This is part three of Patrick Benjamin’s serial story about a gang in suburban Los Angeles. To start the story at the beginning, click here.
It may be that you’re wondering how things between me and Tyler were resolved.
I mean, right now I’m naked, eating a string cheese sandwich, just trying to recover from his subterfuge, his monstering, and dagnabit, I feel stupid.
Admitting this is difficult. That’s putting it lightly.
The day after my Kim Basinger-fueled success I saw a red, round blinking light on my answering machine. It was Tyler wanting to meet up to guide me, as he’d been hearing from Corey, Brady, Dylan, and Cody that things with the Atwater Village Lightmotives [sic] weren’t, as he said, the dopest.
A burly man whose raiment was but a moist pair of white briefs and ever so much curly brown hair opened his huge front door after the two bits of my shave-and-a-haircut knock.
“And you are?” he hairily asked.
I realized I was being impolite and extended my hand for him to shake.
“Apologies. I’m Goblin and I’m here to see your son. Is Tyler in?”
He glanced at my offer of civility, of plain old politeness and slowly closed the door in my face.
Now who’s the rude duck? Boy did I wonder. I’m wondering still.
I heard Tyler’s father from behind the big oak thing with the little windows, which came to slight ridges and spun out in transparent dials, call out for his son in an awkwardly inquisitive fashion.
A minute passed. Another. “Rascal on a cracker, I’m leaving,” I thought aloud, sotto voce.
The door opened again and a nonetheless worried looking man, still hairy as all-get-out, said I could go up to his son’s room.
“Tell him I’m turning the heat down! I’m sweatin’ my bongos off down here!” he yelled after me as I ascended the carpeted staircase.
A hung sign that read “The Writers Room” [sic] had replaced the stickers spelling out “Da Crib.” Before I could knock, Tyler, having swung his door open, was doing a boyish, sarcastic curtsy and asking me into his bedroom.
Scarface poster, gone.
Video games and television, gone.
“I Can Has Cheezeburgers” and Kate Upton posters, gone.
“Sit,” he peeped and tapped a varnished cane (that came out of nowhere) on his now all-black bedspread. It smelled dastardly, of a chemical plant, and when I sat I sat with immediate regret.
Where the television had been now stood a stack of unsteady books. Of Human Bondage, Of Mice and Men, The Old Man and The Sea, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, On The Road.
I desired to ask why the only books in the room came from a specifically voweled locale. The scene was distracting. Hadn’t this been the mean teen who’d been to so cruel to his council? The same nasty boy who I’d toppled like a fragile Batista? Why was he reading? Was he reading? Why was he listening to Mendelssohn? What happened to his bed and why was there black paint on my hands?
I addressed Tyler. “Real Bieber—”
“Call me T.D. Iz. It’s my nom de gwar.”
I don’t know what came over me. Maybe it was just to avoid the confusion of so many darn names, but I went with sir.
“Sir? What happened to your—”
“My dignity? I got it back.”
Tyler opened the doors to his walk-in closet.
“No, sir, your—”
“Talent? I realized it.”
I heard a whirring.
“D.T., I meant—”
“T.D., but I like sir. Keep that up. Sir suits me.”
He held three ties to his unbuttoned button-down, with a raised eyebrow asking whether he should wear the paisley, plaid, or polka. I motioned to the paisley and Tyler returned to his closet from whence the whirring had begun and then did recur.
“You had a question?” His voice echoed in his spacious closet, large as my lavatory.
“Right,” I said. “What I was asking was…”
And I’d forgotten what I was asking, only later realizing it hadn’t really mattered that he’d classed up to this black bedspread from one featuring scenes from The Hangover Part II.
The question disappeared as he exited the closet wearing a black bow tie fit only for a Tuxedo. But with a gray jacket and red shirt? Tisa on a bagel, I couldn’t handle it.
Luckily, and for us both, the boy had made his decision and moved on to what he considered more pressing matters.
“Morricone,” I interjected.
“Nothing, sir. Joke I heard earlier, sir. Go on, sir.”
“You’re not laughing.”
“It wasn’t a very funny joke… sir.”
Tyler rambled a few things regarding leadership, and noticed the sweat beading along my brow.
“I’ve got something for that,” he said. He wore kindness well. Everyone should. Everyone can.
“No, I’m fine. It’s just that it’s very hot in here.”
“Writers need heat to survive.”
“I’m not sure what that means.”
“Maybe someday you will.”
On Tyler’s desk lay a thick stack of blank pages.
“Here, take these. Molly will treat you right.”
I didn’t know the girl, and didn’t understand the connection, though I did have a headache, so I accepted. Tyler’s a salacious sort-of-fellow, so best to keep pace with the former leader.
I told him I hadn’t eaten a girl in too long and thanked him for this Molly person he seemed to be offering. The joke didn’t register. He tacitly passed me two aspirin, which I took down like a mental patient too dumb to squirrel-cheek and spit out later. Twenty minutes passed and my love for the Telemundo on his parents’ widescreen was suddenly and vociferously fierce.
Time became a dominatrix, a healer, a coatcheck lizard, an absorbed mother, and a bunch of other things.
Too much was happening. Bolts of energy broke wind at my shins. Exit points from their flights down, a true south from my naked scalp. Credit card machines that sound like top-of-the-line dot matrix printers, which sound like carnivorous scaly monsters, which are what credit cards are, breeped tunnels and hallways through Flimsy Bob.
The police kindly dropped me home this morning.
The world has gone, in a scant twelve hours, from being the world in its perfected form to now, and now is the abyss.
I’m always reinvigorated when I hear David Shire’s indelible piano score. But today, feeling hammered into Satan’s bottom, I can’t do it. I try watching the source material but Hackman’s moustache gives me the heebie-jeebies.
All at once I’m crying over John Cazale.
Buckets, Tyler. You’ve won this round. This battle. Perhaps you’ve won the war. I surrender.
I’ve got to get out of this gang.
To read the last installment of Patrick’s story, click here.
Patrick Benjamin is a writer living near Los Angeles. He lives with his sister and grandmother.