Biblical Apples

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Chapter 6: James 3:5

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

In their gym shorts, t-shirts, and socks, the trio looked ill-prepared to host anything more than some wayward fungi like jock itch or athlete’s foot. But this was not a formal affair, and formalities bowed in deference to the occasion. The needles on the sound meters of an Akai reel-to-reel tape recorder danced to and fro to the rhythms being spun, and Stevie Wonder softly sang ‘Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away’ in the background. John sat at his desk licking closed a fat joint while Andy sank in the bean bag, and Mike squeezed onto the couch, both fixing their eyes on the proceedings. The flame was struck and sucked into the joint to create the first cloud formation of the evening.

Despite and because of the haze, sloth found its way into 619 and perched itself with abysmal posture upon the furnishings. Books, detailing the subjects of psychology, biology, and literature were hastily strewn, bindings straining in the absence of bookmarks which would have involved opening a desk drawer. John stretched his long arm to hand the joint to Andy who was hopelessly stuck in the quicksand of the bean bag, one arm stretching upward, barely making contact. Mike, eyes closed, re-awakened when Andy kicked his shoe and reached the joint toward him. Kurt entered the room, and the others raised their hands in greeting before letting them fall limply to their sides. This was ennui, and by John Carver’s design, some offerings from contemporaries, revelations, talents, parlor tricks, were required to end the inertia, and so gave birth to The Show.

Gluttony became the first guest of the evening as on the heels of a pizza order, Mike began assembling grilled cheese sandwiches in the toaster oven, and John curiously examined an apple.

“This ought to be good,” John whispered. “I unplugged the oven, and how much you want to bet that Word won’t notice.” This revelation brought small smirks and light nodding of their heads.

“Here you go, Y.A..” John tossed his roommate a medium-sized red apple. “One bite!”

“This one’s too big for me to do that again.” Andy held the apple at arm’s length and bit his lower lip during the inspection.

“It’s the same size as the last one you did,” John encouraged him.

“You’re asking him to eat that apple in one bite?” Kurt asked. “No way!” He shook his head side-to-side.

“Yeah, Eggs, the guy almost choked to death earlier in the week,” Mike recalled. “Are you trying to kill him off?”

John looked at Andy. “You hear that, Y. A.? These people, your supposed friends, people who shit on the same toilet as you, don’t believe in you. They think you don’t have a hair on your ass.” A freshly-rolled joint appeared, ready for Andy to get it started.

With that challenge, Andy stood up and began squinting, grunting, and holding his breath, then letting it out. He did this several times until Kurt interrupted.

“What the fuck is the Yard Ape doing?”

“He’s growing a beard to warm up.”

“What do you mean, he’s growing a beard?”

Andy repeated this routine a few more times as John and Mike began laughing.

“Don’t tell me you don’t see his face getting darker?” John narrated the event. “Right now, he’s pushing out facial hair.”

Kurt struggled out of the bean bag to get a closer look, stood right over Andy, examined his face and began laughing again. “I think you might be right,” he said as he gasped for air. “Stop it, please!”

“Y. A., you think you’re warmed up now?”

Andy began pacing back and forth and smacking his hands together. He made animal-like grunting sounds as he inhaled the smoke. He did this several more times, until half the joint was consumed. Greed had joined the party.

“Y.A., stop Bogarting the joint,” Mike demanded.

“It’s okay, Word.” John got up and went over to Andy and put his arm around him. “It’s okay, Y.A., pass the joint. It’s going to be okay.”

Andy went to his desk chair and sat with a blank stare as the joint was passed around several more times.

“We’ll attach it to the clip later on, but I think Y.A. is ready.”

Andy examined the apple which easily had the circumference of a baseball. He put it up to his right eye, and then he smelled it. Then, with a sudden forceful motion, he smashed the apple into his open mouth, using his palm to push it past his teeth all the way in. As the group watched, Andy sat motionless for a moment; his shoulders slouched, his mouth taking on a simian appearance with the apple distorting its proportions.

Kurt looked at Mike and said, “He looks like an ape. Holy shit!”

“Okay,” John cautioned. “Y.A. is going to need our support. Be quiet so he can concentrate.”

The room took on a silence that rivaled that which accompanies a championship golfer lining up a crucial putt. Suddenly and slowly, Andy began crunching and chewing the apple.

“Listen,” John whispered. “You can hear the core being crunched with the seeds and all.”

Kurt covered his mouth to stop from laughing and went into the bathroom where he screamed, “Oh, shit! I have got to come here more often. Fuck me; I’m going to die!”

At this point, John and Mike began laughing which caused Andy to do the same, but with the apple in his mouth, he ended up expelling some of its juices through his nose and had to hold his mouth closed to avoid vomiting.

“Never mind, Y.A..” John feared that his roommate might choke.

“No! Fuck you, Eggs!” Andy’s response was muffled by the apple. He kept chewing and chewing until he finally swallowed and opened his mouth to show it was gone. Looking at the group he said, “Apples are good for you!”

“I can’t take this anymore!” Kurt had been watching from the bathroom door. He laughed so hard that everyone joined in.

“Okay, okay,” John said in his falsetto, trying to get the group to regain its composure. “We’ve still got two more guests to hear from, and oh shit, Word, check on the grilled cheeses; they must be burning!”

Mike got up to inspect the toaster oven and came back reporting, “They’re still a ways off!”

And then lust took the stage as its host Kurt Newman carried in a gym bag that he labeled his ‘port-a-party kit’. With it came his guarantee of sexual conquest.

“The Port-a-Party kit,” John mused. “This sounds like something with potential.”

