Two Strangerswritten by Teasel Meringue - illustrated by Sifl-senpai and Sugapieissofly
I'm sorry about how some parts are sort of rushed through. I think sometimes in life moments are slowed down, and some are so rushed you can't remember them. And I tried to write this like I was conveying a part in someone's life. This isn't the usual story, and the two main characters are not romantically involved. Some parts aren't well explained and that's because those parts were never explained to the characters, and I was never a fan of stories where the reader knows more than the characters in the story.
Craig's life, every day is a routine. Every single day and night is the same; exceptions being days when he needs to buy food or pay bills. He wakes up; gets out of his king sized bed with the grey sheets and black duvet with matching pillows. He takes a ten minute shower during which he shaves his face and brushes his teeth. After that, he goes back to the bedroom and walks over to his walk-in closet, and picks out his clothes.
He gets dressed; goes into the kitchen and cooks breakfast; usually three eggs, fried, two pieces of toast, and one glass of orange juice. While He's eating his breakfast, he reads the paper. After that he leaves his apartment to go to work. He's an executive at a firm that specializes in handling other business's accounts. Craig's job comes with perks.
For example, the dark blue Jaguar XJ the company gave him as part of his promotion three years ago which he uses to drive to and from work. Craig works in his own corner office with a private bath. In Craig's office there's a large window that overlooks the city. He doesn't look out the window too often. He's usually on the computer, taking calls, overlooking charts.
He doesn't have the time. However the window does let in a lot of light, so that is a plus. He's at the office for eight hours a day. When it's time to leave and go home, he does. He drives home, and parks the car in the underground parking garage.
Then he takes an elevator located in the garage up to the tenth floor where his apartment is, and he walks to his apartment, unlocks the door, and goes inside, locking the door behind him. Craig is exhausted by the time he comes home, so he always takes his shoes off, then his coat before collapsing on the grey couch. He doesn't have a television; he thinks television nowadays is all shit. It doesn't take long for him to change into more comfortable clothes. Craig lives alone, and he cooks his own meals.
He's not the greatest chef in the world, but he gets along just fine. After dinner, Craig always steps out onto the balcony to smoke. He never has more than two cigarettes a night. They feel good, but he hates the lingering taste in his mouth. Craig has a whole drawer full of breath mint packs.
After smoking he pops in three mints at once. Craig just loves the strong flavor. After reading a couple chapters from whatever book he's currently reading, he turns off the light, He gets into bed and goes to sleep. Every day is the same; each task is perfected down to the last detail. Craig always adheres to his schedule, and he keeps to himself.
He has no time for social interactions, nor does he care for them. In his opinion everyone in the world excluding him is a moron. That's always been his experience anyway. When Craig got the call from the higher ups, he was expecting them to chew him out for whatever reason, as that was what they usually called for. The higher ups never get their hands dirty with the lowly work his company does.
They prefer to stay out of things unless there's a screw up and then they call to yell about failures. And Craig is the one they always call. But when they explained why they were calling, it became clear that they weren't calling to complain.
"What do you mean, transfer? I have no intention of leaving my office!"
"Please, Mr. Tucker, don't think of it as a transfer. We aren't asking for anything permanent. We just need an expert to oversee everything, make sure the new company gets off the ground with an experienced person guiding them."
"And you think that person is me." It wasn't a question, but an inferred statement.
"Yes. Despite a few minor mistakes here and there, we've come to the decision that you are the right man for the job. We just want you to oversee everything, as best that you can. All you have to do is make sure the new office is up and running smoothly during the first three months. After that, you can return to your office in South Park. But for now, please consider our request."
"Of course. I'll call you back within the hour with my answer."
After he hangs up he's already made his decision. Of course he's going to agree to oversee the new company. What else can he do? He can't say no. In the past he learned that the higher ups don't take no for an answer, and will force anyone in the company to do whatever it is they want them to do.
It's just the way it is. He managed to get a lot of work done in the hour before he called them back, saying that yes, he would be glad to go to North Park for three months. It was a lie, but they didn't know that. Before leaving the office for the night he books a hotel room in North Park. Since He'll still have to pay rent on his apartment, he figures it's better to just live in a hotel during the three months.
When he gets home, he begins packing immediately. He has to be in North Park in three days. That leaves tonight to pack everything, and tomorrow he has to choose the most competent person to take over while he's gone. It shouldn't be too hard, the company isn't known for hiring idiots. After that he plans on driving into North Park that night, and spending the day before heading to work checking out the town, where the hotel will be, the distance from the office, where the cheapest stores are, where to buy his brand of cigarettes.
He's not looking forward to any of it. Then again, he never looks forward to anything. Craig has one suitcase, and it's all he needs. He has two general outfits, his suits, and his sweats that he only wears in his apartment when he's relaxing. He would never wear anything but a suit out in public.
All of Craig's suits are three piece suits with neck ties. He hates bright colors, and in his line of work it's important that he looks professional. And that means that all of his suits are monochromatic, black, grey, and navy blue. His sweats are just a dark blue plaid, nothing special. When looking around his apartment at things he should be packing, he can see that besides his razor, his toothbrush, his and his clothes, he really doesn't have any other material possessions.
And to Craig this is just fine. He hates messes, and he hates clutter. He doesn't need anything that is unnecessary in his life. He's always been practical, and that's how he'll always be. He doesn't need to worry about the furniture, seeing as how the hotel he'll be staying at will already be furnished.
When he finishes packing that night he goes to sleep, and spends one final night in his own bed. The next day at work Craig goes over everyone's profiles to see who he should pick to substitute for him before leaving. When he finds the right candidate he calls him in.
"Yes Mr. Tucker?"
"Have a seat, Mr. Jenkins." He sits across from Craig in the hard backed chair facing his desk.
"I'm going to be in North Park for three months to oversee the progress of the new office. During that time I'll need you to fill in for me here until I return. Can you manage that?"
"Yes Mr. Tucker. I will be happy to do so for you."
Craig has no idea what Jenkins is really thinking, if he is being sincere or not. With this company, you say yes to anything, regardless of whether or not you actually want to do it. Jenkins's record is semi-flawless, and even if he screws everything up Craig can just fire him. But he doesn't believe that will happen.
"If you don't mind my asking, when will you be in North Park, sir?"
"I'll be driving into North Park tonight."
"You're leaving tonight? But it's so soon."
"Mr. Jenkins, I have no intention of wasting time. Now, tonight before I leave remind me to give you the keys to my office."
With that, he leaves the office. Craig hands him the keys to his office before he leaves that night. When he returns home, he takes his suitcase out from under the bed, and takes it with him as he leaves his apartment. He turns off the lights, and makes sure the stove is off before he leaves of course, and locks the door behind him. Craig puts his suitcase in the passenger side seat of his car, and after buckling up he drives out of the underground parking garage, out into the streets and onto the highway.
Years ago thanks to an ambitious new mayor, South Park went under a huge change in its economy and tourism. Gone were the independent stores, the simple homes and outlet shopping. Under the mayor's influence, skyscrapers were built, left-wing politics were introduced, and more modern shopping centers were built. She turned around the entire socio-structure of the town, converting it from a quiet mountain town filled with ignorant rednecks into a very left-wing corporate metropolis. Now there's nothing but apartments, shopping centers, and very tall buildings where everyone works.
The school got overhauled too, became some huge four story monstrosity that combined the elementary school, middle school, and high school. Craig can't recall ever seeing any rednecks around South Park since the mayor was elected. He secretly believes she got rid of anyone that didn't agree with all her changes or anyone who didn't fit in her new society. This has yet to be proven. It's a four hour drive from South Park to North Park, but he doesn't mind.
Craig managed to get plenty of sleep the night before, and he feels alright. It's at the two hour mark that his stomach growled and he realized that he hadn't eaten anything in the past day and a half. Thinking back tonight he was supposed to go grocery shopping, but instead he was driving to North Park. He remembered that his refrigerator and his freezer were both empty when he left, so he doesn't have to worry about rotting food for the next three months. When Craig arrived in North Park, he was greeted to very gritty, dirty streets.
North Park was bathed in orange light from the streetlights above, and the obnoxious neon signs found in every window. Driving through he could tell that his car was most likely the nicest car to ever drive through this place. Everything looked old and decrepit from the buildings, to the people, to the pothole riddled streets. He saw a ton of garbage, homeless people, and just plain filth on these streets. The tallest buildings were three stories tall, and compared to the sky scrapers found in South Park, they look small by comparison.
He found several liquor stores, hardware stores, strip clubs, gas stations, and bail bonds. Oh, and not one cop car. There seem to be a lot of fast food places, but nothing that could be considered a real restaurant. It may have been night time but by how bright the neon lights were you couldn't really call it dark outside. It looked like the worst place in the world.
It couldn't compare to the quiet, white trash red neck town-culture that South Park once was. This was…it was like a combination of the worst in society and humanity and culture and just…if hell had a district on earth, this would be it. Craig is almost certain that he heard gunshots outside. He pulls up to the hotel he's chosen to live in for the next three months. It's far removed from the streets of North Park that he drove past.
It's secluded away, surrounded by forests on either side and behind it he can see mountains. It looks better than the neighborhood, but still he can't help but think that someone could decide to murder him and dump his body into those woods. He parks the Jaguar in the parking lot in front of the hotel. He gets his suitcase, gets out of the car, and locks the car up with his keys. Standing next to his car he looks up at the hotel that would be his home for the next three months.
It wasn't by any means a luxury resort, but it would do. It was three stories tall, with several small windows. It wasn't possible to see what color the hotel was in the dark; but Craig could see the giant neon red sign that said North Park Inn hanging above the two glass front doors. This is the only hotel in the town. If that isn't ripe for a horror movie plot he doesn't know what is.
He walks up to the front doors, and found silver door handles. Turning the knob and pulling the door open he walks inside to a very expansive front desk. The walls were dark yellow like old paper. The light in the place came from those fluorescent lights that they build into the ceiling which was designed to look like grey squares. The floors were covered in some dark green mossy carpet, that when stepped on felt smooth and sort of soft.
On the walls hung mediocre paintings, the kind that sells for a dollar at flea markets, which is where he suspects they were purchased. Along the left wall was a row of vending machines; along the wall facing the front desk were four purple velvet oversized couches. He thought they were hideous. The right wall was bare except for the two restrooms, one for women, and the other for men. On the right side was a staircase leading upstairs to the rooms, and whatever was on the left side was too far away to see but it seemed like a hallway leading somewhere.
The front desk was currently unoccupied. He could see the rack of keys on the wall behind the desk, and the very ancient looking computer and phone on the counter. He walks up to the counter, and looks around at the empty, silent front area.
"Hello? Is anyone here?"
"I'd like to check in, if that's no problem."
He sighs in aggravation before spotting an old bell on the counter sitting left of the phone. He presses his palm down on it repeatedly, causing a shrill tinny ringing to resonate throughout the large space. This went on for several moments before an Asian man wearing a light blue shirt and red jeans scurried out from the hallway located on the left side of the front desk. He went behind the desk and after clearing his throat he addressed Craig.
"Hello and welcome, to North Park Inn. How may be of service to you?"
"I have a reservation for a room, under Mr. Tucker. I'd like to check in, tonight, if that's alright."
"Oh that's fine. Let me just check some things out first."
He started typing something on the computer, and looked at something on the screen.
"Yes, Mr. Tucker. We've reserved room 34 for you. And according to our records, you've already paid for your stay when you made the reservations; excellent, excellent. Well I guess all that's left to do is to give you your room key."
He turns around and reaches for a key hanging on a peg on the right, a small silver key hanging off a metal ring. He hands it to Craig.
"There you are. Room 34 is on the second floor, fourth door on the left. I'm sorry, but this Inn doesn't have an elevator, or a bellhop, for that matter."
"Its alright, I only have the one suitcase anyway. It's up that flight of stairs, right?" I ask, pointing to the staircase on the right.
He nods. "Yes, that's the only way to get upstairs."
"I see. In that case, I'll go up to my room then."
Craig hears him saying as he walks away and begins climbing the stairs,
"Enjoy your stay!"
"Thank you." he responds without looking back.
As he climbs the wooden steps he can see that this building is as old as the ones on the streets he had passed by earlier. However, it was clear that this place had been well taken care of over the years. He steps onto the second floor which is a very wide and long hallway with fifty doors, twenty-five on each side. The doors are all painted a dusky pink color, with doorknobs painted gold. The walls are the same yellow as the walls downstairs.
He can see that at the end of the hall there's another staircase leading to the third floor. He can see two vending machines at the end of the hall to the left of the stairs leading to the third floor. He feels in his pocket for his wallet and pulls out a few singles. He walks over to the vending machines and buys himself an orange crush and three snickers bars and a bag of cool ranch Doritos. Walking back he locates his room.
Fitting the key into the center of the knob he turns it to the left, and pushes in. This opens the door, and he steps in, glad that he didn't have to try any other ways of opening the door. Flipping on a light switch turns on the one light in this room, but the one light is enough. It's a single standing lamp, the body skinny and golden. Well, fake gold.
The lampshade was dark blue. The room was wide, with white walls and dark blue carpet. The queen sized bed occupied most of the space, in front of the bed; one foot away was a wooden entertainment system with a large, old TV resting inside of it. On the western wall there was a single window with yellow curtains, to the left of the window there was a desk and a simple black folding chair. Upon closer inspection Craig found an outlet next to the desk.
There was a door on the northern wall, located in the upper right corner. Craig found this door led into a private bathroom. Going back into the room itself, he came to the realization that this is it; this is where he'll be spending most of my nights, in a modest hotel room, with a single bathroom, no balcony, and no kitchen. He disliked the idea of having someone else cook for him. He didn't really feel like dwelling on it for very long.
He places his suitcase at the foot of the bed in-between the bed and the entertainment system, takes off his shoes, and sat on the bed, eating his snacks. The thought of turning on the TV did cross his mind while he ate his junk food dinner, but he dismissed the notion. To him it would just be unnecessary noise. After eating, he felt tired, and so he changed into his sweats, got into bed, and went to sleep. The next morning the first thing Craig did was look outside his window, to see if his car had been stolen or not.
It was still there in the parking lot where he had left it. He did his morning routine in a tiny bathroom, accidentally bumping into the walls while he tried to shave and brush his teeth in such a confined space. He decides to wear his grey suit with the black tie to his first day at the new office. He has no idea what to expect, but he intended to look his best. After buttoning up his blazer and placing his car keys, cell phone and walled in his front pockets, he leaves his room, locking the door with his room key.
As he went downstairs, the smell of food hit him. He walks past the front desk and went through the hallway located on the left side of the room. Just as he thought, it led into a dining area. Along one wall on the left were several tables set with different foods like a buffet line, behind that there was an open space in the wall and a door leading to the kitchen. To the right of this were several tables and chairs to sit in.
He saw some people were already sitting and eating, and he had to assume they were other guests of the hotel. He has no idea if he has to pay for this food or not, but since there wasn't any cashier in sight he supposed this was all free. Walking over to the buffet line he picks up a Styrofoam plate and plastic fork and proceeded to get himself whatever he thought would be a good substitute for his usual three fried eggs and two pieces of toast. This ended up being some scrambled eggs, and two pieces of cinnamon raisin toast. He tried to locate some orange juice, but all he could find is a plastic cup full of grape juice.
Craig found the toast to be disgusting, and the eggs weren't as good as they would have been, had they been fried. He tossed his trash in a nearby receptacle and then left, leaving the hotel and getting into his car.
After checking with his bosses on a call he received directions to the new building where he was to work for the next three months. He drove back through town, passing by all the liquor stores and gas stations again. Even in the early morning light this place still seemed as seedy to him as when he had first passed by it last night. There are more people walking the streets, several seem to be going to work, and there aren't many cars on the streets. Assuming everything is within walking distance, he doesn't think many of the residents around here drive.
The new office building is located in the South West side of town, a three story cylindrical shaped building with a two story parking garage connected to it. The most noticeable feature on the building is the conical roof and dark green oval shaped windows. He parked his car in the left side of the parking lot.
He found his way inside the building, up the third floor where his office and subordinates were. He was greeted by several people, who he would have the honor of managing in the course of these three months. Most of them are dressed in casual wear, and only a few are wearing actual suits. But that has nothing to do with their skill sets.
An overweight man with brown hair wearing a red cardigan comes up to me to shake his hand.
"You must be the new guy the office in South Park sent over. I'm Clyde Donovan; I'm the manager of this branch."
As he shook his hand he introduced himself.
"Hello, I'm Craig Tucker, nice to meet you."
Craig doesn't smile like he does. He never does. He leads him around the desks, introducing him to the staff he'll be working with for the next three months. There's a man named Jason, an ugly man wearing purple with a receding hairline that reveals his massive forehead. And woman named Annie Faulk, with short, curly blond hair. She looked a bit worn out in the face, as if Midwestern living had aged her at a more rapid pace. She wore an ugly brown turtleneck sweater, and black slacks.
The office is a bright, cheery green; the color painted on the walls, potted plants placed at every corner, and the ceiling is wooden, the floors a hideous purple plush carpet. Its shape is reminiscent of several ovals. Never had he ever been in a place so horribly designed.
"Well what do you think of the interior design?" Annie asked Craig.
"I honestly feel like I'm in some sort of inverted, imploding forest."
She laughs at his answer, as if it were something charming, complementary; which he had no intention of it being.
"Oh, that's wonderful! Just the effect I was looking for when I designed it!" she exclaimed in a cheerful tone.
He turned away to address Clyde.
"She designed this place?"
Clyde nods his head yes, explaining that "She had asked for permission to design the offices interior, and the head office gave her the go-ahead."
Craig wasn't kidding when he said the bosses refused to get involved in anything minor, like this. This place was awful with no walls, nothing to barricade himself away from these people. He would be stuck in a desk, in the open, and he'd see every boring, useless, pointless thing these people said and did. At least it wasn't permanent. He went to his desk in the center of the room, and turned to address the rest of the office.
"Alright everyone, I'm assuming you all know what to do, what clients to call, which accounts to handle, which companies you've been assigned."
He's greeted by silence and stares.
"Sigh. I see I'm going to have to go over things with you."
The rest of the day is spent going over what the company does, and what each member of the office is expected to do.
"I'll have to order some company programs so you'll be up to date on protocol. Tomorrow I'll be assigning you different accounts to handle."
As he left the office and headed for the elevator he could overhear some of the other workers in the office talking about him.
"Well he seems like he's a good leader, very efficient and hard working."
"Mmm, yes, but he's so boring. I nearly fell asleep having to listen to him drone on and on!"
"He is boring, and listening to him is difficult I'll agree, but he does seem to know what he's talking about.
"It's just too bad he has no personality to speak of."
He didn't hear anything after that; he had gotten onto the elevator by then. He didn't know these people, but they seemed capable of making perceptive judgments of others after only spending a few hours with them. They said he was boring, and they're right. Craig is boring, and that's just the way he likes it. He makes no apologies for the way he is; and none of these new workers' opinions have any affect on him.
Driving back to the hotel, he can now see that this town is bigger than he had first thought. There were several streets and alleys, and once or twice he got lost trying to find his way back to the hotel. He got off work around seven, and the neon signs hadn't been turned on yet. The streets all seemed to be busy, no matter what time it was. There were more cars out than there were the first night he came here; but none of them seemed to be going anywhere, and he couldn't understand that.
Back in his hotel room, he made some calls to get everything the office in North Park would need, programs, accounts, and other miscellaneous things. He has no doubts that he can get the office up and running successfully in the following three months, after all he didn't become an executive by coasting along. However he's never had to work with people who were brand new to the business before. He knew he'd have to go through extensive training with this office, before any progress could be made.
As he tried to sleep he could overhear gasps and moans coming from inside the hotel. It was difficult to determine where the noise was coming from, as it seemed to be coming from all around, above and beneath the room. After walking around the room it wasn't any more obvious which direction the sound was coming from, and to add to that the sounds of a bed scraping against the floor were heard. Craig has never lived in a hotel before, and he's never been in one long enough to hear strangers have sex. And he sure as hell doesn't want to hear anyone have sex. In order to drown out the noise he knew he had to do something. Unfortunately the only thing he could think to do was to turn on the TV and turn the volume up as loud as he could to drown out the noise, without disturbing anyone else in the hotel. It worked, and he couldn't hear the moans and gasps anymore. He paid no attention to what show was playing, from the laugh track and jokes he'd have to assume it was something from the nineties. That night he fell asleep to the sound of canned laughter and commercials for yogurt and cleaning products.
Phase One: Take off clothes. Phase Two: Have Sex. Phase Three: Profit. So goes Tweek's three step process for success. He's been living in North Park since he was eleven years old. After graduating from the high school, he had a nervous breakdown. Now years later, he's still in North Park, living here even though his parents had decided to move far away from this place the second he had graduated from high school.
He hasn't seen his parents in years. They never visit, and he has no idea where they could be, or how to reach them. When he tells people who his parents are, he hears the same thing over and over.
"They're your parents? But they're successful business owners! They're wealthy and stable. You couldn't possibly be their son."
The way it looks to them, it does seem ridiculous that someone like him could even be considered their son when he is the way he is. The other thing he always hears is,
"Well if they're your parents, why are you here? Why haven't they helped you escape from this place?"
