It was a Friday afternoon. My friends and I were making our way slowly to Ravenna Park down 15th Street from Roosevelt High School. Tim, Mikey, Seth, Daniel Bond and I. We had a group of girls in tow. The ratio was one to one. A blue and yellow Metro bus lumbered by, brakes wheezing. The front of the bus read “DOWNTOWN” in electric yellow. Pollution spewed behind it. Cars whizzed past. The sky was grey. It wasn’t raining. We walked, dragging our feet, Northface windbreakers zipped up over grey hooded sweatshirts. Our group was spread out across a solid city block as we snaked our way to the 15th Street bridge. Crossing that, we hung a left on the dirt trail that ran along the south side of Ravenna Park and deposited us at the 20th Street bridge.
We walked into Ravenna Park at the 20th entrance. We posted up at a picnic table adjacent to the ancient BBQ shelter. The shelter was in the middle of a grass field surrounded on all sides by the tall trees of an urban forest.
We pulled Olde English forties from our black North Face backpacks. We’d asked an upperclassman to purchase them for us during lunch. One of the girls pulled a bottle of Malibu rum out of her giant purse. Another girl pulled a liter of Coca-Cola out of her oversized purse. The girls took sips of the rum and chased them with sips of the Coke. I twisted the top off my forty, the seal cracking. I took a long swig. It was warm from being in my backpack since lunch. It wasn’t gross warm, but it was not cold. The amber liquid bubbled as it slid down the bottle out of the narrow opening and into my mouth. I left space between my upper lip and the mouth of the bottle so the air flowed and the beer came out smooth and fast. I finished my sip and wiped my face with my arm.
“What the fuck is up with tonight?” said Daniel.
“I dunno, keg at Joe’s mom’s.” said Tim.
“We’re not having a keg at my house.”
Everyone else started chanting “KEG AT JOE’S! KEG AT JOE’S! KEG AT JOE’S!….”
“Shut up!” I said
It was a long running joke. No one was actually planning on having a keg at my house. They just liked to see me freak out about the idea of it.
“We could hit up Chad Huntington.” said Tim.
“That dude is such a fag bag.” I said.
“Who cares? It’s hella cold out, he has a house, and his parents are never home.” said Tim.
“Somebody hit him up then.” I said.
None of my friends had a cell phone. Tim had a beeper.
“Yo, Rachel! Let me use your phone right quick.” said Tim to one of the girls.
Rachel dug in her purse and pulled out a blue candy bar shaped Nokia phone and handed it to Tim. Tim snatched it out of her hands. He pulled a dog-eared folded piece of printer paper out of his pocket. The paper was covered with phone numbers. It had started out as a typed list of phone numbers. Hand-written phone numbers were now scrawled in all available spaces haphazardly in a variety of ink colors. He lay the sheet of paper down on the picnic table and used his forty as a paper weight. Squinting, he ran his pointer finger up and down the page until he found the phone number he was looking for. He tapped it twice, and started punching digits into the phone with his left thumb. beep. beep. beep. beep. beep. beep. beep. He put the phone to his ear and waited for Chad to answer.
“CHAD! My guy! What’s going with you, dude?” Said Tim into the phone.
“Word. word. I’m just chilling at twamp with some fools right now, gurping some four-ohs. We got some chicks with us too. We’re tryna find something to get into.”
“So you down to have some homies over?”
“Coo, coo, we’re about to mob over now, see you in a bit homie.”
Tim pressed the hang-up button and immediately began dialing another number and put the phone to his ear.
“Yo, what’s up fool, kick it session at Chad Huntington’s, roll through.”
“Aight, see you there.”
Tim hung up the phone and handed it back to Rachel.
We took long sips before putting the caps back on our forties, We stashed them in our backpacks and got up to leave the park.
Chad Huntington lived in a two-story house in Bryant with a large front porch. It was painted a pale blue that was almost gray with darker blue trim. Tim rang the doorbell six times rapidly. ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! We heard footsteps from inside. Chad yelled from the other side of the door,
Tim rang the doorbell four more times. ding-ding-ding-ding! We all laughed. Mikey tossed his cigarette on the porch and snuffed it out with his foot. The door opened and Chad appeared, he was out of breath and smiling widely. Chad was a stocky, chubby youth, half-Asian, half white. He was wearing a green Blanchet High School sweatshirt, his black hair in a short buzz-cut.
“What the hell took you so long buddy? Were you jerking it or something?” said Tim.
“Nah, I was playing Xbox. What’s up guys? Come on in.”
He gave each of us dap as we walked in.
“Tim. My guy! Daniel, what the fuck is up, bro? Looking good, Joe! Seth!!”
As the girls walked in, Chad stepped out of the way and bowed,
We set up shop in his living room and busted out our forties. The girls excused themselves to the bathroom en masse and when they returned, sat as a group on the floor separate from us. We played Halo and drank our beer.
“Got you!” I said after shooting Tim’s character, a long distance sniper-shot with the pistol.
“Only cuz you were watching my screen, fag! You fucking watcher.”
“You got to watch out for the watchers.” said Mikey laughing at his own joke.
“Fuck that. I wasn’t watching your screen. I capped you fair and square.”
