Notes from the Blender (10 page)

BOOK: Notes from the Blender
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Inside, things weren’t quite as funny. After explaining I was there to bail out my “brother,” the cop asked for my ID and then informed me that (a) we weren’t really related, (b) I wasn’t old enough to bail out anyone, and (c) it was going to cost me $1,000 I didn’t have.

“Can I at least talk to him?” I pleaded.

“Be my guest,” he said, nodding toward the cell. It was more like a sterile waiting room than Alcatraz, with a few plastic chairs and a built-in desk. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. It wasn’t like we lived in the ’hood, despite what you’d think if you saw the House of Horrors.

I found Dec sitting on one of the chairs, head in his hands. Sam and his icy balls were nowhere to be found.

“What am I gonna do with you, bro?” I asked through the bars.

Dec looked up and shook his head miserably. “Don’t know. Things just got even worse. Jocky’s father wants to press charges.”

Sam’s dad was a lawyer, like mine. “Hence the thousand bucks I can’t possibly come up with, even if I was eighteen. Did you call your dad yet?”

“I’m trying to avoid it,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot of crap lately, and I just don’t think I can take any more of his trying to see into my soul.”

“So what’s your plan then?”

Dec shrugged.

“I’ll call my dad, okay?”


I got right through to my father this time, gave a short little explanation of our dilemma, and he said he’d be right over. And when I got back to Dec and Lulu, they were deep in conversation about Pungent Stench. “So you two discovered you both have horrendous body-odor issues while I was gone? And you like to talk about it?”

Lulu laughed. “It’s a band.”

Dec was certainly in a much better mood than when we’d arrived. “One of my latest and greatest discoveries,” he informed me.

“Since when are you into metal?” I asked Lu.

“Apparently we have a lot of catching up to do,” she told me.

I raised an eyebrow at her.

“Hey, you got a new stepbrother while we weren’t speaking; I developed a new love for metal. It all makes sense,” she told me.

I crossed my arms and waited some more.

“Fine. If you must know, my sister’s new boyfriend is into it, and I guess I kind of like it.”

Before I could ask her some seriously pertinent questions like “Why?” and “What have you been smoking?” my dad appeared.

“I want you to know, I don’t approve of violence, Declan,” he said through the bars. “Nice to meet you, by the way.”

“I don’t usually, either,” Dec said, shaking my dad’s hand. “Nice to meet you, too. Thanks for coming.”

“It’s never the answer to your problems, and I want you to promise me you’ll remember that next time someone tries to push your buttons,” my dad said, continuing with his lecture.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Dec told him.

“Great. Just give me a second to get this all worked out, and then we can call your father together and explain what happened, okay?”

Dec nodded. He looked like maybe he wished he’d just called his own dad in the first place. Oh well. Too late now.

Before my dad went to talk to the cops, I gave him a big squeeze. “Thanks so much for helping us out, Daddy. I really appreciate it.”

“Anytime, Neilly,” he said, adding in my ear, “but you owe me. Big-time.”

I figured he was right, so I didn’t bother arguing. “Gotcha, Dad.”



“Because the guy was being a total dick, and it was the first chance I had to impress this girl, and he was just being so stupid—”

“Yeah, that I get. He humiliated you in front of a girl you liked. And he was stupid and violent, and you had to prove your superiority by being stupid and violent, too.”

“Well, okay, it sounds dumb when you say it like that.” I paused for a minute. “I guess that’s because it’s dumb, huh?”

“Your words,” Dr. Gordon said, smiling. I really liked this guy. And I kind of wanted to deck him. “But that’s not what I was asking about. I’m asking why you called your—whoever the hell this guy is to you instead of your father.”

“Technically, it was Neilly who called him.”

“Technically, you’re being an asshole. Answer the question.”

“Are you allowed to call me names like that? I mean, is that professional behavior?”

“File a complaint. Answer the question.”

“I just—I just didn’t want to deal with having a big conversation about my feelings and my mom and all that shit. I just knew, like—I mean, guys get into fights when girls are involved. It’s not like some huge big unusual deal, right?” Gordon stayed silent. “But I knew Dad would want to have some big-deal conversation, and I just didn’t friggin’ feel like it right then, and Neilly said her father could get me out with no questions asked, and that sounded like a better deal than I was going to get from Dad, okay?”

Dr. Gordon sat and looked at me for a long minute. “It’s a good story,” he finally said, “but I’m not buying. I think you wanted to hurt your dad, provide a little payback for all the surprises he’s sprung on you, so you reached out to a surrogate father and humiliated your own.”

I sat on that for a minute. “I don’t know. Maybe. I guess I’m still pissed at him.”

I get why Dad wants me to go to therapy. I always go in there feeling nice righteous anger and come out feeling guilty. So when Dad picked me up, the first thing I said was, “Sorry.”

“Dec, it’s okay. I mean, I’m worried about you, of course, but who hasn’t gotten into trouble over a girl?”

