Chapter 12: Mark: 7:22
Coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
With the smoke from the first toke of the night as his curtain call, John waved it aside and passed the joint to Andy. Turning his desk chair to face Andy, Mike, and Kurt, he began. “Hey, guys, we’ve got Fred Reiser making an appearance a little later on. This should be interesting!"
“Wee Wow. Wee Wow. Hey, where’s Fred anyway?”
He’s coming in about an hour according to Little John,” John revealed. “That’s when they need his ass out of the room for some reason or another.” He clipped the roach to the hemostat, took a quick hit, and kept it moving. “Hey, who’s up for a couple pies from Maestro’s tonight?”
The group placed an order for delivery, and John rolled another joint, fired it up, and passed it counter clockwise this time. Andy took a long drag, cradled the exiting smoke with his lower lip, and sucked it up his nose for another round.
Mike watched and waited until the billowy smoke disappeared. "One day, you've got to teach me how you do that."
"That's easy," Andy said. "What I want to know is how Eggs's love life is going. We got Word's details, but what about you?" He looked at John with earnest.
“I think Mary and I are going to hang out around campus for the floor party next weekend. That’s going to be the night!” John smiled, and his wheels seemed to be turning.
“Hey, guys, the pizzas are going to be here pretty soon; let’s play some hands to see who has to go downstairs.” John reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a deck of cards.
Andy, Mike, and John each won a hand after several rounds of Poker, leaving Kurt with the task of negotiating elevator buttons, counting change, and balancing pizzas on the way back. The phone rang, and Kurt stood up in preparation for the challenge. “Wish me luck,” he said.
“Hey, Nose,” John said, “just remember that there are two sets of elevators. Last year, Y.A. didn’t understand that he was in the west wing elevator. He went back downstairs two more times, trying the other two elevators, and couldn’t understand why the sixth floor suddenly was a bunch of offices when all he had to do was go the other set of elevators on the east side.”
“Yeah, I thought I was in a Twilight Zone episode,” Andy recounted. “Worst part was that the pizza got cold.”
“Hey, Nose,” John said as Kurt prepared to leave, “be careful out there. Hopefully, you don’t run into anyone because you really look like shit.”
Kurt brushed back his hair and stroked his beard. “Yeah, thanks for the vote of confidence. I’ll send you guys postcards.”
For a few minutes after Kurt left, the group sat silently with their thoughts until Andy said, “Hey, where the fuck is Fred?”
“May as well put on some music while we’re waiting.” John brushed off a Pink Floyd LP and cued it.
About five more minutes passed, and John asked, “Hey, Word, you think Nose got lost?”
“I mean it’s possible because he uses that honker more for detection than direction, and he is pretty fucked up.”
“It’s only been about 10 minutes,” Andy said as he glanced at his watch. “He’s probably having a problem counting out change and figuring out the tip. I sure hope he’s on his way up, though; I’ve got the munchies real bad.” A knock on the door provided relief and a surprise.
“The pizzas are here!” John went to open the door. Kurt came in with the pies and in his tow was Fred Reiser.
“Look who I found!”
“Fre-e-e-ed,” John featured his neighing horse greeting. “Come on in,” and he motioned for Fred to take a seat on the couch while he perched himself on the bean bag, taking care to bring his stash and paraphernalia with him. “Glad you could make it.”
“Little John said I should come here,” Fred revealed.
“Hey, Fred, grab a slice of pizza.” Kurt opened the lid of the top box and pointed it toward Fred.
“Thanks,” Fred said, and he grabbed a slice. “I like pizza.”
“Hey, Fred, as a guest on the show,” John said between bites, but he was interrupted.
“Show? What show?” Fred inquired.
“As our guest, what’s it like living with Frankie, James, and Little John?”
“It’s okay. Can I use your bathroom?”
“Yeah, sure,” John said, “you know the way.”
“Yes, I do.” Fred went in and locked the door.
The suite members looked at one another, and whispering, John echoed the general sentiment. “Something’s not right with this guy. Should we let him smoke with us?”
