JAWS

jaws

Sweet summer air breezed through the small ranch house’s open windows, stirring a sweet stink of weed around the heads of five bohemian darlings. Ray Charles was teasing feelings in the background as Charlie teased his hand on the back of Daisy, spinning her and holding her close as they danced to “Heartbreaker” in the middle of his living room. Charlie’s short-sleeved white button-up had the collar flipped up; his deep brown hair fell against his cream white forehead and into his brown eyes as he swayed with Daisy, her wild blonde hair long and curly, creating a curtain between the amorous sways and the seated three.

The lounging twenty-five-year-olds drank Arnold Palmers and rested their legs on the coffee table. A perfectly languid Friday evening was passing dreamily through their minds as David, Darla and Frank watched the two dance, grinning and teasing and laughing.

Darla had bleached blonde hair just past her shoulders, which she wore either pin-straight or in a hippie garden child waves. Faded denim and a gray tee shirt pressed against her pale white skin as she passed the bottle of whisky to Frank.

“Thanks, Darla,” Frank said. His broad black chin and darker stubble on his jawline flexed as he absently brushed his fingers over her hand, then he turned back to David. “Yeah, the movie’s based on the interview, I think.” 

“They built a whole movie around this kid’s legendary party?” David asked, his white hands packing another bowl to smoke.

“Shit yeah; didn’t you feel like you were there with them?”

“Oh my god, yeah.”

“Yeah, that Kid Cudi remix, the slow motion cutting to fast, the pool’s teal acid water–too sick.”

“For real.”

Charlie looked over from where he was dancing, and laughed. “No way, that movie was lame. I’ve never seen high school kids in a movie and thought, ‘They got it right.’”

“I’m just saying that’s one of the realest parties I’ve ever seen,” David said, shrugging.

Charlie threw his head back and laughed, twirling Daisy. “That’s because you’re always on drugs at parties, you idiot!”

The burnt-oil headache of weed and whisky woke David up eyes-first the next morning. He stumbled out to the kitchen to get water. His three other housemates were all creatives: in bands, going to school for graphic design, actor/waiter among other diversions. The house was quiet except for the oscillating fan absently stirring the air of the still-cool summer morning.

He scratched his tangled surf-blonde hair and stretched his shoulders–the stiffness of sleeping alone and wasted–then exhaled a sigh.

Heading back down to his basement room of the house, he sunk into the cool walls of the concrete, got out his synthesizer and equipment and sipped his water. He thought about the long curves of a girl’s legs, leading up to a perfect split he’d run his lips against, making her smile with his scarred-up chin against her thighs. He started a low, dark, hot beat going and flicked on little touches of playful light melodies. After adjusting the speed, he spread on a few layers of harmonized calling and aching into the microphone, sighing a fervor for her onto the track.

The rest of the afternoon passed in the basement, as he ignored his phone and let the beats melt into the cool walls underground.

Earlier in the day, Darla and Daisy came out of Daisy’s apartment to ease their own hangovers with a coffee-and-bagel run. Walking to Daisy’s car, the summer air shimmered. The girls slid sunglasses onto their porcelain faces. A man passing them stopped and said, “Oh whoa, you’re that girl who lives on the corner!” lifting his baseball hat out of his eyes to see her better.

Turning, Daisy’s eyebrows were above her aviators. “Um, yeah?”

“Did you know your curtains are kinda see-through? Could be embarrassing.”

“Yeah, I know, but I guess I just figure, ‘Whatever.’”

“Oh yeah, haha. Good attitude. Ha, I bet you must be pretty popular,” he said,

“No, I guess not, because you figure I would have gotten a date offer by now,” Daisy replied casually, then hooked her arm to Darla’s and the two walked to the car, unaffected.

Getting in and winding down the windows, Daisy looked through her CD wallet while Darla got out a joint. The wheel and tires turned out of the street spot and followed the routine path. Gorillaz and smoke seeped out of the car.

“Wanna know something fucked up?” Daisy asked, taking the folded twist of paper out of Darla’s pinched fingers.

“Always”

“When I’m at my apartment by myself, I always look deep into the toilet bowl before I sit down because I don’t think I could ever forgive myself if I sat down and were the unsuspecting victim of a toilet snake.”

“That’s fucking nuts.”

“Yeah.”

“Wanna know something worse?” Darla challenged.

“Always.”

“It’s, like, actually scary.”

“Ooo.”

“I think the scariest thing that could ever realistically happen to me is walking into my apartment by myself and seeing the toilet seat up,” she said ominously.

“Dude. You should write a story about that.”

“Yeah.”

