Saturday, February 04, 2006

Let me know what y'all think

This is the first four pages of a book I'm toying with writing. It's about a group of guys who share unforgettable times until tragedy rips them apart. It's an experiment, my first foray into the world of literature. Critiques are welcome.

Chapter One

Chapter 1
A Plan Forms


“All right”, I yelled.

Christ! Ten o’clock and these dumbasses are standing on the damn bell.


“Just a fuckin’ minute”, I screamed. The sound of my own bellowing nearly dropped me on the spot. ‘As soon as I throw up and get dressed, these bastards are dead’ I thought.



Had it only been four hours since I got home? ‘Man, I need more sleep or less persistent friends’ I thought. Undoubtedly Jess and Jian were at the door waking the living dead known as Brian Halblade, me, in the flesh. And boy
I felt like shit. “Eleven long island ice teas will do that”, I muttered to myself. This was arguably one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had. My stomach would not stop gurgling and my head felt like earthmovers were hard at work inside my skull. I could still smell the stale beer and cigarette odor from the night/morning before and the alcohol sweating its way out my pores. This is the type of hangover that could be smelled by others the second you got within sniffing distance, hell, the second you walked in the room. The type of hangover where your first thought is, ‘my God, I’m never drinking again.’ When in this condition the body’s first desire is to rehydrate but this can’t be accomplished until you shave the previous evening’s residual festivities off your tongue.


My God, are these sheets made out of lead?’ It took seemingly fifteen minutes to accomplish a two second procedure. The covers came slowly off to reveal the corpse called Brian. It was at this point I noticed that my clothes were still on from the night before. Complete with rum & cola stain on the left leg of my favorite khaki cargo shorts and makeup smudge/painting on the chest of a white shirt that had withstood the revelry from the party I apparently went to. Honestly, I was having difficulty remembering my own name at this point, let alone a series of activities I’d engaged in earlier this morning. Alcohol consumption can be a deadly thing.


‘I’m going to fucking kill them. But not before I stop the room from spinning.’

This last manifestation of my body trying to detoxify was the trigger my ailing
stomach needed and quite frankly the only thing that could’ve pried my sorry ass out of bed at that point. I jumped up knowing that Old Faithful was about
to blow. As I rounded the corner and hit the stairs of my basement bedroom
my stomach issued the first grumble. Time was of the essence. I knew I had maybe three to four seconds before the air would be cut by a torrent of most assuredly brown and red vomit. I bolted up the stairs with a speed I thought I was utterly incapable of at that point. My legs took the staircase two steps at a time. As I hit the landing just outside the bathroom door my stomach fire off a test salvo. Warm acidic bile hit the back of my throat. ‘Please God let the toilet seat be up’ I thought. The doorknob turned in my shaky yet desperate hand and I threw the door open revealing my newfound best friend, the Halblade family
throne. ‘Sweet Jesus the lid is up!’ I barely had time to aim. ‘I was right, brown and red’. I had puked into this very commode dozens of times but this was perhaps the most satisfying and urgent. ‘If this thing backs up I’m telling mom to sell the house’. After about a dozen or so heaves my stomach emptied of its


I had to resign myself to defeat. Jess and Jian would not be denied. Besides I was only a fifteen-foot walk from the front door they so desperately wanted answered. A simple drunken stumble through the living room of my mother’s town house would do the trick. Only if the damn room stopped spinning! A seemingly easy task made near impossible by the crippling effects of the mother of all hangovers. Thankfully for my hyper sensitive eyes the blinds were drawn and closed. If they had happened to be open the blinding effects of the sunlight cascading through the front window would have reduced my stumble to a pitiful mole-like crawl, complete with blind mammal trying to find the entrance to his home.


A simple ninety-degree turn to the right as you exit the downstairs bathroom puts the front door of our townhouse into full view. My stomach tamed and my faculties returning, somewhat, the trek across the living room began. ‘The door looks so far though’. Just a two second stroll across camel colored carpet and passed walls adorned with wallpaper that resembled the inside of a grass thatch hut and two white, round futons with blue frames roughly four feet in diameter. ‘I hate that fucking wallpaper’. My mom often refereed to the futons as papazon chairs. I had no idea. I just knew they didn’t go with the beige two-seater love seat in the opposite corner. Eclectic suburban jungle is what I thought the motif should be called.

