High School Honey
by Bill Bowler
|Table of Contents|
|Chapter 19: Bride of the Blood Beast|
The desire that had been Vronsky’s only one for almost an entire year and had replaced all earlier desires, and the desire that had been an impossible, horrifying and therefore all the more seductive dream of happiness for Anna — that desire was gratified. — L. N. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Jack the Bear lived in a little apartment complex on the east side of Brookbank near the Pasquanack town line. When Shirley arrived, Jack was lounging on the couch in the living room with his feet up on the coffee table, drinking a can of beer and watching Chiller Theater on TV. A bag and plastic plates and utensils, the remains of a feast from Burger King, were strewn on the table around his feet. The sink in the kitchen was full of dirty dishes collected from several meals over the past days. The door to the bedroom was open and Shirley saw Jack’s clothes and uniform strewn on the floor.
“Where you been, Shirl? You missed the beginnin’ of the movie.”
“I told you I had to work tonight.” Shirley was still in her waitress’ uniform. She had come straight from Vecchio’s after her shift.
“Work, huh? And were those hoodlums you call friends coincidentally just hanging around the restaurant? You go fooling around with them and don’t even think of me here waiting for you and worried you’ll get yourself into trouble with one of those bums.”
Shirley took off her coat, sat next to Jack on the couch, and pouted. “Aren’t you even glad to see me? You don’t think I care about those, those boys, do you? They’re so immature. You know it’s you I care for.”
She kissed him on the cheek. He turned and hugged her impulsively. He had started off reproaching her half-jokingly, but his other half was really worried. Emotion welled up inside him. His feelings were hurt. He suddenly felt neglected and jealous. When she kissed him, he felt much better. Shirley responded instinctively to his need to be comforted and reassured.
“It’s you I love, Jack. Don’t worry.”
The most ironic thing was that Jack’s passive need to be consoled was not the final stage of his emotional sequence. Beyond that was the sense, of which he was only vaguely aware, of victory and control. He was full of doubt, and plagued by his fears and fantasies of Shirley’s infidelity and promiscuity, but at the same time, being older and more experienced, he was able to anticipate her responses to his behavior so that he felt, in the end, that he was in control.
Shirley massaged his temples. “You’re all tensed up, Jack. Relax, relax.” Jack did as he was told.
After a moment, Shirley got up from the couch. She cleared the Burger King remnants from the coffee table, piled the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, cleared the dirty clothes from the floor in Jack’s room and threw them in the hamper. How he got to be such a slob, she couldn’t guess. Tomorrow morning, she decided, she would do the pots and pans, and dust and vacuum the apartment. He would never do it, and the place was turning into a real pig sty.
A commercial came on and Jack went into the kitchen for another beer, his fifth. He had a case in the fridge. His expression was thoughtful. He went back into the living room and sat down on the couch next to Shirley as the movie came back on.
“You really care about me, Jack, don’t you?”
“You bet I do, babe. You’re the greatest. You know how I feel about you.”
That was good enough for Shirley. Jack unbuttoned her uniform and she slipped it off, and curled up next to him in her bra and panties.
“What are you watching?” asked Shirley.
“Sometimes I wonder if we live in the same world, Jack.”
The music from the TV struck an ominous chord. It was an old black & white sci-fi movie from the fifties, Bride of the Blood Beast, a classic of its genre. Aliens from a dying planet had landed their flying saucer on Earth, looking for a new world to enslave and colonize. The saucer had come down and burrowed under the old abandoned mine on the outskirts of town where the teenagers parked their cars to make out, and only the teenagers in the town realized the aliens had landed.
Townspeople were starting mysteriously to disappear one by one, but none of the adults would believe it, so the teenagers had to save everyone.
The aliens had a monster with them that looked like a giant lobster with tentacles and needed human blood to survive. The police in the movie were arresting the teenagers, until they finally caught sight of the monster and called in the army.
But the general played right into the aliens’ hands. He wanted to nuke the saucer, but the aliens absorbed the power of any weapons that were aimed at them and an atom bomb would make them a million times stronger. The aliens thrived on nuclear radiation which was deadly to humans and only ordinary water could actually kill them, which one of the teenagers accidentally discovered and which was how the fire department saved everybody in the end.