Tim would accuse people of watching the screen whenever he got killed, no matter what. I was fairly certain his own strategy relied heavily on “watching”. It wasn’t worth arguing about though. I didn’t say anything and kept playing. Tim paused the game and we all took sips of our forties.
The doorbell rang.
“Oh, I told a few other fools they could roll through. That’s cool right?” Tim asked Chad.
“Fasho, no problem dude. The more the merrier, right?”
Chad got up to answer the door. Twenty minutes later the doorbell rang again, again twenty minutes after that, and again after that. With each successive ringing of the doorbell more people showed up, and Chad became less and less enthused with being the host. When the doorbell rang for the 5th time Chad scowled and turned to Tim,
“How many fucking people did you invite man? This is not cool. My parents are going to be home at 9. I’m fucked!”
“Dude chill, It’s just a couple of people, we’ll all be gone at 8:30.”
Chad looked over his shoulder as a quarter plopped into a cup of beer on the kitchen counter behind him, bounced expertly by Mikey. He pumped his fist and yelled,
“In your face!! BITCHES!!”
The kitchen counter was covered in slimy beer spillover and loose bits of Swisher tobacco. The living room, kitchen, and dining room were crowded with kids drinking. Chad turned back to Tim,
“Ok, but you’ve got to help me clean up and no more people. I’m serious!”
“Fasho, dude. I got you. Can I use your phone to call my mom for a ride?”
I was in the basement of Chad’s house looking for spray paint. It was an unfinished basement with cement floors and wood beams illuminated by a lone, naked light bulb. There was loads of junk. Old bikes. Skis and snowboards. Boxes with Christmas lights hanging out of the top. Shelves of house paint, solvent, lubricants, weed eater, and other household chemicals. I found what I was looking for; four loose cans of spray paint, two of them full. The other two half-empty. Nothing special. I put the cans in my backpack and went back upstairs.
The house was very crowded with people at this point. I spotted Mikey coming down the stairs with his backpack. I looked at the black wooden clock on the mantle, its yellowed face read ten after eight. Chad ran from group to group frantically,
“Everyone needs to leave! Please leave. Party’s over…”
People laughed and continued to drink.
“I’M CALLING THE COPS IF YOU DON’T GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE IN THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES!”
This got people’s attention. Chad stood in the center of it all sweaty and red in the face. He looked very serious.
“Chill out dude, we were going to leave in a minute.”
“GET THE FUCK OUT!”
A few groups started to make their way towards the door. Chad walked over to the phone and pulled it off its charging station.
“I’M FUCKING SERIOUS! I’M GOING TO CALL THE COPS IF YOU DON’T GET THE FUCK OUT!”
Chad shook the phone in the air violently, eyes wide.
“I SWEAR TO GOD I’LL FUCKING DO IT!”
Everyone that was still there started to leave. Mikey, Daniel, Seth and I were the second-to-last to leave behind Tim. We stood on the front porch watching Tim trying to reason with Chad,
“Dude, chill, my mom’s coming to pick us up at 8:30, just let us chill until then…”
Tim had stepped onto the porch. The second he did so Chad slammed the door behind him. The deadbolt thunked into place.
“YOU MOTHERFUCKER!” Tim screamed at the top of his lungs. He screamed again. A primal scream of rage. Tim began pounding on the door with his fist.
“LET ME THE FUCK IN YOU FAT FAG!! WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!”
“That motherfucker locked us out, that fat piece of shit! Can you believe it?” Tim asked us before returning to pounding on the door.
Actually, I could believe it, but I wasn’t going to be the one to voice my opinion.
“Dude, chill out.” said Seth.
“Yeah dude, chill!” said Mikey.
“Yeah…” I tried to chime in but was cut off by Tim.
“FUCK THAT SHIT.”
Tim’s mom pulled up in her red Volvo. Tim didn’t stop pounding on the door.
“GET THE FUCK OUT HERE AND FIGHT ME YOU FAT FAG!”
Tim’s mom got out of the car but didn’t come any closer than the sidewalk.
“Tim, sweetie, calm down, just get in the car.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP MOM!”
Tim’s mom winced.
“Tim, let’s go. You and your friends get in the car.”
Tim screamed with rage. He punched out the small window panes on either side of the door.
“THIS ISN’T OVER, DON’T THINK THIS IS OVER FOR A SECOND, FAG!”
Tim hawked a loogie on the door and walked to his mom’s car.
On the other side of the door I could hear Chad sobbing. I imagined him curled up in the fetal position by the bottom of the door. The rest of us followed Tim to his mom’s Volvo.
That Monday at school both Tim and Mikey were wearing brand new Ralph Lauren Polo shirts over their gray hooded sweatshirts. The Polo shirts were huge on their thin frames, hanging almost to the knees. We were standing on the corner across the street from our high school. Clouds of smoke hung above the groups of kids congregated there smoking cigarettes. A fat white kid with bad acne wearing a dirty blue velour Sean John sweat suit asked Mikey,
“Yo, where did you get that sick new shirt?”
“Oh this? This is from the Chad Huntington collection.” Mikey said with a smile before taking a drag off his cigarette.