The Weapon of Young Gods #21: Backwards Fear

I had just agreed to join my brother’s band for their first gig when Peter came back, looking sloppier than he should so early on a Friday. “Roy, what the fuck have you been doing all this time?” he shouted. “Tell your little brother that he’s holding you up from watching your friends demolish a perfectly good bottle of vodka, okay?” My roommate grabbed at the phone, yelling into it with glee. “R.J., you little bitch! The next time you’re up here, I’m gonna make you pay for this! You won’t know what hit you, and you’ll wake up in bed with a strange man!” He motioned for me to get moving, doubling over in drunk guffaws.

Previous Episode

Soundtrack (mp3): ‘Backwards Fear’ by Low Tide

“Okay, Pete, okay dude,” I said, and he hurried away. I turned back to the receiver. “Listen, man,” I began, but R.J. was laughing too. “Go have fun,” he managed to squeeze out. “Get your mind off everything, but take it easy on the sauce this weekend, okay? I’ll talk to you later.”

“Yeah, will do. Thanks again, R.J.”

“Of course. Oh, and tell that macho queen that when I do visit you guys, no illicit item in his stash will be safe from my sticky little fingers.”

We hung up and I started off down the hall, taking a pen and scratch paper. I figured I should write some lyrics if I was gonna pull my weight as a Blue Monkeynut. “Narcoleptic Blues” sounded like a good title. Maybe I’d run with that. Once I got to Alex’s room, though, I knew I wouldn’t get much work done. His roommate Dan was gone for the weekend, and had carelessly left a bottle of Smirnoff behind, so Alex took full advantage of this by engineering a situation where he could really lay it on thick for Frankie’s neighbor Ana. Peter had long since liberated the vodka by the time I arrived, but for my sake he’d brought along a silly little toy-like bong. Frankie had showed up too, so once again Peter soon found himself a fifth wheel while both of us couples became predictably uninhibited, and less and less interested in the endless variety of drinking games he could conjure up with fifty-two cards.

Alex’s fiendishly lecherous plan worked much faster than he expected. Within an hour Ana was hanging her little brown arms all over him, and he threw me some looks that blatantly telegraphed his smug satisfaction. Peter took it all happily in stride, eventually calling attention to the fact that he’d only just noticed the extent to which the vodka had been destroyed. “And so,” my roommate proclaimed, “when our unfortunate friend Daniel returns, I should not like to have any hints dropped as to the likely cause of this liquid’s absence. If asked, I will deny everything, and blame the women.”

“Pinche maricón,” slurred Ana. “How ’bout you get the fuck out, then, so you can have pauseable, um, defensibility?” She realized her drunk mistake a split-second too late, and froze- as did we all- but Peter simply ignored it, and cut off Ana’s fumbling apology before she could verbalize it. “‘Plausible deniability,’ baby,” he corrected, lucid as ever despite degree of alcohol intake or frequency of homophobic slurs. He then turned to me. “Roy, when you return to our room, if you do, please have the courtesy to not be completely naked, won’t you?”

The tension broke in a rush of backwards fear as Alex and Ana collapsed with laughter, but Frankie casually flipped them all off. “Don’t worry, Pete,” she said, loud and proud, “your roomie will still have all his precious bits and pieces intact.” She ran a hand through her boy-short blond hair and giggled. Ever since the night I’d walked her home from I.V.B.C., she’d toyed with my libido this way, in public, but had then slipped back into her talkatively platonic self once there seemed to be any chance of me literally getting in her room.

I tried to play it as cool as I could through the now-familiar half-shut, bloodshot fog of proto-hallucination, but it didn’t matter. As Peter left the room with a melodramatic flourish, Frankie got to her feet and offered me a hand up. We were barely out the door when it slammed shut, and she giggled again as she let me down the hall to her room. She swayed a little, saying hello into every open door we passed, and waving happily at two dour-looking brunettes walking by the other way.

I didn’t recognize them, but Frankie whispered a sprightly “Bitches,” as they disappeared around the corner. “Karen and Karen,” she explained, pausing for me to laugh at the pun, then continued, “They’re these, like, really uptight Christian chicks from Fresno that room a few doors down from me. Everyone in the wing sort of avoids them because they’re always, you know, sermonizing at us and stuff about our decadent, whorish lifestyles.”

“Really?” I asked. “How enchanting. Is there, um, any basis for these nasty accusations?” She looked at me sideways and smiled sweetly. “Why? Are you going to tell the ‘Carin’ Karens’ on me, Roy?”

