I’m always daydreaming about how I’ll die. I think a lot of people are like that. When I met Cristy, who tried to slash her wrists with a butter knife, I think: everyone’s like us. We’re all thinking about how we’ll die. The thing about Cristy is, she just takes it a little further sometimes.
The butter knife incident was a long time ago, though. She doesn’t try it anymore. These days, she likes lying on her roof and staring up at the night sky. I hate doing that. I tried it once. I felt like I was falling; the sky seems so deep at night. I had one cigarette with her, then made an excuse like I had to study for an exam the next day or something equally stupid. But she just smiled, told me to leave the smokes. And I climbed off, gratefully.
Today, I’m trying to write my will. I wanted to make it long and dramatic, but my pencil is getting very short. Also, I don’t have a lot of stuff to leave to people, and I only have a couple of friends that I want to leave stuff to, anyway. I keep rereading it, checking for mistakes, but I never go back to erase anything. I leave my CDs to my sister in the States, my comp to the school, my clothes to an orphanage. I like the idea of helping people by giving them stuff that I don’t need anymore. It makes you look generous instead of, well, dead. I’m not sure if there are any orphanages close by, but I guess it’s the thought that really really counts. Whether my clothes actually make it to an orphanage or become the home of a colony of moths, will make little difference to me anyway. My guitar to Geoff, my books to my cousin Beth, my stories to Cristy. That’s about it.
I told Cristy about this once. This will thing. I update it every year, week after my birthday. This way, I won’t be leaving stuff that I don’t have anymore, or I won’t give stuff to people I don’t like anymore, or I won’t give away stuff that I really really want to give to someone else. She thought it was cool, but she’d never be able to do it herself. All Cristy had in her house was porn. Her father was in the business.
I used to think it was really cool. She knew everything about everything before she turned ten, but she didn’t do it until she was 16 (she won’t say with whom). Everywhere I look there are piles of Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler. Beta, VHS and VCDs. Cockateer, Sweet Dreams, Virtual Sex with Asha, Girl’s Dormitory Part 3, Virgin Hoes in Heat. Huge brown boxes of this stuff are the only visible furniture. Once, when we were working on one of those projects that you throw together a couple of hours before the deadline, I had to work on a table of Pamela Anderson home videos. She never brings anyone home with her. Not even guys, except maybe me sometimes.
Today, I’m sitting on her roof. I don’t hate it so much in the day. We’re smoking Camels because there was nothing else. Cristy only smokes the good shit usually. She really spends for it. West Ice, YSL, Capri. Today though, we don’t have anything like that. No Cartier, no Davidoff, no Dunhill. We don’t really complain. We’re smoking Camels because there was nothing else. Cristy takes her time with each stick because, well, they taste bad. We figure, if we nurse each stick for as long as possible, we won’t have to smoke too many. I like Winstons myself, but when I’m with Cristy, I just bum whatever she has on her. She’s pretty generous with her ciggies.
The Starmart where we buy our smokes was closed today. Some loony had tried to hold it up the night before, and shot up the drinks freezers. The smell of Cokes and Diet Pepsis mixed with Cowheads and Snapples was a lot like Budweisers and Desperados thrown together with Ovaltine and Red Bull. Anyway, the whole place was a mess.
So we had to smoke Camels. Because there was nothing else.
We passed some guy on the street, on our way to Cristy’s house’s roof. He had one of those stand-up wooden boxes with strips of clear plastic to hold the cigarette packs in. He had this shirt on with what looked like Austane 3:14 written on it. It looked very old. With our sixty, we could’ve bought every cigarette he had, I think. But we bought just the Camels, because there was nothing else.
Sometimes, when we’re really bored, we head over to a mall and listen to people’s conversations in the glass elevators. We go up four levels, then down four levels, then up four levels, until people start looking at us funny. One time we heard this really weird conversation between this mother and (what looked like) her daughter.
It was something like:
MOTHER: told you it was blue. How could it have been anything but blue?
DAUGHTER: He said he wanted me to be honest with him. He told me he needed me with him, to keep him sane.
MOTHER: On the other hand, red would’ve gone wonderfully with our curtains. What do you think? We could still go back to the store. We could still trade this back. It’s only been a few minutes. What do you think?
DAUGHTER: Last night, Uncle Paul wanted to have sex. I told him I couldn’t. I told him I didn’t like sneaking around, because that wasn’t how I was brought up.
MOTHER: Your father asked me to buy extra briefs for him. Try to remind me, alright? And also, some socks for your brother. He’s going to soccer practice again tomorrow, you know. Don’t you love the way he’s applying himself?
DAUGHTER: My abortion didn’t go so well yesterday. The doctor had his assistant hold me down while he raped me, until he said that the baby must either be dead or brain dead.
