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A Punk's Tale by WingZ

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    #16
    A Punk's Tale by WingZ

    15
    The only girl I had ever seriously dated went by the name of Melody Cohn. Mel knew me and actually grew to like me during my pre-punk days. We started going out in the 8th grade and somehow managed to stay together despite the changes of the following year. I went punk and she moved away (thankfully, she didn't move very far). Though we had been officially broken up since early sophomore year, we had briefly reconciled a few times before arguing and swearing never to talk to one another again. Our last such bout was early June and I had not spoken to her since.
    I had my hesitations about calling her, but I really didn't have anywhere else to turn. If it was a simple matter of just wanting to get laid, I'd have waited til Dan's party. It was more than that though: I was confused and I wanted someone who knew me to help me straighten shit out. Mel was it by default.
    Much to my relief, she didn't give me that much of an attitude about calling out of the blue.
    "What is it this time?"
    Of course, attitude can be pretty relative….
    "Nothin," I lied. "I'm bored."
    "Yeah, well I'm busy."
    "Doing what?"
    "Doing…." she paused. "OK, you got me. Doing nothing."
    "Look, if you don't want to talk, I'm not gonna waste my fucking time."
    "I didn't hang up yet, did I?"
    "No," I was forced to admit.
    "So what is it?" she repeated. "What do you want?"
    "I…. look, things are kinda fucked up right now. Can I see you?"
    I expected her to say no. She was stubborn and usually took convincing. However, I just didn't have the patience for it this time and was ready to hang up.
    "Sure," she said instead. "You can buy me lunch."
    "Cool. Thanks."

    Mel's unexpected consent to a visit threw my plans for a loop. I called Robbo early the next day to let him know that I wouldn't be hanging out with him.
    "Finch'll be heartbroken," he joked.
    "So what? We still have the weekend."
    "Dude, don't remind me."
    When I told him I was going to see Mel, he gave me a healthy dose of teasing.
    "Don't you remember the last time?" he asked me. "When you came back, you were like 'Fuck that bitch, I'm never talking to her again, she's got no soul' and all that."
    "Yeah, I remember."
    "And then you bet me $50 that you wouldn't see her again."
    "Yeah, I…no, wait. No I didn't!"
    "Damn," he muttered. "Anyway, have fun."
    "I'll try, man."
    Neither one of us had mentioned Cori.

    Mel lived right by a mall, which, unfortunately, was where our visits convened. I hated malls with a passion. They were manifestations of greed run amuck, mixed with a slapdash assortment of poseur culture and brainless idolatry. Fucking Calvin Klein can charge $80 for a $30 pair of jeans and people will brag that they paid the $80. Unbelievable. The only times I ever went to malls was when I felt like heckling people with my friends or I absolutely had to buy something or meet someone. This was a clear cut case of the latter.
    I met Mel in the food court around 11:45. She hadn't changed a bit since I saw her last. She, like Cori, was short, topping out at 5'2 ½". Her red-brown hair reminded me of cinnamon, even though the color wasn't quite the same. She wore Lisa Loeb-style glasses, a red sweater and lack jeans with zippered pockets. There was a time when I would try to visually undress her every time I laid eyes on her, but those days had passed.
    "Hi Seth," she greeted. She didn't sound anywhere near as belligerent as she did over the phone and I took that as a good omen. We grabbed some food, sat down and managed to talk face to face like two normal adults, despite the fact that we were neither normal nor adults.
    "How was Thanksgiving?" I asked.
    "OK. Yours?"
    "OK."
    "You got your college apps out yet?" she asked.
    "Yeah. You?"
    "Yeah."
    We continued in this vein for quite awhile, keeping things civil but banal as well. Normally, this kind of small talk drove me crazy, but I was relieved to not be talking about "issues" at that very moment. Unfortunately, Mel went and ruined it for me.
    "You sounded depressed over the phone," she pointed out.
    "Depressed?" I asked and tried to laugh it off. "Nah."
    "Come on Seth. Everyone gets depressed."
    "Right. But I'm not."
    "You said you were fucked up."
    "I said things were fucked up. Things. Not me."
    "What things?"
    "Stupid stuff," I said dismissively. "All this college shit is giving me a headache."
    "Is that all?" she asked.
    "What do you mean all? It's a pretty big thing."
    She shrugged. "I dunno. It just seems like there's more."
    "Oh."
    "Well? Is there?"
    It would be wise to mention at this time that Mel hates Cori and pretty much always has. Having known her in the old days, she regarded her as a snob. Then, following the transformation, she saw Cori as a bad influence on me (even though initially it was I who influenced her) and a distraction from our relationship. At the time, I regarded it as mere jealousy, but I now saw that it might have been spawned out of concern. It was this concern that I sought now.
    "Me and Cori aren't talking," I told her. "She did something stupid, I might have overreacted and we're both pissed."
    "Oh," she said, sucking in her breath. "That's…um…. bad."
    "I know you don't like her, but she's my fucking friend. Or at least she was. So cut me some fucking slack."
    "Seth," she said, touching my arm. "I know you were friends. I just don't know what you think I can do about it."
    "I don't know either," I said. "This whole thing made me realize that she means a lot to me. I mean, we haven't spoken in only two days and I'm already sick over it. I was hoping that if I hung out with you I'd be able to forget about her. But now I'm missing her and…."
    "Seth, are you crying?"
    "No!" I snapped. Indeed I wasn't, but I wasn't too far off. The impulse control switches inside of me were going haywire. I was either on the verge of collapsing into tears or going into a profanity laden, red faced, chair-throwing frenzy of anger. Goddamn Cori. Why the fuck did she do this to me?
    "Look," she said. "You know what I think about Cori. If you two never spoke again, I'd be happy. But you wouldn't be. She's your friend. Whatever she did and whatever you did, she's your friend."
    "But she lied to me," I protested. "I…I was fucking angry and I said some stuff I don't think I can take back."
    Mel rolled her eyes. "So what! Do you have any idea how many arguments we've had? And yet here we are."
    "Yeah. That's true…. I guess."
    "Do you remember how depressed I was the first time we broke up?" she asked. "I nearly developed an eating disorder. I was sick over it. I deleted all your emails, tore up all your pictures. I never wanted to see you again because you'd hurt me. But you know what, even after I did all those things, I still hurt. And I was sick of being sick. So I took you back. And I liked being with you all over again. It wasn't that I forgot that you'd hurt me or that I thought you'd never do it again; it was that I got over it. People aren't perfect, Seth, and their imperfections aren't always what you'd want or expect them to be. Deal with it."
    "You know what," I said after a moment's pause. "You're right. Cori and I have been friends for nearly 4 years. Why the fuck should something like this ruin everything?"
    "That's the spirit. Now unfortunately I must go…."
    "Damn," I muttered.
    "What?" she asked sardonically. "Did you think we'd go off somewhere and…"
    "Well…yeah."
    Instead of getting angry, she merely laughed. "You need to grow up," she told me. "Then again, maybe I do too."
    That was all the signal I needed. I pulled her into me and practically devoured her face with my lips. She felt soft and warm to the touch. As I ran my hands over the bulge of her bra straps, I already envisioned us getting back together. Robbo was right: I had absolutely no resolve when it came to Mel.
    "Well…that was fun," she said after we had locked face for a few solid minutes. "But I really do have to go. Call me."
    "I will. Thanks Mel."
    It'd be another few months before I called her again, by which point a lot had changed. She'd have a boyfriend then and was off-limits and I'd be too preoccupied to care. Cori would be back in the picture, but not in a way either of us would have been able to predict when we sat down at the food court that day.
    Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

    Morpheus: I am hope.

    -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

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      #17
      A Punk's Tale by WingZ

      16
      Believe it or not, a few of my punk friends are diehard Christians. With all the drinking, fucking, chaos, anarchy and nihilism that goes on in the scene, its hard to believe that any self-respecting Christian would ally himself with punks, or that any self-respecting punk would ally himself with a diehard Christian (and, before anyone asks, don't even mention Relient K. A word to describe their suckyness has yet to be invented). When I asked one of my friends about this seeming contradiction, I was surprised by his answer.
      "It's simple, dude," he said. "When you think about it, all punk is is preaching. It either preaches 'fuck society' or 'go get wasted.' We just happen to preach something else."
      "You mean peace and love and all that?" I asked sardonically.
      "Yeah," he said. "And we do it just as hard and loud and fast as the rest of those guys."
      I laughed at him then, but he'd proven himself to be right after all. There really was no contradiction. And, while I wasn't a Christian, I could understand where he was coming from. I was starting to get sick of being pissed off all the time. Being pissed off almost cost me my friendship Cori. But, at the same time, I feared that NOT being pissed off would make me less of a punk. I didn't want to be lame. It took me awhile to realize it, but there was a middle ground. I could allow weakness and lameness and unrighteousness and all the vices of humanity in small doses and still be able to step up the volume when I needed to. And I didn't need to feel like a hypocrite either. Punk vs. society wasn't a battle I started nor was it one I was going to end. It was merely something I was part of, and, in being part of it, I was really no different than the assholes on the other side of the line. So fuck it…I'm doing my own thing.
      This affirmation aside, I was really nervous about calling Cori. I picked up and put down the phone about half a dozen times. I mean, what if she didn't want to talk to me? Shit, I would have gone loco. Fortunately, when I finally did call her on Saturday morning, she answered by the third ring.
      "I fucked up," I told her. "I never should have flown off the handle like that. I've been miserable about it and…."
      "It's OK," she said. "Robbo told me. I was pissed for a while there, but he said that I couldn't expect Matty to forgive me unless I forgave you. So yeah…. you are forgiven."
      "Robbo," I echoed. Ordinarily, I would have been annoyed that he went behind my back. However, on this occasion I was quite glad that he did. "I mean…. that's great."
      "Yeah. I don't really want to talk about though."
      "Gotcha. So how was Thanksgiving?"
      "Pfft! Don't even get me started."
      "Come on," I prodded. "I haven't talked to you in a few days. I need my fix of mayhem."
      "Wellllll," she said, pondering. "It's a long story and I don't feel like being on the phone all fucking day. So why don't you and Robbo get your asses over here and I'll tell you all about it."
      I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. Cori and I had been friends for a long time, but my appearances at her house were rare. Her parents detested me and I had a feeling that she wasn't comfortable about us getting a personal look at her homelife outside of the tales she fed us. Nonetheless, she'd made the offer and I wasn't going to turn it down.
      "Seth?" she asked after I'd been silent for a moment. "You there?"
      "Yeah…uh…. I'll be over soon."
      Bracing myself for what was sure to be an awkward experience, I combed my hair and put on a nice shirt. Cori's parents would probably find a reason to hate me anyway, but I sure as shit wasn't giving them any ammunition. I then called Robbo, who was just as shocked by the invite as I was.
      "Do you think they have valet parking?" he asked. It was meant as a joke, but he made it sound as if he was dead serious.

      Robbo parked his trusty old Probe behind a Mercedes and we made our way up to the door. Cori's sister answered, looked us over briefly like a lioness expecting a fresh kill and then called her sister.
      "Might as well come in," she said. "She's like totally oblivious up there with the music on that loud."
      Robbo and I smiled. So far, nothing had changed. We passed briefly by Cori's parents, who were gathered around a table examining what appeared to be a wine catalogue. They both bid us hello. Mr. Henderson was curt; Mrs. Henderson gushed with (obviously fake) enthusiasm. We finally made our way up to Cori's room sans incident. I was in awe that we had come this far.
      Cori was indeed blasting some Minor Threat rather loudly and we had to pound on her door for her to shut it off. She appeared before us looking quite comfortable. In a classic moment of fashion irrelevancy, she wore sweat pants turned inside out and a white tanktop with a tiny skull imprinted between her breasts. I could tell from the bulge and the strip of white above her waistline that she was diapered as well. This initially threw me for a loop, but I was sure that she had some kind of explanation for it.
      "Hey guys…. come on in," she greeted. "I've been on an Ian McKaye binge lately. That was Minor Threat's complete discography and I bought some shit by Fugazi too."
      "I never really liked that D.C. stuff," Robbo confessed. "It's too political."
      "Oh and like Orange County punk isn't?" Cori retorted.
      "Maybe it's the inner Jew in me," I said. "But I'll take New York punk any day."
      "I guess the Brits lose out," Robbo concluded.
      "Nah," I joked. "Finch probably likes them. Then again, he probably also thinks The Smiths are punk."
      We all got a good laugh out of that one.
      "You guys want anything to drink?" Cori offered.
      "Nah," we said in tandem.
      She flopped down onto her bed, brought her legs behind her head and flipped herself back into a standing position.
      "I'm getting into wicked good shape," she bragged.
      "So," Robbo said. "Thanksgiving?"
      "Um…yeah. It sucked."
      "You could have told me that much over the phone," I said.
      "It was very tense," she explained. "You probably wouldn't understand if I tried to explain it."
      "I don't understand tense?" I scoffed, thinking back to my own family.
      "OK," Cori said. "Here goes…"

      So Cori's well-to-do clan congregated at the Henderson home. They exchanged formalities, bragged about their achievements and sat down to enjoy an elaborate meal. Meanwhile, Mathilda was on hand to help in the kitchen against her personal wishes. She wanted nothing more to do with Cori's screwed up family, but need of money prevailed. The family treated her coldly, but nothing approached the virtual wall of ice that seemed to come between her and Cori.
      Sometime between dinner and desert, Cori regained her conscience. She dragged her mother aside and told her point-blank if Matty's services weren't retained and the family's treatment of her improved, she would cause a tremendous and unforgettable scene in front of everyone. And she meant it too.
      All of the optimism about finally getting along with her daughter seemed to fade from Mrs. Henderson's face.
      "You wouldn't dare," she hissed.
      "Oh, I dare, Mom," Cori affirmed. "And if you decide to disown me or whatever, so what. I'll be a bum. I'd rather be a bum then turn out like you."
      "Corrine!" she gasped. The anger dropped and her eyes began to water. In all their years of not getting along, it was one of the most hateful things Cori ever said. And she seemed to mean it too.
      Cori sighed. "Look, Mom, I don't wanna fight you. I'm sick of fighting. Fucking SICK of it."
      "You…you think I'm a monster, don't you?" her mother asked. "Don't you! Well I have news for you, young lady. Everything I do is for your benefit. EVERYTHING. This house, your things, your upbringing….its all to make your life easier later on."
      "Well gee, Mom, if you care so much why can't you just let me go already?"
      "Because…" Mrs. Henderson began and then froze.
      "You don't think I can make it, can you?" she asked. "Jesus. You raised me your way and you don't think I can make it."
      "I never said that," Mrs. Henderson denied.
      "But you mean it, don't you."
      "I will not have you running your life and then turning around and blaming this family…."
      "Nobody is blaming you!" Cori snapped. "If I fuck up, I fuck up on my own. And I'll learn from it. But I can't be expected to do that if you and Dad keep pushing me all the time."
      "But your future…"
      "You think I don't care?" Cori asked and then began to laugh. "Pfft….Mom, I only act that way because I don't want you forcing my hand all the damn time. Believe me, if I really didn't care, I'd have slit my wrists along time ago."
      "Stop it!" Mrs. Henderson snapped. "Just stop it right now."
      "No, Mom. You're gonna hear this. I'm not a little kid anymore. I can make my own choices and live my own life. Don't you get it? Matty didn't do anything to me. I wanted it…"
      And that was when Mrs. Henderson slapped her. It was a hard slap, hard enough to draw blood to Cori's lip. Of course, she was filled with remorse a moment later. Whether this was out of concern that she'd hurt her daughter or concern that she'd be caught acting improper was anyone's guess.
      "I…I don't know what came over me," she explained.
      "It's OK," Cori assured her, not sounding the least bit angry. "At least you aren't pretending anymore."
      "You….you're serious about this?" a badly trembling Mrs. Henderson inquired.
      "Yes," Cori said. "Look, you don't have to worry. I'm not gonna piss my entire life away out of spite. I'll do good, but I'll do it MY OWN WAY."
      "You mean that?"
      "Yes, Mom. And if I don't make it, it won't be because of you and Dad."
      "That's…." Mrs. Henderson began, searching for the right words. "We'll talk more later."
      "Matty stays though, right?"
      She nodded. Cori sat down for a slice of pumpkin pie and kept her mouth shut. She was conciliatory to her family members, even those who criticized her punk lifestyle. When all was said and done, she knew she'd won her peace.

