We had an early snow that November of 2005. It began to fall as I was heading to dinner to meet up with some of my friends. The sky was a dark charcoal grey, and whilst I had no winter coat, I did have have a light jacket, and pulled it tighter around me as the wind picked up and a freezing breeze whipped off the Kentucky Hills. I looked up at the sky and watched as billions of crystalline flakes fell from the clouds...It was going to be a long and cold winter.
In the cafeteria I made a salad and joined Tracy's brother, Jim, and our friend Jason. The girls dorm was connected to the main cafeteria, and suddenly Tracy burst from the doors excitedly, running to our table.
“ I did it! I made it!” She screamed.
“Did what?” Jim asked.
“I was nominated for the Yearbook Pageant!”
The Yearbook Pageant was an annual event for female seniors, and about 10 girls were “nominated” to compete in talent, essay and gown. The year before, I thought it was a given that Tracy would be nominated given her fantastic performance as “Christine” in the school's production of “The Phantom of the Opera” and other events at school, but because in more recent years it had devolved into a popularity contest, she didn't think she would make the cut. We didn't try to fit in with the jocks or “cool kids,” we were the freaks and geeks, but I still believed she'd get picked in her senior year.
“We all knew that was going to happen,” Jason said.
“You're going to escort me, right Randy?” She asked, looking at me.
“Hell no! No way!” I joked, as she gauged the seriousness of my face. “Do you really have to ask? Yes! I don't know where I'm going to find a suit, but yes!”
Jim asked if she had called her mom yet and she said she hadn't. As they talked about how excited their family was going to be, I felt my stomach drop...I suddenly felt quite sad because if they were coming down to attend the event, it meant that I wouldn't be able to hang around her. I'd escort her to the stage and that would be it. After that, I'd have to fade away into the crowd, and hang with my friends as she had her moment with her family. It hurt, and I started thinking about how crappy things really were, and had been for a while. Just because I was at school with all of my friends and it looked like I was going to graduate, my problems hadn't really gone away. They had just been buried slightly beneath the surface...buried in a shallow grave that would soon be exposed by the elements and the scavengers that would eventually pull my bones clean.
I took a sip of tea and a bite of my salad, acting like nothing was wrong, and rejoined the conversation.
Another big event coming up was mine and Tracy's one year anniversary. I needed to find her a gift of some sort, and plan that day out as well. I think it was around 7thNovember...I went to the canteen, withdrew a few dollars, and headed to the school's craft shop to see if they had anything there. It was an old renovated log cabin from the 1800s, and had everything from quilts, to books, and gifts for family members visiting the school. My dad used to buy quilts there all of the time. I noticed a hand sewn bear in the shop, and decided to get that for her.
The day of our anniversary we met in the grill and I had the bear hidden out of sight. She sat down and I went to get us something to eat. She liked French fries with mayonnaise, and I was a burger person. I brought the food back and gave her the French fries. Then, I gave the bear to her...”It isn't much, but I'll make it up to you.” I said. She leaned in and hugged me quickly, looked around to make sure no staff could see her, and kissed me quickly. We talked and enjoyed our food, then some friends came by and congratulated us, and I thought to myself that the year had felt more like five years...That we had been dating for so much longer! She looked at me and said, “What are you thinking?”
“Doesn't it feel like so much longer than one year?”
“It does. Hopefully, this next year won't be the same mess the last year was?”
“I don't plan on it. I think we're good! Things are falling into place.”
Suddenly her face took on an “Oh shit!” look, and she said. “I forgot your gift!” She jumped up, pushed her chair back and took off.
I wasn't expecting anything. I was happy with her presence, but after about ten minutes passed she came running back into the grill with a large navy blue winter coat. I was a bit puzzled...Was the gift wrapped up in the coat to hide it? She handed me the coat and I began to dig into the pockets, thinking the gift was in there. She did like to play games sometimes, so I was thinking she was having some fun at my expense. “I can't find it!” I said, exasperated.
“There's nothing to find. You've got it!”
“The coat?” I said, confused.
“Yeah! You needed a winter coat so I bought you one!”
It wasn't my intention to sound ungrateful...I was actually thrilled I had a winter coat because I really did need one, but I never had anyone actually buy me a coat as a gift...Oh, I had received some sweaters and a ton of clothing for my Bar-Mitzvah, but never a winter coat!
“Why did you get me a coat?” I said, not intending to sound like a jackass, even though that's exactly how I sounded...
Her entire demeanour changed. She looked at me hurt, got up, and left the bear in the seat. “Tracy!” I called after her as she was leaving, but she ignored me and walked out of the grill. I asked a girl sitting at another table to run and chase her down for me, and after about ten minutes or so, she returned. I asked her to sit...”Please...” She sat down and put the bear on the table.
“I love the coat! I really do! I'm sorry...I didn't mean for it to sound like I don't...I'm just surprised...Thank you!” She grabbed for the bear and held it close. “I just wanted you to be warm,” she said.
“Believe me, I needed this...Thank you!”
We managed to move on and enjoy the rest of the evening.
As the Yearbook Pageant neared, I had to practice walking Tracy to the stage. Apparently there was a specific protocol for these types of events, and whilst I found it all to be a little rigid and ridiculous, it wasn't about me – it was Tracy's day and I was just there to support her.
When we talked about what she was going to do for the talent portion, I suggested a monologue of some sort, or maybe a piece from a play. She excelled in this area, and I really believed that she'd win if she stuck to her stronger talents. Instead, she insisted on singing a Cat Stevens song, with her uncle accompanying her on the guitar. She was a fine singer and actually pretty good on the piano as well, but I believed she was making a mistake.
I still needed to find a suit, so I headed down to the Friendship House. The Friendship House was a used clothing store for low income families who lived in the hills of the Oneida area. As students, we referred to them as the “townies.” The store received most of its clothing by way of church donations, or from the parents of the students who attended OBI. My friend Wayne and I would volunteer to sort clothing out and put them on the racks during our 8thand 9thgrades, on the weekends. I knew the woman who ran the place, Ms Haggerty, really well. She also ran the “White House” - a guest house for people visiting the school, and staying for a few days. Wayne and I volunteered there as well. There were little “perks” at the Friendship House, but at the White House, we had free run of the kitchen! Ms Haggerty had a no-nonsense-matter-of-fact attitude, but she also had a kind heart beneath the tough girl act. I walked through the door one afternoon, and Ms Haggerty was standing behind the counter watching her beloved soap operas. “Hey, Mrs H,” I said.
“Sshh!” Talk to me in the commercial break!” She barked...So, I stood there until the commercials came on. “What is it you want, Randy? I ain't got nuthin' to sort right now...winter's almost here and the town folks done got everything.”
“I just stopped by 'cause I need to find a suit for the Yearbook Pageant.”
She suddenly brightened up, and walking from around the counter, said, “I got plenty of those! C'mere...” She started showing me suits as fast as she could so she could get back to her show. She opened a closet, and hanging on a rack were a bunch of different suits.
“Pick something out and log it in the books. Good luck!” She said, returning to behind the counter.
The pickings were slim...Most were either way too big or too old. I stumbled upon a black coat and slacks, and tried them on. The fit was a bit snug, but I thought it would work. I went to the counter to ask Ms Haggerty what she thought, “Great!” She said. “Wonderful! Now git! Git! I changed clothes back to my jeans and shirt and put the coat and slacks on a hanger, pulling a garbage bag over the top of it. Then I logged it out as a “donation” and headed back to the dorms. I borrowed a pair of dress shoes, and a white dress shirt from Jason, but I still needed to find a nice tie. I asked around, but no one had anything that would match the red dress Tracy would be wearing, so I headed to Mr Gibson's apartment to see if I could borrow something from him.
Mr Gibson had been my dorm Dean at Baker Hall, and had invited me and Wayne to spend the night or weekends at his place, numerous times, and I also knew he was a bit of a clothes horse. In fact, he was the one who suggested we volunteer at the Friendship House when we were living in Baker Hall. When Wayne and I moved to the high school dorms though, we kind of drifted apart from Mr Gibson, and when he answered my knock at the door, I could tell he was a bit surprised to see me.
“Hey, Mr. Gibson”
“Randy!...What can I do for you?”
“I need a tie for the Yearbook Pageant.”
“What's the colour scheme?” He asked.
“Uh, she's wearing a red sequinned dress, and I found a black coat and slacks at the Friendship House.”
He disappeared into his apartment and came back with a few ties. I saw a really nice black tie with an arrangement of red flowers. “Ohhhh - that one looks great!”
“This is one of my favourites. You can borrow it, but I want it back. If you eat anything, cover it up or take it off.”
“Gotchya!” I said, thanking him, before heading back to the dorm.
I still needed to get my hair cut. I used to have really thick dark hair, and when it wasn't cut it became quite unruly, and I had to tame it with about a gallon of Rave hairspray...Number Four specifically. I used to get my hair cut by Ms Lawson, the night-time Dorm Dean of Baker Hall, but she was long gone...So, I asked around if anyone could cut hair. A couple of kids offered and they had the clippers to do so, but this was too big of an event to put my trust into a kid with a pair of clippers! When Mr Heffelfinger said he had cut his daughter's hair before, I thought, what the heck, and asked if he didn't mind doing it.
He brought some clippers and scissors into the TV room in Marvin Wheeler dormitory, and cut my hair. I remember it being a bit shorter than I had wanted, but it was good enough. Jason suggested I slick my hair back... “It looks more professional,” he said, but I wasn't keen on looking like a mobster in a suit.
I was ready to go! I was still upset that I wouldn't be able to properly “celebrate” the pageant with Tracy because her family would be with her, but I was happy for her and proud of her. It was her day and if it meant taking the sidelines, so be it.
The day before the pageant I helped set up the stage. I remember assembling some cardboard lamp posts and blowing up balloons as well as taping down cords to the stage lights and spot light. I helped the sound guy, a kid named Josh – the school's tech whiz at the time - get the sound properly mixed. I had ulterior motives in helping him out...I wanted Tracy to sound fantastic, so I made sure the soundboard was as perfect as it could be.
