The Young and the Listless: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Face-to-Face with Destiny

Jackson Sommer didn’t notice the light rain that began to fall.

If he had noticed, he might have said, “these drops are tears,” or “these drops are my tears, and I’m crying my life and covering all of western Massachusetts with a sad, damp blanket,” or “the blanket is a suffocating blanket of rage.”

But Jackson was focused. Through the window, he could see Marty Blanovich. All he could see was Marty Blanovich.

Marty was singing along with the radio.

What an idiot.

Only a layer of glass separated Jackson from Marty, a flimsy pane that would soon be shattered as they came together in confrontation. It is manifest, Jackson thought. Me and Marty “The One Man Party” Blanovich, me and Marty –

“Jackson?”

That. Holy s—, what was that?!

“Jackson, is that you?”

Jackson turned and saw Bebe. She was wearing a yellow rain slicker.

Suddenly, his inner poet took over – she was radiant as the sun. A flower, blooming. A mixed metaphor of bright rubber and rain.

“What are you doing out here?” she said. Strands of wet hair clung to her cheek and forehead. “Eww, there’s so many worms where you’re standing.”

Jackson was so in love with her he thought he might vomit.

“I was just walking,” Jackson said. It seemed like a good answer.

“Why are you looking in Marty’s window?” she said.

“I’m, uh,” Jackson said, “not.”

“You’re soaking wet, Jackson,” Bebe said. “Come inside.” And she grabbed Jackson’s hand, walked over to the window, knocked and told Marty to open the door because they were coming inside to dry off.

This, Jackson thought, is horrible. This is not how it was supposed to go. Not at all.

The plan, such as it was planned, was this: in retaliation for pouring a cup of beer over his head at a party the week before, Jackson would exact his revenge on Marty with a swift kick to the groin, at which point, Bebe would realize that it was him that she loved all along, not Marty, and would throw herself upon him.

Such as it was planned.

“Whoa,” Marty said to Jackson when he opened the door. “You are one wet kitten.”

Kitten? Jackson was confused. He’d never been called a kitten before.

Marty shoved a towel into Jackson’s hand, then turned to Bebe and tongue-kissed her. Deeply. So deeply. Jackson thought she might vomit.

She pushed Marty away.

“You’re wet too,” Marty said.

Saucy Sam walked into the room. “Hey,” he said, holding his hand out to Jackson for a high-five, “wet kittens in the house.”

Jackson continued toweling. There was awkward silence.

“You guys coming out to the party tonight?” Saucy Sam said.

“Yeah,” Bebe said.

“How ’bout you?” Marty said to Jackson.

This was unexpected. Nothing was going to plan. Jackson looked down, cracked his knuckles and gazed outside.

“Come on, my man. It’ll be fun.”

“Alright, if it’s with you kittens!” Jackson said.

“Whoa, dude,” Saucy Sam said. He and Marty snickered.

Jackson looked to Bebe, who was staring blankly at the TV: a “Charles in Charge” rerun. Somehow to be Charles, to be the object of her gaze at that moment, consumed Jackson’s thoughts.

He was shaken back to consciousness by Marty’s meaty palm clasping his shoulder, tenderly. Jackson turned.

“Let’s get a move on,” he said. “We can’t be watching the TV all Saturday night.”

“Yeah,” Saucy said between frothy gulps of Milwaukee’s Best Light. “The kegs are probably already kicked.”

As quickly as he had come, Jackson now found himself outside. But he was not the conquering hero he had pictured in his mind scant hours ago. Instead, he was trailing Saucy Sam, whose pants hung low under the weight of three beer cans cleverly concealed, and following Marty Blanowich to a row house party.