The Southside of Paradise
Chapter 1- Shit Talking Boys
"Danny, really, are you coming or not?'
Jill Booth, my girlfriend, was hotter than a dragon's breath. She was sitting in her metallic green 65 Mustang looking up at me with her lips all pouty and shit. She looked so good wearing tight bell bottom jeans and a white halter top with her long blonde hair draped over her golden skin. She had these crazy jade green eyes and just a touch of peaches on her cheeks. I was standing on the sidewalk looking into her driver's side window listening to her plead.
" I don't know baby. You're dad is so fucking rude." I raise my line of vision a bit and could see Glen and Dean sitting in lawn chairs watching from across the street. Glen was giving me a thumbs up sign. I had to bite my tongue.
Talking about her dad, really her step-dad, made her angry, and she sat up straighter in her seat, "Really, Danny, you can't handle Clark?"
"Now, that ain't the point, Hon. Straight up man-to-man I'd beat his ass to a pulp and make him apologize for how he treats you, but this is different. That course of action would just reenforce his image of who he thinks I am. This ain't an ordinary situation."
She just frowned and crinkled up her nose, "Don't tell me that Danny Wilson is afraid of what my step-dad thinks about him."
"Your dad looks at me like I am a piece of shit. When you're standing in a doorway of a man's house, and he's looking right through you like you ain't got no more substance than a fart, it's a bit unnerving, I'll admit."
"He just don't like the long hair and stuff. He says you're sneaky."
"Damn right, I'm a sneaky little cuss. You don't survive out here unless you got ain't some kinda sly. Sides you're sneaky too; how come he ain't calling you that?"
She almost laughed, "He only sees what he sees." She paused a bit before speaking again, "Well, You know I'll make it worth it of you come over." She looked up at me with mischief in her eyes. She knew that look made her irresistible.
An image of us kissing on her door-step with my hands up under her blouse sealed the deal. I bent down to kiss her good-by.
" I'll be there. Now, get on out of here."
She giggled, rolled up her window and pulled away from the curve. He tires squealed a bit as she took off. I saw her wave as she turned the corner.
I heard applause coming from across the street and turned and saw Dean and Glen giving me a standing ovation from the deck. I made my hand into a pistol and fired off two shots.
I looked back toward the sidewalk because I heard a grunt and saw Old Lady Woods trying to pull a box out of the trunk of the rusted old 58 Bel-Aire that she drove around town like a kamikaze pilot.
"Let me get that for you, Mizz Woods." She stepped back and I pulled the box out and shut the slid.
She opened the gate of her little white picket fence and pointed, "Set it down over there, Boy." I went and sat it down on her front porch right next to the old calico sofa where she sat out on in the evening and drank beer and minded me and my brother's business.
"Randy can get it from there." When I turned back to her she was standing their in a flowery purple muumuu holding up two quarters that she had extracted from the cracked black leather and gold clasped change purse she had in her other hand.
" That's ok, Mizz Woods. Just being neighborly." I raised my hand to decline the offer. I noticed the thin layer of sweat on her mustache. She put the money back in her purse then asked me a question.
"Boy, when you going to cut that hair? You and your brother bof look like a coupla of females. I bet your mom be happy if you did. In fact, I'll do it for ya right now if you step inside."
I quickly thought about the bowl shaped tonsure that her only child Lard Assed Randy sported. He looked like an obese Friar Tuck. " No thanks, Mizz Wood, I must decline. I'm planning to grow it until it drags behind me, or least long enough so I could throw it out a second story window and drag some of these here girls up in my room."
She looked across the street perplexed and, swear to God, licked the sweat off her upper lip before she blurted, "That old house ain't got no second story!"
I turned and looked and pretended to be thinking, " Now that you mention it, it don't. Got to start workin on that too. No, I gotta be going." I turned and jumped the gate and ran across the street. I heard her mutter behind me.
"Smart ass kid, always was. Randy! Randy! Get your fat ass out here and pick this box off the porch!"
Dean and Glen were sitting on these two old lawn chairs on what we called our deck, a bunch of unvarnished boards set crosswise and nailed down to some other boards set in the ground. I don't know who built it, it was there when my brother Glen and I rented the place.
As I approached them, Glen yelled, "Why you helping that mean ole bitch? She don't do nuthin but yell and spy on us."
Dean piped in, "And call the police, Don't forget that shit!"
"I don't know. She's a old lady with a worthless fat assed son. Just trying to be a better person I guess."
"Well, fuck her, " my bearded brother emphatically stated, " and that Lard Assed Randy, and the horse she rode in on." With that he gave me the customary fist slap greeting. I slapped palms with Dean too.
