation with a plane flying over. Bob waited patiently for it to fly over, then had to ask him to repeat a third time.

                             “Two hundred-fifty dollars, Bob Leeds. Can you afford that?” Leeds told him he could. $250 was easier to afford than $500. He hadn’t expected a discount, but he’d take it. Leeds hung up the phone, then tried to figure out what to do next.

                             His roommate wasn’t home, he had no idea where his roommate was. Leeds hoped Jimmy Conway was home. After locking his back pack in the apartment, Leeds walked over to the Conway’s house on 15th Street in the rain. Mrs. Conway answered the door. Jimmy Conway had just  gotten home from work. He promised to take Bob to the garage to pick up his car. On the way to the garage, Bob asked Jimmy why the deductible was only $250. Mr. Conway explained that they had used used parts to fix to car, hence the discount. Leeds didn’t mind that at all.

                             They got to the garage. Terry greeted Leeds  as he usually did, “Hi, Bob Leeds!” Bob didn’t give him the one-finger salute this time, though he felt like it. they led him over to his car, which was finished. The paint was dry, and looked like it had just rolled of the assembly line. Leeds wrote a check for $250, which he handed to Terry, who saluted gas station style with the palm outward and brought up. Nobody in the military saluted that way, Leeds knew. He almost did give him the one finger salute. Instead, he showed Terry his Wisconsin drivers License when Terry asked for it. After writing down Bob’s License number on the check, Terry gave Leeds a receipt and the keys to his car. Finally, Leeds was ready to go. He drove back to the apartment in the pouring rain.

                             Leeds got back to his apartment and got ready. He took a shower, washed and combed his hair, put on deodorant and cologne, and even combed his mustache, which was getting thicker after 7 weeks of growth. he took his time getting ready. He didn’t bother having supper; he wasn’t hungry anyway. Finally, at about 7:00 PM, he headed out to Lynette’s apartment.

                             Garnett Road was about 2 blocks away from Memorial Drive, where Bob’s apartment was. Leeds knew Mingo Road better which was between Garnett and Memorial. Leeds took Memorial up to 21st Street, and turn left onto 21st at the intersection. He took 21st down from Memorial past Mingo to Garnett Road. At Garnett, Leeds turned right at the intersection. He didn’t know exactly where on Garnett Wood Creek Apartments were, but he knew that they couldn’t be much farther up than say 41st Street. Leeds searched for Wood Creek on the right side of the road, but didn’t find Wood Creek. At just past 41st Street, Leeds got turned around and came back down Garnett Road, searching the other side of the road for Wood Creek. Down past 31st Street, 21st, 11th Street, 1st Street, Admiral Place. Between Admiral Place and Pine Street Leeds noticed a lot of apartment signs with the word “Creek” in their names: Pine Creek, Stone Creek, Hickory Creek, but no Wood Creek. Finally he got to Pine Street, where Garnett Road ended, and pulled into a gas station to rest. Bob knew he was close to finding it now. Wood Creek had to be between Pine & Admiral. That made sense. After all, Spartan South Campus was on Pine Street, and it made sense that Lynette lived near the South Campus, and incidentally near the airport. All aviation students and employees liked living near the airport. The sound of aircraft taking off and landing around the clock never bothered them, or Bob either. That’s how Bob knew he’d made the right career choice. The sound of aircraft taking off and landing around the clock was stimulating to Bob.

                             After fortifying himself with Cherry Coke, he again drove back up Garnett Road, searching the right side of the road as he did before; but this time the right side was the opposite side of the road. This time he found Wood Creek on the opposite side of the road that he had searched before. He almost missed the turn, but managed to pull into the parking lot of Wood Creek Apartments. Now all that remained was to find Lynette’s apartment.

