america the damned - 005
chapter 5: let’s roll
the sexual healing of america
san francisco 2003
america felt much better. Less tense. The crisp San Francisco night air often had that effect on him.
True, he was still in way over his head, but he’d decided that he would just piss in the wind and go with his gut from here on out. Fuck ‘em all. Watch his back. Do whatever needed to be done. Back to basics, being a dick 101.
He knew what to do better than anyone. At least as far as the job was concerned. Women – and, in particular, Annetta – they were a whole other story. Fuck it, let’s roll, he laughed to himself as he unlocked the door to his office. He half expected the place to be torn apart with a midget hiding behind the desk grinning like a maniacal smurf and aiming a crossbow at his crotch. At this point in his life, nothing would really surprise him anymore.
Instead of the midget, however, there was simply a new message on the machine. Leery, he pressed play.
america was relieved to hear that it was just a hangup. Maybe things were finally becoming uneventful.
After brewing himself up a huge pot of coffee, america sat down in front of his computer to do a little research.
He’d just begun to review the most recent threads about the RFK assassination on his favorite conspiracy newsgroup when he heard a loud thrashing noise outside his door.
It sounded like someone had knocked over the fire extinguisher. The one that sat precariously on the ledge in the hallway because Jorge the maintenance man had failed to properly remount it after the dot-com company next door threw a rowdy IPO party where some jackass smashed the glass and set the fucking thing off. Another egregious example of Walt the landlord’s nonfeasance, especially since the startup company had long since gone bust.
In fact, the building had become so run-down lately that america was seriously contemplating moving elsewhere. That is, if he could ever get off his lazy ass and find a new place to live and work.
A voice shrieked,“Motherfucking shit!” – followed by more crashing sounds.
america shuddered, figuring that the evil midget was finally there for him. He almost wished that he had a gun for protection. Just in case. But then the image of his disappointed parents popped up in his head and he immediately felt guilty. There’s nothing quite like a pacifist superego to keep one’s self in ethical check.
In light of his newfound fuck-it philosophy, he decided to just go out in the hall and see what the hell was going on. The best defense was usually a good offense. Or so the boys at Paddy’s always claimed when they were screaming for their team.
america quickly threw on his robe. He preferred not to wear pants while working – or in general.
He opened the door and, much to his surprise, discovered that the Chronicle’s award winning journalist, Lynn Weather, was spread out on the floor – tangled up in the nylon firehose and covered in foam discharge from the extinguisher.
“Lynn? What the heck are you doing down there?”
“america, you f-f-fuck, where y-y-ya been all m-m-my-life?”
Her slurred words drunkenly colliding into each other, Lynn pursed her lips and reached out for him.
“jesus christ, Lynn! Are you okay? Here, let me give you a hand.”
america de-hosed the reporter and lifted her to her feet.
“I’ve been at P-p-paddy’s all n-n-night long. The g-g-game was on so the b-b-boys were yelling and b-b-buying little ol’ m-m-me drinks. But goddamnit if a certain s-s-someone named after this f-f-fair country of ours n-n-never bothered to show up. Even though he pa-pa-pacifically told me to m-m-meet him there.”
america didn’t bother to point out that Lynn – like so many other corporate media big shots – was Canadian. For all that he cared, the country of his namesake was for anyone who wanted to claim it as their own.
Delicately dragging her into his office, he carefully set her down on the couch, where she immediately positioned herself in america’s well-worn ass groove.
“Hey Lynn, I’m terribly sorry about that. It was all just a big mix-up. You see, I really did show up. Got there early in fact. I wanted to talk with you about that article you did on Dan White’s missing gun. If you don’t mind too much, I’d like to see the research you did for it. And I was also gonna buy you a few drinks. Just to make up for any hurt feelings over the whole Garrett trial thing. I hope you know that I meant to cause you no harm.”
america had a tendency to talk fast when he was nervous. So once he got the apology out there, he tried to let it linger.
“But then I got this note from you that was rather unpleasant. Well, I guess it wasn’t actually from you. Though at the time, I thought it was. So I got mad and left. Anyway, I’ve been having a pretty shitty day. How are you doing?”
“Me? I’m drunk and pissed. This new editor. You know the one who’s supposedly gonna turn the whole fucking paper around. Solve our financial difficulties by bringing in all this ad revenue with his new reader friendly sections like Wine and Health. I believe his name is Fuckhead McFuckhead. Well – apparently – he doesn’t like my style. Says I’m too abrasive. So he bumped me off the magazine and put me back in the Bay Area section.
“The Bay Area section, america! After all these years, I’m just another local reporter. Page B-1 is all I can shoot for now. Can you believe that shit?”
