" If she wants me to beg, I'll beg. If she wants me to beg, I'll beg. If she wants me to beg, I'll beg. If she wants me to beg, I'll beg, " the words kept pounding inside of Danny Darwin's head as he zombie power walked from his apartment on North Avenue to the pay phone at the front of the Square Deal Market on Dairy. He knew he was out of his mind and didn't have time to wonder if others could tell.
Danny, a slim six-footer with blue eyes and long brown hair, had the whole weekend off, but he had been taking bennies all week to stay awake. All he really wanted to do last night was get some sleep , but his friend Marcos had came over with some weed and fifth of Jack Daniels.
They got drunk and high instead, and next thing he knew, he was fighting with his girlfriend Ella about a dinner date he had missed over at her parent's house. It was for some kind of party for her dad.
He fumbled around in his jean pockets for some change and only then noticed how wrinkled his blue jeans were. "They should be," he thought as he had been wearing them for days and had grabbed them off the floor after he extricated his legs from his sheets an hour ago.
He had wrestled with crazy thoughts all night and was more tired now than he was when he collapsed into bed after anxiously pacing back and forth for hours in his bedroom.
What was causing him to act nuts was that Marcos had gone to get some Marlboros at the B&B, and when he came back, he had seen Danny's girlfriend Ella on the back of a guy named Jerry's Crider's bike.
Danny dialed the wrong number the first three times, the brightness of the morning sun made it hard to see the dial, but he got it right on the the forth. Ella's roommate Camara answered, "Hello. Cam speaking."
" Cam, is Ella there?' The words tumbled out a lot faster than he wanted.
There was a pause before she answered, "Hi, Danny. No, she's not here right now. I thinks she's went somewhere " Danny knew she was covering up. The phone was in the hallway right next to Ella's bedroom. He could hear Lee Michaels singing on the record player in Ella's room. Ella loved Lee Michaels, Cam loved Country. She had told her friend to lie.
"Cam, I know she's there. I can hear her music playing."
"You calling me a liar, Danny Darwin?"
"Damn right I'm calling you a liar, you fu. . . .. ," he didn't get a chance to finish as she slammed the phone down.
He slammed his phone too. He didn't know what to do and went and sat down on the curb facing Dairy Avenue and put his head in his hands and muffled a scream. The fact that Ella always drove him crazy and had cheated on twice before and the five straight days on a benzedrine high wasn't helping matters.
"Hey, Danny Darwin!" Danny was confused for a second thinking that maybe God was a calling down to him. Then he looked up and saw his buddy Ricky 'Don't Lose That Number' Ayala stopped in the road on the other side of the street in his cherried out blue 1964 Impala. " What the hell are you sitting on the curb for? You look like a boy who's been scolded by his mama for playing with his noodle!" Ricky laughed loudly hanging out of the window with both arms.
Danny perked up, "That's exactly what happened, dude. What are you up to?
"Jump in, and you'll find out."
Danny looked up at the phone, then slowly stood up, jogged across the street, went around the front of the car, and jumped in the passenger seat. Ricky started his car back up and took off down the street, the sound of War's Slipping Into Darkness trailing behind.
Ricky, a twenty-two-year old light skinned dude was wearing a long black ponytail, wire rimmed glasses and a goatee. He motioned for Danny to open the glove-box. When Danny did, he found a plastic baggie with about four fingers of weed and a big pipe. The pipe was still warm to the touch. Ricky handed Danny some matches.
Before Danny lit the pipe, he asked Ricky, "Dude, ain't you afraid that Deputy Dog going to pull you over?"
"Hell nah, Man, that dude pulled me over five times already and ain't found shit. Last time, my Ma went down to the station and complained about him harassing me."
Fifteen minutes later they were passing the pipe back and forth and slowly driving down a ditch bank road heading toward a hidden pond where a lot of the local youth went swimming. Danny saw that Keith and Raymond, two of his other buddies were already there, and with them were three girls wearing bathing suits.
Keith Martin was already sitting on the back of his green Ford Fairlane with Rita Lawler, his girlfriend. Raymond Jones was frolicing in the water with a tall blonde named Kathy Froli, Rita's best friend. Julie Marquez, a heavyset brunette, was already sweet on Ricky, so that made Danny something of a tagalong.
