In the fall of 2003 after the second suicide attempt my brother and I moved to my grandma’s and her boyfriend’s trailer. She wasn’t an old grandma like every one eleses she had, had my mom
pretty young and my mom had me young too. My mother had tried to kill her self again and this time they stuck her in the loony bin. Nana’s trailer had 3 rooms so I didn’t have to share a room with
Sean who was 3 years younger than me, and a fuckin cry baby.
We had always been poor, poor and to some people white trash. Nana was poor, mom was poor, we were poor. We had lived in a 2
bedroom shit hole before moving to Nana’s house, were I shared a bed with Sean. Mom had only worked shitty waitress and bar jobs, and Nana worked as a receptionist at a construction company. Her
trailer was familiar to me. The old brown couch with the cigarette burns in the arms, the once beige shag carpet, her collection of angle figurines and angle accessories, the smell of smoke and
potpourri, how she kept her house tidy but the old cheapness of it made it look dirty no matter what, all these things had been part of my life growing up, and made me feel safe. I would remember
entire weeks we would spend there while mom was either fucking up or already had fucked up and was in jail. Nana would rent Ninja Turtles or let us watch Mortal Kombat so we wouldn’t notice that
mom was out fuckin up again, or to make us forget that she left us there screaming and crying. “Gene you wanna take the back room? Sean can have the one by me and Rod.” She said to us with out as
much as a hello. She stood at the kitchen which over looked the entire house, in her sweat pants and big Coors Light shirt as she lit her cigarette and pointed to each room as if we didn’t know
were we were. We could see her boyfriend Rod in his wife beater laying in bed with a beer, Sean looked at me with his big blue eyes as if asking me to help him. “I guess you guys are gonna be here
for a while so I suggest getting settled in. I leave to work at 8 so I don’t know what you guys do to get to school, but I cant drop you off so plan accordingly.” She said and kissed us on the
forehead and disappeared into her room. I grabed my duffle bag and my skateboard and begun to walk to the back, hearing soft steps behind me.
I let Sean sleep with me in my new room that night. I cant say I didn’t kinda want him to sleep there, I didn’t want to be
alone either. I laid in the little bed with my back to Sean snoring. The room was dark and cluttered with stuffed animals, and pillows, glow in the dark stars sprinkled the celing, I could tell
Nana never came in here, her ash trays empty and the window dusty, the alarm clock’s red numbers blinking 12:00. I laid in that bed not moving wondering if mom was asleep, then quickly deciding
that she was probably on some heavy medication and was probably passed out. I wasn’t as lucky.
October 25th was my 16th birthday. Nana invited most of the family. Uncles, aunts, cousins, and people
that said they knew me since I was “this tall”. . "HA HA, Gene! Look at you son, look how tall you are you're almost as tall as me. Oh and look you're even growing some moss on your lip." my
mom's brother Frank yelled as he took a freshly licked finger and rubbed it on my upper lip. "Here you go son, hope you like it." he hugged me with his grizzly bear arms and handed me a blue bag
with a bunch of green and orange tigers, with big dumb smiles as they floated away on different colored balloons. "Thanks Uncle Frankie." I say as I put down my bag of what is probably a lame ass
shirt that says something like " FBI; Female; Body; Inspector" or something even gayer like a T-shirt with a humanoid pit bull flexing ridiculously huge muscular arms that wears sun glasses under
the words "Bad Dawg" why dog was spelled with an A and a W was beyond me. My uncle was like that. His son, my cousin was Sean’s age and played every sport know to man, and was good at all of them.
He wore shit like that, wearing a shirt with a picture of a cartoon monkey with a red New York Yankees hat, holding a banana were his penis would be as he stood next to his father. He probably
picked it out. Uncle Frank coached probably all his sports, he looked like the kind of guy that did that sort of shit, with his very cliché crew cut and mustache, his big broad shoulders, the
sun tan, the perfect crows feet next to his smiling eyes. “look at this John” he screamed to one of our family friends “this boys turning into a hippie, with this hair!” I tucked back a long piece
of black hair behind my ear and walked to the bathroom. Every one pretended to not know why we were living at Nana’s or asked if I was doing alright with their eyes of fake pity. People coming up
to me with their whispery voice like if they were talking to a puppy or some shit “how are you doing Gene, are you doing ok?” they would put their hand on my shoulder and come real close, and make
sad eyes at me. I’d smile politely and shrug them of, wishing they would just fuck off. Their pitty made me feel small. Their eyes, their voice, the whispers that would stop as soon as I walked by.
Sean was too young, he was out front playing with the rest of the kids.