      "And then me and Mom and Dad talked afterwards and they basically agreed to let me do my own thing without cutting me off and ignoring me completely. All I had to do was promise them I would get my grades up and not intentionally flunk out of college or join a cult or anything stupid like that."
      "That's pretty amazing," I said.
      "Wait a sec," Robbo interjected. "How could you say that sucked?"
      "Because," Cori said. "I still had to put up with the rest of my family and I couldn't say anything back. The only thing that kept me from snapping was the thought that I was finally gonna be free pretty soon."
      "But you did it," I said. "And that's what counts."
      "Meh," Cori said. "I guess. It still wasn't as good as what happened yesterday."

      About the same time I was seeking counsel from Mel, Cori had gone over to Mathilda's apartment to apologize in person. Matty's place was modest, but not a pit. She kept it well decorated albeit in a no-frills fashion. Cori's fears about Matty echoed mine about her. What if there was no forgiveness? Fortunately, her fears proved to be as unfounded as mine.
      "I'm sorry," Cori said. "I should have never let you take the fall like that. It was a shitty thing to do."
      Matty merely chuckled. "You just got me a raise. You've got nothing to apologize for. Here, come on in…"
      Cori entered and was greeted by the site of Gabriela, Mathilda's 3-year old daughter running around in a Pull-Up.
      "Unlike some people, she actually wants to use the toilet," Mathilda chided.
      Cori blushed. "You must think I'm a real freak, don't you?"
      "You're a strange one alright," Matty confessed. "But I like you just the same."
      Cori smiled and waved to the Gabriela. The toddler, curious, waved back.
      "I bring her to my sister during the days," Matty explained. "But I think she feels lonely just the same."
      "Have you ever thought about getting married?"
      Matty threw back her head and laughed. "I see the way men look at me, but as soon as they find out I have a kid, they can't get out the door fast enough. No, I'd rather stay single than saddle Gabi with a stepfather who doesn't love him."
      "I feel bad for you though," Cori said. "The both of you."
      "Don't," Matty assured her. "We all make our own choices. And, as hard as its been, I'm glad I chose to keep Gabi."
      She ended up staying and talking quite awhile. Gabi seemed to take to Cori, despite the latter's general contempt for kids.
      "She's cute," Cori told Matty.
      "She's everything to me," Matty told her in reply.
      "So…um…" Cori began. "Shit, this is hard…"
      "Is it about the diapers?"
      "Yeah."
      "Hey, if you want to wear them, that's no business of mine."
      "That's just the thing though," Cori said. "You know how I am with my mom, right?"
      Mathila nodded sourly.
      "Even now that we have a truce, it's still…. well, we aren't close. And then I saw how you are with Gabi and I kinda got jealous and I must be losing my fucking mind…"
      "I think I get it," Matty said. "You want someone to be a mommy to you."
      "Pfft…. someone," Cori echoed. "I want you."
      Mathilda's eyes widened. "Whoa…. timeout."
      "I know," Cori said. "I know I have no right to be asking you this. Please don't think I'm a total nut. But who else am I gonna ask? My friends? They wouldn't fucking get it. Besides, I'm friends with all guys and it'd be weird. I guess I thought that you're a mother and you'd probably understand…."
      "Slow down," Matty said. "Take it easy. Give me awhile to process all this, OK?"
      "Alright," Cori said. "It was nice seeing you."

      "You're right," I said after Cori had concluded her narrative. "I DON'T understand."
      "Me neither," said Robbo.
      "That's OK," she told us. "You don't have to. Just know that I made up with Matty and I think things are gonna be OK."
      "It's been a good weekend for you," Robbo said.
      "Yup," Cori conceded. "I guess it has."
      "Wanna fuck it up?" I offered.
      "Sure. What do we have to do?"
      "That's simple," I explained. "Go see Finch."
      And so it was resolved. Finch would get his long overdo visit after all.
      Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

      Morpheus: I am hope.

      -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

      Comment


        #18
        A Punk's Tale by WingZ

        17
        Trevor Finch is, was and always will be a mystery to me. Much like Robbo and myself, he was on the loser end of the spectrum before high school started. Unlike the rest of us, he managed to stay there. For a long time, I simply thought Finch was too pathetic to bite the hand that struck him. What happened that day during Thanksgiving break got me thinking otherwise.
        "Why are we doing this again?" Cori asked.
        "Yeah, why are we doing this?" Robbo echoed.
        "Because its Thanksgiving," I said.
        "So?" said Cori.
        "So?" said Robbo.
        "So let's show Finch some thanks for putting up with all the shit we put him through."
        Cori wrinkled her nose. "Meh. At least it'll get me out of the house."

        We dropped Finch an IM and told him we'd be stopping by his house to pick him up. Things were fine on the ride over, but when we got there Cori asked to switch seats with me.
        "How come?" I asked.
        "Because I don't want him sitting next to me," she explained.
        I couldn't help but laugh. "It's not like he's got the plague, Cori."
        "Easy for you to say, dude," she retorted. "You aren't the one he wants to fuck."
        "It's not his fault you're oh-too-sexy," I joked.
        She promptly reached forward and smacked me. "Look," she reiterated. "I don't like him. Plain and simple. I'm not attracted to him AT ALL. If he didn't have a dick, there wouldn't be a problem. But he does and he wants to stick it in me and that IS a problem. So quit fucking around, Seth, and switch seats with me."
        "No," I said, holding my ground. "I'm not gonna do it. The two of you are just going to have to get along."
        "Oh Christ," Robbo muttered. "Here we go again."
        Before the situation could escalate, Finch walked up to the car and got in. Cori promptly slid down to the far end of the seat, leaving plenty of distance between them. He didn't look quite himself that day. His skuzzy blond hair was more unkempt than usual and he appeared to be fighting a cold.
        "Hey guys," he said between sniffles. "How's it going?"
        "It's not," Robbo said. "We're parked."
        Finch actually bothered to laugh at this terrible joke. The rest of us tried very hard not to laugh at him.
        "So," he asked. "Where we going? Party?"
        "On a Saturday afternoon?" Cori mocked. "What do you think?!"
        Finch's confidence promptly evaporated and he began to stammer. "I…I dunno. I was just…."
        "Forget it," I said. "Let's go see Gersh."
        "The Gershster," Robbo said. "Haven't been there in awhile."
        "I dunno," Cori said. "Do you think he got fired again?"
        "Probably," I said.
        "Yeah," Finch echoed. "Probably." After pausing a moment, he finally asked, "who's Gersh?"
        Gersh was one of Dan's friends who worked at a party supply store. In the early goings, we thought he was the coolest guy over. He used to let us suck on the helium they used to inflate balloons and hooked us up with tons of free shit. As an employee, he was abysmal. He had been fired several times, only to get rehired for some reason or another. As time passed, we finally got to see him for the tremendous loser that he was. If anything, dropping in on him would give Finch a chance to look less pathetic by comparison.

        Party Patrol was open, though it was hard to tell at first. Asside from the big push they got around Halloween and Thanksgiving, the place was perennially dead. Sure enough, Gersh was there. He stood behind the balloon counter reading a comic book. His blue smock was stained with what appeared to be cheese puff residue and his idiotic chin stud seemed practically buried by a thick growth of goatee. He looked more stoned than any of us thought possible.
        "Gersh," Robbo called and then tugged on his arm. "Gersh!"
        "Huh…wha…I didn't…. oh, hey," he said.
        "Gersh, meet Finch," I said.
        "Sup?" Gersh greeted.
        "Um…hi," Finch replied nervously.
        "You guys want some helium?" he asked.
        We'd all tried it before, and, while the squeaky voices were fun at first, none of us wanted to lose a ton of brain cells. Finch, on the other hand, was all for it.
        "Sure," he said.
        Gersh took a quick look around before offering him the helium pump.
        "Don't let no one see you," he cautioned. "I don't wanna get fired."
        "Pfft!" Cori exclaimed and started laughing. Sadly, Gersh was too stoned to even get the joke.
        Finch, hands shaking, grasped the helium pump, put the nozzle to his lips and inhaled deeply. A moment later, he began singing, "I'm a little teapot" at an absurdly high pitch and we all started cracking up. He then took a few balloons, fashioned himself a reasonable facsimile of a strap-on and began dancing on the countertop. We were in stitches. Who knew the kid could be that funny?
        Unfortunately, our amusement had not long to last. The manager, a red-faced gray haired gentleman in a pinstripe shirt, soon stormed on over to break up the party.
        "What is going on over here?" he snapped. "Gersh?"
        "Ima…..I dunno," he muttered.
        "Hey man," Finch said. "We're just having a little fun."
        "Well go have it somewhere else!" he snapped. "Look at this. Look at this!"
        "So much for that," I whispered and we prepared to make a hasty exit. Finch, however, had no such plans.
        "There's no need to be a dick about it," he said.
        "That's it," the manager declared. "Gersh, you're fired. As for you, if you don't leave this store in five minutes I am calling the police. Do you hear me? The POLICE!"
        "Let's go Finch," Cori urged.
        "Fuck you," Finch snapped at the manager and flung a pile of fliers to the floor. "Fuck YOU!"
        Robbo and I finally had to drag him out of there. When we got to the parking lot, he was laughing hysterically.
        "We showed him, right?" he asked. "We fucking showed him."
        None of us were saying anything.
        "What's your problem?" Cori asked at last.
        "That wasn't cool, dude," Robbo said. "You cost that guy his job."
        "Granted," I interrupted. "He'll probably get it back, but…."
        "I don't get it," a rapidly-paling Finch replied. "I thought you guys did stuff like that all the time. You told me…."
        "When we do it, its different," Cori said.
        "Why?"
        "It just is!"
        "You know," he said, getting really worked up. "I'm sick of it. Fucking sick of all of it. You make fun of me cuz I hang out with kids who listen to emo and wear flannel? Well some of those kids were my friends for a long time. And I stopped hanging out with some of them to be with you guys. Well…. well…. well fuck you too!"
        We were all stunned. None of us had any idea Finch cared that much. We all just thought he was pretending to make himself look cool. Needless to say I felt like the world's biggest jackass.
        Robbo was the first one to try to extend his condolences.
        "If it would make you feel better," he offered. "You can kick my ass."
        Finch looked at him as if he were higher than Gersh.
        "Go ahead," Robbo dared him. "Kick my ass."
        "Robbo…." I cautioned, foreseeing a bad end to this ploy.
        "Well…" Finch said hesitantly. "OK."
        He promptly delivered a sharp kick…. right to Robbo's previously wounded ankle.
        "Son of a fucking bitch!" Robbo yelped, hopping around in agony.
        Cori once again began to giggle.
        "What are you laughing at?" he cried. "That shit hurt!"
        I started to laugh as well and Finch soon followed. Robbo eventually put aside his own pain long enough to join in too.
        "I guess I had that coming," he confessed.

        Our brief spat done with, we hopped back in the car and went cruising around for awhile. Robbo had on a mix CD and we soon found ourselves humming along to Social Distortion.
        "I think I'd better stop and get gas," Robbo said after we were about 3 songs in.
        "Keep going," I insisted. "The Citgo's a ripoff and the Getty station isn't all that far."
        "I dunno, dude, I'm running on fumes."
        I leaned over to get a look at the fuel gage. The needle was practically below the empty line.
        "Yikes!" I exclaimed.
        We pulled into the Citgo station and Robbo got out to feed his thirsty car. I then turned to face the back and catch up on whatever conversation I was missing. Cori remained on the far side of the seat, squirming uncomfortable. Finch stared at her with great bewilderment.
        "What?" he asked.
        Cori remained silent.
        "Do I smell?"
        "Huh?"
        "I said do I smell."
        "Oh. No."
        "Then why are you acting all uncomfortable around me?"
        "Seth…" Cori appealed.
        I bit my lip. Damnit, I didn't want to step in the middle of this one.
        "Don't mind her, Finch," I joked. "Cori just gets a little shy around the menfolk."
        "Oh fuck you," she snapped.
        "Seriously, what is it?" Finch persisted. "If it's a secret, I won't tell anyone."
        "Some fucking secret…." Cori muttered.
        "Huh?"
        "Oh don't tell me you didn't notice."
        "Notice what?"
        "You're either really sweet or really fucking oblivious," she said. "I'm wearing a diaper."
        Finch blinked and looked to me. Is this a joke, his eyes questioned.
        "Oh," he said awkwardly. "Um…."
        Cori sighed. "Look, this is a long story and…."
        Robbo returned behind the wheel just then and we were off once more.
        "I'll tell you later," she concluded.
        We spent the rest of the ride hyping up Dan's upcoming party and all the wonders it would entail. Despite my renewed sense of self, a bitching party was a bitching party no matter how you fucking slice it. We finally dropped Finch off about a half hour later.
        "What do you think?" I asked after he had gone. "Is he in?"
        I really didn't even have to ask because I already knew the answer.
        Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

        Morpheus: I am hope.

        -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

        Comment


          #19
          A Punk's Tale by WingZ

          18
          No matter how many days you have off of school, it's never enough. I'd just come off of a four-day break, but it didn't make any difference. School sucked just the same. The bitch of it was that, unlike last week, I didn't have a break to look forward to. The winter holidays seemed an eternity away.
          Now that I'd taken some time to get my shit together, you think I'd be poised for a good week, right? Wrong. I'd been in school for all of ten minutes when some fucker bumped into me in the hallway and managed to get fudge all over my shirt. While I was busy trying to comprehend what kind of person walks around carrying brownies at 8 am, he was skipping merrily away. Asshole.
          Anyway, my shirt was damn near ruined. Fortunately, I kept another one in my locker. Unfortunately, it was the wrong damn shirt. Allow me to explain: last year, I'd gotten in trouble for wearing a Misfits shirt that depicted JFK's assassination on the front. Mr. Sweeney, the Vice Principal, told me the shirt was lewd and licentious and ordered me not to wear it to school again. I told him I wouldn't. The next day, I showed up wearing a white shirt that I'd marked with the words 'lewd and licentious shirt.' Mr. Sweeney didn't like the joke too much and told me not to wear that one again either. As fate would have it, that was the shirt that was hanging in my locker.
          I know what you're thinking. "Gee Seth…. why don't you just wear the shirt inside out?" It would have been a pretty good solution as far as I'm concerned, but who wants to hear what I think? Certainly not the administration. They had this ridiculous rule against wearing clothing inside out (they thought it was a 'gang' thing) that left me with virtually no options. I could walk around with a layer of crushed brownie on the front of my shirt or I could get in trouble. I decided to get in trouble…. and do so with style.
          Surely enough, I'd barely had a chance to sit down in my first period class before I was dispatched to the office. It'd had been awhile before I'd had any cause to appear before Sweeney, but I knew the drill. I sat down in an undersized (and supremely uncomfortable) chair made of hard plastic and waited. Sweeney seemed to have a lot of dissenters to deal with that day. In addition to myself, there was a Goth chick, a thugged-out black dude and a tall, athletic type. So a jock, a punk, a Goth chick and a black guy walk into the principal's office…. It was like a retelling of a bar joke, only this one was true.
          My fellow rule-breakers were smirking at me. I don't know whether they found the shirt funny or my presence in the office funny or were just a bunch of merry chaps and dames. Shit, man, I didn't care…. I just wanted to get this over with.
          People paraded in and out of the office while I waited. It was busier than an airport lobby. One such person actually stopped to talk to me.
          "Hiya Seth!" said a sweater-clad blonde. "Love the shirt."
          "Oh…thanks."
          It took me a minute to realize I was talking to Karen Larson. She'd gone from pretending to be punk to pretending to be my friend and wanted me to believe she was authentic in both instances. Right….
          "How's Cori doing?" she asked with a hint of wicked mockery.
          "Not too bad," I joked. "Still kicking ass with the best of them."
          "She's a nasty little…"
          "Been drinking lately, Karen?"
          "Excuse me?"
          "I asked if you were drinking," I reiterated. "Funny things seem to happen when you do."
          "Ew…don't talk to me," she opined. Turning her attention away from me, she dropped off a form and was back out the door a minute later.
          "Hey," the jock said, tapping me on the shoulder. "Didja fuck her?"
          I rolled my eyes. What the hell did I do to deserve this?