Danny quickly accessed the situation, and was already wishing he had stayed in town and tried to call Ella again. He got out of car and peeled down to his boxers, grabbed a couple beers out of Keith's ice chest, and jumped into dark water of the pond and swam over to where there was a partially submerged log.
Right then, a tall, leggy, darked-haired girl emerged out from behind some trees carrying her clothes in one hand and wearing a red two piece. She saw Danny sitting by himself, placed her clothes on a bush and swam over the log.
After she got there and pulled herself up on the log, Danny handed her one of the beers. " Hi, I'm Danny and who might you be?"
" I know who you are Danny Darwin," she laughed and started squeezing the water out of her hair. "I'm Carla. I used to sit by you in seventh grade science class.
Danny was confused, "Naw, the only girl who sat behind me was a Pentecostal girl with big hair and these big coke bottle glasses. Her name was . . . , " he paused for a minute trying to think, " wait a minute; you're Carla Bell?"
Carla blushed and nodded, "Yep, I've changed a lot, huh? You and Ricky used to tell me that if I went outside and looked at the sun, I'd burn two holes in the back of my head."
" I ain't gonna lie, Girl, them damn glasses were thick, " he waited to see how she'd react then added, " Damn, Carla, you got pretty."
"Why thank you, Danny Darwin. You didn't turn out so bad yourself."
"I didn't expect to see you out here. What's it been, eight years? I do remember that you hung around with Rita a lot."
"I remember Rita always beating you guys up."
"Girl always been crazy. She get drunk, and she still wanna fight."
Carla laughed, "Can I ask you something and you not get mad?"
Danny answer, "Well that would depend on what you asked
wouldn't it? Like what if you asked me why my breath smell like crap?"
Carla laughed again, "Nothing like that. I wanted to ask if you were still going out with Ella Morris?"
Danny had completely put his problems with Ella out of his mind. It was the first time since Marcos had told him about her riding on the back of the bike that he wasn't torturing himself because of her.
" I don't rightly know to tell you the truth. I heard she was with someone else last night." Danny's blues eyes went vacant as a desert sky as he thought the misery he had put himself through the night before. "Why? You know her?"
" I know of her. I never liked her. When we were young, she used to be so bossy." Carla noticed that he was sad and slid over closer toward him. She took his face in her hands and kissed him. Danny hesitated for a moment, then leaned in and kissed her back.
Ricky dropped Danny off at Danny's apartment a little before five P.M. He was surprised to discover Ella sitting by the front door. She stood up to greet him. Ella was wearing a white peasant blouse that revealed her perfectly tanned shoulders and a pair of high waisted bell bottom pants and brown sandals. Her long black hair was parted in the middle and then placed into two long braids. Her nose was lightly freckled, and the light from the sun glinted off her pretty light brown eyes. She looked like a million freaking dollars, a fact that was not lost on Danny.
She kissed him hard on the mouth. "I'm sorry for getting mad yesterday, Baby. My cousins were visiting, and I wanted you to meet them."
" I tried to call you this morning to apologise myself."
" I know, Cam told me. I took some food to my Granny's house. I came right back and had Cam take me over here, but you were already gone."
" Marco came over last night, and he said he saw you on the back of some dude's bike."
She looked hurt, "Danny, I know what I've done in the past, and I've told you that's stuff is over, and, you have to admit, I've worked very hard to regain your trust."
"Well, who's the dude?"
"He was my first cousin, Jerry Crider. I think he knows you. His dad is my uncle Roger. Roger and Jerry and my Aunt Sophie and her daughter Carla came to visit my dad because it was his birthday."
"Yeah, my other cousin, she used to live here a long time ago; she used to wear her hair up with these big, thick glasses!"
" I remember somebody like that. The girl I remember had a big imagination and lied everytime she opened her mouth."
"Yeah, sounds like her. She's never liked me because I always called her out on her bullshit. Can we not talk about her?" she looked at him seductively, " We got some serious making up to do."
Danny pulled her to him, "Works for me."