It’s that Indie Author Answers show.
And here is our tip of the week: We discuss an episode of the TV show American Odyssey and how the writers chose to call a USB stick “jump drive” over and over again. Make no sense? Listen to the show for an explanation.
The party tonight had been Alex’s idea, yet Brian thoroughly enjoyed himself, for the first time since classes started. The idea presented itself, and his half-drunk, half-slowed brain told him that conquering the construction site was his destiny. When he mentioned it to the group, he got a satisfactory response, so that sealed the deal. He told himself it had nothing to do with Wiles’ surprise appearance.
He and ten other people crossed the parking lot and hopped the fence. The construction area centered around a large pit, most likely for the basement level of yet another apartment complex. Contained within were a jumble of toys like gigantic coils of copper wire, sawhorses, bits of giant pipe, and other assorted playthings. Brian climbed up the treads over the wheels of the bulldozer and tried to open the door to the cab, but the locked door would not budge. That ended the adventure, because he had no desire to smash the window. Besides, had no keys and no idea how to hotwire the thing. Fun: over. Graham followed him up over the treads, panting, and they took a seat on the giant machine together.
“You still dating that Irish girl?” Brian said.
“You mean Malinda? Oh… no, no, she’s ancient history. I’ve been dating a TA from one of my classes. She is older, which is nice. Half your age plus seven, so it’s still within the rules.”
“Slow down, I don’t understand.”
“Half your age plus seven. Take half your age and then add seven, and that’s as young as you can date. I’m twenty-two, and she’s twenty-eight. Half twenty-eight is fourteen, add seven is twenty-one. It’s still legal, or, you know, within the rules.”
“I see,” Brian said. “You’re quite the ladies’ man.”
“I do my best. So, Wiles is coming?” asked Graham.
Brian darkened. “I guess so.”
“I didn’t know he was still living in town. Have not seen him in ages. Not that he and I were ever friends, you know, I just mean, well… you know. He and I don’t exactly run in the same circles, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down.”
Brian dug a rock from in between two treads on the bulldozer and flung it into the pit, skipping the stone across the lake of dirt and gravel. It ricocheted off a piece of metal pipe and settled on the ground. “Yeah, I get it.”
“Why the long face? I thought you two were mates.”
“We used to be,” Brian said, now not in the mood for conversation. He supposed he should have realized that moving back to Boulder also meant more visibility to Wiles. Maybe Brian had asked too much, wanting just go to college and earn a degree like a normal person without having Wiles find a way to suck him into the drama that trailed Wiles like streamers on a Just Married car.
Down in the pit, perpetual life-of-the-party Fun Bobby held a traffic cone at his crotch and proceeded to use it to jab in the posterior region whatever nearby girls he could find. Stupidly juvenile, but Graham cackled, and then the laugh infected Brian and it snapped him out of his foul mood. He changed his mind about the gag order.
“Me and Wiles used to be close. We used to run around and get into all kinds of trouble together. But that was a long time ago, back before I knew what he was really like. I don’t really talk to him anymore.”
I just sell weed for him, because any time I try to say no, he finds a way to twist my words and make me feel guilty.
“Well, you won’t hear any complaining from me. That guy always scared the piss out of me. I mean, I bought a bag of pot from him a time or two, but one of my mates said he bought some from him, then he went back to complain that he thought it was half oregano, and Wiles slapped him. He bloody slapped him. It’s like something you’d see in the movies. I’d sooner he find a new group of people to terrorize, myself.”
Brian loved Graham’s little Australian-inflected words like bloody and arse. Aussie was the most exotic accent Brian had ever had the pleasure to study.
A flash of light in his peripheral vision alerted Brian to the apartment as Alex opened their front door to greet Wiles. They fist-bumped, shared a half-hug, and Wiles slipped him something. Alex glanced at it before shoving it down the front of his pants. Brian sat too far away to pinpoint what was exchanged, but he had a reasonable idea that he would not be particularly excited about having it in his house. Seeing this with his own eyes struck a bad chord in him.
“I think Bob is burning one down there,” Graham said, pointing to Fun Bobby as he passed a joint. “I don’t think we should make them smoke that all by themselves. Maybe we should get down there and warm up?”
With that, Graham scooted off the edge of the bulldozer and landed in the pit, still on his feet. He dashed through the wasteland of construction materials to Fun Bobby.
Brian craned his neck towards Wiles, below the bulldozer. Wiles climbed up the tire tread and sat next to Brian.
“Look at you with that short hair,” Wiles said. “Like a whole different person.”
“Hi Derek. Been a while.”
“Yes it has, son. All those drop-offs, I was beginning to feel like I’d never see you in person again.”
“It worked though, didn’t it?”
“Yeah, yeah it did. I was just coming by to holler at your boy, but I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been thinking about things since the last few months. I’d like to make you an offer.”
“What’s that?” Brian said.
“Sell yellow for me, instead of green.”
Brian took no time to consider. “I’m not interested.”
Wiles shrugged. “Whatever. I guess Britton is doing fine with that on his own. I mean, you could help him, but you don’t have to. Your boy is kinda careless, though,” and then Wiles made eye contact when he said, “he’s going to get himself busted one day. Let’s all just hope that doesn’t happen.”
Brian knew a threat when he heard one. No matter what you do, Brian, I’ve got you by the balls, and your friends too. Don’t ever forget that.
“Do you remember when we used to take road trips, and we’d play that game where we’d try to convince somebody that their tire was flat, to see if we could get them to pull over on the highway?” Wiles said.
“Yeah. That was a little bit mean.”
“Funny, though.” Wiles slid off the tire tread and to the ground. “You still playing guitar?” he said as he mimed the air-guitar motion with his hands.
“Some,” Brian said.
“Too bad that studio musician gig didn’t work out for you,” Wiles said. “I’ve got some new stuff to drop off for you, so I’ll swing by tomorrow. And if you change your mind about the yellow, you know where to find me.”
Brian waited until Wiles was out of sight, and then returned to his apartment. He went to his room and retrieved the lunch box from under his bed, and opened it to count the money inside. Soon enough. But what happens to Alex?