          "I'm a little surprised in you, Seth," Sweeney said. The high school's dean of discipline was a short, baby-faced, impeccably dressed man with a shock of red hair. He looked like an uncomfortable cross between a hobbit and a Fortune 500 CEO. "I thought we settled this last year."
          I could have tried to explain. I could have told him about the asshole with the brownies or pointed out the stupidity of his stupid no inside-out rule. I could have done all of that, but I didn't. I was sick of it, man. Sick and fucking tired. So I sat back and took my lumps. Yes, Mr. Sweeney. No, Mr. Sweeney. When all was said and done, no harm came my way and I was excused. I subtly knocked a book off of his shelf on the way out. It wasn't as gratifying as telling him to shove it, but it would have to do.

          By the time lunch rolled around, I was still pissed off and feeling like shit. Robbo didn't help matters by hording half my sandwich because he forgot to bring his. Cori and Finch seemed to be having some kind of undeclared staring contest. All the while, a few corduroy-clad emo kids from two tables over kept throwing angry glances our way.
          "Friends of yours, Finch?" I asked.
          "No way," he replied. "I'm a punk now."
          Cori partially restrained a snicker.
          "Why don't you go talk to them?" Robbo suggested.
          "I told ya…" Finch reiterated.
          "Look, it doesn't make any difference to us," I said. "We don't give a shit. You were friends with them before you were friends with us. Besides, just because emo is lame doesn't mean we have to hate on everyone. Go pay your respects, dude."
          Finch sighed and got up. "Aright. No stealing my seat now."
          The minute he was gone, Cori put her feet up on his chair.
          "Much better," she said.
          For some reason, I felt stung by own words. Those were Finch's friends, these were mine. We were stuck with them. That was how I felt: stuck.

          I drifted through the rest of my classes without incident or improvement. Nothing else happened, but I still felt bad. When that final bell rang, I quit the scene faster than Sid quit the Sex Pistols. R.C. tried to corner me and talk to me about something, but I ignored him and got the hell out of his way.
          "What's your hurry?" Cori asked me as the four (Finch was with us) of us walked to the door.
          "This day, man," I muttered. "This is like the worst."
          "Aww, it's not that bad," she said. "It could be worse."
          "Yeah? How?"
          She grabbed a chunk of my hair and ruffled it. I shouldn't have asked.
          We bid farewell to Finch just before hitting the parking lot and made our way to Robbo's Probe. Dan was there waiting for us. Having materialized seemingly out of nowhere, he gave us all a collective heart attack.
          "Dudes!" he exclaimed. "Do I have news for you."
          "About the party?" Cori asked.
          "Yeah," he said. "The party is on. The party is fucking ON!"
          Robbo sidestepped to avoid his enthusiastically flailing arms.
          "Well?" I asked.
          "It's gonna be New Years, man. We're getting together a bunch of bands to play. There's only one slight problem."
          We stared at him, awaiting an explanation.
          "We don't know where to have it," he confessed. "Look, man, the fact is a lot of us still live with our folks and those who don't have really shitty apartments. We tried renting a catering hall, but they turned us down. So it's gonna have to be at someone's house. And it's gonna have to be a big fucking house."
          Robbo and I turned to Cori.
          "What?" she asked.
          "You know…" Robbo said.
          "No!" she protested. "No freakin way. Not when I just started getting along with my folks. I mean, I'm not gonna fuck that up just so we all can have fun for one night. Wait a minute….what am I saying here? That doesn't sound like me."
          "Yeah," Robbo echoed. "What ARE you saying?"
          "Take some time and think about it," Dan told her. "I'll keep you all posted."
          "Later, Dan," I said.
          "Later, dudes."

          None of us wanted to put any pressure on Cori and I was still sore about the sucky day I had, so the ride home was pretty quiet. Robbo didn't even have a CD to put on.
          "I'm going to Seth's," Cori blurted out.
          "You are?" Robbo asked.
          "You are?" I echoed.
          "Yeah."
          "OK," I said. "Maybe we can do a movie night."
          Robbo sighed. "Count me out," he said. "That supermarket owns me."
          "Maybe we'll come by and visit," I told him.
          "And shoplift," Cori said. "Shoplifting's good."
          Robbo cracked a smile and shook his head. "You guys are nuts."

          So Cori followed me home and we chatted briefly with Mom, who was having a worse day than I was. A buyer for a home she'd been trying to unload for the past two months backed out and one of her competitors was moving in on her.
          "At least I don't have to put up with what your father does," she told me. "Another frivolous liability suit. Can you believe that? It's going to get thrown out, of course, but he still has to go through the paperwork."
          I nodded somberly. That my parents weren't doing so well themselves didn't make me feel much better.

          "So what is it?" Cori asked after we'd retreated to my room.
          "Whatcha mean?"
          "You seem all bummed."
          "Nothing," I answered. "Stupid shit."
          "Like?"
          "Like…nothing. Look, if I didn't tell Robbo anything, what makes you think I'll tell you?"
          She shrugged. "I dunno…some guys find it easier to talk to chicks."
          "Well I'm not one of them."
          "Is that the problem?" she asked. "A girl? Cuz I'll kick her ass for you if it is."
          "No…"
          "Then what?"
          "What's going on between you and Finch?" I asked, abruptly switching the subject.
          "What are you talking about?"
          "I saw you looking at each other all weird at lunch. If I didn't know any better…."
          "Urg, don't even start," she interrupted. "That wasn't funny the first time and it isn't funnier now."
          "So then what is it?"
          "He called me on Sunday," she said.
          "And?"
          "We talked."
          "About?"
          "Lotsa stuff. School, friends, music, my diapers. He's a pretty good listener."
          "Oh," I said, averting my eyes.
          "Hey," she pressed. "I thought you were OK with it."
          "I am," I said. "It's just that its weird and its not getting any less weird. You didn't wear one to school, did you?"
          "Pfft….no!"
          "Good."
          "OK," she said, throwing up her hands in defeat. "Fine. I won't mention my diapers around you."
          I know its stupid, but I seemed to cringe every time she mentioned the word. It was like I had some kind of irrational phobia. We were talking about diapers, not spiders or heights or senators from Texas.
          "Actually…." Cori said and then stopped.
          "What?" I asked.
          "Sometimes I think you should be wearing them," she said. "You're almost as fucking moody as I am and it might calm you down a bit."
          "Aw, get the fuck out of here," I said, chucking a pillow at her.
          "See?" she said, giggling. "There ya go!"
          I'd dismissed her suggestion at the time, but I found myself thinking about it later. In the sea of calamity, chaos, disappointment, boredom, confusion, fear, loathing and dread that I found myself in, I was ready to grab hold of the first buoy I saw. And so what if it happened to be big and white?
          Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

          Morpheus: I am hope.

          -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

          Comment


            #20
            A Punk's Tale by WingZ

            19
            Winter….sucks. It just sucks. There's no other way to put it. Just about every punk song you hear takes place during summer or spring or fall. Who's gonna go surfing or skating with snow on the ground? Who can think about anarchy when they are freezing their balls off?
            I don't know whether I had some kind of seasonal affective disorder or I was just under a lot of stress, but early December totally blew. The concert scene was dead: no one was playing shit till around Christmastime. Dan still didn't have a place for his party. Robbo was stuck at work more and more and Cori seemed to get loopier with every passing day. Worst of all, teachers took it upon themselves to cram in as much material as they possible could. We were seniors, damnit. They could have cut us a fucking break! Alas, no such luck.
            My parents noticed that I was starting to mope around a bit and asked me what was up.
            "I dunno," I told them. "Just…. stuff."
            "I hope if its something serious, you'll tell us," Dad said.
            "Or even if it isn't anything serious," Mom added.
            "Yeah. I will. Thanks."
            Of course, I wasn't planning on telling my parents anything. It wasn't a knock on them. They were pretty good people. I knew a lot of kids who were at war with their folks and I counted myself lucky not to be among their number. Nonetheless, the battles I fought were my own and I didn't see fit to involve them.
            The breaking point came about two weeks into December. I was hanging out by my locker when J.T. Neumarr walked by.
            "Hhhey Seth," he said, delibertaly exaggerating the guttural Hebrew 'cha' sound. "Hhhapy Hhhhanukahh."
            This afforded him and his little cadre a brief snicker. Normally, I would have taken the time to engage in some witty banter and make him feel like the pompous ass that he was. That day, however, found me in no such mood. I got a B- on an English paper. The teacher wrote that while I did the assignment correctly and showed good insights, the paper was structured poorly and had improper citations. Improper citations my ass! She just didn't like that I said that Bill Shakespeare was an overrated hack.
            "Fuck you," I snarled.
            "Oh, that's original," J.T. mocked. "You know you really do wanna fuck me? Right, you sexy bitch?"
            He was baiting me, but I didn't care. I was sick and fucking tired of being the 'considerate' punk: true in spirit but not in action. I wanted to feel what Cori felt when she pounced on Karen. I wanted to feel what Dan felt when he pissed his future away. I wanted the indignant glory of someone who burned with spite til the very end.
            And so, throwing caution to the wind and violating my better judgment, I took a swing at him. J.T. saw it coming a mile away. He sidestepped and shoved me to the floor. When I tried to get up, a Timberland boot pressed my face to the ground.
            "Get down and stay down," he barked. "Punk faggot."
            By the time I was able to get back up, he was gone.

            The incident caused a mini-civil war at lunchtime. Finch, in all his naïveté, wanted to go to war.
            "That's fucked up," he insisted. "You can't let him get away with that, Seth. You just can't."
            Robbo and I both knew better.
            "If we do something to J.T., him and his friends are just gonna make things worse for all the punks," I explained.
            "Yeah," Robbo agreed. "One of those guys is bad enough. We don't want a whole army of those fuckers up our asses."
            "But…." Finch protested, searching for the right words.
            "Finchie's right," Cori said. "Damned if I'm gonna let that asshole do something to one of my friends. And if you boys are too chickenshit to do something about it, I'll handle it myself. Mmmkay?"
            "Remember what happened the last time you 'did something'?" I reminded her.
            She bit her lip in consternation. "Shit. Well….I'll…we….we'll figure something out."
            Later on, I passed by J.T. and R.C. in the hallway. After months of declaring how much they hated each other, they seemed to be right back to being friends. J.T. laughed as he passed me and R.C., who swore he had my back, laughed right along with him. The social hierarchy of high school is subject to constant shifts and disruptions, but one thing always remains the same: the punks are on the outs and the assholes dominate everything.

