This is the second episode of a short story. The first was “Different Goals.” I hope you get a few laughs because that’s mainly the intention of this story.
When Charles Dough and Christian Beliveau made their way back to their dormitory, named for Jonny McCutcheon’s uncle, it could have passed for summer school. It was homecoming! Everyone was out on the mall, mingling in the tents, and fortifying their Cokes from their bottles — pints and half pints, a few flasks — nestled in every pocket of every blazer.
McCutcheon Hall was quiet, inhabited by the unfortunate lads who had overindulged the night before and were trying to sleep off the agony, and perhaps several more stray stoners like Charles and Christian.
“Hell,” Charles said after a bong hit. “This is the way to do homecoming, man. Somebody’s liable to get arrested out there on the mall.”
“All that liquor flowing and shit,” Christian said. He was silent for a while, enjoying the rush. “What? Bag the game?”
“No, man, this is college, we got to go to the game. It wouldn’t be patriotic, and, besides, the women, Chris, the women.”
“Well, like, shouldn’t we be … getting ready?”
“You go ahead. I’m playing against type, man.”
“Man, I need a cup of coffee,” Charles said.
“What about playing against type?”
“Oh, yeah. I’m sorry, man. I’m fucked up. Can I bum a cigarette?”
Charles got up and placed the electric fan in the open window, air directed out, and turned it on low. Christian thought it funny that he wasn’t worried about the smell of weed – the use of a bong minimized the smoke – but wanted to make sure no one could smell tobacco.
“Here,” Christian said. “Keep the pack. I got a whole carton.”
“Man, what are you buying a whole carton of cigarettes for? Fuck …”
“I had a coupon, all right?” Christian said. “What about the playing against type?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. My train of thought hasn’t returned yet.”
“Shit, Chris, hit the bong again, man. I can’t stand you when you’re in your right mind.”
They stared at each other.
“I’m going to the game just like I am now,” Charles said finally. “I’m just gonna wash the dirt off my legs and arms. You know, ‘rench’ off a little. I might, you know, slap on a little after shave, even if I’m not gonna shave, but I’m just go over to the game, looking stoned and natural, and, you watch, I’m gonna pick me up a gal looking for a walk on the wild side. I’m gon’ be a fuckin’ caveman.”
“You look like a caveman,” Christian said.
“Yeah, I’ve got some noble Cro Magnon features.”
“Shit. You could pick up a good-looking sow in a trough full of slop.”
“You’re fucking literary, man,” Charles said.
“Well, as you know, I am not as adept with the women as you, and just about every time I get laid, the fact that I’ve got some weed on me has something to do with it.
“I’ve got a surprise. Are you concerned that, amid the hustle and bustle of a breathtakingly exciting football Saturday, the buzz of the morning might wear off?”
“Horrified, I am,” said Charles.
“Well, not today, because, when you were off at the convenient store last night, buying Bic lighters and rolling papers …”
“Hey, I’ll have you know I also bought an Icee …”
“Suzie came by.”
“Yes, Suzie. The love of my life. She brought us some special brownies, and, let me tell you, Christian, they are the tastiest. I didn’t tell you because I just sampled one, and I didn’t want you to get into them, because, well, I knew we had a soccer match this morning.”
“So, you’re saying, Suzie oiled them up pretty good.”
“That was my impression, though, it’s true, that we were hitting the bong, so, you know, it’s kind of tough to tell how much the buzz of one affected the buzz of another.”
“Why, let’s have one,” Charles said.
“I think splitting one will suffice.” He removed a small tin, just exactly the type of festive, decorated tins that often contain cookies, brownies, and the like, from his desk drawer.
Christian broke a brownie in half. They munched.
“If we get on over there, it won’t hit till we get in the stadium,” he said.
“One more rip,” Charles said, “and off we go.”
The marching band was heading on into Doug Tussle Stadium, having regaled the alums with the the fight song, “Hot Damn, Calliham,” and the victory song, “Hail, Dear Old Calliham,” and the alma mater, “Mother of All That Is Wise.” Naturally, Jonny McCutcheon ’81 and Marissa Briles McCutcheon ’84, had tastefully sung along and joined the cheerleaders with a series of spirited “High-land-ERS!”
