This was not Sudborough, Massachusetts. Not even close. That was all I knew when the splinters of my smashed guitar snapped me partway out of the pleasant haze I’d been in. I gently turned my thoughts in a careful circle, trying to place myself in time and space.I'd been at home after doing a few shows around town as April came to a close, mostly bars where my parents knew the owner and in their pinched way, informed me that it would be“most beneficial” if I would find the time. After I played a few songs that confused them, I finally gave in—gave up—and settled into Bob Seger and AC/DC to meet their oldies-but-goodies needs.
Nothing like a bar full of overweight, drunk doctors, lawyers and finance people in their 50s looking to rock out. That Nicole Kidman movie with the fake, robot wives could have been set in Sudborough. Bet they didn't because it was a little too close to the movie script and the producers freaked right the fuck out, running for Logan airport before the Mom-bots got them.
God, how I needed a hit of anything to get away from that. So it was even better when a few friends from high school had gathered in my basement after that gig.
After the initial preening that came from being a senior at an Ivy or near-ivy, our chests puffed out like being on the debate team was akin to hunting mammoth with spears, my buddies settled down, brains full of Joe's internship at Ropes & Grey this summer, my acceptance to Chicago law, and Judy's Rhodes scholarship. The less-successful among us, instantly castrated into beta males, shifted down a few levels to their baser natures and found that one, small speck of social space where competition didn't matter: substance.
Well, drugs, actually. Peyote. 'Shrooms. Some pot. Coke galore. A little K2, which I wouldn't touch. Why use synthetics when the natural stuff was smooth and fun? And a little acid.
Someone even brought a Costco-sized bottle of NyQuil. Ooo, we were slumming.
Bored out of my fucking mind, even on a few hits of acid and a half a bowl, I realized I was bored not because there was nothing to do, and not because there was no one to do (Judy was an unofficial guy, and had banged everyone else, so I was holding out for Except That Guy status, a fact I weirdly prided myself on… but that made me wonder why I was proud of not getting laid). I was bored because my entire life was one big string of boring events chained together to make a necklace of boredom.
A garland of ennui. A rope of grindingly painful nothingness with which to hang myself.
God, even the word “ennui” sounded boring.
I realized I live in a world of full-of-shit people who don't know they're full of shit and they just perpetuate the shit by making...more shit. And once I take my final exams in the next two weeks I’ll graduate with my bachelor's degree, head off to Chicago for three years of masochism re-branded as law school, and the transition to pod person will be complete.Instead of keeping that cycle going, I'd grabbed this guitar, stripped naked, and eaten the entire bag of mushrooms Joe had stolen from the evidence room when on a tour at a precinct in Boston, part of a criminal law class. A stroke of genius, really – what better way to subvert the dominant paradigm than to shed designer labels, bespoke suits, and get high as a fucking kite to escape it all?
What a rebel.
And now I was wedged on the floor of someone's shitbox, that someone being a frizzed out, juicy young woman with breasts like a porn star's, a voice like a redneck combined with Katie Couric, and what the fuck was on my neck?
And why was my dick covered in splinters?
Blink. The glow from a streetlight was shining in the car in that surreal way highways can lend, stripped of buildings and trees and anything resembling civilization or nature, its own little category of space. This woman's face stared at me from above, expectant, as if she'd just said something to me and needed an answer.
MENSA me said, “Huh?” My hands were a bit numb, but when one brushed against my rock-hard boner, that got my attention. What was I doing on the floor with my ass scratchy and cold, peppered with splinters and my best appendage standing straight up at attention (ten HUT!) pointing at this woman?
She wasn't just any chick, either. As my eyes came into focus and my feet decided to stop being nineteen yards long and covered in marshmallows, I got a better idea of whose car I was in, and why my ass felt like it was colder than it should be, pressed against the floor. Shit. Was that a hole in the actual bottom of the car?
The light made her hair glow. Glow, I tell you. Or was that the 'shrooms? Not sure. Either way, after I impressed her with my erudite, “Huh?” I followed it up with, “Wanna fuck?”
She grinned. “Well, ain't you suave? I don't fuck anything that wears a collar. That really helps to maintain standards 'round here. It's a shame other folks in my family don't have the same rule, because Uncle Jack's permanently disabled from that goat he...” She winced. “Oh, nevermind. You don't know me well enough to hear that story.”
