Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shack Out On 108

Bettyjane's head was still whirling from the wild ride in Rob's "rod." They'd screeched and laid patches right down Persimmon Avenue as ladies with strollers scurried across the road, then turned and stared, shaking their fists. It was a riot, thought Bettyjane. She never knew you could really do stuff like this and not get grounded or something. But she didn't care one bit; she just clutched onto Rob's muscular arm for dear life and sucked on more of those reefer weeds. Robbie tried to get fresh by putting a hand on her leg, and she was laughing too hard to slap him, and besides they were going like a hundred miles an hour.

Now Robbie was unlocking the door to a little shack out on old Route 108. "It ain't much," he said, throwing open the door, "but it's my pad, y'know?"

Bettyjane stepped inside and allowed her eyes to become accustomed to the gloom. It seemed to be very dirty. Didn't Rob ever dust or wax his floors? And he threw his dirty laundry into a corner like he just didn't care.

"Take a seat, baby," said Rob, walking to a rumbling brownish refrigerator in a far corner and opening the door, "if you can find one. Yeah, just dump those books and magazines on the floor by the record pile. You wanna brew?"

"Beer?" blinked Bettyjane. "You're not old enough to buy beer!"

"Baby," he chuckled, "you got a lot to learn. I ain't old enough to smoke reefers neither. I don't have a driver's license. I'm not even old enough to sign the lease on this place. But who gives a shit, you know? Who makes these rules anyway?"

Bettyjane had never thought of it like that before. But she'd been doing a lot of serious thinking in the past hour. Like her mother always made her be in by nine on school nights. Who was her mother anyway? Just an old lady, really, who thought she could boss her around about anything. Clean your room. Change your underwear. Don't leave towels on the bathroom floor. Wash the dishes. Don't wear those fishnet stockings. She thought she was the queen of the world or something.

And Bettyjane was sixteen. And a half. More than a half. She was old enough to wear bras and lipstick and drive Dad's car on weekends and go to parties and everything. She was almost grown up! It was outrageous! She'd been looking through some magazines at the beauty shop the other day and she'd thought a little bit about how she was as cute as any of those models, and she should go to New York herself someday and make lots of money! Yes, she thought! That's just what I'll do right now!

But maybe not. It sounded pretty square to her now. She didn't want to be a square anymore ever again! She lit another reefer.

Rob put a cold can of beer in her hand, and she was really thirsty, so she guzzled a great big gulp. Bleck! This was what beer tasted like? It tasted like pee-pee or something! But it tickled her nose and was bubbly. And it made her tummy feel warm. And...maybe it wasn't so bad.

Rob sat cross-legged on the floor next to his portable record player. "You want to dig some sounds?" he asked.

"Never mind that," said Bettyjane, remembering something that had been puzzling her. "How come you don't live in a house? Where are your parents?"

"Hell," said Rob. "I moved out of my old man's dump three months ago. I'm seventeen. I can do what I fuckin want. My old man wanted me to apply to engineering school, if you can believe that crap. I want to be a artist or a musician or something cool like that. So I said fuck no right to his face."

"You didn't!" shreiked Bettyjane, beginning to collapse into giggles.

"Ah," snarled Rob, "he like to have a fine old shit fit. Get out from under my roof with your toilet mouth and don't come back til you learn some respect! he yells. Then my mom is crying. I say double screw effing you, fat boy! Then I just walk out the door, see. Ain't been back since. Except once, I had to sneak back in to get my clothes and team uniform and my books and my records and stuff." He grinned. "Took forty-five bucks out of the old man's wallet while I was there, and a bottle of whiskey."

"Wow," said Bettyjane, surprised to find that she had nearly finished her beer and suddenly, for no good reason, felt like taking all of her clothes off and dancing. But she didn't. She thought she had got liberated enough for now, and anyway she was wearing a sanitary napkin. "You are so cool, Robbie."

"Yeah," he said, putting a record on the player and dropping the needle. "Now dig this crazy beat, sugar pie!" Suddenly he was on his feet, shaking his hips and waving his hands like a wild man. Bettyjane felt like dancing, too, only when she tried to get up, for some reason she couldn't, and collapsed back in the chair giggling.

Suddenly she knew she was going to throw up.