The girls still had to practice and so were were asked to leave, but I'd return the next day to do a few last minute things, clean up, and wish Tracy “good luck.” As I left the chapel I felt deflated though, and an overwhelming sadness came over me. The sun was setting, and as the cold Kentucky sky turned from a grey to a clay red, I decided to watch the sun set. There used to be some boulders at the top of a hill that overlook the school's track and field. If you sat on the rocks you got a panoramic view of the horizon: a bridge that crossed Goose Creek, and the farm and rolling hills in the distance, filled with beautiful evergreen trees. It was a wonderful sight. I watched the sky take on a haunting colour of red and grey. In its beauty, I thought about God – something I had not really done in a while - and a feeling stirred within me...I just started talking out loud to the view before me.
“God...I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of my screw ups and the lying and stealing. I just want my life to be back to normal. I just want things to be like they were before I screwed everything up...” I stopped, caught my breath, and then the tears began to flow, like a damn bursting.
“I just want...I want to spend tomorrow with Tracy, and I wish I didn't have to hide from her family or disappear. I really want to spend that day with her. But I can't, and at the very least...please just let things get back to normal in my life. I'm sick and tired of feeling like this...of having this sadness sit on my soul.”
As the sun disappeared, I wiped my tears away and I got up and headed back to my room.
The day of the pageant came; I ate lunch with Tracy and then headed to the chapel to finish getting things together. I knew the girls would show up to get dressed and ready, so I was stalling for Tracy to show up. As I was vacuuming, the girls came in. She ran over to me, hugged me, and I told her I was going to go and get ready myself, when from the back of the chapel I heard her mom call out to her...I quickly wrapped up the cord to the vacuum, kissed her and said, “Okay, gotta go...good luck, and I'll see you in a bit!” I didn't want to cause a scene so I tried to slip away quickly and quietly. I had almost reached the side door when I heard, “Randy! Stop!” I froze...Tracy's mom came up to me quickly and she stopped right in front of me. I was stunned. This was the first time she had uttered a single word to me since earlier that summer when she took me to the Grey Hound bus station.
“Randy...I forgive you. You had a bad summer and did some really stupid things, and I was angry. But just as I gave my son a second chance, I knew in my heart I should give you one too. I don't think you're a bad person. We love you.”
I couldn't believe what I was hearing! My eyes welled up with tears, and I looked at Tracy and she was crying...Then her mom began to cry and we all stood there crying and hugging. I didn't want to cut the moment short, but I had to get back to my dorm and get dressed as well. Tracy told me to get going and I hugged her mom one more time and said, “Thank you. I...just...thank you!” I took off running with a renewed spirit!
Tracy didn't win that night, but it was still wonderful. I met her uncle, her grandparents, and even played some piano for them when Tracy told them I was a good musician. There were a ton of pictures taken that night. When the evening came to an end, Tracy's family were going to go into town to have a family moment. The night was cold and Tracy had only her dress on, so I took off my coat and draped it over her shoulders as I walked everyone to a van that the family had driven down in. I was still floating in the clouds, in a state of wonder, as they all climbed into the van and it pulled away.
As I was walking back to my dorm alone in the cold night, I looked to the dark sky and said, “Thanks, God. I'll try not to let you down.”
After the Pageant, Thanksgiving was on the horizon, and I needed to figure out what I was going to do. After my Aunt Carol passed away in 1991, our family began making trips to San Antonio, Texas, as a Thanksgiving tradition. When I began attending school in Kentucky, getting me to San Antonio became difficult, and so I would spend the holiday with my friend, Wayne, in Ohio. I wasn't allowed back home but going with Wayne, whilst our friendship wasn't as tight as it once had been, his family was still an option. I could also stay at the K's, but they were going to spend time with family in another town, so I would be there alone. My only remaining options were to either stay at the school alone or to use some of my remaining money to stay in Louisville. There was a seedy motel off Bardstown Road called the Bardstown Inn, and it was very inexpensive; this seemed like the best bet for me and I'd be able to spend the holiday with Tracy. I just had to figure out a way to get there.
I talked to Wayne and he called his mom up and asked if it would be possible to drop me off in Lexington before she took him back home. She was confused that I wouldn't want to stay with them, but she was willing to do so. After I talked to Mrs K, she said that if I got to their apartment in time, they would be willing to drop me off in Louisville that Wednesday night before Thanksgiving Day...It was all falling into place!
School was out after a chapel service early on Wednesday morning, and then I met up with Wayne. He told me my ex-girlfriend, Amy, would be riding with us because she lived in a nearby town close to Wayne's home. When I started dating Tracy, Amy and I hadn't talked since, but I was okay with her being there anyway. I just thought it would be a strange experience riding in the same van with the girl I shared my very first sexual experience with.
Tracy and Jim's mom were picking them up so I ran over to them, hugged them, and told Tracy I'd call her as soon as I was in Louisville. Then they all got in their car and left, and Wayne's mom got all of us in her van, and we were on our way. My brother, Wesley, went to another friend's house for the holiday.
When we drove into Lexington, I gave directions to Wayne's mom on how to get to Versailles Road, and we pulled into the apartment complex. Mrs K was once Wayne's teacher as well, so he wanted to say “hello,” and Amy joined us as well. Mrs K was surprised to see Wayne and hugged him, and we all chatted for a bit. Her little daughter came running from another room calling out my name, “Ramby!” And I swooped her up and began to spin her around as she laughed. I sat down on the ground, with Bethany in my lap, and Wayne and Amy left.
“Let us finish getting our things together and then we'll drop you off in Louisville,” Mrs K said. I played with Bethany for a bit and then we all piled into their Dodge Spirit.
After about a 45 minute drive, I asked them to drop me off on Bardstown Road, and Mrs K asked if I had a way back to school because they wouldn't be able to pick me back up or take me back to school. I hadn't, but I told her I did. I figured I would just take a Grey Hound bus back on Sunday, and all would be fine. They pulled away and I walked up the road to the Bardstown Inn. I wasn't enthused about the place, and I'd never stayed in a seedy motel before. My hotel/motel experiences have always been good, and this place looked like there were some shady people hanging around...I freaked out a bit before walking to a payphone and calling Tracy. Fortunately, she was home...
“Hey...I'm outside of the Bardstown Inn. I don't know about this place; it gives me the heebie jeebies. Do you know of another hotel in the area?”
She told me there was an inexpensive Hilton up the road, and so I walked up there and entered the lobby. I asked how much it would be for three nights and the cost was astronomical! I had enough for two nights, but all of my money would be gone, and I wouldn't even have enough for food and expenses. I settled on having one night there, and figured Tracy would be able to find me a place to crash until Sunday.
I called Tracy from my hotel room and gave her the room number. She told me she'd come on Thursday morning – family were already at her place and she couldn't leave. “Cool. I'll see you in the morning.” I turned on the TV and wound down for the day.
The next morning I woke up, took a shower and got dressed. It was a very cold and grey morning. I turned on the TV to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and waited on Tracy. At about 10 in the morning I began to get a bit worried about Tracy as she was supposed to come earlier, so I called her house. Her mom answered and told me that Tracy was already on her way. I grabbed my jacket and left the room to wait on her. I was worried about the time because I had to check out by 2 in the afternoon, and I wanted a little “personal” time with her.
I saw her walking up a side walk, long brown coat pulled tightly around her as the wind picked up. We went back to the room and messed around for a while, and at about 1.45pm we started getting dressed, and I remember a maid walking in on us as I was pulling up my pants. “There are people in here!” I yelled, embarrassed. She quickly closed the door.
I dropped the key off in reception, and then Tracy and I started walking back to her place. The roads were completely empty. Normally, there would be non-stop traffic speeding up and down Bardstown Road, but all you could hear was the howling wind, and the barren trees swaying like tortured ghosts.
“I'm hungry.” Tracy said.
“I'm running out of cash...where can we go that's not going to cost much?”
Across the street was a Thornton's grocery and gas station, and she suggested we get some hot dogs there. We crossed the street and entered, and sure enough they had one dollar hot dogs with all of the fixings, so we made a couple and sat on the side of the curb. She leaned into me as we ate in silence. I could tell something was bothering her so I asked what was wrong... “I thought you'd be able to spend Thanksgiving dinner with us, but my mom said, no.” This kind of surprised me... “I thought we were good?”
“Yeah...I don't know. She's acting strange again...Don't worry. Jim and I will slip away and bring you something to eat, but you'll have to spend the evening alone.”
“Alright...nothing new there, I suppose.” I said, hurt.
Tracy had to get back home but before she left I asked her to see if she could find a place for me to crash. She said she would, kissed me, and headed back home. I walked up and down the empty streets until the sun began to set, and it became bitterly cold. There was a little strip mall near my girlfriend's house, with a lobby for a 24 hour ATM machine, so I went inside to warm up.
A couple of hours passed when I noticed Jim and Tracy walking by...I ran outside and joined them. Jim was carrying a huge paper plate covered in aluminum foil, and Tracy had a plastic cup of soda. They presented them in unison and both said, “Happy Thanksgiving!!!” I thanked them and we walked back into the lobby so I could eat. As I was enjoying the food, Jim kept picking bits from my plate... “Dude! You've been stuffing your fucking face all day. Let me enjoy the food!” I said, teasing him. Tracy told me that Friday and Saturday I could stay at her friend Daniel's place, and I was relieved. For Thanksgiving Night, I had to fend for myself, but everyone was supposed to meet up with us tonight and they had plans to go see a movie.
“Is anything open tonight?” I asked. She told me there was a theater showing “Mortal Kombat” at 9pm, and someone was going to pick us up soon. Not long after, a car pulled up, and it wasn't anyone I knew, but Daniel was sitting in the passenger side seat. We climbed in and Tracy sat in my lap.