There was an ice chest sitting between them. I noticed that there were already four crushed Budweiser cans sitting by the ice chest. Glen was my older brother. His hair was longer than mine, he was shorter, stockier and darker than me. He had attended Grambling University for two years as part of the push for integration, but dropped out his third year because he had got himself in love with a girl and forgot to go back. The relationship ended badly, and so we just moved into this old rundown farm style house about two blocks east of where my family lived.
Dean was one of my two best friends. I had known him
since I went to his fifth birthday party. He was two years younger than me, like my younger brother Scott, he had longish brown curly hair and was tall and lanky. He was wearing a sleeveless Black Sabbath T-shirt and pair of faded blue jeans like he always wore. His jeans were tucked into the tops of his biker boots. Baby, his Harley Sportster, was parked about ten feet away from the deck.
Dean could complete my sentences, and I usually knew what he was thinking before he said a thing. Sometimes, this would weird chicks out as we often communicated with a series of head nods, arched eyebrows, and facial expressions in lieu of words.
" I'm worried bout you, Danny Boy."
I grabbed a beer out of the ice chest, popped the top and sat down in the third lawn chair. "Whatchu gotta be worried bout, Dean?"
He was serious. He was also usually the only friend I had who'd tell me the truth whether I wanted to hear it or not. " She's gonna break your heart, motherfucker and you know it too."
" I don know nuthin of the sort. Look at this here hickey I got on my neck," I pulled my t-shirt's neck down a bit. "That look like heartbreak to you?"
Dean lean forward and raised his beer can toward my face, two signs that told me that he was actually worked-up about the issue. " That hickey don't mean shit, and you know it. Jill Booth has been reeking havoc out here on the Southside, breaking hearts and taking prisoners. Do you want me to count'em all out?"
With that, he sat down his beer can and started counting his fingers." One, Tommy Lebec, for two weeks she led him on then told him to meet her at the Jolly Burger where she was sitting with Mickey Porcine and his bunch of losers. Two, Danny Green same thing, only this time Porcine beat the living shit out of him at the skating rink in Bel Vista. Three, Little Mikie, his face his still screwed up, not to mention what them punks did to his car. You tell him, Glen, he's yo brutha."
I turned to see what Glen had to say. He was reading, Glen was always reading. He spoke slowly when he answered, " Might be on to something, Danny. There appears to be something wrong with this girl's attitude towards the male species, particularly as it applies to Southside boys."
Dean jumped up, "There you go! Even Glen, ya own brutha, says it!"
"Don't make anything true though, does it. How you know that I might not be the one that breaks her heart?"
Dean sat back in his chair; he picked up his beer, and leaned back. A sad look replaced his expression of triumph. "Danny, I love ya, man. You the smartest person I know, and you know how to run these girls, I know you do. But you ain't going nowhere with Jill Booth."
"I asked you, how you know that."
He looked up at me with an earnest expression and a smile that had nothing to do with joy, " You ain't, . . .we ain't, from that side of town. There it is. Girls with daddy's like Clark Franklin Booth don't end up with guys like us."
"He's her step dad, " I said weakly.
Dean looked up at me to answer but just took a sip and smiled that same grim smile. I crushed my empty and threw it on the yard. I looked and there were several other cans of mixed pedigrees and saw a lot of empty Marlboro packs. I made a mental note to my self to clean the mess before Mom drove by. She had a habit of driving by our place daily, saying she was going to store. She could have cut five minutes off the trip if she went the other way, and I often told her so.
She would just laugh and say, " If you was doing only good stuff, you wouldn't worry so much about me taking the scenic route to the store, would ya?"
I opened up the screen door to the house and went in. It slammed behind me. I glanced over at the kitchen sink and saw that Glen hadn't tackled the dishes yet. I walked across the wide, old fashioned parlor with it's worn floral patterned linoleum and then down the hall toward my room. I took out a small gold key and unlocked the door. I trusted Glenn and Dean with my life and they both had the extra keys, but we had a lot of shady friends too, so I always locked the door if I was going to be gone long.
I didn't have much to steal, a small stereo with some good headphones, a few dollars on the dresser, a couple of joints in my sock drawer, and .22 pistol I hid in a shoebox underneath my bed. The walls were covered with all the black light posters that I had bought in Frisco on the trip that Glen and I had made last summer. I had a poster of Kerouac on the ceiling looking down at me and another of Vonnegut on the opposite wall.
To me the most valuable things I had in the room were the record albums and the books, Tolkien, Vonnegut, Saroyan, Steinbeck, Greek myths, and histories were what I read most along with Mad Magazine and Creepy comics.
I listened to a lot of different music like Deep Purple, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Zappa, Cream, and Hendrix. Great music, great reading, a steady supply of good weed, all I needed was a good girl and I 'd be set.
I sat down on the bed and picked up a tattered paperback copy of The Hobbit, its cover held in place by scotch tape and thumbed through it. However I wasn't even looking at the words: I was more focused on trying to pretend that what Dean had said wasn't true.