A New Groove
Cops are easy to dodge if you’re not stupid. The party bust was a shame for Seth, who had been so thrilled to make a move on Dimitri, finally. Correction: to have Dimitri make a move on him. Either way, the moment was exhilarating and short-lived. He needs to get the boy’s attention at the upcoming rave.
Prince George isn’t a large town, and the hike down Foothills Boulevard is easy, even though the bonfire party was south of Hart Highlands. It is still walkable if you’re not a lazy ass. Seth, Joel, and Tanis stay in the ditch, making sure they keep an eye out for any cars driving in the middle of the night. For all they know, it could be another cop.
“Someone probably ratted,” Tanis says during the walk.
“Doubt it,” Joel says.
“Or someone better not rat.”
“Doubt it. They’re after the dealers, not the takers.”
“I know it. There were rats there,” Tanis says.
“Jeffrey, for one. Oh, and I saw Tracy there. Don’t forget Liam.”
“You’re listing names now,” Joel says, laughing.
Seth has no comment. His mind is at the next party. The rave. He is not worried about the bust or who rats because that stuff happens all the time. This one was probably caused by all the dumbasses that kept throwing fuel into the fire. Smoke is visible for miles. Knowing how reckless some of the scene kids are, Seth guessed they caused quite a disturbance during the raid. Hell, some of them probably got arrested. Seth didn’t. No, he’s too cunning for that. He may not be a hunter, but he’s something, all right.
The three reach Fifth Ave., the point where the three separate, and are now pretty sober. Each is tired and off in their own thoughts. Tanis and Joel finish discussing vermin, reaching no conclusion.
“Catch you guys later?” Seth says.
“You know it, homeslice.” Tanis waves bye.
“See you tomorrow,” Joel says.
“Fuck,” Seth groans. Work is the last thing he wants to think of.
The three split ways and return to their regular lives. Their true selves are masked until the rave next week. They hate having to shroud themselves in the curtains of conformity, obeying the capitalistic sharks that are eating them from the bottom up. No one can make it out of this logging town and do something with their life. You can’t, unless you have money, and no one in the scene does. Correction: no one has clean money. Drug money is everywhere, and that is a slippery path to go down.
Now, a good-and-greasy meal is needed. Seth’s mouth craves something oily. A meaty liquor-liberator can slither down into the digestive system and absorb the toxic mess that the body is trying to defeat on its own. There has to be some donair shop open. So Seth thinks, but he is wrong. Everything is closed at four-thirty in the morning. If only his wristwatch were misaligned. It looks like he’ll have to shrug off this boozing with no fatty salvation.
He makes it back home as dusk is creeping up. There’s that satisfying red line, peeking over the forest, indicating that it was indeed a good night. Prince George is a beauty. The sun rising after a night of debauchery is so rewarding. Especially knowing the regulars are getting up to bend over for the man. Take that, capitalism—a small win in the greater war.
The war on life . . . it is never over. An immediate threat is pissing Seth’s aunt off. The last thing he needs is to wake her up, tumbling into the house, and have her lecture him about getting his life in order. He knows he has to. It’s going to happen . . . maybe. Not tonight, though.
He creeps through the backyard in the slumbering neighbourhood, unlocks the back door, and sneaks down to the dark basement. Success. He lights one last smoke before crash-landing on his bed. His mind replays the party of a failed hunter. Fuckin’ Buddy, Crunk-Tanis, Aina, and Dimitri. Dimitri. The name has a nice ring to it, like his hair and tongue. Man, his ass is tight. Seth had snuck in a grab. Mission accomplished, sort of.
The transformation into the masked self is as real as ever while the regular week plays out. There’s no more truth, and no more freedom. A slave in the system returns. The weight of bills and retail jobs shackles the creatures of the night, exposing them to the daylight. Hisses of agony and misery run rampant deep in their souls.
One day. Two days. Three days. Four. When can the demons be free on the rave’s dance floor?
Repetition is misery. A continual beep, every day, just before the cash drawer flings open. Each new bottle rings through, tempting Seth. The beer. The vodka, wine, whiskey—all of it mocks him. He’s the sober liquor clerk, serving others—a saviour in a way, liberating people of their misery. The cash register exchange is the final blessing, releasing the customer to wash away their sins. Seth is a saint.
His deep-red gown of the liquor faith holds the keys in its apron pocket, letting him lock up at the end of the shift. The holy duties of maintaining the chapel are tiring, and the day is nearing an end. He’s sweeping the floors—a humble ritual—as preparation to lock up and call it a day. Then, he, too, can wash away his sins.
For his evils reside deep in his thoughts—the need to smoke up, get drunk, release himself of the mundane, and cleanse his mind of what torments him. Further in the chasm of his thoughts resides the failed attempt at confidence. Go a little deeper, and it is self-hatred, eventually leading to fear—the root of all negativity.
