Monday, February 01, 2010
This is an excerpt from my novel, AMPHIBIANS. Enjoy and your comments are welcome.
Doug ran to the bathroom. Kelly was already in her room with the door closed. He turned the radio on in the bathroom and got into the shower. Sly and the Family Stone were singing, ‘Everyday People.’ He sang along as he showered, using the back scrubber as a microphone.
Jeff’s house was only about a couple of blocks from Doug’s in an upper middle class neighborhood with older and larger homes. The house was a large, two story Spanish stucco home with a tiled roof. The residents all had gardeners, but one of Jeff’s chores when they moved into the house two months ago, was to clean the pool. After he hung up the phone with Doug, he grabbed his transistor radio and walked out the back door into the back yard. He turned the radio on, singing along with Sly and the Family Stone as he swept the pool. He danced around holding the pole of the pool cleaner as a partner and a microphone. When he finished sweeping the debris to the filter on the bottom, he jumped in and swam several laps. He emerged from the pool and dried off with a large beach towel.
“Morning, sweetheart.” Jeff’s mom was in her late thirties and a strikingly beautiful woman with short dark hair. She kissed him as he walked into the kitchen shirtless with the towel around his waist. She was wearing a tennis outfit.
“Tennis?” he asked.
“How’d you guess?”
“The smartest.” Jeff poured himself a bowl of cereal and sat down at the table. His mom poured herself a cup of coffee from the percolator. “Got any plans for today?”
“No. With a friend.”
“Jeff, that’s wonderful, darling.”
“Yeah, we met at the beach yesterday.”
“What’s his name?”
“Doug what?” she asked.
“Beardsly or Beadsly, I think.” His mom drank her coffee in silence. “What?”
“Doesn’t sound Jewish.”
“Mom, this isn’t L.A.”
“I know.” Jeff shoveled his cereal into his mouth. “Not so fast, honey.”
“Are you and dad still joining the club?” he asked with his mouth full.
“Pretty much anti everything. They only just changed the rules to avoid problems with the new civil rights laws, but the roots are definitely still there.”
“Well, with a name like Rosen.” Jeff said in his best Yiddish accent. Mom gathered her purse and her racket after she washed her coffee cup and put it in the dishwasher.
“Don’t forget the pool, sweetheart.”
“You are the perfect son.” Mom came over and kissed him on his forehead.
“Yeah. Perfect in every way.”
“Will you be home for dinner?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, I’ll make you up a plate. Have fun and be careful.” Mom walked out the back door. Jeff sat finishing his cereal as his sister, Lisa walked into the kitchen.
Lisa was in her sophomore year at Cal Berkeley and had turned into a stunning Jewish American Hippie Princess. Her thick black hair was uncombed and she wore a tie dyed tank top with an Indian print sarong around her waist.
“Is there coffee?” she asked.
“Yeah, Mom made some.” She poured herself a cup and added a couple of teaspoons of sugar. She sat at the kitchen table and blew on her coffee.
“When you going back to Berkeley?” Jeff asked.
“Tomorrow.” Jeff finished up his cereal and put his bowl in the dishwasher.
“What are you doing today?” She asked.
“You gonna take that shit I gave you?”
“I thought I might.” Jeff started throwing some fruit into a canvas bag.
“Be careful, it’s pretty strong.”
“Don’t worry,” he said as he walked out the kitchen door into the dining room. “Thanks. Love ya, Sis.”
“Love you too, little brother.”
Jeff pulled up to the modest tract house where Doug lived. The house was only a couple of years old and the landscaping had just started to take hold. All the houses in the neighborhood were basically similar with just a few differences. Jeff honked the horn of the VW bus and a few seconds later Doug came running out the door and across the lawn. He jumped into the passenger seat. He was wearing a tee shirt and green army fatigues that he had cut off and made into shorts.
“Hey, I got some mescaline from my sister. You ever done it?”
“What’s it like?