Then they all retired to the blue-and-silver pop-up tent for quiche, sausage-and-cheese biscuits, pigs in blankets with honey-mustard sauce, and a nice red wine. The boys settled for Diet Cokes, though they had held back a bit while their parents had wandered over to watch the band and enjoyed a quick goblet of wine. Counting to three and knocking back the whole glass might not be the optimum way to enjoy their father’s selection, but, as Tripp was fond of saying, it worked.
“Where’s your date?” Jonny asked Tripp.
“Vera should be here any time now,” he said. “I gave her the stadium diagram. She’s got no parking spot, so she’s walking across campus right now. I just got a text.”
“Oh, Tripp, we could have picked her up. What is it? Vera … Trask?”
“Yes, sir. She’ll be along.” Tripp hadn’t wanted to pick up Vera. Tripp planned on going with her after the game.
“How about you, Trent?”
“I’m fine, Dad. I’m just picking up Tripp’s sloppy seconds.”
Jonny and Marissa looked at each other, and when their eyes met, each started laughing.
“Whew,” Trent said loudly enough for his brother to hear.
“That’s funny, son,” Jonny said. “I must admit.”
“You remember, the other night,” Charles said, “when TCM had that movie on, Little Big Man?
“Yeah, yeah, Dustin Hoffman. Faye Dunaway. Bad-ass movie.”
“And you remember the old Indian chief?”
“He was from the Human Beings, and when the cavalry rushed in and massacred his village, he decided he was invisible, and he walked right through the smoke and blood, and no one even noticed him. It was so cool.”
“That’s what we’re gonna do, man,” Charles said. “We’re gonna be invisible at the game.”
“I think they might be able to smell us,” Christian said, and by common agreement, they each stood and headed off to Doug Tussle Stadium for the gala Homecoming game.
“Remember,” Charles said as they walked toward the Physical Education Building, with the light poles of the stadium rising above the trees beyond, “don’t respond to anyone. Just walk along. Like a ghost. A ghost that knows what the hell he’s doing.”
The battleground Charles and Christian walked across was an unlikely one. Little competition took place. None of that crude game called “Cornhole,” so enjoyed by the Great Unwashed. When the boys had been younger, Jonny had enjoyed tossing the old football around, but now he was content to let them go their way. They were good boys. He was molding them into good men. Soon they’d be out of the house, and perhaps then would be the time for Jonny and Marissa to mend their differences. An unseemly little tiff between them had taken place while the band was playing. It was just a tart exchange, but it was enough to ruin Jonny’s mood.
“I am tired of hearing you make untoward suggestions regarding me and Belinda Malpass,” Jonny said, leaning over to her ear and keeping his voice down, which wasn’t particularly hard amid the din of brass instruments. “She’s a wonderful woman. She’s been with me for seven years, Marissa, and I don’t know what I’d do without her, but that’s at the office. That’s my career. That’s it. Belinda is happily married, and the last thing she’d ever do is be unfaithful. I really think this is quite neurotic of you.”
“The daughter favors you, Jonny.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous. We’ll discuss this later.”
“No, we won’t,” Marissa replied. “You’ve been saying that for five of the seven years.”
“For God’s sake, Marissa. Let’s enjoy the goddamned game.”
It just so happened that Charles Dough and Christian Beliveau just happened to decide to make their invisible advance across the fanciful battleground of competing sport-utility vehicles and pregame spreads at precisely the moment Jonathan McCutcheon of the insurance McCutcheons was irritated, and it followed, grumpy. He was not of a mind to withstand further intrusions on his domain. When two apparent derelicts padded their way across the very land that his great-great-great grandfather had laid aside for higher education, and, more to the point, the smaller plot that Jonny had been allotted him for his generous gifts to the college, he felt compelled to intervene.
“Excuse me, young man.” Charles Dough walked by not ten feet from Jonny but didn’t respond. Nor did his apparent collaborator so much as turn his head.
Jonny strode up from behind and tapped Charles on the shoulder. “Excuse me, I said.”