Ah, he wasn’t gonna make this easy. “I mean, I’m sorry for calling Neilly’s dad instead of you, okay?”

Dad looked over at me, his eyes moistening. “Thanks. I know you’re pissed about everything right now, but I can’t lose you, you know? Not yet. I still—I don’t know if you really know how you got me through the time after Mom died, and—”

Cripes. This is exactly why I didn’t want to talk to him. Mom this, Mom that. “Yeah, Aunt Sarah’s told me, and it’s not a subject I really want to get into right now.”

“Yeah, okay, fine. But just know that that time in our lives, as awful as it was, is a bond between us that I will always treasure.”

A bond that he will always treasure. I was being raised by a human greeting card.

“That’s great. Can we get some Chinese food?”

“You know what? I would love that.” So we did.

The air stayed clear for a few days, and we had our meeting with our court-appointed mediator, since Dad (and not Neilly’s dad, I guess I should point out, just in the interest of fairness) said that Sam’s threats against me and his putting his hands on me did constitute an assault, even if his assault against me didn’t send me to the sports medicine clinic for an MRI that turned up nothing wrong.

I guess the courts don’t really want to deal with pissant criminals like Sam and me, so they appointed this mediator.

Neither Sam nor I said much, but our dads were both doing that extra-polite-just-to-let-you-know-I-really-want-to-choke-the-shit-out-of-you thing with each other. I actually thought it was kind of ballsy of Dad, who, as we’ve seen, is a pussified Hallmark card at least half the time.

In the end, I got sixteen hours of community service to Sam’s eight, and we both got probation for six months. “Get caught at a kegger, get caught with so much as a marijuana seed in your possession, and you’re going to juvenile lockup for thirty days,” the mediator said.

This was not much of a punishment for me, but Sam looked daggers at me. The MRI had shown that his college scholarship might be intact, but six months without keggers is social death at our school. Ha.

What did you ever see in this guy?
I texted to Neilly.

A minute later, this came back:
H. O. T. T
. I had no response to that.

After I got home, I texted this to Chantelle: Got
probation. Sorry
. No response.
I mean, that’s not normally something I do
. Nothing.
Kicking the guy, I mean
. The same thing.
Do you hate me?

She didn’t answer this one, either, but I assumed she was following the antistalker protocol of cutting off all contact.

I asked Neilly for help, and she did manage to talk to Chantelle, who wouldn’t so much as meet my eyes at school.

“So?” I asked Neilly in the hall by her locker after lunch, when I had seen her talking to Chantelle.

“Uh, so move on. You blew this one.”

“And here I was hoping she’d blow me.”

“If I didn’t know that your disgusting exterior hides a kind of sweet kid, I don’t think I’d ever talk to you again, much less do you a huge favor like have an incredibly awkward conversation with a girl who hates you.” Sweet.
is the kiss of death, but
is okay. Hmm.

“Did she say that?”

“Didn’t have to, but her meaning was crystal clear. That is a total dead end. Lots of fish in the sea, et cetera. Move on.”

Or, perhaps, move in? I mean, there was one girl here who doesn’t hate me. Well, actually two.

“Okay, what about Lulu? I mean, is that a possibility?”

“She said I’m really lucky to have such a cool brother.”


“And she hoped you’d think of her as a sister, too.”

“Sister?! Out of the boyfriend pool! Crap!”

“Don’t you have all kinds of metal babes you know from the scene? I thought there were piercings involved.”

“Nondrinking, nonsmoking metal fans not currently attached to gigantic guys with Satan tattooed on their colossal biceps? Negative. I made that shit up.”

“I knew that. All right. This is a problem we can solve. But in the meantime, I’m gonna be late for chemistry.”

The more I thought about it, the clearer the solution seemed. Not sure it was clear to everyone involved, though. Neilly ran off down the hall, and I slipped into study hall before the proctor even got there.

I, by which I mean Dad, decided to get my community service out of the way as soon as possible, so I was scheduled to meet my fellow convicts at six a.m. outside of the county jail—no, really, it sounds like something out of a country song or something, but it really was the county jail, or, to be more precise, the Edwin Meese Justice Center of Burr County. There we would take a bus to Paine Park, an eighty-five-acre park that, it turns out, is maintained entirely by “volunteer” labor. I think it’s stretching it to call my service “volunteering,” since my other option was thirty days in juvenile lockup, but whatever.

Dad seemed to take great pleasure out of waking me up at five thirty on a Saturday morning. “Coffee,” I murmured, and that was the only word I spoke to the old man until he dropped me off and I stood clutching a paper cup of coffee with Immortal’s “Antarctica” pummeling my eardrums through my headphones, at five fifty a.m. at the Edwin Meese Justice Center.

“See you at two!” Dad said, chipper. I tried not to think about what he and Neilly’s mom might get up to in a house that would be empty for eight hours.