The movie was surprisingly good and very faithful to the video game. In the original video game, as you are kicking your opponent's ass, one of the creators of the game will pop out and say, “Toasty!” to the side of the screen, and then disappear. I remember in one part of the movie, as Johnny Cage was kicking Scorpion's ass, someone in the theater yelled out, “Toasty!” and everyone laughed!
After the movie we all piled back into the car. No one knew what to do next, so Jim said he might know someone with some acid, and if it worked out we could all “trip balls” on Friday. Jim gave directions to a street I'd never been on before, and when we arrived, we all jumped out of the car. The house, as I remember it, was a duplex, and when we opened the outer door, there was a staircase that was painted abstractedly with all different colours, and dots and swirls...It was like a Jackson Pollock painting!
We went upstairs and rang the doorbell. A girl in her early 20s opened the door and said, “S'up?” Jim said he wanted to talk to someone and she told us all to go inside. Looking around, there were pieces of homemade art and sculptures. The ceiling light was made out of spaghetti strainers, and it looked really cool. There were a few people, obviously stoned, sitting on a couch watching an anime movie. The guy showed up and Jim walked off. They were gone for about five minutes and when they came back the guy said, in a serious tone...
“I don't know any of you, but I know Jim. I'm not happy he showed up like this, but he's been cool. Don't do this shit again.” We were confused...I'd never actually seen a “drug deal” go down. Then we all left and Tracy asked what that was all about.
“He's pissed I showed up unannounced, and with you guys...He kept saying he was carrying so many felonies on him, but it's all good. I reassured him, and...” He paused as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a piece of foil, “I got this! I bought 10 hits, so we'll do it tomorrow!”
We piled back into the car and drove back to Bardstown Road. After Daniel's friend dropped us off, we all walked around for a bit, then we walked to Tracy and Jim's house. The lights were out and I told Tracy I'd sleep in the lobby of the ATM, so she ran inside and grabbed me a blanket and beanie to keep me warm. We all hugged, and I left. I was exhausted, so I walked straight back to the strip mall and entered the lobby, wrapped up the blanket around me, and fell asleep immediately. I don't know how long I'd been sleeping, but I was woken up by the loud radio of a Police Officer, and when I opened my eyes fully, two cops were standing in front of me.
“You okay?” one of them asked.
I panicked a bit, but trying to think fast, I said, “I was supposed to meet up with friends and go to a Hardee's for breakfast...What time is it?”
“You got some identification?”
“Yeah...” I replied, reaching for my wallet. I pulled it out and handed the I.D. To them. They looked at it, looked at me, then one of them asked, “You homeless? This I.D. Is Texas.”
“No sir,” I responded. “I go to school in Oneida. Private school. I was just going to meet some friends for breakfast.”
“Well, you need to wait somewhere else. You're sleeping next to an ATM machine and someone driving by saw you and called us. Okay? So, let's get moving along and don't do this again.”
“Yes, sir.” I said, wrapping up in the blanket.
They watched me walk to the street to the Hardee's diner, and I entered. Feeling like they were going to make sure I wouldn't leave, I bought a cup of coffee – which I really hated at the time – and a biscuit, then sat down and ate. Soon, the cop car drove off and I waited a little bit longer before heading back down the street to Tracy's place. I was at their door step at around 7 in the morning, and they came out to join me. Tracy's mom stepped outside and said “hello” and I asked her if it was okay if I came in. “No.” was her only response.
I can't remember what we did that morning, but I remember Jim saying that my drummer, Joe, was going to be in town and meet up with us. This was a surprise, but I was happy. The plan was to drop the acid, then head down town to see what kind of adventure we'd stumble into. By Friday afternoon our group was me, Tracy, Daniel, Jim, Joe, and another girl from school we call “Tink,” after Tinkerbell. She was Jim's girlfriend, and she was always a lot of fun. How all these people managed to make it to Louisville, I don't know, but it was going to be a blast! That was for sure. We hopped on a bus and headed down town. Someone said they also had weed, which wasn't a favorite thing of mine, but my mindset at the time was, “when in Rome...” What could it hurt? We found an abandoned parking garage, and Jim passed out the acid and we all dropped it at the same time.
I remember McDonalds was doing a promotion around this time called “Monopoly.” They usually did it twice a year, and would offer game pieces, based on the board game, and if you matched them up you could win prizes – the biggest prize was $1m in cash! They were putting these pieces in the city newspapers as well, and would often have at least one prize for a free soda or cheese burger or fries. That was how they roped you into buying more stuff. Jim broke into a corner newspaper machine, and picked out all of the free Monopoly pieces from the stock of newspapers...Soon after we began scratching them off, we were swimming in free drinks, burgers and fries. “Jackpot”! He said.
We walked around as the acid took its hold, and whilst I remember slightly tripping – mostly seeing a bunch of colours – I was disappointed...My first experience with acid was much more intense. We were all enjoying ourselves, but it seemed like a disappointment. Whoever had the weed suggested we “toke up” and so we headed to the abandoned parking garage again. A joint was rolled and placed in alligator clips that were attached to a long handle. By this time I was buzzing a bit more...I could feel the acid getting a foothold and I didn't really want to take a hit of the weed. It made its way down the line and I hesitated, but everyone said, “C'mon!” I took a hit and started to cough...A couple of people laughed, and I passed it along.
I don't know whether it was the hit of the joint, or the acid working through my system, but I felt a sudden rush of pure joy, and I fell back laughing! The joint made its way back to me and I took a deeper and longer hit, and began to cough uncontrollably! Everyone was laughing, and I was laughing and coughing, our laughter echoing throughout the cavernous parking garage. “I'm going to die!” I said, rolling around coughing and laughing. Another joint was put on the clips, and by this time I was so gone I put the handle to my lips and began to suck “It's not working anymore!” I laughed...Joe grabbed the handle, put it right for me and said, “You are sooooo out of it!”
Once we were done, I couldn't think straight. I was tripping, I was high, and I felt like my brain had decided to slip the surly bonds of earth and jettison itself away from my body. For some reason I started singing Elton John's “Rocket Man” out loud, and was rudely interrupted when Jim and Tracy began to sing “American Pie” by Don McLean...but soon, everyone joined them. At that point, Jim pretty much took over leading the pack and suggested we all head to McDonalds. When we got there, a debate began over who was going to place the order for the free food from the Monopoly prize pieces. I jumped in, mind still foggy, and said, “I'll do it!” Unanimously, everyone said, “Hell no!”
“Nah! I got this! I can handle it...just give me the pieces and I've got everything under control.”
Jim reluctantly handed me the pieces and I headed up to the counter. Everything was insanely bright, and the beeping sounds of the fryers and cash registers were distracting, but I headed to the spot where a black woman was waiting to take my order...I think I was drawn in by her dazzling finger nails: long, bright, and sparkly. “Can I help you?” she asked, forcing me to focus. I stared at her, blinking my eyes (probably) and said, “Yep. You sure can.” And went back to staring at her nails. Could she tell I was high? I wasn't sure...
“Okay...what do you want to order?” She asked. God bless her patience!
“Hmmm. See, I came into a prize windfall of sorts...” I said handing her the dozens of monopoly pieces. “All of these...Load 'em up!”
She disappeared, probably trying to check if they were legit, but she made the order. Soon, a tray was full of drinks, French fries, and burgers. Feeling victorious, I headed to my group of friends. I wasn't particularly hungry, but they all devoured them. Tracy and I sat at a table to ourselves, and as she began to pick at some French fries, I heard something that sounded like a basketball game.
“Is there a TV in here?” I asked, puzzled.
“No...?” Tracy said, looking around.
“I keep hearing a basketball game! You can't hear that? They just said foul on Scotty Pippen! You didn't just hear the whistle?”
Tracy smiled at me and shook her head, “You are fucked up.”
“It's the Bulls! It's a Chicago freakin' Bulls game, and I'm listening to it in my head. It's clear as day! How...how am I picking this up???”
Jim came over and started laughing, “Man, you are out of it, dude!”
I started laughing to myself and then for no reason whatsoever, Jim sat next to a guy eating alone and tried to talk to him. Tracy ran over and pulled him back over to us. All of my friends were laughing and I sat there listening to the basketball game playing in my head.
At some point, we left and hopped back on the bus to Bardstown Road. I was going to Daniel's, but we decided to walk up and down the road until most of us began to come back down. I was still buzzing, but not nearly as bad as I had been. Jim and Tracy had to get back home and so Daniel and I walked to his place. I remember hanging out with him in his attic, staring at the black sky until I could finally fall asleep.
The rest of the weekend went by in a blur, and then Sunday came...I had just enough money to take the Grey Hound bus back to school. I told everyone I'd see them in a few hours, caught the transit bus back down town, and bought my ticket. I arrived back at Oneida around 6 that Sunday evening. The holiday was over with, and the fun had come to an end. As I walked to the chapel for the Sunday service, my friends joined me and we slid into the pews. We all giggled and joked about the holiday weekend...Our little secret. Jim leaned into me and said, “Fuck OBI, right?”
“Yeah...” I said, smiling back.
He opened his hand and showed me a couple of hits of acid...
“For later,” he said.
“Why not now?” I replied.
Something within me changed that week after Thanksgiving. The cold from the approaching winter was seeping into my bones and I began to get really depressed. As my friends would sit around at the cafeteria table and discuss their plans for life after Oneida, I realised I didn't have anything other than Tracy and music. Before I left home earlier in the summer, my parents had discussed sending me to a college in Texas, or a smaller college named Berea, buried deep in the hills of Appalchia, but now that I was no longer allowed home, and with the support of my family gone, I didn't know what I was going to do.
I do remember trying to laugh about it, saying to my friend, Kasey, that we should all take off to Disney World in Florida for a couple of weeks after graduation, and everyone would get really animated and caught up in the day dreams of that idea, but it didn't feel real to me. What I felt was lost...all over again.