And the answer to that is, there is no answer. His parents had tried everything to help him in the past, but ultimately they just gave up on him. But Tweek really doesn't mind, he's got great friends, and the way he lives his life he's got no time for any sadness or introspection. He's too busy with his work. He's twenty-seven years old, and he's a male prostitute.
Being the way he is, there's no way he could ever get a real job, or be sane enough for it. He can't handle responsibility or the real world, it's just…it's too much pressure. And Tweek likes to avoid pressure.
He can't afford school which would just be a waste seeing as how he can't concentrate on anything for too long. He's just not fit for normal society and the responsibilities of being a member of normal society. So he chooses to live his life in the most abnormal way possible. He's not proud of what he does for a living, but he's good at it. And he's been having sex for money for so long that all shock and disgrace that comes with the job is something that he's gotten over in the passing years.
He's never had sex without getting paid for it. It's just a job for him, something to do so he can earn money to survive. He actually needs to go out to work right now anyway. He walks the streets six nights a week looking for customers. Tweek only has two outfits, his outfit he wears when he's working, and the jeans and ratty t-shirt he wears when he has to wash the first outfit.
He puts on his black t-shirt, and over that his dark green shirt jacket with the buttons that, no matter how hard he tries he can't button correctly. He supposes his hands are just too shaky. Tweek just leaves it unbuttoned, makes it easier. With his job, the less clothes the better. He doesn't wear underwear, not since he started hooking.
Tweek just wears a pair of black denim shorts, and then his grey socks and black combat boots to cover his feet. The apartment he lives in has a small bathroom with half the mirror cracked from the previous tenets. In North Park you can't really depend on any of the apartments to be perfect, or any repairs to be made. In the bathroom he can see his hair is sticking all over the place, dirty and unkempt. Tweek doesn't have a brush, so he just runs his fingers through it after running his fingers under some water.
It helps, but only a little. He's never been able to do anything with his hair. Going downstairs he can hear his landlord yelling to one of the tenets about rent. He really should talk to his roommates about them getting their rent money in on time. Last month he had to cover three of them. That really sucked.
Tweek sneaks past him, down the three flights of stairs, skipping each odd numbered step on the way down. He's out the door, and into the warm June night. The bright orange streetlights cast a familiar glow over the concrete sidewalks and brick buildings that line both sides of the streets. He walks past the video store, the cell phone company, and an abandoned church to where his street corner is.
Three blocks down from the left, on the left corner of Fourth and Harvest. The block down the left is one long street, going fifteen miles in a straight line. From there, heading down from Don's Bail Bonds at the beginning of the street to North Park's Goodwill at the end is where all the hookers stand, waiting for customers. Harvest is the busiest street in North Park at night; lots of cars drive past here. The prostitutes all line up on different sections and mine is right in front of Subway.
As Tweek approaches his spot he can see his friend Pip is already out, standing against part of a brick wall that connects to the glass window of Subway. One black booted foot is kicked back and resting on the wall, the other is planted firmly on the ground. He's wearing those stiletto black calf length boots, the ones that if Tweek were to wear, he'd end up breaking his ankles. His sky blue corduroy shorts were even shorter than Tweek's. He's wearing a white button down shirt with a waist length red coat. He turns his head to the right and sees Tweek approaching, and waves him over.
He takes the red lollipop out of his mouth when Tweek reaches him.
"Hello, love. Nice night isn't it?" he asks his voice bright and clear.
Tweek took the opportunity to check out Pip's bare thighs, which despite the slight chill in the air, are goosebump free as always.
"Yeah, it is. Aren't you cold?" he asks.
He just shakes that golden blond, straight hair of his. Tweek is actually jealous of it. His hair could never be that golden or perfectly soft.
"Not really. I mean maybe I would be if this was London, but these American summers are quite agreeable."
Pip's got this sort of cockney-ish accent that reels in most of his customers who are into foreign accents.
"Is it really that cold in London?"
Pip nods his head, "Freezing rains like you wouldn't believe."
He pops his lollipop back into his mouth.
Tweek tells him, "You know you keep sucking on those lollipops your teeth are going to become messed up."
He smirks, and answers with the lollipop still in his mouth,
"I love the taste of artificial cherry too much to stop."
Tweek shrugs, and stands next to him, and Pip lowers his other foot to the ground.
At the end of the street are the other male prostitutes and female prostitutes too. Some of them are North Park natives, and others are former residents of South Park like Tweek, who ended up moving here. There's Esther, Heidi, Lola, Sally, Leroy, and Francis. Leroy and Francis don't talk to Pip or Tweek because, well, they really hate them. Tweek think it's because he and Pip get more customers on any given night, compared to them. But really the whole reason behind that is Pip. He's the one who reels in all the big spenders. And since Tweek is his best friend, he reaps part of the benefits. They're close friends with the girls, and often spend days off and weekends hanging with them around town. And since their apartments are in the same building it's really easy for them to get together.
Tweek can see his reflection in the window of Subway. He looks awful. Although to be fair he's never really looked handsome before. The life of a prostitute isn't glamorous or easy, and Tweek is proof of that. He doesn't sleep well, if he does sleep at all. He's up most nights working, or trolling the streets to find a customer. His skin is pale; there are bags under his eyes. His teeth are straight but they aren't perfect either. He always looks tired, even when he's wired up. And his hair is a mess at all times. This could be because he doesn't own a brush, or it could be chalked up to just bad luck.
Pip on the other hand, looks perfect at all times. With that soft, golden blond straight hair that never falls out of place, ending just at the middle of his neck. His face is all angles, from his pointy chin to his upturned nose, and his cheekbones. Dear God, he could cut people with how sharp, how pointy they stick out at angles his cheekbones are! He claims it's because he's so skinny that his cheekbones are pointy the way they are, but Tweek weighs the same as him and his aren't all angular like that.
His eyes aren't as wide as Tweek's, although the green in his eyes is slightly darker than the green in Tweek's own eyes. Pip is, to put it in as simple terms as possible, Pip is as androgynous as a person can get. In the time Tweek has known him, several of his customers and people who have met him have commented on the fact that he looks like some new form of human, not fully male and not fully female, landing somewhere in the middle. It's actually a great turn-on for those strange people who can't decide which gender they're more attracted to. That is, they can have the best of both on one person who never shows any sign of caring about either gender in either him or his customers. It is kind of sad in a way, not really being able to fit into one easily defined gender, having to be stuck in the middle grounds of both. Tweek couldn't handle it. But he knows Pip is stronger than he gives him credit for, and he likes himself, and would never change who he is, or what he looks like.
A truck pulls up in front of them, a man waits for Pip. They can usually tell who their customers are by the model of their cars. Pip hands his almost finished lollipop for Tweek to hold onto while he goes off to work. The truck drives away, and turns into one of the many alleys found in North Park. Tweek thinks about tasting the artificial cherry flavor, but decide against it. Waiting for Pip to be finished turns out to be longer than expected, and he's stuck out here waiting while others pass by him. Eventually he does come back, the man in the truck dropping him off right where he picked him up. When the man drives away that's when Pip takes his lollipop back. He stands next to Tweek, and asks,
"Did you have any customers while I was gone?"
"Nope, it's been a slow night so far. I usually have better luck during the day."
"Which is ironic since you're tired most days, and sleep through peak customer hours," He tells Tweek with a grin.
Tweek stuck his tongue out at him.
"Sometimes it's hard to tell when a good time to come out to work is. Remember that one night in December, we waited out in the cold and no one came by?"
Pip sucked on his lollipop while he responded, "And then we both got terrible colds as a result. No one would touch us during that time."
"Well to be fair we were pretty contagious."
Some time passes before one of Tweek's customer's comes by and Tweek leaves with him. In a filthy alley way in a car that smells of cigars and Ale, Tweek watches from the passenger seat as a sweaty, creepy middle-aged man shakily counts the bills he'll need for Tweek's "services".
"I….I think this is will…this will cover it…all." The sweaty blond man with the sideburns says.
Tweek takes the wad of cash he hands him and counts it. Three hundred dollars, exactly, spread out over twenties and tens. It won't be said what sort of things Tweek will be doing to earn this money. It will be left to speculation. Tweek places the bills into his left boot. He faces the nervous man.
"Alright, should we get started?" Tweek asks.
"I…oh Christ, I…don't know if I can, I mean my wife…" he stammers.
Tweek rolls his eyes. He's one of those weak willed slobs who at the last minute will remember whatever kind of thing he has in his life that will make him feel guilty for his actions. Tweek has dealt with this before, and he knows how to handle it. He never propositions anyone; he lets his customers come to him. It makes it easier for him.
"Oh come on. The faster we get this over with, the faster you can get home to your wife and the faster I can move on. Besides, are you really gonna cheat me out of an opportunity to get some money?" Tweek asks.
"I…guess…not…" the sweaty, nervous man replies. He's not sure if he could be okay with just giving three hundred dollars away, and feels like he should get something for his money.
"But the…the guilt."
Tweek climbs into the back seat, kicking off his shoes while he's back there.
"But nothing, let's just get this over with, you're the first customer of the night, and I don't want you to be the only one."
He punctuates this sentence by tossing his black shorts up to the front of the car, the article of clothing ends up hitting the dashboard before sliding to the floor of the car.
Tweek has never once kissed one of his clients, nor has he permitted them to kiss him. Make outs are not part of his package, for two reasons. One: It makes things awkward. Two: if he ever gets herpes (he hasn't gotten it so far) he doesn't want it on his mouth. This is why when using his mouth he makes sure it's not over an area that's…infected.
At the end the nervous man is nice enough to drop him off where he picked him up, but he's stammering about guilt and what he's done when he drives off. Tweek doesn't care. He got paid.
Tweek and Pip spend the next five hours in the backs of cars, earning money doing things that no longer have any affect on them. They've been out here doing this for years, and there's no shock or shame to it anymore. Their customers run the gambit of being male, or female. Neither one cares about the gender, it's the green they care about. Tweek is bored by the time the last customer, a female, arrives. While he stares out the car window out at the dark brick wall in the alley way, the woman beneath him makes sounds of pleasure, which he ignores. He thinks about his apartment, and the seven other people who live there, and how only three of them ever have rent money and the others just use the place for sex parties or to get high after getting fired. He's been living there for five months and three weeks so far, and it doesn't seem to be working out for him.
"Oh! That was amazing." The woman tells him, attempting to caress his hair.
Tweek flinches, and gently smacks her hand away. No time for signs of affection. There's never any time for that. Besides, he's not in this business for that. He doesn't care if it makes the customer happy, he's done his job and that's all that matters.
He climbs off and gets redressed, the frizzy haired slender woman attempting to touch him and caress him again. He avoids her touches. He's fully dressed by the time she decides to get up and put her slip dress back on. She kisses him on his right cheek, smiling in the dark.
"Mmmmmm, you're worth every penny sweetheart! I should just keep you on a lover full time!" she tells him.
He suppresses the urge to choke her. What does she think this is? What does she think they're doing right now? This is strictly sex, there's no room for anything else. This is business, dear, not that you're the first person who has suggested something like this.
"Lover? Please. I'm only in this for the money; don't think you're any different from the other women I've fucked tonight."
She pouts in an attempt to seduce him. He thinks to himself, Lady, I invented seduction, alright?
"You can't tell me you didn't have fun with me here, can you?" she asks.
He looks up, and then at her when he answers, "Actually….I can."
He ends up walking back to his corner, after the woman kicked him out of her car. Pip was being dropped off from his customer, and the two of them shared a sigh of exhaustion after a hard night's work. Pip pulls another lollipop; this one orange colored from his jacket, unwraps it and pops it onto his mouth, sucking on it with a smile.
Tweek stares at him in disbelief before asking "…..Where the hell are you getting those?!"
Pip just smiles at him, continuing to enjoy his candy.
Tweek gives him a "Really?" look, stating, "I mean seriously, do you just pull those out of thin air, I never see you buying any, and you always seem to miraculously have a sucker on you at any and all times."
Pip pulled his sucker out of his mouth to answer him.
"Well mate, I'll tell you. There's this miraculous thing called a candy shop, some of them are national chains and can be easily found in different towns. What I do is this little thing called shopping. I take a small percentage of the money I earn from being a rent boy and buy a marvelous extra large bag of multi-flavored lollipops, and then I can suck on as many as I want because I bought a bag of 500 lollipops. And you know what? Sometimes I even carry a few on my person."
"…How is it you can manage to be a sarcastic douche and still be as charming as ever?" Tweek asks, crossing his arms across his chest.
Pip sticks his tongue out at him, just the tip, and his eyes sparkling with mischievous energy.
"Because I'm British, love. I can get away with saying whatever I want and people don't mind because it sounds sophisticated."
Tweek casually flips him off while Pip just happily continues to enjoy his orange sucker.
Tweek bends down to get his cash from his left shoe. A wave of summer night wind hits him; the warm air feels good on his sweaty skin. He stands back up, Pip casually observing as he counts his earnings.
"Seven hundred and fifty dollars, not bad, not bad. I wonder if I should pay the water bill or the light bill first." Tweek muses.
Pip holds out a flat palm, "Hey can I borrow a twenty?"
Tweek smacks his hand, he knows he's joking. He made nearly the same amount as him and he knows it.
"Fuck you, no you can't." he pockets the money away into one of the pockets of his shorts.
Deciding that they were done hooking for the evening, they went into the open 24/7 Sunway, ordering two non toasted tuna and lettuce subs with extra mayo and a bag of funyuns to split between them.
"I'm sore, are you sore?" Pip asked him, spreading his legs out from his bar stool seat.
"I'm always sore." Tweek responds, biting into his sub.
"I can't believe some of the twats I have to service just to earn some damn money. Who do they think they are, trying to get my legs up in the air like that? Don't they realize that some people aren't that flexible? I mean I know I'm a rent boy, but my body doesn't bend that way!" Pip told him.
Tweek thought about telling him about the time he had to hang upside down from a door frame just so some guy could get off, but decided against it. He wouldn't have been able to explain the man's bizarre kink if he tried.
A short, curly haired young man wearing oversized glasses walks in to the place. He looks around, and when he finds Pip and Tweek he walks over to them.
"What do you want, Dougie?" Tweek asked, tossing his trash into a receptacle.
"I just thought you guys might be interested to know that Leo's back in town, and he's selling right now."
Tweek and Pip look at each other in silence, then without any further hesitation they both proceeded to get down off their stools, and make a mad rush out the door. Dougie stands there, alone for a few seconds; he counts the time mentally before they come back. Pip and Tweek slowly return, awkwardly stepping back inside from their sudden spree.
"Uh…you wouldn't happen to know where he's at, would you mate?" Pip asked as Tweek just stood there, watching.
Dougie ended up walking with them down three blocks and down to where Leo was.
"He's in there." Dougie said, pointing to the building.
"Thanks." Tweek and Pip said simultaneously, both of them running towards the front doors.
Inside the strip club the lights were set to a hazy orange, making the strippers look like Tamaranians in the glow. Tweek and Pip walked in, making their way through tables and patrons walking through. There's an overhead smell of perfume, masking the pungent odor of the type sleaze that frequents Kenny's. There's more glitter on the floor than there is on the bodies of the topless strippers, gyrating on poles. The two blondes find Leo in a back corner, surrounded by men and women, all wanting to buy from him.
Tweek tugged on Pip's red jacket, "Come on. Let's get something before he's completely sold out."
The two of them sprint over, pushing through crowds clamoring for a chance to buy. Granted, there were plenty of other dealers in the city; finding one was as easy as finding a crack whore. But Leo, Leo had connections in Mexico to some of the underground's best drug cartels, and his stuff was always quality; a million times better than anything found on these streets.
Leo spotted them as they made their way to the front, waving them over.
"Hey fellas! Boy, it sure has been a long time since I've seen you two. How've you been?"
Tweek and Pip managed to push their way past everyone else, and took their seats next to Leo in the half circle shaped brown leather booth.
"Hey Leo, it's been what, three months since you were last in town?" Tweek asked.
"Heck yeah. I've been ah, real busy, see? Been picking up a lot of business out in Mexico. Got a ton of new business partners and uh, well, I got a lot of product to move." Leo explained.
Tweek thought that Leo never really changed much in the time he knew him. Always had that odd way of speaking, and he was always so nice and polite, even with the kind of work he was in. Leo had that light blond hair, styled into a Mohawk, a teal shirt, light blue jeans, black biker boots, and a black leather motorcycle jacket. His face was very youthful, and he grew fantastic stubble. Leo Stotch was a fantastic person in Tweek's mind.
"Oi, mate. It's great seeing you back in town again. We'll have to have to go do something to celebrate that. But first mate, what say you sell us some of that quality stuff, eh?"Pip asked him.
Leo looked between the two of them, ignoring the clamor of the crowd in front of them.
"Well uh, aw gee fellas, I was kind of hoping we could just hang out, you know?" Leo says pitifully, bumping his knuckles together.
"Oh we can do that, sure." Tweek told him, smiling at him.
Pip nodded in agreement, saying, "Right. Oi! Barkeep! Send over some Kamikazes for me and my mates!"
"Pip, those are expensive." Tweek reminded him.
"I can afford it." He told him.
The crowds wanting to buy the drugs Leo had, dispersed when they saw he was more interested in reconnecting with his friends. They left muttering under their breaths, hoping to get something at a later time. The barkeep sent over the Kamikazes as requested, and Pip paid for them, and for the subsequent ones that kept coming.
"So Leo, tell us. How was Mexico?" Tweek asked him.
"Oh gee, it was just amazing. Warm weather like you could never find here, skies wide as all get out. I spent time in Puerto Vallarta; I stayed at the Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa. It was beautiful, just beautiful. I spent time in Acapulco, and went sail fishing. Oh and I swam in Caleta beach! It wasn't as ah, pretty as the other beaches Mexico has to offer, but's a heck of a lot safer and easier to swim there, I tell ya."
As the late, late night wore on the patrons at the strip club began to go home, and the strippers started leaving too. The heavy, synth based music was soothing in its own odd way. While the place was called Kenny's, Kenny only came in during a certain time at night before going home. And he usually stays above in the DJ booth, putting out tunes. Over the evening Pip and Tweek told him about what they had been up to since they had last seen him, the places they had moved to.
Tweek was currently telling him about the apartment he was sharing with other roommates.
"It's in a nice neighborhood, and the rent is the cheapest I can find right now. But my roommates, Gah! They're all pigs. And noisy, I never get any peace. I mean I don't think it would even be so bad if they would at least pick up after themselves but they never do."
Leo frowned, "Aw heck. I'm real sorry to hear that, Tweek. Why uh, if they're going to be ah, roommates they should at least pick up the pace."
"I know right!" Tweek exclaimed before downing his sixth Kamikaze of the night.
Pip twirled piece of hair between his two fingers as the two talked.
"Well I'm just wondering, why don't you and Pip live together?" Leo asked.
Tweek looked at the table briefly before answering, "Well we would, but-"
"We'd just end up killing each other." Pip interrupted, leaning forward to place his drink down.
Tweek grinned at him, explaining to Leo how, "We're great friends, but we don't want to ruin that friendship by living together, getting too close, living with each other, having to deal with each other all the time? No."
Leo looked thoughtful for a bit while as Pip paid for their drinks.
"Say Tweek, I heard that Kevin's Inn is ah, having some problems keeping revenue up. Maybe you could stay there, and uh, well, use part of your pay to pay rent there?"
Tweek looked at Leo in surprise. He had been to the Inn plenty of times, but he had never once thought about actually setting up residence there. It actually made perfect sense.
"Hey yeah! You know that's actually a great idea. Yeah, I know that my money would not only pay for room and board, but also food. And hey, there's plenty of room, and don't hookers usually frequent hotels anyway, right?"
The more Tweek thought about it, the more this idea seemed like the best thing ever. After he got to his apartment he'd pack up whatever belongings he had, and would make the trek up the hill to North Park Inn. Who cares if it's nearing four-thirty in the morning? The Inn is open 24/7, and there's always someone on the clock to check someone in.
"Oh hey, before I forget fellas, you wanted some ah, stuff, right?" Leo asked, smiling at the two of them.
"Yes, we did-do! We do I mean, we would like some stuff, please." Pip said in a polite, eager tone.
Leo spread his drugs out on the table, revealing that he had been carrying them in his jacket and jean pockets. Spread out on the table were several small plastic bags, each one filled with a different drug. Pip bought acid, peyote, and ecstasy. Tweek bought marijuana, codeine, and benzodiazepine.
"Thanks for taking some of this stuff of my hands fellas! Gee, you guys sure bought a lot." Leo said.
"Oh it's fine." Tweek told him, placing his purchases in his short pockets.
"Yeah, we plan to spread it out, you know? Make this stuff last as long as we can." Pip added, as he placed his drugs in the pockets of his jacket.
"Well uh, alright then, I guess. Say, it's about time I get home and get some shut eye."