                             Leeds parked his car, then got out the piece of paper he had written Lynette’s apartment number on. The apartments at Wood Creek were numbered differently than at Contempra, where Leeds lived. If he was reading it right, Lynette’s apartment was on the 2nd floor, but past that, he had no idea where Lynette’s apartment was. The decided to search on foot for Lynette’s apartment. After searching for a while, he finally found what he thought was Lynette’s apartment on the second floor. Leeds new he was close when he heard loud music. He knocked on the door, putting the scrap of paper in his pocket. Delroix answered the door, wearing a Holloween mask, growling at Bob, obviously trying to scare him. Leeds didn’t even blink. Cormack stood by Delroix, grinning his usual Bill Clinton grin.

                             “Hi, guys!” Leeds said coolly.

                             “Welcome to the party, Bob!” Cormack shouted as Delroix took off his mask and led Leeds into Lynette’s kitchen. Leeds and Cormack watched as Delroix reached for a bottle of Everclear in the kitchen and poured a dollop into a highball glass. Then Delroix reached for a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi, and filled the class to the top, careful not to let it fizz over. Finally, Delroix handed the concoction to Bob carefully. Bob took the drink, and cautiously brought it to his lips.

                             “Sip it, don’t gulp it.” Cormack advised

                             Leeds did sip it, the slug surprising Bob a little as it went down.

                   Bob Leeds grinned at Cormack and Delroix as he went out of the kitchen. Lynette Hyatt was sitting at a table in the living room drinking Everclear straight out of a shot glass.

                             “Hey, Bob, you made it!” Lynette greeted him. The brunette wasn’t the only one at the table, Zurito was sitting there also, smoking a Marlboro cigarette as usual. With him and Lynette at the table were Gemson from California, Volta from New York City, Jeremy Fitzmorris from Minnesota, Jeff Benjamin and Mike Norris, both from Wisconsin like Leeds. Peter H. Platte from West Bend, Wisconsin, was sitting in the couch in the living room, smoking a Salem cigarette with a woman who had to be his wife. Emmanuel Marten, a short, skinny black student from Michigan was also sitting on the couch with Platte and his woman. That was all Bob saw in the apartment right then.

                             “Bob, man, good to see you!” Zurito greeted Leeds as the latter sat down at the only chair left at the table. Gemson had a pair of dice, and started explaining a game to Leeds and the others at the table. He also started to explain what would happen when somebody lost.

                             “Strip?” Volta, the New Yorker asked. Leeds wondered the same thing. He’d already had only 3 sips of his drink, and was already gone.

                             “No!” Gemson said, sounding disgusted. “Listen!” He explained the game to the others. It was a craps-like game. The loser would have to take sips of his drink based on his score.



                             Lynette shook first. The dice landed in the middle of the table.

                             “OK. You’re a free man!” Gemson told Lynette.

                             “I’m a free woman!” Lynette corrected Gemson. They argued about it for a few minutes, but in the end, Gemson gave up, and let Lynette have her way.

                             Zurito shook next. The dice landed on the table. He had rolled a three.

                             “Three sips,” Gemson directed. Zurito took three sips of his drink, which looked to be the same as Bob’s.

                             Gemson’s turn came next. He blew on the dice for luck, and threw them on the table. He rolled a five. Gemson took five sips of his drink.

                             Volta, who sat next to Bob Leeds, shook next. The New Yorker rolled a nine. He took nine sips of his drink.

                             Leeds took the dice in his hand. He shook the dice and threw. It was a good shot; the dice completely missed the table, and landed on the carpet.

                             “Drink,” Gemson ordered as he picked up the dice off the floor. Leeds took one sip of his drink.

                   This time Leeds scooped up the dice in both hands and dropped the dice directly onto the table. The dice actually stayed on the table this time. a four. Bob took four sips of his drink.

                             “Those were wimpy sips,” Zurito observed.

                             “Doesn’t matter,” Gemson answered. They were real sips, that was what counted.

                             The turn went to Fitzmorris, who rolled an eight. He took 8 sips of his drink. He passed the dice to Benjamin, whose turn came next.

                             Jeff Benjamin shook the dice, and rolled a six. Benjamin took six sips of his drink. He passed the dice to Mike Norris.

                             Norris took the dice and shook them. He rolled a ten. He took 10 sips of his drink.



