No Girls Aloud
“Hey Neil, come look at this.” Roman Dherric set down his rifle on a tree stump and took a swig of the home brew in his canteen.
Neil bit his knife and chewed the dull end like a dog on a bone—he had nurtured that habit since the fourth grade. “What, the robins’ nest? They ain’t hatched yet.”
“No, sucktard, the sign.”
“No girls allowed, yeah, what about it?”
“That look perfectly normal to you?”
“It’s a joke, referencing a kindergartner’s clubhouse circa nineteen seventy.”
Roman sighed. “They spelled it wrong, you maggot-eatin slug-tit.”
“First of all, slugs don’t have tits, but if they did, fermented slug milk would probably be a delicacy in some countries, and I’d get myself a keg of it and throw a barbecue and you wouldn’t be invited, because there’d be a banner over the driveway saying no immature assholes allowed. Second of all, it ain’t no misspelling. It’s a double entendre.”
“It sounds like a familiar sayin, but it also means what it says, so it works on layers.”
“Layers, huh? Kind of like those fancy new eco-friendly outhouses that filter excrement and convert piss into ethanol to fuel tractors?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Shhh. I think I hear a critter.”
They climbed trees in tandem with ammunition strapped to their belts and waited while the sun did a slow dance around them the long way. The only sounds were the robins.
Neil was bored. “It’s an acronym. Northern Oregon Gay Indian Racing League Supporting Anti Lesbian Organizations Under Democracy.”
“You’re just spitting out refrigerator magnets and trying to make them funny, you ear-snot-pickin armpit-clown.”
“You can do better?”
“I think the sign stands for Numb Orifices Gaseously Imploding, Rather Large Sized Ass-Licking Occultist Uncles Demonstrate.”
“That makes less sense than mine. Plus, you now admitted you’ve been thinking about that for the past hour too.”
“I just want to kill something, man.”
A coyote dashed across the path and disappeared into the brush. It moved faster than either man could move thoughts through synapses.
N.O.G.I.R.L.S.A.L.O.U.D. stood for Natural Order of Gifted and Restless Atrophied Libidos Orchestrating an Unraveling of Dogmas, a group of which Roman and Neil would never be members, nor want to.
The sign was crafted out of a hundred or so old coat hangers bent to form the letters. Jane created the sign in her parents’ basement, Colleen scouted out the best secluded place to hang it, and Tracie rigged it with ropes so that it hung between two sloping birch trees like a doorway. A doorway to a room that only they could see. No Girls Aloud was a secretive group of young women graduating from Courte Valley High School.
There were eleven attendees on the day before graduation ceremonies. Colleen had prepared a speech. As valedictorian, she was also scheduled to deliver a speech from a podium to a football field full of parents and faculty on the following day. To compose the podium speech, she had downed three shots of whiskey and then taken a pair of scissors to an array of teen-targeted self-help books she had scooped off the display shelf in the school library. Before opening the books, she had put on a blindfold.
When she opened her eyes, she already had a textual collage of motivational excerpts on her bed before her. By the time she was sober, the speech was completed in the form of a twelve-paragraph essay (a compositional form she invented under the tutelage of Miss Harper, the aging hippy who taught Advanced English Four wearing hemp earrings that seemed to apologize for wearing her hair in a conservatively glazed bun).
Today’s speech was a little different.
"Girls." That concluded the pre-scripted portion of Colleen’s address to the group, all gathered by the clearing in jeans, sweatshirts and pony-tails. "Girls, girls. My girls." Colleen paced around the center of the circle that only became a circle when her pacing and open-armed gesture molded one. "Do you like that word? Yeah, girls, I said it. Women. Scholars. Young adults. Students. Mothers. Sisters. Girls. It all means the same. Sluts, whores, lions, foxes, swans, crop of our generation, whatever you want to be. We’re educated. Aren’t we, now girls?"
Tracie gave a facetiously spirited shout of "Amen" and all ten laughed. Colleen waited for the laughter to wash off, standing dry. All ten women instantly became embarrassed as the realization that humor had no part in these proceedings passed between them like a static shock.
"I'll take that to mean we are," Colleen continued. A mosquito perched on her forehead. She did not flinch or raise an arm. "We can solve quadratic equations and quote Oscar Wilde, balance chemical reactions, put current events in historical context. We have a world view. We’ve played varsity sports, we know about competition and pushing ourselves. We can make metaphors. Girls, girls… We’ve had a taste of different cultures from sampling the world’s great literature. We’re familiar with rites of passage in ancient Rome. Rituals involving bonfires, the epic hunt—no, I did not just say cunt, wipe that smile off your face, Sarah, or you're about to taste a mouthful of dirt and if you think I’m joking, smile again."