Tweek couldn't help the yawn that escaped him. As quiet as he was, he knew he didn't want to spend one more night in that apartment with those horrid roommates. The three men said their goodbyes outside of Kenny's wishing each other a good night, and thanking Leo again for the amazing drugs. Leo got onto his Harley and rode it down the road to his place. Pip said goodnight to Tweek before pulling out a lime flavored lollipop and sashaying back down to Harvest, to his apartment above Four Leaf Clover's liquor store. Tweek watched him walk away, jealous that he could never get his hips to swing as fluidly as Pip could.
Tweek walked back to his place, in the early morning light there was a quiet ease that settled on the city, when it was easy to tell that the city was sleeping, if only for a few minutes before it was time to open everything up again. Tweek walks up the stairs in his building to his apartment. He can hear some of his roommates inside, bickering. He sighs, and opens the door, not surprised when the door creaks. The door to his apartment doesn't lock, no matter what. It's one of the sucky things about the apartment.
He enters the apartment to find Larry Feegan making slim Jim shake for breakfast, Henrietta Biggle smoking on the couch arguing with Terrance Mephisto about when Buffy the Vampire Slayer really ended.
"Listen here you Amy Lee wannabe person," Terrance began, "Buffy ended at the end of season five, when Buffy sacrificed herself to save the world. Anything that happened after that, the writers were just pulling stuff out of their asses to prolong the series."
Henrietta took a long, long drag off her cigarette before replying.
"And I'm saying that Buffy ended when Willow decided to hook up with that bitch of a slayer McKenzie. Honestly, that was a huge slap in the face to all the Willow/Tara fans."
"You're crazy!" Terrance exclaimed.
"I know my show! The fact that you continue to read the season eight comics does not mean you are the expert on Buffy!"
Terrance pointed a finger at a bookshelf behind him stacked with comics.
"Hey maybe if you got off your ass and looked at those comics you'd see that it's a great continuation and everything that happens is canon!"
"I am not reading your loser comics! Comics aren't Goth!"
Tweek had seen them having similar arguments before, and knew it would end with them throwing verbal barbs aimed at each other's interests. It didn't affect him, so he didn't care. He was getting sick of their stupid arguments anyway. He went over to the kitchen to talk to Larry.
"Hey Larry, where's everyone else?" Tweek asked.
Larry poured some of his slim Jim shake into a plastic blue cup, sipping some of it as he turned to face Tweek.
"Hey Tweek. Uh, two of them are asleep, and I think Shelly is visiting her mom at her new apartment."
"Hmm," Tweek would never say it to Larry's face because he was dating Shelly, but he couldn't stand her. She was a mean person, and looked like she'd become a hag in the near future.
"Tweek I'm doing laundry today." Larry told him.
"Oh alright, do you need me to get my bed sheets?"
"Uh…no, that…that's alright. I don't want to get any diseases handling your bed sheets."
Tweek rolled his eyes. Not this bullshit again.
"Larry you know I don't have any diseases. And I don't have sex in my bed, I mean how could I? I can't bring any of my customers here because there's always someone in this apartment."
Larry poured some more of his slim Jim shake into his cup.
"I don't know, Shelly says I should be careful just in case."
"You always do what your girlfriend tells you?"
Larry didn't answer Tweek; he just drank his shake and looked away awkwardly.
Tweek turned his attention to Henrietta then.
"And you, when are you getting a job? It's been seven months since Denny's fired you."
"Hey, the economy sucks right now, what do you expect me to do?" she asked.
"We expect you to bring in some cash, not to spend the entire day reading your poetry to the songs of Sick Puppies!" Terrance said.
Henrietta scowled at Terrance, "Hey I'm not the only one living in this apartment that doesn't have a job currently."
"Yes but you're the only one who hasn't made any effort to find a job!" Larry interjected.
Terrance turned his attention on Tweek.
"Oh, hey, I'm gonna need to borrow some money. My girlfriend got a DUI, and I don't have enough to pay her bail."
Tweek had dealt with this before, Terrance's girlfriends were always doing stupid things and Terrance would always mooch money off him, and never paid him back.
"…Yeah, that's not gonna happen." Tweek said, walking out of the kitchen, into the living room, and out into the hall to go into his room to get his things.
"What the hell does that mean? Tweek? Tweek!"
Tweek ignored Terrance's yelling, ignored Henrietta and Larry's bickering. He focused on getting his clothes, his rubber bands, and all of his drugs together into his duffel bag. He was sick of his roommates, sick of their petty arguments and always asking to borrow money from him only to never pay him back.
Tweek got his duffel bag, and walked out of that apartment and those awful roommates, and never once looked back. He walked through the streets as most of the shops started opening up for business and people who lived in the city were walking to work. Tweek knew where the North Park Inn was, and how far he'd have to walk to get there. He wasn't worried though; he had tons of energy to burn and was excited to have a new place to stay. He didn't know why he hadn't thought of living at the hotel before.
When he walked into the Inn he found Kevin Stoley asleep at the front desk. He slammed his hand down near Kevin's head, the loud sound waking Kevin up.
"Kevin!" Tweek yelled.
Kevin woke up with a start, yelling in surprise.
"Tweek? What, what are you doing here?"
"I'm moving in." Tweek tossed his duffel bag onto the front desk to show that he was serious.
"You mean you're checking in." Kevin implied.
"No, I mean I'm moving in. I'm sick of my sucky roommates and I just want to live on my own."
Kevin scratched his head, "Tweek you know I'm having trouble keeping money coming into this place, and I can't just let you hole up here."
"I wouldn't be holed up here though. Look, I can pay rent here just like any other apartment."
Tweek then handed him a wad of cash which Kevin immediately began counting.
"See there's enough for a five month stay. And about you having trouble bringing money into the hotel? You know the kind of work I'm in, I could like, bring my customers here, and you could charge them for my room. And I could bring customers here throughout the night and day, and they would pay for a room to you know, have sex in." Tweek explained.
"Ah! You mean like a scam, you live here, and you bring your customers up here for work and they pay for the hotel room you're already living in."
"Exactly! So what do you say? Can I live here?"
"As long as you can bring your Johns up here, yes."
Kevin offered his hand and Tweek took it, and they shook on their new deal. Kevin gave Tweek a key to his new room, number 44 on the third floor, fourth door on the right. After Tweek put his things away he went to sleep, for the first time in a long time in a quiet room. Before he fell asleep he thought about the Jaguar out in the parking lot, and wondered who in North Park could possibly afford a car like that.
A week into his stay in North Park, Craig decided to walk to work, and had the misfortune of meeting one of the locals.
He turns around to where the sound came from. He sees a man with blond hair, long and sticking out everywhere, stomping towards him. He's got dark circles under his eyes, and his skin is pale. He comes up to him, and Craig can see he's the same height as him.
"Yes? Can I help you?"
"Didn't you see me back there?" He yells, pointing back to the street I had just come from.
"No. Should I have? I'm sorry but I have somewhere to be, and don't have time to be…paying attention to every little thing around me."
"You fucking bumped into me, knocked me over and made me spill my coffee! How do you not notice that?" he shrieked.
"To be fair I didn't notice anyone else, so it's not like you're special or anything."
The blonde looked as though he were fuming.
"Well what do you want me to do about it?" Craig asked.
"Huh? Do about what?"
"Your spilled coffee. After all, it was an accident, it's not like I meant to bump into you on purpose. So you can't really hold it against me."
"Yes I can! For one, I waited a long time for that coffee, and for another, you show very little care in ruining someone's morning."
"Well there's a very good reason for that."
"I don't care at all."
Craig turns away, and began walking towards the new office.
He didn't turn around, nor did he stop walking. But he could hear his footsteps as he followed him. How does he know it's his footsteps? Because no one else has reason to follow him, and he's complaining the entire time.
"How can you not care at all? Are you some kind of robot? Some robotic person sent from the future to eradicate humanity by irritating them with confusion over your inability to feel concern for humans? How very clever of you! Or should I say how very creative of whoever designed you."
"You know I can't really tell if you're being sarcastic or not. In any case, let me make myself clear. Not only do I not care about knocking over your coffee especially since it wasn't my intention to, I also do not care about your rambling, or how upset you are over it."
"Haven't you ever been upset at someone? You know what would make this okay for me? If you'd apologize and just, I don't know, admit what you did sucked or something!"
"Look, can't you just get over it?"
"Well I suppose I could, but you know I'm still irritated about the whole thing, I mean, my COFFEE!"
"What is with you and coffee? Is it really that important to you?"
"Yes! Every morning I buy two large coffees at Harbucks, one black with sugar and the other one has cream and sugar in it. If I don't have my coffee my whole day is shot to hell."
He grabs Craig's arm, pulling, forcing him to stop and look at him.
"Sigh. I need to get to work. What the hell do I have to do to get you to leave me alone?"
"It's simple. Apologize, and give me some money to replace the coffee you made me spill."
"How do I know this isn't some con?"
"I don't know if I actually made you spill your coffee or not. After all I didn't see it. I could have just bumped into you, and now you're just trying to con some money out of me. Well you can forget it."
Craig pulled his arm out of his weak grip.
"Please, just give me some money."
"Don't you have any of your own?"
"Not since yesterday. And I'm not lying when I said you made me spill my coffee."
"Why should I pay to replace your coffee?" Craig asked him.
"Because it's the socially polite thing to do! Jesus Christ, have you no concept of social politeness?" he asks.
"I don't have a social life. I can't understand why you can't just let this go."
He gritted his teeth as he stared Craig down.
"Because. It's. Coffee."
Craig rolled his eyes.
"As if that explains everything. Shouldn't you be at work? I know I should be." Craig says, looking in the direction of his office building.
"I am at work. I'm on the street, where I work," he told him.
Craig looked back at him. "What do you mean?"
He made a sweeping gesture down his body.
"Look at me! Look at what I'm wearing, the area I'm walking around! What do you think I mean?"
Craig looked him up and down, and surveyed the street and the sidewalk they were on.
"You're a drug dealer?" Craig guessed.
He made an inhuman noise of frustration and face palmed briefly.
"No I'm not a dealer! I'm a hooker! Jesus Christ!"
Craig looked at him as if he were a diseased creature.
"A male hooker? How disgusting. Do you have any stds?"
At this he became angry, pulling at his own hair, making its texture worse than it already is.
"Argh, no! I don't! You know what? Fuck this shit, and fuck you, you rude, rude person!"
Craig found himself smiling at how angry this male prostitute was getting.
"For the record, my name is Craig Tucker. And it was a miserable experience meeting you."
He flipped him off before turning around and walking away.
"Fuck off, Mr. Tucker!" he snapped at him.
Tweek was absolutely fuming the rest of the day, and it affected his work. He had trouble finding men or women to bring back to the hotel, and around seven he had only had ten customers, a severe lack from what he's used to. Each time he convinced his customers to make the drive to North Park Inn, and each time his customer paid not only for the room, but for Tweek's services, so that both Kevin and Tweek were benefitting from this arrangement.
While Tweek had sex, all he could think about was that Mr. Tucker, and how unbelievably rude he was. He hoped that if he ever ran into him again he'd have the opportunity to chew him out. During the night he could hear a couple in the other room having sex, and quite loudly. He hadn't heard it before until then, and wondered if there were other hookers who were using the hotel for their time with their clients.
A couple weeks later, Craig decided to get breakfast in the dining room. When he walked in he saw that the dining room was empty that morning, except for one person, sitting in the middle of the dining room eating toast. Craig immediately recognized him as the male prostitute from a couple weeks ago who had yelled at him on the street over spilling his coffee. He wondered why he was there now.
Tweek looked up and saw Mr. Tucker walking toward him.
Oh God no, not this person, Tweek thought.
Craig looked down at his table, and saw two mugs filled with coffee, and a plate filled with toast spread with jam, butter, and peanut butter. When Craig looked at the male prostitute he wanted to laugh at the scowl he was giving him.
"What are you doing here?" Craig asked him.
"Isn't it obvious? I'm eating breakfast." Tweek answered him.
"No, I mean what are you doing in my hotel?"
"I happen to live here."
"Yes way! I've been living here for the past couple weeks!"
"Well I haven't seen you." Craig told him,
"I happen to work nights and sleep throughout the day. But I decided to start hooking in daylight hours, so I'm getting some breakfast first."
Craig looked down at his plate of food.
"Some breakfast, is this all that's available?"
Tweek pointed over at the buffet line which was filled with different types of cereal and jugs of milk and bowls.
"There's cereal. But I hate the taste of all cereal so I'm eating toast."
Craig shook his head at the cereal bar.
"That's disgusting. I hate cereal; just the taste of it makes me want to puke. It all tastes horrible, either crunchy or soggy, and those boxes with the loud, obnoxious colors on the fronts? I hate them, and it's all either sugary shit or fiber filled pencil shavings that taste like cat food."
"I know. That's why I got toast. It's boring, but it's better than cereal." Tweek said.
"I happen to like boring. I guess I'll have toast, but I'm not putting anything on it."
Craig walked over to the table with the bread and made himself some toast. He looked over at the blond male sipping on one of his coffees. He couldn't believe that he had been living in the same building as this hooker. He didn't know how he couldn't have noticed that. Craig assumed that they had never crossed paths until now because they had different schedules.
Tweek looked over at Mr. Tucker, in his dark blue suit with his short black hair. He had to admit he was attractive, and looked like he made a lot of money. Why he was staying in this hotel instead of renting out an apartment he had no idea.
"So, tell me Mr. Tucker, are you living at this hotel too?" Tweek asked.
Craig walked back with a plate with two pieces of toast and a glass of orange juice.
"Temporarily. I'm working to get the new North Park accounting office up and running. I'll only be here for three months."
Craig sat a table away from Tweek, while he ate his breakfast he watched as Tweek drank his coffee.
Tweek spoke to Craig again as soon s he finished his coffee.
"I guess I'll be seeing you around town then."
Craig shook his head, "Not likely. I don't travel in the same circles as whores."
Tweek frowned at him. He flipped Craig off for that remark.
"Fuck you, Mr. Tucker. I may be a whore, but at least I'm not a rude dick."
Craig smirked at that.
"I have to get to work. But before I go, why don't you tell me your name?"
"Now why should I do that?"
"Because I told you mine."
Tweek leaned forward in his seat, his hands folded on the table.
"Ren Tahari." He said.
Craig snickered at that.
"That is the fakest name I have ever heard. What's your real name?"
"I'm not telling you. I never give out my real name, except to my friends. And you are not my friend. You're just the asshole who spilled my coffee on the day we met." Tweek told him.
"Fine. It doesn't matter to me anyway. And I don't need to be friends with some hooker with STDs."
Craig got up and walked out of the dining room. Tweek felt his face turning red at the things Mr. Tucker had said. Tweek bolted up and followed Craig out into the parking lot.
"I've told you before, I don't have any STDs! I take care of myself and I get tested when I can, I am clean! What do you care whether I have anything or not? It's not like I plan on having you as a client!"
He stopped yelling when he saw the car that Craig was unlocking. He pointed at the Jaguar.
"This is your car?" he asked,
Craig nodded his head, "Yes. See this is the kind of car you could be driving if you had gone to school and made something of yourself, instead of spreading your legs in the backseats of cars."
"Gah!! Jesus Christ, you fucking prick! I can't believe you! I bet the reason you're so hung up on my work is because you're just a sexually repressed douche who can't get any!"
While Craig was getting into his car he listened to what the blond was saying, and as he listened his eyes traveled down, and he found himself staring at his bare legs. He thought that the blond's legs were smooth and soft, and looked good. He wouldn't want to touch them though. He didn't know where they had been.
Tweek noticed him staring at his legs and grinned at him.
"Like what you see?" he asked.
Craig shook his head.
"Not really. I'm not into dudes."
"Ha! That's a laugh. You're the biggest closet case if I ever saw one."
"Oh really, and just how do you know that I'm a closet case?" Craig asked,
"Because I have sex for a living! I know types of men and women, and I can tell from your uptight, jerky attitude that you're hiding a part of yourself."
"Whatever. I have to get to work."
Craig then slammed his car door shut and sped away. During the work day he thought that maybe he had been too rude to the blond whore. He had never been around prostitutes before, and he didn't think very highly of them. He thought that he looked like he was run down, that being a hooker was wearing him down.
Craig spent the next few weeks teaching the office how to handle accounts, how to transfer funds and how to deal with accounts payable and accounts receiving.
"These different accounts, how are we supposed to handle all of them?" Clyde asked.
"You delegate. Each person is assigned an account, and then they will handle the finances for that account." Craig explained.
"Yes, but there's so many!" Clyde whined.
"Which is why I need you and the rest of the office to focus on the things I'm teaching you."
Back at the hotel Tweek would sometimes run into Craig, and every day that Craig asked him what his name was, Tweek would give him a fake name each time.
"Desmond Garwood." Tweek told him on a Wednesday morning in late June.
"Are you kidding me? That's even worse than Punch McKendrick." Craig said.
"Yes, but it sounds better than the bland, "Craig Tucker!" Tweek exclaimed.
Over the past weeks Craig had the displeasure of hearing Tweek and his customers at night, and when he drove to work he'd sometimes see Tweek standing on street corners and getting into cars. When they crossed paths at the hotel they would say mean, horrible things to each other. Tweek would insult Craig's boring personality and nasal-toned voice, and Craig would accuse Tweek of having STDs and being a whore.
They never got into any physical fights though. The closest that they ever got was when they threw pancakes at each other in the dining hall, but Kevin Stoley had to put a stop to it because they were making a mess.
"Why don't you two eat the pancakes instead of throwing them?" Kevin asked.
"I'm not eating these disgusting pancakes! Pancakes taste like overly sweet puke." Craig stated.
Tweek added, "The only thing pancakes are good for is throwing at people you dislike. I hate pancakes too, unless it's crepes."
Craig looked at Tweek with surprise.
"You've had crepes?" he asked,
"A few times, yes, at the Ihop. They were really good, especially with Nutella and strawberries." Tweek said.
"I've only had crepes with orange marmalade." Craig told him.
"Does that taste good?" Tweek asked.
"It's amazing." Craig told him.
Kevin Stoley looked at the two of them, covered in pieces of pancake and syrup, smiling, talking to each other about crepes of all things. He looked at the walls and the floor, covered in pancake, butter, and syrup. He couldn't understand how these two could go from arguing and calling each other names, to having civil conversations and talking about the most common things like, they weren't friends, but something similar to it. Then he looked at the mess they had made and how they were still talking calmly about how much better crepes tasted compared to pancakes.
"Who's going to clean up this mess?!" Kevin asked loudly to no one in particular.
While Tweek walked outside Craig followed him, picking pieces of pancake out of his hair.
"What's your name?" Craig asked.
Tweek couldn't help smiling. As much as they disliked each other he never got tired of Mr. Tucker asking him what his name was. He liked thinking of fake names and telling them to him.
"Trent Winter Anderson Namedi Grenowitz." Tweek told him.
Craig stared at him, completely floored by how creative and ridiculous that name was. He started laughing, and the more he thought about the name the more ridiculous it sounded.
"That is the most outrageous name you've come up with yet!" Craig cried.
Tweek grinned at him. "It's pretty good, huh?"
"It's fantastic. Hey…why don't I give you a ride into town?" Craig asked.
Tweek scratched the back of his head, and looked at Craig's Jaguar.
"Are you serious? Why would you give me a ride now? You've never offered before."
"I know. But I mean, we've been fighting since we met. Maybe, I don't know, it'd be…"
"Better if we tried to get along as friends?" Tweek asked,
"Uh, yeah. Well maybe not friends but maybe we can try to be more civil to each other."
"Worth a shot. Okay Mr. Tucker, take me into town." Tweek opened the passenger door, getting in and shutting the door behind him.
Craig got into his car and drove them into town.
"So where can I drop you off? Your usual corner?" Craig asked.
"If you're referring to the Subway at the corner of Harvest Street, then yes." Tweek told him.
"I'm assuming you don't need a ride back to the hotel at night." Craig said,
Tweek shook his head no. "Nah, I'll make sure the last customer of the night takes me back to the hotel."
"I still can't believe you've been conning your customers into paying for a hotel room you're already living in."
"I know. It's the greatest scam in the world."
Craig couldn't believe what he was hearing. It didn't really affect him so he had no opinion on it. When he got to Subway he stopped the car and let Tweek out.
"Thanks for the ride. See you back at the hotel Mr. Tucker." Tweek says as he stands on the sidewalk, leaning on the open car door.
"You're welcome. See you later, "Trent." Craig responds.
Tweek shuts the car door and flips Craig off. Craig drives away, and Tweek goes to stand at his usual spot, waiting for his customers to arrive.
It was incredible, the sheer incompetence of these people. When Craig asked Jason to send the contracts to the head office in New York he somehow ended up crashing his computer. When Craig saw he had no virus protection software, he quickly installed a program for him. Annie has no idea how to talk to customers over the phone. The last few times Craig walked past her desk she was too passive when dealing with customer questions. She was getting walked over. He had to explain to her that when speaking on the phone to those people she had to be firm and clear. Craig doesn't think she quite gets the concept. Clyde knows what's expected of him, but still he has the maturity of a five year-old. Never in Craig's life has he seen someone take such a casual approach to his work ethic. It's like he can't take anything seriously. Honestly he has no idea how any of them were even considered to work for this company. The rest of them have no idea what they're doing, and as a result Craig has to walk through procedures with all of them. It wouldn't be so bad, were it not for the feed back he gets.
