The Tweek family has a warehouse located in Conifer. Not a storage unit, but a five story, abandoned warehouse. The family business wasn't always coffee. In the 19th century the family fooled around with textile mills, ale distilleries, and importing goods from around the world. Some business ventures were more successful than others, and some just failed. The only evidence left of said ventures are the abandoned warehouses scattered around the Midwest, and in some parts of the Northwest. Here at one of the families old warehouses in Conifer, in June 1972, Tweek and his friends have been busy dancing to David Bowie while getting high off cocaine.
The warehouse had no electricity to speak of, and was slowly rotting from the inside out with dust covered floors, weak walls, and a roof with holes in it. The small group had set up several candles earlier, and as the evening got darker they lit the candles with their lighters. Now under the dim light of the fires, they ran around the large, empty building, kicking over paint cans, used pieces of wood, rotting food, and metal trash cans, making such noise, and laughing, always laughing.
Tweek thought, in the back of his mind, that they looked sort of like deranged clowns with the remains of the cocaine around their noses and part of their mouths, their eyes red shot after staying up for the past fourteen hours. Kyle and Stan ran around the warehouse, knocking things over but being careful to avoid the candles they had placed on top of ancient shipping crates.
Tweek had been running with them, however he had to stop when he began to feel out of breath, and like the floor was melting beneath him. When Tweek was high, he felt on top of the world for a couple hours, only for him to slowly go back down near the end and feel incredibly weak and complacent. He didn't understand why this was; still, watching Stan and Kyle act like hyper little kids was pretty entertaining.
He stood against a wall next to Wendy, giggling at a window because it sort of looked like a happy face with its holes. Cartman and Butters were somewhere in the warehouse, he could hear them talking about the protest rally they had gone to earlier that night, they were probably just walking around . After getting coked up, neither could sit still for very long.
As for Wendy, she was the type to be completely flying, no matter what substance she was on, but chose to stay in one spot, her energy coming through in little bursts every now and again. Tweek wanted to ask her just how she managed to find that many candles, however he became distracted by the shadows that danced on the walls and ceiling of the warehouse, shadows created by those candles.
"Oh, man, where do those two find the energy?" Wendy asks Tweek, nodding her head in Stan and Kyle's direction, the two of them still jumping around, singing along very loudly to Ziggy Stardust.
Tweek shook his head and wrapped his arms around himself.
"Dunno. Guess all that coke they snorted woke up some part of them they keep locked up."
"They do seem more...unhinged."
Tweek turned his head to look at her, he gave her a slight smile.
"Is that some kind of code word for 'They're both way too uptight all the time'?"
Wendy snorted at that, and shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
"Heh heh heh....yes, absolutely."
In his mind, Tweek thought back to that day in 1970 when, out behind the community college The Unholy Trinity made their announcement that they were looking for a fourth member again. In front of a crowd of peers they stood atop a small stage they had erected from milk crates and wooden planks. Tweek didn't know where Cartman had gotten the megaphone, but he had.
"Okay, first of all, thank you all for coming out today."
The crowd cringed as the loud sound erupted from the megaphone.
Stan wrenched the thing away from Cartman.
"We don't need that dumb ass, they're right there."
Cartman rolled his eyes yet made no objections as Stan handed the megaphone over to Kyle who just placed it near their feet.
"...Anyway, since our dear friend Kenny is now deceased, we thought now would be a good time to tell you all that we are now looking for a new person to fill the void he has left behind." Cartman announced to the small crowd facing him.
Amongst the murmurings of people saying that it was too soon, or that it was in bad taste, Tweek heard a few students saying it would be interesting to see what they did.
A young man in the crowd raised his hand.
"Yes, Bradley?" Kyle addressed him.
"Don't you think it's a little soon for something as tasteless as this?"
Tweek was standing next to him, he could see Bradley Biggles's miffed expression; he clearly didn't agree with what was happening.
The unholy trinity looked as though they were actually taking this into consideration. Tweek knew that them being them, some one's negative opinion of them wouldn't stop them from doing whatever they wanted.