My still shaky hand finally grasped the knob of the front door. ‘Shit it’s dead bolted’. The fact I had remembered to lock the door in and of itself was a miracle. My other hand slowly reached up and turned the seemingly impregnable latch on the dead bolt. CLICK. Casa de Halblade was open for business but beware, the owner is near death and in no mood for anyone’s shit. The light flooded in as the door swung open. To those on the outside it would appear as if the door had opened by itself, eerily similar to the invitation one receives when entering a haunted house or mausoleum. This was necessary because I knew the flood of light would’ve blinded me so I purposely hid myself like a vampire avoiding the sunlight. And believe me, I felt like a minion of the undead.

“Hally”, shouted Jian, “get your shit ready and let’s go”. Everything that
came out of his mouth was at a shout but I loved the kid anyway. Hally was
a little knick name I had received months before. I didn’t like it that
much but hey, it sounded cool.

In walked two of my best friends and one forth of the group that formed my inner sanctum that year. These were two of the eight I considered my surrogate
brothers, my circle of friends. Oh sure, there those of us who took more than our fair share of abuse. That’s inevitable. But there existed among us an unspoken bond, a kinship of sorts that tied us together and kept us bound to this grand experiment known as friendship.

Jess was a lanky shit with a quiet air of confidence that bordered on arrogance. He could be a slippery little bastard who always seemed to land on his feet. He was tall, about 6’ with long brown hair that he kept impeccably groomed. Of the group he was the one most concerned about his appearance and the one we all turned to for fashion critique. Jess could be cold and aloof but you always knew where you stood with him. I respected that about him. He was a man of few words and often times fewer morals. He put himself number one and we all knew it. It’s hard to explain why I like him but I knew I did. He always could make me laugh and he was the first one I called if I needed something or got in a jam and he seldom if ever let me down. He bailed me out of more shit than anyone. When the nine of us were assembled Jess usually kept fairly quiet and
kicked back and took it all in. I got the impression he was constantly scrutinizing and sizing up weaknesses. An interesting and loyal guy and
one of my favorites.

Jian couldn’t be more different. He was about my height, 5’11”, and had what a
girl told me once were model type good looks. I didn’t see it but what did I know. Hey, I was a guy after all. Jian was the most outgoing of all of us and was at times obnoxious. He wore his self-confidence on his sleeve. Some perceived it as overt cockiness but I knew it was a mask hiding deep-seeded insecurity. He may have been the most sensitive of us but you would never guess it judging from his outward demeanor. Jian was a deeply emotional guy who had a hair trigger temper and the highest pain threshold I’ve ever seen. I saw him get his nose broke once and laugh off the pain. A complete hot head that adored the attention of girls and sought the group’s approval often times at the expense of his own dignity and credibility. I never understood why he insisted on spinning such outrageous tales for our benefit. We all liked him for who he was.

I was tired, crabby, hung over, smelly (massive alcohol consumption does that),
still half blind, thirsty, slightly queasy, and I was still wearing my clothes from the night before. Even with all this I was still elated to see my comrades, even though they did wake me out of a sound slumber. Had these two been lesser friends or strangers I undoubtedly would have shot them on sight just for general principle. It was almost impossible to stay mad at these guys. They had that power over me, damn them. We seldom if ever remained angry at each other for long.

“C’mon Halblade”, Jess cajoled, “we’ve gotta go. The fireworks are waiting”.

“Gimme a minute”, I begged. “I need a shower”.

“We can tell”, responded Jess. The stench of my obvious hangover had hit these

“Hurry up Hally!” Jian was apparently eager to make our previously planned
drive to Cheyenne, Wyoming to buy fireworks. This trip had been in the making for weeks and was our only opportunity to purchase ammunition for our first annual pop bottle rocket war that was to take place this very evening. nfortunately for us, fireworks of this type were illegal in Colorado so we had to drive about a hundred miles north to the Wyoming-Colorado border to procure our pyrotechnics.