"Uh, sir? Would you mind repeating what you just said?"
Yes Craig minded. It's not his fault if you're too stupid to understand what he said the first time.
"I don't understand. I'm supposed to compare stats, find the best candidates, and call up other companies with the results?"
That's the idea, idiot.
"Sir? What's the phone number to the offices in Chicago?"
Fuck, how hard is it to remember a goddamn number? Especially one that he went over not two hours ago!
"Sorry sir, I'm having some trouble trying to get these numbers to go through."
And, of course, he has to do everything for them again. And he has to explain everything to them again, because of course they all need everything explained to them. And it's not like they can grasp what's expected of them and how to do their jobs properly, because he has to show them how it's done, over, and over, and over again. It's beyond frustrating.
He has to keep at it though. He's not allowed to give up, because if he does, he'll be fired. And that's the last thing he wants. So he has to just…deal with it. As much as he would love to just have them all replaced with robots that is not going to happen because robots that can do their jobs haven't been made yet.
Assuming that they had been made, and then there would also be a robot that could do his job, and that wouldn't be any good for him. Today was spent basically going over everything that these workers should be able to do, and how to do what they need to do properly.
There were many times during the day that he felt that he couldn't accomplish what he had set out to do, not because of insecurities with his own abilities, but because he was so damn frustrated with the idiots he was surrounded with.
At the end of the day he couldn't wait to get the hell out of there, and just go back to the hotel. As he put on his jacket he was ambushed by Clyde Tubby Donovan. He caught up with him as he was walking to the elevator.
"Hey, Craig, Jason and I are going to the bar. You wanna join us?"
The thought of spending time outside the office with these people was repugnant to Craig. He didn't like these people, and he has never socialized with his coworkers before. Why the hell would he start now?
"Thanks, but, no thanks. I'm not the sort of man of goes to bars and…drinks."
With that said, he turned his back on him, and strode over to the elevator. He wasn't counting on Clyde to follow him.
"Aw but you don't know what you're missing! They've got these awesome beers, and the waitresses are smoking hot!"
Craig looks at him like he's thinking about it, but really he has no intention of changing his mind.
"Beers? To be honest, I'm more of a wine person."
And the idea of smoking hot waitresses does nothing for him.
"You should join us. It's always fun, right Jason?"
Jason, who had turned up and had been standing behind them as they waited for the elevator suddenly became aware of Clyde's attempt to include him in this.
"Huh? Oh…yeah, Craig. The Viper's Fang is a great place, and they have a huge selection of alcohol to choose from. And man, they have these flat screens that show ESPN from all sides." Jason explained.
Oh joy. Sports, now there's something Craig is interested in. Not. At. All. The more they try to convince him to go with them to their bar, the more he doesn't want to. Maybe it's a cultural difference, or maybe it's the fact that he's not a blue collar guy like them, but he can't see himself enjoying their company, or what he's sure will be a loud, crowded bar. And he hates how they call him Craig. There should be a level of respect, not this crude familiarity.
When the elevator arrived the three of them got on, pressing the button for the first floor.
Clyde just grinned this stupid grin that Craig wanted to smack off.
"Trust us, once you step inside The Viper's Fang, you'll love it."
Apparently the concept of No never crossed his mind.
Walking outside, Craig made his way to his car only for Clyde and Jason to lead him away. He's not sure if they intend to get him drunk or murder him. Either way it's not happening.
"Look, I'm not the sort of guy to get wasted," Craig told them.
"Oh you don't have to drink anything," Jason says.
"Just hang with us for a bit. We know you'll have fun," Clyde added.
Craig doubted it.
While they dragged him over to the Viper's Fang, they talked incessantly about the Broncos, and how they lost money every time they bet on them.
"I mean, on the days I bet for them to win, they lose. When I bet on them losing, they end up winning." Jason said.
Clyde looked over at Craig as if he actually cared about this sort of thing.
"I tell ya, what kind of sense does that make?" Clyde asks me.
"Broncos are some kind of football team, right?" Craig asks.
The two of them stop walking to stare at him. After a moment or two of them staring dumbfounded, they laugh it off. As though he was kidding with them, while the reality was he had no interest in sports, so how would he know the specifics of what they were talking about? This is a subject he has no interest in, or any knowledge other than what little he gleaned from coworkers who liked to gossip as they left the office.
As they dragged Craig along, talking about sports teams he found himself dreading actually spending time with them. When they reached the Viper's Fang he saw that it was just a sports bar, and nothing special. Inside there were flat screens, all playing espn. There were billiards and foosball tables placed along the corners and far walls. The whole place had tons of men swilling beer at the bar, screaming at the teams playing on the TV screens. Craig hated it immediately. When their backs were turned Craig walked out of the place, never looking back.
After he located his car he drove around, and found an old theatre called North Park Cinema. After parking his car he went inside, and discovered they were playing on old silent film. He bought a ticket, to the ticket taker's surprise. According to him no one came in on silent movie night. Craig didn't care. He liked having an entire theater to himself.
Watching Rudolph Valentino dance an Argentinian tango on the big screen was something he didn't think he'd get to experience in a city like this. Craig loves films and silent films especially. There's an art found in these old films that you can't find nowadays. A dark magical feeling that sweeps up, and enthralls. He's not ashamed to say he's a total film snob, and hates movies nowadays with their formulaic plots, actors who look even more fake than the sets, who somehow manage to turn in the same performance over and over again.
With silent films from the early twentieth century there's no risk of the tired tropes used in today's money saturated cinema. Watching Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in a darkened theater alone is a treat for him. He remembers being sixteen and skipping school one day because the only theater in town was playing a marathon of Chaplin's films during the day. Why the owners of the theater thought this was a good idea to do in the middle of a school day instead of waiting for the weekend when they'd be more likely to sell more tickets he'll never know. He got in trouble when he got home, and his dad yelled at him, saying,
"Goddammit Craig, what the hell do I pay taxes for? So you can go gallivanting off to watch black and white films?"
He doesn't know why everything had to go back to him paying taxes. And for the record, never in his life had he ever "Gallivanted".
But he's twenty seven, and if he wants to spend an evening watching a Rudolph Valentino film in a theater he will do so. During the ending of the tango sequence he heard some noises coming from the back of the theater that let him know he was not alone. Turning around in his seat he looked behind him and saw some man hidden in shadow, breathing heavily. He was standing far away enough to where Craig couldn't see what he was doing, but close enough so that he could hear him. What kept him from getting up and just leaving was noticing the person kneeling in front of him. He's not sure how long they've been there, but it takes just a couple minutes before the man finishes and the person kneeling in front of him wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, the man handed him a couple bills, paying him for his services. The man left, exiting through the back. The one who serviced him began walking over to Craig, and Craig noticed that he was that blond guy from the street and hotel whose coffee he claimed he had made him spill. He could see he was shivering as he came over, and looked as though he was having some trouble walking in the darkened theater. He noticed Craig watching him, and came over to him.
With what little light there was he could see that his hair was still a mess, still sticking up all over the place. He was still wearing the same green long sleeved shirt over a black shirt, and black denim shorts he had seen him wearing a few days ago. He stood to his right, shaking in the cold theater. He spoke to him.
"Mr. Tucker, fancy meeting you here."
He sat next to Craig, falling down into the seat to the right of his. He looked up at the screen.
"Enjoying the movie?" he asks.
"Yes, I was until I noticed you and your customer," Craig tells him.
He looks confused for a moment, before understanding hits him.
"Oh, that. He's just a customer; nothing more than that."
"Yeah well why'd you have to bring him inside this theatre?"
"He's one of those weirdos who needs to be indoors for that sort of thing. I told him no one would notice if we were outside in an alley, but he felt more comfortable in a dark room."
"Wait a minute; you think he's a weirdo if he feels uncomfortable being serviced outside?"
"Well that's where most of my customers' like to do it."
Craig raised a hand in gesture for him to stop.
"Please, please don't tell me any more. I don't think I have the stomach to listen to more of your escapades."
He shrugs this off.
"Fine, I won't say another word. By the way, what movie is this?" he asks.
"I thought you said you weren't going to say another word."
"Well not about my job, obviously. I still want to talk to you," He says.
"This is The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It's a Rudolph Valentino film," Craig explained.
He looks over at him, and then looks back at the screen.
"And which one's Valentino?" he asks.
Craig pointed to him.
"That's him, right there."
"Oh. He's handsome."
"Yes, he is," Craig admitted.
In the dark he can almost see him grinning.
"So you can admit to me that an actor from the era of silent film is handsome, but you still refuse to come out?" he asked.
"Look, whatever you're expecting, it's not going to happen. As for admitting my sexual preference to you, that also isn't happening. I'm not gay."
"You're not straight, either," the shivering blond comments.
Craig stuck his tongue out at him.
"Hey, do you want my jacket?" Craig asks.
He stops watching the film to look at Craig.
Craig takes off his jacket and preceded to hand it to him.
"I can tell you're cold. Here, just wear my jacket so you can warm up."
Craig watches as he puts on his jacket, and soon enough he stops his shivering.
He turned to face him, "Thank you Mr. Tucker. But won't you be cold?"
He shook his head.
"No, I don't get cold as easily as others do."
In the darkened theater they sat together in silence watching Rudolph Valentino onscreen, every now and again stopping to just look over at each other. Craig had to admit, watching the movie with him made the experience, even more enjoyable than it would have been had he just been alone.
When they walk out of the theatre they find that the sky has gotten significantly darker. Craig turned to the blond to ask him if he wanted a ride back to the hotel. But before he could four women wearing skimpy clothes and sneakers were running over to them. The blond next to him seemed to know them.
"Tweek! Sweetie, it's been forever!" exclaimed a woman with short black hair wearing a blue halter top with a plum mini skirt.
"Hi Esther," Tweek greeted her as she and her cohorts came closer.
"Your name is Tweek?" Craig asked him, the smile coming through his words.
"Yes, and now you know why I kept giving you fake names." Tweek said.
"Yes, because your real name is even more ludicrously ridiculous than any fake name you could come up with." Craig remarked.
That remark earned him a jab in the ribs courtesy of Tweek's elbow.
Three other women came running after Esther, one with long straight brown hair wearing a teal tank top and black short shorts, a red head with her hair tied into a pony tail, her bangs almost covering her eyes. The last one was a few inches shorter than the others, her hair was an odd greyish-brown color, and it was wavy in texture, reaching to her shoulders. She wore a lime green tube top and a dark grey mini skirt.
Craig watched as the four of them gave Tweek hugs and spoke to him like they were addressing a very old friend. Which they probably were.
"Tweek, we've missed you! The apartments aren't the same without you around." The redhead told him.
"I'm sure my former roommates hate me for ditching them." Tweek said,
"They're red with anger!" the one wearing the teal tank top told him, grinning as she said it, "But who the hell cares about them, how are you?"
"I'm alright. I've been living at the North Park Inn." Tweek told them.
The one with the wavy brownish grey hair smacked Esther on the arm.
"I heard that's where he was staying!"
"We should live at the hotel too." Esther told her.
"We would if only we weren't already on the lease for our place." The woman with the straight brown hair told Esther.
"Damn! Oh, but Tweek sweetie we've missed you so much!" Esther told him.
"I've missed you all too." Tweek turned to look at Craig who was still standing there, silently watching as his friends were all talking to him.
Tweek pulled on Craig's arm, bringing him forward. Tweek noticed that the four women were looking at Craig with interest.
"Mr. Tucker, these are my friends," Tweek began,
"This is Esther," he began with the woman with the short black hair wearing the blue halter top, "Lola," he continued with the woman with the long, straight brown hair wearing the teal tank top, "And Heidi," he went on, introducing him to the woman with the wavy grey-brown hair wearing the lime green tube top, "And Sally." He concluded with the red head wearing the violet lacy spaghetti strapped tank top.
"How do you do?" Craig greeted them, shaking each of their hands.
"Hello," they all greeted him.
"Is he one of your customers?" Heidi asked Tweek.
"Oh no! No, no, no, no, no, no God, no!" Tweek answered. The mere thought was so silly to him.
"Mr. Tucker is….well; he's my sort of friend." Tweek admitted.
"My name is Craig," Craig told the four of them. He felt like he had to say something before they started addressing him as Mr. Tucker too.
"Tweek referred to you as Mr. Tucker." Lola said.
"Yes, but he's weird and only does it because he's making fun of how I'm an uptight business man." Craig explained.
Esther and Heidi giggled; Lola and Sally gave each other confused looks. They weren't sure what type of relationship their Tweek was having with this Craig Tucker. They were glad that he wasn't just another John. He seemed interesting, and they hoped he'd stick around.
Tweek leaned against Craig, telling him that,
"They're prostitutes you know. Just like me."
Craig went from looking at Tweek to looking at the four women. They were smiling at him, some of them had their arms crossed, the others hand their hands behind their backs.
"This doesn't change your opinion of us, does it?" Sally asked Craig.
"Not at all. You all seem like…perfectly lovely prostitutes." Craig told them with all the finesse he could manage.
"Are all your friends prostitutes like you?" Craig asked Tweek.
Tweek just shrugged, "Most of them are. So tell me, what are you four doing tonight?"
"We're staying in, having a movie marathon." Esther explained,
"We're gonna watch all our favorite movies, back to back!" Heidi added.
"Cool." Tweek said,
Lola clapped her hands together, "Say! Would you like to join us?"
"Yes please join us!" Heidi exclaimed,
"Oh please come over to our place for movie night!" Esther pleaded,
"It's been forever since we've hung out together, especially for something fun." Sally said.
As Tweek listened to them, he thought it was a great idea. He used to love movie night with the girls, and it had been a while since he'd spent time with them at their place.
"Sure, that sounds great. Say Mr. Tucker, would you like to um, would you like to join us?" Tweek asked him.
Craig looked up at him. He had zoned out a while ago, and had only started listening again when his name was mentioned.
Tweek had no idea where he stood with Mr. Tucker, but he intended to try to develop a friendship with him. And he thought that if he included him in his friends' activities that it would be a step in the right direction.
"What?" Craig asked,
Tweek stepped closer to him, softly touching the right sleeve of his blazer.
"I was asking you, if you'd like to join me and my friends over at their apartment for movie night."
Craig felt like his heart was going to explode out of his chest, the way Tweek was touching him, and it felt amazing and weird and wonderful and horrible all at once. He didn't know what to feel, he just knew that the way Tweek was touching him and looking at him, as harmless as it was, made him feel alive. And the fact that it was only a few weeks since they had known each other, and he was causing him to feel this way, scared him.
"Uh…I uh, sure, sure that that sounds….like fun." Craig stammered.
"He seems like he wouldn't know fun if it bit him on the ass." Lola commented to Sally.
"I heard that, Lola!" Tweek snapped at her.
The six of them ended up traveling in Craig's car, Craig at the wheel, Tweek riding shotgun and Esther, Lola, Heidi and Sally sitting in the backseat, giving Craig directions to their apartment located on Candlelight Avenue, three buildings down, from a shoe store.
"So you used to live in the same building as them?" Craig asked Tweek.
"Uh-huh. I lived with six to seven other people in a three bedroom apartment, at any given time. My roommates were, lazy! Sloppy! And just the worst sort of moochers. It just wasn't working out, me living there. And I'm glad I found something that works for me at the hotel. I don't have to worry about someone trying to borrow money off me, or eating my Eggos."
"I didn't know you liked Eggos." Craig mused, turning the corner and driving along.
"Oh I love them, the only thing is I can't eat too much or I get sick of them." Tweek told him.
Sally pointed to a wide brick building with a green flag waving in the night sky attached to a pole in front of it.
"There it is. Clarion Suites." She said,
Craig parked in front of a 97 Buick, right in front of the building. When they all got out of the car, he stood in front of the building, staring up at the three story apartments with the two Greek statues standing guard on either side of the doors. The girls walked past him, he heard them talking about how nice his car was, and how it was the nicest car any of them had ever ridden in. He didn't know why he was staring up at the apartments. There was something that was keeping him from going inside.
Tweek saw Craig just standing there, looking up at his old apartment building. He walked over to him, and tapped him on the shoulder. Craig gave a little jump, and turned his head to see Tweek standing next to him on his right.
"Ready to go in?" Tweek asked him,
Craig nodded, not saying anything. He let Tweek push him forward, and into the building to follow the girls. Tweek hadn't missed the building; however he had missed spending time with his friends. He led Craig up the three flights of stairs up to the girls' apartment.
"Stairs, stairs, I'm beginning to think the only place that actually has an elevator is the office I work in." Craig muttered, climbing the steps up, holding onto a metal rail.
Tweek laughed and admitted, "Most of these buildings are really old, and the owners never got around to adding things like elevators. You're lucky they've got hot water."
On the third floor a Hungarian woman walking her pug passed them as she made her way to the stairs, saying something obscene in Hungarian under her breath. Tweek flipped her off.
"I hate that woman. She tried to get me evicted after she learned I was a prostitute. And that little dog of hers, Gah. I hate pugs, more than any other dog. They're all ugly and stupid; they're not even really dogs. They're just ugly little things. What do you think?"
"I'm a cat person myself." Craig told him.
He didn't admit to him that he hated pugs too. He also didn't admit that he liked Eggos. He thought that if he admitted that he had things in common with him that it would move their semi-friendship along even faster than necessary.
They entered the girls' apartment, Heidi was busy putting two pizzas in the oven, Esther was making popcorn in the microwave, and Lola and Sally were setting up the DVD player.
Tweek shut the door behind him; Craig walked in and looked around. He saw that their was a strawberry theme in their place, the walls were painted pink, the cookie jar was shaped like a giant strawberry, the curtains had little strawberries printed on them, and the red couch had two strawberry plush pillows on both sides of the couch.
"Hey. Make yourselves at home." Esther said as she set the timer on the oven.
"Thank you," Craig said as he moved from the entryway into the living room.
He sat on the red couch, and discovered it was incredibly plush and overstuffed. He watched Lola and Sally as they set up the DVD player, and noticed something about them.
"You're all wearing sneakers." He said.
Lola, Sally, and Heidi all looked over at him. Esther was too busy fixing everyone drinks to pay attention to him. The girls giggled, some of them were actually snickering.
"Of course we are." Heidi said,
""What other kind of footwear would we have on?" Sally asked,
Craig pulled on his tie, loosening it.
"Well I just assumed that since you were hookers, you'd wear hooker boots. Isn't that what hookers wear?"
"Only in the movies!" Tweek said, walking around the couch to sit next to Craig.
"Craig, let me tell you something," Heidi began as she brought a large white bowl into the living room, setting it in Tweek's lap, taking off her shoes before sitting down, "That whole thing about hookers wearing hookers boots? Total myth. The truth is we wear sneakers, flats; anything with a heel is just bad news. I mean we have to walk, sometimes run, and stand around for hours at a time. We want to wear shoes that are comfortable for our line of work. I mean, wouldn't you?"
"Yes, I would." Craig agreed.
Tweek offered Craig some popcorn, and Craig took a handful, while Esther handed them blue plastic cups filled with ice and grape soda.
"Sorry but, we don't have a coffee table. You'll have to hold onto your drinks." She told them.
"That's alright," Tweek told her.
"Hey, Lola, is the dvd player set up yet?" Heidi asked from her place on the couch.
"Yeah, it's set up. Sally and I are just deciding which movie to play first."
Craig turned to Tweek and asked him, "So what kind of movies are we going to watch? Romantic-comedy? Action? Sci-fi? Animated musical?"
Tweek just reached into the white bowl to get more popcorn, simply telling Craig,
That night while munching on popcorn, pepperoni pizza, and drinking grape soda, surrounded by prostitutes; Craig Tucker found himself exposed to the most depraved, awful, badly acted movies he had ever seen in his life. Whatever kind of movies he was expecting four women to be into, he wasn't expecting them to be into z-grade horror, torture porn, exploitation pornographic shock films. When the first film, Salo played, he was shocked and disgusted. He didn't understand how Tweek and the four women could watch such depraved acts without wanting to throw up.
When Sweet played, Heidi and Esther laughed during the sex scenes. Craig thought that the whole premise of Sweet movie was confusing. From Sweet they went on to Trash Humpers, then wood chipper massacre, Zombie 5, the Gestapo's last orgy, and Silent Night deadly night.
The final film was a Japanese film called Eat the School Girl. Sally explained to them that the copy she had found was in Japanese, and had no English dub or English subtitles, so they wouldn't know what was happening. Craig didn't think subtitles would have helped; the movie was so gory, so confusing, so weird and disgusting that he thought he might lose his sanity.
As they watched one of the first murders, Craig felt like a part of his soul was dying.
"Oh…oh my…did…that transvestite just…oh God!" Craig asked Tweek, pointing at the screen.
"Mmhmm, he sure did. What a thing to do to a corpse!" Tweek said.
Tweek grabbed a handful of popcorn, shoving it into his mouth.
Craig drank some more of his grape soda in an attempt to keep the vomit at bay.
"I'm not sure what the white room is supposed to symbolize." Esther commented,
"I'm pretty sure that girl is supposed to be a bird, or an angel," Heidi theorized.