Cartman made an offended noise
"We were his friends, remember? Kenny would understand. And we don't even have to pick you, Bradley, so shut the hell up."
Bradley scowled then left the little gathering. Tweek watched him leave, pushing past the throngs. It had been a month and a half since the news spread that Kenny McCormick had passed away. Tweek thought it was completely in their character for the three of them to try to find someone to replace him. It was tacky, yes, but it wasn't the first time they had done something like this.
Kyle spoke up,"Now we don't want you to think we're really clique-y and don't let anyone into our group, but-"
"We're really clique-y and we don't let anyone into our group." Cartman interrupted him.
"So with that, we encourage you to apply to be the fourth member of our group. We look forward to hearing from you." Stan said to the crowd.
Tweek watched as slowly the people surrounding him wandered off, murmuring about what they had just heard. Tweek thought the whole thing was just unnecessary. He walked up to them that night at their local hangout.
"Oh, hey Tweek." Stan greeted him.
Tweek found them standing in front of the bar, Cartman and Kyle downing shots, with Stan in the middle, his back to the bar, nodding his head along to the music the in-house band was playing, a beer bottle held in his right hand. When Stan had acknowledged him, his two friends turned around, gave him a wave, then went back to their whiskey shots.
"I wanted to talk to you." Tweek tells Stan.
Stan takes a swig of his beer before responding.
"To me directly, or to all three of us?" Stan asked.
Tweek thought it was creepy that Stan had even thought to ask that. Like it was normal, like they shared some kind of hive mind.
"All three of you, actually. What you said, about wanting to find someone to take Kenny's place in your group-"
"Oh, are you interested?" Stan interrupted him, "If that's the case, we have an application at our place you could fill out."
Tweek made a face at that suggestion.
"What? I-no, I mean, what you're doing is stupid."
Cartman turned his chair around to face Tweek. He didn't look like he appreciated that.
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" He asked, his voice raspy and tinted with a twang no one was sure where exactly it came from.
"You don't need to do the whole process of elimination thing all over again like when we were kids. I'll gladly be your friend."
"Um, well." Stan said, scratching the back spot of his neck.
"Let's just make everything a lot simpler. We all know each other, I know for a fact you guys think I'm cool. You're going to have to make a decision, why not cut to the chase, I mean we all know you guys would pick me no matter what."
"Yeah, and how do you know that?" Cartman asked, sneering down at him from his perched seat.
"Because you base your final decisions on these things based on hair color. You need a blond to complete your four hair color theme; and I'm the only cool blond around for miles and you know it." Tweek answered, crossing his arms and sticking his right hip out a little.
Stan and Cartman stared at him with blank looks on their faces. Tweek could almost swear they were processing this bit of information.
"He's got good points, dude." Cartman told Stan.
Stan looked between Cartman and Tweek, drinking from his bottle as he did so.
"Hmm, Kyle, what do you think?" Stan asked his best friend.
The three men watched as Kyle turned his body to the left, lowered his head, and puked all over Stan's shoes. Tweek was perturbed by the fact that Stan didn't seem to care as Kyle's vomit splattered all over his shoes, and a little bit of it fell to the floor. Stan helped Kyle off his chair, and proceeded to take him to the bathroom.
"Come on, light weight, let's clean you and my shoes off." Stan said as they walked away, Stan supporting his best friend's weight.
Tweek watched them leave, when they were out of sight, he caught a glimpse of Cartman smiling to himself.
"What?" Tweek asks him.
"I bet Kyle ten bucks that he'd puke from drinking shots before I did. Jew owes me ten now." Cartman explained.
Tweek shook his head.
"And now you're in a group of four with this sadistic guy and his two friends. Pull up a chair, have some tequila while we wait for those two to get back." Cartman said.
Tweek spent a good chunk of 1970 and part of 1971 hanging out with The Unholy Trinity that was Stan, Kyle, and Cartman. At a The Who concert in late 1971 in Denver, they picked up Wendy, who had been ditched by the group she had originally come to the concert with in the first place. To avoid any type of awkwardness she dismissed any notions that she would get into any relationship of any sort, romantic or sexual, with any of the guys as long as she hung with them. Tweek hit it off with Wendy right away. It may have had something to do with the fact that they had the same political leanings as Stan and Kyle; but where those two often seemed as a two-for-one set, Tweek had a very comfortable friendship with Wendy.