I walked to the back yard to hit rocks with the golf clubs Nana had since we were little. I picked up one of the 3 golf clubs since we had lost all the rest. I could smell the faint smell of
cigarette hovering in the fresh air. Little pockets of smoky breeze would sneak into my nose every now and then. I picked a rock from the sand and put it on top of a slab of dry wall. Nana had put
up a cinder block fence since the neighbors were beginning to put up fences, and walls. The neighborhood was also home to some permanent homes that use to be trailers but had, had add on that made
them permanent, some had been real built in the ground homes, and others were no more than RVs. I pulled my club over my head, thinking about Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore when he would run up to
the golf balls and how awesome that was. I swung to hit the rock as hard as I possibly could and missed, throwing myself off balance. I took a step back and tried again this time hitting the rock
sending it into the cinder block wall. “HA ha take that you jerk!” I screamed at the rock excitedly. I picked up another rock and missed. I then took another and another, hitting and missing till I
was sweating. I undid the bottoms of my shirt to feel the cool breeze on my chest. The party, my party was going on loudly inside. The kids were all in the front yard riding bikes or chasing each
other around. The weeds were being to die and the trees were turning colors. In the desert, autumn never comes, only summer and winter. In a week the trees would be bare. Those were the only cycles
here. Winter lasted nothing more than 3 or 4 months, then summer took over callously. I could hear the low murmur of a TV near by. I pictured myself there alone not having to pretend I was
there. "What are you doing Gene?" a young ditzy female voice inquired. I turned around to find my 13 year old cousin standing there with here arms crossed and her head cocked as if she was scolding
"Look he's trying to be all macho now that he's 16." my cousin Lindsay, told a Mexican girl with a tightly pulled back pony tail next to her, the girl giggling in Lindsay’s ear.
"NO!" I exclaimed as I grabbed both sides of my open shirt together.
"Then what the heck are you doing out here with your shirt all open, pretending to play golf."
"None of your business LINDSAY! Plus I wasn't pretending anything. Shit!"
Lindsay and her friend giggled.
"Yeah whatever, GENE."
"Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh why don’t you go bug some one else you brat!"
The red headed girl and her friend walked away giggling and whispering to each other. Fuckin brats. I buttoned up my shirt and combed my hand through my hair. I felt ill. Every thing was so
stupid and frustrating. Every one made fun of every thing I did. I was going my whole life pretending. Pretending to be in that house with the TV, pretending to play golf, pretending to be grown
up, and pretending to live. I wanted to explode. I could feel the hot salty tears filling to the brim behind my already sad colored eyes, till they couldn’t hold them back any more, but they did,
and I just stood there. I stood with my back to the 6 o'clock sunset and the chilled October wind to my back as it blew my hair in my face. My long thin frame shadowed on the gray cinder
blocks....happy birthday Gene.
Halloween morning a Thursday. The school was a lot closer from Nana’s then it was from our apartment so I skated instead of taking the bus. The cars all had dew on them were the sun hadn’t
hit them yet. Most of the houses had been decorated. They had neon green and white cotton cob webs strung on their bushes, fences and porches. Laminated cardboard ghosts and ghouls of every shape,
haunted the front yards as misshapen jack o' lanterns begun to decompose on countless front porches. On the way to school I past several cemeteries, passing Elvis's tombstone and Jerry Garcia's
and paid my respects, respectively. I could see the steam of my breath as I skated down the streets, and pretended to smoke a cigarette while I waited to cross Alameda Street.
At school people wore costumes. Some had nothing more then a witch’s hat while others wore the whole shebang. I wore some loose fitting blue jeans and my red Zero skateboards shirt. I saw
Chris and Israel by the big tree we always hung out by. Chris was wearing an over sized Nightmare before Christmas hoodie and matching beanie. "What’s up with you faggot?" I ask as I look him up
and down with a clever little smile. No one wore that only dorks or like the ICP faggots, the new age Goths or whatever. "Fuckin' whatever dude this shits sick." he cried. "Wud up Israel." I say
as I do the "pound" you know the one were you give each other like a sideways high-five then slid you hands back and return with a closed fist to touch knuckles...yeah that one. Israel didn’t say
any thing as usual he just threw his head up slightly in acknowledgement. Israel was one of those weird quiet kid nothing too special. He was small, and dark, not like black dark but Mexican dark,
and had a little black mustache that was starting to come in. he wore his hair really short and wore clothes that were way too big for any one that size or any size for that matter. No one really
knew how he found us one day he just showed up at our lunch table in the 6th grade and followed Chris around since then. He listened to rap and shit like that and didn’t really fit in
with us but I guess we were a magnet for pussies, dorks, and wierdos.
Chris on the other hand was nothing like him he talked a lot, with out any thing to really say, even though he was in all advanced classes he didn’t really know shit. He spoke as if he was
worldly and had seen and experienced every thing, which he didn’t cuz he lived his whole life in Clanton Arizona. I guess that’s why Israel and him were such good friends, so one could listen
endlessly while the other talked forever. Chris was chunky and freckly and knew too much useless shit. He would say dumb ass perverted stuff to girls that would scare them of like “hey I bet your
titts got bigger over the summer you should let me suck them.” Or “I heard Jacob Sanchez fingered you he said you smelled like tuna.” Girls didn’t really talk to us too much cuz of that, which
pretty much totally sucked.
"So what do you guys wanna do tonight? You guys wanna come over to my house?" Chris enthusiastically asked. He lived in the nice part of town and had an air hockey table, and a playstation
with tons of games. We would usually hang out there because his parent didn’t want him hanging out in the “ghetto” with us, and they bought him all sorts of toys and games. "My sister can take us
there after school." he explained.
"I don’t know dude, I guess if there’s nothing else going on." I say
"Like something not completely gay, like something sick, like something other people do, something that we don’t always
do...I don’t know just something else."