“Well, it’s different each time. But you trip, man. It’s more natural than acid.”
“I split it into two capsules. I already took mine. Open your mouth.”
Doug opened his mouth and leaned over to Jeff who popped a tan capsule into his mouth.
Doug gave directions to Jeff as the van took them up into the mountains. They turned off onto a dirt road and parked under oak and sycamore trees. They sat in the van waiting for the drug to take effect.
“I want to go to Israel next summer and work on kibbutz.” Jeff said.
“A Jewish commune. Everyone works and shares everything.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I haven’t decided.”
Jeff felt a rush of euphoria as the mescaline coursed through his bloodstream. “Come to beautiful Israel.” Jeff jumped out of the van and ran to a tree, throwing his arms around it. He kissed the bark. “This tree is me and I am the tree. We’re fucking made of the same thing,” he yelled.
Doug climbed out of the van laughing. They ran up the path, following the creek, jumping from rock to rock, until they reached a deep pool with a small waterfall. Jeff threw off his clothes and made his way into the water. Doug took off his clothes, climbing a rock at the edge of the pool and dove in. They swam around diving under water and pushing themselves off the bottom, breaking through the surface into the hot summer air. They swam over to the falls. Standing under the water fall, they let it pound down onto their back, shoulders and head. The water massaged them as the roar of the water filled their ears. They swam out to the center of the pool. It felt like swimming through velvet to them. Their senses attuned to every sensation.
They climbed out of the water and found a flat boulder to lie in the sun. Lying on their backs they watched the sun filter through the leaves of the trees. The hot sun beat down on them, drying their bodies. Their tanned bodies slowly turning a deeper shade of bronze.
“Fucking amazing.” Jeff said.
“Yeah,” Doug turned his head to look at Jeff who was looking at him. Their eyes met. As they stared at each other, Jeff smiled.
A terror burst inside Doug as he turned away. He stood and dove back into the pool. Jeff sat up watching him for a moment and then followed him into the water. Jeff swam up to Doug, dunking his head in the water. They laughed and wrestled with one another. Jeff swam up behind Doug and held him around the chest, pressing his body into his backside and rested his head on the back of his neck. They stood still, hugging for moment as Doug realized that Jeff was hard. He broke away, swimming back to the shore.
“What’s the matter?” Jeff asked.
“You’re freakin’ me out.”
“What the fuck, I just want to play.”
“Play with yourself.” Doug stood on the rock, pulling on his shorts as Jeff watched him dress. Jeff lay back in the water, floating on his back staring at the leaves of the trees above them. Doug watched him for a moment and then turned to hike up the creek.
He found a shallow pool. Bending down he stared at the bed of the creek through the clear water. Water beetles and small fish darted around through the water. The colors and the light were intensified and more beautiful than he had ever seen it. Water skimmers danced across the surface of the water.
Jeff climbed out of the water and sat on the rock, pulling up his knees to his chest and resting his arms and head on his knees. He started to cry silently. Tears ran down his face. He reached up and wiped them away. He tasted the saltiness of his tears on his fingers. He stood up, pulled on his shorts and lay back on the rock, staring into the sun. He closed his eyes, watching the patterns on the back of his eyelids; bright reds, yellows, oranges and magenta.
A shadow crossed his face. Opening his eyes, he saw Doug standing over him.
“Hey,” Doug said.
“Sorry, I tripped you out, man,” Jeff said.
“I over reacted,” Doug replied as he held out his hand and helped Jeff to stand. They put their shoes and socks back on, heading back down the creek to the van in silence.
As they neared the van, Jeff turned to Doug. “I didn’t mean anything, Doug.”
“Hey, it’s no big deal.” Doug walked past him and down the path.
Doug stopped and turned around. “Hey, I said it’s OK.”
They drove around for hours talking, laughing and stopping whenever the mood hit them. They ended up at the beach. After a long walk, they sat in silence as they watched the sun set.