Aurelia Lorca began writing as a violinist/lyricist in a punk rock cover band called Unfortunate Mustaches with the legendary Roxi Christmas,...read more but was promptly kicked out upon having laser electrolysis. She then worked part time as a secretary for the Evil Dark Overlord of The Zen Baby Federation, but was eventually let go because she just couldn't wield a staple gun that quickly. She now free lances for free for anyone who offers clown magic.
And there I was on Halloween night 1990. The roller skating rink had ended its annual Halloween party, but none of us wanted to go home. It was too early, and we were all underage. The only option was Denny’s right next to the four gas stations of four corners. Not the Fremont Street Denny’s near the fairgrounds, but the Fremont Street Denny’s that intersected into Abrego Street and had a gas station on each corner. We sat in the smoking section, because in the smoking section things were always interesting. The waitresses would bust us if they caught us with cigarettes, but, if we played it cool, we could be cool.
It was a Monday night, and the skating rink was empty. We were the only ones there, and had dressed haphazardly. Happy and Bashful wore hot pink fishnets and black mini-skirts. They told their parents they were 80’s punk rockers, but they were really dressed as ho’s. They thought it was funny and kept calling each other hookers throughout the night. Doc didn’t wear a costume. She said she wasn’t in a celebratory mood but we got her to come out anyway. She wore jeans and a white sweater, and an orange button with a lightning bolt.
“It’s a virgin pin,” she said, looking at Happy and Bashful’s costumes.
“Now that’s a costume right there,” Happy said.
Doc snorted. Doc graduated high school two years ago, and was working at her grandfather’s little grocery store. She always knew things before we did. Her mother had died when she was a girl, and she had a motherly, always patient attitude, but even she was getting sick of Happy’s shit.
Doc didn’t hairspray up her bangs and they hung limply down her forehead. Happy and Bashful reeked of Aqua-Net, and looked like they belonged in a Motley Crue video. They smelled so strongly of hairspray I almost gagged. I cringed whenever they lit a cigarette, and half expected their hair to catch on fire from the fumes.
Dopey had stayed on base with her man. She was about ready to pop, though she was only in her six month. The doctors had told her she was having twins. We all agreed that it was too bad she didn’t come out because she would have made a great pumpkin. Sneezy got a fake id and had ditched us all hanging out in bars with her “cool” friends.
I dressed up as LL Cool J’s Around The Way Girl—fake extensions in my hair, a [fake] Fendi bag, and a bad attitude, bamboo earrings, at least two pair, a lollipop, and, of course, a New Edition Bobby Brown button on my sleeve.
“A white ‘around the way girl?’ Couldn’t you have gotten more creative?” Happy asked when she saw my costume.
“Like you?” I asked. Though I didn’t want to admit it, I liked her pink fishnets- They were hot pink and covered with glitter. “I am a white around the way girl!”
“Whatever,” Happy said. She had been difficult all year. Her hooker schtick was nothing new, and it was getting fucking tiresome.
Grumpy was dressed as Snow White in a $70 satin costume she found on Pacific Street in Santa Cruz. She couldn’t skate because her skirt was too long. She wore a red bow in her hair. She was the perfect Snow White. For $70 she damn well should be. I didn’t know what was worse, Happy and her happy hooker schtick that Bashful had started imitating, or Grumpy and her Snow White schtick that was so prissy, so foo-foo that we all told her that if she didn’t stop whining about the length of her skirt we were going to make her walk home. Thankfully Grumpy’s friend Mark met us at the rink right before it closed. Mark had a way of getting Grumpy to stop with her foo-foo nonsense—namely by embarrassing her until she had no choice to loosen up.
“Grumpyyyyy,” he’d say in a loud voice, “Can I pee in your butt?”
Mark really was a punk rocker, and he shook his head when he saw Happy and Bashful’s costumes. He had been hanging out in front of the After Dark, the only gay bar in town, but it was a Monday night and it was dead. He also decided that it was lame to be alone on the last Halloween of high school. Our freshman year this stupid rich boy from Pebble Beach who confused punk rock with testosterone aggression broke Mark’s jaw at a party because he was gay. Outside the After Dark Mark felt safe socially, even if he did not get in. People were nice, and gave him cigarettes. He never liked the skating rink because of the jar-heads from Fort Ord.
Mark dressed up as one of the Misfits, and sculpted his hair into a devil’s lock.
“It’s one night of the year where I don’t have to worry about getting my ass kicked for looking like this,” Mark said.
“I hear that,” Happy said.
The evening gave me a headache. Everyone was in their own world. Grumpy had her arm laced through Mark’s, Doc was on a different planet, and Happy and Bashful were checking out “fine ass” Danny Thompson who had come in and sat alone at a table next to us. Danny was dressed as the Hulk, except he wasn’t wearing a costume, just a pair of pants, no shirt, and green powdered paint. He was heavily ripped and kind of disgusting.
“Danny is jacked,” I said, “because he’s been on steroids since we were sophomores.”
“I don’t care why he’s jacked, his shape is a perfect V. Look at that shit,” Happy said. She was practically drooling.
Of course Danny knew we were talking about him. Motherfucker was preening, and kept looking over at us. It was utterly ridiculous.
“Yeah, well. If he’s jacked because of steroids, you should care because then his dick will shrink,” Doc said.