Chris didn’t say anything else he kinda just stared in front as we walked in the school. He never shut up, I must have
scared him enough to finally shut up. The halls were packed as always and we begun to fight our way through silently and politely as the chaos roared on around us. I kept my head up so I wouldn’t
get hit in the face while walking through. Then as I finally made it out of a group of preppy jocks, a messy haired punk rock kid in a black leather jacket hit me square in the face with his
shoulder full of metal studs as he walked by. "FUCKIN' DICK WATCH IT!" I cried. I was outraged. He turned around momentarily with a snarl, he was wearing leopard skin cat ears and had the tip of
his nose painted black with 3 white whiskers painted on each cheek. I looked shocked. He flipped me of then kept going on his way back out the door followed by a girl with short black hair and
Betty page bangs. I watched him all the way out the door and to the front steps of the school. He walked with a certain insecure arrogance about him, like if he had something to prove, but couldn’t
say it out loud so he had to walk to say it. He looked like a stray dog the kind you see in big cities, the ones with the mange and the missing limbs, and the fire in their eyes. Something
about that creeped me out, the way he held his head down, but always looked up. How can anything be so determined to live when shit gets so fucked up.
I reached my English class, then orchestra were I played the violin ,lunch, algebra then lastly History were we watched a video of Mesopotamia, which I could give a flying fuck about.
Finally 3:40 and freedom. I grabbed my board and began to walk down the steps of the school. Chris, Israel, and me usually met back up by the tree after school until Chris's sister pulled up with
her car to take Chris home. Israel and I would then walk to the bus and go home or I’d skate home, but today I didn’t wait for them at the tree. This time I just skated back to my house as fast as
I could so they couldn’t see me. I past all the same ghost, all the same tombs. The sun was low on the sky around this time so I road with the sun in my face most of the way.
I saw the punk rock kid on my way home, only about 4 blocks from my house. He was walking with the same girl, Lourdes Marcelles. She was in my grade. I went to the same elementary school as
her and even had her in my third grade class. She looked a lot different now. Back then she had long light almost blonde hair, now it was jet black and short; she had her lip pierced and wore a lot
of eyeliner. They both eyed me as I past them on my skateboard toward my house. I kept my head down as I past them. She was petite with big boobs, and was wearing a black spaghetti strap shirt, and
a red plaid skirt, she wore an oversized black hoodie with a bunch of patches and tall black boots. She looked so mean now.
"Hey Gene how was your Halloween?" Rod said as I walked in the house with out taking his eyes of some metal thing he was fidgeting with. "Good." I lie and walk to my room. I wasn't sure what
the hell Rod was doing home but I didn’t really care what the hell his schedule was regardless. I threw my back pack and my board on the floor of my room and kicked my shoes to the closet. I locked
my door and turned on my cd player. I threw on Sublime, my favorite band. It always made me so…well not happy but better. Knowing that Bradley Nowell had died of an overdoes made listening to Pool
Shark so much sadder. The song was acoustic at first and it talks about how he liked to shoot up heroin and how he knew that shit was gonna kill him even though he’s like all in love and shit and
how he cant help it, then the song gets all fast and punk but the lyrics are the same. That song always made me teary, so I avoided it, and played Chica Me Tipo, instead.
“Gene, Gene, open the door!” Sean yelled from outside my door.
“just open the door, I need to ask you something!”
“what! Just fuckin ask me then!”
“Gene open up!”
Son of a bitch! I opened the door to see Sean with his hair sleeked back and fake blood on his shirt. I gave him "the look" the one were I lift my left eyebrow and lift one side of my lip.
"Halloween jackass. GOD." he says as he walks into my room. “what do you want Sean?” I say to him crossing my hands in front of my chest. He was wearing some of my old acid washed jeans that fit
him tight, and a white shirt. He looked around my room, as if he was taking inventory, like he just wanted to go in there and snoop or disturb me. I begun to get frustrated tapping my foot to hurry
him up. “Sean! What the fuck do you want?” Sean looked up at my dresser then sat down on my bed “can I uhm…barrow your walkman?” I had just gotten that thing for my birthday, It was a cd player one
from Sony and it wasn’t for little kids. “NO! Get out Sean you’re just trying to annoy me.” He went on his way, and I locked the door behind him. Besides Christmas, Halloween was my favorite
holiday. I wasn’t up for it. The dressing up the laughter the whole fakeness of the stupid time, I felt different. The Halloween before that one I remember being so stoked. I planed out my costume
with Chris and Israel for a month and a half before Halloween. We were Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I dressed up as Master Shake.
The sun had gone down and now all that was left was the red orange memory of it in the sky. Sean’s hair was now a mess. It wasn’t sleeked back any more. There were hard strands sticking up in
weird places and a flat spot on the back of his head from were he put his head down. "You’re not gonna dress up Gene?" he asked. I shook my head no. "Why not you always dress up?” he kept prodding
me. I didn’t have an answer so I just said "I don’t know." and left it at that. He didn’t ask any thing else, I’m sure he though it had something to do with Mom and me not coping well or some shit,
but that wasn’t why.
Tyler wanted to dress like the predator, but that was obviously not gonna happen so he was a vampire/zombie/ greaser. His face was a greenish white and had dark black circles around his eyes.
The doorbell rang and I heard Sean leave, with some kids. Nana sat on the couch with her cigarette in one hand reading a TV Guide. She had set a bowl of cheap candy by the door for the trick or
treaters, I grabbed a hand full on my way out the door.
