Short story by Michael Botur
It’s 3.55pm when he comes into my world, well, I walk into HIS world. The boys let us in after I dare Danica to knock on the screen door with the big melted hole in it. The boys who live in this pig sty have never met us and we’ve only seen them from a distance but it’s obvious we wanna party so they don’t object when we tiptoe in and stand on the scummy ripped carpet in their lounge and say Hey.
I’m just in my kilt and Girls High polo shirt with the school crest embroidered on it that Ronnie Chin used to take photos of, practically drooling. Me, Danica, Talia and Crystal, we’re all 15. We’re soooooo biting-our-nails excited.
A bedsheet is tacked to the wall. Looks like they’ve built a fort. Cody’s body is splashed on the couch in his boxer shorts in the middle of the room. It takes like one second to work out that Cody is effortlessly cool. One of the main boys. If he’s chill, everyone’s chill.
They’re all playing PlayStation. They don’t get up to pour us drinks or nothing. In this pile of half-gnawed chicken bones there’s a stack of KFC cups. We take a flimsy waxed KFC cup each and Cody pours Corubas and Coke without even looking AND he gets a slam dunk in the basketball game he’s playing and says Cheers, tur hur hur, and, giggling, we drink our sour throat-burning mixes. Cody’s flatmate Cheese is saying FUCK! and smashing his controller on the ground cause Cody’s just wasted him on NBA Summer Slam. We sit in the corner of the room, four of us in a single collapsed armchair, giggling in each other’s ears, elbowing, watching the zoo. Cody is the patient, cool one with the slim, easy, basic body with flexible limbs and no muscle; Cheese has the flare-y temper. There are two other boys slouched in the same way. They have the same Starter caps. It takes us a while to realise they are identical twins, Dicky and Richie. Couple of drifters too, Blackie and Skittles. Both those guys have got ankle bracelets on.
We’ve only been out of school 30 minutes when the afternoon begins to melt. It’s just hit 4 o’clock when the drugs begin to dissolve my brain cause Cody’s got us smoking spots through a funnel over the elements of the stove and he even gets his puppydog stoned and I have to make the phone call with Mum reeeeal short and Mum asks if I want her to save me one or two pieces of corn-on-the-cob for dinner and me and my girls just totally lose the plot, like fully burst out laughing, looking at each other and moaning ‘Cooorn’ like cows and cracking up, and Cody curls his warm fingers around mine and folds my phone shut, cutting Mum off. His hand is soft like baby skin. Everything about his body is plain and boyish and preserved, relaxed and rangy and casual. His stomach is flat as pavement. Nothing sticks out between his collar bone and his crotch, which keeps bumping into me as we waltz, drunk on laughter, moaning ‘Coorrn, yo.’
We drink and smoke and feed KFC chips to Cody’s rottweiler puppy and play PlayStation til it’s midnight and the cops come into Cody’s flat without knocking and no one screams or bolts, all us girls just fall over laughing, and the cops grab Skittles and Blackie cause they’re in trouble for something and then my Mum comes marching in and grabs me by the wrist and I yank my wrist back and rasp at her, Don’t you ever fucking touch me, lady.
Cody comes and puts an arm around me and I pour myself into him. I’ve never spoken to my Mum that way and I need a supporter. Mum’s stunned. But it’s fair. It’s 1am and I’m 15 and drunk on dopamine and I’ve invented a rule and I’m going to stick with it. The rule is Only Cody can touch me.
Cody is beautiful like a girl. He has these big cow eyes, real black eyelashes, plus real pouty lips the colour of blood and skin the colour of peanuts. It’s two weeks before I get off curfew and go round to his place and swim in those eyes again. Moments after I knock dorkily on the door I’m licking his neck, the scars on his jaw, sucking his earlobes. He takes me into the bathroom and, without saying anything, peels off my sticky panties like an ice block wrapper and makes love to me so hard the bathroom cabinet swings open, spilling pills on us.
I meet his family soon enough. They’re all mental. We have a bonfire pissup with his Uncle John and, laughing so hard his beer can rolls off the bonnet of his truck, Uncle John tells me he used to blow weed smoke in Cody’s crib when Cody was one year old, “Cause the kid was born a party animal, tur hur hur.” Cody cracks up at that and sculls his Cody’s Bourbon & Cola, a drink which Uncle John says was named after the “partyingest cunt in town.” They clink cans after every story.
Sometimes I stay at Cody’s uncle’s place on weeknights, out in the wops where there are no streetlights, only stars. A lot of the time Cody leaves halfway through the night and doesn’t come back. No one’s sure where anyone is. This is out in the country where they have random pets changing each month, like this llama that’s one day just randomly chained to the fence. Cody had stolen it from the Fieldays farm show on a dare and tried keeping it in his garage but it chewed his BMX to pieces. They’re going to fatten it up and spit roast it, apparently.
The Murphy clan live so far out in the wops it takes like 90 minutes to get back to school, and this is doing a one-twenty on the motorway with the wind ripping the embers out of our ciggies.
Fuck school, anyway. It’s just a place to make me crave my man a little bit more.
I forget about the sticker chart my parents and Mr Mohammed want me to update every day. I go a couple of weeks without getting any fresh good behaviour stickers then I just rip it up in front of Mr Mohammed and walk out of class halfway through first period. I want a education that’s real. I go and see my baby because I love him.
That’s the first 1000 words.
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