Tweek can't remember the exact time but sometime between him taking Kenny's place and Wendy's inclusion into their group, Butters somehow managed to join their group. No one really cared, Butters just had a way of being in a group without really being in the group. Tweek thought Cartman had brought him in because Kyle refused to take anymore of his abuses; and Butters was too naive to realize Cartman was insulting him. In any case, now Cartman had someone to talk to and pick on, so the other four were okay with Butters joining their group.
That night in 1972 in the Tweek family warehouse the group of six managed to leave the warehouse without getting caught. The next morning at Tweek's job at the authentic (read: fake) Italian restaurant he got a call from his father.
"Tweek, I know you're at work right now, but I have to ask. Where you and your friends at the warehouse in Conifer last night?"
"No," Tweek lied, "Why, why do you ask?"
"Well, because I'm watching the news right now and they're showing the burnt remains of that warehouse. Officials are saying a fire caught inside."
Tweek looked at the tv screen in his work where most of the customers had their eyes drawn. Tweek watched the reporter telling his audience that eye witness accounts claim a group of young adults were seen going in last night.
Tweek remembered the candles, and while in his state of mind he tried to remember if anyone had thought to blow them out. He couldn't recall much, but he thought that while they were high none of them had thought to make sure those candles hadn't burned the place to the ground.
"I'm sorry the place burned down, dad." Tweek told his father over the phone.
"What do you have to be sorry for? You weren't there, right?" His dad asked him.
Tweek hates lying, but he'll do it, doesn't matter who it is.
"Right. I gotta go, I'll talk to you later." After he hung up he watched the tv footage of the blackened, charred remains of the warehouse he and his friends had snorted coke in last night.
"Tweek!" His bald, hairy overweight manager yelled at him. Tweek jumped a little, frightened at hearing his name be yelled for all to hear.
"AH! Yes?" Tweek answered, feeling a bit rattled.
"Tables three and four need bread sticks and more water." His boss told him while using a dirty rag to gesture to them.
Tweek went back behind the counters to get the bread sticks and pitchers of ice water. As he was taking care of customers he heard his boss muttering under his breath about how the blond boy needed a haircut.
Two nights after when he had a day off Tweek spent an afternoon in Denver with Kyle, Wendy, Cartman and Stan. Butters was absent because he only had one day off instead of two like the rest of them did.
"Can you believe him? 'The blond kid needs a haircut' fuck that asshole!" Tweek exclaimed.
His outburst caught the attention of a couple gray haired ladies strolling the same streets Tweek and his friends were going down. Tweek gave them both a 'Mind your own business.' look before ignoring them completely.
"I mean I have my hair slicked back so it looks more professional when I'm working, like that's not good enough? I'm not cutting my hair, he can forget it."
"Yeah, my old man got on my case about my long bangs covering up my forehead." Stan announced, "I told him one day I said 'Dad, what does it matter how long I wear my hair? Didn't you spend a decade being into the whole peace and love trip?' And he tells me it was all just the pot he smoked, and my bangs made me look like someone who sucked cock. I told him I didn't think it mattered what I used my mouth for, sucking cock or vagina, that length of hair is irrelevant."
"You don't even suck cock, though." Kyle said, wrinkling his nose as he said that sentence.
"Dude I know that, but the point is no matter what I do, the length of my hair does not factor into it." Stan responded.
"Just tell that manager of yours next time he says anything about your hair you'll kick him square in the nuts." Cartman offered.
"I can't do that, man! For one thing, I need that job." Tweek answered.
Cartman shook his head, "He's lucky, though really. I mean there are so many worse things than employees with long blond hair. For example, you could be a redhead."
That remark got Kyle's attention.
"What's that supposed to mean?"Kyle asked.