            This cycle of bullshit continued, more or less interrupted for the next week or so. It got better some days and worse others, but nothing seemed to change. A voice in the back of my head told me that if I couldn't handle the senior year of high school, there was no way I'd be able to handle college. I drowned that voice out with a shot of Tequila and a few Distillers songs and seemed to be at peace…for awhile.
            "Dude, come to work with me," Robbo suggested. "I'll ring, you bag. It'll take your mind off all this."
            "Thanks, man, but I'm trying to feel better. Not worse."
            He shrugged. "I figured it was worth a try."
            Cori's suggestion wasn't much better.
            "Come hang out with me," she invited.
            "Umm."
            "Look, I'm still not used to not fighting with my parents all the time. It gets weird. And lonely."
            "I still say they hate me."
            "They do not! OK, maybe they do. But they aren't gonna say anything."
            "No Hannukah jokes?"
            "No Hannukah jokes."
            "Deal."
            And so, once again with almost superstitious reluctance, I found myself venturing to Cori's house. Not only weren't her parents condescending to me; they weren't even there. Caroline and a group of giggling freshman occupied the den and ignored me entirely. I also caught a rare glimpse of Mathilda just before she left. I found myself nearly involuntarily drooling at the sight of her. I couldn't help it. She was smoking!
            "Well if it isn't Miss 'I Have No Friends'" she joked.
            "Heh," Cori chuckled nervously. "Yeah…. Seth doesn't count. He's invisible."
            "Be good."
            "Dude, could you stare any harder?" Cori asked me after I'd left.
            "I can't help that she's hot," I said defensively.
            "Whatever. She's too old for you and not interested."
            "Way to step on my dreams," I said only half-seriously.
            Cori began to hum the chorus from Bad Religion's "Raise Your Voice" as she circled her room, pausing every once in awhile to poke me in the arm.
            "You seem a little jumpy," I commented.
            "I am!" she exclaimed. "I usually put on a diaper and take a nap right about now, but I don't wanna make you uncomfortable, so I'll sing and poke you instead."
            "Hey, it's your house," I said.
            "So it is. Are you sure you're OK with it though?"
            "Yeah," I lied. "Whatever makes you happy."
            "Kickass! Now turn around."
            I did so, feeling somewhat unsettled by the fact that she was diapering herself behind me. A moment later, she poked me again to let me know she was done.
            "I think I'll forgo the nap," she said.
            "Yeah," I sighed. "Sure."
            "All right," she said. "What is it?"
            I rolled my eyes. "Not this shit again."
            "You've been acting like a bitch for two weeks. Even I don't PMS that bad and I'm a chick. I don't know what you're problem is and you won't tell me."
            "Fuck. Can't I just have a bad month and have that be the end of it?"
            "Pfft….no!"
            "OK. But I'm not talking about it."
            "Fine," she said. "Wanna fight?"
            Before I could answer, she planted her booted foot about two inches from my face and made the requisite kung foo noise to accompany it. I knew she was only playing around, but I was in no mood nonetheless.
            "No," I replied.
            "Well," she said, offering me an ultimatum. "You can either fight or talk. Pick one."
            "Can't I just lay down?"
            "Sure," she said. "You can take my nap for me."
            "Very fucking funny."
            It felt strange lying in Cori's bed and not merely because it was a girl's bed. It felt like I was outside of myself looking in and what I saw wasn't me but Cori from only a few weeks ago, as fucked up as she'd been. It was like a freakin see-saw, this friendship was ours. I was up and she was down, she was up and I was down…. or we both were fine and Robbo was in deep shit. As much as I'd always fancied myself an individualist, our happiness seemed to be collectively intertwined.
            So I lay there and Cori sat on the foot of her bed and generally let me be. She could have just as easily cranked up some hardcore or decided to throw something at me, but the cool thing about Cori was that she didn't have to constantly remind you of what a bad-ass bitch she could be if she was already her friend.
            After lying there for awhile, Cori asked me if I wanted to wear a diaper.
            "I told you I don't go for that," I said, annoyed.
            "How do you know?" she countered. "You've never even tried it."
            "What the hell makes you think I want to?"
            "I sure as hell didn't think I'd want to, but now I'm hooked."
            "Yeah…well…that's you."
            "Look, Seth," she said. "Just let me do this for you. You don't have to tell anyone about it and if you don't like it, I swear I'll never ask you again."
            I could have said no and she wouldn't have done anything. Hell, I probably should have said no. It was crazy. Me wearing a diaper? But damnit, I was tired, I felt bad and I was fucking sick of all of it. So I said yeahwhateverwhynotgoknockyourselfout (in so many words).
            Cori seemed elated. I'd assumed she'd give me a diaper to put on, but insisted in doing it herself.
            "What the hell?" I asked as she reached for my pants.
            "Dude, calm down. It's not like I'm giving you a handjob. Unless…."
            "….unless Matty joins in," I joked.
            "Keep dreaming," she told me.
            So, just hours from wanting to kick the living crap out of J.T., I lay still as a baby and allowed Cori to diaper me. It was a tight fit, but not really uncomfortable. It felt…. snug. And, in a way, it was a relief. The whole time, I'd regarded Cori's odyssey towards diapers with suspicion, disgust and even a little awe. We punks are an extreme bunch, but to defy even punk norms takes just the right mixture of balls and psychosis. Now that I was wearing one, my suspicions regarding diapers evaporated. My dick didn't fall off, I didn't turn into a weeping mess and, most surprising of all, Cori didn't start laughing.
            "How's that feel?" Cori asked.
            "Umm…good."
            "Yeah?"
            "Yeah."
            She was sitting almost on top of me, messing up my hair as she often did. Her diaper brushed against the side of my arm and I stared up at the ceiling of her room and I didn't feel angry any more.
            Of course, life is like the hot girl you finally get around to making out with, only to discover that she's really a dude. Caroline burst in just then and God only knows what she thought, because she let out a really loud surprised scream.
            "Ohmygod!" she shrieked. "I'm telling Mom and Dad!"
            "No you're not!" Cori retorted and leapt off of me with surprising quickness. Caroline tried to run, but Cori pulled her away.
            "Seth, help me out here," she said, pinning her sister to the ground.
            "Ew, get off me you freak!" she hissed.
            "What the fuck?" I groaned. "What'd I do to deserve this?"
            "Seth!"
            I pulled my pants back up over my diaper and went to help hold Caroline down. She was squirming an awful lot and I had no freakin clue what Cori was going to do and I was starting to not feel good again.
            "Are you still gonna tell?" Cori asked.
            "You bet your ass I will!" Caroline hissed.
            "That's what I thought you'd say."
            She relieved Caroline of her purple socks and began to tickle her feet. Caroline's indignation turned to laughter and she squealed skittishly. For all her grown-up posturing, she was as ticklish as any kid half her age.
            "Stopppp itttt!" she said between giggles. "Stopppppp!!!!"
            "Are you gonna tell?" Cori asked.
            "Stoppp!"
            "Are you gonna tell?"
            "No!"
            "Who's the fucking boss around here?"
            "Y…you are! Stop!"
            "Damn straight," Cori said and let her go.
            She didn't make a big thing out of it and as far as I know never breathed a word. Cori and I spent the rest of the time playing video games and I went home and that was the end of it. That was my first, last, and only time wearing diapers. And, while it wasn't bad, it wasn't something I would do again either. If Caroline hadn't burst in, who knows? But she did and I can't change that. Besides, I was right: diapers weren't my thing. They were Cori's. That's just the way it was.
            Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

            Morpheus: I am hope.

            -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

            Comment


              #21
              A Punk's Tale by WingZ

              20
              Cori helped, but she didn't help enough. Fucking exam week came and I was back to being depressed/pissed off again. At least by that point I had the whole senior class with me. We were one horribly off key chorus of groans, mutterings, grumblings, and declarations of, "fuck this class." I'd like to think there was a little punk in all of us.
              Anyway, the thing that finally snapped my bad mood wasn't even winter break itself, but the news that Dan had finally secured a place for the party. This guy Darren who lived about two towns over had a big place he was willing to let us use. He'd dipped his foot into the punk pool during his adolescence and his uncle was a Green Party politician. There was some talk going around that he was going to try to write this off as a "voter registration drive."
              Rumor or no, Dan was adamant that we keep things quiet.
              "What do you care?" I joked. "Fuck the system, right?"
              "No, dude," he said, adopting his 'I'mseriousdon'tfuckwithme' face. "Mike Perkins is a good man. If some asswipe reporter finds out about this, his career is fucked."
              "Whatever you say, Dan," I assured him.
              That small misgiving aside, I was really looking forward to it. It wouldn't just be me and my friends and Dan and his friends; it would draw in punks from all over the county. While I looked forward to listening to music and making new friends, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was thinking about getting laid. I had difficulty connecting with regular girls and the really hardcore punk chicks (ie: crazier than Cori with half the charm) never really did it for me. Somewhere out there, there had to be a girl who shared my sensibilities (or, at the very least, could see where I'm coming from). I was determined to find her at that party and, if all went according to plan, bang her like the crashing symbols of Chuck Biscuits' drum kit.
              The only thing that stood between me and this little slice of paradise was Finch. Dan was adamant about knowing everyone who would be attending this party and he didn't really know Finch. And, while Finch had toughened up considerably since hanging out with us more, we still had our doubts as to whether he could handle it.
              "Come on," he insisted, sounding like a little leaguer begging the coach to put him in. "I'm ready for it."
              We decided to let Dan be the judge of that. We brought Finch out to meet him in the parking lot one day and before Finch could even get a "hello" in, Dan went nuts.
              "Shutup!" he screamed. "Shut the fuck up! Who the fuck are you…."
              "I'm…" Finch began.
              "I don't give a shit who you are, man! It doesn't fucking matter. You're fucking sum. Scum, dude, scum. Hey Seth, why did you bring this scum here? Why are you wasting my motherfucking time?"
              I knew better than to answer.
              "I…" Finch started up again, barely breaking above a whisper this time. His cheeks were red and he found himself staring at the floor. I didn't think he was going to make it.
              "I said SHUT the FUCK up!" Dan continued. "I swear to fucking god, I'll knock your fucking teeth out, kid. Fucking douchebag piece of shit. You know what you are: you're a wolf in sheep's clothing. Fucking facist wannabe dressed like a punk. And a half-assed punk at that. Shit, dude, you ain't no punk. Punk my fucking ass! You think you're a punk, motherfucker? Is that what you think?"
              "Hell yes!" Finch snapped and spat at him.
              Robbo and I just stared at each other. Dan had done the same thing to both of us at various points and neither of us had done anything at the time. We were both angry, but far too scared to act on that anger. Finch had surpassed out expectations once again. Even Cori was whistling his praises.
              "All right, dude," Dan said, breaking from the shtick and shaking his hand. "I'm Dan. Welcome aboard."

              For the first time ever, I think I was more excited about winter break ending than I was about it beginning. I couldn't wait til New Years and the party. Even Hanukah seemed like tedium, and I usually dug getting gifts. I felt especially bad because I didn't have much to spend on a gift for my parents this year. Dad ended up receiving a tie and Mom a scarf. It was lame, but they said they appreciated the gesture nonetheless. Whatever.
              Having a large family helps immensely and I ended up raking in the dough. Even though I was practically an adult, some of my aunts sent me cards and checks like I was a little kid. It bothered me a bit, but I was going to be damned if I was going to complain.
              At one point during the break, Dad ushered me into his study for a word. I sat in a hard wooden chair and looked at the creases in his face and felt like I was in Sweeney's office all over again.
              "Seth," he said. "I know you only have one semester left before graduation, but it's very important that you don't lose your head."
              I scoffed. "Dad," I said. "Don't worry. I'm not going to do anything stupid."
              "I sure hope so, son," he said. What he didn't say (and didn't have to) was that he didn't want me making the same mistakes he did. And what I didn't say (and didn't have to) was that his concerns were bogus and unfounded.
              Just a few short days later, however, I would go on to prove him right.

              No one in my family had a good vibe about the party. They didn't tell me I couldn't go (fat chance of that happening), but they did try to discourage me. I didn't mention anything about Darren being Mike Perkins' nephew or what exactly my plans were for the evening. I expected to hear the usual "don't use drugs" speech, but Mom took it one step further.
              "I want you to call," she said. "After midnight. And I want you home no later than 2."
              "Aw, come on," I protested, affirming my near-adult credentials.
              "I mean it," she pressed.
              So I relented and agreed to her terms. Half of me thought they'd both be asleep by then anyway, but I wasn't about to press my luck.
              Even Judy seemed to have a say in things. Her face scrunched up at the very mention of Dan.
              "What?" I asked.
              "Oooh…. nothing," she said, tap-dancing around the issue. "I know him, that's all."
              "I know him too," I countered. "Besides, you haven't talked to him in years."
              "Some things don't changed."
              "Would you please cut the shit and tell me what you mean already?"
              She chuckled. "Be careful, Seth. That's all I'm saying."
              I heard her, only I didn't. I figured all these warnings were just paranoia and the blathering of the uninformed. Besides, I'd survived many a calamity before and I would likely survive this one too.

              So party night finally came and I was ready. J.T. and his asshole friends would be sneaking into clubs with fake IDs and trying to blend in with Eurotrash while the real hotties rejected him and lame house beats thumped in the background. Believe me, I envied him not. I would have some real fun tonight.
              I was completely dressed for the occasion, too. My hair was half-spiked, half flat and totally crazy looking. I wore my wristbands, a spiked collar (it was purely for show), my banned Misfits shirt, a denim jacket with a bunch of buttons and my torn jeans with the long chain. In other words, I looked as though I could scare the living crap out of Mr. Rogers neighborhood.
              Cori and Robbo were similarly attired. She had a faux fur coat over a black tanktop, a pleather skirt, fishnets and boots. Her hair was combed over one side of her face. All she was missing was a cigarette jutting out of the side of her mouth and she could have passed for a young Courney Love.
              "Aren't you cold?" I asked as she climbed into the Probe.
              "Pfft…nope," she answered, secretly meaning 'yes.' "Besides, if I get cold, I'm sure I'll have no problem warming myself up."
              Even Robbo managed to shed his klutzy demeanor and look like a London street thug circa 1978. He'd shaved the sides of his head entirely and wore a leather bomber jacket. I'd want to see some of those fuckers call him "Forrest Gump" now.
              Perhaps the most miraculous transformation any of us had witnessed was that of Finch. Bear in mind that this was someone who, up until recently, wore his hair long and dressed like a low-rent preppy. Finch did a complete 180 for the occasion. He put his hair into pseudo-dreads, somehow managed to get his hands on a vintage Black Flag shirt (very cool) and saved us all some humiliation by not buying a chain that was longer than his legs. It was a most promising start.

              Darren Ornacek had probably the biggest house I'd ever been in. The place was fucking huge. It made Cori's house look like a tin shack by comparison. There were three full floors, more than half a dozen bedrooms, a big-ass pool fit for a shark and a kitchen that could probably house a family of three.
              The man behind the house wasn't quite as impressive. He was a young guy (mid twenties or so) who had 'junior executive' written all over him. If he had ever been a punk, them days had passed long ago. Even in jeans and an (admittedly quite amusing) Green Jelly t-shirt, he couldn't help but look serious. Though he greeted all of us cordially, I could already tell he was having second thoughts about us being there.
              "Hey Dan," he said.
              "Yo?"
              "Don't fuck up my place, OK?"
              "Relax, man. We'll keep it under control."
              We all knew his house didn't stand a chance.

              People filed in gradually. Some brought chips, others brought booze and others still brought instruments and equipment. As people went scurrying around for cups to hold drinks and outlets to plug things into, a crowded elevator atmosphere began to take shape. I sure as shit hoped the band didn't hit any delays. Otherwise, poor Darren was likely to have a riot on his hands.
              While we were waited for Dead Dogs (that was the band's name) to get their shit together, we took the time to get to know one another. I found out things were just as shitty at other high schools, if not in fact worse. I discovered that there were punks that were so freaked out about college they'd considered flunking all their second semester classes so colleges would have to revoke their applications. All and all, it made me feel better. At least I wasn't alone.
              After nearly being crucified before they played a single note, Dead Dogs finally got around to playing. They turned out to be not bad. I think most of us were expecting some third-rate cover band and were pleasantly surprised by both the proficiency of their covers and the quality of new material they sprinkled in as well. "Not bad" to a bunch of half drunk teens soon turned to "fucking great" and we found ourselves going crazy to a cover of an Aerosol ballad of all things!
              Unfortunately, things kinda got crazy towards the end of the set. People started fighting and glass was breaking and Darren was shouting for all of us to knock it off. No one seemed to be able to control it and half of us were probably hoping the chaos would continue to culminate. The guys from Dead Dogs grew frustrated that no one was really listening to them any more and began to smash stuff and it was all on the verge of coming crashing down.
              I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I decided then would be a good time to do a little singing. I elbowed my way through the fray and approached the area where Dead Dogs were set up. Grabbing the mic, I started to belt out "I Wanna Be Sedated." I didn't care whether I sucked or not or how much of a jackass I was making of myself, I just did it. At some point, the band stopped fighting long enough to realize what was going on and joined me in accompaniment. And, once we started playing, everyone else stopped fighting too.
              Guys who had been pounding the shit out of each other and girls who were pressing their faces into the carpet suddenly broke free of their entanglements. Darren stopped having a fucking ulcer and Dan stopped telling him to chill out and everyone just kind of enjoyed the moment. We were a bunch of ugly, drunk losers…. but that moment, man it was beautiful.
              So I finished singing and ended my rendition on a massive belch. Some people were cheering, others were telling me how much I sucked. I didn't care though. I just didn't care. Not long after I'd finished, someone else took the "stage" to do some renditions of their own and I disappeared back into the crowd. Within half an hour, I was all but forgotten. And so it goes.

              I saw her staring at me and I tried not to look like I was staring at her. She was talking to some guy wearing a Green Day shirt and it looked like they were getting along pretty well. I figured I didn't have much of a chance, so I took a handful of pretzels and began to gnaw away.
              When I looked up again, she was sitting on the arm of the couch, about an inch away. I nearly fucking choked. This girl was hot beyond hot. She had on a black skirt and a red top. The most striking thing about her was her hair though: it was bleached white. I'd seen red, blue, green, pink, purple and combinations thereof, but never white. White took balls.
              "You sounded pretty good up there." Those were her first words to me. I wanted to say something slick in reply, but I felt flushed. It was like I was a fucking rookie. Damnit, I was going to blow this…
              "Thanks," I said. And then, without warning, I told her how I felt this whole thing was at least half bullshit and wondered what I was doing there anyway.
              Much to my surprise, she seemed to agree.
              "I hear ya, man," she said. "I've been doing this whole punk thing for four years and sometimes I just wonder what the point is."
              "Yeah?"
              "Yeah."
              "So…um…what's your name?"
              "Xarnox, Goddess of Nothingness. But you can just call me Alice."
              "I'm Seth," I said. "And you can call me Seth."

