Those Little Bastards
I was going to divorce him, but I didn’t. I was going to sleep with this guy I work with, that always takes me out to lunch, always listens to my problems, always treats me the way I want to be treated. I was going to, but I didn’t. You know, I was going to do a lot of things with myself but I just never did. I stuck by the asshole. I had two very good reasons.
The first reason we named Amber. The second we called Samuel. Those little bastards were my reasons. I loved them so damn much, and I didn’t want anything to happen to them. They didn’t need to see what I seen growing up. They didn’t need to see their parents split up and bitter. I saw that. My kids didn’t need to.
I met him back in high school. I went to Chelmsford High and he went to the Tech over in Westford. I should’ve gone to the Tech. I wasn’t cut out for regular high school. I woulda done good at a trade. My mom went to the Tech. Ain’t no shame in it. But that’s not the way my father saw it. He wanted more for me. He wanted me to get a good education and go off to college like him. He wanted me to go to his fancy liberal arts school up in Haverhill there. He didn’t want me having a diploma from some Tech school, goin’ on to work in some grocery store like Mom.
My Dad didn’t get me. I was just like Mom. I wasn’t smart. I sure as hell wasn’t gonna be cut out for college. Hell, I was so sure that I had gotten a bad score on my SATs that I didn’t even bother to open the envelope when it came. I threw it in the back of my Bronco and drove off to my friend Linda’s.
I stopped over at Harrington’s first to grab a six-pack of Bud Ice. I wasn’t of age yet, but I gave one of the clerks there a handjob once and he hadn’t forgotten how good it was. I didn’t go into the store. They wouldn’t have let me in. Respectable place, that Harrington’s. I didn’t go into the store, but I didn’t have to. I told him to meet me outside.
John came out of that store, strutted up to my truck, tossed the beer onto the floor on the passenger’s side and got in. We knew someone in the store was watching him, so I decided to take him home rather than have him get back out and look suspicious. They took selling to minors very seriously. Still do, I hear.
I dropped John off at his house on North Road. John’s family was more white trash than my mom’s. There wasn’t never a point I drove by there where they didn’t have at least three cars up on blocks. They had done an addition to their house about ten years back and the damn thing still wasn’t finished. Back in middle school, when I used to hang out with John’s younger brother a lot, I saw the inside of the place and it was a Goddamn wreck. From the outside, it didn’t look bad. From the inside, it looked like they hadn’t even started yet. It was all plywood and two-by-fours, and half-installed insulation. Me and John’s younger brother Frank, we got drunk on rum cake in the unfinished addition once while John and his pregnant girlfriend nursed Coronas and laughed at us.
With the beer on my floor and the new Nirvana record blaring through my car stereo, I sang along to “Rape Me” at the top of my lungs. It seemed just the sort of thing my father wouldn’t want me to do.
At the party, you had the usual mix of regulars and oddball popular kids who hadn’t been invited to that weekend’s cooler get-togethers. Then there was that core group of us, the ones that most teachers regarded as the bad seeds, the stoner morons. The popular kids hung out with a couple of us, the more attractive, more normal-looking ones, because we could get them pot. Hey, it was high school. What-the-fuck-ever, you know? I sold pot to guys who went into the state senate, girls who are now vice presidents in Internet start-ups. I even sold pot to Garry Kent, the porn star. He went to CHS, too. He was one of our crew. Did a killer De Niro impression. Had a Joe Pesci that wasn’t bad either. Always said he wanted to be an actor, but never tried out for any plays. I thought that was strange.
This scene, this is where I met my future husband. He was a cute metalhead by the name of Brian. I thought it was cool that he was still into that music when it was no longer cool to be into that music. He had long blond hair and he didn’t go anywhere without his leather jacket, across the back of which was the Motörhead logo. He peered out at me from behind his glasses and he nodded, raising his can of Coors up in the air, a headbanger’s hello.
I dumped my six-pack in the kitchen, said a few hellos, and went back into the living room. He was still sitting by himself in the corner nursing that Coors when I went over and sat next to him.
“Hey,” I said. “You mind some company?”
He shook his head no and motioned for me to sit down.
I sat cross-legged on the floor in front of him and pulled out my battered pack of Marlboro reds. I offered him one first and he reached and pulled one out of the pack. I slid my own out, the last one, and crumpled the pack. Then, I watched the butt hang on his lip while he dug through his inside pocket for a light.
He lit us both up and we sat there smoking and taking turns sipping from his Coors. When the alcohol was gone and the butts had burned down to their filters, he stood up and reached his hand down to pull me up with him. I took his hand, pulled myself up, and followed him up the stairs.