What Comes To Mind
Where the fuck am I going to find the morning after pill in Keycut, Alabama? I haven’t seen a Subway or a Starbucks yet, so I’m pretty sure the odds of me finding a Planned Parenthood aren’t very good. I am on a cross country road trip with my best friend Seth and his younger sister Ruthie, and I decide that boning Ruthie is the best and most logical move for me to make at this point in my life.
Retarded is an exaggeration, but it’s what comes to mind.
It’s as hot as I imagine hell is and I’m in some of Seth’s tight fitting clothes I grabbed as I stumbled out of the hotel room. His clothes smell like piss and they’re itchy. The smell along with all of the booze still in my stomach is making me feel sick and it is taking all the focus I can muster to not blow chunks all over the uneven sidewalk.
It’s been five weeks since my parents told me they were splitting up. I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t see it coming, but I still feel like it’s all kind of a dream. It blows. I don’t think anyone can ever fully prepare themselves for something like that. It’s like getting punched in the face. Even if you know it’s coming it still hurts like a bitch. Seth says a road trip will revitalize my spirit. That the open road will free my mind of all the stress coming from my parents split. Seth is always saying stupid shit like that. What the hell does that even mean? I see it more as just transporting the prisoner, because I still feel like shit, but now I feel like shit on a road trip. Not wanting to hurt Seth’s feelings I acted eager and agreed. Two eighteen year old high school graduates ready to take on the world. But Seth’s mom wouldn’t allow him to take on the world unless we brought his sixteen year old temptress of a sister Ruthie along. Seeing as Seth’s mom is a bitch and was letting us take her Subaru, Seth didn’t argue, and seeing as I could be entertained on the long drive with just looking at the eye candy that is Ruthie I didn’t argue.
I feel like a salt covered slug leaving behind a trail of sweat as I slink across the dusty sidewalk past a shot-down elementary school. I wonder how the school could possibly even be open. Around the corner I find a beat down depressing dump of a playground filled with kids.
I make a mental note of all the safety violations I am witnessing and wonder if any of these kids would know where I could access morning after contraception in this town. I don’t even know anything about the morning after pill. I have only had sex three times. My first time was with a condom, the second time I didn’t even “make it”, but at least I was in the clear regarding knocking the girl up, and my third time was last night with Ruthie. Fuck. Seeing as the average age in the playground is probably seven at most I decide to not ask for any advice and continue my horrid walk through Hell.
We left home four days ago and haven’t done much but drive, but we did stop at Seth’s aunt’s the second night for dinner. I am not one for judging other’s faith and religion and all that stuff, but Seth’s aunt’s house made me want to cannon ball into a boiling vat of holy water. The walls were covered in a bunch of knitted Bible verses that had a bunch of misspellings, and she had a bookshelf dedicated to a bunch of Jesus knick knacks. I even zipped up my sweatshirt to cover the Slayer shirt I was wearing out of fear of being judged. It’s not like I am an atheist, I just didn’t grow up in a Christian environment. I can’t complain too much though because the grub was good and I didn’t have to talk much aside from Seth’s aunt asking me if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my savior.
I said yes.
By this time my morning drunk has worn off and I am completely sober. Now I just feel like an ice pick is stuck in my skull and I just got run over by the hangover truck. The sun is just making things worse. I remove one of the itchy layers I am wearing and tie it around my waste. The smell of piss is not helping matters. Seth must not shower as much as I thought because it really reeks. As I struggle with my piss aroma dilemma I pass a house that could win the “Shittiest House in the World” award if there was such an award. It would at least be nominated. Up against the rickety paint-chipped stoop of the house is a passed out sea cow of a man. A beat up hat is pulled down over his eyes exposing only his chapped lips which are leaking chew-ridden drool. If it weren’t for the almost undetectable up and down motions of the guy’s massive gut I would bet he was dead. This town is really testing my stomach.
We drove for 44 hours straight after leaving Seth’s aunt’s house. My ass had never been so numb. We didn’t talk much during the drive. Seth and I would alternate shifts driving and sleeping while Ruthie went about her business driving a few hours here and there. Aside from a little chit chat from time to time about the band we were listening to, a funny road sign, or asking if anyone needed to go to the bathroom, Ruthie and I didn’t talk much. I looked plenty, but we didn’t talk much. Seth and I have been friends for about three years, so since 10th grade. Ruthie was always cool. I never gave her much attention and she never called for it, but over the past year nature has taken its toll, for the better, on Ruthie and she has gained my attention. It’s always weird. You know, that feeling of guilt when you “appreciate” the opposite sex when you know they aren’t aware, and when you know that maybe you shouldn’t. This is how it was for me with Ruthie. Take that and mix in that she is also my best friend’s 16 year old sister.