Sometime during that same week, Wesley had asked to borrow my CD collection so he could make copies of them onto tapes. Because OBI was so strict on what we were allowed to listen to, and after losing many CDs and replacing them many times over (I think I must've replaced The Cure's “Disintegration” at least five times!) I took to hiding the discs in my school locker. Nobody ever bothered to search there, but you never knew when a dorm dean was going to raid your dorm room whilst you were out. I initially told Wesley that he could not borrow my CDs, but he kept pestering me and I relented, pulling out my binder of discs from my locker, and giving Wesley explicit instructions.
“You get one day with these! One day. Copy what you want to copy, and then give them back to me immediately. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT leave these out in the open. If you have to leave your room, put the binder in your trunk.”
“Okay.” he promised.
I gave them to him with unease, but told myself it would be fine, it's just a day...Well, the day passed and I went to Wesley's room to get my stuff. He opened his door pale faced, as if the blood had been drained from him by a vampire.
“I'm sorry, Randy!” He cried.
I took a deep breath. “Sorry for what?”
I knew what he was talking about, but for my own sake, I asked anyway...
“What's gone, Wes?”
“Your CDs...I don't know if Mr Garret got them, or someone stole them. I left to go smoke, and when I came back, they were gone.”
I shoved the door open and pushed Wesley back into the room. “What do you fucking mean they're gone, Wes? What the fuck happened to my discs!?” I yelled.
I remember there being a couch in his room and I pushed him down on it and he started to cry. I began screaming at him, “They're all I've got! That's all I have! I have no fucking money! I can't fucking replace them! What the hell is wrong with you? Sometimes I wonder if you're even my real fucking brother!”
Wesley was crying and crying, but I couldn't stop myself from screaming. One of his friends entered the room, and I swung around and yelled at him, “Get the fuck out of here!”
“They were all I had, Wes!” Now I was in tears. I sat down next to my brother, pulled him to me and started crying. We held onto each other and I felt awful for saying what I had said to him. “I'm sorry, Wes...I'm sorry...” We held each other for a second, and then I told him it was okay, and that I would try to find them. I went to the office and Mr Garret was sitting behind the desk. I asked him if he had confiscated any CDs and he said “no”. I wasn't sure if he was being honest, but I had decided later that evening at bed check, I'd investigate.
I felt horrible for snapping on my brother like that, and when I look back on that moment, I still feel awful about it. They were just CDs, but music was so important to me, an anchor of sorts for my sanity, and I had no way of replacing them. I told Wesley it was okay, apologised for screaming at him, and began my hunt. I went from room to room at bed check, asking about the CDs. Someone tipped me off that a guy – a new dude, named Mike – might have them. I confronted him about it and he told me someone “sold” them to him, but wouldn't tell me who. I kept pressuring him about it but he wouldn't give up the person. However, he did give my CDs back, though two were missing: The Smashing Pumpkins “Pisces Iscariot” and New Order's “Republic” album. I enjoyed both of them, but I cut my losses. Before leaving the room though, I told Mike – demanded, really – that someone make it right.
“I got screwed, man. I lost my money too!” The guy said.
“I don't care. You stole – someone stole from my brother! Someone stole from me! Make it right!”
Believe me, in hindsight, I understand the irony and hypocrisy of what I had just said – especially in light of past and future thefts I would commit. He went to his locker, pulled out two cassettes and handed them to me. “Here, have these.” I looked at the covers and it was Part One and Part Two of Smashing Pumpkin's album “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.” I didn't even know they had released this album, but I accepted them, and left his room.
I carried my CD binder and the tapes around until I got off work, and then went to my room to listen to the tapes. The few songs I had heard blew me away, and I got really excited about it. I stayed up late to finish the album, and soon it became one of my favourites that year. I listened to them incessantly!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mr Spencer had opened up a new after school alternative to “free time,” called the Campus Ministry Center, and it was held in a building that went up the year before. They offered movies and a video game console – The Super Nintendo – so kids would go there instead of the Grill or to free time, to play the video games. There was also minimal supervision as it was considered a “religious” type thing, so some couples soon figured out it was the perfect place to make out and be “affectionate.” Tracy and I were one of those couples! Tracy started playing the Nintendo, and was hooked on the game “Donkey Kong Country.” She expressed her wish to own her own video game console, and I remember Wayne's brother, “Pee-Wee” trying to sell his NES, the original Nintendo console...Nobody wanted it though, because the Sega Genesis and new Super Nintendo were better and more popular. I approached Pee-Wee and asked him what he wanted for the console... “20 bucks, but don't tell anyone I lowered the price 'cause I was asking for more.” I gave him the money and then I went to the tech whiz, Josh, and asked him if he had any spare TVs he'd worked on. He told me he did and sold me an old beat up SONY for 10 bucks. This left me with only about $150 dollars or so in my canteen account...I really needed to start saving my money! There was no way I could make that last until graduation.
I presented the TV and Nintendo to Tracy early one morning at breakfast. She was thrilled, and she and a friend carried it back to her dorm room...The smiles on their faces made me feel so good!
Jim was somehow getting a hold of various drugs, and every now and then, some acid. We'd sometimes drop it early in the morning, and go to school. It was fun to kind of coast through the day and be in our own little inside joke...It was still recreational at this point, and I saw no harm in it back then. Around that time, there were a few church concerts in other towns, and the school would load up any students who wanted to attend them and it was nice to have field trips. Tracy and I would sneak off to kiss, or whatever, just as lots of other couples were doing. Then, on one particular trip, everything changed...
The ride to the church was fine, and I remember Tracy and I messing around on the bus seat as she laid across my lap. She had just come back from a few days away with a group of seniors, to attend an open house at some college in another town. Before she left I thought everything was solid with us, and I had no reason to think otherwise, but when we arrived at the concert, she and my ex-girlfriend, Amy, locked arms and began hanging out with one another. I wasn't Tracy's center of focus, and it wasn't as if I demanded to be, but after a couple of days of not seeing one another, I thought we'd take advantage of this loosely supervised time. Soon, I felt like a third wheel and just walked off from them and let them have the evening together. I wasn't happy, but I didn't want to tag along either if they they didn't want me there. I joined a couple of other friends for the rest of the evening, and when the event was over I climbed back onto the bus in a state of depression. Tracy and Amy followed, and Tracy sat beside me in the seat. She laid across my lap, grabbed my hand, and placed it on her crotch area...I was sitting there thinking, you ignored me the entire evening, and now you want me to play with you? I half-heartedly played with her, and then pulled my hand away and turned on my Walkman to listen to some Smashing Pumpkins.
There were so many great songs on the Melancholy album, from beginning to end, and when “Muzzle” came on, I stuck the head phones over Tracy's ears and said, “Listen to this – it's amazing!” She listened to it for a few seconds before taking the headphones off and saying she couldn't stand Billy Corgan's voice. I put my headphones back on and watched as she dug through her back pack and pulled out her Discman.
I listened to a couple more songs, and took the headphones off to see what she was listening to...I heard The Cure's “A Letter to Elise” which is one of the best Cure songs there is! I loved playing to it on the piano, and with my friend Dan strumming it out on the guitar, I'd play the keyboard parts. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking song...
“Oh Elise it doesn't matter what you say I just can't stay here every yesterday Like keep on acting out the same The way we act out Every way to smile, forget And make-believe we never needed Any more than this Any more than this
Oh Elise it doesn't matter what you do I know I'll never really get inside of you To make your eyes catch fire The way they should The way the blue could pull me in If they only would, if they only would At least I'd lose this sense of sensing something else That hides away From me and you, there're worlds to part With aching looks and breaking hearts And all the prayers your hands can make Oh I just take as much as you can throw And then throw it all away Oh I throw it all away Like throwing faces at the sky Like throwing arms round
Yesterday, I stood and stared Wide-eyed in front of you And the face I saw looked back The way I wanted to But I just can't hold my tears away The way you do
Elise believe I never wanted this I thought this time I'd keep all of my promises I thought you were the girl I always dreamed about But I let the dream go And the promises broke And the make-believe ran out
So Elise It doesn't matter what you say I just can't stay here every yesterday Like keep on acting out the same The way we act out Every way to smile Forget and make-believe we never needed Any more than this Any more than this
And every time I try to pick it up Like falling sand As fast as I pick it up It runs away through my clutching hands But there's nothing else I can really do There's nothing else I can really do There's nothing else I can really do At all”
I sat there listening to the song pour from her head phones, getting caught up in the raw emotion of it. Then it repeated. And repeated again. How many times was she going to listen to it? After five or six plays, my heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach, and I realised she was about to dump me...
I grabbed onto her tightly, as if I was afraid to let go, and she wrapped her arms tightly around my waist, and then took the headphones off. We just sat there holding each other, and I swallowed hard and through the lump in my throat I asked her, “Are we breaking up?” Her head fell into my lap and then she raised it and said, “I'm sorry...” I didn't know what to say in that moment...It didn't feel like all of the other threats of breaking up. There was no screaming about her being tired of my screw ups...It was just silence. In my heart of hearts I knew that we were over.
The bus pulled into OBI and parked, and as the students began to grab their things and exit the bus, I sat there, still stunned. A few minutes passed and then I stood up, but as I did so, she took off her engagement ring, and tried to hand it to me. “Keep it.” I said, and exited the bus.
When I was a kid we'd often visit Washington DC to see my Aunt Carol. My parents would take us to the various museums round the area, and in one museum I remember an exhibit on World War II. There was a picture of an American soldier, blank faced, eyes dead as explosions went off around him. I imagine as I headed back to my dorm room, that my expression was pretty much the same. I was the only one in the room so I went over the stereo, grabbed my CD binder that I had yet to hide away in my school locker, and flipped through it until I found The Cure's “Kiss Me Kiss Me” album. I popped the disc in its tray, and skipped through the songs until I landed on “1000 Hours,” switched the light off, and turned the stereo all the way up as Robert Smith's voice cried in anguish, “For how much longer can I howl into this wind? For how much longer can I cry like this?”
Jason and Jim entered shortly after and asked me what was wrong.
“She ended it.” I said, still in shock.
“Oh come on, not this story again.” Jason said.
“Yeah, you know my sister, she'll be right back with you tomorrow.” Jim added.
“No...It's really over.”
They tried their best to lift my spirits, only to fail, and then decided to leave me alone for a bit. A part of me did hope that it was just another empty break up, but it felt final...It felt different this time around.
The next morning I got up for breakfast in hopes that she'd join me as was our usual routine. She never showed, and I sat at the table alone, poking at my eggs.
We really were over. There was nothing I could do about it. I avoided anything she did, outside of a shared Earth Science class we had together. We had the same friends, but when it came time for lunch or dinner, she'd eat in the faculty dining hall with Amy, and I'd sit with everyone else in the main cafeteria. One particular day she decided to join us, and asked me if I'd get her a cup of tea, but I declined...I wasn't trying to be an asshole, but the act of doing something I always did out of love, just hurt me too much. I don't know if in that moment she was trying to reach out to me or build a friendship, but she didn't take it well and stormed out of the cafeteria. There was a noticeable hostility in our interactions after that.
One cold and grey Sunday, after church, Jason and I decided to eat in the faculty dining hall. As we were eating, Tracy came up to our table, fury in her eyes... “You are a real son of a bitch, Randy Ethan Halprin!” She spat. I looked at her, confused, and said, “Why is that?”
“Because you lied again!” She replied.
Jason looked uncomfortable, and picked at his food. I was confused, and defensively asked, “Oh yeah? What is it this time? What did I lie about?”
“The Nintendo! Wesley said you stole it! You gave it to me...someone is missing their Nintendo and he said you had to have done it and gave it to me.” For the life of me, I don't know what made my brother tell her that, I thought he knew I bought it from Pee-Wee. It was completely legitimate! I got angry and said, “I'm not going to entertain this bullshit...just go...go away. Shoo! And began to move my hand as if chasing away a fly.
“Fuck you!” She said, and stormed off.
I looked at Jason and asked him why he didn't say anything when he knew I bought the Nintendo from Pee-Wee as well. “I don't want to get involved. She's my friend too, Randy.” He said.
I was pissed, left the tray on the table, and tried to chase down Tracy before she left. She was handing her tray to a student dish washer and I said, “Stop. Okay? Just stop.” As she stood there I apologised and tried to explain. “You're still a son of a bitch!” She yelled, and stormed off again. I stood there for a second, stunned and hurt. The girl behind the window of the dish washing room asked if I was okay... “Yeah...I'm fine.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I don't know how Jim was doing it, but he was getting acid in regularly, so we dropped it a couple of times during the school day, and sometimes in the evening, we'd drink cough syrup. Christmas and the winter break was quickly approaching, and in my piano class we were all given a piece of Christmas music to practice for and play in a school recital. I was assigned “The Little Drummer Boy.” After my break up, I had mentally checked out of all things school, though...I couldn't focus. I regularly questioned why I was even there...I did want to graduate, but after losing Tracy, I also wanted the school year to be over. I'd do the summer work program and then hopefully convince my parents into letting me come back home, or at least get me into a college in Texas. Somehow, I was still managing to maintain good grades, and even getting by in my Anatomy class, but during the winter break, I needed to figure things out and re-assess everything.
About a week and a half from our break, something happened between Tracy and I that gave me hope that we might get back together. I was sitting in Earth Science class and suddenly, she reached behind her desk (she sat in front of me) grabbed my leg, and squeezed it tightly. I raised my head from my book in surprise...When she didn't let it go, I reached my hand out in front of my desk, and rubbed her back, half expecting her to tell me “no.” Instead, she leaded back into my hand, and let me continue. I kept at it for a few minutes, then she let go of my leg, and I stopped. As the class ended and we were grabbing our things to go to the next class, she told me she wanted to see me in the cafeteria at dinner. “I do love you,” she said, walking away.
My heart was pounding and I didn't know how to act. Should I be cautious? Was I getting my hopes up? The rest of the day seemed to drag on for an eternity! When we met in the cafeteria, we were amongst friends and made small talk. As everyone began to leave, we were the last two siting at the table. “I want to meet up with you during the Christmas break...if you want to.” She told me. I was stunned. “Like, hang out or what?” I asked...
“I want to sleep with you.”
Part of me was like, hell yeah! I'm down for that! But the part of me that loved her, that wanted us to be together, was confused...and so I cautioned. “And then...? I don't want to be like your go to guy when you need something like that.”
“I'd rather it be with someone I love.”
Just as she finished that sentence, Missy Underwood was standing in front of us. At first I thought she might've caught part of our conversation, but then she said, “Neither of you are eating, so you need to leave!” What was it with this woman? Why did she always single me out? I calmly and politely pointed out that we both had food on our trays, we were just talking as we ate. She asked us to leave, again, and so I looked at Tracy and told her we'd talk at free time. She said she'd be there, and I grabbed my tray and left.
When I got back to the dorm I went to the Office because I hadn't yet checked to see if I had any mail, and Mr White was sitting behind the desk. “What did you do?” he asked.
“Huh?” I said, confused.
“I just got a call over the radio to put you and Tracy on social campus restriction.”
Social campus was a restriction between a guy and girl who had been caught in what the school deemed “inappropriate behaviour.” Things like kissing, an intimate hug, or something similar in nature. It typically lasted for three days, and during that time you weren't allowed to be seen with or in communication with the person you were caught with. If you violated the restriction, you were further restricted for two whole weeks...After that, it was indefinite, and if you then violated that, you were expelled. I'd been guilty before, but this was bogus!
“What!?! I haven't been with anyone! Who – who did this?” I asked in disbelief.
“This is crap! Tracy and I were just sitting at the table talking.”
I left the office and headed right back to the cafeteria. It was just about to close, but I entered and asked Missy why she put us on a social campus...
“I asked you to leave, and you didn't.”
“I did! This is crap and you know it. Have it removed.”
“It's only three days.” She said smugly.
“What is your issue with me? What have I done to you, Missy?” I asked.
She didn't respond to the question, but just told me to leave again or I'd be in more trouble. I stormed out of the cafeteria and headed back to my room. I had the mind to talk to Dr Underwood, but calmed down and just dealt with it. I needed to focus on figuring out what I was going to do for Christmas. I sure as hell wasn't going to stay at the school for two weeks. I called Mrs K up and asked if it would be okay for me to stay with her for the holiday, and she said it would be fine.
I can't remember much of the lead up to Christmas break, except that the restriction had passed, and Tracy and I had resumed talking and planning for the break. Amy was going to be staying with her over the holiday, so we had to figure out a way for some private time around her. But other than that, nothing was set in stone. I still hadn't started practising for my recital either. The “concert” was coming up in a matter of days, and I needed to get on it. Instead, I spent the remaining days goofing around.
The night before the Christmas concert I panicked a bit. I made the decision to try to stay up all night, practice the piece on the keyboard I'd been borrowing from my friend Joe's mom, and I'd be in good shape. Someone offered me some “No Doze” caffeine pills, and I decided I would get as amped up as I possibly could. I popped an entire blister pack, and by bed check, I grabbed a broom from the clean up crew and raced around the floor, sweeping and mopping. I'd never been so hyped up in my entire life, and I didn't know what to do! After bed check was done, I went into my room and told myself I needed to start practising, but I was so jittery that I couldn't focus...Then, my stomach started to hurt, and I got the cold sweats and felt bile rising up in the back of my throat...I bolted out the door and to the bathroom where I puked...everywhere!
I came back feeling as sick as a dog, laid on my bed, and passed out. I woke up around breakfast time, headed out still feeling like crap and thinking that getting something in my stomach might help. I hadn't even worked on the piano piece! I had to go to the piano lab before the recital and play for the class. When I asked Mrs Cushman, my piano teacher, if I could opt out of the concert because I wasn't feeling good, she told me bluntly that if I didn't do the recital she would fail me in the class. She directed me to go splash some water on my face and head out to the grand piano in the chapel, and start practising.
I felt awful, but thankfully I could play by ear! I knew the song pretty well in my head, but just to be sure, I scanned the sheet music and asked Mrs Cushman to play it one good time for me. After she did, I took the sheet music out to the chapel area, sat down at the grand piano, and began to work it out, even improvising it a bit. I went back into the classroom, played it for the class, and felt pretty good about it. I still felt sick, but I thought I'd manage okay. When the recital time came, each student played a particular piece of Christmas music, and then it was time for me to hit the stage. I could feel a thousand eyeballs on me and I was all nerves, but somehow I got through it without messing up on any of it.
There was a sermon after the concert, and then it was time to let the students go for the Christmas break. I met up with my friends, said my goodbyes, and although I didn't know it at that moment, some of those people I would never see or talk to again...I told Jim and Tracy that I'd call them when I was in Lexington, and we'd figure out when we could get together. As I walked out of the chapel and back to the dorm room to wait on Mrs K, it began to snow. By evening time, the school campus was empty...I walked around the dorm and out around the campus, watching the flakes continue to fall. Mrs K arrived around 8pm that evening, and apologised for taking so long but she had to drive carefully on the road because of the weather. She helped me load some things into her car and then we headed back to Lexington.
The first day of winter break I called up Emma and we made plans to meet at the Old Kentucky Theater in Downtown, Lexington, to see the movie “How To Make An American Quilt” starring Wynona Ryder. I don't remember much about the movie, so it can't have been that good! Emma and I caught up on things and I told her what being back at OBI was like, and the split between Tracy and I...She seemed a bit shocked by the news, and then I told her we would be meeting up in Louisville in a few days, and I was hoping we would get back together.
I only had about a $130 left to my name, but I thought that I could stretch it through the Christmas break. I did want to get a couple of gifts, so I took the bus to a nearby Target retail store, and looked around. I saw some sweaters on a clearance aisle, and both Jim and his mom loved sweaters...So I bought those, and then I looked around for something for Tracy. I stopped off in the music department to see if there were any new releases from some of my favourite bands. I discovered a new album by Erasure, self titled, “Erasure” and on the strength of their “I say I say” album, I bought two copies on cassette. I went to their shipping department, boxed everything up, and sent it to Tracy's home in the hope it would arrive before Christmas.
