The Weapon of Young Gods #24: Ruinous Smackdown Fallout

My head is still swimming from multiple blunt traumas long after Olivia left me in the ruinous fallout of her smackdown. The night is quiet again, but I feel like the whole neighborhood just heard her nuke my self-confidence and curse me with the “stalker” epithet. I try to forget about it as the Civic creeps along Camino Capistrano back down the hill toward Coast Highway. I actually almost banish tonight’s shame with an even more trivial memory that bubbles up: eons ago, I came shamefully close to failing my driving test in this very neighborhood. This is almost too ridiculous to acknowledge, so I try to pay attention to the road as I drive back up the coast to Dana Point.

Previous Episode

Fog still chokes the way ahead, and traces of beach-bonfire smoke still linger in the air. I take my foot off the gas passing Olamendi’s, where a cop’s pulled over some poor bastard in a rusty Carmenghia, but I gun it again once I get to the loop for Highway 1. I’m coming up on Del Obispo again, still not too keen on going home, so I swerve left and wait to turn into the harbor. Whatever was going on in there- or maybe at Doheny right next door- that snarled this intersection with traffic a half-hour ago has apparently dissipated into the mist, as I make the left and waft across the empty harbor drive.

I round a bend and cruise toward the island bridge, the way ahead fuzzily illuminated by streetlights that fail to cut through all the fog. The bridge itself vanishes into oblivion in front of me, but I know it’s only a short hop to the island. More memories lurch out of the night, and I have visions of myself and my friends jumping off the harbor bridge at high tide, suffering instant swim-trunk wedgies as we plunged thirty feet into the channel below. Fourth-of-July waterfight nostalgia struggles to surface in the midst of it all too, but my brain is soon wiped clean when I come to the other side and a looming stop sign.

A familiar bronze face tries to stare me down until I turn left to find a place to park, but I don’t have the stones to look Richard Henry Dana’s statue in the eyes tonight. The jack-tar golem of fourth-grade California history lessons seems a little too lifelike right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t amble over and hang out behind his back and stare out to sea as he surveys the cove.

As soon as I get out of the car, though, I know I won’t be hunkering down under the statue alone. The scratchy strumming of acoustic guitars cuts through the haze, two voices I recognize are warbling drunkenly, and I sigh with relief as I realize that once again, the Dawson brothers are going to pull me out of the abyss. Everything seems less ominous, less uncertain, and I take my time walking over to meet them. The jetty-neutered tide laps against the rocky lip of the man-made island, where feral cats slink among the stones and make the best of their bizarre lot in life.

A fog-horn sounds from the harbor-mouth buoy, muffling my approach. Ben is singing a verse about pounding cheap tequila, his eyes closed in happy abandon, and Colin isn’t facing my way, so my increasing giddiness gets the better of me and I decide to have a little fun with them.

“POLICE!” I holler, my voice thick with bacon-grease. “YOU STONERS ARE FUCKED NOW!”

Both Dawsons leap about a foot in the air and almost drop their guitars on the cement. They whip around like hapless prey and their eyes bulge with guilt-ridden fear for five glorious seconds before they recognize me.

“D-Derek?” yelps Ben. “Derek! Jesus creeping shit, motherfucker, you froze my goddam balls!”

“Boogaboogaboo, gaijin,” I say, and Colin merely giggles with vapid relief. I solemnly swear to relish this moment for as long as I live.

Ben is still gob-smacked. “Wow, dude. If I die of heart failure, you’re getting the fucking bill.” He reaches into his guitar case and pulls out a joint.

“What the hell are you doing down here anyway, man?” asks Colin, flicking his zippo for Ben’s roll. “Did you miss Old Man Dick Hank?” He jerks his head at the statue behind us.

“Nah, I came to see the gig, guys.” I hold out my hands to them, palms up in appreciation. “Don’t stop now. Hey, where’s Zip?” Their shifty guitarist, Johnny Sipowicz, is nowhere to be seen, so I feel free to use his hated nickname.

Colin shakes his head. “Nope, no está aquí. He’s staying at his parents’ in Huntington. Gonna drive down right before showtime. Tomorrow night, right up at Hennessee’s. Didn’t we tell you that?”

“Probably, but that was before I suffered, um, a heinous head injury.” I tap my noggin gently.

“How is that, by the way?”

“Better than it was. Slayer hath bequeathed their rehearsal room to Hootie and the Blowfish.”

They groan. “Sounds like a relapse to me, dude,” coughs Ben. “In my professional opinion, of course.” He passes Colin the joint.

“Right. So what time do you go on tomorrow?”

“Eight,” snorts Colin. “Hafta start early and then wrap it up in an hour, cause of the establishment’s humorless residential neighbors.”

“Bummer.” I sit down at the statue’s base, reclining back on its mini-pyramid of a pedestal.

“Nah, it’s cool. The whole tour has been pretty good, actually.” Colin takes a toke, holding in the smoke as he passes it back.

“Totally,” agrees Ben, counting off the itinerary with his fingers. “Nicholby’s, so-so set. Had some kinks to work out. Dume Room, fuckin’ sweet; lotsa chicks came in from Pepperdine and we felt like kings. Derby Club was weird, but L.A. gigs always are. We played really well and pulled forty people on a weeknight, though. Come to think of it, the only real hitch was at the Back Alley, up in Full-” Ben stiffens, like he’s suddenly remembered something, and his whole demeanor changes instantly. “Oh. Oh shit.”

“What’s up, bro?” Colin asks, clearly a few chapters behind.

“Dude, the Back Alley! Remember those three guys in there, the ones who heckled the living shit out of us?”

