August in the Pearl (Part 2: Her Version)
A Short Story by Jason Moore
Written using the suggestion "Rat"
Originally featured on 02-18-2008
As part of our series "Zodiac Thriller"

It was late and warm on that August night. You got in a fight with your boyfriend and took off with your boxer puppy and Sheila, your loyal chubby friend. You just wanted to get away from your usual hangout by the fountain and think things out, maybe go to a nice neighborhood where you could sit and smoke a clove. Even though she was 18, and you were only 16, Sheila worshipped you and would do anything you wanted. You headed for the Pearl District. As you walked you talked about hanging out downtown and how it was starting to get old, and your asshole boyfriend.

When you reached the edge of The Pearl you saw five of six guys about your age sitting on the steps of one of those new brick town houses rich people live in. You smelled cloves and you heard some pretty good music, so you slowed down.

One of the guys was really cute and was wearing the kind of clothes you’d buy if you had any money, and he had a nose ring a lot like yours. You just didn’t feel like caring about anything, and you surprised yourself with your courage and looked right at him and said, “Hey.”

He looked really surprised, but he said, “Hey.” He made it really obvious he thought you were hot, so you took a chance and said, “Do I smell a clove?”

He said, “Yeah.” He handed you one, and when his hand touched yours he laughed nervously and said you had to sit next to him to smoke it. You guessed he didn’t normally say things like that, but you were flattered he wanted you there. You were pretty bored with Sheila, and didn’t want to go back to your boyfriend, so you said goodbye and she gave you a disgusted look like you’d just sold your soul. But you stared her down and she knew better than to mess with you, so she sulked off.

He looked like one of those rich kids who pays 50 bucks for a haircut and buys the most expensive and coolest clothes in thrift stores, thinking it will give him some street cred, and takes out his nose ring every night and soaks it in alcohol in his big house on the hill and his maid probably puts it back in the morning and gives him a blow job to wake him up.

But your puppy started licking his fingers right away and he’s got the best judge of character you’ve ever seen, so you thought you’d sit with him for a while and flirt, and see how many cloves you could get.

You started talking and he seemed pretty nervous and was trying hard to be cool. He pretended he liked the same bands you did, and you could tell he was lying, but it was more fun to play with him than call him on it. His friends kept looking over in that approving way, like they thought it was so progressive of them to let a street kid sit on their steps and listen to their stereo, and you just thought it would be fun to play along. You dressed like that to fit in with the downtown gang and of course people thought you lived on the street. He was fascinated by the green and gold lizard tattoo on the back of your hand. Even though it was just a temporary you played along with that too, and told him you got it on a trip to Canada, when you were looking for an Indian burial site.

After a while he said your dog looked like it needed to go to the bathroom, and suggested you take it for a walk. You knew he really just wanted to be alone with you, but you didn’t have anything better to do. You walked down the middle of the deserted late-night streets like you were the only two people left alive in a horror movie. You passed a fancy kitchen store, and it made you think about your mom’s boyfriend and how he bought her with a nice car and a house in the suburbs. You thought about how he tried to kiss you once and when you told your mom she accused you of trying to ruin her life, so you left and you’d been crashing at your dad’s all summer. He let you dress like a street kid and do pretty much whatever you want, because you get good grades and you were already looking into colleges because you don’t want to end up dependent on men like your mom.

You walked around The Pearl for hours, and he was actually really sweet and nervous, not like your current hardcore boyfriend. He did most of the talking. He talked about music, how boring Portland was, the drugs he’d tried, his school and how he wanted to be a writer. You thought he was funny, and you liked being with a guy who would talk about interesting things for once.

He told you about his parents who worked all the time just to get a big house. He said that even though they were pretty cool he didn’t want to be anything like them. You found yourself really liking him, and when your puppy crapped some runny green stuff in the grass he grabbed a paper cup and scooped it into the garbage. You let your guard down right then, and it scared you.

Then you walked by a little dark orange BMW with a light yellow top, and he seemed really proud and said it was his. You told him to fuck off, but he clicked his key chain and it opened up and you were impressed because at your high school way out in Gresham even the guys with money drove trucks, and you were pretty sick of those. You got in and he pulled a pipe and a bag of pot and a bottle of vodka out of a panel in the back seat. He was really proud of his secret hiding space, and you teased him about it. You got really high and started taking bigger and bigger swigs off the bottle. He put Prince on the stereo because you told him you thought it was the most romantic music ever. You stared at the yellow stereo lights in the dark. You sat there for at least half an hour just listening, only barely touching each other, and drinking and talking about life.

You knew he wanted to try something, and you kept laughing, and he kept asking you what was so damn funny, and you kept saying “Nothing.”

You got tired of waiting for him to make the first move, so you leaned over and kissed him. He said, “Wow,” then he got really excited and practically climbed on top of you and started kissing you, and you pulled away. He asked if something was wrong and you were pretty fucked up, and you slurred a little, but you told him you had a boyfriend and that maybe it wasn’t a good idea, and he asked if you wanted a new boyfriend. He said it was obvious your boyfriend was an idiot if he wasn’t with you on a night like tonight.

You knew it was just a line, but he brushed your hair back from your face, and looked you in your eyes when he said it. You decided to pretend he meant it. You leaned back and let him kiss you more, but told yourself that would be as far as you would go, until the next time you saw him. Time just stopped for while, and you felt the music and his warm breath and his strong hands touching you, and he was so gentle and kept telling you how beautiful you were. He said he thought this was the best night of his life, and you knew he meant it.

He started rubbing your breast on the outside of your shirt and you pulled back, and looked him in the eyes and said, “What you are doing?” He said it just felt like you had made a great connection and it was cool, and it didn’t need to go any further, and he was happy to just be with you.

You started kissing again, and then he grabbed your hand and put it in his lap. You pulled your hand back and said you didn’t want to do that. He said he was sorry, and stopped kissing you, and just stared at the roof for a moment. He cleared his throat and breathed heavy. Then he put his hand behind your head and started to push down, and you said, “What are you doing?”

He said, “Don’t think so much. Just do it.”

You couldn’t believe he said that and you lost it completely and said, “Fuck you. Fuck you and your BMW.” You grabbed your puppy and got out and slammed the door and kicked it.

You wiped your tears on your sleeve and carried your puppy as you walked across the Broadway Bridge. You thought there wasn’t any reason for anyone to know what really happened. You smiled once the adrenalin had worn off because you knew it would make Sheila really jealous because almost no guys liked her, and you could tell her he said you were the most beautiful girl he’d ever met and wanted to be your boyfriend, even if it was just for one night.

Read More By Jason Moore

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