Authors: Blair Mastbaum
I have no choice but to keep going. I can do this. Just ride the wave. “Forty would be dope.” I take a deep breath. “I haven’t seen my bros in a long time. I thought I’d take a few out.” That was stupid. I only have one friend and Jared would be pretty weirded out if I wanted to take him out to dinner. He always pays. Do I mean Clay’s friends? I wouldn’t be able to talk if it was them, I’d be so uncomfortable
“How about this? Mow the grass tomorrow morning and you get forty.”
“So, it’s a bribe? OK, sure. For forty.” I’m getting the hang of this again.
She rolls her eyes and hands me two twenties.
I bow my head to her, Samurai-style.
She bows back, like a bashful Geisha girl. “Be careful. Don’t be out late. You know how mothers worry,” she says, like it’s scripted. She spins around and walks down the hallway to listen to her hippie news program on the radio.
“Bye.” I grab the keys from my pocket, adjust my dick in my shorts, and head to the front door.
“So, I’ll see you first thing in the morning mowing the grass.”
“Yeah, whatever, I’ll do it when I get up. Don’t bug me about it. Bye.” I slam the front door to let her know I don’t appreciate being bribed just to get some money. I let my body go limp. Clay’s posture is exhausting. I walk around the side of the house to spy on her through the window. I hope she needed me.
She sits in the living room smoking a hand-rolled cigarette, in her own world. Her legs are up on the chair like a kid. She’s listening to a radio program against the privatization of schools. She’s fine. Totally normal, like nothing happened.
Clay better come back as his normal self.
I can’t keep this up forever. I walk away, looking for more disapproving frontiers to test.
A small flock of white egrets walks around the front yard eating bugs.
I walk up to them, expecting them to fly away, but they don’t.
They peck around me, unafraid, like I’m a horse or a cow.
I get into the truck.
Susan looks at me through an opening in the curtains. She’s watching me. She didn’t let my weirdo behavior slide by. That makes me feel good, more important, more vital.
I sit up straight and wave to her, firmly. Then, I give her a
She hesitates for a second, then waves back, and throws a kiss with her hand.
I get a little sad leaving her for the cold world in front of me. I wish she had someone to share her love with. I hope I’ll be her friend again as myself.
I start up the truck and drive off. I stop to get a curry plate lunch at Takamori’s in Kailua, an old, cheap outdoor diner sort of place that all locals eat at least a couple times a week, after the beach, or surfing or whatever. Macaroni salad and rice comes with everything for four dollars. I order in perfect pidgin, like I’m possessed. I scarf the curry down, throw away the Styrofoam plate, and drive away up the Pali Highway, which slices a thin path over the jagged, moss-covered peaks of the Koalau mountain range that divides the island like a huge dinosaur spine. The glimmering lights of Kaneohe and Kailua look peaceful from the lookout. I blast through the tunnels and honk the shrill Japanese horn, to warn leeward Oahu and town I’m coming.
I turn the engine off and glide down the mountain. The tires on the pavement make the noise of how I imagine octopus suction cups sound when they release from the side of a whale. The air is warm, humid from the jungle, and freeing. I raise my arms out beside me, like riding a bike with no hands, and let out a big scream. Independence. I race down the highway till town’s in sight.
The tall buildings and Asian neighborhoods of Waikiki and Honolulu are lit in the last golden sun of the day. Streetlights and porch lights are already turning on. They make the city sparkle below the yellow and pink streaked sky.
I let off the clutch and jump-start the truck, something I learned from Clay. I turn and drive up the road into Tantlus, a hillside grouping of big houses, domes, and A-frames canopied by huge old banyan trees and a mess of bright-flowered vines that look like they came from outer space. At the turnout, I see the incredible view of Honolulu and Waikiki’s silver shiny towers.
I slow down and drive past a group of Hawaiian and Portuguese guys hanging out looking over the city, sitting on the hoods and trunks of a couple classic muscle cars with Hawaiian sovereignty stickers on the back bumpers. Union jacks and stripes, the Hawaiian flag, with
printed under it in bold, mean-looking lettering, and
No Hawaiians, No Aloha
in black on white backgrounds. They have a red plastic cooler and each of them has a
beer in their hands. They look mellow, like they hang out here all the time.
Clay would wanna hang out with these dudes, at least see what’s up with them and ask how the surf was today.
I can be him. He needs me to fill in for him. I can feel it. The world’s not worth being in without Clay. I turn around and race back. I slam on the brakes and slide sideways into the turnoff, almost smashing into one of their cars--a shiny red old Pontiac with a surf rack on the top and white letters on the tires.
“Eh brah, watchit, don’t try act big!” a tall, dark-skinned guy shouts.
“No worries. Howzit?” That was fun to say. I’ve always wanted to talk like this, but I felt too stupid to do it. I step out and walk over to the guys’ cooler and grab a beer.
The guys look at each other, then to me, like I’m crazy, or
as they’d put it. “Like beer?” he sarcastically asks.
I act like I didn’t hear him. “Howzit? You deaf?” I unscrew the beer and sit on the trunk of a big muscular guy’s old Chevy. I look over my shoulder into the car. The seats have leopard skin covers. “Nice seat covers, brah. Where’d you get ‘em, your grandma?”
The guy points to me with his thumb, gives his friend a look like “who the fuck is this kook boy kid” and grabs the beer from my hand.
I hold onto it tight. Some beer splashes onto my chest. It’s cold on my skin.
He pulls harder. His face is strong and tan and he smells like cologne. His eyes are bright green.