As the movie played on, they watched a rape scene that eventually turned consensual, and ended up in murder.
Craig shook his head in disbelief.
"There is no way that she went from rape victim, to a willing partner! What, he rapes her and then she just decides she likes it?"
"Yup! That's how most hentai works." Sally responded with a grin,
Craig didn't understand how the girls and Tweek could continue to eat pizza, after watching all those vomit inducing scenes. He had to question what kind of film makers would make such depraved movies. He had no earthly idea how the girls could watch these movies without getting sick. As Eat the School Girl ended he noticed that Tweek and Heidi, Lola, and Sally had passed out on the couch, and on the floor. Esther was the only one who was still awake, and she was sitting at the opposite end of the couch from him. Craig just had to ask her about her and her friends' taste in movies.
"Why do you watch these movies? They're horrific." Craig asked.
Esther smiled as she turned off the DVD player.
"Well, we found some exploitation films in a bin at a thrift store. After we watched them, we felt like these films were disgusting, but we couldn't look away. We found a strange beauty in these films. They're different from anything we've ever seen before. And after hunting down and watching these types of movies, we found that we liked them more and more."
"They were uh, very…interesting." Craig commented,
Esther nodded, turning off the TV.
"Yes. I noticed you were uncomfortable while watching these films. I'm sorry about that. Tweek was a bit uncomfortable when he first watched our movies with us, but after a while, he started to become more comfortable with them."
"How long have you known Tweek?" Craig asked her.
"Oh we've all known him or, I'd say nine years now."
"Mmhmm. We met him about, what? Six months into his career as a prostitute. The girls and I were on our fourth month into the job."
"I hope you don't mind my asking, but how did Tweek come into this line of work?"
"How do any of us get into this line of work? Sigh. I wasn't there when he started, but the most common reasons a person has for becoming a street walker is that they fall on hard times. They can't find real jobs, they have nowhere else to turn, and they're desperate for money. By the time they sleep with the tenth customer, it's usually too late for them to get out, and they're stuck in their careers. I know that's how it was for me and my roommates."
"It sounds awful," he commented.
"It is. But, we try to make the best of our situations. We stick together, we practice safe sex, and we're always very wary of the men we sleep with."
"Do you know if Tweek just sleeps with men?"
"I know his customers are usually male, although he does have several female customers. Most of them are lonely women in their thirties who just want some companionship. Why do you care what type of customers Tweek has?"
"I don't! I was just curious. You know this is the first time I've ever been friends with a prostitute before. I have no idea what type of world he's living in."
"Well I'll tell you, it's a very dangerous line of work. There are risks, and it's hard to get out of it if you really want to stop. We're lucky; we don't have pimps to run our lives and to steal our money. Everyday we have to worry about getting kidnapped, beaten, raped, or murdered."
"So why would Tweek get himself into this type of work?"
"…I don't know. I have to assume that it's because he had nowhere else to turn to. Not everyone is lucky enough to find a job, or get into school. Or to have family that can help them when they get into trouble."
Craig thought about his parents. Never once in the month that he had known him had Tweek ever said anything about his parents, or what kind of life he had. The only things he knew about Tweek was that he was twenty-seven, he liked coffee, and he hated stuffed animals, especially duck ones because they looked stupid.
"Esther, about Tweek's parents. Where are they? Why aren't they in their son's life?"
"Now that's something you'll have to ask Tweek. But it's late; it's three in the morning. I suggest you and Tweek sleep here, and in the morning when you wake up you and Tweek can go to work. Today is our day off, so my roommates and I will be sleeping in. Just make sure you lock the door when you leave."
After she said that, Esther got up and walked down the hallway, and opened the door at the end of the hall, going into the bedroom behind the door to get some sleep. Craig sighed, and looked at his right side where Tweek had fallen asleep, leaning against him. Craig had never done anything like this before. He wondered how much more he'd end up doing, and how long he'd have to wait before he could ask Tweek more about him, and his life and how he became a prostitute. He ended up falling asleep on that couch, using one of the strawberry plushes as a pillow.
When he and Tweek woke up, they left the girls apartment. As they drove away and towards Harvest Street, Craig tried to ask Tweek something about his life, but all he could come up with was,
"Do you like coffee ice cream?"
Tweek looked at Craig with a confused look on his face before he got out of the car.
"Um…no, I don't. I mean, I like coffee yes, but coffee flavored ice cream just tastes disgusting to me."
"Hmm. Do you want me to pick you up when I get off work?"
"If you want to, I mean no pressure or anything."
"I'll be here, around seven. We can get dinner together, if you want."
Tweek smiled at him, "Mr. Tucker, are you asking me out on a date?"
Craig stuck his tongue out at him.
"You wish. We're just friends, and there is no way I'd ever ask you out on a date, or buy your…services."
He felt like this conversation was veering towards uncomfortable territory. Tweek shook his head as he got out of his car. While Craig drove away he saw Tweek in his rearview mirror, flipping him off as he stood at his corner. Craig made a mental note to ask him where he picked up that habit of flipping him off.
At Craig's office he spent the entire day avoiding Clyde and Jason. He was afraid that if he was left alone with either of them that they'd inevitably end up trying to take him to another sports bar. He went around the office, watching his coworkers getting used to the software their company used. He helped Annie with her account, and taught her about managing more than one account at a time, and how to transfer funds.
He felt like at the end of the day he had done a fantastic job of evading Clyde and Jason, until at the end of the day when the two of them cornered him by the water cooler.
"Hey, Craig! What happened to you, man?" Clyde asked.
"Yeah, we turned around from the game and you were gone." Jason added.
"I'm sorry, I felt uncomfortable there, and I found another place I'd rather be." Craig told them.
Clyde crossed his arms, and gave Craig a hard stare.
"Really? Where could you have possibly gone? I mean you've said yourself that you've only been living in North Park for what, a month? I doubt you'd know the best places to hang out."
Jason walked around Craig, circling him like a vulture.
"Besides, where would be a better place than the greatest sports bar in North Park?" Jason asked,
"Jason, I don't think you or Clyde realizes that I am not like you. I'm not a sports fan. Or am I very fond of bars. I found an old movie theater, some place around the corner called North Park Cinema. It was close by the Viper's Fang. You're right; I don't know where anything is around here. But I found a place I wanted to be." Craig stated, staring hard at the two of them.
Jason and Clyde relaxed, shared a look before turning back to face Craig.
"So why didn't you just tell us that you didn't want to hang with us at the Viper's Fang?" Clyde asked.
"You weren't really listening. The Viper's Fang just isn't my kind of place. I preferred to stay at the theater, watching old movies."
Clyde snorted at that.
"What are you, gay?"
Craig sneered at him, and resisted the urge to punch Clyde in the neck.
"Does preferring movies to sports make me gay?" Craig asked him.
Clyde scratched the side of his nose.
"Well…no. I was just curious, you don't seem heterosexual, and I haven't seen you with any women, so I just assumed."
Craig glared at him.
"My sexual preference is none of your business. And for further reference Mr. Donovan, asking about your boss's sexual preference is something that can get you fired."
Clyde's eyes widened at that.
Craig walked passed them, and Jason and Clyde followed Craig as he walked to the elevator. Craig pressed the button near the elevator to make the doors open up. When the elevator doors opened Craig looked back at Clyde and Jason one last time before getting on.
"Don't ever ask me any personal questions ever again. And never assume that I want to socialize with my coworkers after work."
After he said that Craig pressed the button to close the elevator doors. As he rode down to the first floor, he thought that he could have handled that better, and then forgot about it as soon as he was in his Jaguar. Like he told Tweek that morning when he dropped him off, he was there parked outside Subway at seven to pick him up. Tweek was waiting for him, picking his nose and leaning against the window of Subway. The minute Tweek was in his car buckling his seat belt Craig was speeding away.
"Where's a good place to eat?" Craig asked.
"Go down to the end of the street; turn right when you get to the light at Tussey lane. There's this amazing deli shop." Tweek directed him.
Tweek watched Craig as he drove.
"So how was your day?" Tweek asked him.
"Fine," Craig answered.
"Could you be anymore brief? How about some details?"
"Hey, do I ask you details about your day?"
"No, but you've said before that you don't like to know about my work day so I never tell you."
While Craig turned right at Tussey lane he told Tweek about his day at work, how he helped Annie with her accounts, and how Clyde and Jason had cornered him at the water cooler.
"They sound like assholes. If it were me I would have punched them in the neck." Tweek stated.
"You know I did think about doing that, and then I decided that they weren't worth it."
Craig pulled up to the curb next to a small deli. When they got out of the car Craig could smell this overwhelming scent of barbeque sauce and meat. The inside of the deli shop had a small dining area, with wooden floors and fans spinning above them.
Craig and Tweek ordered some sandwiches; the man behind the counter informed them that they were having lowered prices for Fourth of July weekend.
"It's Fourth of July weekend?" Craig asked,
Tweek paid for their food, dragging Craig over to a table.
"It's the Fourth of July tomorrow, Saturday. How can a person not know that?"
Craig shrugged as he sat down.
"I never really pay attention to things like that."
As they sat across from each other the sounds of Lady Gaga's Americano played from the stereos. Both men groaned at the sounds.
"I hate this song. Everything from the vocals to the unoriginal lyrics gives me a headache." Tweek told Craig.
"I hate Lady Gaga. There's nothing original about her. I think she focuses more on her style than substance. This song is one of the worst pieces of pop music shit I've ever had the displeasure of hearing." Craig said,
Tweek cringed as the song got louder.
"Can this really be called a song? It's just…noise! I remember when her Born this Way album came out. Lola made me listen to it. I thought it was the worst thing I had ever heard."
Craig asked him, "So what type of music do you like?"
Tweek shivered as the cold air of the deli shop hit him. He buttoned up his shirt, or at least he tried to as best he could with his shaky fingers.
"I like Blondie, Blink-182, La Roux, Razorlight, Chicago, and The Pretenders. Billy Joel." Tweek told him.
"The only one I've heard is Billy Joel. My dad used to play Always a woman to me after dinner when I was a kid. He said it was his and my mom's song." Craig explained,
"I love Allentown, New York State of Mind, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant." Tweek commented.
"Huh. I've heard those. And, Big Shot, You May Be Right, Moving Out, Uptown Girl, and, Only the Good Die Young." Craig mused,
Tweek smiled at him, he wasn't expecting Craig to know Billy Joel. He was glad they had another thing in common besides their ages.
While waiting for their food to be brought to them Tweek felt this itch down below, and began shifting in his seat,
Craig saw this and looked at him questioningly. "Itchy?" he asked.
Tweek nodded his head, "Mmhmm."
"Do you have an STD?" Craig asked.
"I told you eighty-thousand times, NO!" Tweek answered.
"Just scratch yourself. Or is scratching your crotch frowned upon while picking your nose in public is ok?" Craig asked with derision.
Tweek flipped him off.
"Listen smart guy, these shorts sometimes chafe, and it's hot and I've been sweating, alright? I'd scratch myself but I'm afraid I'd have to wash my hands afterwards, and what if I miss my food? What if the server throws it out because I'm not here?" he asked.
Craig leaned forward, "Has that ever happened?"
"Tell you what; while you're washing your hands I'll guard your food until you come back."
Tweek smiled, "You'd do that for me?"
Craig nodded curtly. "Sure. Just please scratch yourself, because right now you look like you're humping the table."
Craig drank his water while Tweek scratched himself before getting up to wash his hands. While he was gone Craig thought how paranoid a person must be to worry about their food being thrown away. Then he wondered if maybe those times occurred when Tweek was high and had no idea what was happening. When Tweek returned he decided to let it go and hand Tweek his plate.
"Thanks. Hey, did you take a bit out of my sandwich?" Tweek asked, pointing to the obvious bite mark.
"Yup. I didn't expect a BLT could taste so good." Craig said.
Tweek frowned, then reached over and ate a part of Craig's sandwich.
After swallowing the sandwich Tweek smirked.
"Mmmm, corned beef and sauerkraut and Swiss cheese."
Craig pursed his lips at this. Without thinking about it, the two men ended up sharing their food, taking alternating bites between each sandwich. Craig thought that he'd never had a Reuben that tasted as good as this one did. While he drank his 7up Tweek munched on one of the pickles they had been given. Tweek loved the taste of pickles, the crispness and sweetness. He watched Craig reach for one of the pickles, and starting biting into it.
"I love these pickles. I don't know what makes them better than any other other pickles, but they are delicious. And so much healthier than the French fries they sell at the fast food joints around here." Tweek said.
"What do the French fries taste like?" Craig asked.
"Like soggy, over salted death." Tweek answered.
Craig looked down at his half eaten pickle, glad that he didn't have to eat something so disgusting.
The one big screen TV in the center of the room was playing some soccer game on one of the many sports channels. Tweek watched the men on the grass kick the ball around a bit before he became bored with the whole thing, and returned his attention to his lunch and Craig.
"How do you feel about sports?" Tweek asked.
"Hate them." was Craig's prompt response.
Tweek smiled at him.
"I hate sports too. They're just so…so boring." Tweek said.
"And you know there's no real reason for it all, I mean there's no creativity. It's all the same boring crap, and why the hell should some jock get paid twenty million or whatever the hell they get paid, just to kick a damn ball?" Craig asked.
While he was talking Tweek watched him while simultaneously finishing off his cherry sprite.
"Is that any good?" Craig asked him, referring to his soda.
Tweek nodded, placing his empty glass down.
"It's pretty good. It's good this sweet kick to it."
They paid for their dinner and left, walking outside they found the sky was an odd sort of color combination of purple and orange.
"What do you think causes that to happen?" Tweek asks.
Craig leads him to his Jaguar, and answers with,
"Probably something toxic the government is putting into our atmosphere, and the colors are just a distraction from whatever evil they're really doing."
This response turns out to be a big mistake.
"Ah! You really think that? Jesus Christ, what if they are doing something to fuck up our air? Fuck, man! This is just too much too handle! Ahh!!!!!" Tweek's fingers gripped the ends of his own hair in anxious fear.
Craig looks over at him, sighs, and steps closer, reaching up he touches Tweek's fingers, and gently removes them from pulling at Tweek's own hair any further. Tweek opens his eyes, sees Craig touching his fingers, and stopping him from harming himself. This sudden touch distracted him from his own stressful thoughts, and all he can focus on is Craig, standing in front of him, their hands still touching, lowered to their waists. In a quiet moment they're the only two in the whole world. They aren't doing, just standing there on the sidewalk next to Craig's car, staring at each other's faces, breathing quietly.
Tweek isn't sure what to do, or when this moment will end. A part of him wants it to last forever. Craig thinks he wants to do something, but isn't sure what it is. He's never been in a situation like this before, and has no idea what he should do, or what he wants to do, but he knows not doing it for any longer is torture.
A black four door car pulls up on the other side of the street, and the woman inside honks her horn three times. This breaks the spell Craig and Tweek were under. Their fingers disconnect Tweek blinks rapidly as he shakes his head, looking over to where one of his customers is waiting for him. He knows from the car horn, and the make of the car. He sees Craig watching her, with an expression on his face he can't place.
"Uh, sorry, but I have to…you know...." Tweek said awkwardly, gesturing in the direction of the car.
Craig looks at him, nods his head, trying to act apathetic. He knows, but damn if he doesn't hate it.
‘Yeah, yeah it's uh, it's cool. You gotta um, work, right?" he isn't looking at Tweek anymore.
Tweek thinks about touching Craig's shoulder or something, but doesn't.
"Yeah. Look, I'll um…I'll see you back at the hotel later tonight, okay?" Tweek says, trying to make leaving so abruptly easier for both of them.
Craig gives him a half hearted smile in return.
"Sure, I mean, ok. Just come by my room whenever you get a chance." Craig tells him; his eyes are trained on the hollow of Tweek's throat.
The woman in the car honks her horn three more times. Tweek looks over at her, then back to Craig.
"See you later, Mr. Tucker." Tweek tells him before stepping off the sidewalk and running across the street as fast as he can.
He stops before getting into his customer's car, shouting loud enough so that Craig and anyone walking past will hear him,
"And thank you for picking me up!"
With those final words he got into the four door black car, and the woman sped off and Craig got in his Jaguar and drove back to the hotel to go over files and wait for Tweek to come see him after he gets done having sex for money.
Waiting in his hotel room, Craig heard the mystery couple having sex again. He didn't want to know who was having sex or where. He turned up the volume on his TV to drown them out, something he had to do throughout June. He hoped that as the second month went by that whoever was having sex, would stop soon. Craig paid no attention to the TV, he sat at the desk going over files and reading reports that his office had made. He was hoping that over the next two months that his subordinates would show improvement, or else his being there would be a waste of time. He only had a short amount of time to get the new office up and running, and he hoped that when his three months were up that the North Park office would be successful.
Around nine-forty pm he heard a knock at his door. He put away the files, and walked over to the door, opening it. Tweek was standing there, looking down, scratching at his arm. His eyes flickered to Craig's blue plaid sweats. He let out a giggle.
"Shut up, ho." Craig said, pulling Tweek into his room, shutting the door.
"Whatever you say, closet case!" Tweek hopped onto the bed, bouncing on the end of it, watching the TV.
"How did you know which room I'd be in?" Craig asked.
"I uh, I asked Kevin which room you were in when I got here."
Craig sat down next to him on the bed, and watched Tweek. He noticed that he was a lot more hyper than when he last saw him outside the deli. He was twitching, and scratching at his arms, neck, and legs. Tweek wasn't paying attention to him; he was watching some models covered in body paint and feathers taking pictures on a trapeze for some competition. Craig took a glance at the TV show, he wasn't sure what kind of competition these models were in, but Tweek seemed to be into it.
"Tweek? Are you alright?"
"Ahhhh! Yes! I'm fine!"
Craig noticed that Tweek's voice was very shrill, high-pitched, and nervous.
"Are you, are you sure? You're twitching and shaking an awful lot."
"Nnnh!! I'm just, you know, hyper! Why?! Does it matter if I feel a bit more energetic?" Tweek turned on him, baring his teeth, running his fingers through his hair.
Craig frowned, reached over to the TV and turned it off. The mystery couple had stopped having sex, so the only sounds Craig heard was Tweek's little noises, and his own breath.
"No, it's okay if you feel energetic. It's just such a major change from how calm you were when I last saw you."
"So what? I mean, GAH!! Get off my back, I'm fine."
"You're shaking like a nervous, frightened animal."
Tweek jumped off the bed, screaming and scratching at his skin. This scared Craig, who had never seen anything like this before. He immediately stood up, and watched Tweek as he ran around his hotel room, speaking so fast that he couldn't understand what he was saying. Craig didn't know what to do; he'd never had to deal with another person, freaking out like this. He gently grabbed Tweek's shoulders holding him, trying to keep him still. Tweek was shaking, screaming about his skin, how he felt like it was on fire, and he needed to peel it off.
"Tweek, you don't want to peel your skin off," Craig told him in a calm voice, trying to restrain him.
"Gah! Everything feels like fire! The whole room is on fire! I can't! I can't breath! Nnnhhh! everything's dead! Everything is moving so fast and I feel like my skin is itching, urgh!"
"Tweek, Tweek listen to me, don't scratch your skin."
Craig decided to take a look at Tweek's eyes. He saw that Tweek's pupils were enlarged, and his eyes were bloodshot. He wasn't sure why this was. When Tweek screamed one more time, squirming to get out of Craig's grip, he knew he had to do something. Unfortunately all he could think to do was to take Tweek into the bathroom, turn on the shower to full blast; and stick Tweek under the water. His clothes, even his boots were getting wet.
Tweek thrashed under the water, getting Craig wet.
"Ahh! I don't LIKE this!" Tweek cried,
"You think I like it? I need you to calm down, you can't pull your hair or scratch at yourself, understand?"
Craig held onto Tweek, preventing him from doing any harm to him. Even though the water was hot, Craig thought that Tweek might get sick in his wet clothes. He struggled with Tweek just to get his green shirt off, and when he finally ripped off Tweek's black shirt, he saw what happened to Tweek after he left him.
"Tweek? Who out those bruises on you?"
Craig discovered that the bruising went farther down, starting from his rib cage, and down to his hips. The bruises were brand new, and whenever Craig gently touched them Tweek would cry out in pain. They spent an hour in that shower, Craig trying his hardest to restrain Tweek while Tweek railed against the water pouring down on his bare skin. By the time Tweek had calmed down, the water had gone from hot to cold, and Craig was quick to turn off the water and get Tweek out of the water.
Tweek was whining, and still shivering as Craig wrapped him in a towel, carrying him to the bed. Craig placed Tweek down on the bed, frowning as he watched Tweek, eyes closed, muttering about being soaking wet.
"I'm sorry about putting you in the shower like that. I didn't know what else to do. Tweek…"
Craig sat on the bed, and resisted the urge to touch Tweek's hair. He had no idea what caused Tweek to freak out like that, and he was worried that it would happen again.
"Tweek, I want you to tell me where those bruises came from."
Tweek was on the verge of exhaustion, and very close to passing out. Before he did, he told Craig,
"Your customer? That woman from earlier?"