I could smell cigarettes in the air as I skated down my block, mixing with the dryness and cold, stinging my brain. Then as I turned the corner to my street there he was, the punk rock kid
with the cat ears. He was alone and had a cigarette between his lips. The city lights above bearly lit him up as he sat on the cinderblock wall avoiding the light. I glanced at him and quickly
looked down, but it was too late his eyes met mine. I kept skating slowly past him. "Hey…. Hey Zero! " I heard him say in a low voice. I turned around to speak. He wasn't looking at me; he was
looking down at a cassette walkman in his hands. The dry leaves on the ground scraped with the wind making a faint sound, like wind chimes, it was cold but not really that cold, you could still
hear crickets and bugs hissing. "Look dude I’m sorry about calling you a dick but you ran into me O.K." I say nervously in my little kid voice. He had a deeper voice then me with a rasp to it
but it was by no means harsh.
"No what’s your name bro?" he said.
"Ok cool, I’m Logen. You live in the house right behind mine."
"I saw you that day your family was having that party."
He didn’t look at me too much mostly he kept looking at the street while making figure 8s on the ground with his feet. He had long eyelashes that shaded his eyes when he looked down. He made
me nervous. The way he spoke with confidence, and even a slight politeness, shook me up all weird. The nonchalant look on his face, the eerie way he kept smiling. He was a little taller then
me and was just as slim. I figured I could maybe take him if he tried to fight me. "So uh....like what do you want?" I asked trying to figure out his motive while I clutched my skateboard trucks
tight. "Jesus bro, do you ever calm down? I’m not gonna kick your ass, I’m just trying to be nice since you're my neighbor and all, shit." he chuckled a little and threw his cigarette in the
street. He had sharp fangs that peeked out of the side of his mouth as he laughed; they weren’t even fake vampire teeth. I guess he could sense the desperation in my voice. I thought he was odd
looking he dressed like my brother was dressed. He had tight black jeans on, they were a little short for him but I’m sure that was the point. Out of the bottom he had striped black and white socks
on with a pair of green high top Chuck Taylors. His shirt was tight and white with the words “The Kids” in bright yellow.
“Oh…Yeah, uhm cool.” I said feeling like a jackass. “well I’ll see you around.” he said with that same chuckle as if something was always a little funny and I didn’t get it. "Oh, yeah, ok,
well see you around then." I say. He grabbed his board and I mine and proceeded to skate down to the elementary school near by alone.
It was cold that morning so I wore my hoodie. The cars had dew and just like the morning before there was spider webs on the houses, except that today most of the Jack o’ lanterns were
smashed on the street and sidewalks. Chris and Israel were waiting for me by the tree. Chris had a look of concern on his face as Israel looked blankly at me as always.. "Hey dude were you go
yesterday, we were looking for you?" Chris asks as soon as I come close enough. "I just went home. I didn’t feel good" I say with not much feeling. Chris didn’t ask me much else, but he went on
about how they both played grand theft auto for like 3 hours and beat the game. Israel would occasionally say something about a level or a play and then shut up and let Chris blab on. I didn’t
care. I was bored of them, I was bored of me. I kept seeing my self inching to a terrible fate. A fate were I knew I would always be too scared to do anything fun. A fate were I was that dorky guy
that sat at home alone at 35, with no girlfriend, still a virgin, with my video games. I would talk to other dorky guys about cheat codes, and how lame every one else was for being ignorant to the
world of technology.
I thought about Logen the punk rock kid, and how interesting his life must be. How he smoked cigarettes and wore crazy clothes. How he would put eyeliner on the bottom of his eyes only and
how he had a girlfriend with her lip pierced. I pictured him sitting on a wall with a cigarette listening to loud music while he held Lourdes’s waist. How cool that must be, even while he's doing
nothing it still seemed interesting and fun. My life was boring and inescapable. No one imaged how my life was when I talked to fat Chris and excruciatingly shy Israel. “So like I was in the
Banshee and I had like 5 stars already, so like I wasn’t gonna even make it for sure, so like I though I’m just gonna do the craziest shit I can before the army gets me….” I heard Chris ramble as
he acted it out. I sighed hard acknowledging that I would never escape, that this was gonna be my fate, I knew this right as I saw Ashley Wilcox in her tight pants and long blond hair walk by,
School went exactly as always. I sat behind Jessica Martinez in English, she had long black hair she curled softly into neat little waves, I could see her caramel skin as she exposed the nape
of her neck to tie up her hair. I had heard she liked me from one of her friends so I decided to write her a note.
“Hey Jessica! Its me Gene from behind you hahaha j/k. This class is way boring hu? I hate stupid Mr. Conley. So like I was wondering something do you have a boyfriend cuz if not I wanted to
tell you that I like you.”
I taped her on the shoulder and gave her my neatly folded little note with her name written big on the front so she would know it was for her. I saw her open it and then read it, I quickly
begun to write some bullshit on my notebook so she would think I wasn’t paying attention to her. She then passed me the note under my desk.
“Yeah this class is super boring. Ok look Gene I think you are really cute and all but the fact is that your not in my league I’m pretty popular and your not at all and I don’t wanna be like
mean but that’s just not gonna happen .Sorry.”