The miscreant kept on walking. Jonny had to walk faster. This time he pulled at the muscular lad’s right shoulder. “I’d like a few words with you, young man,” Jonny said, loudly enough to draw concerned looks from others among the monied elite.
Charles whirled around. “Whoa. Fuck. What’s your problem?” he asked.
“My problem, sir, is that you and your friends have no business intruding upon our gathering,” Jonny said.
“Chill, man. Like, we’re going to the fucking game. We’re just taking a little shortcut. It’s not like we trashed your lawn, man.”
“Are you two students here?”
“Well, yeah.” Charles extended his right hand. “I’m Charles Dough. This is Christian Beliveau. We’re juniors. We’re in a band.”
“Oh, that’s ridiculous. The band was just by here.”
“Not the band. A band. We play guitars. We have groupies. We take drugs.”
“I’ll get security.”
“I’m kidding, man. Look, I’m sorry,” Charles said. “I’m sorry for disturbing your peace. Let me and Chris make it up to you.”
“Just get away from here. It’s not necessary.”
“We’re going, man, but I want to show you that I’m sorry. It’s just a small token of my respect,” he turned to Christian. “Those brownies your mom made? Do you mind if we let Mr. …”
Christian’s eyes got wide, which was unusual for them.
“McCutcheon. Jonathan McCutcheon.” Jonny liked the sound of his name. He knew it had a certain import.
Charles knew McCutcheon was the name on the facing of the dorm. He raised his hand. “Just a minute. Let me borrow a napkin from the table.
The napkins had fierce, warring Highlanders inked into them.
“Here, Chris, give me one of those delicious brownies.”
“They’re maybe a little more like fudge,” Christian said.
“Delicious,” Charles said, wrapping it in the napkin. “Scrumptious. Really. I’m serious, dude.”
“This is not … necessary,” Jonny said, but they were gone. He looked around, hoping to throw the brownie in a trash can, but none was nearby, and no one was paying attention anymore, so he took a bite.
Hell, fire. Those things were tasty.
Over the river and through the woods, to Mr. McCutcheon’s she went. Marcy Trask wore a uniform each day to Our Redeemer, but this was the weekend. She’d come dressed in her oldest long-sleeve blouse and jeans ripped open across the knees. Since she’d known it was going to be a bit of a hike to meet the McCutcheons, Marcy was wearing the cutest tennis shoes. As she reached the end of the parking lot that was an intramural field except on weekends, she looked across the lane and tried to pick out the McCutcheons.
My God, she thought. I bet, late in the day, the shadows of the stadium fall right across the lot. What a setup.
She picked out Mr. McCutcheon because of the silvery hair. Mrs. McCutcheon, and her Tripp, and his little brat of a brother, were keeping a safe distance because Mr. McCutcheon seemed to be having this argument with the most handsome boy she had ever seen. He stood out because he was shabby, looking as if he just walked off some playing field himself. He had on a navy warmup, shiny, with two white stripes down the sides. The jacket was open, and he had on a tee shirt underneath. He seemed to be trying to appease Mr. McCutcheon, who seemed to be angry about something. Then he walked over to the table under the pop-up tent, picked up something, walked back over to his friend, who wasn’t bad looking, either, and was wearing what appeared to be a soccer uniform, and a backpack, and his friend got something out of the backpack, and the boy wrapped it up in a napkin, handed it to Mr. McCutcheon, and the two boys went on their way.
Marcy impetuously decided that their way was her way. Tripp hadn’t seen her. The McCutcheons all seemed distracted and not particularly happy. She walked down the road to the plaza in front of the stadium, and, there, figured the two boys had headed for the stadium entrance. It seemed unlikely she’d catch them in time, but there they were, just chatting outside the gate.
Christian went to look for Suzie. Charles said he just wanted to “hang” a while and get his shit together. Charles said he’d meet them at the back of the student section, where there were always seats. When Chris went inside, Charles realized the tin of brownies was still stuffed in his left pocket, where they made a considerable impression in his soccer shorts, underneath the sweats. The pocket was barely large enough to accommodate the red, gold-leafed tin. Oh, well, it would have been easier for the brownies to go in via Chris’s backpack, but it wasn’t a problem. He’d just tell security that his mother had just given him the homemade brownies before she and Dear Old Dad went up to the suite where they were meeting with their old golfing buddy, Dean Harper.
