It was Monday; I was walking home from school. I didn’t ride the bus anymore because of recent incidences, even if it was a forty five minute walk home. I passed a group of Germans arguing over the pay phone. From what I could make out they all bought a phone card together, and the one with the thickest accent and biggest nose wasted all the minutes calling his girl friend in Munich.
“Excuse me gentlemen are you all finished with the phone?” I heard the phrase “Fick dich” thrown around a lot combined with the name Blanche. I assumed was the girl friend was named Blanche and that “Frick dich” means fuck something. Then the first gentleman named Lukas head butted the second gentleman Jonas. Blood poured from pour Jonas’ nose like an eighties slasher film, this was my chance to sneak up and grab the phone. They rolled to the streets and started to brawl. As fists were thrown the third gentleman, of whom I did not know his name stood in a panic. I dialed Anne’s number.
The phone rang twice, in this time Lukas also got a bloody nose. Anne picked up the phone out of breath and ecstatic. “Oh my God! I can’t believe you called! Breathe. Breathe. Pant. Pant. Sorry I’m so winded I ran to catch the phone I knew it be you. Pant. Pant. Hey what’s all that noise in the back ground?” Jonas’ was head to toe covered in blood wielding a trash can above his head screaming “Du Hurensohn!!!” The third friend trying to hold him back. “Sam are you okay? Is your mom watching a movie? Pant. Breathe. Where are you?” Anne was now frightened and I was more intrigued with the fight then making up with Anne. I suppose I should have called the police or something, but it looked like they were ending soon. “I’m at a pay phone on Center Street, there’s some people talking around me.” Lucas was now unconscious and Jonas was chasing the other friend with the lid of the trash can. He chased him around me and the pay phone. “Oh my gosh Sam. I wanted to say I’m sorry for what happened the other week.” She really did sound sorry and I was almost sorry for her too. I’m sure she didn’t have many people to talk to lately either. “It’s okay Anne just don’t go around telling people I’m your boyfriend. Okay?” I was then interrupted by a tap on the shoulder; it was German friend three trying to tell me to call the police in sign language. I didn’t get it till he screamed “HELP!” “Listen Anne I need to go, someone needs to use the phone.” The unknown German stood behind me dressed in desperation needing to use the phone. Lucas was laying there like road kill and Jonas was gone. “Will you come over tonight?” I asked, excepting the fact that I invited her into my home. I turned and there was Jonas. He had returned with a bat. “See you at seven. Okay?” I yelled into the phone and hung up. German three was in a panic so I dialed 911 handed him the phone and ran. When I reached the corner I heard sirens.
As my Casio wrist watch read 6:58, Anne appeared on my doorstep. I lit candles in the living room because I didn’t want the neighbors to question the power outage. “Keeping up with the Joneses” so to speak. I found my shitty raised ranch looked rather Victorian in this warm atmospheric flicker. Annie entered and said “How romantic.” I rolled my eyes and her face dropped, physically retracting her prior statement. “Listen Sam, I’m sorry. You must be humiliated.” Anne’s tiny eyes melted into her doughy head. I was humiliated, but this was a natural feeling. I’ve come to know, trust, and hang out with my anxiety, like a deformed younger brother. She continued “I never wanted to put you in that position. All those people laughing at you.” She said this in such a selfless way, as if she was exempt from the attack. “Hey Anne, I don’t care. We can be friends, but I am not your boyfriend.” She paused and shuffled her hands which were behind her back. She was hiding something. “I have a surprise for you.” A glow illuminate her baby skin. She revealed a battery powered boom box. I think Anne was trying to cheer me up because of the whole electricity thing.
A mixtape was inserted and Anne pressed play. Click. It was music, music I did not like. Anne said it was the music of today. Anne talked about music the way an elderly person might speak about music. It was almost foreign to her. She played me R&B, dance, boy bands, and cheesy hip hop. I didn’t understand how any of these people related to poor Anne. Boys 2 Men, Backstreet Boys, Will Smith, I was so confused, why was this happening. She was so eager to introduce me to this trash; I couldn’t show her my contempt.
Then she danced. She danced the only way a white fat girl from suburban Connecticut could. I watched, perhaps mouth dropped. It was quite an amazing sight. Oscillating pockets of sludge swayed and swirled in front of me, taking my living room furnishings in orbit. Her white and bright pink Reeboks floated across my floor. It looked like some sort of variation of the “Tootsie Roll” dance. I could closest relate it to the dancing my drunk Aunt Jenna preformed at her daughters wedding when I was ten, a lot of sloppy gyrating and dangerous swinging arms. If I remember correctly Uncle Timmy had his new VHS camcorder at that event capturing a pinnacle moment of embarrassment for me, when Aunt Jenna grabbed me to dance. If we were the type of family to have gathering this would be a Turner family classic played at every get together.