Kurt began removing the items, which were a six-pack of beer, a small toaster oven, and two boxes of Jeno’s Pizza Rolls.

“Okay, Nose,” John began, “so you brought some food and brew which is good, but explain the tie to scoring chicks.”

Kurt’s right hand rubbed his beard in a pensive manner, using his thumb and index finger. “This is an offering of convenience and a sudden pleasant surprise that goes over well with the freshman chicks, particularly at the beginning of the school year when they have yet to put on the freshman 15,” he explained. “There’s no turning down someone with food, even a stranger. Pizza Rolls are a universal treat, and it usually only takes two beers to get a freshman chick buzzing.”

“So put it together for us, Nose. How does this go down?”

“I go over to Harmon Hall and pick a random floor and a random door. I knock and gain entry by letting the girls know that they’ve been specially selected for a Port-a-Party party. Think of it. I’m a handsome man who is willing to cook and ply them full of liquor.”

“Wee Wow, Wee Wow!” Andy blared.

“So have you scored with this technique?” John asked.

“I did on one occasion last year, and if anything, it has served as a clever ice-breaker to get to network with some our incoming finest.”

“Can you give us some details on the chick you scored with?”

“I could, but I am a gentleman, and a gentleman never tells.”

“What if the random door you knock on has some ugly girls?” Andy asked and added, “But WHY?”

Kurt weighed the question for a moment and said, “Ugly girls like pizza rolls and beer too, and ugly girls usually have some connections to pretty girls. Hosting a port-a-party is like Let’s Make a Deal; one door has the big deal; one door still is okay; one door gets you zonked.” He surveyed his audience, concluding, “I stand by being a gentleman.”

“Well, Nose,” John said, “thanks for the insights, and thanks for the segue to our next guest, Mike Wordman Rosovich who is anything but a gentleman. Okay, Word, as the special guest, we want details about your morning with the lovely coed and sixth floor resident, Donna Bennett, but oh shit, Word, the grilled cheeses!”

Mike ran to the toaster oven and was relieved to see that the grilled cheeses had not burned. He took them out and told everyone to come get theirs.

“Hey, Word,” John inspected his sandwich. “I think mine needs some more time.”

“Yeah, mine too,” Andy agreed. “I’m going to put mine back in for a little bit.” Seeing that Mike was not looking in his direction, he reached down and plugged in the toaster.

“Yeah, me three,” Kurt said. “I like mine with a little crunch on them.” He covered his mouth to stifle a huge grin and then pretended to yawn.

“Word, are you going to put yours back in, or are you good?” John asked.

“Nah, Man, mine’s fine.” He took a bite.

“Word,” Andy observed, “it really doesn’t look like it cooked at all. Why don’t you put it back in? Plus, we want to hear about your morning.”

“What are you guys talking about? Look,” he pointed to the sandwich, “it’s got a little bit of some brown on it, and I don’t like it overcooked.” Mike watched curiously as John, Kurt, and Andy began laughing loudly. What the fuck are these guys laughing about? he asked himself. “What the fuck, guys?”

“Word, I don’t know how to break this to you,” John said, “but the toaster oven was never plugged in. I might need to cut you off.”

“Hey, fuck all of you,” Mike said, and then he joined in on the laughter. “Hey, someone pass the good stuff.”

As the regularly-scheduled programming resumed, pride and envy waited like vultures. Mike vividly described his encounter with Donna, and the cloud of smoke in the room began to rain hyperbole as he painted a water-color portrait. Even as he detailed the most intimate moments that Donna granted him, he thought, what am I doing? But it was too late! The loom was spinning like the wheels on a locomotive, and his audience was enjoying a ride that was twenty years in the making.

How might the truth have worked into this tale, he wondered. How could his painting have been at the end of a brush commandeered by a Goya or a Modigliani? He could have said nothing at all but instead built a lie about himself that was grander than his grilled cheese sandwich, another premature act in the day’s repertoire.

He took in his friends’ facial expressions that included open mouths and wide eyes. When he got done, John, Andy, and Kurt sat in stunned silence for about a minute, enjoying their buzzes but marveling at Mike’s incredible good fortune.

“Damn, Word. You’re one lucky bastard! I think I might have chosen the wrong roommate. Donna’s a freak!” John said.

“Wow. Wee Wow,” Andy chimed in. “And she seems so girl-next-doorish.”

“Does she have any sisters?” Kurt asked.

Some clarity had begun to emerge in Mike’s clouded brain as he thought of Donna’s angelic, gentle, and affirming awakening of him as a man. “You know, guys, it’s getting late,” he said as he pointed at the clock which now read 11:00. “Hey, Eggs, great show tonight. See you guys tomorrow. You going to turn in too, Nose?”

“Yes, but could you tell me another bed time story, Word? I thought I’d camp out tonight, and you could help me pitch a tent.”

“I kind of just sold out Donna,” Mike said as he lay in bed, talking to Kurt. “Kurt, you and I go back all the way to junior high, so you know I don’t get lucky like you. I don’t have your game. Now, this girl comes around, and I’m not even in her ballpark. She’s probably going to get tired of me at some point. What do you think, Kurt? Hey, Nose!”

Kurt Newman lay in his bed with his back turned to his roommate, sleeping and snoring.

I guess my story took all the energy out of him, Mike laughed to himself and closed his eyes, but sleep did not come for hours as he thought about the little boy who became a man and the kind of man he had become. He thought about Donna and what she might do if she ever found out. And in the corner of his mind, poised to leap, wrath sat on its haunches.

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