As I left the store, I opened up my copy of Erasure's new album, popped it into my Walkman, and started listening to it on the bus ride back to Mrs. K's. I was really impressed with it – especially the songs, “Cold” and “Rock Me Gently.” They had matured from their '80s electro-pop songs, into crafting songs with an electronic sound scape and more reflective lyrics.
When I got back to the Ks, I asked if I could call Louisville, and they were fine with that, so I picked up the phone and dialled Tracy. We talked for a bit and I asked her when the best time for me to come to Louisville would be...
“Well...something has come up,” she replied.
“What do you mean something has come up?”
“Amy is going to spend some time at our place after Christmas. She'll probably be here the 26thor 27th.”
“Okay...so, we take a day off for ourselves, and I'll come back to Lexington after that. I won't interfere, and Amy and I don't get along anyway.”
“We'll see,” she said. “I'll let you know.”
I was naturally a bit bummed out by the situation, but I wasn't going to let it ruin the break. Then, something happened...My wallet had disappeared...I looked all over the living room area and I couldn't find it. I looked under the couch, the couch cushions – everywhere! I went through all of the clothes in my suitcase, and it wasn't there. Without any money I couldn't get to Louisville, let alone take care of myself in Lexington. I asked the Ks if they had seen it around, but they hadn't. Mrs K helped me to look, but when we couldn't find it, Mr K told me to “pray about it.”
I called Tracy up and told her my situation...”Let me know if you can get down here. We're throwing a party before and around New Years – another down town Louisville thing.” She said. I knew she meant doing some acid.
I looked all over the apartment and I eventually found my wallet, but the money and the picture insert were gone. Mrs K asked me how much money I had left in it and I told her about $75... “I really need that money to spend a couple of days in Louisville,” I told her. “Well, pray the money will pop up.” She said.
Pray? I was baffled! She hadn't offered to replace it even after we all decided that Bethany had probably somehow gotten hold of it. She was getting really active and into exploring everything, so it seemed like the most plausible scenario. I was angrier about it than I should have been, and they had been so gracious in letting me stay with them and eat their food, but their attitude towards my missing money felt like it was hindering my chance to get back with Tracy. I had to think of something, and fast!...But the thinking fast would lead me down an irreversible path that I would regret, and feel shitty about for a very, very long time.
One evening, a day or two before Christmas, the K's were out shopping...I went into their bedroom and rummaged around hoping to find my missing money that Bethany might have stuffed or hidden somewhere. I eventually stumbled across a credit card, looked at it for a second, then put it back down. I continued looking for my money – or any money – but when I didn't find it, I wandered back to the credit card and looked at it again...I used to have my own credit card that my dad gave to me for travel expenses coming back and forth between Texas and Kentucky, so I knew how they worked and I knew how to talk to the company to have money wired. I called the credit card company, and acting as Mr K, I had 200 dollars wired to myself through Western Union. All I had to do was get to Louisville. Once that was done, I put the credit card back in its spot, and told myself that I would pay them back. I felt horrible about it in that moment, but I justified it by telling myself I was saving my relationship, and some money had gone missing that was mine, and they didn't even try to help me replace it...That was how naïve and impulsive I was back then.
When the Ks got home, I told them I had to be in Louisville for a day or two, but because the roads were icy, they said they couldn't drive me there. They did however offer me the use of their car so I could drive myself there for an evening, if the weather got better. Now I felt even worse! They were going to let me borrow their car? True to their word, the next day the weather cleared up, and Mr K let me use the car. I called Tracy and told her I would be up there in a couple of hours, and then I took off. As I began driving down I-64, however, a light snow began to fall.
I had never driven to Louisville before...Hell, outside of driving around Oneida for my driver's education class, I'd never driven anywhere in Kentucky! I could drive easily in Texas, but we rarely had icy roads, let alone snow. I slowed down, and after about 30 minutes the skies cleared up again. It was evening by the time I got into Louisville, and I figured I could get to Bardstown Road easily by going down town and then getting on the same route that the DART bus took. But instead, I took a wrong turn and somehow ended up in an industrial area. There were factories and warehouses, and nothing looked familiar. I drove around in circles trying to find a road that would take me down town, but had no luck. The sky was turning black, and one again the snow began to fall.
When I found my way out of the industrial area, I noticed a set of run down houses and apartments, and I quickly realised that I had driven myself straight into the ghetto and thought, man...this is getting worse! I drove up one street and down another, and when I saw the sign for a gas station and a fast food place, I pulled into the gas station, parked, and jumped out to use the payphone to call Tracy. Jim answered and asked me where I was.
“I'm in Louisville, but I think I'm – I know I'm lost, and I might be in the ghetto!”
Tracy grabbed the phone, “Where are you?”
I described the area and she said, “Shit! Randy, you need to get out of there as fast as you can!”
“They're going to eat your white ass alive, Randy!” Jim yelled in the background.
Tracy gave me some instructions and I did my best to remember them, hung up and went back out to the car. I was nervous, and whilst I've never had a racist bone in my body, I felt scared on the strength of seeing movies that depicted the urban areas as places where no white person should be. I put the keys in the ignition to start the engine, but it wouldn't start! I tried it again, and nothing...
“You've got to be freakin' kidding me!” I yelled out loud.
I turned the engine over and over and it just wouldn't start. Maybe the cold was affecting the battery? I jumped out of the car and walked across the street to the fast food restaurant to see if there might be someone that could give me a jump start. I entered, and the first thing I noticed was that the order area with the cash registers were covered over with bullet proof glass – this just made me even more nervous...I noticed an older black man sitting at a table, eating; I didn't want to disturb him, but I had to get out of there! I approached him very humbly, and as he was about to take another bite of his food, I interrupted,
“Excuse me, sir?”
He looked up at me but he didn't say anything...
“I'm, uh, at the gas station across the street, and my car has stalled. The station is closed, and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind helping me by giving me a jump start?”
Still looking at me he said, “Can I finish my meal?”
“Yes, sir.” I said, and went and sat at another booth.
He finished, and I offered to help him clear his table, but he looked at me and said, “I got this. You go out to your car and I'll be there in a minute.”
I ran out of the restaurant and back across the street. I put the keys in the ignition, and turned it, but it was still dead. Then, I looked down at the shifting handle and noticed it had been in park. “Ohhh man!!” I said, moving the handle into drive, and then trying the ignition again...The car came to life! “I'm such a fucking idiot!” I yelled at myself.
A car approached and the black man jumped out of his car, holding the cables. I rolled down the window and quickly blurted, “The car just started...I'm so sorry!” and began to drive away. He stood there, anger on his face, and I don't blame him. I often think back to that moment and he probably thought, “Ho ass motha fucka! You can't trust no white person...” and I wouldn't blame him for thinking that way.
I found my way out of the projects and back down town, but I was still all nerves, and I'm sure my driving reflected that because a police car soon followed behind me, which made me even more nervous. After another turn, I was lost...again! I accidentally ran a stop sign and the police car's lights came on. “Shit!” I screamed...Could this get any worse?
Sometimes the universe gives you signs. Little cues that let you know that the path you're heading down might not be the one you're supposed to be on. Like it's trying to say to you that it will try to course correct you...But my tendency has always been to bulldoze my way through, universe be damned!
I began to pull over and in doing so, I nervously slammed against the curb. I put the car in park and pulled out my wallet in case they need to see an I.D. I had lost my license some months ago, but I figured it had to be in their computer, so I'd be okay. As I waited, a police officer came up to my window and asked me to roll it down...
“Been drinking?” he asked.
“Let me see your driver's license.”
“Uh, sir, all I have on me is my I.D. I lost my license.” I said, handing him my Texas I.D. He looked at it, looked at me and said, “Give me a second” as he went back to his cruiser. I sat there for what felt like an eternity, when he came back...
“Whose car is this?” He asked.
I told him it belonged to a friend who let me borrow it.
“Well, lucky for you that you were in our computer for a driver's permit. But you ran a stop sign, and I thought I was dealing with a drunk driver – especially when you slammed into that curb.”
“No, sir.” I said. “Just lost and nervous.”
“Well, I'm going to write you a citation and you'll need to pay it off at court. Other than that, you're free to go.”
“Thank you, sir. Um, do you think you could give me directions to Bardstown Road?” I asked.
He gave me the directions and then went back to his car. I started up my engine and began to drive off, and he followed me for a few minutes. But once I found the route he'd suggested, he pulled away. I finally found Bardstown Road, drove to the strip mall by Tracy's street, and pulled into a Taylor Drug store parking lot. I jumped out of the car and went to the payphone to call Tracy and tell her where I was. As I did so, snow began to fall heavily, in flurries. There was no way I'd be able to drive back to Lexington in that kind of weather. I called the Ks and told them I was trapped for the night, but as soon as the weather got better, I'd drive back. Mrs K was not happy about it, but said, “Just get back here when you can. We've got to be somewhere tomorrow.”
Jim and Tracy met up with me and I told them I needed to run up to Kroger's grocery to their Western Union station and pick up some money. We walked the couple of blocks to the store to get there, in the snow, and I picked up the stolen money before walking back to the car in the parking lot. Jim left Tracy and I alone, and he went back home as we climbed into the car...I turned on the heat, and made small talk. She told me Amy would be there in a couple of days, and they had planned to celebrate the New Year. I told her I'd do my best to get back down, but the unpredictable weather was messing things up. She leaned across the center console and into me, and I wrapped my arm around her. It had been weeks since I had held her, and having her in my arms felt good. I decided to kiss her, and when she didn't stop me, I kissed her more deeply...Then, we sat in silence. After a few moments had passed she said she needed to get back home and asked me what I was going to do. “I guess I'm sleeping in the car tonight. I need to get back to Lexington tomorrow. The Ks aren't too happy that I'm stuck here overnight, but I'm thinking as long as I leave by noon, I should be okay.”