Seth is no fierce hunter. Is he a gentle giver? His job would reflect that. But he did stand up for himself—that altercation with Fuckin’ Buddy. Seth defended . . . his cousin, which also defends Seth’s name, in theory. The prick had to mention his cousin. He had to. It has nothing to do with Seth.
The bell jingles; another soul needs blessing. A saint’s job never ends. He places the sacred crosier of sweeping aside, peeking over the aisle to spot a blonde head bopping up and down. They’re too short to see any more, but Seth knows who this is. No one else has hair that bleached.
“Yo, April!” Seth says, walking over to the same aisle as the visitor.
There, a small, skinny gal in a cute spaghetti-strap tank top and tight denim shorts walks towards him. She smiles, stroking her pink-and-purple-streaked blonde hair. The gal leans against an aisle. No worries, though. She’s so tiny, her weight couldn’t possibly knock over the flimsy metal frames, even if she tried.
“Glad you’re working tonight,” she says in that nasal voice of hers, chewing bubble gum. SMACK, SMACK. The girl is clearly alluding to Joel. There’s a history there that will make things awkward when it is rave time.
“Just closing up,” Seth says.
“I know. I’m grabbing some drinks, then heading back home.”
“Yeah? Want to hang instead?” Seth says.
“Word! Haven’t seen you in what . . . over a week?”
“Something like that, yeah.”
“How was that party, by the way?” April picks out her choice of liquor—vodka, lovely—and walks to the cash register. Seth follows to ring her in. He thinks about the party, as he has all week. Dimitri. Seth’s inability to be cool. Fuckin’ Buddy. There is still a small scab on his neck as a reminder of Buddy’s psychotic nature.
“It was all right,” Seth says.
“Only all right?”
“Well, I got to get my hands on Dimitri before the bust.”
“Right, heard about the cops. Good for you, though!”
“Thanks. I’m going to try and get his damn number at the rave this weekend.”
“That’s all? Don’t want to get a taste of his dick?”
Seth blushes. What a goof. His emotions always get the better of him.
April speaks first. “I sure would if he were straight. Shit, you’re both lookers.”
“I mean, yeah. If I can get him alone for a moment, maybe,” Seth says.
“Yeah, that guy is all over the place.”
“Tell me about it,” Seth says, ringing in the bottle and taking the cash.
“Well, where do we hang?” April asks, cracking open the vodka and taking a chug.
Seth instinctually looks at the security camera. Oh, right, it’s a dummy. His boss is too cheap to get a real one. Hell, their best security is to lock up and pull down the grilles. He snags the bottle from her and takes a swish.
“Let me lock up, and we’ll find somewhere. Maybe Rainbow Park.”
“Great.” April smiles, chewing the gum loudly. SMACK, SMACK. “Tell me all the juicy details of Dimitri.”
“For sure.” Seth scratches his neck, a little nervous. He’s not much of a kiss-and-tell kind of guy. Only with Tanis—she always has his back.
“Fuck,” April says, eyeing the scab. “Your neck.”
“Uh, Dimitri is handsy,” Seth lies.
“What a tiger.”
Fuckin’ Buddy situation avoided. He doesn’t want to get into the details of him and the knife. It would bring up the story of his cousin. Seth has been through that story countless times and doesn’t want to think about it. The girl is dead. His cousin did his time. Nine years (there’s an explanation for that), minus six days. Can’t people leave it alone?
With that, Seth closes up the liquor store, freeing him from the chains of normality. The saint drops the gown, and his true form flourishes once more in the night. His mind, tainted with obedience, will be washed away by the rough waves of cheap vodka. The thoughts of Dimitri and—no, scratch that—the deeper fears of confidence, acceptance, and direction fizzle out. Seth can laugh, drink, and enjoy the brisk evening with a friend.
April is one of the good people. Her smile is warm, and her blue eyes are wholesome. She has a strange sense of innocence about her under the tacky outfit. Kind of like Seth’s fashion and kindness, depending on who you ask. The similarities are comforting.
“. . . Joel hurt me,” April says, chugging the vodka.
“He’s a bit of a player,” Seth says.
“. . . I think I told him I loved him.”
The drink goes down so smoothly while they pass the bottle back and forth. Each time, the burn on the esophagus lessens.
“I was so good to him.”
“Dimitri grabbed me!”
“I hate myself for being lonely.”
“Don’t say that about yourself.”
“I’d give you a go.”
They are free from others’ judgment and self-deprecation, now level-to-level with another soul through sloppy speech. The vodka is hitting Seth hard while the cool wind brings April snug against him. She smells good. She is good.
The laughs and chats are more than friendly in their cuddle session under the starry sky. Comfort. The bottle is over two-thirds done. Seth’s hand goes for the bottle as hers reaches his.
“. . . Come here, cutie,” she says. Their faces meet, lips touch, hands wrapping around the other form. The moment holds. Two sore hearts. Friends with a little extra thanks to Mr. Booze in the solace of darkness. They can be honest. Human to human, liberating each other of seclusion.