              I'm not going to lie and pretend I knew what buttons to push. We ended up talking for like an hour about all kinds of random shit. We talked over the noise and we talked while people were puking their guts out around us. It was one of those inevitably compelling conversations. And, only when we'd laid to waste all the soldiers in the army of "getting to know you" did we sojourn to someplace private.
              There were people making out all around us, but I didn't want it to be like that. Even if it was only a charade, I wanted some semblance of class. As I ascended the stairwell in hopes of landing a second-story bedroom, however, I felt a tug on my sleeve. Cori was leaning against the railing, her legs wrapped around some guy with a ponytail and looking very much enthused. I wasn't sure whether to feel revolted or happy for her, and, in the end, the latter sensation won out.
              "Go Seth," she applauded when she saw Alice coming up behind me.
              Yeah, I thought. Go me.

              Nervous as I was, I made it through it OK and Alice was more than good. We lay there for awhile afterwards, just kinda enjoying the fact that we weren't freaked out by one another. That seemed to be a rarity today. People were scared and scared to be scared. And even if we wound up scaring each other later, we still had that one night.
              The next thing I knew, it was 3:37 and I realized that I'd better get the fuck out of there. I went searching for Robbo first and found him with his foot in a bucket of ice. Apparently, he'd managed to fuck up his ankle once again. He didn't get laid either, but he did manage to snag a few numbers, so it wasn't a total loss. We found Cori half-unconscious and half undressed and had to carry her out. Somebody had wrapped a sheet around her like a diaper. She was caked with piss and vomit and all around quite fucked up. I'd hoped she'd had a good time, because I was pretty sure she'd end up paying for it well into the future.
              It wasn't until we got to the car that we realized we forgot Finch. I'd convinced myself he'd gotten himself into some kind of inane shenanigan and was half expecting to see him surrounded by chicks. Instead, I found him standing in a corner, alone. He looked as if he'd been crying, too.
              "What the fuck, man?" I asked.
              "I put the towel on her," he said. "I did. Everyone else just laughed when she wet herself."
              I was confused at first, but then I thought I understood. Cori. Fucking Cori. Not only did he have to watch her get it on with another guy, but he also looked out for her and was not likely to ever be rewarded for it. I felt pretty sick myself right about then and was ready to cast aside all the fun I'd had in order to spare Finch his agony.
              "Come on," I said, clapping him on the back. "Let's get the fuck out of here."
              And so we left. There would be headlines in the paper the next day and trips to the hospital and plenty of people got arrested. Rumors began to fly around the punk campfire: Dan took a swing at a cop, Darren broke down in tears, the bassist for Dead Dogs actually had the corpse of a pit bull in his trunk. I would be yelled at by my folks (as would Cori and Robbo by theirs) and we would all feel like we were being scared at when we went back to school.
              Was it worth it, do you ask? Yeah, it was worth it. When you're a punk, you live for the fucking MOMENT, man, as if that moment is your last. That's what its all about.
              Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

              Morpheus: I am hope.

              -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

              Comment


                #22
                A Punk's Tale by WingZ

                21
                My first day of the new year was spent lying in bed feeling sick and sorry for myself. Believe me, it wasn't by choice. It was like I'd been some kind of cartoon character walking across the clouds and I'd finally bothered to look down. It was a long fucking fall.
                I'd known things had gone too far before I even took a look at the newspaper. It wasn't quite a premonition either. It was the piss and blood and vomit and depravity in the air. Walking out of that goliath of a house and watching Finch try to regain his dignity got to me. It just got to me. It made me want to say, "Hey! This isn't fun no more." Of course, I never said as much and I went home believing I'd just had one of the best times in my life.
                It wasn't until the morning after that the dogs of recollection began to bite me in the ass, and they bit hard. In addition to feeling physically ill, all kinds of guilt hit me. I felt bad for Robbo. The poor prick fucked up his ankle again and would probably be limping for the next month. I felt bad for Cori too. Even in an atmosphere where nothing shocks anyone, she'd managed to make a spectacle of herself. Needless to say, I felt worst of all for Finch. He wasn't as jaded as the rest of us. He honestly thought punk was this glorious phenomenon and, we allowed him to experience firsthand how fucked up it could really be. After all the angst and rhetoric, we were no better than J.T. and his band of well-bred perverts and sycophants.
                Then, of course, there was Alice. She'd written her number on my arm, but by morning the ink had already begun to fade. I didn't know if I'd call her and I was pretty sure she wouldn't call me. Call it pessimism if you want; I call it waking up. Who the fuck was I kidding? I'd been trying for so long to pass myself off as somehow being a notch above the rest by telling myself I wasn't going to hook up with a girl unless I felt some kind of connection. But was last night really a connection? Or was it simply me being horny and confused and beyond the point of caring? Fuck it, who cares.
                Fortunately, my parents were merciful in dealing with me. They must have known by looking at me that I was suffering enough.
                "I told you," Dad said. "You see now, don't you?"
                I nodded. Yeah, I could see. For once I could actually see Dad with his long hair and his leather jacket, dancing with Mom (decked out in an outrageously bright and tacky shirt) with half-drunk, Mohawk-toting hooligans surrounding them. I could finally match the faces in those pictures with the faces before me because I could understand what made them change. Maybe I was starting to panic. Maybe I thought I would be headed down that path too no matter what happened. Well damnit, I'm not licked yet!

                Cori called me later on, which was a bit of a surprise. I'd have figured her parents would have relegated her to a cave or a bottomless pit or some equally heartless space. She sounded like she felt much like I did and the conversation was cryptic and clipped.
                "Seth," she said. "Don't get mad at me, OK? But I quit."
                "What do you mean you quit?"
                "I quit. At least for now. At least…. look, I'll see you Monday."
                And that was the end of it. Strange, I thought. Strange.

                I made it a priority not to end winter break on a down note. With a sizeable wad of Hanukah money burning a hole in my pocket, I called up Robbo and told him if he didn't get his ass over here, I was stealing his car.
                "Be my fucking guest, numbnuts," he replied. "Then maybe I'll bug you for a ride for a change."
                Touché.
                So Robbo came over and we ended up going to the video store. He was limping, as I'd predicted, and the video store staff gave us strange looks (which is to say stranger than the already strange looks they usually gave us…we punks are an attention-getting lot). We perused the shelves in search of something a little more refreshing than our usual fare (which was comprised namely of '80s action movies). I saw Robbo reaching for "Tango and Cash" and I put my foot down.
                "Dude," I said. "What is it with you and Stallone?"
                "Aww, Seth, you know Sly's the man!"
                "Maybe, but that doesn't mean we need to watch him fifty fucking times."
                While we were having this argument, some kid walked by and called us queers. He had red hair and couldn't have been more than 13. We'd never seen him before in our lives. Something about the way in which he spoke ("you guys are queers") reeked of sanctimonious authoritarianism and lit a fire under my ass. The inner Dan in me said "let's teach this little fucker a lesson" and I could see Robbo was thinking approximately the same thing. Instead of grabbing the kid and giving him a beat down (or waiting outside and laying in ambush), we just laughed. We laughed because of how stupid it would have been to get tossed out of the video store over some kid we neither knew nor cared about. They say that thinking that far ahead is decidedly un-punk, but I've gotta tell you: breaking that cardinal rule felt pretty good.
                In the end, we ended up renting a martial arts film, a George Carlin tape and Black Hawk Down. The total came to under $10 because of a rent two, get one free offer. The offer was only supposed to be good with coupon and we didn't have the coupon. Robbo, however, made a rather ridiculous attempt to flirt with the cashier. Out of pity (or perhaps out of amusement) she decided to give us the discount anyway and we walked out the door laughing at our own stupidity.
                "That was classic," I lauded.
                "Imagine if you'd tried it," he said. "She'd probably charge us double."
                "Yeah."
                "Yeah," he said, sighing.
                "What?" I asked. "Your ankle?"
                "Nah, man. It's….I dunno. I've been thinking about joining the Army lately."
                "The Army?!" I was so surprised that I ended up inadvertently flinging the bag with our movies in it halfway across the parking lot. Even after taking a moment to retrieve them, none of the shock had worn off. "Are you fucking shitting me? That's like the most fascist, conformist, un-punk institution there is?"
                "I know," he insisted. "But…um…. look, dude, I don't want to work in a supermarket the rest of my fucking life."
                "There's options out there, man."
                "For you, maybe."
                "And for you," I insisted, though I was beginning to see his point. When you're poor, clumsy and none too bright, the Army probably doesn't look like a bad deal.
                "I haven't decided anything yet," he told me. "I was just thinking it over. But promise me, Seth. Promise me you won't let me fucking enlist when I'm drunk or depressed or any of that shit."
                "Don't worry," I assured him. "If you try, I'll take a pipe to your head. And then I'll steal your car."

                So we went back to my house and started watching movies. There was no more talk of joining the Army and I didn't burden Robbo with the slice of hell I'd gone through yesterday. It was a lot like the old days, before all the craziness of senior year had come and infected us like a particularly nasty strand of hepatitis. In fact, all that was missing was Cori.
                "I hope she's OK," Robbo said.
                "Think I should call her?" I asked.
                "Nah. I called her after you called me. She said she was tired, so…"
                "Look, after what we've been through with her, I'm not assuming anything. She could grow horns and shoot fire out of her ass and I wouldn't be surprised. And I'd still be her friend."
                "Me too," he said. "I just worry. That's all."
                "You know who else I worry about?"
                "Who?"
                "Finch."
                "Finch? Oh. Yeah. Why Finch? I mean, the little dude's been awesome lately…"
                "He's gonna get eaten alive," I insisted, amazed at how grim I was sounding. "We should have never fucking let him in."
                Before Robbo could consider the possible danger we put him in, my sister took it upon herself to join us.
                "Hello Robert," she said, neglecting to employ his preferred nickname.
                "Hey," he answered.
                "Shouldn't you be back at college?" I asked.
                "Not for another two weeks."
                I was expecting her to give me shit about the party and about Dan, but instead she kept her mouth shut and watched movies with us. When we'd finished our Cokes, she offered to bring us new ones. She was being very nice to us and it kinda creeped me out. I guess maybe she still remembered what her senior year felt like and wanted to abate the suffering. Either that or she flat-out had nothing better to do.
                "You know what," Judy said after the last of our movies had ended. "You guys should come visit me sometime in the spring. It couldn't hurt for you to see what's beyond high school."
                Even though I nodded and said we'd do it, a part of me knew she wasn't telling the truth. It could hurt to find out what lay beyond. It could hurt very fucking much.
                Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

                Morpheus: I am hope.

                -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

                Comment


                  #23
                  A Punk's Tale by WingZ

                  22
                  Sometimes, after a series of minor catastrophes, it takes a great big world-altering kick in the ass to get things going in the right direction again. I thought how I felt after the party was that kick. Man, was I wrong.
                  When school commenced again, Cori was gone. She wasn't really gone gone, but she could have been for all that she had changed. First of all, she was dressed strangely…which was to say that she looked like a normal girl. She had on a denim skirt and a white shirt with pink trim. Her hair was neatly combed. She even wore makeup! It was like looking through a time warp. This was the Cori I knew before freshman year and had come to un-know since then.
                  The change was not only cosmetic. Her attitude was way off too. Just when I thought I'd adjusted to all of her wacky mood changes, her aggressiveness and her retreat into helplessness, she threw something else at me. This was a defensiveness about her that was not keeping with her standard "Idongiveafuck"-atude. She was assertive, but not aggressive, scared but not panicky. She was cold and hot all at once.
                  "Don't say anything!" she said to Robbo and me as we stared at her with our mouths agape in the hallway that morning. "Just don't say anything. Imn'a explain, OK?"
                  I was reeling, but I got the message. Robbo, as usual, wasn't quite as quick on the uptake.
                  "Holy crap!" he exclaimed. "What'd they do to you?"
                  "I said don't say anything!" she snapped, drawing half a dozen eyes towards us. "My parents didn't do anything. This was me. And I'll tell you why, but not with all these fucking people looking at me. Mind your business, you fucks!"
                  This only drew even more attention.
                  "Look," she whispered. "Can you guys cut homeroom?"
                  "Fine by me," Robbo said.
                  I thought about it a moment. I didn't want to end up facing Sweeney again, but there was a good chance my absence wouldn't even be noticed. The day after winter break was notorious for low attendance.
                  "OK," I said. "Sure."
                  So while my classmates went about getting their shit out of their lockers and hurried off to begin the last semester of their high school careers, Cori and Robbo and I looked for a place to talk in private. In a public high school that employs hall monitors, however, looking for privacy is like chasing a unicorn. We eventually ended up settling on a girl's bathroom.
                  "I'm not going in there," Robbo said.
                  "Why?" Cori asked. "Afraid you're gonna see something you've never seen before?"
                  "No…"
                  "Relax, I've got you covered," she said. And with that, she produced a hand-scrawled 'Out of Order' sign and taped it to the door. Between Cori not looking like Cori and the three of us holding a kowtow in the girls' room, we were off to a hell of a start.
                  "So…OK," Cori began. "First of all, I want you to understand that I'm not doing this to spite you guys or disrespect you or piss on punk or anything. Do you understand that? Seth?"
                  She was staring at me like she was expecting me to hit her. Given the way I'd flipped out in the past, I couldn't say I blamed her for thinking the worst.
                  "Go ahead," I said.
                  "That night. That party. Shit, I don't remember any of it."
                  "Oh, we all got a little fucked up," Robbo said, lifting his cuff to expose his swollen ankle.
                  "No, you don't understand," Cori reiterated. "I don't remember ANY of it. I don't remember the dude's name, I don't remember if he wore a condom or not, I don't remember if anyone did anything or not after I passed out. I remember you singing, Seth, and I was laughing a lot and that was about it. And when I woke up the next morning, I was FREAKING."
                  "Whoa….calm down," I insisted.
                  "Don't tell me to calm down," she said. "Just…don't. I mean, yeah, there's the pill, but that doesn't always work. And…do you guys remember Selby's cousin?"
                  "No," Robbo said.
                  "The tape," I reminded him. "The girl was all fucked up and her friends shot a sex tape and everyone saw it and she ended up moving."
                  "Oh yeah," he said, biting his lip. "I forgot about that."
                  "I bet she didn't."
                  "Well I don't wanna have to wonder if some fucker's got me on tape," Cori declared.
                  "Cori, don't," I said. "I mean…." And then I couldn't think of a way to reassure her. That fucking party ruined all of us.
                  "Oh God," Robbo exclaimed. "You don't think…."
                  "I dunno," Cori said. "But I do know I'm not putting myself through that again."
                  "What?" I asked. "Dan's parties?"
                  "Dan's parties, parties before and after concerts….in fact, any party where there's a good chance I'll get fucked up and embarrass myself. Or worse. I'm through with it, man. I've had enough."
                  "Cori," I reasoned. "Being punk's more than just parties. And it didn't make you get hurt."
                  "Whoa, timeout! First of all, who said I'm gonna stop being punk? Did I say that? I never said that! I just said I'm just toning it down a bit."
                  "Which would make you a poseur," Robbo commented.
                  "Fuck you," she continued. "Second, I realized something, guys. And that something is that I need rules if only to break them. If there are rules, I can be bad and careless and fun, but I'll still kinda know when to stop because there's that line and I'll know how far away from it I've come. But if there's no rules, I'm just lost out there and I get myself into a lot of trouble."
                  "That makes sense," I said. "But it doesn't explain about the clothes."
                  "Well, I'm trying something new," she said. "Like I said, I'm cutting back. The clothes, the music, the…whatever else we do, for like a week or so. And I'll see what happens. Who knows? I could come out of this more of a badass than ever."
                  "Your purging?" Robbo asked.
                  "Temporarily," she said. "Temp-o-rar-i-ly."
                  "I can't believe you're fucking purging!"
                  "Again…fuck you. Are you looking for that ankle to never heal right? Cuz dude, that can definitely be arranged."
                  "All right, all right," Robbo said. "Chill. I was just testing you."
                  "Test this!" she hissed, extending her foot to kick him and then retracting it at the last second. It's weird: behind those strange clothes and beneath her off-kilter demeanor, the old, familiar Cori seemed to be more alive than ever. I mean, she was practically glowing.