In one scene, the hero left his girlfriend to look for the monster in the abandoned mine, but you knew it was right out behind where he had left her. She didn’t notice, but the door behind her started to open because a tentacle was pushing it. The tentacle came in through the open door and was slithering towards her ankle, and she still didn’t notice, and there was a bang right outside Jack’s window and Shirley screamed.
Jack started up nervously. “Wha’?! What’sa matter?”
“Jack! I heard something! I heard a noise out back. Go and see what it is.”
“You heard something?”
“You want me to go look?”
“Jack, please! I’m scared.”
“OK babe. Sit tight.” Jack put down his beer, opened the drawer in the coffee table and took out his service revolver. “I’ll take a look.”
“Oh, Jack, be careful.”
Jack went into the hall and out the rear exit into the dark yard. Goddamn horror movies would make anybody jumpy. He peered into the gloom, trying to make out the fence, the barbeque, the bird feeder, the bushes, but all he saw were strange twisted shapes and shadows wavering about him, and Jesus!, there was a goddam tentacle right by his foot!
He jumped back and aimed his pistol, but it was only a garden hose. Man! He resumed his search, surveying the darkness, looking for something, anything out of place, out of the ordinary and, ah ha!, he saw an overturned garbage can near his bedroom window. Then something moved in the darkness near the can. He aimed his gun again and heard, “Meeow” and a big old tabby cat came out of the can with a chicken wing in its mouth.
“Jesus,” thought Jack, “I gotta get a grip.” He took a last look around and, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, went back into the house to tell Shirl to calm down, it was just Tabitha from next door. When the door shut behind Jack and silence reigned once again, Floater’s head popped up from behind a large bush.
* * *
Earlier in the evening, Floater had gone to Vecchio’s at closing time and found Honey and Shirley by the payphone.
“Hey hey hey,” said Floater. “What have we here? I can tell you two damsels are in just the mood to accompany me forthwith for a late night burger.”
“Thanks but no thanks,” said Honey. “Flea’s coming over. I’m heading home.”
Floater turned to Shirley. “And what about you, mamzelle?”
“I’m tired. I’m going home. Some other time.”
“Ar’right.” Floater decided not to appeal. “Maybe next time.”
He waved so long to the girls as their two cars pulled out of the restaurant lot. But he found the idea that Shirley would be tired and go home on a Friday night so implausible, so contrary to everything he knew about the habits of his peers, that he hopped into his Galaxy and followed at a discrete distance, like James Bond, master spy.
Floater had come to the conclusion that Shirley was not bad looking at all, not at all. In fact, she had a damn nice bod’ with nice big boobs and a great ass. He had of course heard rumors about her and Jack the Bear. But Floater could not bring himself to believe that a nice looking chick would waste her time with an old slob like Jack. What for?!
When they reached the intersection, Honey went straight through up Brookbank Ave., but Shirley made the right onto Main.
“Tired, huh? Heading home, huh? Not likely,” Floater muttered to himself as he followed Shirley’s car along Main St. At the light by Pasquanack Rd., she turned into the lot of the apartment complex where Jack lived.
Floater parked on a side street and doubled back on foot to the apartment complex. He snuck between two buildings, circled around back, and climbed over a fence into the yard behind Baer’s apartment. The light from a television set shone from Baer’s window. Floater moved a garbage can under the window, and clambered up on top to get a better view into the apartment.
Floater watched, unseen, as Jack and Shirley came into the living room from the kitchen, sat on the couch, kissed, and the next thing Floater knew, Shirley was slipping out of her uniform and lying there with Jack in just her undies.
“Then it’s true!” thought Floater. “She’s got the hots for Jack the Bear!”
Man, she looked beautiful! Much too beautiful for that fat old slob pawing her. Floater had a major hard-on just to see her there in her panties with her boobs hanging out and everything. Man! But why with that jerk?! Could somebody please explain that?
As Jack and Shirley did their business on the couch and watched the tube, Floater shifted his weight to get a better view of the proceedings. The lid slipped off the garbage can and he went airborne as the can tipped over with a loud bang and emptied its contents.