"Nnhh, she likes being rough. Every time I spend time with her, she ends up putting her hands on me, and I end up with lots of bruising."
"That is awful. Why would you let her do that?"
"It could be worse. The only reason I let her hurt me is because she pays three times my normal rate."
Craig couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"You can't be okay with that," he said.
Tweek furrowed his brow, and bit his lip.
"I hate it. I hate it, so much. I hate getting hurt. That's why I…"
"Why I took the codeine, and benzodiazepine, together. I was so, Nnh! So freaked out, and I needed to calm down. I didn't know what else to do. I didn't think that it would have that affect on me. I'm sorry that you had to see me like that."
Craig sighed, and lay down next to Tweek. He turned his head to the left, and said to him,
"I don't want you to take any more drugs; or to go back to that woman. The money is not worth you getting hurt, or taking something that could mess you up, like you did tonight."
Tweek nodded his head, and after having one last leg muscle spasm, he passed out. Craig looked at the ceiling, and let out a sigh. He had been hoping that he could have a chance to talk to Tweek, to get to know him better. He got out of bed, took off his wet shirt, turned the light off and then got back into bed, falling asleep after an hour of contemplation.
When Tweek woke up the next morning in Craig's bed wearing only a towel, he groaned in embarrassment.
"Mr. Tucker please tell me we didn't do anything last night."
Craig was already up, wearing a black suit with a grey shirt and a black tie.
"Relax. The only thing that happened in that bed was sleep. Here, get dressed."
Craig tosses Tweek his ratty shirt and jeans. Tweek holds the clothes in his hands, recognizing them.
"How did you?"
"I hope you don't mind, I took your room key and found you some of your clothes to wear. I thought you might be uncomfortable in my suits."
"You went through my stuff?"
"I didn't mess with anything, if that's what you're wondering."
Tweek rolled out of the bed, putting on his jeans.
"Why can't I wear my regular clothes?"
"Because they're still wet from last night," Craig informed him.
"Last ni-oh Jesus Christ!" Tweek exclaimed, remnants of last night coming back to him.
"Oh you remember now? Good, you can tell the doctor everything when we get to the hospital."
"What are you talking about? I don't need to see a doctor, I'm fine."
Craig didn't answer him; he was too busy brushing his teeth. Tweek sighed, and put on his ratty shirt with the holes in the sleeves. After they were both dressed Craig took Tweek to North Park hospital, insisting that he be checked out. Tweek complained, but Craig was adamant in finding out if there had been any damage to Tweek after the drugs had been introduced into his system. After the doctor examined Tweek he told both him and Craig that he'd be alright, he just had to stay away from putting those drugs in his system again. He also examined Tweek's bruises, and let both men know that he'd be fine, no internal damage had been done. On the ride back into town Craig yelled at Tweek for being so irresponsible, for using drugs that he had no idea would have such adverse effects.
For the month of July Tweek found himself under heavy scrutiny. He fell into a routine with Craig. They'd eat breakfast together in the dining room of the hotel, and then Craig would insist on driving Tweek into town and dropping him off at his corner on his way to work. At the end of the day Craig would pull up in his Jaguar and take Tweek out to eat some dinner, usually at the deli shop where they have the sweetest, crispest and delicious pickles Tweek has ever had in his life. When they got back to the hotel, Tweek would spend some time in Craig's room with him, and at some point in the evening Craig would grab ahold of Tweek's head, and would examine his eyes for any sign of drug use. Tweek always told Craig that it wasn't necessary, but Craig wouldn't listen. While they were in Craig's room they would tell each other about their days, talking until it was late; and then Tweek would leave to go to sleep in his own room.
In July the days and nights became unbearably hot. Tweek took to just wearing his black shirt, leaving his green shirt in his closet. While Craig just decided to leave his jackets and blazers in his closet, and only wore simple shirts with loose ties.
During the month of July Tweek found himself opening up to Craig, until eventually he told him how he became a prostitute, an act which took weeks for him to get all the information out.
"When I was ten, I had severe issues. I was one of those overly paranoid kids, I couldn't concentrate in class, and I constantly worried about everything. My parents and I moved to North Park when I was eleven, and during that time I spent several hours in therapy sessions. They didn't help, nor did the medication I was prescribed. I'd have freak outs all the time, and I'd act out a lot.
After elementary school my parents decided the best thing to do would be to put me in a mental institution for three years. While I stayed in North Park asylum, I was subjected to powerful sedatives, electroshock therapy, and solitary confinement. I only saw my parents once a month, and only for a few minutes at a time. The whole idea of keeping me in a mental institution was, to put it simply, to cure me of my apparent insanity. But I kept telling the doctors that I wasn't crazy!
Well I was, but I was sane enough to know I was. They didn't listen. Instead of trying to fix my issues, they just attempted to destroy my paranoia, and forced normalcy on me. After the three years were up, I was a lot calmer, and more relaxed than I had been before. During high school, the stress of the workloads, and getting harassed for being the fucked up kid did a number on me.
I started stressing out, over the course of four years my hair started to fall out, and I had panic attacks. I tried to be as normal and as sane as I could, but I failed. Trying to be something I wasn't was damaging. I did manage to graduate high school; however the extreme stress I felt caused a nervous breakdown, which happened the day after my graduation. I went completely manic, I screamed, I cried, I went catatonic for a while as I wandered the streets.
My parents had tried their hardest to understand me, and to help me in any way they thought would work. They were good, kind people, but the burden of having a son like me, eventually wore them down. When I had my nervous breakdown at eighteen, they moved away to Oregon, at least, that's what I heard from their friends in the neighborhood. When I had finally calmed down, I found my home had been put up for sale, and my parents had abandoned me. I was homeless, I had no money, I wasn't suited or qualified for any jobs, and school was a joke since, well, I couldn't handle the pressure.
I slept on the streets and took to rooting through garbage bins outside grocery stores for food because I was starving. I couldn't find my parents; I had no way of contacting them. I was still unstable, and I had nowhere to go, and no one to turn to. On the streets of North Park, I felt utterly alone. One night, on a cold, wet November night a car pulled up next to me as I was wandering down Avalon Drive, a street lined with broken streetlights and liquor stores and gas stations.
I stopped walking when I noticed the car was following me. The driver rolled down the window, and I saw that it was a man, an older, handsome man with a skinny body. He talked to me, asked me what I was doing out late at night, and if I'd like a ride to where I was going. At the time, I was so tired and run down that I didn't think about the danger of getting into a car with a stranger. I got in, and intended to direct him to an alley where I could sleep. He talked to me, told me that he was forty-three and wealthy. I didn't understand what he wanted until his hand was on my thigh. I found out that he assumed I was a teenage runaway, and that I was sixteen instead of eighteen. I didn't correct him. He parked the car in an alley between City Wok and North Park Bank. He was very nice, and he offered me six hundred dollars in exchange for sex.
When I asked him why he'd pay that much, he told me that he hadn't had any in months, and he liked young teen males. I felt…disgusting for even considering it. I knew this stranger only wanted me for sex. But…I was so desperate! I had no money, no clothes except the ones I was wearing!
I was at my lowest point, and I didn't have anywhere else to turn. I…I ended up giving away my virginity in the back of his car. I don't remember how long it lasted; just that it was painful and traumatic. When it was over and I had my money, all I felt was dirty and miserable. I was alone in the alley after the man drove away.
When I held the money I earned, I don't know. I felt this sense of accomplishment to go along with the feeling of misery. The first thing I did was buy myself some real food after that. That was my introduction to the world of prostitution. I spent the next nine years and nine months street walking, having sex for money, until I had enough to afford things I needed, an apartment, clothes, food. I met my friends on the streets, other prostitutes who had fallen on hard times just like I had. In the beginning, I was ashamed of what I was doing. I justified my actions by telling myself that I had to do what I could to survive, and this was the only avenue I had. Over the years the shame and guilt went away, and I had no issues with my job. I had gotten used to it."
Craig had listened to every word of Tweek's story, and each time a new piece was added, he felt horrible about judging him when they first met. He had no idea what kind of hellish life Tweek had been leading up until now.
Tweek wasn't the only one sharing. Craig would tell Tweek about his life in South Park, and about things he was into.
"I love movies, I always have. Ever since I was a kid and I used to film or neighbor's dogs wearing hats. I spent my allowances on DVDs of of old movies, and I'd research the silent film era. I guess I am a cinema snob, since I can't stand any movies that aren't classics or extremely well made. My favorite films are the black and white ones from the silent era of the twenties. Films with Chaplin, Errol Flynn, Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, Buster Keaton, and Gloria Swanson. I've seen Metropolis at least two hundred times. It's my favorite movie. What's your favorite movie Tweek?"
"My best friend's wedding."
Craig turned from his place on the bed to look at Tweek, who was drinking coffee out of a mug, watching a rerun of Will and Grace.
"Why is that your favorite movie?" Craig asked, genuinely curious.
"Because it's a great movie, okay? It's funny and sweet, and Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz are both so likeable. And I love romantic comedies, especially ones with weddings. What, you thought that since I'm a hooker I'd say Pretty Woman? Don't insult me."
Tweek turned around, crossing his legs as he sat on the bed.
"Hey Mr. Tucker, if you like films so much, why didn't you pursue a career in filmmaking?"
"Because my parents convinced me that I'd never be successful and that I'd wind up poor if I chose such a frivolous career choice, and I'd be better off at a desk job."
"And were they right?"
"I don't know." He really didn't.
By the middle of August Craig and Tweek had formed an odd sort of friendship, spending as much time with each other as they could. On weekends they'd catch movies playing at the North Park cinema, and they'd bitch to each other about things they hated or enjoyed, and a lot of the time they found that they disliked the same things.
Craig worked hard to make sure that the North Park office was running perfectly, and that the workers could handle other companies financial accounts. And the employees did indeed succeed at their jobs, and there was a complete turnaround from the incompetence just two months ago. Craig felt validated in his success, and impressed with how much he and the office managed to accomplish. It was a few days before the end of August and the beginning of September that Craig got a visit at the North Park office that he wasn't expecting.
"Hello Mr. Tucker," A deep, baritone voice was heard, greeting him.
Craig looked up from his desk to see Token Black, one of his bosses from the head office.
"Mr. Black. What a pleasant surprise to see you here."
Craig stood up from his chair, and walked around the desk to meet his boss. He had met Token once before, at a company meeting in Denver. He reminded Craig of Taye Diggs in a purple suit.
Token led Craig for a walk around the office, speaking to him in his baritone voice.
"I know it's not often that a person from the head office pays a visit, but I decided to make an exception to see how you've been progressing. The other superiors are amazed at how well you've been doing at making this branch a success."
"Oh? Well, that's…great! I mean, I was hoping that I would make this branch a success."
"You certainly have. You can expect a bonus when you return to your old job at the South Park division." Token informed him.
"Sounds good, I-wait, return?"
Token stopped to look at Craig, giving him a brief laugh.
"Of course. After all, this arrangement was only temporary. Surely you didn't just forget that?"
Of course Craig didn't forget. He had just lost track of the time, and now he'd have to move back to South Park. Craig watched Token leave the office, leaving as abruptly as he came. Craig spoke to Clyde, and informed him that he'd be leaving. After having to deal with Clyde's blubbering, Craig made Clyde the new boss of the North Park division. When he left that night, he knew he wasn't coming back. There was nothing else for him to do; he had done what he came to North Park for. He only had three days left until he had to return to his old apartment, and his old job in South Park. And he had no idea what to do.
That night when Tweek went into Craig's hotel room, he could see that something was bothering Craig.
"What's wrong Mr. Tucker?"
"It's just…my three months here are up, I only have three day left." Craig informed him,
Tweek felt the look of disappointment starting on his face. He knew that the time for Craig to go back to where he came from was coming; he just didn't expect it to come so soon.
"Oh…" it was all Tweek could manage to say.
Craig stared at him, before kicking off his shoes. He sat next to Tweek on the edge of the bed. He wanted to tell Tweek something, anything. But the words wouldn't come out. All he could think to do was to ask Tweek,
"Hey. You told me you're parents just left you. Who were your parents?"
"My parents were the owners of Tweek Brothers Coffee, a business started by my grandfather on my dad's side and his brother. My mom was a whiz when it came to business and economics, and she made the coffee shop a success, and over the years chains of coffee houses sprung up in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Kansas."
"Did they make a lot of money?"
"Enough to send me to a mental institution for three years, plus all those therapy bills."
"Do you ever miss your parents?"
"Sometimes, but not often, I know they loved me, but I don't expect I'll ever see them again."
That night was spent reminiscing about school, childhood pets, and hospital visits when they were younger. The next morning Tweek helped Craig pack his things. It didn't take very long, but the two of them managed to fill their time asking each other questions to things they already knew. Such as birthdays, favorite colors, favorite bands, which seasons they liked, foods they loved, and foods they hated. Since Craig had some time before he had to leave, Tweek decided that he'd take Craig for a walk around the parts of North Park that he hadn't seen before. Craig had complained when he had to leave his Jaguar parked out by the Subway, but Tweek had been insistent that it would be more fun of they took a walk around the neighborhood.
"More fun for whom?" Craig asked,
Tweek just flipped him off.
"Hey I've been meaning to ask you Tweek, where did you pick up that flipping the middle finger habit?"
Tweek shrugs his shoulders, walking down Avenal Road, Craig looking into shop windows of antique stores on his left.
"I sort of remember some kid from elementary school flipping the bird an awful lot. I guess I just sort of adopted the habit. I don't remember the kid though."
"He sounds like an asshole," Craig commented.
"He probably was."
Their walk around the parts of North Park turned out to be a mistake, not because they lost their sense of direction, because they had gone into the more dangerous parts, where men and women shot guns at each other from their cars, where drunk hobos vomited into the streets, where wild dogs barked, saliva dripping from their mouths, running around the empty lots. Tweek wound up having to run with Craig next to him, to avoid getting killed or sold to Armenians for arms money. None of this is important though, what matters is that as soon as Tweek was sure that he and Craig were safe, he saw where they had ended up, and smiled.
"This is fantastic!" Tweek exclaimed,
Craig who was having trouble catching his breath because the last time he ran so fast was junior year of High School's track team tryouts when he didn't even get on the team, looked up to see the sigh of the building they were in front of.
Placed high above them were large, orange lights that spelled out Kenny's. Hanging in front of the two windows were neon signs letting the casual observer observe that there were quote, "Tits" "Ass" and "Kick Ass Tunes" inside. The doors of the establishment were painted brown, the handles shaped like a woman's breast.
"This is a strip club, isn't it?" Craig asked in his traditional monotone.
Tweek gave him a faux shocked expression.
"No! Whatever gave you that idea?"
Outside they could hear the sounds of music playing.
"Come on let's go inside." Tweek said, moving towards the doors.
"There is no way I'm going in there," Craig said.
"What, are you afraid of the naked ladies inside? Closet case. They happen to have the best fried calamari in North Park in here. And I happen to know that on Thursday nights, you can get as much as you want for five bucks, now let's go inside and get fed."
Tweek went inside, not bothering to look back to see if Craig had followed him or not. Because he already knew that he would. After all, he didn't have anywhere else to go. Craig had only seen the inside of a strip club once, and that was for his little sister's fiancé's bachelor party. This strip club was nothing like the one he had gone to.
There were copious amounts of glitter on the floor; the strippers were actually attractive, topless wearing only orange G-strings and plastic heels. There were several booths that patrons could sit at to eat their calamari, or chairs where the men could get lap dances.
Set along the right wall was a DJ booth; a man with messy blond hair wearing an orange visor, a white sleeveless hoodie with orange fishnet arm warmers and dark blue jeans is standing there, DJ-ing for the crowd. On the far left wall is a long table set with fried calamari, with a cashier at the end ready to take a person's money in exchange for the calamari.
While Tweek gets them some calamari Craig finds himself looking not at the strippers, but at a man standing next to the bar at the back of the room, a Heineken beer held in one hand, and a lollipop in his mouth.
Despite being a strip club, it was incredibly well-lit, not accounting for the orange light that bathed the strippers gyrating on the metal poles, giving their skin an orange color. Craig walked over to Tweek who was paying for their calamari, getting a better view of the blond man with the razor sharp cheek bones and the long legs. Although at a closer glance Craig isn't sure anymore if it is a man, a woman, or some sort of in between.
When Tweek turns around and hands Craig his plate, Craig points the blond out to his friend.
"Is that a transvestite?" Craig asks,
Tweek looks over to where he's pointing, recognition hits when he sees who Craig is talking about. He smiles as he looks at Craig.
"That's not a transvestite, that's Pip."
Tweek placed his plate of fried calamari on a random table, before running over to Pip, tackling him and giving Pip a hug. Craig, who by this time had given up being confused by the things around him, just placed his food down on the table next to Tweek's, and walked over to where Tweek was currently speaking to the vaguely gendered blonde in the blue shorts.
When Tweek saw him he beckoned Craig to come closer.
"Mr. Tucker, this is my best friend, Pip Pirrup," Tweek said, introducing them, "Pip, this is my friend Craig Tucker."
Tweek watched Pip's reaction as he looked Craig over. He could see him taking in his suit, his face, the thin lips, long nose, and cold grey eyes. He watched as Pip's face turned from an expression of curiosity to bemusement.
"Well hello tall, dark and handsome! Tweek, where on earth have you been hiding him?"
Craig felt like he was going to choke at hearing those first words. Even Tweek hadn't been so brazen when they first met.
"Excuse me?" Craig asked,
Tweek intervened, pulling Pip back a little.
"Pip, try to be a little less…"
"Me?" he asked, finish Tweek's question with a cheeky grin.
"Thank you for understanding. Don't worry Mr. Tucker, Pip is harmless." Tweek said, patting his friend on the shoulder.
"Uhh….." Craig tried to say actual words, and failed.
"So what's new?" Pip asked Tweek, spinning on his heels to face him, taking a swig off his beer while Tweek answered him.
"Not much. You know I've been trying out hooking in the daytime, right?"
"Mmm, yeah, I know. I tried that out a while back, didn't really work for me. I just love the night, you know?"
"Oh yeah. Hey, you should join us while we eat. I got a ton of calamari, come help us eat it."
While the three of them sat at the table to eat the calamari, Craig decided to talk to Pip some more.
"So Pip, are you a prostitute like Tweek?"
"Yeah I am mate. I and he used to work nights together stayed on the same corner too."
"How did you become a prostitute?"
"I failed my exams my senior year, wound up flunking out of high school. I tried getting my GED, didn't work out."
"Huh. So, you had an opportunity to get out?" Craig asks,
Tweek held a piece of fried calamari between his lips, slowly chewing on it as he watched what would happen.
"Oi, I did. But things don't always work out the way you expect them to. Like, I didn't expect I'd ever become addicted to peyote but I did. Some days I wonder what my life could've been, and then I don't think on it afterwards. Do you know why?"
Craig leaned forward to hear the answer.
Pip grinned, putting his Heineken down, placing his used lollipop stick down on the table, then pulling a new lollipop, this one blue, out of his jacket pocket while saying,
"Because life's not nearly long enough for such quiet contemplation! While I'm here, I intend to have fun."
Craig looked over at Tweek to see his reaction. Tweek was more interested in the calamari than anything.
"Tweek, you never told me where you picked him up. Is this bloke one of yours?" Pip asked, sucking on his lollipop.
"Pshh, no way. We're just friends. I met him one morning when he spilled my coffee. I kind of hated him-"
"Kind of? You flipped me off and told me to fuck off." Craig interrupted.
"Well you were being a massive prick! But the feelings of animosity cooled to vitriolic acquaintanceship, then just…plain old friends." Tweek explained, averting his eyes from Craig's eyes.
Pip smiled, making a little "Heh!" sound. He reached onto Craig's plate, stealing some fried calamari.
Craig put his left arm on the table, resting his head in his hand. He picks up a piece of the calamari, examines it, and then puts it in his mouth. Tweek has to stifle the laugh he feels in his throat at the sight of Craig's expression changing from bored interest, curiosity, and finally to awe.
After he ate the first piece Craig went back to the plate for more.
"You like?" Tweek asks, trying to suppress a snicker.
Craig nods his head, saying, "I've had calamari before, but never like this. There's this…I don't know-sweetness on top of it, and this great kick."
"Yeah, mate, say what you will about the place, but the calamari is to die for."
Tweek found his hands going up into his hair, trying to bring some of the spiky bits down with no success. Whenever he saw Pip's golden hair he felt this petty jealousy. Those feelings were put away however, when he heard the song that Kenny was currently playing.
"Ugh! Not this atrocious garbage!" he groaned, clearly annoyed.
"What is it?" Craig asks,
"He's playing that shitty Katy Perry California Gurls song!" Tweek complained,
Pip rolls his eyes. "Are you really gonna go off on this again, love?"
"Yes! This song is dreadful mindless pop, and not one bit of it is enjoyable! It's bad, it sucks!" he continued, "The lyrics, melody, and awful singing make it a horrible thing to listen to."
"I don't really think the strippers mind what song they're stripping to." Craig commented.
"Well I mind," Tweek said, getting up and walking over to the DJ booth.
Pip snapped his fingers, getting Craig's attention.
