Chapter 3: Beautiful Bebe.
They walked two by two, through the now heavy rain, Bebe and Jackson trailing behind Marty and Saucy Sam, talking in hushed voices about their pasts, their families, breasts.
Bebe’s mother had been a lactation consultant and Lamaze teacher. Growing up, there’d always been a handful of pregnant women around her small house on the weeknights when her mother ran a local clinic on pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Both interesting topics, Jackson thought.
Marty crunched a beer can with his two bare hands.
“Dude, smash it on your head!” Saucy suggested.
Bebe rolled her eyes. “Where was I?” she said.
“Breasts around the house,” Jackson said.
“Right,” Bebe said.
Years of toy babies and mammary models had sucked the sexuality out of that particular part of the female anatomy for Bebe, and she never ceased to be vexed and amused at other people’s – men’s – interest in them. Jackson wondered: what kind of models?
“Of breasts, Jackson,” Bebe said. “Plastic, diagram models.”
Suddenly, Jackson vividly remembered a moment from his own childhood. A defining moment, he thought. In the literary sense.
He remembered walking with his older brother, Huey, through the streets of a small town. It was dusk and the stores were closing.
As they passed a local department store, a Five-and-Dime complete with an in-store luncheonette, his brother stopped and stared into the window. Behind the glass stood a burly man of sixty-five in overalls and a painter’s hat.
The young Jackson watched the man’s movements and a feeling of both shame and excitement lit up his seven year old cheeks. The man ran his coarse hands over the sample dress – a jazzy pear number – and unbuttoned it. Right there in the window. Exposed to Jackson’s virginal eyes was the shimmering plastic breast of an adequately proportioned, albeit stained, mannequin.
Huey pointed. Jackson understood.
“Bet he likes his job,” Huey said. “Probably the closest he ever gets to fine melons like those.”
Huey was six years older than Jackson.
“Melons?” Jackson remembered asking.
“I find that a little offensive,” Bebe said. “Although, I guess the analogy is pretty good. I mean, both are round sources of nutrients.”
Jackson’s habit of speaking his thoughts aloud had gotten him into some tight jams in the past. However, his melon comment seemed to strangely endear him to Bebe. They bonded over the nutritive aspect of the female body. So many vitamins, it’s true.
“Marty! Stop it!” Bebe shouted ahead to her boyfriend, who was winding up for a second attempt. “Stop trying to crush the can on your head!”
“I can’t help it, Bee,” Marty said. “That story was so manufactured. I have to hammer it out of my brain if I want to have any fun at all tonight.”
“It was true,” Jackson said, but no one was listening.
“Let him do it, Bee,” Saucy Sam said. “He’s almost got it.”
Marty tipped his head back, waiting as the last flatly-uncarbonated drops of Milwaukee’s Best trickled onto his tongue. Satisfied that the can was empty, he held it out at arm’s length. A look of determination settled across his face. His eyebrows furrowed.
He wound up and drove the can into his forehead.
“Yeah!” Saucy said.
“Whaddya think of that?” Marty said, turning to Bebe and Jackson, the crushed can in his left hand. “Forgot all my reading for tomorrow, too!”
“Honey, you cut yourself,” Bebe said, touching his brow, which was, indeed, bleeding profusely.
“I didn’t even feel it.”
“Promise me,” she said, “promise me you’ll never do that again.”
“Okay,” Marty said, taking off his shirt and using it to staunch the flow. Even at eleven o’clock at night, even in darkness and rain, Jackson could see Marty’s stomach muscles. They were laughing at him. “I won’t do it again,” Marty said.
Bebe leaned in and gave Marty an affectionate kiss. Disturbed, Jackson looked away.
In the distance, kegs were being rolled, kegs were being tapped, kegs were being approached by flirtatious freshmen. The festivities were beginning at Saucy Sam’s row house, and the unlikely quartet of Saucy Sam, Beautiful Bebe, Shirtless Marty and Put-Upon Jackson made their way across campus, up the front steps, and into the party.
Soon, Jackson thought to himself. Soon, Marty, I will expose you for what you are. And Bebe will see it, and Saucy will see it, and the world will see it.
Grim determination set Jackson’s jaw. He knew exactly what his next move was going to be.