Clusterfuck is probably a juvenile term to describe my situation, but it’s what comes to mind.
After driving for two days straight we decided we needed to stop. We stopped in Keycut at the “Inn and Out”. Seth and I went to a convenient store on the way and I distracted the attendant while Seth stuffed two fifths of 151 and a pint of peach schnapps into his pants. Much more alcohol than we needed. I had drank a few times throughout high school but Seth never had. After four shots Seth had already puked and was snoring buried under pillows and blankets. Ruthie then talked me into letting her drink and made me promise not to tell Seth. Why not? Seth and I were supposed to share a bed and Ruthie was supposed to sleep on the hide-a-bed the Inn had provided. At one shot I was still ready to carry this out. At two shots I noticed how attractive Ruthie looked as we shared a cigarette. I was surprised she wasn’t coughing from the smoke. I tried to be smooth and brush her hair out of her face but my watch got tangled in her hair. What a fucking idiot. But she laughed, scooted closer, and held my hand. My heart started pounding. We continued to hold hands and she asked me about my parents. She asked how I was dealing with it and told me I could talk to her about anything. People always say stupid stuff like that. “You can always come to me.” Or “you can talk to me about anything.” I am not normally one for cheesy shit like that but I believed Ruthie. She smiled and looked me right in the eyes. I looked at the ground most of the time. Even with some alcohol in me I felt shy. What a schoolboy bitch. I was caught off guard when Ruthie brought up my parents because even Seth and I didn’t even really talk about it. It’s not that Seth doesn’t care. Or at least I don’t think that’s the case. It’s just one of those awkward subjects. Like what do you say? I have known people that have had family members die and stuff like that and I don’t know what to say. I mean I guess it’s nice letting people know you care, but does it ever really make them feel better? I don’t think so. But Ruthie seemed to actually care. I had never felt that. It was nice.
Ruthie and I talked for about an hour. At three shots I felt a little more confident so I kissed Ruthie. Score. After awhile we went back inside. I turned off the lights and we stumbled through the dark onto the shitty hotel bed. We kept kissing and all of a sudden I found my hands struggling to undo her bra. Four shots was glimpses of Ruthie’s naked body through the limited light in the room as we “investigated” each other. Five…well, five was me making a big fuckin’, condomless, mistake. Six was climax, and the last thing I remembered before falling asleep.
It must be the hottest day in the last decade. Even my sweat is sweating and I am still uncomfortably sticky from the night before. Not good. I keep spitting to try and get rid of the taste of 151, schnapps, tobacco, and Ruthie from my mouth, but it doesn’t help. I see a sign up ahead.
Ice cream is probably one of my favorite things in the world, but it doesn’t even sound appealing right now, and seems like a really dumb stop to make at this time, but at least it will cool me off and hopefully help me get rid of the taste of bad choices from the night before. I pull the door open and a pathetic bell rings. I welcome the cold air of the parlor and approach the counter. The kid behind the counter is a goofy looking kid with floppy Dumbo ears. This kid looks like he is at that awkward stage in puberty where your voice teeters in pitches. I look at his nametag: DARBY. Fitting. Darby gives me a huge goofy smile and asks what I will have. I gaze up at my options:
VANILLA CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY
Three flavors. Three. Fucking. Flavors. You have got to be kidding me. Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins would be shitting in their graves if they knew about this calamity. Slinging only three flavors of ice cream could get you killed in some places. I guess it really doesn’t matter all that much. They will all taste like alcohol anyways. I let out a dazed chuckle thinking that choosing an ice cream flavor is my number one priority when eight hours ago I had unprotected sex with my best friend’s sixteen year old sister who was drunk off of alcohol I gave her when her brother specifically made it clear he didn’t want her drinking. I choose chocolate. I tip Darby with the change and eat my cone inside.
Shelter…it’s the wrong term but it’s what comes to mind.
Love. “Life’s greatest mystery.” Well, aside from Bigfoot. I do believe in love I just don’t think many people ever find it. I read something a while back, in a magazine at my dentist’s office I think, that something like 52% of married couples split nowadays. “Bullshit” I thought. Since then I have started to believe that it’s true. I often wonder if my parents were in love. I guess not. It’s depressing. Maybe they were in love in the beginning, or maybe they thought they were. I dunno. Whatever they felt they didn’t feel it any more. I also look at that 48% that stays together and wonder, “Out of all of those couples how many of them are actually happy? Actually in love?”
It seems after awhile “love” might just become something someone gets used to. Like the smell of a paper factory or something. Maybe you just get used to love. Emotions on cruise control. A static heart.