“I'll come back out tomorrow morning, and we'll go to the mall. Sound like a plan?” She asked?
“Yeah.” I replied.
She leaned in to kiss me again, and climbed out of the car.
The parking lot was empty, but I decided to park further in the back just in case any police cars drove by. I parked the car, climbed in the back, and covered myself up in the coat I was extremely thankful to have received as an anniversary gift from Tracy back in November. It helped, but I was still freezing, and tossed and turned the whole night.
The next morning, Tracy came out and met me in the parking lot. We drove to Hardee's for breakfast, and then over to the mall. We walked around, just enjoying each other's company and then we left.
“You don't have to leave until noon, right?” She asked.
“Yeah.” I replied.
“Have you ever seen the high school I was supposed to go to?”
“No.” I said.
“Let's drive out there and I'll show it to you.”
She told me how to get there and I remember driving through some neighborhoods, and then into a heavily wooded area. The trees cleared after another block, and there ahead of us was a huge school. I pulled into the parking lot, found a slot, and parked.
Tracy leaned into me and kissed me, and then the next thing I knew, clothes were being pulled off one another as our lust consumed us. The windows to the car steamed up to the point that we could no longer see out of them, but I didn't care. I pushed my seat back and she climbed on top of me...Afterwards, we both heard the engine of a car and froze in place as it drove by, and then Tracy grabbed her clothes and we both got dressed. I had to wipe the steam off the windows so I could see again, and then we took off to get something to eat.
After we ate, I dropped Tracy off home and told her I would call her on Christmas Day. We kissed, and then she got out of the car. I knew I was running late in getting back to Lexington, and so I went a little over the speed limit...I was making good time until it started to snow heavily, and I was tired and didn't want to risk being in an accident. So, when I came across a gas station, I pulled in and called the Ks to tell them I was going to be late due to a snow storm. Mrs K was fuming!
“We're supposed to be driving to Berea to meet some friends and stay for Christmas, Randy!” She sounded very annoyed...I told her as soon as it let up a little I'd get back on the road. I waited for hours, but the snow did not let up...Snow ploughs were moving up and down Interstate 64, and I said to myself, “Screw it! I'll try following a snow plough and maybe I can drive a little bit better that way.” I checked to make sure the car was in drive, and headed back out on the road.
It was growing dark when I finally reached Lexington...I turned onto New Circle Road, and then into Winchester, and on towards down town, and then pulled into Mr and Mrs Ks apartment complex around 7 that evening.
When I knocked on the door, Mr K answered, angrily asking for the keys to the car and I handed them over.
“I'm sorry...it was the weather!”
“Shut up!” He yelled...This took me by surprise...I'd never known Mr K be angry before now. “If you weren't out living in sin with your girlfriend, you would've been here, and we wouldn't be late.”
They left in a hurry, and I was left alone in the apartment. On Christmas Day, I called Tracy to wish her and her family, a “Merry Christmas” and then talked to Tracy for a little while. I needed some clarification on things after what happened in the car.
“So, are we together again?” I asked.
“I don't know.” She replied.
“You don't know? What does that mean? We acted like a couple when I was in Louisville.”
“Randy...I'm confused. I need to start acting like we're separated.”
“What's wrong with kissing and hugging?” I asked.
“That was a little more than just kissing and hugging, in the car.”
“So, what about spending a day together like we originally planned?”
“Amy is here.”
“Okay. She'll be fine for one day. We'll get a hotel room.”
For every suggestion I made to her, she only threw up more resistance...This was beginning to drive me crazy.
“So, do I just see you back at school, or do I come down like we planned?”
“You can still come here.” She said.
I hung up the phone and went to watch TV.
The day after Christmas, the Ks returned and they still said very little to me. I just played with Bethany to pass the time...just waiting to get back to Louisville. I still had the money to go back there and my plan was to go back to school from there, when we were due to return.
I had everything ready to go, suitcase packed, and put everything in the living room on the night of the 26th. I crashed out on their couch that night...and then the next morning I woke up to the sound of someone knocking on the door. I looked out the peep hole, and saw a guy in a blazer and jeans, and two police officers standing behind him. I opened the door and the guy in the blazer said,
“Yes, sir.” I answered.
“I'm a Lexington detective. Someone reported you stealing a credit card. Put your hands behind your back, I'm placing you under arrest for credit card fraud.”
My stomach dropped...How could I have thought I would get away with it? I felt not only stupid, but now I was understanding the Ks hostility...They must've known for a while, and called the police on me.
“Can I get my shoes?” I asked...I was only in jeans and a shirt. One of the officers in uniform asked me where they were, and I told him they were by the couch, so he grabbed them. I saw Mr K come into view, but he didn't say anything...he just stared at me. I dropped my head in shame as I was escorted to the police car.
We drove to a small police station where I was taken out of the car and escorted to a small office. The detective stared at me for a few seconds, and then said, “You're a real piece of shit, you know that? These people took you in for the Christmas break, fed you, and let you stay in their home, and you steal from them? I wish this was the old days when I could put my hands on you. I'd break both your arms.”
I only sat in silence. I sincerely felt awful about everything. “You steal anything else?”
“No.” I said, looking down at the floor.
“Look at me in the face, pussy.” The detective spat!
I just stared at the floor.
“I swear to God, if I find out anything else was stolen, I'll make sure you do a shit load of time. Daddy won't be able to get you out of this mess.”
I looked up, did the Ks tell him about my dad?
I began to feel defensive, and finally spoke...
“So, what now? Or are we going to keep playing Hill Street Blues?” I said, sarcastically. I watched as the detective's face reddened...Then he picked up the phone and told someone to come and get me to take me to County Jail.
“You're a real piece of shit.” He said one more time, just in case I didn't hear it the first time around.
A couple of Officers came and took me out to a “Paddy Wagon” - a boxed looking police van, and told me to climb in the back. There were no windows, only a bench along the walls of the “box.” I sat down and an officer buckled me in before the van started up. About ten minutes later, we arrived in the County Jail. Surprisingly, when I was taken out of the back, the Officers removed the handcuffs and I entered a lobby type area. There were inmates in county jail jump suits, moving about, and I could see a wall of phones and a series of desks.
An officer told me to sit down and someone would interview me before booking me, and a few minutes later I was told to go to a desk where I saw a woman in glasses, blazer and jeans, and another man. When I sat down the guy introduced himself and told me he was my case worker, and explained to me what I was being charged with.
“What about an attorney?” I asked.
“We aren't there yet. You've not yet been formally charged, so this is all pre-hearing stuff.”
The woman began to ask me a series of questions...
“Have you ever been arrested?”
“Adult or minor?”
“How old are you?”
“Do you know anyone who can get you out of jail?”
“I don't know.”
“Yes. My friend, Emma.”
“Can she get you out of jail?”
“I don't know.”
She rifled through some papers and then said, “Well look...at most this is a misdemeanour. If you have $10, we can sign some papers and I can let you go.”
“My wallet. I've got some money in there.”
“Nope. The detective confiscated it. No way of knowing it was yours or stolen.”
The counsellor spoke up. “How about we call your friend? I'm sure she must have $10. All she has to do is sign a few papers basically saying she'll make sure you get to court, pay the $10, and you're free.”
The woman picked up the phone and I gave her Emma's number. She handed the receiver to me and Emma answered. I ran down the situation and asked if she'd come and get me. I didn't even know where I was as I couldn't see from the Paddy Wagon, but Emma said she was only a couple of blocks away from the jail. She'd be there in a few minutes. I was relieved...I really didn't want to be booked into County Jail. The thought terrified me!
The lady drew up some papers and I began to sign them. The counsellor pulled out a business card and handed it to me. “In case you need help with anything.
“Thanks,” I said, taking the card.
Just as Emma promised, she was at the jail in about 15 minutes, paid the $10 and I was set free. Before I left, the lady said I had to be in Court on some date in February, and I said, “Well...I've got school in Oneida.”
“You'll figure something out.”
I could've sworn I saw a pained expression on her face, and it bothered me...But I just wanted to get out of there. What did she know that I didn't?
“As we walked back to Emma's place, I asked her if I could stay there for a night or two until I went back to Louisville. She seemed okay with that, and didn't ask many questions about the stolen card. I, on the other hand, was clueless as to how bad things were about to get for me.
Emma agreed to help me get to Louisville if I promised to pay her back. I was happy about that, though I felt awful that she was going to have to pawn a few things to help me, and give me some extra money as well. She told me she would drive me down there because she wanted to meet up with some of our friends as well. I still had some things, including my suitcase, at the Ks, so I asked her if we could stop by there first.
We drove to the apartment complex on Versailles Road, and I ran out to get what I could...I felt like I was about to stare down a dragon, and I didn't know what to expect when they answered the door. I did want to apologise, and promise to make it up to them. I nervously pushed the door bell...Mrs K answered it...
“I don't want to hear it! You grab your stuff and leave. You've got two minutes, and then I'm calling the police.”
“Can I please apologise? I'm truly sorry-”
“No! Get your stuff and go!”
My suitcase was by the door so I grabbed it. She screamed something about pots and pans left behind when I returned to OBI, and I said, “Keep them.” In my head I thought, “I'm never coming back to Lexington again.”
I headed back to Emma's car and we pulled out of the parking lot, and headed to Louisville. It snowed lightly on the way, but we got there in good time. I didn't have enough money to go to the Hilton this time, so I told Emma to drive to the Bardstown Inn. We pulled into the parking lot and I ran to the “lobby” and checked in. I used most of the money paying for the room right up until I had to return to school.
I called Tracy and told her that Emma and I were at the motel...We waited, and soon, Jim, Amy, Tracy, another friend from school, Amber, and my drummer and friend, Joe, all showed up. I didn't expect this many people!
