When Hawkins told us he wanted to party, we were sitting out on the porch at Stanford house drinking Coors Beer from small brown bottles. The swamp cooler was on the fritz. Sundown was coming on slow. We were watching to see whether the rockers across the street would open up their front door to let their pet pig, Royal Eddie, run around the front yard.
Tim Hunter suggested we coax one of our housecats into the ensuing fracas. He was an Earth-First fellow convinced of the cruelty of nature. So he was mean as hell to animals and most humans too. He worked at an art movie theater near the college. Hunter liked to scour the auditorium for used popcorn buckets after every show. He'd sneak them into the men's room, clean out the cardboard cylinders as good as possible. Then he would fill them up with corn and resell them for a buck and a quarter each.
Tim spent his days off camping and fishing so he wasn’t around much. We threw bottle caps at him or gave him the finger whenever he talked nonsense. He’d usually shut up and creep back to his room, rubbing his hands together like they were still covered in a flavorful artificial butter concentrate.
And Royal Eddie never showed up. It turns out he was feigning delirium that evening—amidst four heshers, three deconstructed Triumph motor bikes, two empty cases of Foster’s Lager and a quarter inch of mud, four stroke oil and vomit.
So it was a good thing Hawkins was having a motel party that night. It would be a gift to bounce from the hood. He walked up to the porch, checked the mail and asked when Tim was moving out. By the way, he gravely intoned, I have rented a room at the Lorlodge. That was a sketchy motel with a swimming pool right off the 25 on the other side of the student ghetto.
I had been working as a welder for a month and told Hawkins I wanted to make it a special occasion. I thought it would be ironically summer-weather defying to wear my leather jacket and safety hat and parade down there in style. Chauncy the actor who worked at the Steak and Ale up by Winrock agreed; he put on his tux and patent leather oxfords. Hawkins grabbed his scuba gear from out the closet, fins and all. We started walking down Central Avenue.
When we passed the Fat Chance Bar and Grill, I heard a rock band playing. Damned it if wasn't A Murder of Crows. But we didn't go in because Hawkins owed Junius and Caleb a sawbuck and two pints besides.
On the other side of University Boulevard a fellow in a green beret with a red flag fixed to it jumped out from the doorway of a storefront. He asked if we wanted to come to his meeting of the Communist party. They were having ice-cold refreshments and a discussion on Marx in the twentieth century, he said, smiling wanly. Chauncy told him our party would be better, handed him a half-smoked jazz cigarette that he had been fiddling with earlier and did his best impression of Harpo.
As we passed Mulberry Street, three of the groovy gals we knew from art school turned the corner named for a big green tree and the middle of things. It was Split-level Lisa, who dressed in black but took photos of colorful birds; the magenta-haired performance artist named after a Hindu goddess and her pal Caroline from Sarah Lawrence College.
They were on their way to Jack's Bar to get a case of Olympia and the Hawaiian-style pizza to go. Since I was full of feria after working on water tanks and decorative wrought iron all week, I offered to pitch in. I told them about the cable teevee at the motel and how they had a pool and air conditioning too.
And Lisa thought that was just fine. She started to tell how she needed a new set of trucks but a helicopter was landing at the big hospital by the freeway and her voice sounded like flowers coming apart in a storm. The blades were spinning fast and fluttering around like they were made of hummingbird wings. The hot air of July swirled around us while the engine roared and roared. A security guard with a steel badge shaped like a seven-sided star chased us away when we got too close.
The six of us ran the rest of the way with heat rising off the sidewalk and the light turning rosy on account of the earth’s rotation. Parvati lost her left flip-flop and Hawkins both his fins to the highway underpass. But just as the sun touched the horizon, we crossed over and waltzed into the office at the Lorlodge, laughing like we owned the place.