I remember my birthday the best. Nobody really made an affair of it, but that’s the way I liked it. Claire and Ray invited some of “our” friends over and we listened to music and played videogames and just hung out for the day. That evening, Ray went into the city for a concert, and Claire was at Jodie’s house. Jodie was always nice to me, but I knew she wasn’t fond of me. She once called me a “downer”, and I agreed with her. That was the only word that fit my personality so completely. Since Jodie and I were on the same page as to where our relationship stood, when she begrudgingly extended an invitation for the night to me, I graciously declined. Aunt Jo and Ray insisted that I go into the city for the night, but I felt better at home.
By seven, the house was empty, save for Bot. I planned on spending the evening in front of the TV with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and whatever alcohol was hidden in the back of Aunt Jo’s closet. However, upon finding that the cable had been shut off, I decided I should go and wander around the nearest 7/11, using my frequently abused fake ID to score something to drink at the least. Halfway there, upon realizing my forgotten wallet, I decided that the five finger discount was better anyway. I didn’t drain as much adrenaline from it as I used to, but I still loved it. Manage to stay away from drugs, I did, but I had come to realization that I was a severe adrenaline junkie. This didn’t bug me, really, but it did complicate the meaning of a “good time with Evie”.
Dolan Springs was something new and exciting at first, but I found it had lost its shine after a while. I’m sure that having no friends, and no social life whatsoever, may have contributed to that fact, but there didn’t seem to be much I could do about that. As I walked down the back alleys and suburban streets that led to the 7/11, I passed exactly five things of interest.
1. The soccer field crowded with children, parents, and pets. Some little league after-season party. Everyone was drinking fruit punch and eating hot dogs, lounging on the brown grass. Kids ran and yelled after each other as dogs nipped at their feet. The whole thing looked like a big sickening ritual I was lucky to miss out on. Having disinterested and preoccupied parents did have its perks, such as no soccer games or school plays forced upon any of us. But what really interested me, was that through all the chaos and laughter, there was one little girl sitting in the right field goal. She had to have been no more than 4, and was running her dirty fingernails through the grass. A little boy was sitting next to her, and she spun around to show him her four leaf clover, just as he planted a big wet one right on her mouth. She stood up, stomped on his foot, and stalked off. This made me grin to myself, but my solitude combined with creepily grinning at children on the soccer field drew unwanted attention by the assorted parents on the bleachers, so I hastened my pace and left the happy families behind.
2. The lonely road that forked off the freeway was packed, as it was almost 7:30 on a Friday evening, so I thought it would be safe to cut across it on my way to my festivities. As I presumed, rows and rows of cars packed the road. BMWs, minivans, Jags, and everything in between just seemed to go on forever. The heat waves emitted from the tops of the cars were clearly visible, and several windows were rolled down. As my smoking habit kick started with my move to Dolan Springs, I stopped to rest a few minutes and watch the cars slowly inch past the curb.
At one point during my ten minute stay outside the abandoned antiques store, a faded blue van lurched past. About 8 feet from hitting my resting spot, the car shuddered in its final moments of life before humming to silence. When the car stopped, the long line behind it began honking and shouting obscenities at the driver of the van. The passengers climbed out, preparing to push the car, and the driver of the silver convertible got out of her car, and went back to help them. The people owning the van were wanderers, by appearance. Long, matted hair and dirty clothes marked their status quo, but friendly smiles and jokes about the crappy car proved them to be harmless. The woman who got out of her car to help was well dressed, in a pants suit and her hair was up in some fancy twist. They insisted she get back in her car before the traffic restored itself, but she refused to leave until the car was in the winding drive beside the road. I rarely meet people so intent on helping people.
I went ahead and helped them push their car up the hill, then forked over a $20 to pitch in on the car repair. A caramel toned girl with thick blonde dreadlocks accepted the money, but took off one of her many bracelets, and handed me a henna woven bracelet, beaded with ancient findings.
3. After going under the overpass, I was at least on the right side of town now; I decided I would idly walk the streets lined with shops, before stopping in to the convenience store. Most of the shops were privately owned and quaint, but there was one sole commercial store. I knew the Emily Watts’ father ran it, and that was what contributed so greatly to their wealth, but I had never considered actually what the store sold. Upon passing it, I come to realize just what kind of store it is: a sex store. Plain and simple. Window displays were filled with all kinds of naughty and indescribable things, and such a sight brought me to my knees in hysterics. Now please note, I had already made a fool out of myself once tonight, so I was pushing the limits by going for twice, but I really couldn’t hold back. The billboard above the store read, “Marco Maxx’s Wonderland”. This was definitely the most interesting place in all of Dolan Springs, and I considered walking in, but decided I’d best just save that for another time.
4. I was (finally) just down the street from 7/11. Considering how frequent a visitor I was, I racked my brain trying to remember who was working the register tonight, but nothing came to me. I was just kind of shuffling along, wracking my brain to remember who I’d be smuggling past on my way out of the store, when a foot flies out of nowhere (and I mean nowhere) right in front of me. And, yes, there was a body attached to this rapid movement foot, but I wasn’t around to see the body, as I was on my face on the pavement, wondering to myself what the hell just happened. After I stood up, I saw a guy, probably in his mid forties, sprinting down the opposite sidewalk, in the same direction as I. Now, the interesting part of this encounter was that this forty-odd guy had shock blue hair that had to be about as tall as the kid trudging along behind him. Some people…
And the 5th beautiful thing I saw, between my house and 7/11, was the boy working the register that night.