I’d like to take this time to formally introduce myself to you – yes, you – on the other side of my laptop. My name is Will, and for the sake of my attention span and your sanity, I will conclude any further introductory pretension here. There will be no need for punctilious handshakery or bro-huggery. Our time together will be brief, albeit rewarding, should you find yourself as keen on grammatically particular text and Facebook messages as I am. If you’re not, I implore you not to abandon this piece of journalistic pomposity as gratuitously idiosyncratic or vain.
What follows are anecdotes of fictionalized non-fiction; the inordinate adventures of folks like you and I who attend festivals exhibiting avant-garde music during our time away from the crushing actuality of unemployment and organic foodstuff responsibility. So, for the sake of formality, let’s term you and I partners, or “cohorts”, if you’re old-fashioned and still read novels with tangible pages. We’re on a mission, you and I, to investigate the very nature of this 21st century phantasm; we call it life, in HD.
Record 1: Los Angeles, Thursday, July 5th, 2012. Night.
If you’ve ever snorted 10mg of Klonopin off a Starbucks napkin in a studio apartment above San Vicente and Hauser, then chances are you and I have probably met. You might be my drug dealer. You might also be my cousin. If you are, please text me back. If you aren’t, then don’t text me at all, because I won’t reply.
If you’re knocking on my door right now, then you have been for the last twenty minutes. You need to stop. You need to fuck off. I’ll put my sweet fedora on over my bald spot, trim the newly grown gray from my mustache, and open the door, but only to tell you this.
“You need to stop knocking on my door.”
The teenage girl who still had braces and wasn’t very pretty smiled at me and tugged her size zero ear gauge like she was nervous or confused about something that teenage girls get confused about, like ordering a latte for the first time or wondering why Skype only works in their parents’ bedroom and not anywhere else in the house.
“My parents are fucking.”
“So what. Parents fuck.”
“They’re fucking in the living room.”
“What do you want me to do about it? Tell them to stop?”
“No. I want to sleep on your couch.”
“I don’t have a couch.”
“I want to sleep on your floor.”
I pulled the door open and she shuffled in and unzipped her hoodie and smiled a metal-toothed smile at me that was sad and felt fake since she only wants my floor for sleeping and not me for my cool affection. I didn’t mind though. I liked her for smiling her metal smile and not caring what stupid people thought about metal or any other chemical hardware anyway.
“I can smoke in here right?”
I told her she could and she sat down and lit an American Spirit and ashed on the wooden floor that’s always dirty. She stared at my empty plaster wall and I knew she wanted to tell me something.
I sat next to her.
She handed me the cigarette.
“I saw TJ earlier.”
I took a drag of some smoke and handed the cigarette back.
TJ is my cousin.
“Did you say anything? To him?”
“No. He ran.”
And that made sense. TJ was always running. Not on like a track or for having a good healthy heart or anything. He runs because he’s afraid of getting caught.
The teenage girl put a hand on my leg. I moved it away and she apologized.
“You’re here for sleeping. Don’t forget that.”
She nodded, compliant, and slid against the wall, pulling her knees to her chin.
“I called you but you didn’t answer your phone.”
“You called when?”
“Earlier. When I saw him. And you didn’t answer your fucking phone.”
“I prefer texts.”
“I do too. But it was an emergency, wasn’t it?”
“You didn’t answer my emergency phone call. How am I supposed to help you? If you don’t answer phones?”
“When did you see TJ? What time of day?”
“The afternoon. Like maybe 2ish. Or 3. Ish.”
This was the problem. The afternoon is when I had my coffee crash and some marijuana and then some sleep like a nap. I told the teenage girl this and she told me that I was lying.
“I know you took Klonopins.” She said in an ‘I-got-you-so-you-should-let-me-stay-over-when-my-parents-living-room-fuck’ kind of way. It didn’t make me mad, so you shouldn’t get mad either.
I stood up, turned around, and laid down on my bed, which is small and only for one person, and slid my laptop out from underneath my pillow that doesn’t have a case.
“Are you going to ignore me now?” The teenage girl asked me. I lied again and said that I wasn’t.
I flipped open the chill laptop and went on Facebook and sent TJ a message that said this:
“sup bro, where you at? text me and we’ll smoke…”
“What are you typing?”
“I’m not typing.”