“What will happen if I do?” I shot back, flirting like an amateur again. “Probably nothing,” she allowed. “They already think I’m a lost cause because I really had it out with them one night,” she said, unlocking her door and unceremoniously leading me in without a second look.

“About your, uh, ‘whorish lifestyle?'” I asked, getting a brief glimpse of the cluttered chaos in her room before she snapped around behind me to shut the light off. I stopped on the spot.

“No,” she said casually, “I’d just gotten really sick of being Bible-bashed, so one night in the bathroom I just unloaded ten years of Sunday-school righteousness on their asses- quoted them chapter and verse and shit, and get this, Roy, they looked totally shocked, like I’d just told them about stuff in there they’d never read before. Fucking idiots.”

“Oh my,” I said, a little too stiffly, watching her silhouette glide over to close the curtains and blot out the moonlight. “Um, Frankie, don’t you have a roommate?”

“I used to, but not anymore,” she said, ignoring any possibility of tactlessness. I could hear her opening and closing dresser drawers, and her voice emanated from different corners as she moved around the darkened room. “Yeah, she had to bail at the end of last quarter- her grades sucked and she didn’t want to try anymore, so I got my very own room for the first time in my life.” She paused indulgently. “It’s been a real treat to only answer to my slobby self for three months.”

“Cool,” I said, leaning back against the shut door with a soft thud. “Must be nice.” I closed my eyes for a second to try and adjust them to the darkness, and to relax a bit too. I’d almost done it when she suddenly spoke very close to me; she must have sneaked back over in the dark when I wasn’t paying attention.

“Sometimes,” she whispered, “and sometimes it’s not so nice.” She hooked her fingers around the back of my neck, and I could see her pupils glint in the sliver of moonlight left in the room. “Sometimes it’s unbearable, actually,” she continued, “and I’ve been wondering when you were going to help me out with that, mister.”

“Oh,” I said, trying not to sound flattened by the bombshell’s bombshell. “Well, when you put it that way, I know I’ve already failed, Frankie.”

“Don’t you dare,” she said softly. “You’re a beautifully courteous person, Roy, but I think I’m sort of over that kind of bogus chivalry.”

She unlocked her hands, cupped my face in them, and kissed me, deluging my dry mouth with her tongue. I slid my hands out of my pockets to hang them around her lower back. She was naked to the waist.

“Besides,” she said, pulling me away from the door. “I don’t like it when catty little Christian virgins get on my case for no good reason, so I decided to find a good reason, and here you are.”

“Anything you say, Francesca,” I said, managing to trill the “r” as I followed her lead. It hadn’t been that long since we’d both been thrown over the side, and a double rebound surely demanded double the enthusiasm. “I love how you say my name,” she whispered.

That was good to hear, sure, but the resulting Roy-and-Frankie-Stoned-Love-Special didn’t really end up being an earth-moving experience for either of us- it didn’t last that long, for one thing- but considering the three-month layoff, I avoided embarrassing myself too much, and she had no complaints. The Smirnoff had gone straight to her head though, so she passed out cold within ten minutes, and I watched her sleep for as long as I could, but in what seemed like no time at all I was soon unconscious myself.

When I opened my eyes I was up on the trembling, dusty cliff again, yanked backwards into the same fearful nightmare, staring down the same three crusty old skeletons framed in a blazing inferno. It didn’t take them as long this time to decide I was a problem, and without uttering a word, all three slowly raised their cocked pistols and pointed them at me. I knew a second of absolute terror as all three weapons discharged with a terrible crack, and I woke up shivering, but slathered in sweat. I tried to calm down and focus on Francesca’s uncovered curves next to me, but I lay there for what seemed like hours without being able to get back to sleep. I got up as quietly as I could, dressed, and blearily staggered back to my room, where I didn’t sleep until the sun came up.


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    • Roy Reed on April 30, 2008 at 08:32

    Yes, after many moons, we have a soundtrack again. “Backwards Fear” was actually the first song I worked on for this soundtrack, before it became “The Important Project I Had To Finish Before Continuing With The Book.” More about the soundtrack here for the curious.

    Anyway, I made it before midnight PST this time, as promised (I think). I appreciate the tips/recs, but as always, constructive criticism is always welcome from all four of my regular readers. 😉

    • RiaD on April 30, 2008 at 15:39

    another episode!!

    i’ll go read it now….back in a bit….

  1. now so this is illicit reading (the beat kind) be back later, to reread and see the discussion. I have missed too much of your tales lately and am excited to pick up the thread again. It’s a good read.  


    seems OTB has these logos now rotating on the right side of the site… cool, huh?

    glad to find this again. and make sure you tag your story Weapon of Young Gods and will take us right to them!

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