                  Needless to say, Cori's change of attire seemed to generate a substantial amount of buzz. She was popular enough before going punk, her family was still respected and her antics since joining up with us had often taken on a mythical quality. I guess in some half-cocked, woefully deluded way, the braindead conformist sheep of the school thought she was coming back to them.
                  "I hate this," Cori griped at lunch. "Everyone's staring at me. They are being nice to me too. It was kinda cool at first, but it's starting to piss me off. Urg, I dunno how I'm gonna make it through a whole week of not wearing anything black and not telling people to shove it."
                  "Then quit," Robbo said. "End this little experiment."
                  "That's a great attitude for the Army, dude," I chided. "Perfect."
                  "I told ya, I'm just considering it."
                  "Time out," Cori snapped. "What's this about the Army?"
                  While Robbo attempted to explain and defend himself, I looked over at Finch, who had hardly said two words. Looks like I was right to have been worried.
                  "Finch," I called, snapping my fingers. "Hey, Finch!"
                  "Yeah," he muttered. "What?"
                  "Say something, dude."
                  "Something."
                  I shrugged. "Works for me."

                  As if witnessing Cori in a skirt, holding conference in a bathroom (for which I did not get in trouble, by the way), watching Finch morph from ultra-peppy to ultra-down wasn't strange enough, things got progressively weirder as they day went on. As the d.j. said, the hits just kept on rolling.
                  So I'm sitting in my psych class and just kind of minding my own business when Mr. Kindhertz said he wanted to see my after class. I couldn't think of anything I'd done and wondered if he had me confused with someone else. Nonetheless, I wasn't sweating it. I wasn't sweating anything anymore.
                  Kindhertz was one of these flaky older dudes who looks like he never left Berkeley. A tall, semi-bald man with a gracious face and a devilish goatee, he patrolled the front of the class with no discernable pattern, inadvertently whacking students unfortunate enough to sit in the front row with a pointer while trying to illustrate a point of profound importance. He seemed like someone who would be a good teacher…if physiology of the brain and anatomy of the senses wasn't so fucking boring.
                  "You're probably wondering what this is all about," he said.
                  "Yeah, actually…."
                  "I'm recommending you for a summer internship," he said. "If you're interested."
                  I nearly fell out of the chair. Summer internship? What the fuck? I hardly said jack shit in his class unless something was especially interesting. Sure, I'd gotten an A on my progress report, but that was only because his tests were multiple choice. I couldn't figure it out.
                  "You seem surprised."
                  "I am," I told him.
                  "Your paper, Seth," he said. "Your study of conformity. It was very inspiring. You show a real passion for it."
                  Passion? Huh? Wha? I guess in my hurry to get the damn thing done, I must have exercised some actual thought. It was just like the scholarship all over again. Shit. Why me?
                  "The internship is for high school seniors in the area, one student per school," he explained. "You'd be observing at a day care center along with college students and, of course, trained professionals. I'll bring some literature tomorrow."
                  "Um…uh….thanks, Mr. Kindhertz. Really."
                  So there it was. I had college and a summer activity to worry about. The hazy future was starting to crystallize and that freaked me out even more. How the fuck am I supposed to live fast when there's so much stuff to do?
                  Disoriented or not, I considered this good news and longed to share it with my friends and family. Unfortunately, I'd have to take another blow or two before that could come to fruition.

                  When the day finally ended, I didn't even bother going to my locker right away. Instead, I went off in search of Robbo and Cori to break the news to them. They were probably going to want to kick my ass for having such luck and such apathy, but I couldn't help the latter and couldn't change the former.
                  I found the hallway near Cori's locker to be littered with people. They seemed to congregate around her like a flock or a herd or some other kind of animal grouping. For a moment, I found myself getting angry. She dresses normal for one freakin day and she's a queen? My ass! When I drew closer, however, my anger was replaced by pity. J.T. and his cadre were among those closest to her and he seemed to be flirting with the cocky assurance of a prizefighter. She was leaned against the row of lockers and he stood directly in front of her, looming arrogantly.
                  "So, you finally gave up on the punk thing?" he asked.
                  "Says who?" she retorted.
                  "Your dressed different. And I don't see any of your loser friends around."
                  "Don't talk shit about my friends," she warned.
                  "OK. Can I talk about you?"
                  "Depends on what you have to say."
                  "What if I said you looked good?"
                  "What if I said shutup?"
                  "No, I mean it, Cori. You look beautiful. You always did. You've just been covering it up."
                  "Aww," she said, pretending to gush. "That would be so sweet…. if you weren't so full of shit."
                  J.T. grabbed the locker beside her and slammed it shut with anger.
                  "You ungrateful bitch," he snapped. "You should be lucky I'm even talking to you."
                  "Don't do me any more favors, asshole," she shot back.
                  "What'd you say to me…."
                  I sensed things were going to get really ugly and tried to push my way through the crowd. Unfortunately, my path was effectively blocked.
                  "Hey!" I shouted. "Let me through."
                  "Hey Seth," Karen called to me from inside the circle. Making sure I was getting a nice long look, she went about the grandiose gesture of giving me the finger and sticking it in her mouth and sucking on it. I don't know whether she was trying to turn me on or piss me off and I didn't care. I didn't have time for her games.
                  I tried once more to shove my way through the gathering circle and was knocked on my ass for my troubles.
                  "Better watch it, dude," called a voice from above me. I picked myself up from the floor to see R.C.'s grinning face.
                  "Tell your friend to leave my friend alone," I said.
                  "What makes you think J.T.'s my friend?"
                  "Come on, Randy, I saw you and him talking…."
                  Before I could debate the finer points of their contentious relationship, the "ugly" that I was fearing came in a hurry. Cori and J.T. were screaming at each other now, opening the wounds long sealed and reliving quarrels long forgotten.
                  "I didn't dump you because you went punk," J.T. said. "I dumped you because you were a loser. Always have been and still are!"
                  "And you've got amnesia," Cori rebutted. "You didn't dump me. Period!"
                  "Get the fuck out of here. Like you were gonna break up with me?"
                  "Urg, you're so fucking full of yourself."
                  "You pissed it all away, Cori. You did. Not me. And for what? To hang out with Seth and Rob Narone? To drink too much and piss yourself? To fucking embarrass your family? For what? You tell me? For what?"
                  This was bad. This was really bad. I could see Cori's lip curling and her fists clenching. I could see all the improvement she spoke of this morning slipping right out the window. I could see her going ballistic and tearing J.T.'s fucking heart out and going back to square one. It was chaos in the making, sheer ugly chaos. We punks might believe in chaos, but we fear it too.
                  "Wait up…" another voice called. While my brain processed the identity of the speaker, the crowd in front of me seemed to ripple like a pebble-struck pond. The next thing I know, Finch was diving through the crowd like a human torpedo. Cori let out a surprised shriek and stepped out of the way. J.T. had just enough time to turn his head before Finch landed on him, plowing him forcibly into the lockers.
                  "I fucking told him to wait up," Robbo said. He was out of breath, presumably from rushing to the scene and trying to prevent Finch from doing what he just did.
                  "I'm glad he didn't hear you," I told him.
                  J.T. let out an agonized yell and gripped his shoulder in pain.
                  "This has gone on long enough," a suddenly-serious R.C. informed me as he tried to muscle by.
                  "Better watch it, dude," I retorted, blocking his path.
                  Finch pulled himself off of J.T. and looked at Cori, a cockeyed grin about his face. For once, she returned the smile.
                  "Are you OK?" he asked.
                  "Pfft…forget me? Are you?"
                  "Aw, it's nothing…" Finch began.
                  That was as far as he got before J.T. slugged him with a lock. Finch went down hard and Cori shrieked again. This time, it was Robbo's turn to spring into action. He plowed his way through the crowd, using his size and strength to shove aside stubborn onlookers.
                  "You want some too, big boy?" J.T. asked, still holding the lock.
                  "Ah shit!" Robbo said, suddenly wincing.
                  "What?"
                  "My fucking ankle."
                  J.T. looked down just long enough for Robbo to belt him one and strip the lock from his hands. By the time the two of them were going at it, countless more people had arrived. There were punks and jocks and thugs and preppies, emo kids and metalheads and burnouts and WASPs and JAPs and hommies. There were niggaz and wiggaz and freaks and potheads and skanks. There were brothers and sisters and hombres and chicas and nerds and geeks and dorks. They all came to watch the fight. And, at the far ends of this mishmash, I could barely make out the pleas of the teachers and the hall monitors for us to "stop it! Stop it this instant!"
                  So Robbo and J.T. were going at it and people around them were alternately goading them on and trying to pull them away. Finch was on the ground, half-awake and kinda dazed and Cori was in the middle of it. Everyone seemed to be chanting, "fight!" and drawing the circle closer to cut off any escape. It was Hobbesian humanity at its worst. And there I was, on the outside, pushing and screaming and trying to get in.
                  "It's hopeless," R.C. told me. "Just forget it. Just go."
                  "You wanted this," I said, shoving my finger into his chest. "You and J.T. and Karen and all those other assholes wanted to make fun of Cori, make fun of all of us, keep us down all the time and now it blew up in your face!"
                  "No way," he said, shaking his head. "I didn't want this. Nobody wanted this."
                  For once, I actually believed him. This had gotten way out of control. My fellow punks were using it as a prelude to open revolution, picking fights with anyone and everyone. The jocks and the thugs got into it too, hurling racial insults back and forth and shoving one another between outpourings of "bitch" and "motherfucker." All of this happened because of one little spark. All of it happened because Cori wore a denim skirt and combed her hair.
                  Just when I was wondering if it would ever end, a pair of hands roughly shoved me aside. Three or four hall monitors and security personnel entered the fray and broke it up as quickly as it had began. Bystanders were urged to scatter and the perpetrators were whisked away to the office. Those who had been hurt were escorted to see the nurse. Order was regained in roughly 60 seconds flat.
                  As I left, I happened to stumble across a group of Finch's erstwhile friends. They seemed to be talking excitedly amongst themselves and I thought I heard Finch's name creep up a few times.
                  "Hey," I said to them. "What the hell do you guys have to be so sad about anyway?"
                  They didn't answer me and instead walked hurriedly away. This – not the party, but THIS – was the real fall. In a way, it was the last hoorah for all of us.
                  Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

                  Morpheus: I am hope.

                  -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

                  Comment


                    #24
                    A Punk's Tale by WingZ

                    23
                    Bloody Monday hit the high school like Watergate hit Washington. It shook things up and left most of us gasping for air. It all happened so quickly, but the aftermath seemed to linger like a mouth full of Novocain. In fact, it still lingers. I shit you not: I'm still feeling the effects of it as I write this. Things just really weren't the same after that.
                    Let's start with the immediate. Robbo and J.T. and a few of the other combatants were suspended. In Robbo's case, this turned out to be a positive: during his time off from school, he was able to rest and his ankle finally healed. In J.T.'s case, the suspension proved to be considerably less positive. The rest of the student council moved to impeach him. Rumor has it R.C. cast the deciding vote.
                    Finch did not return at all. The last I saw of him, he was being helped to his feet and escorted to the nurse's office. When he didn't return to school the next day, I assumed that he was suspended or recovering from the beating he took or both. When he didn't return in a week, I didn't know what to think. Rumors started to fly. Some say he flipped out and had to be committed, others say he offed himself by triple dosing on Ex. I didn't find out the truth until nearly a month later when one of his former friends approached me.
                    "Trev said for me to give you this," the corduroy-clad cretin informed me. Though I didn't realize it at first, this was the same kid I'd accosted after the fight broke up. He seemed to remember me though and approached me with wary disenchantment.
                    "Trev? Oh yeah. Finch."
                    I abruptly snatched the envelope from his hand and tore it open. Inside was a postcard with two words written on it and an out-of-state postmark. "Sorry, guys," it read. "Sorry guys" and nothing more. Just when we were all starting to like the little bastard, he up and vanished on us. Bummer, dude, bummer.
                    I wish I could say the repercussions ended there, but they didn't. High school carries with it a highly ordered, highly structured system. Monday's events introduced a healthy dose of entropy into that system. The elite removed its veneer of civility and bared its ugly teeth for all to see. The punks and the jocks and the metalheads and all the other groups, which had previously enjoyed a delicate, albeit fragile balance, threw caution to the wind and let their base antagonism fly.
                    So what happened, do you ask? Well, J.T. was still an asshole, but his fan club had a few less members and he walked with a little less swagger in his step. The norms stopped harassing the punks and the punks started harassing each other. Rather than playfully and purposefully annoying one another, everyone kept their distance. People began to look over each other's shoulders more often. They now knew that war was but a spark away and took great care to prevent that spark from igniting.
                    Surprisingly, Cori came out of all of it OK. She was down for about a day or two and perfectly OK from there on in. In fact, she was better than OK. She was as good as she had been on any good day and that was the part I couldn't quite figure out. A number of people blamed her for what happened. She lost a measure of popularity among us punks, and, despite making an effort to branch out a bit more, did not win herself many new admirers. I guess I should have been angry about what happened or angry that she seemed to be doing so well in spite of it, but I couldn't bring myself to hate her. I'd made that mistake once out of ignorance and I would not do it again no matter how much I thought I knew to be true.
                    Oh yeah: Bloody Monday impacted me too. It made me take pause. For awhile, it made me put aside all the shit that was going on in my life and realize there were far bigger problems in the world. The acute awareness that people like Dan felt with regard to hate and prejudice and strife I now felt too. However, instead of becoming an activist, I took a different approach. The day that Kindhertz handed me the application for the summer program, I took it outside and burned it.
                    I burned the application knowing full well the program could be a good opportunity. I burned it without telling my folks about it. I didn't burn it because I was afraid or reluctant to go through with it, I burned it because I didn't deserve it. I just hadn't given a fuck. Why should that pay me any rewards? When Kindhertz asked me about it a few days later, I told him that I would have to turn it down.
                    "I see," he said, stroking his beard and trying hard not to sound disappointed. "Well, I'm sure you have your reasons, Seth."
                    Indeed, I do, man. Indeed I do. And they were reasons that I didn't think he or anyone could understand.