I kept typing:
“…some blunts. also lookin for some more klonopins cuz I’m runnin low, so just text me.”
The teenage girl stomped over to the bed and ripped the laptop from my hands. I didn’t put up a fight. I didn’t care if she read the Facebook message. I send Facebook messages all the time.
“What the fuck. I want some too.” She said to me. “I knew you were lying.”
I laughed and told her I was just fucking around and not to be so serious about these kinds of drug things. Being serious about drugs isn’t good for you or me.
“That’s not the point!”
I told her to stop yelling and then my phone vibrated with a text from TJ:
hey bro. this is Jamie.
Jamie is TJ’s girlfriend for now.
TJ says not to message him anymore and shit, but that he’ll be at the Cha Cha Lounge around 9 tonight. please don’t text or facebook again.
“Who’s that?” The teenage girl asked and stomped out her cigarette on my floor.
“TJ. Sort of.”
I looked at my phone: 8:32 p.m.
“Do you have a car?” I asked.
“No. I’m 15.”
“Do your parents have a car?”
“I’m not letting you drive my parents’ car. That’s stupid.” She said, like she was angry, and then leaned over my bed and snatched the phone from my hand and read the message.
I told her I had money, and that I would pay for her if she let us take the car that her fucking parents drive to the Cha Cha Lounge and she said that TJ usually likes to meet at the Grove even though she thinks that’s a bad idea since lots of people go there and probably notice that TJ’s not shopping at the stores or kiosks or seeing a movie. She agreed and we left my studio apartment.
In the car, which is called a Hybrid, the teenage girl programmed a talking GPS system on her phone that would give us the coolest route.
“20 minutes.” She said.
“Don’t you think I should drive?”
She put the car in reverse and we left and she used a turn signal to get onto the 10 so you and I aren’t concerned about her driving anymore, even though she sped up and stopped fast a lot and most of the people in other cars that weren’t Hybrids honked at her and I wanted to yell at them to fuck off and wear suits and stop being mean to teenage girls that drive with braces and use turn signals. But I didn’t say anything and I fell asleep after we safely merged onto the 110.
The teenage girl nudged me and I woke up still in the passenger seat with a heart that raced inside some confusion smog.
“You want to give me the money? Wait in the car?”
“You can’t get into a bar.”
“I have a fake.”
“I’m not giving you any of my money.”
I blinked a few times and caught my breath and wished I didn’t have to go into the bar with yellowy-gold amorous lighting and overpriced PBRs. I got out anyway, because TJ’s my cousin, and the teenage girl drove here and we didn’t die.
“Wait in the car.” I told the teenage girl.
“How much are your PBRs?” I yelled over the too-loud dubstep remix of ‘Juicy’ at the bartender man who had a puberty beard and daunted eyes. He leaned in closer with his ear turned toward me so I asked him again and he handed me a 24oz PBR and then demanded $7 from me. I paid him and didn’t tip.
I turned around and TJ was wearing his velvet morning coat and a black Neff beanie like he always does. He waved me over to his booth behind the foosball tables that were underneath some sorta-strung Christmas lights. I sipped my beer and pushed past some clean hipster guys in neon short-shorts that smelled like Molecule 01 and tobacco smoke and gave TJ a bro-hug and patted his back with my palm.
“What are you doing here?”
“Jamie texted me from your phone.”
“I don’t sell anymore.”
“Relax. I’m here alone.”
TJ raised an eyebrow and I felt bad for lying even though he was too. You and I need to stop lying, I thought, but didn’t say anything.
“I’m sorry cuz. Let me buy you a beer.”
I held up my PBR and took a sip and the teenage girl showed up behind me. TJ smiled at her and they hugged.
“How’d you get in?” I asked.
“I told you. I have a fake.”
She kissed TJ on the lips and TJ eyed me instead of closing his eyes and being romantic. The teenage girl leaned over the table and whispered something to TJ that I didn’t hear and TJ’s face got a meek look and he whispered back. The teenage girl nodded like she was being compliant and told me to wait in the car.
I glanced at TJ and he looked away like a coward and sat down.
“Fine. Give me the keys.”
The teenage girl hesitated so I reached into her hoodie pocket and took her fucking parents’ keys and left and crashed the car into an I-10 West road sign. I took a cab home and paid the cabbie with the cash I brought.