AL BRUNO III
Thursday November 7th 1996
"TIM! PUT THAT GOD-DAMNED CAT DOWN!" Warren Talbot shouted to be heard above the Cream CD thundering from the stereo.
"I'm just playin' with her!" Tim replied, pitching Princess from his rough grip, "Hey! I thought cats always landed on their feet."
Collin held his sides, quaking with laugher. Isobel had only been gone for an hour and a half but already the house was degenerating into chaos; two empty six packs worth of beer cans were stacked on top of the television, empty Burger Clown wrappers lay on the floor and the Lazy-Boy had been upended in Tim's attempts to 'pet' Princess.
"Guys." Warren said, "We just got done cleaning the place."
"So?" Tim asked as he went to the refrigerator for his eighth beer.
"So? I think one surprise inspection from my sister is enough!"
"She can inspect me anytime." Collin said.
"Shut up. I don't need her coming here and finding the place a mess again."
Tim sat back down on the couch, "Do you have a point?"
"No!" Warren shook his head, "I mean yes! Yes I do have a point. She could fink on me to my parents."
"So? So, they'll rag my ass out from here to kingdom come!"
"Don't mean nothin' to me."
Warren gave up and got himself a beer. Tim and Collin were his best buddies and thankfully old enough to buy alcohol but it seemed like all they wanted to do was get on his nerves at every opportunity.
"Why don't you guys sit down and watch the movie?" Collin said over the stereo's blare "It's fuckin' awesome and you're missin' it."
Tim squinted at the bodies writhing on the screen, "What one is this?"
"The Pink Lagoon."
Warren sipped his beer carefully, "Why don't we go out someplace?"
"I dunno. A nightclub maybe."
Collin rolled his eyes, “Oh please."
"What's the problem?" Warren asked.
"Even if we could get you in, we can’t have a good time with you along. You just sit at the bar and sulk."
Tim laughed evilly.
"I do not sulk!"
"Oh yes you do." Tim cackled.
"I just like to check out the ladies."
"Too bad none of 'em ever wanna check you out."
"You'll see, one of these nights the right one will come along."
Collin put the video on pause, "Warren, you can't go to a bar loaded with college girls getting drunk on their parents' money and expect to find love. It's like going to Burger Clown in search of a nutritious meal."
"Maybe I'm not as cynical as you are."
"Maybe you just haven't gotten burned enough times." Tim tossed the now empty beer at the pile on the TV, toppling them.
"I still believe in love." Warren said.
"I'll believe it when I see it."
"You're just not looking."
"Yeah. Right. Give me one example."
"Okay." Warren stared into space for a few moments and then turned his attention back to his two best friends, "There was this guy, I guess it was back around World War One, he was a lawyer, he had a girl waiting for him back home- the standard American dream stuff. He got hit with that poison gas the Germans were using, and somehow it gave him something like the Elephant Man's disease."
"Oh really?" Collin said, "And what color are the clouds on your world?"
"Shut up. So he comes back from the war and starts getting all deformed. Not gross like the real Elephant Man, he just turns all big and ugly. So his life falls apart, nobody wants to go to some freak lawyer and his girl dumps him for somebody normal."
"Translation," Tim snickered, "Nobody in the Talbot family."
Princess poked her head out from behind the couch, her whiskers quivering, her body low to the ground.
"So do you know what this guy does? He goes to Hollywood and becomes an actor. He does monster movies as 'the Creeper'. They bill him as the only actor in horror movies that doesn't need make-up. So while he's doin' these movies he meets this gorgeous actress and she falls for him. They end up getting married, the end."
"That's it?" Collin asked.
"What a stupid story!" Tim buried his face in his hands, "Of course this Creeper guy got a girl, he was a movie star!"
"Oh come on!"
"You said it yourself she was an actress. The bitch probably thought it was a good career move, maybe she wanted a part in his next movie."
Warren shook his finger, "You know you have a serious mental problem."
"Hey, I'm not the one who can't face reality."
"And what reality is that?"
Collin unpaused the video.
Tim spoke slowly, using the tone he reserved for slow witted children and officers, "The reality is that all this women's liberation stuff is crap. Women are only interested in one thing when it comes to long term relationships- money. They'll go for the best provider every time, just like they did in caveman days. And believe me that's the first thing they look for, they can sniff out cash like bloodhounds."
"Do you know how paranoid you sound?"
"That's why you can't get any! You gotta pretend you're rich, you gotta have rich attitude. They way you slouch and sulk, the chicks just know you're living with your parents."
Warren found himself trying not to slouch, "After hearing this I'm not in the least bit surprised that you've never been in a long term relationship."
"Maybe so." Tim stood and made his way back to the refrigerator, "But I've seen more pussy than you've dreamed about."
Ever on the lookout for unwanted hands, Princess crept beneath the endtable and laid down.
"Look, there was this lady who had the Elephant Man's disease too-"
"What the fuck is it with you and the Elephant Man? I think you've got Michael Jackson's disease." Tim pulled another beer from the last six pack.
"I'm just tryin' to prove a point here." Warren no longer knew how this argument had gotten started but he was determined to win it, "This lady, one whole side of her face had swollen up, she looked like some kind of giant deformed tomato."
"Where did you see this?"
"On Real People back when it was still on the air. Anyway she married this normal looking guy, he was her high school sweetheart and they had a bunch of normal looking kids. Now, that's gotta be love."
Tim popped the beer can and glared at him.
"I mean," Warren shrugged, "you know he didn't marry her for her looks."
"Guys are dogs, they'll screw anything, anytime, anyplace."
"You should see the beasts some of my fellow jarheads take home when its five minutes 'till closing."
Warren threw up his arms in resignation, "OK, you're right, all women are moneygrubbing slime, all men are dogs. I guess I'm just different, and maybe someday I'll find a girl who's different."
"You say that now but after a few more years of teasing the weasel you'll go for anything that moves."
The Pink Lagoon had reached its sticky conclusion, Collin turned to them, "OK, I say we go a nightclub but Warren has to ask a girl to dance."
Warren blanched slightly, "What?"
"Yeah." Tim said poking him with a meaty finger, "And if ya don't I'll beat the shit out of you."
"Fine!" Warren snapped back, "And if you don't ask a girl to dance I'll..."
"You'll what cheesedog?" Tim raised a fist.
"Never mind." Warren backed down, "Let's just go. I’ll get my coat."
Tim downed the last half of the beer and issued a belch that startled Princess and drove her back into hiding, "Since you're the only one sober Warren, you get to drive. Hey we should take that bitchin’ Continental your folks got parked in the garage."
"I told you already they took the keys with them.” Warren called from upstairs.
"Damn. Even his parents don’t want him get laid.”
Collin hit the power button on the stereo, the music died, "Tim?"
"You think we'll actually get him to ask a girl to dance?"
"Hope so. We got to make a man of him somehow."
Warren re-entered the room, jingling his car keys, "Let's go!"
Tim checked the Smith & Wesson 9mm automatic holstered to his ankle, "All aboard the crapbox express!"
"What's with the gun?" Collin asked as he turned the TV off and grabbed his own coat from behind the love seat, "You're on furlough."
"The world’s a dangerous place. Even here in Smallbany "
"Yeah but you're kinda drunk."
Tim clapped his friend on the back, "Shit! I do some of my best shooting when I'm blitzed”