                    This wasn't the end of me as a punk nor was it even my nadir. Instead, it was more like déjà vu. It was like I was a fucking freshman all over again and I didn't know what to do. And this time, it looked as if I would have to go it alone.
                    Well…maybe not. I was kinda moping around my room on Friday, trying not to think too hard and failing miserably when I received an unexpected phone call. Actually, I shouldn't say unexpected. I anticipated an update from Robbo on his ankle or an offer to Cori to hang out. Instead, I was asked a most unusual question?
                    "Pop quiz hotshot: exactly how many girls did you sleep with during the past week?"
                    "Huh? Er….one."
                    "And do you remember her name?"
                    "Alice?"
                    "Yep. I was thinking to myself 'is there some kind of protocol I'm not thinking about or is this guy just being a jerk?"
                    "Look…."
                    "You forgot, didn't you?"
                    "No. Well…um….ah, shit!"
                    "Dude, relax," she said, her voice sounding suddenly chipper and sweet. "I'm kidding. I know you're probably still recovering from Monday."
                    "Monday? How do you know about that?"
                    "News travels fast. Anyway, I heard some kid decked you with a lock!"
                    "That wasn't me. That was some other kid."
                    "Oh. So are you OK?"
                    "Sort of."
                    "Hrrm…me confused now."
                    "YOU'RE confused?"
                    "Yeah. I thought we had a good time and then I hear nothing. Dude, that hurts!"
                    "Well…uh….can I make it up to you?"
                    "I dunno, but you're welcome to try."
                    "Really?"
                    "Yur-hrm."
                    "Why?"
                    "Whatcha mean?"
                    "I mean I dunno what the fuck I'm doing right now," I confessed. "Everything's a mess."
                    "I don't know what I'm doing either. Come, Seth, let's be lost together."
                    I wasn't exactly happy to know that she was in the same position I was, but it did grant me a small measure of solace knowing that I didn't have some lofty expectation to live up to. I figured, what the hell: if you're drowning and you see a raft, you take it. You don't bother to stop and think if it'll be able to carry you to shore.

                    So Alice and I went out on what I guess could be described as a date, although there was nothing vaguely romantic about it. We ate onion rings and expounded upon the stupidity of the world and gradually began to know each other once more. Typically, two people would have several such encounters to these before getting around to necking and nudity. We were working backwards, but working just the same.
                    "Why white?" I asked, still in awe of her hair. When I first saw it, I assumed it was something she did just for the party. It was kind of a shock to learn that's how she kept it normally.
                    "Oh, no reason," she said. "I guess because I think I'm gonna grow old with stress real soon and I might as well be ready for it when it comes."
                    "Heh."
                    "You think I'm nuts, dontcha?"
                    "Nope," I replied. And I wanted to follow it up with some kind of corny line like "I think you're beautiful," but the words didn't come. I came close though, but I couldn't shake the Dan-like voice inside me. "Dude, stop," it commanded me. "What the fuck do you think you're doing? You think you and this girl are gonna live happily ever after? No way, man. No fucking way!"
                    So I left it at nope and wound up staring at her and again trying not to look as if I was.
                    "It's OK to think I'm nuts," she assured me. "And it's OK that you aren't as nuts as me. I won't respect ya any less because of it."
                    "What makes you think I'm not nuts?" I asked.
                    "Well…. let's see: you haven't tried to roll me down a grassy hill yet. Or tied my hair in knots around my head when I fell asleep."
                    "Guys actually did that to you?"
                    "Yep. Friends of mine, too."
                    I was looking for something to combat that with but found myself drawing a blank. Shit. I'm no good at this, I thought. I'm no fucking good.
                    "Yeah…. well…. at least you don't wear diapers," I commented.
                    "Huh?"
                    "A friend of mine," I explained. "She wears diapers. Or at least she did."
                    "Oh. That's…."
                    "Nuts?"
                    "Actually, that makes a lot of sense?"
                    "What?!"
                    "Sometimes, when I'm feeling stressed, I'll kinda curl into a ball and wish I was little. Either little or a cat."
                    "Oh."
                    "So is that why your friend does it? Or did it?"
                    "I dunno. I never really talked to her about it."
                    "Maybe you should. Sometimes, you don't know what people want unless you ask."
                    "Yeah?"
                    "Yeah."
                    "Well, can…I…um…."
                    "Yes?"
                    "Roll you down a grassy hill?"
                    "Hey!"
                    "Just kidding," I said and I kissed her and we started making out and the planets felt aligned again. We were sitting on a park bench freezing our asses off while we did it, but it didn't seem to matter. She felt warm and safe. It dawned on me that if that was what Cori got from her diapers, then I had no business to condemn her for it.
                    "So?" I asked after we could go no further without violating about half a dozen public indecency laws. "Is this like a thing now?"
                    "Like a thing? How wonderfully articulate."
                    "You know what I mean."
                    "Yeah. I do. And yeah, if you want it to be."
                    "Cool."
                    "Only thing is, I'm not gonna be around much this summer."
                    "Really?"
                    "Yup. I gots picked for this internship thingee where I get to watch kids at a day care. Pretty cool, huh?"
                    "Yeah," I said, trying to keep a straight face while having what felt like half a dozen explosions inside. "Cool."
                    "So call?"
                    "Call," I agreed.
                    As I hitched a bus home, the words to The Damned's "New Rose" flowed in and out of my head and I developed an acute craving for a peanut butter sandwich. I also began to feel good about myself (or as good as my Inner Dan would allow) and realized I'd have a fucking hell of a lot of explaining to do to Kindhertz if I wanted to get back into that program.
                    Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

                    Morpheus: I am hope.

                    -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

                    Comment


                      #25
                      A Punk's Tale by WingZ

                      24
                      ….and so I found Alice and got my shit together and lived happily ever after. The end. No, not really, but for the two and a half months that followed Bloody Monday, things were more or less DFQ (that's deadly fucking quiet). Gradually, the social order that had been so ever-briefly wrecked began to reconstruct itself. We punks relinquished our dream of classlessness and perpetual chaos and did so with surprisingly little regret. Without the enmity of the elite to spur us on, we had no one to rebel against but ourselves. Let me tell you firsthand: watching two kids with dyed hair and safety pins on their clothes yell "Fuck you, man! No…. fuck YOU," back for five minutes and forth is a disheartening experience to say the least. When everyone else took to having fun again and excluding us from it, we felt much more at home.
                      Robbo and Cori and I were able to recoup our collective balls. While staying well clear of Dan's gang of hardcore psychos, we went to a few local concerts and posted a shitload of obscene fliers in stuffy, upper-crust neighborhoods. Printed on bright orange and yellow and pink paper, the fliers were the result of our collective boredom/genius and Gersh getting a job at Kinko's. They bore messages such as "Have you seen my pet?" (with a picture of a little girl below the text) and "Elect me sheriff and I'll give you a personal strip search" (this one featured a toothless, wrinkled, jovial old man). The fliers were probably torn down within hours, but, given the reaction people were likely to have had, their posting was well worthwhile.
                      About the only other ripple in my pond during that time was college acceptance. I got in and so did Cori. After all of her protests and pledges to the contrary, Cori ended up agreeing to go to a school of her parents' choosing.
                      "I can't believe you caved," I chided.
                      "Dude," she retorted. "They're paying for it, plus I get a car, plus I get a graduation party, plus they're on my side and will leave me alone between now and then. Besides, once I get there…. well, let's just say if there's no scene on campus, I'm gonna start one."
                      I had to hand it to her. For all of the vacillation and panic she'd endured, she finally seemed to have things figured out and under control. As for me, I was just as clueless as ever. I'd accepted, more or less, the fact that I was going to college, but still had no clue what I was going to do when I got there.
                      My parents didn't help me one bit in this regard. The day I got my acceptance letter (which I briefly considered burning, truth be told), Mom threw her arms around me and Dad shook my hand and we went out for a steak dinner. I tried to seem excited and optimistic for their sake, but I just couldn't fake it.
                      "You'll be embarking on a very important journey in your life, Seth…." he began. I drowned him out soon after that, focusing instead on the wine my parents had permitted me to drink for the occasion. I was no connoisseur, but it tasted very old.

                      Jump now to mid-March. Just as I had waited out Thanksgiving not too long ago, I was burning with impatience that Spring break had not yet arrived. Some of my more fortunate classmates (cough J.T. cough) would be heading down to Florida on their parents' dime while others would be engaging in more local – if no less worthwhile – pursuits. As for me, I was looking forward to taking it easy. I just wanted to sleep and not have to do homework and not have to cram all my socialization into the nights and weekends. I'd also hang out with my friends, of course, and do something with Alice (whom I'd come to regard, strangely enough, as the perfectly-matched latter half of some Vaudeville comedy team…. only with better boobs) as well. Thank God our breaks overlapped. It's bad enough I don't have a car…
                      Anyway, the Friday before the big break commenced, the topic du jour was Cori's pants, of all things.
                      "Your walking like a mummy," Robbo commented as we headed toward the parking lot.
                      Cori, stiff legged in a decidedly un-punkish pair of Mudd jeans, gave him the finger.
                      "Pfft…..these are my sister's. That's the problem."
                      "Then wouldn't they be BIG on you?" Robbo asked, not getting the message. Cori punched him in the arm.
                      "What was that for?"
                      "Cuz I can't lift my leg to kick you. And no, they aren't big cuz Caroline wears everything skin-tight. You know, my parents are gonna totally rip into her with me gone. Almost makes me feel sorry for the little brat."
                      "Almost," I echoed as we neared the Probe.
                      "Dude!" called a voice.
                      "What the hell?!" I exclaimed, spinning around to see Dan coming toward us. Aside from the short hair, he didn't look as if he'd changed a bit.
                      "I don't believe it," Cori whispered. "They actually let him out."
                      "What do you want, Dan?" I asked.
                      The smile he bore refused to fade. "Come on. It's been a long time. Give me some love."
                      We all high-fived him, though I doubt any of us were very enthusiastic about it.
                      "So I did my two months and I'm getting things organized again. The way I see it, the scene around here is way saturated. Too many punks competing with one another and we're probably not gonna be able to make converts out of anyone else. So I figure I'm gonna head for someplace where were we're not real well known and rock their fucking world."
                      "Yeah?" Robbo asked. "Like where?"
                      "I dunno," he said. "Probably some rural burg. Maybe Alaska."
                      "Alaska!" Cori exclaimed. "Pfffffft!"
                      "So are you guys in or what?"
                      "Get real," said Cori.
                      For the first time since their initial encounters, he gazed upon her with coldness and hostility. Maybe it was her jeans or maybe it was his knowledge that he had (however indirectly) corrupted her, but proactive flame in his eyes seemed to extinguish when he looked in his direction.
                      "Um, what would you be doing exactly?" I ventured to ask.
                      "Not me," he corrected. "We. Anyway, I don't know. That's the beauty of it. There's no plan. We just do what we want and when we don't want to do it anymore, we do something else. The whole country – no, fuck that – the whole WORLD is ours for the taking. So why the fuck should we let ourselves get held back by bullshit?"
                      "I'd love to, Dan," I said, half-jokingly. "But I'm pretty much set with going to college now."
                      I thought he'd blow his roof and start crying "sellout", but he was surprisingly supportive in his response.
                      "That's cool," he said. "I mean, hey, any chance you can get to expand your mind you should take. Plus we need people to fight the system from the inside."
                      "Yeah."
                      "So how bout you, Robbo? I know you aren't happy earning chump change at that fucking pit of a supermarket."
                      "Yeah, but…."
                      "Don't answer right away. Take some time to think it over. I know this is some heavy shit I'm laying on you, but I wouldn't bring it if I weren't serious. Peace, little dudesters."
                      After he turned to leave, we all began exchanging confused looks. Dan had always been off the wall, but he was usually somebody we could relate to (or even admire). The way he talked of moving around the country as if it was no big deal made him seem as foreign to us as our own parents (if not more so).
                      "I almost forgot," he said, turning abruptly around. "No matter what, you're my kids and I love you. Not literally and not like that, but ya know what I mean. You're the fucking future. Don't ever forget that."
                      And then, just as randomly as he had come, he was gone.
                      "He's back," I said, my head swimming with uncertainty and excitement. "He's really back."
                      "Yup," said Robbo.
                      "He's an asshole," Cori commented and spat on the ground.

                      Given that we had a long break ahead of ourselves and were in no particular rush to do much of anything, we cruised around for awhile rather than going home right away. For once, I was able to preempt Robbo and get my selection into the CD player before he could put in his.
                      "More Misfits?" he said. "Dude…"
                      "I'm on a binge, aright."
                      "I like it," Cori said. "It makes me feel all Halloweeny. That reminds me: we should stop and get candy."
                      En route to a place to stop and do so, we drove past Finch's house. In the vague recesses of my mind, I envisioned a scenario where he would be outside waiting for us, just as scrawny and shabby and quixotically admirable as ever. Judging by the silence of my compatriots, I don't think I was alone in my vision.
                      At long last, we stopped at the KwikMart. Before we went in, however, a memory of an entirely different kind seized me and I pulled us to a stop.
                      "Wait a sec," I said. "We can't all go in."
                      "Why not?" Cori asked.
                      "Yeah," said Robbo. "Why not?"
                      "The dude who runs this place, Jagdish or something, he doesn't like kids. He thinks they steal from him. If the three of us come walking in together, he's probably gonna chase us out."
                      "What a fuckhead!" Cori protested.
                      "Yeah," I said. "But his place, his rules. So only one of us goes."
                      "Which one?"
                      "Not me," Cori said. "I walk in here all peg-legged and he's gonna think something's up."
                      "I guess I look the most average," I volunteered.
                      "I'll do it," Robbo preempted. "I look too clumsy and pathetic to swipe something. And besides, I need to break a ten."
                      We nodded in agreement and Robbo headed in to buy, in his own words, "basic necessities, a luxury item or two…. and porn if they have it."
                      "Don't forget the candy!" Cori called after him. She then proceeded to pace around uncomfortably. "Ugh, these fucking jeans. I'm about two seconds away from going around pantless. The hell with it!"
                      "I'll bet you wish you had a diaper on," I blurted out. I don't know what prompted me to say it. I guess it was that prior curiosity that I kept ducking and dodging and avoiding like cannon fodder.
                      "Whoa," Cori remarked. "Where'd that come from?"
                      "I dunno," I confessed.
                      "I mean, I'm not angry that you brought it up. I just thought you didn't like talking about it."
                      "I don't," I reaffirmed. "I guess I'm still kinda….curious."
                      "Oh."
                      "Do you even still wear them?"
                      "Wouldn't you like to know?" she asked, sticking her tongue at.
                      "Whatever." I shrugged. Apathy still came plenty easy.
                      "We'll talk more over break," she told me as Robbo reemerged.
                      "Ooh….Milky Way!" Cori exclaimed.
                      Robbo sighed.
                      "No porn?" I asked.
                      "No porn," he said. "And not even a "Thank you, come again."
                      I shook my head. "What's this country coming to?"
                      "It's a shame."
                      "A travesty."
                      "A real disgrace."
                      "Shut up and eat," Cori admonished, thrusting bits of chocolate into our palms. As I chewed it, I began to wonder if, in a few years, I'd still enjoy it the same way I did then.
                      Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

                      Morpheus: I am hope.

                      -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

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                        #26
                        A Punk's Tale by WingZ

                        25
                        SPRIIIIINNGGGG BREAAAAKKK!!!! Just kidding. I wasn't really all that psyched. I still couldn't bring myself to celebrate. Being happy and accepting my place in life – even if it was an increasingly good place – felt like betrayal.
                        "That's a pretty fucked up way of looking at things, dude," Alice said as I'd explained as much to her over the phone.
                        "What? And you're OK with the way things are?"
                        "I'm OK, Seth. It's the things that aren't, and, sometimes they are anyway."
                        "Yeah, but…"
                        "Yes?"
                        "Nothing. Cya Tuesday."
                        And so I kicked back and began to wonder if I was really losing it. Maybe Dan was right and his whole escape thing was a brilliant idea. I could almost guarantee I wouldn't have to worry about getting trapped by life if I was always one step ahead of it. I could see myself going from town to town, working here and there and just picking up and leaving when I got sick of it. Conventional wisdom said that kind of life was no good; that it was a fate reserved for bums and burnouts. But it seemed an awful lot like freedom to me. Besides, I wasn't a loser. I knew, by that point, that I had what it took to succeed in society. Why couldn't I succeed outside society too?
                        As I toyed with this idea of total abandonment, I was sure to keep it a secret. I didn't talk about it with Alice or Robbo or Cori and especially not my parents. I knew they cared about me and I didn't want them guilting me out of any vital decision I might have to make. After I'd made up my mind, I'd clue them in, but until then my judgment was flying solo.