She didn’t even try to soften the blow, she just let me have it. She could of said she had a boyfriend or that she was not ready to date any body, shit she could of told me she just didn’t
date white boys (which a lot of the Mexican girls didn’t) and that would have been better, but to just plain out tell me that it’s cuz I’m a loser, fuck! I wanted to cry, so I stood up grabbed the
hall pass and ran to the bathroom. I stormed in and sat on the floor next to the hand dryer breathing hard, my heart racing, my eyes feeling like they would start crying at any second. I stood up
over one of the sinks. I looked in the mirror leaning into it and holding myself up with both my sweaty hand. Although I was pale and light, my hair was straight and black as all hell, I was
growing it out but it had only reached my chin so far. By contrast by eyes were a light Caribbean blue just like Sean’s and just like my mom’s. I looked at my 16 years old reflection. My chin
grew a small crop of hairs I shaved frequently cuz some one told me it would grow in more. I didn’t particularly like facial hair but I knew I wanted it. I rubbed my upper lip then tucked back my
hair and pouted. I knew I wasn’t ugly shit, fuck being conceited, if it wasn’t for my awkward, timid, painfully, quiet personality I could have been one of the popular kids! This is not to say I
was flawless, sure my pale, skinny, lanky frame made me look like a complete pussy, and the constellation of whiteheads around my mouth did me no favors. I remember David Moore, a junior camp
counselor at the summer camp I went to, grabbed me in a headlock and threw me to the ground, cuz I called him a jock fag. Just as he was about to punch me square in the face he said, “You got a
real cute face queer” and hit me in the gut really hard, so hard I almost puked.
I stood in my back yard board as fuck. Stupid ass Rod was making me crush cans on a fuckin Saturday afternoon. I had stopped about 45 minutes before to hit rocks with the golf clubs. I was
getting pretty good; I hardly ever missed them any more. I could smell cigarettes so I looked to the houses behind me. The one to the left had a little cloud of smoke in the back yard. I knew it
was Logen. I kept picking up rocks and hitting them, only this time extra hard, I guess to seem strong or hard core…or something. “Zero! What the fuck you doing?” I heard a voice say. I spun around
shocked and saw Logen peeking over the wall smoking a cigarette, hanging his long arms over my side of the wall. “What are you doing Zero?” he chuckled as I looked at him in half awe, half shock.
I’m sure he was amused how he scared me.
“Uh, what? Uhm hitting rocks.” I say still startled.
He climbed up the fence and jumped into my yard. He walked closer to me still smoking, strutting toward me in my own yard. “Hey can I try?” I handed him the clubs and gave him some advice,
“well if you just grab a rock and put it on the dry wall you can hit it better then in the sand. And just hit it at that wall.” I say as I point to the wall in front of us. I could tell Logen
didn’t care about my little tricks, he was just gonna take the club and bash the fuck out of those rocks.
We hit rocks for about 30 minutes while Logen told me about a million and one things about him self, about shit he liked, places he’d been, people he knew, music he liked, bands that sucked,
and so on. His name was Logen A. Miller he was 17 years old and had been living in Arizona for the past 5 years, when he moved from Gunnison Colorado, cuz his mom’s boyfriend got sent to jail for
selling meth. He played guitar, and bass, and could sort of drum. He told me about so many bands it made my head spin, then he told me about things he drank, places he’d been, songs he could play
on the guitar and every thing else under the sun. he spoke with a certain self assured frightened voice, as if he knew he was always right but years of being wrong had given him an irreparable
tremble in his voice. He rolled his own cigarettes which was very weird to me, and he smoked a lot. He was friendly, and nice, even polite, and didn’t seem like a bad guy, he spoke with a laugh and
a joke, but he seemed dark, and dangerous, like a trained circus bear, how their all cute and funny in their vest and shriner’s hats riding little tricycles and then they rip your fuckin face off
while sitting on your chest, that was Logen.
“Well shit Zero, you wanna come over to my house. I stole some vods from my mom?” Logen asked me in a bored tone as he held
himself up with the golf club . He still called me Zero even though he knew my name. He had told me this earlier when he stated that Zero was so much more clever then Gene so with my permission he
was gonna go on and call me that. I asked him if it was like a Smashing Pumpkins thing, since I liked the Smashing Pumpkins and Billy Corgen wore his Zero shirt and had that one song Zero, but he
just looked at me very seriously and kinda annoyed and said “No. it’s nothing like the Smashing Pumpkins thing.” I agreed to him calling me that and asked what I should call him he told me
that I had to come up with something if I wanted. I didn’t, I figured I would come up with something stupid, and not cool enough or not clever enough.