"That bloke in the DJ booth? That's Kenny. He owns this place, but he likes to come in some nights just to DJ. It's a hobby of his. When he bought this place, he was originally going to call it "McCormick's" but put the kibosh on that when he realized it sounded more like an Irish pub than a strip joint." Pip informed Craig, placing his lollipop back in his mouth after he was done speaking.
"Have he and Tweek ever…" Craig asks, watching Tweek as he talks to Kenny.
"Not even! Look, Kenny is so straight, he makes rulers look curly. If he were to mess around with anyone, it'd be one of the strippers like Mercedes, or Lexus. There's nothing to be worried about mate."
"What? That's not what I meant! I uh- Christ, this is getting weird, look let's change the subject. You're British, right? With that accent it's unmistakable. Um, which part of Britain are you from?"
Pip grins at him, the lollipop sticking out of a corner of his mouth.
"Oh, I'm Dickensian, mate."
Craig didn't know how to process that answer.
Tweek returned to their table, a smile on his face.
"You hear that? That's the sound of Katy Perry not singing. It'll be replaced with good music in 3, 2, 1…"
Tweek pointed one finger up as Lady Sovereign's "I Got You Dancing" started playing.
"Uh! I love her." Pip said, finishing off his Heineken.
"What do you think, Mr. Tucker?" Tweek asks him, sitting next to him instead of across, as he had been.
"It's an improvement, and it's interesting," he admitted.
"I'm glad you think so," Tweek said to him, smiling at him.
For an hour they all just talked, Tweek explaining that Craig was leaving town in a couple days, and Pip filling Craig in on how he and Tweek had met at the hospital when they were getting checked out on their sexual health. The conversation had veered towards Craig's taste in music.
"Let me think…I like Fleetwood Mac, Lilly Allen, and Shania Twain-"
"Shania Twain?!" Tweek interrupted, clearly surprised by this one.
"What can I say? My mother loved playing her cds when I was younger, and I sort of became attached to it. Oh, and Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, and Cher." Craig concluded.
Closet Case, Tweek thought.
Pip got up, leaving to go to the bar. When he returned, he had more Heineken beers for everyone. They spent the rest of the evening trying to get drunk. When Cher started playing, Tweek began drunkenly serenading Craig, to Pip's amusement and Craig's embarrassment, although he was too drunk to say anything.
"This is a different kind of love song, dedicated to everyone, different kind of love song; this is a different kind of love song, higher plane we can go on."
Later in the night, a gunshot was heard outside, sobering up the trio somewhat. By the time they had gotten outside there was already a crowd, gathered around they couldn't see. Tweek noticed Esther standing by the crowd, by the look in her eyes he could tell she had seen what it was that the crowd had gathered around. He went up to her, to see the tears in her eyes.
"Esther? What happened?"
She gasped as she noticed him, and looked down at the ground, speaking in a small voice,
"It…its Leo. I watched from the corner…someone shot him while he was on his motorcycle,"
Tweek's eyes widened, and he looked back at the crowd, he started pushing through them to get to the center, where on the grey, cracked street lay Leo, lying across his bike, looking much like he had the night he had come back into town, except that now a portion of his skull had been cracked open, brains and blood spilling out, his dead eyes left open in a state of stupor.
When Tweek saw this, he couldn't contain the scream.
Tweek and Craig spent the night at Pip's, Pip drinking away his grief while Tweek cried and cried on Esther's shoulder, while she in turn was comforted by Sally, Lola, and Heidi. Each of the girls were somber, a huge turnaround from how vivacious they had all been before.
Craig, more than ever felt like an outsider, an interloper into other's lives. He had never even met Leo, but he felt that it was a huge tragedy, and a horrible way to die. He had been there, when the ambulance came to take his body away, scraping his brains off the street. He didn't know what type of person Leo was in life; but from the way everyone was grieving it seemed like he was a nice person.
Pip had fallen asleep on the floor by the seventeenth Heineken. Tweek and Esther had cried themselves to sleep; the only ones who were awake at the time were Heidi, Sally, Lola, and Craig.
"What was Leo like?" Craig asked Sally.
"He was a genuinely nice person. That's a rarity in a town like this."
"I always considered him to be a sweet guy, not like so many jerks who have no respect for their fellow human beings," Heidi added.
Lola sighed, "He didn't deserve to die the way he had tonight. But that's what this town does to you, it takes away our potential, you think you're okay until the day comes when you have nothing left,"
"This place can't be as bad as you say," Craig began, "I mean, it looks horrible, but most of the people I've met have been genuinely nice,"
Sally shook her head, a frown on her face, "Craig, we're all prostitutes here, I've been hit before, Lola was raped four times, and Heidi and Esther were both stabbed and robbed by the same man."
Craig turned to look at Heidi, who lifted up her shirt slightly to show him the scar on the right side of her torso.
"I…I'm sorry," he tells them.
"You don't have anything to be sorry for," Lola told him, "You weren't the ones who hurt us."
Heidi added, "We know the risks, and when something horrible happens we stick together."
"We are happy in our lives, and we like being able to go where we like, to do what we want. Some days however, we have to admit to ourselves that the town we live in is a horrible, horrible nightmare of a place." Sally told Craig, wringing her hands.
"You could move," Craig suggested.
"We could…but we really don't have that option. We don't belong anywhere else," Heidi said.
"We've accepted that we're stuck in this place. We could leave, but there's no point," Sally said.
Craig didn't believe that. He couldn't. It sounded like a weird brainwashing, a Stockholm syndrome for an entire town. Did everyone believe in this? That they couldn't escape so they were accepting of their fates to live in a hell hole, and as a means of keeping their sanity, they lived their lives as happily as they could?
He received no answer, falling asleep at three in the morning on a purple couch, lying next to Tweek and the four girls.
In the morning after saying goodbye to Pip and the girls, Craig and Tweek walked around until they found the Jaguar. After looking at something on his phone, Craig drove away.
"Uh, Mr. Tucker? This isn't the way to the hotel," Tweek informed him, pointing to the road they had passed, taking them further South.
"I know. We're not going to the hotel."
"Where are we going then?"
"To see the mayor of North Park."
"Yup. I got the address for his office on GPS. We should be there in about…fifteen minutes? Give or take?"
"Mr. Tucker, I don't want to be rude, but do you even know the mayor's name?"
That question caught him off guard.
"Uh…no. There wasn't any info on his name that I could find. Do you know it?"
"Hell no. I'm not the kind of person who's interested in politics or anything like that. But let me ask you, do you know the mayor of South Park's name?"
"Can't say that I do," Craig admitted.
"See that's just it though! I don't believe anyone knows. Normal people, by which I mean everyone practically; doesn't know who the mayor of their town is unless they look it up. It's not like the price of a jar of kosher dill pickles, which is common knowledge and everyone knows," Tweek explained.
"Does it strike you as odd that people have no idea who's in charge of their city?"
"I don't think about it. I'm too focused on getting paid, and where I'm going to sleep," Tweek told him.
Craig stops at a red light, and takes the opportunity to roll down his window and pull a cigarette out from the pocket of his blazer.
Tweek pursed his lips when he saw what Craig was doing. In the three months he had been around him he had seen Craig smoke before, only two at a time per night. He never said anything because he didn't feel like it was his place to tell someone what to do, especially since he himself had taken illegal drugs, drunk on occasion, and slept around for money. He just didn't feel like he had any right to say anything. Not that anyone had ever said anything about his vices though, except Craig the morning after that one time he freaked out. And since they were friends, it only made sense to say something. He cared about him, he should say something. Craig said something. But he hadn't said anything in three months, and he was leaving in a day or two. Was it too late?
By the time Craig had lit up and had put his lighter away, the light had changed. While he drove, he smoked, inhaling and exhaling out the window.
Tweek twitched in the passenger seat, trying to think of the right thing to say, and the right way to say it.
"Urgh! Mr. Tucker, I-I nngh! I know I haven't said anything before, but…you really shouldn't smoke! I know you don't smoke much, or often, but it's bad for you! There are more chemicals in in cigarettes than, I don't know, but there are a ton of anti-smoking ads and they all make sense and I don't want you to get emphysema, or lung cancer, or have to get a stoma of all things I knew a guy once who had one, he had to speak through a voice box and I know I have no right to say anything, it's just, I'm worried about your health, and I know it's probably too late to say anything but I thought I should say something so there you go!"
The entirety of that was said with his eyes scrunched closed and him leaning towards the floor, his voice becoming shriller and the speed of his words increasing every third second, in a rush to get it all out. He felt nervous, and like he was out of breath.
He opened his eyes to look over at Craig, who was still smoking, his eyes on the road. He watched him, waiting to see what his reaction would be.
"I only caught a bit of that because you were talking so fast, but, from what I gleaned, you don't want me to smoke because you're worried about my health?"
"AH! Um, yes?"
Craig smiled, and with a flick of his wrist tossed his cigarette out the window. He reached into his blazer, pulled out his carton, and crushed the whole thing in his fist, ruining them. When he was done he placed both hands on the wheel.
Tweek felt the worry leave his system.
"You know, you didn't have to do that," Tweek said.
"I know. You didn't have to say anything. But you did," Craig looked over at Tweek, "Thank you for caring."
Tweek smiled, and looked away awkwardly.
"Nnh! You're welcome."
Craig pulled onto a street far removed from anywhere else in North Park, outside a concrete building with white washed windows, and black doors. Craig took the keys out of the ignition, and took off his seat belt, speaking to Tweek in a calm, measured voice.
"Stay here, I'll only be in for a few minutes."
"Do you even know what you plan on accomplishing?" Tweek asks, scratching at his knees.
"I don't intend on accomplishing anything. But I need to know something about this place, before I leave."
Craig got out of the car, leaving Tweek alone in it as he walked up to the building, the only one on this street. After knocking, he was let in by a glassy eyed man wearing a dark red jumpsuit. He presented his ID to the security at the front, and after being checked out he was escorted past a steel door into a corridor with fluorescent lights, sea foam green walls, and beige tiled floors. There were no doors on either side of the walls, just a single door up ahead, this one five times as wide as a normal door. The security guards walked ahead of him, and opened the very wide door for him, letting him pass through it.
Craig wasn't prepared, not at all, for what he saw.
In a wide, very open spaced room with lights hanging above suspended from chains, stood twelve armed guards, each one carrying a HK53 Clone, wearing dark red jumpsuits. They stood silent at their posts, their guns lowered. Behind them were more white washed windows, and on either side were sea foam green painted walls, a door on each side.
In the center of the room sat an incredibly obese man with light brown hair wearing a hospital gown, attached to numerous feeding tubes, IVs, his eyes were unfocused, his mouth was slightly open; he was breathing slowly, heavily, his head tilted to the right, he looked as though he had no idea where he was. His left hand was raised into a fist, half opened, a pair of pink lips painted on the bottom, and two eyes painted in black above that.
Craig stared at what he could only assume to be a catatonic obese man with a hand puppet. He looked around the room, there was no one else around save for the twelve armed guards.
"Hello? I'm looking for the mayor of North Park. This is the right place, isn't it?" Craig asked, looking at the unresponsive guards.
"Yeah, you've come to the right place, kid. This is the mayor's meeting room. The mayor's office is on the door to your right."
Craig looked back at the obese man, more specifically, he looked at his hand. His talking hand.
"Is this some kind of joke?"
"Why? Are you expecting a punch line or something?"
Craig saw it…moving. That hand, speaking in a gruff, serious tone. The obese man appeared to be unconscious, his mouth never once moving as the hand spoke.
"What the hell is this?" Craig asked, moving towards the hand.
"This? This is me, kid. The hand, the guy talking to you. Are you dense?"
Craig scoffed, "This can't be right. Come on. Where's the mayor of North Park?"
The hand spoke again, "I am the mayor of North Park."
Craig felt a catch in his throat. There was no way. No fucking, goddamn way. This had to be a huge joke, this couldn't be real.
"No way!" Craig exclaimed,
"Yes way! Do you think this catatonic mess of cells could do any mayoral work?" The face on the hand directed his question to the obese man attached to him.
"But...you're just a face painted on a hand! How the hell could you possibly be the mayor?"
"What can I say? I charmed voters. And I have a name, by the way. It's Mitch Connor."
Craig shook his head disbelievingly. This isn't real. There is no way that a hand is the mayor."
"It's true, alright. Ultimate power!" the hand chuckled.
"How can you be the mayor? You can't see! And how the hell are you talking?"
"Oh, I can see you just fine, Mr. Dark haired man in a suit. As For how I'm talking, don't all living beings talk?"
Craig didn't understand any of this. He didn't know how to process a talking hand. A part of him was reeling at the concept that he was currently having a conversation with a hand.
"Do you have a name, kid?" the hand asked him.
"Mr. Tucker," Craig answered.
"Mr. Tucker, just what did you need when you came here?"
"I…I've been living in your city for the past three months. And in that time I've seen drug addicts, homeless people, prostitutes, and a murdered body."
"What's your point?"
"My point is this place is terrible! It's the worst, crime-infested, sleazy place I've ever been! Not once did I ever see a police car, or a police man or woman! There is no order, it's…it's just…it's the worst."
"I'm aware of that."
"Yes. You see I am aware of how terrible a place North Park is, everyone's living below or barely above the poverty line, and those who are above it are using immoral means. I'm a corrupt mayor, and I feel no shame in it. I run my city with no rules, no laws. People are free to do what they will. The reason North Park is so corrupt is because I want it that way."
"Is that so?" Craig asks.
"Yes! Do you know why South Park is the way it is? Because the mayor of South Park and I have a deal. That anyone who doesn't belong in South Park's idealized state must stay in North Park, and can never enter South Park. Just like anyone from South Park can only stay in North Park temporarily. I take in all the horrible nasties that the Mayor of South Park doesn't want in her town, and I let them stay here. In exchange for taking anything or anyone she doesn't want off her hands, she turns a blind eye to all the horrible things that go on here. It's a great deal, and we both benefit from it."
"This is unbelievable," Craig murmured, running a hand through his hair.
"Oh, it's happening Mr. Tucker, and it will never stop. No matter what anyone says or does, the people of North Park will only ever live here, much like the citizens of South Park are stuck in a forced utopia. Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."
Craig was escorted out of the building, still in shock over what he had seen and heard. There was no way in hell that the citizens of either North Park or South Park were trapped. And as for the deal Mitch Connor said he had with the Mayor of South Park, he had always assumed something was happening there, but he hadn't expected this.
The drive back to hotel was completely silent; Tweek didn't bother to ask Craig any questions when he saw how shell-shocked he looked. Back in Craig's hotel room Craig finally told Tweek everything that happened when he went inside to meet the mayor, Mitch Connor.
"…a hand," Tweek repeated, disbelief in his eyes.
Craig nodded, "A hand! And not just any hand, a hand puppet that can apparently see, hear, and speak even though the man he's attached to, is borderline comatose, and on life support!"
"Damn, that's…that's pretty weird," Tweek said.
"It freaked me the hell out. But what he said, about people who live in North Park who can't leave and live in South Park, why is that?"
"My guess would be because there's no place in South Park for drug dealers, strippers, and prostitutes."
"So then…you couldn't come to South Park with me."
Craig sighed, taking off his tie.
"I just thought that, since I'm leaving, I don't know I could take you with me, and we could live together in South Park."
Tweek scoffed at him, although it wasn't meant to be in a mean way.
"Craig, I'm not a stray that you can take with you. I have my own life here, and I really wouldn't fit in, in South Park. I mean what could I do, sit at home, waiting for you to get off work?"
"Tweek I didn't mean it like that, it's just, if you lived with me you wouldn't have to hook anymore because I could take care of you."
"That's sweet Craig that really is, but come on. It just wouldn't work out. This is real life, it's not a movie. You are not Richard Gere, and I'm not Julia Roberts, and this sure as hell isn't Pretty Woman. You can't change the way things are, no matter how much you want to."
Craig smiled at Tweek, this bittersweet smile that Tweek didn't understand.
"What? What is it?" Tweek asked.
Craig reached over the bed to hold Tweek's hand.
"You realize you've gone from calling me Mr. Tucker to actually calling me Craig, right?"
Tweek thought back to when he had spoken last, and a bittersweet smile crossed his face to match Craig's.
"Damn. Well, I guess it was inevitable, I just wish it hadn't been on one of your last nights here."
"Say it again for me," Craig requested.
"Hmm? Say what again?"
Tweek grinned, and leaned across the bed where Craig was laying, and said his name near his ear.
"Say it again."
This went on for about half the night, until they fell asleep. In the morning, the two men went downstairs; Craig had his packed suitcase in one hand. They sat on one of the purple couches in the lobby, saying nothing. Craig knew he had to go soon, and he'd have to say goodbye. He thought the whole thing was stupid, he had given Tweek his cell number earlier, and he knew the number for the hotel so he could call Tweek anytime he wanted. So why did everything inside him hurt so much?
"Hey Tweek? If you wanted, we could be romantically involved."
Craig isn't sure if he made the right choice in words or even if he should have asked that at all.
Tweek kicks his feet back and forth, looking at his hands as they sit on the oversized purple velvet couch, and he speaks, his words nervous but thoughtful.
"I thought you said you weren't gay."
"You were right about me being a closet case," Craig admitted, making Tweek laugh a little.
Tweek looked at Craig, answering him.
"I…I'd like that. But I don't want it."
Craig looks hurt for a moment.
It takes him by surprise, the smile on Tweek's face.
"Craig, all the best romances end tragically. My movies taught me that."
Craig can't withhold the soft laugh that escapes him. Tweek puts his hands on his knees, he turns to face Craig.
"Besides, I don't want…anything tragic to happen between us. I like how we are right now, together like this. Could we just stay the way we are right now? As friends?"
Craig smiled and ran a hand through Tweek's hair. Tweek returned the smile, reaching over to put a hand on Craig's knee.
"Sure we can. I'd be so happy, just to stay with you, no matter what our relationship could be defined as."
Tweek feels this happy feeling inside at his words. He doesn't know what the future hold for him, but he sure as hell hopes that his friend is in it.
"I'm sorry I made you spill your coffee on the day we met."
Tweek opens his mouth to say something, and just ends up laughing over the memory of that awful first encounter.
"Its fine, Craig. Besides, it was just coffee."
They said their goodbyes in the lobby, Tweek fighting off tears and Craig struggling to not take Tweek with him. Tweek walked with Craig out into the parking lot, and gave him one last hug before Craig got into his car, and drove away, back to South Park. When Tweek couldn't see the Jaguar anymore, he busted into tears.
When Craig came back to South Park, it was hard for him to just go back to his old routine. When he came home to his apartment, it wasn't just an apartment with total privacy anymore. It was just a place, and when he came home at the end of the work day he just felt lonely inside. He thought the silence in his empty apartment was depressing. And when he went to sleep, without having someone there to talk to, the nights were just miserable.
His work held no meaning for him, and the day in, day out schedule began to bore him. The strict routine he adhered to for so long, felt meaningless and dull. He found no satisfaction in his work, and indeed to him it all seemed like a worthless endeavor. He found himself cruising through the work day, not caring in the slightest.
Craig Tucker saw the people in his office, really looked at them for the first time. As professional as they were, they all shared a certain camaraderie that he had missed out on. He could also see that they were as empty and unhappy as he was. While he could see that they had formed relationships, they were all just as miserable with their empty lives in corporate Colorado as he was.
He started doing things the way he had before the transfer. Every action, every rigid movement just felt forced. His nice and boring routine held no purpose anymore. Even his fried eggs, when he accidentally burned them he felt nothing in regards to them. Whenever he did anything he felt nothing, nothing but the empty, bitter loneliness of a life spent shut off from the rest of the world.
Craig didn't see the point in doing anything in South Park anymore. He didn't know anything about the people he worked with, or the city he lived in beyond names of buildings and streets. In the middle of the night while he lay in bed, the realization hit him. That in the three months spent in the ghetto city of North Park, he felt happier and more alive than he ever had before in his strict, secluded life in South Park. And when he knew that he understood why that was, he wept.
He tried; he really tried to get back to his old life, and his old routine. He tried to go back, but he just didn't care anymore. When he tried to change things up like when he was in North Park, it didn't work. Craig thought it was because he didn't have any friends, but he knew the real reason.
Days went by, and the days turned into weeks, and the weeks seemed insufferably longer than they had before. Craig felt this pain inside, this depression that he couldn't get rid of. He knew why he had this empty, lonely sadness inside, and for him, knowing why he felt this way made it even worse.
When two months passed by without anything changing, Craig wondered, as he often found himself wondering, about Tweek, and he contemplated whether his friend was doing okay. And if he thought about him as much as he thought about him. He never once thought about whether or not this was weird or not. He didn't care if it was weird or not, if he wanted to think about his friend and wonder how he was doing, he would do so. He thought about calling, so many times. Even visiting. But he remembered their words, and how they really had no connection beyond their odd friendship, and nothing else to keep them together. And that it would be better if they had just moved on with their lives. But for Craig, trying to do so was turning out to be very hard.
With each passing day the separation became unbearable. And the truth was becoming obvious, that Craig's life now was just empty. No, no it had always been empty. He had just never had anyone in his life to make that evident. Until now. He thought back to what Mayor Mitch Connor had told him, about him and the mayor of South Park having a deal so that the two of them could run their cities without outside interference.