I was in fear of my life. One that Anne would knock over a candelabra and burn the house down. And two that someone would see us, but at that point what would it matter. How much farther could I fall down the social ladder? I was pretty sure I was at the bottom of the pit.
Anne grabbed my hands to dance along. She had a mighty force. I was thrown and tossed around. My body was a wooden plank, I fell this way and that. “Come on Sam! Get into it; it’ll make you feel better.” Annie yelled as we twirled in dizzying circles, causing the candle light to create shapes and patterns on our backdrop. Her chubby face liquefied in space. Spinning around, my focus moved from the surrounding fire lights to her giant grin. How could she be so happy? I felt my face move, twitch; a strange calm fell over the tense muscles in my body. My legs began to quiver and tick to a beat. We sashayed pass the dusty broken hallway mirror. Threw the dirt and grim that created a permafrost over its shiny surface I noticed something, I was grinning.
I awoke cuddling with her on the couch. I suffered from a joy hangover that morning. I was crashing back to reality, thoughts of school, Mom, and a gigantic photograph of Christine became sunburned on my brain. Anne was still in slumber, like Grendel in her cave, what happened here? I was tempted to kick her out, send her home, and lock my self in the bathroom furiously washing her scent from my body with lye soap. Instead I gently laid Charlotte's smoke stained white wool blanket over the sleeping piglet. I watched her. Her heavy breathing lulled me back to sleep in the side chair. Then Anne jumped from her coma. “Sam! Oh my gosh what time is it?”
That second her father Leroy burst threw the door. Actually he knocked and politely opened the door. He was enraged; I could almost make out the cartoon smoke spraying from his ears. “Sam how dare you? I thought you were a gentleman?” He screamed and then Anne yelled, cried, and screamed. Before I knew it Leroy was in the car waiting for Anne to say her goodbyes. I don’t know why he took the car; he couldn't have lived more than two blocks over. Anne moved in for an embrace and I stood in shock. “Are you going to be in trouble Anne?” I asked. “No, he’d be excited if a boy touched me, he just needs some time to calm down. Listen Sam, I never got to ask you last night... I guess we were having too much fun....” there was a long pause. Dear God, what was she going to ask me? I started mentally digging my grave. “Listen I know eighth grade is almost over... and soon we’ll be going to high school and....” I couldn't handle the pauses. I grabbed her and shook a little. “What is it Anne!” I prayed for relief. “Do you want to go with me to the dance?” she squeaked. I must have given a look of disgust, and it wasn’t the thought of going with Anne. It was the thought of going at all. She quickly blurted “Think about it, we’ll just go as friends.” and she pranced out the door. I heard “God Dad you’re such an embarrassment!” Trail in the distance. As Anne and Leroy jumped in their huge car to travel the two blocks up the road.
That day I sat in my pajamas all day trembling, scared. I heard the door jiggle a little and looked up to expect Charlotte. Stupid boy it’s just the wind, your mother doesn’t love you. These were the kind of situations where I wanted a real mother. I wanted anything. In some pathetic way I wanted to go to the dance. I had a teenage longing for memories. Good memories.
and bathroom stalls,
always running from her
then Mom came home.
Charlotte arrived on a Tuesday morning. The doors theatrically swung open and I stood in awe. Charlotte ran to me, and her worn withered hands grabbed my cheeks. I didn’t know what she was doing. I stared deep into her dull ashen eyes, I was sure she was going to rip my face clear off. Her eyes were beady and half open, tiny slits concealing white spherical nuggets. At this range I could count every crack and dimple of her crow’s feet. A strange odor hung around her, an aberrant musk, it permeated the room. In one crazed swoop she kissed my cheek. “Sam, my dear, I’m back!” Charlotte never spoke with such affection, and definitely never used the phrase “my dear”. I never had a nickname, other then “Hey you.”
Her soft voice wafted from room to room. Normally it sounded her voice was reminiscent of tin can was caught in a garbage disposal. She trailed telling me how she missed home and what mature boy I was being able to take care of my self while she was gone. “Were you alright with out me?” she asked. “Barely noticed you were gone.” I responded. Her expression twitched slightly and she returned to appraising the house. “Oh yeah, they shut off the electric while you were gone.” I said curious of her reaction. “No bother.” Her reaction was so strangely casual, it was almost haunting. I expected her normal fit of swears and grunts. Something had changed inside Charlotte and I didn't trust it. Her pleasant disposition was unsettling.