"Well it would be bad if he was a redhead. All redheads are sluts." Cartman said, an air of confidence filling his words.
Kyle and Stan gave Cartman dirty looks, Wendy and Tweek looked over at each other in confusion.
"I'm not a slut." Kyle told Cartman.
"You may not think so, but you are. It's a fact of the universe that whether you're male or female, all redheads are sluts." Cartman replied.
"Oh, that is such bullshit! You're only saying this because you're trying to piss me off." Kyle told Cartman.
"It doesn't take much." Cartman said.
Tweek helped Stan restrain Kyle as he lunged forward to attack Cartman. Wendy sighed and shook her head at them.
"I am not a slut, alright?!" Kyle exclaimed, his face getting red like his hair.
"Okay, okay, let me ask you something. A slut is defined as someone who has lots of sex, with different partners, right? So Kyle, how many people have you slept with since losing your virginity?" Cartman asked, his voice tinged with a nasty confidence.
Kyle stopped struggling, and took a moment to think about the number of people he had slept with. When he realized how high the number was, he relaxed his body, and lowered his head. Stan and Tweek let go of him when he stopped resisting.
Cartman looked absolutely triumphant, a smug grin planted on his face.
"Ha! See? I told you, all redheads, no matter what, are sluts."
"At least people want to have sex with me, you fat tub of lard." Kyle snapped.
"Red headed slut!" Cartman yelled.
"Jesus Christ, when will this stop?" Stan asked.
"Cartman you really shouldn't be slut shaming anyone. It's not okay." Wendy said, speaking up for the first time in a while.
Cartman rolled his eyes dramatically.
"Oh, here we go, Soapbox Sadie's got something to say as usual!"
"I'm serious! Trying to make someone feel bad for having lots of sex, or having no sex, is horrible. A person's preferences are their own business, and you shouldn't try to shame them."
"Wendy, it's fine. Thank you, but come to think of it I'm not sure if I would have had as many sexual partners if my hair were a different color." Kyle told her.
"Kyle, come on. Don't tell me you're actually buying into this bullshit. Hair color has nothing to do with how much sex a person has." Wendy explained.
"How do you know? How can any of us know? It kind of makes sense, I mean, maybe I am a slut. Or maybe I just really like sex. Who knows? But I've met other redheads, and they're all sluts too." Kyle replied.
"Can we stop talking about this? We're two blocks from the restaurant, and all this talk is ruining my appetite." Stan said, pointing in the direction of the place they had all voted to go to that night.
Everyone stopped walking to turn around, behind them standing still, trying to avoid touching his hair. His body was shaking with tremors.
Wendy walked towards him.
"Tweek? What's wrong?"
"Fuck, fuck, fuck everything man! Jesus Christ, I can't believe I forgot."
"Dude, forgot what?" Cartman asked.
"The warehouse. That fire..." Tweek trailed off.
"Oh man, Tweek we're all really sorry about it, we didn't mean to let it burn to the ground." Stan told him, Wendy and Kyle nodding their heads in agreement.
"No, it's not that, I mean it wasn't doing anything except rotting away and taking up space, but..oh man!" Tweek shrieked, reaching up to touch his hair, ready to tug on his strands.
"Tweek, try not to respond to stress with panic habit, try to use rational thinking, alright?" Kyle advised.
Tweek moved his fingers away from his head. Even though, he really wanted to pull on his own hair, he resisted the urge.
"Sigh. I just...fucking realized that I left my Bowie records, and my record player in that warehouse. It's gone. All of it. My records, my player. I'm so pissed at myself for forgetting it."
"Tweek, remember, we were all coked out of our heads that night." Wendy said.
"Yeah, I mean, we're kind of lucky we got out before the place caught on fire." Kyle added.
"I'm just upset I didn't think about this earlier. I mean, those records mean a lot to me. I guess I should say meant? I can't help but panic." Tweek admitted, rubbing his right arm with the left.
Wendy frowned, and moving closer, she wrapped Tweek in her arms. He hugged her back, not caring what their friends thought.
"I'm sorry, Tweek. I know what those records meant to you. Even the old ones. They're irreplaceable in terms of emotional value, aren't they?"