                        "He still might be asleep," I heard Mom say. "Seth!"
                        Groggy, I did a quarter-turn and glanced at the glowing red decimals of my alarm clock. It was half past eleven on a Sunday morning during Spring break. What the fuck could anyone possibly want with me?
                        Before long, I had my answer. Cori casually sauntered into my room without pity and glanced at me impatiently.
                        "Dude," she cautioned. "If you aren't out of bed in five seconds, I'm gonna fucking dropkick your ass."
                        "Huh? What the fuck?"
                        "I've got a surprise for you," she said, smiling radiantly. "A good one."
                        "Well give me a minute," I protested.
                        "Pfft…nah!" she said, yanking the covers off me.
                        "You're losing it," I said, hurriedly climbing into a pair of faded gray carpenter jeans.
                        "Hurry up," she prodded, delivering a swift, albeit playful kick to my ass. I drew back my fist in mock retaliation and she eased up. Whatever the surprise was, she seemed confident that it would be worth waking me up.
                        Due in no small part to her recent academic performance (she'd raised her GPA for the year from a C to an A minus) and good behavior, Cori's parents had given her temporary use of one of the family cars. She would be getting her own as a graduation present, she informed me, trying not very hard to avoid gloating.
                        "I'm thinking a Mercedes," she said.
                        "Mercedes? That's preppy trash."
                        "You're right, Seth. Maybe I should just get an '86 Chevy van with a whole lot of decals."
                        "Now you're talking."
                        "Fuck you."
                        "Where are we going anyway?"
                        "If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise."
                        I nodded, yawned and lay my head across my shoulder. It was too early in the day for surprises.
                        Our voyage took us out of town, onto the highway (briefly, thank God…Cori's driving skills didn't inspire confidence), across an overpass, down a few streets and finally into an apartment complex.
                        "What…" I began, getting out of the car.
                        "Shh!" she reminded me. "It's a surprise."
                        I nodded and allowed her to lead me around by the hand. I was too out of it to give a damn.
                        Cori produced a small metal key and used it to get us into an apartment on the third floor. It had an austere but homey feel to it.
                        "Have a seat," she said, pulling out a hard wood chair and placing it on the center of the floor. I sat and the chair seemed to creak. "Now close your eyes."
                        I did so, half believing that I would fall asleep and Cori's glorious surprise would backfire on her. Yet when she said "open," I opened, surprising myself instead.
                        Cori's 'surprise' turned out to be a half-assed strip tease. Her skirt and top lay in a heap on the floor and she modeled herself before me in a t-shirt and thick diapers with plastic pants.
                        "Well?" she asked. "Whatcha think?"
                        "That's your surprise?" I replied, making no effort to hide my disappointment.
                        "It's PART of it," she corrected.
                        "Look, I kinda already knew you still wore them."
                        "But did you know I wear them here?"
                        "Where's here?"
                        "Matty's place."
                        That actually was a surprise and I readily admitted as much.
                        "She's on vacation right now," Cori explained. "In Peru. She lent me her extra key so I could come here."
                        "That was nice of her."
                        "Yeah. I'm here pretty often, actually."
                        "How often?"
                        "Couple of times a week. When I get sick of being nice to my family and feel like I'm getting ready to fucking explode, mostly. When that happens, I come here and I chill. I help Matty take care of Gabi and she takes care of me."
                        "Takes care of you how?"
                        "You know. Babies me, I guess. Like I wear diapers all the time here. And sometimes, I'll be bad and make a mess and stuff and she'll have to punish me…"
                        "Whoa," I said, rubbing my eyes and disbelief. "Time out. How long has this been going on?"
                        "Awhile. I didn't tell you cuz I didn't think you'd be able to handle it."
                        "Do I look like I'm handling it now?" I asked.
                        "Look at me, Seth." I looked at her. She looked goofy/cute in her diapers, but she was still the same friend I had known. "I'm doing better now, right? Mood-wise I mean."
                        "Yeah," I agreed. "You have."
                        "That's probably because of this. I just needed to be able to vent a little, ya know?"
                        "Venting's one thing, but…"
                        "But what?"
                        "I dunno. I don't want to say you're less punk or you've changed or something like that, but between this and the clothes you've been wearing lately and you getting along with your folks all of the sudden, it sure seems like it.
                        "Seth, Seth, Seth," she admonished. "Don't you remember what you told me when I first wanted to go punk?"
                        "Punk chicks don't have to give good head?"
                        "Not that, you asswipe. I meant about punk being more than the hair or even the music. About it being something inside of you. Who you are and all that."
                        "Yeah. So?"
                        "So…who gives a shit if I wear a skirt every once in awhile and smile around my parents? It doesn't change who I am."
                        "But…."
                        "Look at it this way, Seth. A lot of people, a lot of people we think are norms were probably punk once, right?"
                        "Right," I said, thinking of my father.
                        "And we think just because they work in an office or something they've sold out? Well I don't. I say anyone who can put up with a 9 to 5 job and still be able to rock out afterwards is still punk. Maybe more punk even than the rest of us."
                        It was like a cannon went off in my head. Suddenly, I understood. Cori had, in a matter of speaking, revealed to me her destiny. Beneath her innocuous smile and clever metaphors lay a blueprint for a life worth living.
                        "You sly devil you," I said, humbled and awed.
                        "Yup," she said. "So I'm gonna keep pretending and give the world what it wants. I'll do it until I've gotten into a position where I don't have to anymore. And than I'm gonna do what I want. And I'm NEVER gonna lose sight of that."
                        I wanted to hug her then. I wanted to rip from her whatever inspiration had guided her and put it in me. I could see it now: Cori would work her ass off, retire at 40 and spend the rest of her days doing whatever she wanted. She would do it because she had what it took to get to that point and not surrender herself in the process.
                        "You can stop staring, Seth," she said. "I'm feeling pretty good about myself too, but this could all blow up in my face for all I know."
                        "That's some surprise," I admitted.
                        "Oh, it's not over yet," she assured me.

                        We spent a while playing Battleship on Mathilda's floor. For as good as she professed to be at conning the outside world, Cori couldn't fool me for an instant and I beat her in three straight matches. Between the second and the third, she'd wet herself.
                        "Aren't you going to change?" I asked.
                        "Nope," she said and went back to setting up the board.
                        Not long after the third match, we were interrupted by a knock on the door.
                        "Now what?" I asked.
                        "That's the big surprise," Cori told me, sliding her clothes back on. She opened the door and in walked Finch. He wasn't quite a ghost, but man did he look different! He seemed to have added a little weight to his puny frame and his hair was finally cropped short.
                        "Heya Finchie," Cori greeted, offering him a bland peck on the cheek.
                        "Hi Seth," he said.
                        I think I began to choke. "What the fuck?!" I stammered.
                        He sat down behind me and clapped me on the back. While I soon got my breath back, I was no less stunned.
                        "I got sent to live with my aunt," Finch explained. "I'm only back for a few days. I didn't tell you guys because I didn't want you worrying about me."
                        "But you told her," I said with a hint of bitterness.
                        "Don't look at me, dude," Cori said. "I only found out by accident. I was driving by his house the other day and there he was. Didn't freakin recognize him at first either. I said, 'Hey…it looks like Finch has a cute cousin.'"
                        True to old form, Finch began to blush. I decided to cut through the awkwardness.
                        "As a hetero dude with a girlfriend, I must say," I told him. "You look good."
                        "Thanks," he said. "It's real different over there. People are actually kinda scared of me. I'm a real rebel."
                        "You were a rebel here," I assured him. "Just nobody knew it."
                        "Hey!" Cori exclaimed. "We should get Robbo over here."
                        "He's at work," I said.
                        "Oh. Boo."
                        "Tell him I said 'how's the ankle?'" Finch said.
                        "Will do," I agreed.
                        "What to do in the meantime," Cori mused. "Hmm…let's see…."
                        "Before we do anything," Finch said. "I think a certain little girl needs her didees changed."
                        In all my years of knowing Cori, it had become abundantly clear that she didn't take kindly to remarks about her height. Had I or Robbo or anyone else made a comment like that, we would have fully expected her to fly into a ballistic rage. Not only didn't this happen with Finch, but Cori seemed to take it almost as if it was a compliment.
                        "Maybe," she said, blushing.
                        "Well let's find out," he said, tucking an arm around her.
                        "I think I'll get going," I interrupted. "Finch, good seeing you man. Cori, thanks for dragging my ass out of bed. It was worth it."
                        "No problem."
                        "Why don't you stick around?" Finch offered.
                        "No thanks. I've got stuff to do."
                        What I didn't say was that whatever seemed to be going on between them was too freakin weird for me. I'd come to accept and even understand Cori's odd fixation with diapers, but I kept it at arms' length just the same.

                        I decided to pay Robbo a visit the next day. He was crashed out on his couch watching yet ANOTHER Stallone movie.
                        "Dude," I said, only half-joking. "Get help. You thought my Misfits fixation was bad? This is like a fucking fetish."
                        "Whatever," he said, belching loudly.
                        I apprised him of the events of the day before and he reacted much the way I did: with shock, bewilderment, confusion and awe.
                        "Wow," he said, whistling. "She's got it all figured out, huh?"
                        "Sounds like it."
                        "Yeah."
                        "I wish I did."
                        "What are you talking about?"
                        Since he'd taken a major leap by telling me that he'd considered joining the army, I decided to repay the favor by telling him I'd been considering Dan's offer.
                        "Don't do it," he told me.
                        "Why not?"
                        "You have a lot going for you, that's why. And don't say you don't want it. Cuz you will….once you don't have it anymore."
                        I sighed. He had a point. "Would you do it?" I asked him.
                        "Nah."
                        "Why not? You keep saying you don't have much going for you…."
                        "I know. And I don't. But I'll tell ya, man. I can accept that I'll never be rich. Not unless I win the lottery or something. But it's OK. I don't give a shit. I don't have to be king of the fucking world as long as I have something. If I'm out there though, living like that day-to-day, then I don't have anything 'cept for the hope that things'll get better. And that kind of hope's no good, Seth. It's dangerous. It'll fucking kill you."
                        I meditated on that for a while. Here was my big, clumsy, poor, not-too-bright friend Rob who had no esteemable future and knew it, yet still saw fit to decide against Dan's way. He spoke with wisdom and authority, as if he knew better and as if he was older than his 18 years. He, like Cori, seemed to have a pretty good handle on his future. And then it occurred to me: if my friends could do it, so could I.

                        "You think much about the future?" I asked Alice on our date on Tuesday.
                        "You mean our future? Or THE future?"
                        "THE future."
                        "I guess. But then I get a headache and I stop."
                        "Doesn't it bother you? Not knowing."
                        "A little. But whatcha gonna do?"
                        "Something. Anything. Run away."
                        She chuckled. "You're silly, Seth."
                        "I'm serious."
                        "You're paranoid."
                        "I'm serious."
                        "You're serious?"
                        "Yeah."
                        "Nah. Serious is when you do run away and you realize what you've given up. Believe me, I've seen it happen."
                        "So, what then?" I asked, throwing my hands up in disgust. "What is it? Why the fuck am I freaking out?"
                        "Hrrrmm…let me put my thinking cap on." She patted herself on the head. "OK, done. Me thinks you're just a liiiiitle bit scared of what's to come."
                        "That's bullshit though," I argued. "What if I think that what's to come is mostly good?"
                        "High expectations then. Either that of you have a guilt complex and you think you don't deserve it."
                        "Wow," I said. "You're good. You're gonna make a good psychologist."
                        "I hope so," she joked. "Plan B is professional rollerball."
                        We did our thing and I began to feel better again. This time, however, I would not let that feeling slip away. The next day, when I began to have doubts and worries and concerns and felt like breaking free, I thought of Alice and her white hair and Cori and Robbo and Finch and everything that seemed to matter. And, the day after that when the doubts came again, I did the same thing. Slowly but surely, inch by inch, I began to pull myself back from the abyss until finally, one day, the doubts stopped coming entirely. Fuck it, I said. I'm through worrying. I'm gonna go to college and live a life and it'll be a damn good one and if not, too fucking bad, at least I fucking tried. End of fucking sentence!
                        Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

                        Morpheus: I am hope.

                        -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

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                          #27
                          A Punk's Tale by WingZ

                          Epilogue
                          How did Dostoevsky spin it? I am a sick man, I am a spiteful man…. Well, I'm in pretty good shape and I've kicked the last of my spite, but I'm feeling like a traitor nonetheless. You hear me, I am a traitor to the cause of punk. I am a traitor because I loved and I laughed and I lived and I cared and I did so within the confines of a system (job, school, society, etc.) that I for so long knew to be a fucking prison. And the worst part of it, the blackest of my sins is that after awhile, I stopped caring.
                          I'm feeling better now. I signed up to be a sociology major. My parents weren't too thrilled about the decision, but they were glad I found some footing. I don't think I'll stick with it though. A lot of it's theory and I'm more interested in the real. Something tells me I'm going to end up being a lawyer like my dad. You know what? Maybe that won't be so bad. He's got a lot going for him. Mom, too. They both do.
                          It's tough to say what kicked me from apathy to fear to action. A while ago, when I was having the last of my doubts, Alice turned me on to this online message board thing for the college punk scene. Turns out I'm Joe Q. Steady compared to some of these other sorry assholes out there. Anyway, I got around to chatting with some interesting people, including – get this – an editor for Swerve magazine.
                          I think she was what ultimately got me on track. I ran Dan's suggestion by her and the email I got knocked my socks off.
                          "Dude, are you fucking nuts?!" she wrote. "No way. Let me tell ya, I've been there. I lived in a shitty apartment with my friends and we did whatever the fuck we wanted. It was fun for a while, but then by the time I wanted to get out, I couldn't. I just kept sinking lower and we turned on each other and it got real nasty. I lucked out, of course, but I'll tell ya something else: I feel like I'm playing catch-up. If you don't go to college Seth, I'll track you down and kick your ass myself."
                          Like I said, that was all it took.
                          Of course, I still don't know what's going to happen to me in the long term, but I can at least guess. I guess that Cori will probably end up becoming some kind of uber-professional who ingratiates herself to corporate America five days a week and goes apeshit on weekends. And I guess Robbo will bust his ass from nine to five, but still have his Stallone films and his mix CDs for after hours. No matter what path they take (or I take, for that matter), I know they'll still be punk. For all his misconceptions, Dan was right about one thing: you need to be a part of the system to change it. And I am that change.
                          Punks across the world will still get dissed well into the future and that probably isn't gonna change, but this is one punk who's doing OK for himself. Eat that, posuers!
                          Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

                          Morpheus: I am hope.

                          -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4

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                            #28
                            I know this is a very old one and one hell of a necro, but I just found this story. Holy hell, it was awesome. I loved the unique, strong narrative voice.
                            Grammar: the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit.

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