Floater leapt to his feet and dove behind a thick bush near the fence. A moment later, Jack the Bear came out the back door into the yard with his police revolver drawn. Floater lay low, barely breathing until, moments later, a cat came out of the can with a chicken wing and ran decoy for him. Jack went back into the house, and Floater came up for air.
Back in the house, Shirley was on the couch in Jack’s bathrobe, watching the movie as if nothing had happened.
“Well, what was it?”
“Cat got in the garbage.”
Jack playfully aimed the gun at Shirley.
“Stop it, Jack. That’s not funny.”
“Don’t worry, baby. The safety’s on. It can’t possibly fire.”
He handed the gun to Shirley. It was the first time she had ever held one. She looked down the barrel.
* * *
This same night, Mr. Bloman had stayed late at the high school correcting exam papers. The class had done extremely poorly. Several students had failed outright. Driving home, his thoughts were of the sad state of today’s youth. Each year, perceptibly, the quality of the student body deteriorated. Each class brought with it fewer scholars and more misfits and vandals than the previous class had brought. At this rate, the future looked grim, indeed.
Mr. Bloman held the parents to blame. Neglect of the children at home, inadequate parental authority, the propagation of false values like liberalism and atheism, resulted in the present disorders in the high school system. Mr. Bloman felt a tinge of fear. The social fabric of the community was being violently rent and torn. Sacred traditions were being spat upon. The whole country was descending rapidly into anarchy.
Mr. Bloman’s rueful train of thought occupied his attention and distracted him from the road. He was accelerating and soon traveling down Main St. at a high velocity, tailgating the car in front of him. Unexpectedly, at the wooded bend before the light at Brookbank Ave., a car backed out of a blind driveway onto the road, the car in front of Mr. Bloman stopped suddenly, and Mr. Bloman was bearing down on red tail lights in front of his nose. He slammed on the brakes, screeched to a halt, and missed hitting the car in front of him by inches. Mr. Bloman hit the horn.
He continued to the light and made the right onto Brookbank Ave., towards town. He was thinking that people drive the way they behave, oblivious to rules and to the law, oblivious to custom. He pulled up behind a car moving down the avenue at a crawl. Mr. Bloman flashed his brights and then moved out to pass.
As he was pulling up along side, he entered the other driver’s blind spot. The other driver chose this moment to make a left turn without signaling, and almost ran Mr. Bloman off the road. Mr. Bloman was on the horn again.
“Why don’t you look where you’re going?!”
He shook his head. How could these people possibly get driver’s licenses? They should be kept off the road. His thoughts returned to youth and society. The only basis for hope was the resurgence of religion. Perhaps the church would fill the gap left by parental neglect. The country was founded, after all, on Christian principles by deeply religious men. If you looked at the condition of the country, or of the world, for that matter, from a biblical point of view, everything made perfect sense. He had suffered for us all, had He not?
Mr. Bloman stopped at the traffic light at Main and Brookbank at the center of town. He saw the boarded-up front window of Vecchio’s diner. Someone had thrown a rock through the glass. The light turned green and Mr. Bloman started through the intersection. He heard the screech of brakes, and saw a car careening through the red light and bearing down on him from his right! His life passed before his eyes as he swung the wheel and swerved sharply to the left. The oncoming vehicle ran the light, struck his right front quarter panel and spun him 180 degrees into a telephone pole.
Mr. Bloman, fortunately, was not injured, but he had fainted. His car had pushed the pole to an angle, and the light from the street lamp cast a shadow from the pole in the shape of a cross onto the hood of his car. This shadow, this cross, was the first thing Mr. Bloman saw when he regained consciousness. He saw it, and experienced a moment of exhilaration as he realized he was not dead, but still alive, gloriously alive!
This exhilaration gave way to a feeling of pure joy, such as he had not experienced in his life before. This cross was a sign. He felt something, a presence outside of himself, yet also somehow part of himself, a presence communicating directly with him. This accident was a lesson, maybe a test. And his faith was not shaken. On the contrary, he felt the great, all-powerful foundation, the rock, beneath his feet.
Copyright © 2010 by Bill Bowler