Bent Words

Bent Words

January 08, 2006

There was a time in my life when I had more friends than I knew what to do with. It was a month before my sixteenth birthday and I had just met the man whom everyone in our town knew. All of his friends became my friends. I was the youngest by five or six years and fascinated at the amount of alcohol they could all consume in a short period of time. We were simply known as The Group.

The Group was a number of about ten people, including myself, who equally adored drinking, bowling and bikes. A few outsiders would roll in and out of our lives, but the round, regular number of ten seemed, most often, to prevail.

I met Duker before I had my driver's license. My best friend, Melissa, and I used to 'cruise the circuit' in a nearby down and, for some reason, we found this engagement to be a thrilling way to spend an entire Friday or Saturday night. A large, miscellaneous parking lot located at the back of town made for the perfect meeting place and there you could find all sorts of trouble makers from surrounding cities. There were the boys with bikes, guys with trucks lifted so high that you needed a milk crate to get in and the overly souped up piece of crap cars with ten inch high spoilers on the back and giant speakers in the rear window. When you're too young to go to the bar, it seems rational to spend all your cash on ridiculous paint schemes, deafening sub woofers and tinted windows.

Duker's car had all of that despite the fact that he was over 21.

He was parked in The Lot one night when Melissa and I were making a number of dizzying circles around the circuit. I was slumped in the passenger seat, cursing under my breath and listening to our loquacious guest, Rebecca, lecture Melissa and I on the finer points of quitting smoking. Rebecca was seated directly behind me and thus I took the opportunity to roll up my once wide open window and blow my Marb Red smoke directly into her face. I never liked her. She was one of those deeply religious people whose only talent was pointing out the obvious and rolling her eyes so dramatically at you that it made you think of a million new ways to utilize a piping hot fire poker.

We were sure to never invite Rebecca out again after that night. Melissa was afraid that I was going to burn her beady little eyes out with my cherry.

Then, we noticed a flash of someone's headlights as Melissa's car passed by The Lot. Finally I perked up to assess this new and intriguing situation. Melissa wanted to jump the gun and roll into The Lot while Rebecca whined about wanting to go home for fear of being "raped by a savage Lot Dweller." I ignored Rebecca and advised Melissa to play it cool.

"Don't jump the gun -- you'll look too damned eager!" I told her.

We peeled around the corner two more times and the car flashed its headlights each time as well. Finally, we pulled in. Melissa knew who he was right away. I could tell by her piercing squeal of excitement. She knew who was who in our little college town but I just raised my eyebrows in time with my shoulders.

"Duker? What kind of a name is Duker?"

"It's his nickname, stupid."


Come to find, Duker lived with his folks about five miles around The Lake from me. He was tall, dark and handsome -- the three features necessary to any fleeting fairytale that all little girls get duped into by their adoring parents -- and bore the unfinished tattoo of a Python on his big bicep. Or was it a Cobra? Well, whatever the brand of snake, he obviously worked out, too. He flexed the bicep with the menacing snake and we both ooooooed and ahhhhhhhed while Duker nodded his head in approval. Or was it his complete lack of modesty? Well, whatever, Melissa and I each gave our numbers to him; each of us hoping to be the one who's arm would some day be interwoven with that flexed hunk of flesh.

He called me.

I snuck out of my bedroom window that night to meet him down the road at his car. Melissa would be pissed. But I didn't care. It was a fair shake of the dice.

I had this little procedure going on for me when sneaking out of my parents house at night. I would put my television on a thirty minute sleep mode so as to create some back ground noise while lifted the screen from the window and to drown out the sound of my shoes inevitably banging the side of the house on my down. The bottom of the window ledge was about half a foot taller than myself and therefore this was always quite an undertaking. I wasn't strong enough to do even one stupid, damned pull up during gym class in that pathetic excuse for a High School so how in the world was I supposed to lift myself back up inside that window?

Then I heard the sound of Duker's Daytona idling down the hill on my street.

"Fuck!" I whispered while plopping down harder than I expected from my window to the ground.

No time to worry about getting back in now. I had to go meet the tall, dark and handsome man who would eventually cause the next four years of my life to be spent in a bittersweet and tortuous rage. I had to go!

I remember what I was wearing the night that I met Duker. Black jeans with a men's style green shirt, black high tops and a black cross lined with silver around my neck which was meant to mock that current state of my religious standing. Duker had the sleeves of his t-shirt rolled up and one arm on his propped up knee on the couch in his parent's basement. The cat that I passed fifteen minutes ago when we walked in had not moved from his/her spot next to the heater. I thought it was dead.

Duker turned on the television in front of us but kept the volume low. His father and step-mother were asleep upstairs and I was terrified that my stentorian laughter would somehow get the better of me. I was admittedly nervous. We talked and I covered my mouth each time I thought I was going to burst out with an over powering bit of a giggle fit which Duker cured by placing a pillow in front of my face. The only bit of conversation that I can recall from that evening occurred just before Duker bounded up the stairs to grab a can of soda or beer. He looked back at me on the couch from the second step of the stairs and confessed,

"You sure don't talk like you're only sixteen years old."

Yeah, I was only fifteen but any guy who could walk away with an ass like that was allowed to make a mistake here and there. And because of that ass and those hardened biceps and that smooth tongue of his, I was immediately infatuated.

Perhaps he kissed me first or perhaps it was I who laid on the initial move but what came next was completely awkward. While we were making out, I had to stop him abruptly. Number one, I was more nervous than the sky high kid seated in the front of a classroom and number two I had to somehow explain, for the first time in my life to a man, that I had my period.

"Geez, Laura, why didn't you tell me? It's not a big deal!"

Not a big deal if it weren't for the fact that I was only FIFTEEN, had just snuck out of my parent's house on a school night, had no way of knowing how the hell I was supposed to get back into that house and had never had sex before. I'd of been just peachy otherwise!

I did manage to make it back in my bedroom window without waking up the parentals. I found a tall, white bucket near all of my mother's gardening equipment and stood on the edges to give myself a little extra height. I replaced the bucket in the morning before school and danced in a lovesick haze from class to class.

Melissa was pissed and Duker called later that night to inform me that his cat was, indeed, quite dead.

Written at 10:37 p.m.