Colleen picked up a rock and lobbed it against a nearby tree. The sound of collision was somewhere between a gunshot and a human scream. Jane wiped her eyes, clearing the dust of detonated bark particles from her face. Colleen was the pitcher on the softball team.
"It’s a common theme, isn’t it, girls?" Colleen’s tone softened by the smallest possible detectable degree. "How do you know when you're an adult? Easy, you do certain things and they throw you a big party to tell you. You kill your first bison and dance around wearing its head. Whatever it is. Tomorrow’s our big day, and what do we get?" She reached into a paper bag by her feet and produced her cap and gown, still wrapped in plastic. She held it up spun slowly, scanning faces. "Sexy, isn’t it?" She tore open the plastic with her teeth and tossed the garments up in the air. "You know what I hate more than anything else in this world?" She pulled off her sweatshirt and threw it on the grass. "Girls."
The ten murmured. Collective nods of affirmation emerged like bile.
"If you're wondering why we’re gathered her, that’s exactly why we’re here: to wonder why we’re gathered here. So let’s break it down. The first letters—natural order. That’s pretty self explanatory."
Something stirred in a nearby tree. This was of no concern to any of the eleven.
"Gifted—that takes care of the G and the I. I’m not exactly sure what that word means, but we'll come back to it. Restless kills three letters with one pitch. We’ve had our heads down in a pile of books for four years and now they're lighting a fire under our engines and saying get your assess out of town and make something of yourselves, damned right we’re restless. Free of rest. We’ve got shit to do, right, girls?"
Tracie’s neck twitched, as if to glance behind her. Sarah heard it too.
"Libidos. Great word, always wanted to use it in an acronym. Means we’re horny."
"Atrophied. Means if you're an eighteen year old woman in society, it’s not really okay to be horny, so we sell ourselves short. No, fuck this—I’m not going to stand here like a guru and tell you what the words stand for, you can figure them out for yourselves. You're probably thinking I had something planned. Girls…" Colleen knelt down on the grass and rubbed her hands through her hair. "We’ve got plans for colleges, careers, marriages, diet plans, real estate- tonight has nothing to do with plans."
Nobody could be sure which they heard first, the round from the hunter’s rifle or the startled cries. Colleen was firing clumps of dirt and jagged rocks up at the tree before either sound completed its journey through her ear canal. The eleven were running, diving, shouting, crawling, clawing dirt, flying-
When the body of the strange man hit the ground with a groan and a swollen eyelid, the eleven gathered persons ceased to be a finite number. Roman’s rifle fell to the ground in the commotion. Neil saw only a cloud of gray fabric that enveloped him with an endless battery of wooden sticks and elbows until his arms and rib cage were made entirely of bruises.
The barrage subsided when Colleen stood over Neil with Roman’s rifle cocked and aimed at his chest. She shook her head. "I’m the vala dick fucking torian, know what that means?"
Neil spat blood and gurgled "Yeah, I’ve heard the term before."
"Means I’m the smartest chick here. I could kill you right now."
Colleen turned and walked away from Neil. She put down the gun, found her navy blue graduation cap, dusted it off and walked back towards Neil. He looked up at her, his eyes as big as doorknobs, too weak to shuffle away.
Colleen sat down cross-legged, cradled Neil’s head in her lap and placed the cap over his ears. "Now you're the valedictorian. How’s it feel? I’m supposed to make a speech tomorrow. Maybe you can deliver it for me and I'll stay home."
"Maybe he could buy us alcohol," said Tracie.
Roman was on the ground and quivering behind a tree. He inched his head out of hiding. Several of the eleven noticed him. He exchanged a nod with Neil and then sprinted away.
"Shut up, Trace." Colleen stroked Neil’s stubbly chin and luxuriantly licked the blood off her finger. "What’s your name?"
"Nice. Is that like middle-eastern or something?"
"My last name is Your Business."
Colleen laughed and slapped her hip. "You're funny, Nunuv."
"Can I ask you a personal question, Huey? When did you become a man? Specifically."
Neil shrugged with just the left half of his torso and winced. "I don’t know."
A few trees over, a robin’s nest stood empty.
| COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED