I began to feel exhilaratingly in command - of my speech, the inflections of my tone, my facial expressions - all the tricky goblins inside me. Wait - hand me the phone!
"Hi, Kristy?" we heard Chip say inside the dim, silent store. "Hey, what's up? This is Chip." Several seconds preceded, "Chip - from geometry?"
Billy fell to his knees and slapped the floor with laughter. Brock just shook his head sadly, then cracked a knowing smile.
Outside, cars growled in the distance along Bee Cave Road, the main thoroughfare of the neighborhood. Billy, Brock, Chip and I filed out of the video store, repeating "Chip - from geometry?" in mocking tones of wounded pride. A motorcycle engine firecrackered into sound as a stoplight somewhere turned green. Moist, thick wind carried the smell of exhaust. It suddenly seemed logical to break into a sprint, up to the sidewalk and across the street, where I could see Bee Cave winding uphill between white limestone cliffsides into the night.
That way lay the wildflower mysteries of the Hill Country: Gazing into shapeless dark, I imagined the secret life in rundown fishing lodges, the yellow lantern-light cast from a rusting bass boat over the water of the Highland Lakes, the country music tinnily emanating from a dented radio. And I pictured the shallow, splashful Blanco River, bubbling over stones through sleeping peachtree towns.
But in the other direction, in which the cars and motorcycles sped, the road snaked toward the smoky city night: the clack of billiard balls, the bleary groan of blues guitar, the black-jacket swagger and the ripped blue jeans, the roar of voices and the glimpse of gaping dark as the door of the Black Cat opens and shuts, the ghost-white punk girls and the cowgirls' red-booted strut. I wanted to run toward these visions, for though they were composed of nothing but imagination and movies, I knew they possessed a beauty beside which the fleshy pink faces of Kristy Castle and her friends turned dull and sour.
Brock jolted me with a stiffarm in the shoulder, sprinting past. Billy and Chip were running too now, their feet echoing off the sleepy storefronts. Billy burst ahead, leading us back up the hill toward Pinnacle Road and our homes, with a shout: "Last one to the stoplight takes my sister to the Key Club dance!"
Though we ran not toward life but back into the neighborhood that fear spawned on our hometown's western edge, we ran with breathless abandon, celebrating the life that would wait patiently until we came for it. Life waited with a promise of uncounted rose-tinged mornings and uncounted smiles and daggers in the night.
New York, full of life, a cure for loneliness.
The Sacred and the Profane
A Conversation with Douglas Rushkoff
Reinventing the Wheel: A Review of Nothing Sacred
They Gonna Crucify Me: A 'Lapsed Jew' Responds to Nothing Sacred
Plus these other attractions:
Meditation and Sensuality
Anything You Want to Be
Josh Graduates High School
Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here