“It wouldn’t be nice to not offer,” Andy weighed in.
“Hey, let’s just be ourselves,” Mike suggested. “When he’s done, get him a beer, and go ahead and fire up another joint. It’s really weird the monotone way he talks and how he doesn’t put more than two sentences together at any time.”
Fred re-emerged, and John, Andy, and Mike took an inventory for a moment. Fred wore some faded Levi’s, a Hillview hooded sweatshirt, and some beat up Chuck Taylor’s on his feet. His wire-framed glasses proved problematic every minute or so as he continuously engaged in some type of movement which dislodged them from the bridge of his nose. His neck-length, dishwater blonde hair looked in need of a shampooing, and the smell that began emanating from the bathroom caused Mike to get up and flush the toilet.
“Hey, Fred, did you forget to flush the toilet, or were you leaving us a housewarming gift?”
“I forgot to flush. That’s funny,” he laughed slightly.
John licked the rolling paper on a fresh joint and put a flame to it, handing it to Fred. “Here you go, Fred; you can catch up to us if you want and keep it to yourself. Hey, Y.A., pop a beer for Fred, too.”
Fred put down his slice of pizza to make room for his hosts’ offerings. “So I guess we’re breaking some rules here?” he said, and then took a drag off the joint and chased it with a swig of beer.
“Yeah, that’s why we crack the window open, so as not to advertise,” John revealed. “No, Fred, you keep it,” John directed when Fred attempted to pass the joint to him.
For the next few minutes, the group tended to their pizza and watched Fred work on the joint and sip his beer. When the joint no longer was manageable, John brought out the hemostat, and Fred turned it over to the group who each took a hit off the roach. For all of Fred’s pedestrian garments, he wore indifference conspicuously, and John had a responsibility to his show.
“So Fred, Word tells me that you like to read comic books,” John started.
“Who told you that?”
“Mike. That’s what we call him.”
“Yeah, I like D.C. comics only.”
“Who’s your favorite super hero?” Kurt asked.
“I like Wonder Woman.”
Taking a cue, Andy chimed in. “Boy, she has to be the hottest superhero.”
“Yeah, Fred was right about Marvel not having any real babes,” Mike admitted.
“Hey guys, look!” John interrupted their reflections. “I think Fred’s about to lose his shit.”
They watched Fred as he squinted and began a heaving kind of laughter which was causing his face to turn very red and his upper body to quake. His glasses fell off of his nose, and he began slapping his knee. “Ha, ha, ha, ho,ha, ha,ho.” He seemed to be trying to sound like he was doing a phony laughter, but its incessant nature, his reddened face, and tears welling in his eyes made it very real. They continued to watch with quizzical smirks on their faces. “They’re just comics!” he interrupted himself and began the laughter anew.
“That’s okay, Fred,” Mike said. “I’m glad you found that funny, but it’s cool to stop laughing."
“Hey, Fred, let me get you another beer,” Andy offered as Fred continued his bizarre laughter and suddenly stopped when Andy popped the top like some internal emergency brake was pressed in his brain.
“Okay,” Fred said, and he accepted the beer as though his previous display deserved no explanation.
John seized the moment to keep the momentum that his show was gaining. “But seriously, Fred, why does D.C. even have other superheroes besides Superman? That fucker can do everything. I bet he cops a nut with Wonder Woman every night.”
“If there’s green Kryptonite, Superman needs other people around him,” Fred explained with a trace of anger in his voice. “Besides, Superman loves Lois Lane!”
“Oh, I see what you’re saying then.” John humored him and continued probing as he fondled the picture of Toots in his gym shorts. “So Word, I mean Mike tells me you like photography.”
“It’s more of a hobby,” Fred said as he helped himself to another slice of pizza.
“Oh, I see. Hey, Fred, what can you tell us about this Toots chick that’s almost always in the study room.” Fred’s brevity had John cutting to the chase.
“Toots is Frankie’s friend.”
“Yeah, but does she go to school at Hillview?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you know about her?” Mike asked.