"You've got it right Wends. I know I can just re-buy them, but...losing them like that hurts. It hurts a lot."
Wendy squeezed Tweek tighter, and he in turn squeezed her back.
"I know. And I'm sorry."
Two parts of the Unholy Trinity looked away from them, feeling about as awkward as they could. The other member of the trinity wasn't.
"Hey, you two want to finish up this overly emotional scene over some David Bowie records? It's getting late and we should have been at the restaurant by now."
"Cartman, we can't take you anywhere!" Stan exclaimed.
"What, I'm hungry!" Cartman yelled back at him.
"You're always hungry, fat ass." Kyle interjected.
"Fuck you guys." It was all Cartman had or wanted to say on the subject.
While the group of five went on their way to the restaurant, a rumored Chinese restaurant with authentic food, Tweek grabbed Wendy's hand as soon as the other three were far enough away to avoid questioning.
Wendy turned around, confused as to why Tweek would be stopping her.
"I appreciate what you said Wendy, I do. And I know you know the history behind those records. But I don't think you could really ever empathize with me. You've never gone through what I went through." He told her.
Wendy looked at him sadly, with a melancholic face.
"I know dearie. But that doesn't mean I can't try."
On some nights when he had trouble sleeping Tweek would go through the process of finding his center, a meditation technique taught to him by a college professor who moonlighted as a yoga instructor on weekends. Part of this technique included reflecting on good, happy memories from his past.
Like when he was eleven in June,and he and his friends were on a wagon on a hill, attending to go down said hill, in a little red wagon built for three.
"A-are you sure this is safe?"
"Not really." Craig said.
"But that's what makes it so much fun!" Clyde enthused.
The three of them sat in their little red wagon, with Clyde in the front, eagerly waiting to push the wagon down the hill. Craig was in the middle, with Tweek behind him, gripping onto the edges of the back of the wagon. They were packed in like sardines, with very little room to move their legs. In truth, they were too big at their age to try going down hill in a wagon that had once belonged to Craig's sister before he stole it.
"I just argh! I don't think this is very safe! We're up really high. What if we get hurt?"
Craig tried to turn around, in such a compact space, this was near impossible, but he managed to twist his head and shoulders around to look at Tweek.
"Look, if for some reason you get hurt, your parents can blame me, alright?"
"My parents WILL blame you!" Tweek exclaimed at Craig, "This is all your idea!"
"Come on, let's just go!" Clyde shouted, being impatient, he pushed the wagon over the edge, and they went down a steep, slick hill, screaming all the way down.
They ended up rolling down at a too fast pace, and falling out of the wagon, getting scraped up, with mud and grass stains on their bodies and clothes. They were in pain, but the thrill of going down, the rush of feeling they felt overshadowed that. They were a mess, but they had fun, and as their bodies lay at the bottom of the hill, splayed out, with the wagon left somewhere upside down, they laughed, loud, and carelessly.
For Tweek, it was one of the happiest memories from his childhood, despite the pain his legs would be in later. It was one of the few happy memories of his time with his old friends he had left. Where they were just kids, with no attachments to that.
The next day Tweek's group decided to check out a new underground club outside of Fairplay. where they could get heroin and finger paint. The club was located in the basement of what was once a hot tub store that went out of business last year. To get to the club, you had to go around the side of the building, to a door in the back that led to a flight of stairs that would take you into the basement. Down in the basement there were several groups of men and women smeared head to toe in finger paint, some had needles still protruding from their arms where they had shot up before. The in house band was a folk-rock quartet, playing old songs from the sixties, songs Tweek and his friends were more than familiar with. Red, blue, and orange lava lamps were set up to get some light in the darkened basement their illumination making the club even more psychedelic.
Kyle and Wendy had insisted on bringing their own clean, unused needles which they gave out to the other four members of their group. Kyle had gotten them from his mother, who in turn got them from a pharmaceutical company whose charity she donated money to from time to time.
