The Young and the Listless: Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Final Confrontation.

This is where it will end, Jackson thought. Where something will begin.

Bebe had walked ahead of him and was now following Marty and Saucy through the crowd. Jackson followed her hair as it bobbed its way onto the undulating, fleshy dance floor. He stood and watched her until she faded away.

Jackson waded through the crowd, focused on his double goal of revenge and love. To combine them into a single act, Jackson thought, would be sublime.

“Hey, Jackson,” a slurred yell snapped Jackson out of himself. It was Luey, from his entry.

“You lookin’ for Bebe?” Luey, the sometime-clairvoyant, said.

No longer any point in lying. “Yes.”

“She’s over there, making out with Marty.” Adrenaline-pumping pause.

“Go talk to her,” Luey said, nudging him in the ribs with his elbow.

Luey Braid, twenty-one-year-old freshman. Luey Braid, who knew about everything, who took pleasure in awkward situations and hand farts. Jackson usually liked Luey, but at this moment, he wanted to make him look down the business end of a gun.

“You shouldn’t think things like that around me, Jackson,” Luey said. “Normally, I’d be offended. But I understand you have a mission tonight. And I understand it has to do with love. And I understand it has to do with injustice. So I’ll let you go. Take my beer, and go to her, Jackson, and tell her what you’re thinking.”

Long pause. Recognition. Denial.

I do love this woman, Jackson thought. And I have suffered a humiliation at the hands of Marty.

Unusual clarity of thought and mind took hold of Jackson. Behind him, he saw all his past weakness, his public humiliations. In front of him, Jackson Sommer saw all that awaited him.

Grimly determined, he clenched his beer and forced his way through the throbbing Thong Song throngs.

There, by the far wall two paces from the keg, stood Marty.

“Jackson!” he called out; time froze.

Marty was waving his beer over his head, barely avoiding soaking himself with every movement. To his left, Jackson saw Bebe. Radiant Bebe, her skin red and shimmering. Their eyes met. Jackson nearly forgot his plan to confront Marty, that his thoughts for the whole week before had been consumed with exacting a fitting revenge against Marty by spilling beer on his head and stealing his girlfriend of two years.

“Jackson, come here!”

Jackson looked down at his full plastic cup, then across at Marty. For a while they stared at each other, one fixed gaze with two distinct meanings.

“I got something for ya,” Marty magnanimously offered.

Jackson smiled. And smiling, he began walking, not toward Marty, who noted this with anger, but towards beautiful Bebe, standing alone.

“Hey, Jackson,” Bebe said. “Looks like Marty’s looking for you.”

Jackson followed her gaze over to the fast approaching meaty man, Marty “The One Man Party” Blanowich.

“Him?” Jackson asked. “Who cares. I’m here for you.”

Bebe blushed and looked down, then up into Jackson’s eyes. She smiled.

“Bebe,” Jackson said.

“Yes?” she said.

Jackson soaked in her expectant look, her eyes, her love. The Bigger Man bore down on their moment.

“What a waste of two years, huh,” he said, and looking back towards his rival, raised the plastic cup over Marty’s head, slowly tilting it until the beer cascaded down onto Bebe’s head.

Bebe melted. Marty contorted. Marty dropped his beer. Marty grabbed, scrunching Jackson’s polo collar into a tight ball. Marty made a fist, pulled it back. This fist was all Jackson could see. It was huge, a throbbing planet, something pure and true.

When Marty uncoiled and Jackson received, there would be a collision and it was in this that Jackson would finally be punctured, broken, elevated.

Marty, before unleashing everything he had, stopped, looked at Jackson. And in his eyes, Jackson saw what he was looking for.

Here it comes, Jackson thought, and thank you. Goodnight, ladies – all you ladies, good night.