We climbed the wall and jumped into his yard. The landscape was pretty much the same as Nana’s except for the broken
skateboards, plastic cups, and tons of trash. “So who do you live with? Do you got any brothers and sisters?” I ask worried about who I would have to hide from. “Naw, it’s just me and my mom.” He
assured me as we walked in through a half on metal door. His house was smaller then ours, and was littered with cats. It was a 2 bedroom were the rooms were separated on each side of the house. His
room was the one closest to the back door. He took me in there, were there was absolutely no blank spot on the wall. Every inch was covered with posters. A Dead Kennedy’s poster were some Asian guy
on a noose is about to get hit by a chair by some other Asian dude, a poster of a green goblin or something with the letters GBH next to it. Tons of black and white posters of guys with guitars and
guys with crazy ass expressions on their faces as they scream into microphones. The Spits, The Mummies, The Gun Club, F Minus, Guitar Wolf, Cheetah Chrome, Bad Brains, Teenage Head, The Carbonas,
New Bomb Turks, The Clash, River City Tanlines, The Rat Traps, The Misfits, The Rotters, Lost Sounds, The Cramps, Dayglo Abortions, Plasmatics, ect...ect. There was some in color of weird shit
like a leopard and of zombies and Frankensteins. He had broken guitars, amps, and crinkled pieces of math homework, laying all over the floor. There was a record player in the corner next to the
bed. That’s the first place he took me. “Well you know how I told you about that band from Tempe. Well this is like the best band ever they’re called Tokyo Electron, they’re so fuckin bad.” He says
as he puts in a translucent green record. I thought this was great. I had never known any kids with a record player.
The music started, its fast it’s loud, angry and vile, I smiled. Logen headed to the closet were there was a mountain of clothes and shoes and pulled out a bottle of Crystal Palace Vodka. He
turned around grinning those fangs. “Tun tura tun, there you go dude. The greatest thing since rock and roll.” He said handing me the clear bottle. I open the bottle and smell it. It smelled like
rubbing alcohol, and it had just sanitized my nose hairs. “Holy shit, dude.” I say as I cringe.
“Yeah I know, fuckin sweet.”
“Man do you wanna just like drink it straight from the bottle or like you wanna get a glass?”
“What like drink it on the rocks? Naw fuck that lets just take swigs. Plus I don’t think I got ice any way.”
I grab the bottle put it up to my lips, close my eyes and open my throat. The liquid started flooding down my esophagus burning every thing in its path like that general in the civil war. I
kept thinking “scorched earth policy” from history class. I pulled the bottle away with my mouth watering and my eyes still closed. “Yeah! That’s what I’m saying’.” Logen says taking the bottle. He
put his lips to it and with out the sliest bit of disgust chugged away. The crystal fluid bubbled as he tilted his head back. I could feel my lip arch as I watch in disbelief. This guy is a mad man
I think to myself. Something about that made me happy, like the feral kids that are raised by wolfs, I had now become wild too.
He pulled the bottle away just as the chorus began and sang “don’t you know that when I’m tearing you apart it’s love…its love. Don’t you know when the blood runs down your face its love.
It’s love that I’m giving you.”
The bottle laid raped and empty in the corner of the room. We had just taken it for all it was worth and had now abandoned it and I for one wasn’t planning on calling it in the morning. I
laid on the floor of the collaged room feeling odd. I had a full feeling in my head, my cheeks felt hot and I was all of a sudden really funny or so I thought. I turned to Logen who was laying in
the pile of clothes in his closet singing “you gotta fight to live… on the planet of the apes!” a song by The Mummies. A band he had just given me a crash course on.
“Logen you know what Tokyo Electron is cool…it’s pretty fuckin cool, you know who else I like though…Rancid. Because they
are like…you know…like all about fuckin’ rockin out and being all like “I’m gonna put my boot in your ass” and I’m into that kinda shit a lot you know?”
“FUCK! I totally got that on record…fuck I totally do!”
“Got what on record? No like don’t like remember that or like quote me on it but like it’s just like what I think, you
“No faggot I got Out Come the Wolfs on record”
“Oh fuck yeah, put it on.”
I roll to my stomach as I watch Logen crawl to the milk create of records and skim through them. “Ha got it.” He yells as he
pulled out a red recorded with a black outlined guy with a Mohawk. He got up and wobbled as he put it in the record player. The music starts and I actually know the words to it. To my surprise this
was the only band I liked that Logen didn’t think was completely lame well that and Operation Ivy, but he said it held a special place in his heart from when he was younger, whatever younger was.
We sang every song. I got up with Logen and jump around singing as he grabbed guitars and microphones. We took our shirts of and tied things to our heads. It was awesome! I was drunk for the first
time ever and I was screaming Rancid with some one else for a change.
I start skating to school with Logen and stopped hanging out with Chris and Israel. Sometimes I would skip school at his house and listen to records and play guitar with him. Logen's mom
left to work at 6 in the morning so I would hop the wall into his house. He was usually still asleep when I showed up. I could smell the gray smell of cat urine, cigarette smoke, and the super old
heater in the air. The windows in the house would be fogged over so you couldn’t see the detail of the world out side, just a blury rendition of what it might look like. The sun would twilight,
peeking from behind its mountain fortress lightly illuminating the papered walls of Logen’s room as he slept and I watched the world turn around us. I’d flip through the rainbow of records in any
one of Logen’s many milk crates and find one that catches my eye and proceed to put it in the record player, to show Logen that his lessons were not in vain and I was catching on. He was happy with
me. I was like his pet project, or like he was liberating me from bad music, or he was the ministry of garage punk and I was another soul saved by the church of rock and roll. I’m sure he felt he
was doing his civic duty by taking a lost soul like my self and showing me the path of righteousness. He didn’t like my music not my Sublime (which I never knew people didn’t like) not Authority
Zero, not Jimmy Hendrix, or Zeppelin, or even NOFX. He was one of probably a handful of kids our age that listened to that and I’m sure he felt the more the better. He was picky though and very
unforgiving. Some people in his eyes could not be saved. They were too far gone to come back like Chris and Israel. He would roll his eyes and sigh when I talked about them or when they would try
to talk to us in school “what the fuck are you 2 doing out here shouldn’t you be at a dungeons and dragons convention, or your underage gay porn meeting, you little fags. I’m sure your dads miss
those tight ass holes.” He would sometimes tell them, the shit that came out of his mouth was epic. People he met and he didn’t find them to his standard he would quickly make a point of
belittling them, and alienating them. In a way this made me feel good. I was the chosen one. He had actually though I had potential, I was good enough to hang out with him and then therefore I had
risen in status, I Gene “Zero” Bradburd was cool.