For what seemed like day but in reality was only a few hours Tweek and his friends took to the finger painting after injecting heroin into their blood streams. Under the drug's effects, they danced around to covers of The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, The Turtles, Donovan and The Mamas and the Papas. Without realizing it the finger paint spread over to their bodies, getting into their hair, onto their clothes, their faces arms, and all over. They painted on each other, on the walls, and the floor. They laughed with the other people in the club and at one point in their drug induced euphoria, they felt as though the colors were a part of them.
Tweek woke up in the club the next morning feeling a bit worse for wear. In the morning, the basement looked more decrepit than it had last night. There were a lot of other sleeping bodies, covered in dried paint on the floor including his friends. Tweek stretched his upper body, and found that his left and right arms were covered in needles that were sticking out of him, needles he didn't remember putting in his arms last night.
His screams woke up his friends, and everyone else who had been asleep.
"Well, so much for using clean needles." Wendy said as they were kicked out of the building.
"I need to go to a doctor, JESUS CHRIST!" Tweek shrieked, grabbing the needles out of his arms and stuffing them into his backpack.
Since they were still covered in finger paint, the group got a lot of weird looks from the hospital staff as they walked around caked in dry finger paint. The doctors told Tweek that he was lucky he was even alive. He had injected so many amounts of heroine they were surprised he was still standing. Tweek was told he'd have to stay in the hospital for the rest of the day under observation. This of course came after doctors heard all of Tweek's paranoid rantings on not wanting to die from an overdose or an infection. The doctors insisted he take a shower, to clean off all the paint on him. His friends all had work, so after telling him they'd visit him the next day, they left. Tweek asked for a phone to call his boss to let him know he wouldn't be able to come in during the lunch shift.
"Thank you." Tweek told the orderly who brought him the phone.
It took seven rings before his boss finally picked up.
"Hello, Mr. Zurawski. It's Tweek. I'm in the hospital, I can't come in to work today."
"You're to come in at two today." His boss said in a loud voice.
"No, see, I can't. The doctors need me to stay here under observation, and I-"
Mr. Zurawski interrupted him. "No excuses. You're not here at two, you're fired."
"Well...if that's the case, fire me." Tweek said.
Tweek hung up and gave the phone back to the orderly. He buried his face in his hands, lamenting the fact that he'd have to use all of his last paycheck to pay for his hospital bills.
Tweek was released that night, when he left the hospital his friends were there to take him to his place. Tweek's home was a run down apartment in a building inhabited by coke heads and prostitutes. His friends liked staying there because it was the one place they could get drugs without trolling the streets for it.
Tweek let his friends into the apartment after unlocking all four of the locks on the door. His one bedroom apartment was littered with yarn, magazines, glitter, and records of glam rock artists T. Rex, Roxy Music, New York Dolls, and Lou Reed. Stan and Kyle went into the kitchen to grab a bottle of red wine from the fridge. Wendy walked over to Tweek's record player, and put on an old Velvet Underground record. Cartman shook his head at how messy and disorganized Tweek's apartment is.
"Damn, Tweek, when's the last time you cleaned this place?"
"I don't know Cartman," Tweek replied as he hung his jacket up, "When's the last time you ate something that wasn't smothered in salt, butter, or deep fried?"
They heard Kyle's loud laugh at that.
"Fuck you guys." Cartman said bitterly.
"Butters, you don't have to just stand there, you look awkward as hell." Cartman said.
For his part, Butters was standing off to the side, while the rest of them made themselves at home.
"Oh, uh, I'm fine right here." Butters stammered.
"Butters just sit on the couch." Wendy said, dancing to the sounds of Lou Reed and John Cale.
Butters looked down at the old thread bare couch,covered in old playboys and recently issued Marvel comics, old candy wrappers and empty boxes of take out.
"Oh, that's ok." Butters said.
Tweek didn't care if Butters was uncomfortable with how dirty his place was. He had dishes in the sink that had been there for days, he didn't own a vacuum, and there were piles of dirty laundry in every corner. Tweek didn't give a shit about what Butters thought of his place. The friends he did care about didn't care what state his apartment was in.