Denver was where we all called home. The southwestern suburbs of Lakewood and Littleton and unincorporated Jefferson County to be more precise. None of the nine of us lived more than a ten-minute drive from Red Rocks Amphitheatre, one of the most famous outdoor concert venues in the world. All in all it was a pretty sweet place to grow up and the setting for most of my childhood. We had all lived in this area for years. I had moved to Lakewood when I was twelve and the rest had grown up here. It was home.

I stumbled my way up the stairs to the shower and closed the door behind me. A nice luke warm bathing sounded really nice. My still shaky hand reached over and turned the faucet to the appropriate setting. The water immediately sprayed out of the nozzle in a fine cone shaped streaming type mist. My oh my did it look inviting. I sat in a sleep-deprived haze on the nearby toilet waiting for the water to regulate temperature. A few cautious temperature checks with my left hand and subsequent adjustments ensured a comfortable setting. The all too important water check done I began pealing off my clothes and then stepped under the luxurious stream of now temped water. I could feel my humanity returning along with desperately needed bodily energy. The once stunning effects of my hangover were now starting to slip away. Amazing how a hangover that would kill the average thirty year old is dealt with and negated in a fairly miniscule amount of time by the body of a nineteen year old. The system of the young human form is an amazing thing. A shower was all it took to fully restore my faculties and I could feel my appetite returning. My sleep deprivation was another matter. I was still tired and would be so all day. The only cure would be more rest but this would have to wait. I had plans. I finished my daily shower, wrapped a towel around my waste and headed for my room.

As I hit the landing on the main floor I saw that Jian and Jess had migrated from the living room to the deck off the dining room at the back of the townhouse. They were talking and laughing about something. I headed down to the basement where my room, the laundry facilities, and my clothes were. I could still faintly smell the undeniable odor of alcohol and cigarettes. The stink had permeated through my clothes and had been absorbed in the air. A charming thought to say the least. I grabbed a pair of off white cargo shorts and a coral colored tee shirt. My shoes were AWOL so I went barefoot. After getting dressed I made my way upstairs and brushed my hair in the previously mentioned downstairs bathroom. I was ready to go.

“All right gentlemen,” I called out.

“Finally”, Jian joked. He knew how important the day after shower was and so did Jess. Neither one of them gave me the ration of shit I so richly deserved and had anticipated. Were they taking pity on me? Were they pissed at the delay? Or were they just glad to do something off the beaten path for a change?

I collected my keys and wallet, the later of which was significantly lighter after last night’s travails, and headed out the door with Jian & Jess. The sun hit my face like a frying pan and I immediately donned my Ray Bans. ‘Thank god for sunglasses’. A look across the parking lot showed me that Jian had managed to finagle his mother’s Ford Tempo for the day. She evidently didn’t know about our little trip. Oh well. No harm no foul. Jess immediately called ‘shotgun’ as we exited my townhouse. This was a little tradition we had wherein the first to say the magic word owned the right to occupy the front passenger seat for the duration of the trip. This privilege evaporated when we would arrive at our
destination and the clamoring for front seat rights would begin all over again. Stupid maybe but what else do you expect from nineteen year old guys. We made our way to the car and I was actually glad that I would have the back seat all to myself. I could nap on the way to Cheyenne. Normally I detested being relegated to back seat duty because it was more difficult to hear the conversation and the coveted car stereo controls were well out of reach. If you wanted to risk a thump to the back of the head you could lunge over the seat and attempt to control the stereo but with two equally controlling guys in the front one was liable to get only a face full of palm or a middle knuckle burrowed into your skull. Usually the risk wasn’t worth it. To be honest I had neither the energy nor the desire to even sit upright let alone controlling a stereo through a gauntlet of Jian and Jess’ flying appendages. I was perfectly ok with sprawling out across the back and the only thing I hoped for was a smooth and uneventful ride. Jian drove, Jess grabbed the front passenger seat, and I literally crawled into the back seat. We were off.

After barely five minutes Jian pulled into a 7Eleven. We all desperately needed caffeine.