“Hey, Fred,” Andy asked, “is Toots the person who gives massages on that table in the study room?”
Fred began shaking his right foot which he had draped over his left knee and was looking toward the door. “I don’t know if she does that or not.”
“Hey, can you show us some pictures you’ve taken?” Mike asked.
“I don’t have any with me, but they’re mostly nature shots.”
“Hey, Fred,” John asked, “do you have any beaver shots?”
“No, I don’t have any beaver shots.” His impatience returned.
John reached into his gym shorts, grabbed the photo of Toots, turned to Fred and said, “Well, I do. Here’s one right now.” He showed Fred the photo of Toots and asked, “You ever see this picture before?”
Fred stood up and yelled at John. “That’s mine. Give me it!” He grabbed the photo saying, “I have to go,” and left the room, running down the hall.
John, Mike, Kurt, and Andy just stared at their now open door and didn’t say anything for about 30 seconds until John got up and closed the door. “That was fucked up,” he said. “We still don’t know shit about what the fuck is going on in there.”
“Guys, something is wrong with that dude. He’s strange,” Kurt said.
“I’ve got to agree with Nose,” Mike added. “All I know is that we used to be a lot tighter with Frankie, and even Water J’s a little different. It’s almost like Little John has got some kind of hold on them since he got here. Even Carol was saying that weird shit has been happening this year.”
“Like I said before, Word; fuck Carol!” Hey, anybody want to smoke anymore?”
“Nah, I’m fried,” Mike said, and Kurt and Andy nodded in agreement.
“Hey, if nobody wants this slice, I’m good for it.” Getting no response, John peeled it off the cardboard. “Let’s just watch a Twilight Zone and call it a night. Word, you got anything before Rod Serling?”
Mike had his eyes half closed, but reflected. “Let me see,” and the words just naturally rolled off his tongue.
“Minds are dimmed.
Eyes are slits.
Smoke blows like wind
In the state of lost shit.
Welcome dear friends
To the state of lost shit
Where the party never ends
’Cause the joint is always lit.”
John reached from his desk chair to slap hands with Mike and said, “Yeah, buddy, Word. Make sure I get a copy of that.”
Mike slapped hands with John and Andy, and he and Kurt went to their rooms deciding to forego Twilight Zone that evening. Half way down the hall, his sweet tooth kicked in, and he made a quick right into the lobby. "I’m going to hit the vending machines and get a Zagnut."
He pressed the down button, and while he was waiting, Carol opened up her room door slightly and was talking quietly to someone. By the time the elevator got there, he saw Carol letting out Patches.
Oh,no! Please don’t let this be true! Mike dreaded the obvious. Why does this bother me?
From the crevice of an opening that she left, Mike saw that Carol was wearing a skimpy, light blue nightie. She whispered to Patches, “Good night,” and then she softly closed the door, leaving Patches and Mike forced to acknowledge one another.
“Hey,” Patches said to Mike.
“Hey,” Mike said to Patches, all the while wondering if he had scored with Carol. On the way down in the elevator, he tried to pick up Carol’s scent on Patches to no avail. I wish Nose was on this ride with me. He would know, Mike thought. Fucker’s wearing too much cologne. He’s barely tall enough to be seeing Carol, but she wouldn’t be half naked and saying goodbye if something didn’t happen. Why do I care anyway?
The elevator doors opened, and Patches said, “Later.”
Mike took stock of him walking away. He’s barely six-feet, likes that preppy jacket look, and who the fuck parts their hair to one side? The guy has to be pushing 25. Why do I care? He made his way to the vending machines, stopping first to see if any girls were using the laundry. I’m taken, but I’m not blind. Can’t hurt to look. The laundry room was lifeless, and when Mike placed his 50 cents and pressed D-9 for a Zagnut, the ‘Sold Out’ light appeared, and it made him think of Donna. On the way back up, Mike opened the wrapper on the Butterfinger he settled for. He glanced at Carol’s door when the elevator opened and thought, I wonder if she saw me seeing her. Why do I care?