Grumpy and Mark laughed. I felt like I was a pink lady in a bad remake of Grease. I wanted to go home, go to sleep. I had a late schedule at school, but I wanted to go to bed early. Grumpy must have been uncomfortable too. She took a creamer and two toothpicks from the condiment dispenser at our table.
“Look,” she said. “The creamer is like a little drum, and the toothpicks are like little drumsticks.”
Grumpy made a rattattatt tat on the top of the creamer, but she was the only one laughing at it. I needed a cigarette, though I didn’t really smoke. I needed to go home. Doc was supposed to give me a ride. Happy had her mother’s car, and was supposed to be home when the rink closed. The last time she stayed out past curfew her mom called the cops. I told myself I wouldn’t drive anywhere with Happy again, but I could tell she was ready to leave. Lately, Doc had been calling her out on her shit. Something was going to happen tonight, I could feel it. If I asked Happy to take me home and make this night over with, maybe that would prevent a blow-up.
I elbowed Happy. “I’m kind of tired. Can you take me home?”
She didn’t turn her head. She was still looking at Danny who was openly winking at Happy.
“I thought you didn’t want to ever ride with me again because my mom’s a fucking bitch.”
“Hey,” she said to Danny, with a little nod of her head.
I looked at Grumpy’s cream dispenser, her “little drum.” It made me cringe whenever I heard Happy call her mom a bitch, even if she was, even if she scared all of us. Lately, whenever we called Happy and asked if we could talk with her, her mother would yell, “No!” and hang up the phone.
Doc stood up, and said loudly.
“You're the fucking bitch. It’s not your mom’s fault that you got drunk with Sneezy’s douchebag uncle and he raped you. It’s not your fault either, it’s his. And that’s who you should be taking your shit out on. Not your mom. She lent you HER car you ass.”
No one was supposed to talk about what Sneezy’s uncle did to Happy. Grumpy called the rape counseling hot-line, but even they said if Happy did not want to report it to the police, there was nothing we could do, but we had to stay silent. It had been a year and a half, and we were all watching Happy unravel. It was ugly. Her mom was crazy scary, and her dad was always working and checked out. She had no one.
Happy stopped looking at Danny. Her face had turned bright red under her freckles, and her eyes were tearing. She sucked back her teeth and called Doc by her real name.
“Fuck you, Jennifer.”
“Fuck me? Fuck you. What the fuck are you going to do. You can’t fight. You’re going to have to find someone to fight me. You wanna fight? Go on . Let’s go. Step outside in the parking lot.”
“Fuck you,” Happy said. I couldn’t believe it, she was really crying. I had never seen Happy cry, not even when she told us about Sneezy’s uncle. She got up from the table and left, Danny and Bashful followed her.
Doc kept her head held up, and was muttering under her breath. She refused to look at Happy when she left.
I could see Happy from the window get into her car with Bashful. Danny said something to her, and then she peeled away in a screech. I should have followed her. Doc was right, but she was way too harsh.
Doc said nothing. Mark and Grumpy were even speechless. My head hurt.
There were no words, except the voice of the waitress saying, “Sir, you can’t do that in here. You can’t do that in here.”
Across the dining room, a man wearing a plaid flannel shirt, no costume, was sitting under his table with his pants down.
“What the fuck? He’s trying to take a crap in the middle of Denny’s,” Mark said. He was not exaggerating. I could smell it,
“We need to go,” I said. “I can’t take it anymore. This is too crazy.”
“I’m not ready to go home,” Doc said.
We went to Del Monte beach instead. The yellow satin skirt of Grumpy’s costume trailed in the sand, and was getting water stained by the waves. She was holding Mark’s hand. She liked Mark, but he liked boys. Grumpy had a boyfriend, who worked at Games and Things in the mall. He told her never to come into his work because she was fat and would embarrass him. Mark always said he wanted to kick his ass.
All of us sat on a log, and watched the lights from the boats on fisherman’s wharf. I worked in a candy shop on the wharf. I was convinced my boss’s sons were selling drugs outside the shop. My dad always said his dad had told him that from one pillar of the wharf you could feed the entire family. Now there was only kelp that had a sick smell and the candy shops, caramel corn, cotton candy. The entire wharf emanated a sense of loss. The sardines had long left the bay. Only the sea lions hung around and barked like restless ghosts, laughing at the free samples of clam chowder. My mom said she was too afraid to eat anything from the bay with all the pesticides from Fort Ord, and the golf courses.
“You don’t get it,” Doc said. “When you graduate from high school, you have to have a plan, something to do, or this town will eat you alive.”
“I’m going to college,” Grumpy said. “My mom would kill me if I didn’t.”
Grumpy’s mom was like that. My mom didn’t make a big deal about anything, as long as I had a job. I didn’t even need to come home early because she was out partying with her friends.
“I’m most worried about you, Sleepy,” Doc said.
“I’ll be fine,” I said. I had dumped my boyfriend when I caught him cheating. I knew what was up. I knew better than to let any man play me.
“I have a job,” I said. The words came out fast. “I’m going to graduate in June, and I know better than to trust any of the trifling men in this town.”
“That’s not what I mean,” Doc said.
The sea lions continued to bark, their echoes sounded like restless ghosts. I just wanted to go home.
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