Monday, October 23, 2006

18


I went to his apartment and confessed. He paced. He punched the wall to the left of my head. I flinched but didn’t move. He called me a slut and a cunt. The tears streamed down my face.

***

I'd just started university. Jason had been living in an apartment with a friend of his and I was pretty sure they were dealing, but I could never get a straight answer. They had some kind of falling out and Jason had to get out fast. He found a room in a place with a couple of girls. I can't remember how he met them but there they lived, in a large but beat-up apartment with next to no furniture. I remember playing cards and smoking cigarettes cross-legged on the worn beige carpet.

The girls slept most of the day and went out at night. They were constantly being paged and were often picked up in souped up cars. Each was pretty in her own way, but rough around the edges. One was curvy and bleach blonde, the other, a brunette, was tall and thin. I suspected they were prostitutes but Jason denied it. Either way I kept them at arms length. I made sure I was always just nice enough to stay on their good side but off their radar, a skill that has always served me well. We got along fine.

Back then I was just beginning to take school seriously after barely making it into university. I was struggling to keep up in an intensive Shakespeare course I chose as an elective alongside the required first year classes like psychology, sociology, and philosophy. Jason wasn't in school, was doing a lot of drugs, and barely holding down a job. We fought a lot - we were on one minute and off the next. During one of those off periods I was at a party and went home with someone - a mutual friend of ours actually. It was my one and only one night stand, though I’d known the guy for years so I’m not really sure if that counts. I was pretty fucked up, but I can still remember all the way back to his house how I kept thinking, WHAT are you doing? Get out while you still can. But I knew it was too late. I knew what was expected and I let it happen.

***

A little while ago at the local used bookstore I asked for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The guy behind the counter looked at me for a moment and then focused on the computer screen, typing in the search.

"So...you think it's a good one?", I asked, trying to fill in the silence.

"Did you like the movie?", he countered without looking up.

I don’t know why, but I told him I didn't.

"But a friend of mine recommended the book", I lied, "so I guess I'll give it a try".

I've never seen the movie.

***

I woke up about 5:30 the morning after, feeling like I was going to vomit. I stayed very still, trying to remember what had happened, taking inventory. I was naked and sore and I could hear him breathing behind me.

Fuck.

I inched away from him, peeling skin from skin. I got off the bed carefully and put my clothes on without making a sound.

Walking home, the sun shone and the sky was blue. I squinted against the sharpness. I passed the odd person jogging and prayed no one I knew would see me. I remember thinking that to these people, it was probably a beautiful fall morning. I ran my fingers through my hair and tried to look casual, willing myself not to throw up. I was trying to pass for someone on her way out rather than on her way home.

***

"You fucking slut."

He stood an arms length away, head down, hands gripping my shoulders. He stared at the carpet and squeezed. I tried not to wince, but it hurt.

"Rachel", he shook his head and exhaled. "Rachel".

He pulled me toward him and held my head to his chest.

"Don't you EVER-".

He stopped mid-sentence. I waited for the rest, but instead he held me closer. He pressed me up against the wall and lifted my skirt.

When he forgave me, I considered myself lucky.

***

Tonight, standing on the platform waiting for people to exit the train, a heavy set aboriginal man with long black hair stopped in front of a little boy of about four who was holding his mother's hand. Blocking people from getting on or off the train, the man held a white plastic bag out to the boy.

"Take it", he growled, slurring his words. "Come aaaahn. Take it."

The boy moved closer to his mother.

Next he said what I thought sounded like, "Fear and loathing, come aaahn".

He gave up, dropping his hand, and walked away.

Clearly I misheard. But come to think of it, through the thin plastic bag, it almost looked like it...but nah, that doesn't make sense.

I pushed through the crowd, onto the train. I reached into my bag, feeling around for it. I pulled out the book. The same three stripes of color: blue, yellow and black.

Ok, that's just weird.

I looked around the packed train car. People crowded together, people whispering to each other, people talking into cell phones, people pretending they're somewhere else.

Reptiles. Animals. We're a bunch of fucking animals.

8 comments:

Lx said...

you can't really go wrong with HST. F&L is fabulous. movie is good too. the one w/Depp as HST, not the one w/Bill Murray. and to borrow from Orwell, sort of...yes, we are all animals, but some animals are more equal than others.

Rachel said...

I think I will see it. I didn't realize it was Johnny Depp - I'm interested to see how that works. Who plays his attorney?

And some animals ARE more equal than others.

Lx said...

his attorney is played by the one and only, the great Benicio Del Toro!!

the film was directed by Terry Gilliam; he of 12 Monkeys/Brazil/Time Bandits/Monty Python fame.

the film is good and fun; but the novel is dynamic.

Lx said...

you have small feet.

Tired Dad said...

Look. You.

This is the most astounding thing I have read (and I read REAL books and that) for a long time for two reasons:

1: A level of disclosure and honesty that I will not bring myself to achieve for reasons of my own, but will always admire people who are brave/foolish enough to do so.

2: Phenomenally well written.

Publication standard. Makes Raymond Carver and now Dave Eggers look like amatuers.

I have several letters after my name.

Tired Dad said...

Oooh. Get me with the whole 'I am clever' bit.

Rachel said...

Tired Dad, I don't even know what to say. That was the nicest thing to hear - really - especially coming from you (an amazing blogger/writer who wins the prize for clever wit), and in the same breath as names like Carver and Egger.,,well that's just crazy (but oh so nice to hear).

I just had a conversation recently with a friend of mine, who incidentally thinks my feet are small [and in fact they are not that small but very narrow], and for a second I almost thought he might have paid you to say such nice things cause I SO needed to hear something nice the other day.

Anyway, thanks. You made my day.

Lx said...

TiredDad...your check is in the mail.
(p.s. nice tossing in there those names...great improvisation...i'm adding a bit more to our agreed sum).