Colin furrows his brows in stoned concentration for a few seconds before gaining access to some evidently disturbing memory. “Fuck,” he spits, shaking his head again, then glances at me involuntarily before concentrating on his guitar neck.

“What?” I ask. “What three guys?”

“Nothing,” says Colin. “Just weirdos at the show spewing drunk talk. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.”

“Seems to worry you two, though.”

“Well, we’re like, paranoid?” offers Ben, wiggling the joint.

“Come on guys. If it’s no big deal, why not tell me? What would it matter to me anyway?”

“Yeah, I guess it would matter to you,” says Colin, “if three trashed thugs you’d never seen before kept getting up in your face while you were trying to pack up; kept saying things like ‘your faggot-assed friend Haynes is in deep shit,’ and ‘we know where you fuckers live’ and ‘tell Haynes his ass belongs to us’ and stuff like that.”

“What?!?” I sit up straight at the mention of my name.

“Uh-huh,” Ben nods, “didn’t make any sense to us either. They had a little posse with ’em too. Venue security didn’t even stop ’em, even when we demanded to know what the fuck was up. No dice. One bouncer just came over with our door cash and said something like, ‘Sorry dudes, but we just can’t touch the Addisons.””

“Oh fuck. Fuck!” My skin crawls when he mentions the name. What the hell do Lisa and Olivia’s psychotic bastard cousins want with me?

“Dude,” says Colin, surprised, “You really do know those guys?”

“Sort of. They’re like, acquaintances. Of the ‘hope I never get first-hand confirmation of the horror stories’ variety, you know?”

“But how?” Ben this time.

“Cousins of this chick I used to date. The one from Chico, remember?”

“Oooohhhh,” they chorus. Ben does the eyebrow thing again and Colin nods at him, saying “If that’s all, then I guess you can forget it, Derek.”

“What? You guys were, like, shitting yourselves at the memory of it, just a minute ago, and now you want me to chill?”

“Yeah, but if they’re like, only aggrieved male relatives, then what the hell would they really do?” says Colin. “What is this, a fucking ‘we demand satisfaction’ trip? They’ll get over it. After all, she dumped you, right?”

“Not exactly.”


“And anyway,” I continue, “you don’t know these freaks. They- or at least one, Justin, the eldest- was my ex Lisa’s regular hookup. Pills, powder, whatever she wanted, they were slinging it. I mean, who the fuck would sell drugs to their own cousin?”

“I dunno,” says Ben, “but Coll and I could use a cousin like that, you know?” He flashes a stupid grin, but I know he’s only half-joking.

“Shut up,” I shoot back. “How can you get up on stage high anyway? Doesn’t it fuck with your skills?”

“Of course it does,” replies Colin with dismissive shrug. “That’s why we’re doing it now, dude, instead of tomorrow. You’re coming, right?”

“You already asked me that, and I said yes.”

“Oh. Right. Awesome, then.” The bald bassist is apparently satisfied, and pulls on a hoodie before picking up his acoustic again. His brother sees this and begins picking out another song, or maybe the same one they were playing when I showed up. I can’t tell. Colin falls in behind him with a simple walking root line.

“Relax, Derek,” he says, as Ben hums and croons to some mewling cats near the waterline. “Things like this always blow over, especially when stupid things like misplaced macho fuckin’ honor are involved. Hell, you could even, like get a restraining order or something.”

I laugh out loud at my friend’s ridiculous, drug-addled hyperbole. “I don’t think it would come to that, man.” I lean back against the statue’s base again and notice that the fog is is clearing away beyond the breakwater. “How would they know all that shit anyway? Where I live and stuff? They can’t.” Stars are flickering faintly on the horizon out to sea. “I mean, maybe Lisa told them I’m from around here, and I go to UCSB, but…but…”

“How do they know we know you?” Colin says out of the side of his mouth. “Um…I think that’s our fault, man.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No no, not on purpose or anything. I mean, remember this song I told you we wrote about you?” He nodded at Ben, still singing and playing. “‘Set The Record Straight?’ That one?”

“You said it was about partying too hard. I thought you meant I.V.”

“No, it was- well, yeah, sort of- but it was also about your shitty weekend in Chico, Derek. On this tour we’ve, um, ended up doing little raps about some of the songs before we play them, little stories, you know? Well, this one, we told it like it was, and I guess those dudes must have put two and two together.”

“As drunk as they were?”

“Hell, I dunno, man. That’s my best guess.”

“Well then it’s flattering,” I say. “Thanks for the simultaneous death sentence and immortality, guys.” We all laugh at the bizarre ways of the universe, and they keep playing for the next two hours. The night is still, disturbed only by the quiet tide and their music. I settle in against the concrete and close my eyes, tuning into the brothers’ songs, and try to shrug off the weird feeling of impending doom that hung over our conversation.

It almost works.


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    • dhaynes on May 27, 2008 at 08:20

    …of the first draft, that is. And you all know what that means: going back through the whole cheeky fat bastard and making copy-edits. Roy needs to be more gonzo, I need to be more…detached? More Spanish, more skin. That sorta thing.

    Indeed. It’s been pretty mellow so far. That’s gonna change for better and worse. Let’s hope we can pull it off without embarrassing ourselves too much, shall we?

    Oh, and I should say that it’s great to be a series among series here. You’ve made our egos very happy and we thank you.

    As always, tips and tricks are welcome. Thanks everyone.

    • RiaD on May 27, 2008 at 14:48

    i’m on my way out the door…

    back this afternoon, no time now for real commenting

  1. Some of our scenes almost work.  This one works all the way through.

    Well done!

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