When Amanda and Vincent had taken her on their trip to Southern Utah to study hieroglyphs, Jane had been fascinated. She wondered if the person who had painted these was sardonically commenting on what life was like in prehistory: the dark glory of hunting, long, boring hours spent gathering berries and pounding out arrowheads, and substandard tribal leadership, just as Jane might comment on a canvas about Kevin and Brittany by making their heads into balloons, or about a story Daria had read in English that morning by painting Melody Powers killing a communist Mr. O’Neill with a sharp pencil.
Jane rinsed her brush in a old Mason jar, the sharp scent of turpentine penetrating her nostrils. She carved an old brush handle to a rounded point using an X-Acto knife, and dipped it in red, outlining a large fire on the canvas in jagged outlines. Around it she added the members of the tribe, a red-haired Daria stirring food in a clay pot, a black-haired version of herself beside her making beads, Tom and Trent beside them resting quietly as they faced the fire, crude bloodstained spears beside them. And to the left she outlined Kevin coming back victoriously with a whole spider impaled on his spear. She saw the other tribe members turn to glare at him, then think: “Oh, well, Darwin says he’ll get eaten by a wolf eventually.”
Jane smiled, working pleasantly, her face glowing softly in the lamplight. Then suddenly a loud twang shook the floorboards, sending the wet canvas and her jar of turpentine down to the carpet. She screamed in frustration at an evening’s night wasted. Who the hell would have known that Trent would bring home a new amplifier tonight?
Trent was pleased with the excellent volume and tone, but after the first experimental strum he heard something fall and his sister screaming. Any minute now she’d be down here raising hell. He sighed, turned off the amp, and picked up his songbook and a Bic pen, then took a final drag on the joint before crushing it out on the cement floor of the basement.
After pacifying his furious sister with the promise to go out and buy her a bag of tacos and some more oil paints, he sat down for a little composing session. Or whatever. He let his thoughts wander.
He and Monique had gotten together again last night. They might not be suited to each other, but she was usually better than nothing: i.e., the rest of Lawndale. The only other half decent girl besides his sister was her friend Daria, and she was 1) still in high school (what age was she again?) And 2) taken. Not that he didn’t like Tom, or disapprove of him dating Jane or Daria, it was just that....he felt just slightly...bitter. The guy had dated the two best girls in Lawndale, and nearly destroyed their friendship besides. He could see that their friendship still wasn’t the same, Jane kept calling Daria by her last name, and the two hadn’t gotten together as often as they used to for pizza and sleepovers. He snickered, seeing Daria in his grandma’s pink frilly nightie again, and even then she had looked....attractive. That night, taking the Tank out for a test spin and ending up making out with Monique in the back, he had found himself, to his horror, visualizing Daria’s pretty red hair and sweet green eyes on Monique....and finding the thought quite pleasing. Now he found himself angry and jealous of Tom, and mentally kicked himself again.
His thoughts turning once more to Monique, he sighed. He had once loved her, if you could call it that. He remembered writing “Icebox Woman” after breaking up with her for the fifth time and wondered if he ever found happiness, could he still find the inspiration to write?
“TRENT!”, came his sister’s voice from upstairs, “ LA TACOS FRESAS IS ONLY OPEN UNTIL 11, AND YOU’RE NOT GETTING OUT OF THOSE TACOS TONIGHT!”
Trent sighed, got up, grabbed his keys, then slowly trudged up the stairs.
Stacy looked nervously behind her as she tied her ten speed bicycle securely to a nearby tree. If Sandi and Quinn knew she was here, (not to mention her parents), they would toast her like those poor hot dogs at the Mini Mart. After looking around her several times and adjusting the hood on her pink jacket, she finally summoned up enough courage in her shaking hands to ring the bell.
He answered the door in a blue robe, smiling lecherously. “I knew you’d come, my dear. Come in and have a glass of ice-cold champagne. It’s even Dom Perigon–only the best for such a beautiful lovely. Rrrrroowwll.”
She considered going somewhere else, but what other boy in Lawndale would want her? Even her parents would rather work late at the office or drink down at the bar then even look at their youngest daughter. She drank two glasses of champagne, and after a while, the tremor in her hands stopped and she didn’t resist as he carried her to the tacky silver satin throw on the sofa.
She only listened to the words and endearments of love Upchuck whispered
in her ear as the hundred lights on the crystal chandelier blurred into
The smell of fresh gunpowder carried across the field as the line of shadows fired, reloaded and fired again. Mr. DeMartino, Ms. Barch, Ms. Li, and Ms. Manson didn’t speak or even look at each other. They only concentrated on putting more holes in the vacantly smiling lines of cardboard Kevin Thompsons.
Daria and Tom smiled at each other over a demolished order of four-alarm nachos with spicy beef and jalapenos. “Nothing finishes off an experience of The Towering Inferno like turning your mouth into a flamethrower.” Daria opined as she took a sip of soda.
Tom laughed. “Yeah–Hey, isn’t that Trent?”
Trent half-grunted a hi as he walked past with a loaded takeout bag, a scowl on his face.
Daria looked after him for a moment, then returned her eyes to Tom,
whose green eyes regarded her with love and mirth. She felt a wave
of happiness rush over her—truly a rare sapphire in the bleak gravel pit
that was Lawndale.