Logen and I kicked it every day at school. He had 3rd period calculus, the only class he had passing grades in
which was next to my algebra class in the math wing. He had passed every single one of his math classes with a B or better since he was in elementary school. He was failing every other class and
had been place in most remedial courses through out his life, but yet he excelled in math like some sort of idiot savant, a real life rain man or something. He would do random math problems at
inopportune times, or he would take out his calculus book in the middle of English Lit and do math problems. Nothing about him said genius, or even smart, but he had a passion for his numbers and
calculations almost as much as his music.
“ fuck that stupid ass shit Zero! That’s what I mean about authority and school and shit like that. It’s just a bunch of boring ass conservative bullshit, so they can make you just like them.
Man I swear I would drop out if my mom wouldn’t kick me out ya know? That’s just another awesome reason for her to get rid of me. Send me with my dad which would suck worst, fuckin live in god
forsaken Wyoming.” Logen said as he stuck a pen in his mouth after he got sent to detention for not doing his homework. “fuck that. I’m moving the fuck out of here as soon as I turn
18…fuckin’ Memphis probably.” He scrambled through his black torn back pack franticly. He took out a wadded up piece of paper from the bottom of his bag and scribbled something on it. Logen talked
about Memphis all the time. He told me about the Rat Traps, The Reatards, River City Tanlines, The Oblivians and Gonner Records from there and how that was were the action was. How they were
developing a new sound out of the swamp land, how rock and roll was starting to change and how he needed to be part of that. He told me how he figured if he moved down there and started playing
music around with different people eventually he would end up playing with some body cool like Jay Reatard and get involved in some real shit. I knew nothing about any of that. But I’ll say one
thing it sounded awesome. I wanted to run around moving, playing music, not listening to stupid ass authority, waking up at noon, watching tv till late then going out all night to shows and getting
drunk. Logen would show me zines with a bunch of shit like Garage Punk this and Rock and Roll that. He was furthering my rock and roll education every day. There were articles on how to make your
own poster glue and how to steal quarters from the public phones, advertisements of tattoo shops with names like Pussy Teaser, and advertisements for pink hollow body guitars. Logen would bring me
little present almost on a daily basis, zines, pictures, shoelaces, movies, t-shirts; he would make mix tapes for me from the endless collection of records, cd’s, and tapes, with their own
flawlessly made list of songs and artists. “Oh shit by the way check out what I found. I got them at the dollar store so I got 2 so we could match.” He said pulling out 2 pairs of heart shaped
plastic sun glasses. He handed me the purple ones and kept the pink ones for him self and put them on. “ha fuck yeah these are way tough!” he said in a loud burst. I took my present and put them
on. I felt akward wearing them because they were so ridiculous, but loved them cuz now we were like…matching, like in a gang or like the blues brothers.
Lourdes who most every one called Lou would some times hang out with us. She was smart and super opinionated about every thing. She liked really political punk stuff like Dead Kennedys and
Bad Religion and shit like that which Logen said was poseur shit. She was a vegetarian, and didn’t really think being all rowdy and wild was funny. I wasn’t really sure why Logen was with her since
she seemed so like strict and uptight, but she was like the only hot punk girl at our school so I guess that was why. She would come watch us skate, or listen to records with us, but most of the
time when Lou and Logen would hang out I was out of the picture. Logen would lock his room and turn up the music loud and I knew they were having sex, so I would go back to my house and listen to
Sublime since I wasn’t allowed to at Logen’s house.
“The doctors called” Nana said, sitting down on my bed motioning for me to join her. “She’s not doing too well and they have to keep her there a little longer. I’m not exactly sure how long,
but regardless you guys are gonna have to stay here even after she gets out o.k.” she said patting my leg. I nodded in acknowledgment. I wasn’t really sure if I cared, I mean I didn’t want my mom
to die, or to be a phsyco, but I also didn’t want to go back to the apartment, and to her. I liked living at Nana’s were I didn’t have to share a bed with Sean, and I didn’t have to take the gay
ass bus, and I was close to my friends. “Hey Nana, do you still have a record player?” I asked as she walked out my room.
“A record player? Now why do you need a record player, you don’t even have records Gene.”
“Well you know Logen from next door he has records and he said he’d let me borrow them but I don’t have any were to play them, and he has some really cool ones.”
“Shoot I think we still have one and it might be in the outside closet if you wanna go look for it it’s all yours.”