Without an ounce of grace, Lynn placed a cigarette between her lips and nibbled on the end.
“I just can’t fucking win these days. You and Genet beat me up for pandering to the public. And Mr. Big Shot from Manitoba. A province that doesn’t even have a hockey team anymore, I might add. The motherfucker has the temerity to tell me that I’m not ad friendly. Fuck me!”
Spitting out bits of cigarette filter, Lynn leaned forward and held up her finger as if to make an important point.
“So I got drunk with some of the boys after work and then I got drunk with
the fellas at Paddy’s. And maybe a couple other places in between. Feels like old times. Do you remember when. . .”
In slow motion, Lynn tumbled off the couch. america wasn’t sure if he should try to grab her or just watch and laugh. When she hit the floor with the sound of a queef, he couldn’t help but chuckle before he helped her gingerly slide her ass back onto the couch.
He steadied himself as she held on to him tight. It felt nice to have someone need him physically.
At the same time, it also felt wrong. Very wrong.
Abruptly, he released her and stood up to stretch.
“How about I get you some coffee and maybe something to eat, Lynn?”
“Thanks, dear. I’m sorry to barge in on ya like this. But I’m kinda having a rough time lately and was really looking forward to seeing my old friend, america, tonight.”
She reached out for his hand – glancing his knuckles with the tips of her fingers.
“Paddy did tell me that he gave you some note that freaked you out. So when I called and you didn’t answer, I got worried. Maybe I’m just drunk, but Paddy said you seemed out of sorts.”
Giving up on her attempt to make contact, she shrugged nonchalantly.
“So I figured – what the hey – maybe you needed to see an old friend too.”
Lynn continued to talk as america walked into the kitchen to brew a fresh pot of coffee.
Seeing her wasted reminded him of why he was glad to have been on the wagon for so long. He liked to keep his composure. To remain cool.
As he waited for the water to boil, his thoughts trailed back to his early days in The City after returning from New Mexico. He was hungry for contacts so he liked to hang out at the Old Graystone where all the newspeople gathered to drink and shoot the shit. Lynn was a young local reporter trying to make it in The City. And she could rum it up just as good as any of the boys. She was practically a one man drinking contest.
In fact, america didn’t even think of Lynn as a woman until one drunken evening when the two of them found each other naked in his bed.
Not much came of that. She made it. He made it. They kept in touch.
“So I thought I’d swing by and say, ‘Hi.’”
Appearing slightly more steady on her feet, Lynn staggered towards america – who was popping a few pieces of sourdough bread into the toaster.
She stood close to him. A little too close.
The nervous type, america didn’t enjoy people invading his personal space – especially when he was trying to do something tricky like dance around the kitchen making coffee and toast.
He took a giant intentional step backwards.
The toaster popped.
Startled, he fumbled with the bread.
“I made you some toast. I figured it might sop up those extra Nutty Irishmen that Paddy made for you. The coffee’ll be ready in a sec.”
Attempting to regain his composure, he buttered the bread. It felt good to be preparing food for someone – even if was just toast for an old drunken friend.
She was staring at him like a schoolgirl elated to have been noticed by an older boy at a sock hop.
Avoiding eye contact, america kept buttering – so much so that the bread began to crumble.
“You remembered my drink. All these years and america still knows what I drink. I don’t know why, but that really means a lot to me right now.”
As she continued to gaze upon him intently, america searched the cabinets for a second mug. He was tempted to point out that Paddy practically made everyone drink Guinness, Jameson, or Nutty Irishmen under threat of punishment by the IRA. However, his guest looked so beatific that he resisted the urge to burst her bubble.
Though, his feeling uncomfortable about the situation must have been obvious since – when he did finally meet her eyes – her face and neck had turned scarlet.
Rubbing the bridge of her nose, Lynn shook her head and wandered out of the kitchen.
Carrying the coffee and toast into the other room, america discovered his visitor fidgeting around the office – nervously running her hands over his papers and scanning the books on his shelves.
Strangely, she appeared less drunk now. In fact, it almost seemed to him like she was looking for something in particular. Unsure what to make of this hunch, he put the soberizing snack tray on the table and fell back onto the couch – landing comfortably in his ass groove.
“Here we go, jackpot! Now, it’ll really be like the good ol’ days, america.”
Lynn was brandishing a bag of weed that she’d apparently found on one of the shelves.
That must’ve been what she was looking for, america concluded as he sipped his coffee. Though, he was pretty sure that he’d finished all the grass off earlier.
Then again, it could be that his memory was just getting foggy. Maybe relapsing now hadn’t been the greatest of ideas.