The motel room was small, but it wasn't nearly as bad or seedy as we had all expected it to be – the water worked, and there was cable TV. Emma caught up with everyone and later that evening left to get back to Lexington. Jim went to a gas station across the street, and stole a bunch of cough syrup, and we all got messed up that night. After a while, Jim and his crew left, and Amy and Tracy stayed with me. It was a bit weird having Amy hang out with us, but soon we were talking and laughing well into the night. My buzz carried on into the early morning hours when they left, and I was still feeling giddy when the phone rang...I expected it to be Tracy letting me know she was back home. I answered, “Heeeeeeyyyyy” The voice on the other end said,
“Where are Tracy and Amy?” It was Tracy's mom! I don't know what it is about parents – especially someone that you only recently mended things with, but hearing her voice was enough to sober me up fast. “Uh! Crap! I don't know.”
“They aren't with you?”
“No...they left a long time ago.” I said, truthfully. “Maybe they went on a walk?”
Just as I said that, I could hear Amy and Tracy coming into the house, in the background. Without missing a beat Tracy said, “We were just out on a walk.”
“Okay, they're here,” Tracy's mom said.
“Alrighty. Bye!” I said, hanging up the phone quickly.
The day before New Year's Eve, Amy, Tracy, and I went to a diner early in the morning and ate hash browns. Amy left the table to go to the restroom, and as she did, I asked Tracy if we were going to have some time alone. She told me she didn't want to stick Amy out, and whilst I was a bit disappointed, I thought that may be it was for the best. I was already stressed and worried about the credit card charges, and hadn't mentioned what had happened to anyone. I was hoping it would be one of those things that would go away and wouldn't turn into a very big deal, but in the back of my head I kept thinking, how on earth am I going to make it to court when I needed to be back for the hearing in February?
Amy came back, and we began to talk about New Year's Eve. Tracy said her brother and everyone else had plans, and she didn't really want to go, so I suggested we hang out in my motel room.
I could get Mrs Nader to buy us some alcohol.” Tracy offered. “What should we get?”
“I've always wanted to try out that new drink, ZIMA, I said.
“ZIMA?” Amy asked.
“Yeah, it's clear, and it's supposed to taste like 7-Up.” I replied.
“Okay...and maybe she'll have some liquor as well.” Tracy said.
I think New Year's Eve of 1995 was on a Sunday, because I vaguely remember Mrs Nader saying that due to alcohol laws, they couldn't sell any until the evening, so I walked up and down Bardstown Road waiting for them. The Taylors drug store was still open so I went inside and bought a couple of cheap small toy gifts for Tracy and Amy, as well as some tape and wrapping paper. I went to the same lobby area with the ATM machine, and wrapped the gifts up.
Eventually, the girls showed up and joined me in the lobby. I dug into my coat pockets and presented the gifts...Amy was a bit surprised and I said, “Look, I know we've not gotten along for the past year, but we're about to start a new year and I want to say I'm sorry for my side of things. Can we start over as friends?”
She looked at me, smiled, and said, “Hell yeah!” And she leaned in to hug me.
Tracy told us we should get to the Naders and pick everything up. “My mom said we had to be back home by one in the morning but they'll be gone all night, so it doesn't matter.
“Well, let's try to not get too drunk,” I said.
We walked to the Naders' place and knocked on the door. It was dark outside and it felt like a weird undercover operation. She shoved the brown grocery bag out the door and said, “Y'all didn't get this from me.” I grabbed the bag and wrapped my large winter coat around it...Then we made the walk back to Tracy's house so she could grab her jam box and some CDs. When she got her stuff we made the mile trek to my motel, entered the room, and took off our coats, piling everything up on the bed. I couldn't properly start any party without chips, so when I realised we had no snacks, I told them I was going to run across the street to the gas station and grab some stuff. I wanted to buy some Jolly Ranchers candy as well, because I heard you could flavour the ZIMA with them. My favourite chips at the time were Cool Ranch Doritos, and Funyuns, so I grabbed several bags, paid for them, and ran back across the street. When I came back into the motel room, Tracy had her jam box playing 10,000 Maniacs, “Our Time in Eden.”
Amy asked if she could call her mom in Ohio, and I said it was cool, so she picked up the phone, and whilst they talked, I pulled out the bag of Jolly Ranchers I had just purchased, and started twisting the caps off the ZIMAs, and dropping a candy in each bottle. Tracy looked at me puzzled, and I said, “It's supposed to make the drinks taste like the flavour of the candy.”
“Ohhh...I want the watermelon one, then!” She grabbed a bottle and began to drink it.
“Wait! Let it melt first.” I said, laughing.
“Hold onto your bottle cap, Randy! It's a memory of tonight.” Tracy said...I tucked it into my pocket.
I rummaged through the bag, and we had two six packs of ZIMA, and half a bottle of Wild Turkey whiskey. Amy was still talking to her mom, and I handed her a bottle of ZIMA...
“Yeah, I'm with Tracy and Randy right now. Yeah...THAT Randy. We're cool, mom. We're friends again.” And I smiled at her as she said that.
Tracy had already slammed 3 bottles of ZIMA and I was warning her to pace herself, but by her giggles, I could tell she was starting to buzz a little. I took a sip of the Wild Turkey, and cringed. I had never tasted whiskey before, so I passed the bottle to Amy and she took a swig...She coughed, and put the bottle down.
I was feeling a bit inebriated and started to sip on my sour apple infused ZIMA, and thought, “Wow, it does taste like Jolly Ranchers, and quickly guzzled it down before reaching for another bottle. I didn't like the taste of the whiskey, but this stuff I could get used to!
After about an hour of drinking, Tracy started acting a little nutty...I wasn't sure if she was over-acting being drunk, but when she said she wanted to to outside – barefoot – I ran to her and pulled her back...
“Put on your shoes!” I told her. But she insisted on going outside, and Amy and I looked at each other uncomfortably. We followed behind her and she was laughing and yelling stuff out. I kept saying, “We should get back to the room!”
After a little while she quietened down...Soon after that we walked down a side walk by the Bardstown Mall in the same area, and we all locked arms together like the characters in “Wizard of Oz” and Amy and Tracy began to sing Nine Inch Nails', “Closer,” and were laughing as they sang. A light snow began to fall, so we headed back to the motel. My body was warm and I felt good – not drunk, but good. Tracy was undoubtedly drunk...I wasn't sure about Amy though...maybe a bit buzzed?
When we got back to the motel parking lot, Tracy took off running, and I thought, “Crap...not again!” She was yelling and laughing and I tried to grab her and settle her down. A security guard appeared out of nowhere and asked us to come into the check in area. I kept thinking, “I don't need this shit...I'm in enough trouble as it is!” The security guard was obviously feeling himself, and began to lecture us saying he had the power to kick us out if he wanted to, and if we didn't settle down we'd have to leave. I talked to him calmly and trying to appeal to his over-blown sense of self importance, I said, “It's cool, man. You are the big guy and in charge, and we're only trying to enjoy New Year's Eve. We don't want to upset you or anyone else.”
So long as you know, I have that authority.”
“Yes, sir. You absolutely do.” I replied...And then I thought of a line from a favourite movie of mine, “Men At Work,” and the line went, “Fuckin' rent-a-cop...”
He let us go and we walked back into the motel room. Tracy began to take all of her clothes off, and was soon down to just her bra and panties. Amy looked at her, then looked at me, and I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed a t-shirt out of my suitcase, and some boxers, and as Tracy leaned into me dead weight, I told her to put the clothes on. I had a little help in dressing her, but she didn't fight me.
Amy took another drink from the whiskey bottle and passed it to me. I took another drink and said, “Blech! That shit is rough!” Tracy grabbed the bottle and said, “Gimme!”
We pulled the bottle away from her and she pulled me to the floor and began to kiss me. Amy was up on the bed and then, Tracy began to unzip my pants and pull out my penis...I don't know if Amy was aware of what was going on, but I didn't stop Tracy from stroking me. I was getting close to cumming, and moaned slightly, and I think Tracy realised how close I was because her eyes got big and she said, “Sshhh!” She pulled her hand away and started kissing me again.
Midnight was getting close, so Amy interrupted us and said, “What is going to be our song?”
I sat up, zipped my pants back up, and tried to clear my head...
“Huh?” I asked.
“A song! Something to remember this night.” Amy replied.
The 10,000 Maniacs album was still playing so I offered, “These are the days”?”
Tracy blurted, “That song is cliched.”
“Yeah, but it fits,” I shrugged.
Amy went over to the jam box and skipped through the songs to find it. The song began to play and then she looked at her watch. “Almost midnight!”
The countdown began, and then we all yelled, “Happy New Year!!!”
1996 was here...
End of Part One
The history of OBI
The two buildings in the distance (behind the stone sign) are the boys' dormitories - Marvin Wheeler, and Carnham Hall.
OBI's Farm: The school produces a lot of its own food, and has a farm program for students who are sometimes made to work there for disciplinary reasons.
Piano Lab: I took piano lessons here at OBI
School Gym: Basketball Court. The blue building in the background was my 8th Grade Classroom
School Cafeteria at OBI
Small Chapel building at OBI: In the distance behind the chapel is a white house, which is the school's guest house. My friend, Wayne, worked at the guest house, and I volunteered there.
Bardstown Road: This is where I hung out with Tracy and friends.
Lexington Fayette Mall: I used to go to this Mall and walk around, to clear my head when things became too much at times.
Continental Square Apartments: Where I lived the summer of 1995. The apartment with two windows on the second floor was the very apartment I lived in.
SUBWAY: New Circle Road, Lexington...Where I worked in the summer of 1995
Civic Center, Lexington, Kentucky: I used to walk around this Mall sometimes to clear my head.
Sources for images used in this Memoir...
"History of OBI" waymaking.com
"Stone OBI sign" Wikipedia
"Farm landscape at OBI" Miss Burke's classroom tour
"Chapel interior," "Piano Lab," "Basketball Court," "School Cafeteria," and "Exterior Chapel," OBI School website