You want one? They’re delish. He smiled. Nah. They didn’t have any more they could stand to waste, what with a college football game taking three hours and all.
Charles was just about to make his move into the stadium when he heard another voice behind him say, “Excuse me?” and, once again, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, and there stood a lovely girl who almost surely wasn’t, by age and familiarity, a student at Calliham. He wouldn’t have missed her shapely ass twitching around campus.
“I don’t supposed you’ve got a cigarette,” the girl said.
“Sure,” Charles said. “I got a pack on me.”
They walked by general agreement over to the brick wall of the suite tower.
“Hi,” she said. “I’m Marcy.”
“Charles,” he said and gave her a light. “I’m guessing, since I’ve never seen you, to my knowledge, you’re not a student.”
“No,” she said. “I’m a senior at Our Redeemer. It’s a private school.”
Really? Our Redeemer. Who’d have known?
“How old are you?” Charles asked, just to keep a dumb conversation going. He tried not to be condescending.
“I’ll be eighteen next birthday,” Marcy said. “In the spring. April. My boyfriend’s father is a big alumni.”
Charles made a mental note not to know she wasn’t eighteen. Forgetting was easy with weed.
She pointed at the parking lot. “See that man with the silvery hair? That’s Jonathan McCutcheon. I’m dating his son, Tripp.”
“He’s a good guy. He’s not like his dad.”
“I hope not,” Charles said. “His daddy’s a dick. I just had a bit of a disagreement with him.”
“I was on the way over,” Marcy said. “I saw it. From a distance, I mean. That’s when I decided I wanted to find you and see what was the matter.”
“You’re sweet. I’m good. I got my vengeance on … what’s his name again?”
“Figures,” Charles said. “Can you keep a secret, Marcy?”
“I’m the best,” she said, trying vainly to blow smoke rings in the mild breeze.
“I gave, uh, Mr. McCutcheon, a little parting present.”
“Really. I was wondering about that.”
Charles reached inside his shorts and pulled out the tin of brownies.
“These here,” he said, “they’re real good. They’re the best. I gave Mr. McCutcheon one. Guess what?”
“They’re laced with weed.”
“Can I have one?”
“Fuck. I’m gonna end up giving away every one of them.” He handed her one.
“My advice to you, Marcy, is not to eat the whole thing at once. It’s … stout.”
“I’ll share with Tripp,” she said.
“How sweet. Keep a watch on the old man.”
“What are you doing after the game?”
“I’m probably doing what I’m doing now,” Charles said. “Getting fucked up.”
“Can we meet after the game? I mean, me and Tripp.
“Tripp’ll trip.” She laughed as if no one had ever thought it.
“Uh, possibly,” Charles said. “Maybe my friend Christian and I will meet you right back here when the game’s over. I’m sure we’ll be going somewhere, you know, to party.”
“Okay,” Marcy said. “Cool.”
“Wow,” Charles said to himself, watching the girl walk up the hill into the rich folks’ party lot. She was the day’s first prospect. He didn’t particularly care to hobnob with the rich asshole’s bratty kid, but it was something of a challenge. Charles had already fucked over his dad. Maybe he could leave the boy passed out on the lawn at the mansion he was certain to live in. Maybe, by then, Marcy wouldn’t care so much for the money she was surely dating as much as the boy. Or, maybe, it wouldn’t be so dramatic. Maybe Charles would find someone better, some beautiful co-ed with an offensive lineman for a boyfriend that he might just pick up before Big Rollo was out of the showers and ready to party.
Even so, he could still have fun with Marcy, the mischievous little Our Redeemer senior with her rich Tripp, the two of them wanting to take a little walk on the wild side. Homecoming was starting to seem promising. Charles could see madcap antics ahead. And hijinks. Lots of hijinks.
As usual, what I intended to be a nice, reasonable short story is growing as my imagination gallops off ahead of the allotted time to get it all down. I hope this gives you some amusement. I also hope you will consider my novels and the other books available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1