Wednesday, May 8, 2013

7. Sweet, stay. on. this. bench...

...were his instructions. I was toast. Last call hadn't even been called yet but we, or more specifically I, had had plenty to drink. We ended our downtown Saturday night tour of Durango at Player's. That was really the only way he could get me to go there. I had to be sufficiently plowed to agree to go to Player's at all. It was a small, dark and smoke filled dive. The harder core college kids could go there for a more authentic bar experience. Two or three scruffy old guys usually sat at the bar in a daze, and biker types typically owned at least one of the two pool tables. It wasn't a hot spot like Joel's for the preppy, Solid's for pool competitions, the Ranch for fuse ball, Falconburgh's for Guinness car bombs, the Summit for hippies, the Patio for outdoor music, or any of the about fifteen other hoppin' bars along Main Ave. Each had their own unique draw and attraction... Player's was the least attractive by a lot if you'd ask me. Unless, of course, you wanted bacon wrapped jalapeƱo poppers. Those were amazing.

Patrick set me on the green bench just outside, and in front of, Player's while he went back inside to round up Clay and Orion. Clay and Orion were quite the comedic combination, as were they each on their own. Clay began to sound more and more like he was speaking out of a megaphone with every beer that he drank. He was big, and it was as if he really had to draw his breath in deep in order to project his voice satisfactorily for his size. Though he really didn't need to at all. His voice was already perfectly proportionate to his size. He had curly light brown hair and glasses. He looked innocent enough, but he wasn't. Orion was quite a bit more soft spoken and gentle to look at. However, it was just a facade that he'd gladly use to whatever advantages it may allow with the opposite sex. His voice would also become amplified as the hours drew on. My favorite feature of Orion drinking was his vision. It was always fun for me, in my intoxicated state, to stand in front of him and watch his eyes go from me to my double. Right, left. Right, left. Which one of me was real? It was a game we'd play and he'd begin to wobble. Ahhh, the simple things in life. Although, he didn't dare touch me to find out which was real. That happened once, and Patrick slugged him hard in the left shoulder. Despite their history beginning prior to kindergarten, somethings... like touching me, just weren't okay. Nothing needed to be said. Orion had rubbed his shoulder, and never laid a hand on me again.

From the bench, I could hear Clay and Orion's resistance to Patrick's idea to leave. Patrick was drunk, too. But his six feet and one inch of muscle mass could absorb a lot of alcohol without showing the symptoms. At some point, if Patrick kept drinking, he'd black out. There's a good chance no one would know how drunk he was, but he'd be unable to recall the evening's events. I didn't drink like that and, even if I wanted too, could not. Give me four beers and I was happy and playful. If there was anything hard in the mix I'd likely be lying my head on the bar, and be happy to sleep there for the night. Pushing it past that meant sickness. I preferred to just go home and to bed.

I was a fine line between sickness and sleep as I people watched from the bench; when it dawned on me that I was the one being people watched. The window behind me was tinted, so what went on inside Player's couldn't be seen from outside. The ruckus could be heard as someone opened the door; then it muted as it closed. I sat in a purple glow from the neon sign that hung behind me. I had originally been content to sit in the cool fresh air awaiting Patrick's return. But, once I became hyper aware that I was the drunk girl sitting alone outside of Player's, I got restless. Men and women both would stare at me as they walked by. When an older guy, maybe thirty, went so far as to ask me if I was okay, a slurred "Ohhh yeah, thanks" made it's way out of my mouth. I tried to perk up my posture some and crossed my legs. Then I leaned my chin in my right hand while resting my elbow just above my left knee. I was trying to looked relaxed, but normal, and at least be in a somewhat upright position. I'm fairly certain that my tactic to look-normal, only made me look more-drunk.

I couldn't take it anymore. I'll show them. I'm fine. I stood and joined the pedestrian traffic on Main Avenue's sidewalk. After I stood, I turned to the right and began the game: Be and look normal. I headed North toward the end of the block. Once I got to Seventh Street I rounded the corner toward the alley, and then just kept going toward Second Avenue. The foot traffic had thinned drastically now that I was off of Main, and I was doing a fantastic job. Diagonally parked cars lined the slight hill on both sides of the street here and there. Summer time in Durango is busy, but since it was nearing two a.m. most who drove downtown had also driven home. Patrick and I lived in the Ferringway Condominiums. His parents bought a one bedroom when they finally gave into the fact that Patrick wasn't moving to Durango without me. Not only had he refused to move from Colorado Springs without me, he also refused to live his freshman year at Fort Lewis College in the dorms... like he was supposed to. He claimed to the school that his Dad lived in the condo at the Ferringway. So, he got out of staying in the dorms by having a local address and lived there with me. His parents were building a house in Mancos, about 30 miles West of Durango, and they were certainly gracious about the whole thing. They were just fine to me, and charged me a measly two-hundred dollars a month in rent. They wanted Patrick to go to school and if it meant that I was hooked to his hip, well, they figured there were far worse things I guess. It was no real surprise to anyone anyway. We'd been together our last two years of high school, and there had been few family trips that they'd gone on without me. I do suspect that, for a short moment, Patrick's Mom may have hoped or figured that we'd part ways when the time for college rolled around. But, neither Patrick or I considered parting ways for a second.