Arriving at the coffee shop a short while later, the two girls got out legs first from the car, heads left behind somewhere else. Daisy wore a destroyed red tee shirt, high-waisted navy blue shorts and brown platform sandals. Darla strode to the coffee shop doors wearing distressed denim shorts and a striped black and white tee shirt, hair up and a mountain of gold jewelry breathing down her neck.

After ordering their icy remedies, the girls sat in lawn chairs under an umbrella outside the coffee shop on their patio, slurping, slumping down and groaning at the day.

“I just got this new skirt I want to wear out but I’m worried it’ll make my butt look huge,” Daisy said to the empty air between them.

“Ugh, sometimes I think fashion’s just at a too-personal level.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, sometimes, when I’m flipping through a fashion magazine and I see the spreads that tell you to dress to your ‘fruit shape,’ or when it assesses how much of your breasts or thighs to show off, it just sounds like I’m judging products at the grocery store, not talking about a woman’s body,” Darla said.

“I know what you mean. It’s definitely crossed a line.”

“It’s just so personal now. It’s not about clothes and fashion and personal style. It’s appraising a person’s body. And judging their self-worth on how they dress and conceal that body.”

“Well, whatever, fuck that. We should just go out tonight with my big butt and dance,” Daisy said, laughing.

On their way back to the car, energized from the caffeine and cream, the girls heard a loud bass pulse down the street as a car glided past in the slow city street traffic.

Chanting along to the bass, Darla said, “Orange, cream, hot pink. Girl, I like the way you think.”

Lining up her line next, Daisy stomped along and replied, “Leopard, leather, ripped plaid. Boy, I know you’re big and bad.”

“Deadbeats and heartbeats, gee I think your sister’s sweet.”

“Shark bites, summer fads. Stay away ‘cause Daddy’s mad.” Daisy delivered this line as the car disappeared into the inaudible distance.

As Daisy’s own car down the street entered their sight, so did a familiar face. Frank was crossing the street towards the corner market near them, and he smirked at the two stoned faces as he passed them. Starting a grapevine, Daisy said, “Hey Franz, tell everybody we’re going out tonight.”

“Whatever you want, ladies,” he said, walking up to the door of the market, then, tipping his head to Darla and gravel in his throat, he purred, “Darlin.”

Darla’s eyes switched to slow motion. “Fangs,” she said, then the two walked on to the car.

Bass and the buzz of synthed-up chainsaws roared over the speakers in the club, Icona Pop pulsing through everybody there. The girls were out on the dance floor, packed in as a dark and hot night fell over the skyline.

Where’s David?” Charlie shouted over the music.

“Who knows, he didn’t answer his phone,” Frank shouted back. The two stood at the bar, waiting for their next party of drinks to gather near the cash register.

“Have you ever thought about where the fat goes when people lose weight? Like, the literal extra body weight?”

“Gross, man. Where does it go?”

“I don’t know.”

“We should ask Mac, he’s good at science facts,” Frank said, getting out his wallet as the bartender approached.

“No, that’s the problem with that asshole! He’s always making up science facts; he just ends his bullshit explanations with, ‘It’s simple science, really.’ And you feel like such an asshole that you can’t disprove it.”

“Dude, no way.”

“Yes,” Charlie said, “like the time he zinged us and said that to wash lettuce safely, you can just run tap water through the leaves without separating them first, since ‘The way dirt came in is the only way dirt can go out. It’s simple science, really.’ And you get so pissed because you’re like, ‘How would I possibly have this knowledge in preparation for a conversation?’ You’d always be so pissed that he’d pull a dick move like that, winning arguments about lettuce science.”

“I love how much this pisses you off,” he said, laughing. “Come on, let’s go find the girls.”

Setting off with the drinks, Charlie and Frank parted the sea of dancers who were crammed like sardines on the dance floor and made their way to Darla and Daisy.

Darla wore a white mesh dress over a black slip, and her black ankle boots gave her authority over the dance floor. Frank’s eyes were locked on her as he walked towards her, then pressed his lips against her ear and hair as he said, “Here’s your drink,” and handed her a beer.

“Thanks!” she shouted, grinning and taking the bottle. “What did you get?”

Frank held up his bottle with a silver spaceship in a field of stars on the label.

“Do you believe in aliens?” she asked him.

“I don’t know, I guess it’d be weird if we were the only ones around.”

“Yeah, wow, that sounds so lonely.”

“What would you do if aliens landed here?”

“I’d want them to feel at home,” she said, pressing against him to be heard over the loud music.

He ran his fingers over her collarbone; the bass thudding in a single flow through his hand, through her limbs, through her heart to her cunt, and said, “You make me feel at home.”

She turned, shooting stars in her eyes and constellations on her lips.