I let go of the beer and look down at his big tan rough hand. It’s so close to me, I can see his veins and calluses. It looks powerful and experienced at fighting. I look down at my bony hairless chest in front of his hand and realize that I’m shirtless and skinny. I was fooling myself into thinking that I looked like Clay, with the body of a surfer, like these guys. I fold my arms around my torso and get up and walk to the truck. “Sorry, dudes. I gotta go. I… thought you were my friends.” I get in Clay’s truck to escape. Fuck that was horrible. Being Clay is hard. I can see why he’s always so tormented. I drive away without looking back. I make my way down to a quiet neighborhood, nearer to town, with a hillside view of Waikiki. I turn off the engine. I’m in the dark under a big banyan tree that covers the road. The houses are low and Japanese. The street lamps are pink, the color they turn right before they click on for the night.
Two skaterboys my age ride down the hill on their boards, with their arms out beside them. One’s wearing a Frankenstein mask. They look free and happy.
I duck down, so they don’t see me. I lie back on the seat. I’m exhausted already. I reach up and pull off the already broken mirror and look at myself through a big crack and sticky beer residue. I switch on the interior dome light with my foot. I broke that, too. It’s now just a plastic switch that turns on a bare bulb that looks like a Christmas tree light.
“Look who it is.”
I hear voices that sound like older girls doing an impression of young girls.
They must recognize the truck. This sucks.
I angle the mirror up so I can see who they are.
It’s two girls, walking up to the truck, both around Clay’s age and both sun-tanned and pretty, in that beach-girl slut sort of way. One’s wearing loose board shorts and a tiny tank top and sparkly makeup. She looks mean, like she’d turn on anyone at a moment’s notice and be a real cunt.
The other one is sweeter, with long blonde hair and a pastel tank and shorts. She has a look on her face like she’d rather not be here.
I pull my legs into my chest and slide my hand over to lock the door. In the mirror, I watch them walk up to the window.
“Hey, Clay. What are you doing in there?” They knock on the glass.
I close my eyes and concentrate on Clay and try to remember how he thinks and talks. “Leave me alone.” That sounded too much like me. I wasn’t devoted enough to Clay. I have to forget myself. He’d wanna hang out. “So, what’s up girls?”
They walk slowly up to the window. “We’re going to a party in Port Lock. Can you give us a ride?”
I have to be Clay for these girls. They won’t give me the time of day if I’m my normal self-conscious self. I close my eyes and concentrate. I could fuck these girls if I wanted to. I can play these chicks like I’m a stud boy.
Clay’s possessing me. This feels excellent.
“What are you doing in there, jerking off?” The blonde one snickers, like she’s thinks it’s gross.
“Yeah, and I’m about to shoot a huge load, so shut up.” I nailed Clay. I guess it’s easier to be him around girls.
“I wanna help.” The blonde girl takes on a flirty tone and smiles at her friend.
“Gross,” the other one says.
It disgusts me that she can be amused by me, by Clay, if I was him.
They feel too comfortable around him.
I wanna punch him out, and the girls, too. I sit up, lunging toward the window at them. “You wish.”
They jump back at least three feet. “Who the fuck are you?”
“Clay’s friend, and I’ll assume you are two of his long list of sluts.”
“No thanks.” I lean back, put my arm up on the seat, and flex my chest and look down at my dick in Clay’s shorts. It turns me on. I feel like I’ve grasped his sex appeal, his confidence, his power. I wink at Andrea. I wish I could be this cool with Clay. “So, you wanna ride or what?”
“Sure.” Andrea, the blonde one, says, without hesitation. What a whore. What a sell-out. “Come on, Courtney.” She looks at me with an obvious smile, then whispers in the other girl’s ear.
I reach over and push the passenger side door open and start the truck. “Coming or what, ladies?” I press the accelerator hard, revving the engine. It sounds tough.
“Come on.” Andrea gets in and pulls on Courtney’s arm.
Courtney rips her arm away and looks up the road. “Where’s Clay, anyway?” She looks into the truck like she’s scared.
“Courtney. Come on!”
“Come on!” I imitate Andrea’s voice.
Courtney gets in and I peel out. I hope they can smell my animal sweat and dick and balls.
“So, I’m Andrea,” she says all flirty. “You’re Clay’s friend?”
“Yeah, we’re bros. Sam’s the name.”
She reaches over to me like she wants to shake hands.
I peck her on the cheek as I turn a sharp corner without slowing down.
She gets thrown up against me. Her bare leg touches mine. She moves it away quickly and glances at Courtney.
Courtney stares straight ahead with a bitchy look on her face holding on to the door handle to steady herself.
Andrea presses her leg back against mine ever so slightly.
I shift into fourth gear and reach down and run my fingers softly along the top of her leg.
She giggles and checks on Courtney again to make sure she doesn’t notice.
I have to do what Andrea wants--fulfill my part--even though I don’t mean it. I tickle her thigh and scrape down her kneecap with my fingernails.
She pushes my hand up like she doesn’t like it. Yeah, right. “How old are you?” she asks.
“You look so
“You wouldn’t say that if you saw my dick.” I wink. That was good. I should win an Academy Award for this. Maybe I should audition for school plays and shit like that, but that’s pretty dorky.
Courtney looks out the window with a look on her face like she just tasted battery acid.
Andrea looks at me and makes a little smile that’s supposed to be sexy.
I smile back to make her think I’m into her and gently slide my hand back onto her thigh.
She spreads her legs a little and settles down into the seat. She’s totally into this.
I can’t believe she buys my act. Surferboys have it easy with girls. “How old are you?” I delicately rub her leg.
“18.” She tries to look cute and pushes her hair back behind her shoulders.
“Cool.” That’s enough conversation. She’s ready for the grand finale. My scene-de-la-creme. I hold my breath and concentrate, then open my hand on her leg and grab her crotch.
“What the fuck? Get off me!” She closes her legs quickly and traps my hand between them. She looks at Courtney like she’s supposed to save her.