MOTHER: Of course, your grandmother was asking us to visit her tomorrow so maybe we should if we have.
I think Cristy felt sorry for the girl or something. Anyway, we stole the lady’s cell phone to get even. We made prank calls to people we hated for a couple of hours until it started ringing, all by itself. The voice on the other end was crying, saying things like the phone was her husband’s. The phone took them six months to pay for. The phone was their only way to call other people, they didn’t have a landline at home. Cristy laughed, and threw the phone over the railings, into the three-day-sale crowd below.
I asked her about it later, if she felt bad for the lady. We were in a McDonald’s somewhere. We had a double cheeseburger and two large cokes and two large fries and a spaghetti extra-extra between the two of us. The paper placemat had an Olympics 2000 promo for 16 to 18 year olds who had good leadership skills and athletic ability. Cristy said, her mouth full of fries and spaghetti and a pickle, that she loved all moms. She loved anybody who had raised kids, because that meant they were good people.
I had to ask, even your Dad?
“Well,” she said, slowly, “maybe not him.” But she loved everyone else. She even loved me, sometimes. I smiled, and didn’t feel like eating anymore after that.
Today, I’m telling Cristy about how my folks are separating. Except I wrote it in story form and I didn’t put a “Dear Cristy” at the beginning and I didn’t use my real name or my folks’ real names or Cristy’s real name. My folks are separating because my dad’s a Latin American druglord. Something like that. My dad’s a Latin American druglord and my mom’s a receptionist at Slimmers’ World. My mom keeps saying that all she sees of him is his money. She calls it his “fucking money,” which is pretty brutal coming from a Slimmers’ World receptionist. She says he’s never at home, and that he never makes it to anything she plans.
Neither of them is talking about who I will end up with. My sister in the States does not know our family is falling apart. I’m secretly hoping that my dad will give me some of his Latin American drug money, so I can start my own vulcanizing shop. I like those sparkling welding machines a lot, even though they burn my eyes, looking at them. I like the idea of being surrounded by those sparkling things all day long.
I start the story like, “I’m always daydreaming about how I’ll die.” I don’t really think that of course, but it will make Cristy laugh. She appreciates silly humor like that a lot. I also put in a lot of weird stuff like Cristy trying to kill herself with a butter knife, which is hilarious.
Actually, I think that I’d like my folks to stay together at least until I start working. At least until my first job interview, or my first paycheck. Or whatever.
One summer, we all packed into a car and drove almost two hundred kilometers north. My sister, who’s in the States now, vomited in the car. My folks had a fight too, about which way north was or what time to stop for lunch or how long we had been driving. I can’t remember any other time that I felt like we were all completely there, completely familial. And I thought that was pretty cool.
Today, I’m writing the end of my story for Cristy. This is one of those special occassions, a cause for celebration, because it doesn’t happen very often. The only other time I ever got to write an ending to a story was for this short thing called, “The Big Big Big Day.” It was about a serial killer who tries to kill a lot of people in one day, but screws everything up and only ends up killing one person, i.e., himself. Cristy thought it was pretty contrived, but I enjoyed writing every word. Then there was this other story I had to write for the school paper, because they had almost one whole empty page. It was about how sex washes away all sin. Nobody took it seriously, but everyone thought it was pretty entertaining. Cristy got pissed because she thought I was writing about her.
Today, we’re listening to Sammy Hagar Van Halen through a Panasonic AM/FM bass boost automatic walkman. We’re sharing the earphones, one plug each. I don’t hear the second voice because of this; the second voice only comes through the right earphone. Cristy says, let’s go to Nigeria.
Today, we’re walking past a Mercury Drugstore. The counter is lined with people waiting for their turn. We walk in and buy a pregnancy test. Not those expensive EVA kinds. Just the cheap BioSign kind. Cristy says she’s four days late. She says she’s never late. She says she thinks the angel Gabriel date-raped her last Thursday. I say it isn’t date-rape if he doesn’t buy you dinner.
Today, we’re running after a bus to the other side of the world. It’s cold and the sky says rain. The bus is blue and white with pink hearts on the side. We can’t run very fast.
Today, we’re watching Amanda and Jane take turns humping a traffic cone in Cristy’s house. We don’t know what their real names are, but the blonde looks like an Amanda, and the asian looks like a Jane. Cristy laughs and says, didn’t they have traffic cones in Toy Story 2?
Today, we’re burning old chem notebooks in a corner of Cristy’s backyard. We use a laundry basin to keep the ash.
Today, I’m moving in with my mom in an apartment along the river, and everything smells like rotten fruit.
Today, we’re pointing out shapes in the clouds. I say, severed hand. She says, assault rifle.
Today, we’re at home, waiting for our lives to catch up with us.