It was dark and cold and my ears stung from the wind. I wasn’t use to the cold yet. I went to the outside closet which was exactly what it sounds like, a closet that’s out side, and begun to
look through years of discarded items; miles of Christmas lights, old toys we had out grown, boxes full of old TV Guides, weird shit from decades ago like a map of Disneyland, my mom’s junior prom
dress, a stroller, a rusted barbeque grill from when Grandpa and Nana were still together. I dug through the memories that weren’t my own, but were handed down, stopping to admire the artifacts in
their own context, holding weathered magazines in my hands gently as if they were ancient scripts, smelling the mildew and dust like it were a fancy perfume. I pushed through analyzing every box,
every pile looking for the fabled record player. With every box that I would open my heart raced a little only to be let down the more I dug down. Box after box was opened with no record
player any were. “The god damn holy grail” I thought to myself, “Just like Indiana Jones” I stuck my cold dusty hands in crumbling boxes feeling for hard plastic. The scuffle of paper, the sound of
cardboard rubbing against dirt covered concrete, the breaking and splitting of wood was almost inaudible over the mantra in my head “please, please, please, oh come on, come on.” I had looked
through all the boxes, and it wasn’t there, it was nowhere! I wanted to punch all the stupid asshole boxes I was so pissed. My peaceful quest had very quickly turned, I was now very angry. I felt
that I was lied to, that I had been cheated. I begun to look through them again, frustrated this time with less regard for the things inside. Then there it was, a flat black record player wrapped
in red and white wires. I almost screamed. I threw all the junk out of the box and brought out the record player triumphantly and ran inside almost tripping on my untied shoe laces. I connected it
to my CD player and almost creamed myself when it actually worked. I had found an old Smokey Robinson record in the closet I wanted to tell Logen right away, I wanted to show him how cool I was
too, but it was almost 2 in the morning and I had to wait. I pulled the record out of it’s sleeve I had never played a record and was intimidated by its many grooves. A Quiet Storm read the sleeve
in faded yellow letters, a black man with an afro crouched in a medow infront of a black horse, I sat the record on the player and softly placed the needle on the first big groove. The record
hissed softly and then the sweet placid voice of Smokey Robinson, I fell asleep with the record quietly playing.
The next morning I rushed to Logen’s house, wanting to tell him about my great find, and how now we could listen to music at my house too. The thin spread of dew on the ground and cars was
now frosted frozen. I walked into Logen’s icy house. The dryer was on and Logen was in his room. I opened the sliding doors to the laundry closet and claimed in the warm room. I sat there for about
20 minutes drifting in and out of day dreams, and reality, listening to the lullaby of the dryer spinning and rocking me to sleep. The delicate smell of warm laundry soap floated around me, as I
let my eye lids drop. The blatant coldness outside made me glad that this was were I had chosen to sit. Only the shimmering light seeping in through the crack between the door and the wall
Logen woke up and walked out of his room in a pair of blue plaid pajama pants and no shirt. He grabbed a glass of water from
the kitchen and walked to the living room and sat down on the floor with his back on the couch. I opened my eyes slightly feeling them heavy and trying to fight me to go back to sleep. I watched
Logen silently not paying too much attention. I would open the door later and scare him I thought to myself, but for now I would enjoy the solitude and peace of the warm little closet.
He rested his head on the seat of the couch as he positioned him self comfortably on the floor. He blinked a little but kept his eyes mostly closed. He sat there a while not moving much
just sitting, yawning and streaching every now and then. The muscles of his ribs and stomach undulated as he moved. He kept his head facing up to the ceiling. He had a sleepy look on his face and
he moved sluggishly. His already slightly slanted green eyes squinted in the dawn light. I didn’t move I just watched. Something about seeing people in their natural habitat I guess.
He sighed, and shuffled around a bit then just as I watched quietly, patiently hidden behind the doors of the cozy closet, he reaches down into his pants. My body tightened up and I was
awake. I stopped breathing for a second. I blushed and found my self increasingly embarrassed of what I was doing. Why was I not closing my eyes? Why do I not jump out? He brought out to my
surprise a long stiff member, perfectly formed with no unusual curves or odd colors, just a thick, long, pink, dick. Logen’s eyes closed as he stroked his cock softly, smoothly, rhythmically. He
stretched his legs and toes separating them like a fan as he jerked off. There was nothing vulgar about his actions for some reason. Something about it was beautiful, raw, passionate. My
embarrassment begun to fade. I figured I was safe in my little hole, in Logen’s wall. He begun to arch his back still with his eyes closed shut facing the cottage cheese textured ceiling. His sharp
eye brows would squint and arch at a moments notice.
I tried to keep my breath regular so he wouldn’t hear me. My blood rushed, my hands sweat and just as I heard Logen begin to let out louder repetitive sighs, my dick got hard. I ran my hands
hard down my lap to satisfy the enormous force in my penis. I squinted my eyes hard, gritting my teeth. Logen’s tussled dark brown hair stuck to his forehead from the dazzling beads of crystalline
sweat. I was transfixed. Rendered completely useless; a sloppy pool of lust and desperation. I couldn’t move. All I could do was press my face against the silver line letting me observe him. Why?
How could this be? I’ve heard that straight guys get turned on by shit like that…so it’s like totally normal, I’ve heard.
So there I was and there he was with his Persian cat green eyes, chiseled jaw line and the shadow of facial hair I wish I had. He moved up from the semi dark patch of curly hairs to the
smooth pink tip and back. H
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