“Listen, Darla,” Frank started to say, but the music was too loud.

“What?” she shouted back.

“Darla, I want all of you,” he said, just as the music stopped.

His heart stopped, and he looked at her, but was met with a grin and the pulsing beginning of the same remix of “Pursuit of Happiness” they were talking about earlier. A grin reflected off his face then, too, and Darla grabbed his hand.

Soon they were moving through the crowd and pushing their way off the floor. Light years away from everybody else, Darla pushed open an empty bathroom door and pulled Frank in with her.

From being pulled in to pushing her against the wall, he lifted her up and felt her legs wrap around him. He pinned her against the wall and they had their first kiss as the world slipped away. She slipped her fingers around his belt buckle and grinned a white hot flash of teeth, then teasingly bit at his jawline. He shook his head at her but was smiling, too. Soon he was pushing against her hips and she was thanking her lucky stars she was on the pill. Entire galaxies exploded as a meteor shower of hot sex flashed and burned out.

The next morning, sleep-drenched, worn out limbs lay intertwined on Darla’s bed. Soft, sweet smiles met shy eyes and lips lightly grazed cheeks. Frank gathered his clothes, memorized her face, and grinned at the kiss she blew him as he left.

Ke$ha’s latest crotch-grab femme punk was playing while she tossed laundry into the basket and got out fresh clothes. Standing naked with her hair tied up on her head, she remembered the way he had dragged his kiss across her neck, and her heart skipped a beat when she saw the drawn blood vessels as proof right in front of her in the mirror.

She turned towards her dresser and arranged her relics–gold chains, perfumes, faux pearls, beaded skulls. She wanted to adorn herself in everything she owned and give every beautiful part of her life over to him. He was a treasure she had been searching for, and she closed her eyes at the thought of possessing him. She remembered his smile, and her expression became identical.

For every thought she had, five more belonged to daydreams.  Amorous vibes washed through her and she looked out onto the future, seeing them walking together through city streets at night, lying on the beach, lying in bed, never leaving the bed.

The city was still waking up Sunday morning, and Frank watched couples and families congregate at restaurants. He stopped inside a shop and bought a coffee and breakfast sandwich, and continued on his walk. Fifteen blocks later, he found himself at David’s house and called to let him know he was there.

David let him in, and the two came into the living room where the TV was on. Two of the roommates were from Arizona, and an array of cacti and dry-heat plants were scattered on bookshelves and tables around the room.

“Do you want anything to drink?” David asked, getting out his supplies to pack a bowl.

“Nah, I’m good,” Frank said. “Where were you last night?”

David shrugged, and handed Frank a lighter.

The two sat in the quiet morning, watching the screen as their eyes lost focus until a commercial with heightened volume startled them. Bulging men’s bodies curling weights and dripping sweat took over the screen. An announcer reminded them it was summer and time was running out if they still had hopes to accomplish their bronzed gods’ bodies.

“Fuck that,” David said, turning off the TV. “I don’t need society telling me to sex it up and become man meat.”

Frank laughed. “Man meat?”

“Dude, this is not a joke. Society sexualizes men just as much as women, and I don’t need that garbage in my house, telling me how I should look or act.”

Frank paused, then nodded.

“Hey,” David added. “If I give you a sample of this song I wrote, would you listen to it for me, and design a graphic with my name for it? I’d want a cool-ass image to use when I post it.”

“For sure, dude.”

“Thanks, man,” he said. The silence with the TV off left a void for him to fill. “I’ve always thought aloe vera were very sexual plants,” he said, squeezing a stalk of the plant next to him.

“Ugh. Gross.”

“It’s just so tight and plump.”

The day passed before Frank returned to his own apartment, at the end of his odyssey. He opened his email to see the song David had sent him, and started it. The screen windows had been left open and a wild summer air blew through his kitchen to the rest of his home, over his couch, carpet, bedsheets.

He turned the lights lower and slipped off his shoes, turning the song onto his speakers and letting it slowly flood the apartment. Undoing his belt, he flopped back onto his bed and put his arms behind his head. The tattoos on his dark arms tightened as he stretched.

A stranger’s aching voice sang into the open air while the sounds of the city swam through the apartment, mixing and flooding back out into hot, dark beats.

He could see Darla’s curved backside as the percussion continued, heard her laugh through the shimmering synths. His fingers tightened around the pillow’s edge as he remembered her soft hair in his hands that morning, pulling her head slightly to the side to kiss her neck. She was a siren he’d throw himself on the rocks for, and thinking of her pink lips made his own part in a smile.

Warm thoughts rose like steam from his head into the night air, and drifted out the windows to her across telephone wires and rooftops.

Copyright 2013 Susan Ricker.