“I'd like to know you,” I said, the words oozing out like slime. Sexy slime. Like sensual slime designed to cover her and draw her into my world of primordial arousal ooze. The exact idea wasn't really clear. My hands reached up and unclasped the collar. She was right. I was actually wearing a collar, which I pitched into the field by the side of the road, because if that was an obstacle to getting sex right now, off it went. Ta ta! Buh-bye.
Then I noticed the cotton balls in my mouth, and how her hair was actually – literally – on fire at the edges. With tiny snakes flicking flint to make the fire.
Laughter. “OK, there, Trevor.” She knew my name? “But first, how 'bout we get your ass off the ground. You're no more than three inches away from road rash.”
I wasn't imagining it; as she reached out to help me up, my buttock peeled off the floor and I saw it – a rusted-out spot about five inches around. Little grey rocks and tar mocked me.
“You have the strangest accent. Am I in western Mass, in some pocket of the Berkshires where people talk like this?” Or, worse – stuck in Hampshire College at some linguistics experiential conference?
What the fuck? her face said, but her words were a bit more measured. “Trevor, you're in central Ohio right now.”
“First state with the caucuses that piss off New Hampshire every election cycle?”
“No, that's Iowa. Ohio is the state that pissed off the Democrats in 2004 and Karl Rove in 2012. We're fair and balanced that way.”
“Ohhh. That one,” I answered. Got it. “How far from Mass am I?”
Either I had just found the stupidest, hot and voluptuous woman with burning hair in the state of Ohio, or I was stuck in an endless loop of Groundhog Day, as written by Douglas Adams.
“Mass, as in Massachusetts.”
Peals of laughter from her, a sweet set of notes that made my already hard erection reach out just a bit more, stretching tall, as if seeking her. “You're about as far from Massachusetts as I am from financial solvency.”
“That close, huh?” Rubbing my head, I realized it hurt on two levels. A bump from the car's sudden stop, and a deeper ache. The pain of being massively hungover. Another quick memory of the last time I could remember: 'shrooms. Peyote. Red Bull and espresso with local raw cream (ah, Mom and her insistence on organic purity) and Chilean pisco. It all coursed through my veins, pounding through my eye sockets.
And my favorite appendage.
“How did I get here?” Staring down at my body, I realized I really was completely, and utterly nude, my body floating through air without any encumbrances. Not even a condom. I was never nude like this unless I was in the middle of having sex with someone. Even then, the girls at BU were a quick-n-dirty bunch, so the actual span from being in a state of complete undress to wearing a dick sock was measured in nanoseconds.
To be fair to them, sometimes so was the intercourse.
But I made up for it with the next round. And the next.
On good nights, a fourth. My voice might be well-known, but my refractory period was legendary.
Not that I'm bragging.
But I am.
“I have no idea how you got here, Trevor,” she said, trying very obviously not to stare at my package. I liked her for that. Then I was offended, because what's wrong with my manhood? It deserved to be ogled. A glorious contribution to the world of erections, it definitely stood out from the crowd.
And stood up right now, pointed at her. A lucid whisper in my brain told my hands they should cover it anyway, despite its glory, and I gave it a quick attempt. Then I looked like I was just jacking off, and that wasn't the impression I was trying to give. So I gave up, my head clearing by the second and not liking what I was realizing.
Except for her.
“What's your name?” I asked, now really getting a look at her.
“Chippy Pete.” She deadpanned, as if there were some inside joke I was supposed to understand. Ohio had some really strange naming conventions for women.
“Uh, OK...?” I asked, my voice rising. Her face fell, though, as if I'd disappointed her. Some deep sorrow came out of her skin, as if it were a dementor, seeping into my heart and making me feel like an ass. I didn't know what I'd done, but I felt really awful suddenly, and wanted to make it up to her. But we were sitting in a cheap rustbox on the side of some interstate in Ohio and I was naked.
My only option? To reach over and kiss Chippy Pete. Because when you're coming down off 'shrooms and NyQuil and find yourself naked in a car older than you, 600 miles from home, a kiss is about the only thing that can make it all better.