Fuckin’ cross walks. If I had to make a list of ten things I hated, cross walks would make the top three. Every time I hit the silver button I wonder if it is even connected to anything, and everyone seems to think the more you hit it the faster it will change. I think it is just there to keep people busy during their wait. The best is when the sign says don’t cross and there are people on both sides. Everyone eyes each other like they are about to cross a mine field waiting for the brave martyr, and as soon as one sheep goes they all go. I love it. This crosswalk is ancient. There is not even one of the seemingly pointless buttons. I look down both sides of the road like they teach you to do when you’re little, and cross.
I hear the town bells (yes the town bells) toll ten and realize I need to move my ass if I am going find what I need in the middle of God knows where. Actually I don’t even think God knows where this place is. I can’t blame him.
I kick a rusted beer can and continue down the shitty sidewalk that looks like it was surveyed by a bunch of high school drop outs. Probably drunk on the job. I pass a beat up football field. The only way I can tell it’s a football field is by the leaning goal posts at each end. The field is probably 80% dirt. 15% grass. 5% garbage. But it’s 100% shitty. On the side of the football field there’s a rickety set of bleachers with a hand painted sign above.
Shit. As if these kids didn’t have enough to be depressed about. Shitty town. Shitty field. Shitty team name. I imagine Friday nights here in Keycut. Whole families probably gather to watch the Sparkplugs play football here. If they can even see through the dust.
At this point reality sets in. Aka reality takes a shit on my brain and I realize how awful my situation is. I’m screwed. I’m fucked. I was screwed and because of that I am fucked. I give up and plop down at a bus stop and put my face in my hands. The international body language for, “what the fuck am I going to do?”
Seth, the punctual prick, is probably going to wake from his drunken coma soon and want to leave, and if I show up late and he asks where the fuck I was I am going to have to tell him where the fuck I was. I decide that my strategy of just walking around aimlessly people watching and sucking down ice cream is not very efficient or effective. I need guidance. I spot a shitty (big surprise) gas station with a little shop and decide that I just need to grow some balls and ask someone.
I cautiously enter the scanty shop half expecting it to collapse in on me, and approach the counter. Hidden behind a copy of Peterson’s Field Guide: Advanced Birding is a kid that could not be more than twelve. After noticing he has a potential customer the kid closes his book and looks up at me through his cheap drugstore purchased reading glasses. Poor kid’s balls haven’t even dropped yet and he needs glasses to read his bird book. Now this is just a big fucking pile of awkward. This kid’s biggest concern is how soon the Black-Throated Warblers will be migrating south whereas mine is figuring out a way to execute Plan B without my best friend figuring it out. I decide to not burden the kid with the explanation and instead buy a pack of cigarettes. I pack the smokes nervously and ask the kid for matches. He hands them to me and asks if there’s anything else he can do.
“Listen kid. I am kind of in a shi—a bad situation. Do you know by any chance where a Planned Parenthood is?” The kid looks at me for awhile blank faced. Figures. I turn and head out of the store when I hear the kids squeaky voice.
“Yup, but the nearest one is 20 miles north in Slatesborough, but it’s closed on Sundays I think.” I turn and look at the kid shocked. He puts a bookmark in his book and continues, “We sell condoms if that’s what you need, they’re over there by the beef jerky, and the church a little further down the road has a bunch of pamphlets on stuff like that…you know like sex stuff. What are you lookin’ for?” I slowly approach the counter thinking in my head how to word it.
“Uh well I was hoping to find a morning after pill. Last night—well I just need one.” The kid continues looking at me blank faced taking his time to answer.
“Hmm well I think you’re out of luck here in Keycut for somethin’ like that. But my sister got one once and it was a few days after and she had no baby. So I think you got a few days until it’s bad. You should probably go to a doctor or somethin’. I think you can get one from doctors but I dunno.” The kid picks up his bird book and begins reading again. I thank the kid and leave.
I definitely did not expect that from a little kid, but at least now I feel a little better. I guess I am going to have to tell Seth so that we can go to a hospital or a pharmacy or something. He’ll probably punch me right in the face, but he’s sort of a little bitch so I am sure I can take it. Besides, I kind of deserve it. This also will probably mark the end of our “road trip”. Whatever, I think my spirit has had all of the revitalization it can handle for now.
As I retrace my steps I pass by the ice cream parlor once more. Darby waves at me from inside. What a goofy kid. Sure friendly though. To celebrate my small “victory” in at least deciding what I am going to do I decide to get another ice cream cone for the walk back. One last thing to remember Keycut by. I go inside again and nod to Darby. This time I go with strawberry.