The Ferringway sat at the top of College hill practically across the street from FLC's campus entrance. It wasn't really the top of College hill because it kept going, and climbing a little for about another mile. It also wasn't even called College at that point because the street name changed. Downtown, Sixth Street was called College Drive. At Eighth Avenue, College turned into Goeglein Gulch Road. No one said that though. The street, and hill, took you to the college and that was that. Eighth Avenue was also where the ascent began. It was just about one mile of twisty two lane road up to the college, and it was pretty steep. When I first began riding my bike up the hill, I'd have it in the lowest gear. My legs would be spinning, but I'd be moving so slowly that there was a good chance that I might fall over. The first time I made it home without stopping, I beamed with accomplishment. It was not at all unusual to see kids with their thumbs out; hoping to catch a ride up the hill.

I had booked it in my boots the seven blocks to Eighth Avenue. I was on a roll and was winning my game. I certainly didn't plan on stopping, or even consider that I maybe should have stayed on the bench. I had on a light weight navy blue hooded sweat shirt, jeans, and my Frye Daisy Duke boots. My hoodie was zipped up tight, but I kept the hood down so I could hear and see adequately. The silver butterfly sewn above my right breast covered an embroidered graphic that read, "Poot!" I'd had it since my sophomore year in high school and loved the fit, but never loved Poot! Not so sure what it was all about. It reminded me too much of poop, so I covered it up with a pretty butterfly patch. I had a hand in each hoodie pocket and walked fast. Once I crossed through the light on Eighth, there would be nothing but darkness and rustling bushes until I got home. Scrub oak lined the hill side and a slight breeze would create a rustle that could easily spur a runaway imagination like mine. The thing was though, the rustle could quite possibly be a bear. Or, it might be a deer, mouse, or bum. I didn't realIy want to know any which way. I picked up the speed and hoofed it all the way up the hill. The adrenaline kept me from feeling the cold, and I'd even worked up a little bit of a sweat.

When I made it into the lit Ferringway parking lot I was very pleased with myself. I made it! Not only did I win the game by looking and being normal, but I also worked off some of my drunkedness. I felt pretty good. I climbed the stairs to the porch of our house to realize that I didn't have any keys. It had to be close to two-thirty now, and I was cold. Although, I was still pleasantly buzzed. So, I just put my hood on and laid down on yet another bench. Patrick would be home sometime. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

I startled awake to the thumping of heavy steps running up our staircase and along the deck in front of our condo. The whole building was up on stilts and lined with decks and stacked staircases. There were cement pools below where water must have been kept in the seventies or eighties... not for swimming, but to give the place an exotic feel perhaps. The thumping grew louder as the whole building shook. I sat up just as Patrick climbed the final two steps to find me on the bench. The wrong bench. He was mad... and sober. I hadn't given it any thought. But, now I knew that my game may not have been the best idea. Patrick never got mad at me. I could tell by the steely look in his eyes, and by the way he was yelling at me how worried he'd been.

"Sweet! I told you to stay on that bench!!!" his brows were furrowed with confused rage. "I've checked every alley and bar in Durango looking for you!" he scolded. It was a flurry for me to absorb. He unlocked the door and showed no sympathy as I exploded into a fit of sobs. I never meant to worry him. I felt like the scum of the Earth. He put me to bed while I cried.


  1. Well this is as far as I am getting tonight, but I still am just ridiculously happy you are writing this! I had a hard time reading this portion as written because of the strong memories the phrase "just stay on the bench" brings back for me... but I still love it. And I love the memory it evokes.... totally off subject, but I feel the need to ramble, that way you know how VERY much I love reading this!!!

  2. Emily, I LOVE to hear you ramble, and to know that you ARE reading it!! Not only that, but I can't read or write {relating to this piece's topic} withOUT thinking about the memories it evokes for YOU!! Ha! It isn't off subject at all. I often think about pieces of A True Story being written from someone's perspective other than mine... and you could do that in many instances!!