                             “Everybody gets 1 free sip,” Gemson said when the round finally ended. Everybady took a sip of their drink. The next round started in the same order as the last. Lynette was still a free woman, so she only drank if she wanted to and did. Bob leeds never won a round, but he had more than half his drink consumed by the time everybody lost interest in the game. Then the game ended and everybody got up from the table. Leeds got up and staggered around the apartment, drink in hand, sipping as he went.

                   

                             “Hey, Bob, man, let’s get some shots, man!” Zurito called from Lynette’s kitchen. Bob hesitated. He’d never been invited to do shots before, and didn’t quite know how to respond. As he thought it over drunkenly, his eyes rested on Pete Platte’s wife, still sitting on the couch with her husband. She silently shook her head. Leeds politely declined Zurito’s offer. He was going to stay within his limits tonight. He staggered around the apartment some more. Something was missing from the apartment. After a while, Leeds realized what it was: Lynette and Delroix were missing. Leeds didn’t know where they went. He heard FitzMorris and Benjamin discussing that in the living room by the table.

                             “Where did Lynette go?” Fitzmorris asked Benjamin.

                             “She and Delroix went of together somewhere,” Benjamin answered.

                             “Do you know where?” Fitzmorris asked.

                             “No!” Benjamin shook his head. Fitzmorris glanced at Leeds and suddenly let out a loud wolf howl. Leeds laughed as he had the same thought as FitzMorris obviously had. Benjamin grinned.

                             “Get your minds out of the gutter, guys,” Benjamin advised, knowing at the same time it was useless. Their minds were always in the gutter.

                             Zurito and Volta came into the living room from the kitchen. They watch Bob Leeds staggering around the apartment.

                             “Hey, Bob, man, what’s wrong, man?” Volta called.

                             “This is my first time drunk, man,” Leeds called back. It might not have been shocking news to his new friends, but they seemed to take it in stride.

                             “Hey, there’s a first time for everything, man,” Zurito answered. These were good guys, Leeds realized. He could certainly have fallen in with a worse crowd than this. None of them did drugs, after all. And though Bob Leeds was willing to drink, he still didn’t smoke, and nobody pressured him into doing that. Oh, sure they encouraged him to drink underage, but nobody had made him do it. He had wanted to do it of his own free will. He could have poured his drink down the sink if he’d wanted to. He could have gotten out of the die's game, if he’d wanted to. He hadn’t wanted to, that’s all.

                             Leeds stumbled around the apartment for a while more. He was starting to miss Lynette.

                             “Hey, Lynette, where are you!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. He wouldn’t have shouted like that sober, he rarely shouted at all. Being shy, Leeds didn’t like drawing attention to himself. But while drunk, he didn’t care. He put his drink down somewhere and forgot about it.

                             Eventually, Lynette did come back, with Delroix in tow.

                             “What do you want, Bob? Do you want to go home?” she asked. Leeds hesitated. He did indeed want to go home, “home” being 900 miles away, in Wisconsin. But Lynette meant back to Bob’s apartment in Tulsa, which was as far as Bob was going to go tonight. Leeds nodded.

                             “Who can drive?” Lynette asked the others. Pete Platte’s wife turned out to be the only one who hadn’t had anything to drink that night, so she became the designated driver.

                   

                             Leeds followed Pete Platte and his wife out the door. Platte waited with Leeds while his wife brought the car around.

                             “Where’s your apartment, Bob?” Pete asked after they piled into his car.

                             “Contempra Apartments _____ East 16th Street ____ and Memorial Drive,” his speech was slurred from drink, but Leeds made himself understood. The rest of the trip was a blur, but he finally found himself at his apartment. Keys in hand, he unlocked his apartment door. Sure enough, it was the right apartment. Leeds waved back at Pete Platte, who waited outside to see if he got in all right. Satisfied, Platte said “Good night” and went back to his car. Leeds locked the apartment door out of habit, then stumbled through the apartment on his way to the bedroom. He didn’t bother taking off his clothes, or even his wet jacket. He just collapsed on the bed and crashed face down.



( The End, for now )

© Copyright 2002 Ram Effect (p.h.platte1 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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