Apartment Life Returns

Apartment Life Returns

Billy leaned over the gasoline can and unscrewed the lid, the scraping of metal on metal barely audible above a passing boat’s outboard motor. A few strands of his dirty blond hair dipped into the can. He put his mouth over the opening and sucked in the fumes.

He jerked upright. “Whooo! Yes!”

“Okay, man, now you come take a huff,” Billy said. His breath floated into the cold air and slowly disappeared.

The odor of gasoline hit Ronnie. He scrunched his nose and squinted. “I’m not a part of that,” he said. “I’m going to go light the camp stove and start the chicken nuggets.” As he turned to go, he covered his mouth and exhaled to warm his hands.

“I’ll go next,” Matt said. He unzipped his bright red sleeping bag far enough to lean over on his elbows.

The can rustled the leaves as Billy pushed it toward Matt. “Yeah, Big Ron, we know you’re more into pushing little girls down stairs,” Billy said.

Ronnie stopped for a moment and closed his eyes, fists clinched. He drew in a long breath and let it go slowly. The cloud of breath that floated into the black night faded as quickly as it appeared. “Don’t call me that.”

As he walked away, Ronnie heard Billy chanting, “Huff, huff, huff.”

Huffing gasoline. Freakin’ geniuses, Ronnie thought. He figured neither boy could afford to lose any brain cells, not to mention the hazardous chemicals involved, but there they were, huddled around a five-gallon can of unleaded.

Ronnie ducked into Matt’s tent to find the camp stove. In a corner sat a green metal box with a red Coleman sticker. Is that it?. He grabbed the handle and carried it outside. Although he had watched his father work one, he wasn’t sure he would remember the details.

Water dripped on his arm. As he looked up, a few drops splashed off his face.

“Aw, shit, it’s raining,” Billy said.

“Get the gas under the rain fly,” Matt said as he grabbed his sleeping bag.

Billy tried to cap off the can, but his fingers kept missing the mark. Ronnie ran out and took the lid. He screwed it on and hurried to set the can under cover from the rain. All three boys ran to the other side of the tent.

“Damn, boys, I’m three sheets to the bed.”

“That’s three sheets to the wind, Billy,” Ronnie said.

“Whatever. I’m fuckin’ high, fellas.” He retreated to the tent and zipped the door shut.

The rain started soaking through Ronnie’s hair to his scalp. “Hey, open that back up!” he yelled over the sound of the rain.

Matt unzipped the door and let Ronnie go in first. “It’s my dad’s tent. I don’t want to risk anybody screwing it up.”

Ronnie smelled smoke.

(to be continued)

3 Replies to “Apartment Life Returns”

  1. Just enough in there to whet the appetite, eh?

    Doesn’t seem to have been very long since the incident with the girl next door. And he’s out camping alone with a couple pseudo-friends? Interesting.

    Good luck balancing this with your Regular Life. One of the reasons (I think) I haven’t tried my hand at any fiction the past few years.

  2. Having just read through the entire first story in one sitting…it sucks to have to suddenly jolt to a stop at catching up. “Ronnie smelled smoke.” ? What a horrid cliffhanger in a tent with five gallons of gasoline and loopy-headed teenagers. Which is to say…I’m hooked.

    Si – I’m not so sure the Trena incident would have to be recent. It seems like the sort of thing that could come up in mocking for years…especially if it bugged him (which it seems to). And even though I’ve thrown nothing of a fictitious nature to the wolves of web readership, I’d love to see what sort of fiction come out of the Simian.

  3. Simon – He’s got reasons. Just keep reading (when there’s more, that is).

    Moksha – Yeah, you tell him, Moksha. Mean old Simon. Dang. ;-)

    Glad you read the first story. It’s not a necessity to follow this one, but it certainly will help. Or, at least that’s what I predict, seeing as how the entry above is all I have so far.