I’m standing outside smoking. The bookstore is closed. A group of drunk teenagers congregate near me. They are yelling belligerently.
“I hate girls,” says one boy to me. He is 17 and has fluffy hair. “I’ve dated seven or eight girls and they are all the same. Guys aren’t full of bullshit like they are. I seriously hate girls.”
I tell him to try dating boys.
“Ew, no, I can’t do that,” he says. “No offense, but fuck bitches, get money. That’s how I’m living my life. That’s how I am going to live my life. I’m just saying, money is where it’s at. I hate girls, fuck ‘em. Fuck bitches, get money.”
I nod politely. “You should only date prostitutes. You should just pay prostitutes for the rest of your life. I think that would be really good for you.”
He laughs loudly, drunkenly, “Like you can date a prostitute!”
I slink away.
I’m sitting in the basement of the bookstore, in the “audience,” at a “poetry reading.” There is a low-budget movie being filmed and the director says, “Think about a time when you felt really embarrassed.”
The fuck-bitches-get-money boy is sitting directly in front of me and he yells out, “ONCE I HAD MY FINGER IN A GIRL’S ASSHOLE!”
“Found by mother masturbating,” the Asian boy sitting next to me says quietly.
I have no idea what is going on.
I want to fuck and fight at the same time, I think, right now, I feel this hazy desire to, like, be pounded from behind by one of the chill teenagers while maybe punching one of the obnoxious ones in the face repeatedly, maybe the one that keeps assuring me that he’s 22 and has asked me four times now what my major was, yeah. I don’t know. I started my period today and I’ve taken a lot of pills and my brain is still melting, I can feel it, and the heat in the basement doesn’t help.
It is long past midnight and the bookstore is closed and I think about stealing books from the bookstore, I think about it every time I walk through to go outside, I look for things to take, I think about how to take them, but I never do. I make ethical decisions now, I have ethics, and my guilt grows every year, though I don’t acknowledge it or even feel it and I’m not sure if I’m actually guilty or if I am just drawn to the word.
Walking alone to my car in the dark, empty handed, fingers forming little fists because I’m passing a large drunk white man who is standing stationary there on the sidewalk, I walk fast but not too fast, I’m tough, I am 20, 30, 40 feet away now, I hear I LOVE YOU barked from behind me, walking faster to my car. Pull a rain-soaked ticket out of the driver-side door. It’s illegible. I punch my steering wheel weakly, just a tap, feeling more paranoid than angry, notice every police car, all six of them, waiting. I don’t want to fuck anymore and I don’t want to fight, I just want to be in my bed petting my cat, where I’m not anticipating the sound of sirens, which is such a fucking unreasonable anticipation, because I’m really not guilty of anything tonight.
< Brandi Wells
Carolyn DeCarlo >