Saturday, March 02, 2013

SOMETHING ABOUT JENNA HAYES

I was talking to my friend Kendyll recently and I mentioned that back in 2007 Dennis Cooper published a short story collection of new and upcoming writers. He called it Userlands: New Fiction Writers from the Blogging Underground (Little House on the Bowery)
 I never really go back to read my story but I was about to send her a PDF so I'd thought I'd post it here aswell. While I'm reminiscing I gotta say thanks to Dennis whose been a hero, mentor and friend. He's taught me so much and he's the main reason I started my blog. When we hung out in Paris back in 2006 he kept bugging me to send him a story for consideration. Every now and then I see Userlands in second hand book stores in the "cult fiction" section and it blows my mind. 

Chris is getting fucked in the far room while Amy gets
chased around the lounge by Max wielding a chainsaw
as the Xanax takes hold of me and pulls me down. I walk
around smoking a cigarette and people all around me are
doing things. I walk from room to room, I take a bottle of
wine from a table and go sit in a darkened room with a
few others watching a video. I sit on the floor and drink
the wine while watching this girl with brown hair get
taken from behind by this guy wearing a ski mask. I walk
out after watching the money shot and on my way out I
realize I was in Chris’s bedroom.

Walking up the stairs I pass Max who’s holding a petrol
can shouting that he’s gonna start the chainsaw. In the
bathroom a girl holds another girl’s hair back as she throws
up into the toilet. Between the hurls I can hear her crying
while her friend leans against the sink smoking a joint.

Walking down the stairs I realize my eyes feel tired
but my body’s awake. I head out into the front garden
and some guys are spraying the garden hose and I watch
the water hit this guy wearing a suit and I stand and see
his hair fall into his eyes. I take a seat on the bench. Under the
streetlamp across the road by a red car I see this girl throw
up onto the curb—it’s Chris and I think she must be done
fucking that guy she was with earlier.

Some guy and girl walk past me as I sit on the bench
leaving the party holding their coats saying something
about “the fucking house, you can’t leave anything.”

I walk around the back of the house to the garden
where some music is playing and everyone is standing
around wearing Parker jackets or hoodies and I drink
my wine and talk to this guy about this film that’s being
passed around and as I try to stare at his face in the
darkness, shadowed by the hood of his jacket, I can only
make out his eyes in the light and I begin to think back to
the couple who walked past me holding their coats and
saying, “The fucking house is levitating.”

The music gets turned up louder as I enter the kitchen
through the sliding door. A bunch of people are sitting
at the dining room table eating Domino’s Pizza straight
from the box and drinking Pepsi from this two-liter
bottle. I catch a glimpse of Jenna walking into the other
room wearing this black dress. I run to the fridge take out
a bottle of chilled wine, try and find a corkscrew, then
realize that Jenna’s probably lost in the crowd of people,
she’s getting away.

In the next room I can’t see Jenna. I scan for her but
just see a bunch of kids sprawled across the couches
holding bottles of beer and joints and they all have girls
with them leaning on their chests and there’s a movie on
and someone on the screen is someone being chased.

In the hallway I feel a chill and look to see the front
door is open. Jenna Hayes stands in the doorway smoking
a cigarette and I walk toward her, and when I stand
behind her I look at her body in the dress and smell her
perfume, see she has her hair tied back, and lie and ask for
a light saying I haven’t got one.

I stand with Jenna smoking, my hand getting cold
holding the unopened bottle of wine. Talking to her about
this girl we both know at college, debating if she’s here
tonight. I tell her I think I saw her earlier but can’t be
too sure. Standing staring through the cloud of smoke
we’ve made to the houses across the street, and I wonder
if they’re looking back at us through their windows and
if they are, do me and Jenna look like we’re a couple. I
kinda laugh when she starts moaning that no one let her
know that pizza was being ordered. As she stubs out
her cigarette on the ground, I look at her black shoes
reflecting in the light. She asks me do I know if that new
food place in town is open, I’m not sure, she asks me do I
wanna go for a ride to see, I agree.

I walk down into the basement where I grab my coat
and see a couple who are talking quietly and listening
to the radio. They look up at me as I leave. I think about
waving then forget it.

In Jenna’s car she turns up the stereo, which is good
cause I’m not in the mood to talk, she puts on some
cool mellow American guitar band. I lay back as the
vocals come in, staring out into the dark night I open the
window slightly and as the breeze hits me and I begin to
drink from the wine, I look over at Jenna, and something
to do with music and air, I get this feeling and I watch
Jenna’s hair blow around and the lyrics to the song are
“step into the light and see if it shows you who you are.”