He had to wonder if that was true or not, and what it meant. Craig had lived his entire life in South Park; he'd never had any cause to leave the city until the transfer. South Park had always been this sort of closed off place, separated from the rest of the world. No one had ever questioned it before; it had just been this accepted thing. The city was perfect in its politics, its culture, and its economy. Why would anyone leave or question their town's lack of flaws? When it's easier just to accept things the way they are.
He decided near the end of October, that he had to do something. He called into work on a Thursday, and made an appointment to see the mayor of South Park. He had driven by the Mayor's office several times on his way to work over the years. However, this was the first time he had ever decided to make the trip to go inside the place, and see the mayor herself.
No one had seen the mayor since she was first elected; she preferred to not be seen by her public. Craig thought back to his childhood, and could very vaguely remember an angry girl who was their class president, a position she held throughout her time in school. Craig could barely remember his time in elementary school, or anything that happened during that time. He couldn't remember the angry girl's name, only that she was the only person he could think of that held any authority in school.
When he drove up to the mayor's office in the Northern district, he saw the ornate building, and really looked at it. From inside his car, parked right outside the doors Craig looked up at the six-story mansion, the outside was designed with German influences, the roofs were copper domes, the window panes were shaded gold, and there were many intricate, detailed statues carved from stone coming out of the walls. The large, mahogany double doors which were the way inside, seemed very intimidating, much like the rest of the mansion, which looked nothing like any of the other buildings in South Park.
Craig got out of his car, and made the trek on the gravel road up to the steps of the mayor's office. He knocked four times on the double doors, three times in rapid succession. After showing his ID to the security at the front door he was allowed entry into the mansion. He was escorted past Grecian statues, silver chandeliers, oriental rugs, into a hall at the beginning of the east wing.
Here the décor was baroque, very dark, and minimal. Compared to the flamboyant, artsy design of the rest of the house it was extremely plain. The security officer knocked on the door on the right at the end of the hall, and went inside, leaving Craig alone in the hall. Craig walked over to the door, and read the golden plaque that hung on the door that read office of the mayor.
After a couple minutes the security officer came back, and told Craig that the mayor would now see him, and he could go inside. After thanking him, Craig opened the door, and went inside the mayor's office, alone. The mayor's office was decorated with pictures of Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Clinton, Ariana Huffington, and Ellen Johnston-Sirleaf on the left and right walls. There was another door off to the left, and windows behind the mayor's office were a deep shade of plum. The floor was bare, save for an official mayoral seal on the floor. Craig stood in the middle of the room, facing the mayor who stood in front of her desk, flanked by two men in suits standing behind her, one on each side.
The mayor of South Park was a woman in her mid twenties, with long straight black hair, brown eyes, and elfin features. She wore a lavender blazer and matching pants. Craig assumed the two men behind her must be her aides; one had black hair like his, but was styled with part of his hair covering his forehead. The other had a large, pointy nose, and his hair was red, curly, and very wild compared to the greasy style of the other aide. While these two men looked uninterested in Craig, the mayor just gave him a very saccharine smile.
"Hello. You must be Mr. Craig Tucker." The mayor said, walking around her desk to shake his hand.
As Craig shook her hand he took notice of how her aides had looked up at him when she said his name, then just as quickly they looked away, as if they didn't really care.
"Hello Mayor Testaburger." Craig greeted her, letting go of her hand after a moment had passed.
"Please, call me Wendy." She said.
There was no other place to sit besides the mayor's chair, so Craig just stood while the mayor hopped up on her desk, her pink heels peeking out from the long hem of her pants.
"So, I understand you spent three months in North Park. I'm sure it was culture shock for you, and you're glad to be back in South Park." She said.
Craig shook his head, "Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I mean yes, it was…very different from here, but I…met someone, and that made living there better than it would have been."
"Really?" Wendy asked, looking at him with a thoughtful look in her eyes.
"Yes. And about the culture shock, I was honestly taken aback by just how dirty and criminal North Park is." Craig told her.
Wendy laughed at this, "Well I wouldn't expect it to be any other way. I mean when you compare how perfect South Park is to any other town, the other town is going to look horrid in comparison."
"Yes, but other cities don't have a mayor who's working with a sociopath, now do they?" Craig asked.
Wendy's smile froze, and turned into a frown.
"Funny thing that, see before I left I had a little meeting with the Mayor of North Park. Just like I'm having with you, only it was a lot more bizarre."
She looked at him with caution as they kept talking, "Ah. So you know about Mitch Conner then. Well, it can't be helped. "
"He told me some interesting things about the partnership you two have going. You just get rid of anything or anyone that doesn't fit into your ideals of the perfect city, and he takes whatever you throw away. And in return, you don't do anything about him running his city into the ground."
"What he told you was true. When I first started my job as the mayor of South Park, I knew I wanted to change this place, turn it from a white trash, red neck town into the…liberal paradise it is now. Building skyscrapers, destroying the bars and moving all the cows and Whistling Willy's out was easy. But I came across opposition, from the ignorant, red neck idiots that I have had to fucking deal with since I first got into politics. I had always hated the people who lived in this town when I was growing up. They were too stupid to understand the meaning of progress, and too stuck in their gun toting conservative, racist, homophobic way of thinking, and those were the people who I had to deal with, the ones who made my plans to change this town difficult. They were ruining everything; they just didn't belong in my city. So I got rid of them."
"And you struck a deal with Mitch Conner, and he took all the filth and crime out of your city, and kept it in his own."
"Politics are all about making deals. Sometimes it's for what's best for the citizens. Sometimes it's for what's best for the town itself."
"You never cared about the people here, you just wanted to turn South Park into something beyond the poor, red neck mountain town that it was." Craig told her.
"And I succeeded! Anyone who just didn't belong in my city, Mitch Connor was glad to take off my hands. And that includes any drug dealers, any criminals, any prostitutes, and strippers, anyone, who can't pull themselves out of the grime!" Wendy exclaimed.
Craig shook his head. He wasn't expecting everything that Mitch Connor told him about the deal he had made with Wendy to be true, but it was.
"And what if I wanted to bring someone here from North Park?" Craig asked her, "What if I wanted to pull someone out of the grime?"
Wendy just waved a finger back and forth, telling him, no.
"The people who live in North Park don't belong in my city. Just like the people who live in South Park, don't belong in North Park. I have worked hard, to change everything about this place. And I can't let anyone, no matter what the circumstances are, in. I know you spent time in North Park, and…well you've seen them! Those types of people serve no purpose in this paradise."
Craig's lips pursed for the briefest second before he responded to her.
"Those people, huh? Let me tell you something, I spent time with those people, and they are happier in their freedom, than anyone living here in this restrictive city. Yes North Park is a horrible, piss poor city, and it's decaying, and it isn't anywhere as nice as you've made South Park, but I never met ANYONE, living there that wasn't happy living their lives there. You know what you find here? People who are so repressed and vacant that they have no happiness in their lives!"
Wendy slammed her right hand down on the desk, making the two men behind her jump.
"People aren't happy living here? Ha. I have been running this city for longer than I care to remember. This city is something I've been perfecting for years. The fact that the citizens are repressed and vacant? It doesn't matter, as long as my city looks good."
"Do you hear yourself? Have you been so corrupted in your quest to completely change South Park into the kind of place you want to live in, that you no longer care about the people who you have to dispose of in the pursuit of that goal?" Craig asked her.
"Honestly? No I don't. If they don't belong in my city, I don't care about them. And am I wrong in assuming that until you lived there, you didn't care about the people in North Park either. Tell me; what, or who, changed your mind?"
"You know Wendy, you're just as unprincipled, and as evil as the Mayor of North Park", Craig said.
She clenched her fingers, shook violently, her face going red.
"How dare you! How dare you speak to me this way? Do you know what I've done, how much effort has gone into making South Park one of the best cities in the United States?"
"No. But I have to wonder just how far you're willing to go to get what you want. And what kind of leader you could have been, if your pursuit of your ideal city wasn't the most important thing to you."
Wendy let out a furious shriek, hopping off the desk to storm off to the door located on the left. She opened the door, and went off into the room, slamming the door behind her. One of her aides, the one with the black hair wearing the blue suit with the dark red tie followed her, and he went into the room, shutting the door behind him. The other aide, the red head wearing a forest green suit with a maroon tie, let out a sigh.
He walked over to Craig, to stand in front of him.
"She's manipulating him to stay with her you know", the red head told him.
Craig gave him an inquisitive look.
The red head jerked his head towards the door they were behind.
"Wendy. Stan's told her before that he doesn't feel the same way about her, like he used to. But she refuses to accept it. She gets rid of any other woman who shows any kind of romantic interest in Stan, and if he so much as smiles at another girl, Wendy takes that girl and sends them away. She's been doing that for years now."
Craig's eyebrows furrowed for the briefest of seconds while he processed that information.
"That's messed up."
"Oh I know it. I've seen it happen with my own eyes. Wendy loves Stan, and she's done everything in her power to make him stay with her. Including giving him this job so that he always has to be by her side." The red head explained.
"Why doesn't he just leave her?"
"Well he could, but where could he go? South Park is his home, and as much as we hate to admit it, this place has a weird way of trapping its inhabitants, to the point where you wake up one morning and you come to the realization that you're stuck in the town you spent your whole life in."
"I'm sorry, what's your name?" Craig asked,
"Kyle." The redhead told him.
"Kyle, great name, tell me have you been around for Wendy's entire career as mayor?"
"Yes. She's a much more proficient leader than the last mayor. And you were right when you said that the people of South Park are secretly unhappy. South Park has the highest suicide rates of any city on Colorado."
Kyle stepped backwards, to perch on top of the desk, his hands resting on his thighs.
"Why doesn't anyone know about this?" Craig asked,
"It's all swept under the rug. Wendy is determined to get what she wants," Kyle sent a sad look over to the door on the left, "No matter who gets hurt in the process."
Craig began to walk around the room as they kept talking, touching his black tie, tugging on it.
"There must be something that can be done to stop her. She isn't solving South Park's problems; she's just sending them to North Park!"
"Hmm, yes but she has done amazing things for South Park, tourism is on the rise, unemployment rates are down, and we have the best health care system in the world." Kyle told him.
"Yeah, but there's this overwhelming sense of tight lipped repression that the citizens are suffocating."
Kyle gave Craig a very melancholy smile, saying,
"Craig, Wendy, for all her faults she is an amazing leader, the best this town has ever seen. Yes her policies are so far left and she's incredibly manipulative; but what she does, comes from a desire to make this a better place than it's ever been."
Craig felt like he couldn't win, that no matter what was said or done nothing in South Park or North Park would change. Wendy was determined to keep South Park the way it was, and North Park was decaying faster than rotted animal flesh left out in the Arizona sun. Craig walked over to Kyle, an idea had struck him and he just had to ask,
"Hey, what about you?"
Kyle gave him a funny look.
"What about me?"
"Why are you here? You said Wendy was keeping Stan, forcing him to stay by her side. But you never said anything about you. What is keeping you from just getting up and getting the hell out and never looking back?"
For a moment Kyle just looked up at him, his face blank before changing into a smile, and a real one this time.
"What's keeping me here? Dude, it's Stan. My best friend since…I can't remember how long! Stan and I have always had each other's backs, and that's never going to change. I'm here because Stan is being forced to stay with someone he doesn't even love. I can't abandon the guy no matter how terrible the situation may be. I'm here of my own free will, so my best friend will have someone who's here for him, so that he never feels like he's truly alone. Honestly, what kind of question is that?"
Craig thinks about what Kyle has said, he makes it sound so simple, so obvious that anyone who's looking can tell why he does what he does. And after hearing about Kyle's loyalty to his best friend Stan, he remembers the only person he's ever met that he would without question consider his friend. But he wouldn't give up his freedom for him, no, but he did think he had something better in mind.
"Kyle, I want to thank you." Craig told him.
"Huh? What, why?" Kyle asked.
Craig walked over to the door, opening it; he looked over his shoulder and said,
"For helping me realize what I have to do."
With those words he shut the door behind him, leaving a confused Kyle to wonder what exactly it was Craig had to do.
Craig left the mayor's office, picking up his stride with every step until he was practically running to his car. He drove over to the South Park bank, and in a matter of minutes had completely withdrawn everything from both his checking and savings accounts, leaving both empty. As he put his money in the back seat of his car, He pulled out his phone to call his boss.
"Token! It's Craig-I mean it's Mr. Tucker I mean…I don't know, the point is, I have been wrestling with a decision for two months now, a decision I didn't even know I was going to make."
While he talked, Craig ran a red light, speeding past traffic to get to his apartment.
"Whoa, whoa, Craig, man, slow down you're talking so fast I can't process what you're saying."
Craig pulled up to his apartment, slamming on the breaks.
"I'm saying, that I'm sick of being a drone for this boring as Fuck Company, and that I quit. I'm not coming in tomorrow, or the next day, or ever again! Do you hear me? I quit, and there's nothing that can be done to change that!"
As he sat in his car, the engine still running, Craig could think that there was a slight hysterical edge to his voice, and there was shaky laughter as he spoke that was coming from him.
"Are you insane? Did spending three months in North Park crush your mind? Don't be stupid I…What are you even, do you hear yourself? Craig, you're not quitting." Token stated, trying to sound firm.
"Oh, but I am. I'm quitting, and I am never working for this company, ever again. And I'm never coming back! So you can tell the head office I said fuck you, fuck this dead end job, and fuck them all!" Craig was shouting by this point, taking the keys out of the ignition.
Token was stumbling over his words, trying to find the right things to say.
"You-you-you can't quit! We're doing our quarterly company reviews! We need you to lead the South Park office! You have to stay with the company; we'll give you a raise! Make you vice president! Do you need a new Jaguar?"
Craig didn't bother to listen to the rest of whatever Token was going to say to him. He hung up on him, and put his phone inside the glove compartment. He went into his apartment building, went up the flights of stairs because the elevator was taking too long, and ran to his apartment, opening the door and rushing in like a man possessed. He didn't stop, not once, while he grabbed all his clothes and his toothbrush, and just tossed them all unceremoniously into his suitcase.
He didn't care about his furniture or the food in his fridge or the dishes in the cabinets. He took his suitcase with him as he walk out of his apartment, locking the door behind him. Craig stopped to go by this building's administrative office to tell them he was leaving his apartment. They had objected, telling him he had a lease that he was still under for the next year. They even held the lease in front of him. Craig just laughed at them, scaring the managers of the building, before reaching over and ripping the lease up into small shreds of paper. He told them that he had already paid rent for this month, and that he was done, he was leaving this apartment, and there was nothing to hold him here.
While they continued to yell at him he just left, suitcase in hand. Craig tossed his suitcase in the backseat, slamming the car door. He got in his Jaguar, turned the key in the ignition and drove, just drove, speeding down the road with a full tank of gas. He knew where he was going, and what he was going to do. He may have discovered what he was going to do only a half hour ago, but he was excited, and ready to do what he intended to do.
Craig drove down the highway, not caring about how fast he was going. He looked at the time once, and saw that when he was halfway to North Park it was almost three in the afternoon. Craig was driving so fast that he ended up driving into North Park at three-fifty five pm. At that time the buildings on Harvest Street haven't lit up their neon sighs just yet. There a ton of people walking on the sidewalks, and even a few cars are out, some parked on the side.
Craig has slowed down the speed of his car to the point where he is going to ten miles per hour. He doesn't care; he's looking for someone right now. Craig's looking at both sides of the street, trying to see if he can spot him. He thinks that if he isn't here he might be inside one of the stores, or at the North Park Inn, or maybe in the backseat of some car.
Craig isn't sure but he's betting that those are the places he'd be likely to find Tweek. He drives to the end of Harvest, and manages to catch a glimpse of a mess of wild blonde hair and a dark green shirt, hidden behind the throngs of passersby who are walking on the streets.
"Oh please be him." Craig says to himself, stopping his car right in front of Subway.
Craig gets out of his car and makes his way up to the sidewalk, pushing past crowds of people, to see Tweek standing against the window of Subway, his back to him. Craig makes his way over to Tweek, wanting to close the gap as fast as possible.
Craig yells, though since he's only a foot away it isn't really necessary, although it adds dramatic effect.
Tweek jumps at the sound of his voice being called, stepping off from his spot, and turning around to see Craig Tucker standing there in front of him. He's surprised to see Craig after two months of separation, and it's evident by the shock on his face. However, the shock fades into ecstatic happiness, as Tweek runs to Craig, halting at the last second.
"Craig! It's great to see you, how've you been-"
Craig interrupts him by pulling him into a hug, squeezing Tweek against him. Tweek is taken off guard by this display of affection, and puts his arms around Craig, hugging him back.
"I've missed you", Craig told him.
"I've missed you too. You could have called. I mean I had your number and never called either, so I suppose it doesn't matter much. But Craig, what are you doing here? I thought you were going to stay in South Park."
"Fuck that noise, Tweek. Fuck it sideways up the ass with an abnormal sized dildo."
Craig let go of Tweek, pushing him off just slightly, so that he could look at him.
"I was wrong, Tweek, I was so wrong to leave, to try to go back to my old way of life. I was a wreck when I got there. All I could think about was you. You've opened me up and made me feel like I was more than just the suit I put on in the morning. That I could be so much more than I ever was."
While he's listening to him Tweek can't help but notice that a crowd of onlookers have cropped up, and are watching this odd non-romantic confession. He continues to keep his eyes on Craig, and Tweek holds Craig's hands in his own as he listens to Craig, he hears Craig's voice getting hysterical, and he's not sure why Craig is laughing while simultaneously talking.
"I thought about my life, and how miserable I was, and how I never would have realized if it hadn't been for you. I quit my job, I left my apartment, because I didn't want to be trapped in South Park, I didn't, want to live my life there anymore."
"Craig, everyone is staring." Tweek told him through gritted teeth, his eyes flickering between Craig and the audience watching them.
"I don't care; I don't care about anything or anyone, except us. Tweek, I'm getting the hell out of Colorado, and away from South Park, North Park, all of it! And I want you to come with me."
Tweek is taken aback by this, yet still he smiles.
"I…you…ah! Really? Why do you want me to go with you?"
"Do you really have to ask that? Because you're my best friend, and I'm happiest when I'm with you. And if I'm getting the hell out of here, then so are you. And I'm not taking no for an answer. I'm not leaving you here, while I escape. That's just not happening."
Craig watched Tweek, scared that he would reject him, and tells him to just leave behind, that he didn't want to leave with him. But Tweek surprised him by jumping up at him to give him a hug.
"I'll leave with you, Craig. I leave because I want to stay with you, and I want to be by your side, wherever that ends up being."
Craig can hear the sigh of relief that escapes from his lips, as he holds Tweek against him.
"Thank you", Craig whispers.
The crowd that had been watching them broke into applause that startled the former business man and the male prostitute.
"Oh, Jesus Christ!" Tweek shrieked, shaking at the attention they were receiving.
Craig flipped them all off, holding Tweek's hand in his own, and striding over to his dark blue Jaguar XJ, opening the passenger door for Tweek. As soon as Tweek was in his car Craig shut the door, walked around to the other side, got in, and drove off. While Craig drove, leaving North Park behind Tweek looked out the window at the passing trees and mountains, and other towns they were passing. Tweek knew he was leaving behind his clothes, his friends, and essentially abandoning the life he had led for a new one, a life that was to be spent with a man he had gotten to know over just three months. And he was absolutely happy with his decision.
Craig looked over at Tweek as they got onto to the highway heading for Wyoming. Craig didn't know what was in Wyoming, but he knew that he and Tweek would be there soon. Craig saw Tweek, and just had to ask,
"Why are you grinning?"
Tweek turned to look at him.
"Because, Craig, I'm genuinely happy with where I am for the first time in two months. And I'm glad you chose to take me with you when you made your escape."
"Me too, Tweek, I've been feeling weird since I left you. But I feel incredible, like I'm alive and I can do anything now."
"Craig, do you even know where we're heading? Or what we're gonna do for money or food?"
"There's about nine-hundred thousand dollars in cash in the backseat."
Tweek looked behind him to see that there was indeed a huge pile of cash in the backseat next to a suitcase.
"Holy cash pile, Batman!" Tweek said to Craig's amusement.
Craig admitted, "I don't know where we're going to be honest. But I'll tell you what I do know. And that is that you and I are sticking together, we're leaving our old lives behind and we are going to start over somewhere new, together."
Tweek felt his grin change into a contented smile, "So I guess this means I don't have to hook anymore."
Craig shook his head, "Nope. Never again, as long as you're with me."
"Cool. I'm going to turn on the radio, alright?" Tweek asked,
"You don't have to ask, go right ahead." Craig said.
Tweek turned on the radio, to the sounds of blaringly bad dub step. He immediately switched radio, to the sounds of blaringly bad dub step. He immediately switched the station to one that was playing Billy Joel's Moving Out. He wasn't sure if it was relevant to their situation, but he thought the song was good.
As Craig drove them even closer to Wyoming, he and Tweek wound up singing along to the song, enjoying every minute of their sing along in the car.