Still, his earlier ganja foray had been the pinnacle of his day. And he could probably use some more relaxing. So he decided that he was game.
“Problem is I don’t have a pipe or anything. Not even a lighter.”
“It’s okay. I got us covered.”
Plopping herself next to america on the couch, Lynn lit her chewed-up cigarette as she popped a piece of toast in her mouth and eagerly started rolling a joint.
america had almost forgotten what a dynamo she was. He could probably use someone with such manic energy these days. Gulping down his coffee – which he’d clandestinely spiked with just a taste of whiskey – he leaned back and watched her work. Now he felt like the schoolgirl with the googly eyes.
She rolled a perfect joint and – with her cigarette still dangling from one side of her lips – lit it, took a huge drag, and passed it over to him.
He took a powerful hit and sunk deeper into his ass groove.
After a few more passes back and forth, she placed her head on his lap and stretched out her legs. Maybe it was just the weed, but america felt at ease with her so close – and for once he didn’t feel guilty.
Watching her slowly suck from the joint and then exhale a plume of bluish smoke that just hung in the air above them, he felt like he was falling in love. Without even realizing it, he began to gently stroke her hair. The moment seemed to last forever.
“Man, you should’ve seen the Giants game tonight, america. This big hulking teenager. I think his name was Nathan or something like that. Apparently, he was trying to make a name for himself. Anyway, he was pitching for the Astros and he threw inside on Santiago twice in a row. Up and in, real tight. And ol’ Benito gave him one of his classic you-piece-of-shit better-not-do-it-again stares.”
“So this kid, and he was really just a huge kid, what does he do? He throws the next pitch right at Benny’s head. I swear, Santiago was so fucking pissed that he was shaking. But before he could do a damn thing about it, the kid charged him!”
Lynn gestured wildly with the joint in her hand.
“Can you fucking believe it, america? A pitcher charging the plate. The boys said they’d never seen anything like it. Even Paddy looked surprised. I’m sure the kid’ll get sent back to the minors. He couldn’t really pitch for shit. But goddamn if he won’t be remembered for his pre-emptive strike.”
Though he never paid much attention to the games at the pub, america vaguely recalled the boys watching some sport other than baseball that evening.
“Hmm, is it baseball season already? Seems a bit early to me.”
Rolling her eyes sheepishly, Lynn took a long hit – before answering out of the side of her mouth: “Oh yeah, it was just one of those winter league exhibition games. I think they’re trying to drum up support in the off-season or something.”
Suddenly, Lynn sat up and screeched: “Shit, this fucker’s burning my goddamn fingers!”
She threw the roach into her half filled cup of coffee.
Like two dams breaking simultaneously, they both started gushing with the giggles.
america had forgotten how much fun it was to laugh with someone else. His mom always told him, “Laugh a little, you’ll live longer.”
Lost in thought, america didn’t even realize that Lynn was kissing him on the lips until after he’d subconsciously started kissing her back.
The next thing he knew they were half naked and groping each other.
america refused to let himself ponder the propriety of his behavior. Instead, he just enjoyed the touch of her skin against his.
“Do you want me to grab a condom?”
It had been so long since he needed one, america was hoping desperately that he still had a rubber lying around somewhere in his closet.
“It’s cool. Remember I had my ovaries removed for that story I did on. . .”
Lynn interrupted herself as she removed the remainder of her clothing.
“That is unless you have a disease, america?”
Caressing her breasts, he shook his head in the negative – mumbling: “Not that I know of.”
With the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” running through his head, america’s scattered thoughts raced from poor Hap’s ravaged genitals to feeling like an asshole for allowing Genet to besmirch Lynn’s professional integrity – she was hardcore and america knew it – to Texas Joe and his stupid Viagra jokes to Sirhan Sirhan’s gun to holy shit I’m gonna get laid to Annetta.
“Hello. america, are you there? It’s me. I missed you last night at Mario’s. We all did. Where on earth were you? Well, anyway, congratulations on another big win. So yeah, I just wanted to catch up with you. See how you were doing, what you were up to, and all that good stuff. Let’s talk soon, okay? Good night.”
Hearing her voice on the machine paralyzed america. He knew in his heart that he should probably send Lynn on her way with an apology for letting things get out of hand, pick up the phone, and talk to Annetta. Finally hash everything out with her.
However, Lynn didn’t seem to be too perturbed – as she mounted him.
It was strange for america to be thinking about his one true love slipping through his fingers as he slipped inside someone else. Stoned and confused, he wasn’t sure who he was fucking and who was fucking him anymore.