We pull up to the food place and it’s open. We go in
and the harsh light hurts my eyes and it seems like me and
Jenna are much paler than everyone in here.

I sit down opposite Jenna and eat my burger and pick
at my fries. She eats her food and I realize that I'm not too
hungry. And we sit around for a little while and talk about
college and our friends and make each other laugh and I
try not to stare at her for too long and we get up and as
we leave on our way back to the party I notice I have no
idea at all what time it is.

I smoke a joint on the way home and pass it to Jenna,
who holds it in her hand at the wheel and takes big
inhales at stop signs and traffic lights. When we get back
to the party a few people are sitting on the porch. The
front door’s locked so we walk around to the back to
where the music’s coming from. Jenna’s name is called by
three girls. She shouts over, then turns to me, looks me in
the eyes, says thanks and she’ll catch up with me in the
party and she’ll definitely see me before she goes, and I
believe her and think about holding her hand but just nod
and walk off.

Upstairs I hear an engine growling and see Max, his
friend, and some girl playing with the chainsaw which
they’ve finally got started. I walk past them on the way
to the bathroom and see a guy from my English class
sprawled out across a bed with MTV on playing some
video from this hip-hop act and I notice there’s a lot of
guns in the video.

After I wash my hands I throw some water on my face
and think about my drive with Jenna and the moment the
cool breeze hit and the vocals came in and Jenna looked
beautiful and all this is cut in half when I hear a rumble
through the wall and I walk out of the bathroom to see
Max cutting a hole in the wall with the chainsaw. I feel
the dust hit me as I walk past with water dripping from
my face.

I begin to freak out a little as the whole corridor fills
with smoke. I don’t look back to see what has happened
but think for a second that maybe Max hit a pipe or
something. I walk into the first room I come to. Inside
the room the lights are off. I look around and because the
room’s neat and doesn’t smell of weed, I think no one’s
been in here tonight. As I rest my head against the door,
suddenly everything outside goes quiet, the chainsaw
stops. I close my eyes and try to relax and don’t really
think about anything. I sit around for a few minutes, light
a cigarette, smoke half of it, and I get up to leave but
freeze when I see someone in the corner of the room. I can
only make out his face through the darkness and as I stare
at him, his expression remains the same, vacant. I leave
the room and close the door behind me, then stand in the
doorway for a few seconds afterwards and hear footsteps
from inside.

Max has cut a hole in the wall and past the rubble you
can see the brick. In the bathroom more people are getting
sick, and from downstairs I hear the music from outside
getting louder.

In the back garden I look around, thinking Jenna
might still be here and look for her but can’t find her and
try to work out how long ago it was since I spoke to her
out here in the garden but can’t work it out.

I take a beer from the fridge and walk into the living
room, sit on the couch, and try to keep my attention on
the screen and not on the couple opposite me kissing. A
joint is handed to me, I smoke half of it and pass out/fall
asleep. I wake/come to when I hear a crash from outside,
get up, and notice I spilled the rest of my beer on my
shirt.

Half awake I wander through to the back garden
which has since almost entirely cleared. I walk around for
a minute or two. The music has ended.

In the kitchen I see people sitting about wearing
jackets with their hoods up, not talking and looking tired
and stoned, I go to the fridge, take another beer, start
drinking it, and then stand by the door and watch the
people leave. As the numbers fall I stand on the porch
outside. I watch all the cabs pull up and all the people get
in and drive off.

Inside standing in the lounge I drop my beer bottle
onto the floor thinking it’s not going to make a difference.
I suddenly realize I haven’t seen Jenna but think maybe
she couldn't find me before she left.

As I walk into the kitchen I see Chris standing outside
in the middle of the garden. She’s barefoot and standing
perfectly still and I walk toward her, my attention focused
on her, drawn, I get nearer and notice her lipstick is faded
and her eyes are sleepy. I take her by the hand and in
silence we go inside and walk upstairs together, closing
all the doors on the way up, and I go into her room, take
off my shoes, and lay on the bed. She joins me and I move
her gently toward me. She rests her head on my chest
and I reach for the remote to turn on the TV and begin to
watch a film as I drift off  holding Chris in my
arms, hoping she’s warm. My eyes close and just as I begin
to sleep I begin to think something about Jenna Hayes.


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