I know this is probably kind of racist—okay, no, scratch that, it’s totally racist—but I kind of expected to be sitting on a bus with a bunch of black and Hispanic bandanna-sporting gang bangers like they have on TV. Okay, so I’m a dumb, sheltered white kid. So dumb, in fact, that I didn’t realize that apart from Chantelle and her dad, and Emerson at church—who was on the beach at Normandy on D-Day and is the coolest old guy ever—there really aren’t any black people in Burr County, and the only Hispanic person anyone’s ever seen owns Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant and would be unlikely to be doing litter duty with a bunch of juvenile offenders.

No, I was surrounded by a bunch of stringy-haired, addicted-to-God-knows-what, unwashed white kids. I immediately gravitated to the rather colossal kid with the full beard who was wearing a Behemoth shirt. He looked at my own Dimmu Borgir shirt and nodded approval. We bumped fists, and I felt somewhat okay about this whole adventure—for one thing, I was already cool with the biggest kid here, so my odds of ending the day with all my limbs still attached had just increased dramatically. But for another thing, I got immediately that what went on here was like the Bizarro World version of school—the weirder and angrier you looked, the more you were accepted. What would be tough in this crowd would be being a regular normal popular kid.

And speaking of which, Sam rolled up in his SUV—which did not have a vanity plate that read
, but might as well have—and hopped out. He was dressed head to toe in Abercrombie, and though he was not wearing a big target on his head, everyone could see one there anyway. He took one look at this crowd and looked like he might soil himself. Yeah, his eight hours were going to be a lot tougher than my sixteen.

I turned back to the guy in the Behemoth shirt. “So what are you in for?” he said. I was glad he had asked first, because I was afraid to ask him.

“Assault,” I said, and he gave me a respectful nod.

“Possession,” he said. “I was holding one point one ounces, and you know what the dumb thing is? I don’t even smoke. It puts me to sleep. I was honest to God holding it for a friend. But you can’t tell the cops something like that. You might get your mom to believe it, but the cops don’t care.”

“Yeah, I guess not.”

“You in a band?”

“Nah. You?”

“I play guitar for Slaughter of the Innocents. We’ve only played a few shows, but we’re getting better. You should check out our Facebook page.”

“I totally will.”

It was a genial bus ride from then on, with me and my new friend, whose real name was Ulf Lovhammer. How badass is that? His parents are actual Swedes, and his last name is Lovhammer. Awesome.

Okay, I was kind of following Ulf around in a semi-embarrassing fanboy daze, so it took me a while to realize that Sam was getting hazed by the freaks and degenerates in the back of the bus, like—well, like the freaks and degenerates got hazed by guys like him at school.

“Hey, Tom Brady, you’re kinda pretty,” they said.

“Tom Brady, you get probation for your football team sucking ass last week?”

Stuff like this. Dumb and mean.

We arrived at the park, and hours and hours of boredom followed as we picked up beer can after beer can, as well as the occasional syringe and crack pipe. Yeah, the park is a classy place. Sam was the lucky lottery winner who stabbed a used condom with his pointy stick, and as he was putting it into his garbage bag, he got, “Oh, my fault, Tom Brady! I left that behind when I was up here with your mom last night!”

Sam turned red and said nothing.

Meanwhile, Ulf told me how Slaughter of the Innocents was a vegan black metal band, and that one of the reasons they started is that they wanted to educate people about animal suffering, but mostly he wanted to prove to people that vegans aren’t pussies. “People think we’re a bunch of sandal-wearing hippies, and then we get onstage and shred their faces off; it’s kinda cool.”

Meanwhile, the troglodytes taunting Sam were actually starting to annoy me. “Tom Brady,” they said over and over again, and I kind of started to feel bad for old Jocky. I mean, at school, I get to escape from the taunts of guys like Sam—to be totally fair, I’ve never actually heard Sam call me Columbine or otherwise say anything abusive, but I’ve definitely seen him stand there while his buddies did. But here in Paine Park, there was nowhere Sam could run to get away from the jeers of idiots. I guess this shows that I did inherit some of my dad’s sentimentality or something, but I just started thinking,
What if I was stuck doing something like this with Sam and all his friends? How bad would it suck to have them riding me all day long? And if Sam insisted at the end that he’d heard everything but never actually done anything to stop it, would I still think he was a piece of shit?

“Hey, morons, will you get a new taunt?” I finally yelled at the dumb hyenas. “That ‘Tom Brady’ shit is getting really old.”

The hyenas were not too physically imposing, but there were three of them. They turned on me. “You gay for Tom Brady?”

I hate this crap. I don’t know if it’s just from having grown up with Sarah and Lisa or what, but it pisses me off when guys like these say “gay” like it’s the worst thing in the world. “Yeah. As a matter of fact, I am. And we’re both in here because I caught him with another guy, and we beat the crap out of each other. So yeah, I’m, like, a little pissed at him right now, but seriously, leave my boyfriend alone.”

BOOK: Notes from the Blender
9.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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