The door to Tweek's bedroom was pushed open, and out came Tweek's cat, a black and white female cat that came and went as she pleased. Tweek stocked up on cat food and kitty litter whenever she decided to visit him. She usually came in through the window in his bedroom that was only big enough for her to squeeze through.
"Hi, Chairman Meow." Tweek greeted her, stooping down to pet his cat. She purred in response, nuzzling against his leg. "Doing good, kitty?"
Chairman Meow made her rounds to Tweek's friends, enjoying the attention they gave her. Tweek went into the kitchen to get her some cat food. Stan was leaning against the stove, reading a National Geographic; Kyle was sitting on the counter, drinking red wine from a goblet, swinging his legs. Tweek opened a cupboard, pulling out a can of tuna.
"Chairman Meow?" Stan asked.
Tweek nodded his head. Chairman Meow came into the kitchen after hearing the tink-tink noise made from the fork Tweek tapped against the plate he put the cat food on. She began eating the food on the small plate with gusto.
"Hi Chairman Meow!" Kyle greeted her.
"Guys, what am I going to do? I lost my job." Tweek said.
"We're sorry dude." Stan said.
"You always said your boss was a douche, maybe this is a blessing in disguise." Kyle said, pouring himself more wine.
"A blessing, to be unemployed? I don't think so. I'm barely qualified to be a functioning human being. It was a struggle just to get that job in the fake Italian Restaurant."
"Hey what if I asked my boss if he can hire you?" Stan asked, putting the National Geographic down.
"Work in a bird food store? Sure, why not. I mean it's not like I have any other options." Tweek said. "Thanks dude."
"Don't mention it." Stan said. He took the wine bottle away from Kyle.
"Hey!" His best friend protested.
"You've had enough." Stan told him.
"This is my third glass." Kyle told him.
"I know, I've been counting. You're a lightweight, remember? I don't want you to vomit on my shoes at any point tonight." Stan informed him.
Kyle rolled his eyes, but continued to drink his third glass of red wine that Tweek stole from his old job.
Tweek left the kitchen, and headed to his bedroom. He shut the door, and took his clothes off, after wearing the same thing for two days in a row, the crunchiness of his clothes was starting to get to him. He put on a green button up shirt, the only clean shirt he had, and a pair of gray jeans. He went into his closet, and behind his winter coats in the back of his closet, was a guitar. A simple, six-string acoustic guitar. Tweek pulled the guitar from it's place in the closet. In his room, he held the guitar against himself, and he looked at the thing. It had been a long time since he'd played it.
Tweek thought back to when he got it. In 1969, there was a lot of tension in their neighborhood, a lot of young men worried about their future. Tweek and his friends were out of high school, barely 18. They still had no idea what they were going to do with their futures. Well, some of them had that problem. Others knew exactly where they were going.
"We got you some going away presents." Craig told Tweek in an emotionless tone of voice.
Craig, Clyde and Tweek stood outside Tweek's parents house In August, having spent a majority of the summer after high school just hanging out, getting drunk, and going to concerts together. Craig, stoic as ever, Clyde, cheerful as a happy dog.
"That doesn't make any sense," "Tweek said, "You're the ones going away. I should be getting you presents."
"Aw come on, Tweek," Clyde pouted, "Don't take away our nice gesture."
"We wanted to give you something to remember us by, so you wouldn't forget us." Craig explained.
"Oh." Tweek said.
Clyde ran down to his car, opening the door to the backseat. He took out a large blue milk crate, and shut the car door with his knee. He ran back to where his friends stood.
"Here!" Clyde said to Tweek, shoving the crate into Tweek's hands.
Tweek looked inside, and found a record player, and several records, all from British artists.
"Thank you Clyde!" Tweek enthused.
He looked through the selection, none of the names were ones he recognized, but he hoped if he listened to them, he would find some he'd love. He pulled one record out that caught his eye.
"Space Oddity? What's that?" Tweek asked, holding up the record.
"Oh, that's David Bowie. He's really cool, I listened to that record before. It's really good actually. It sounds different from anything I've ever heard. It's about this dude in space, and it's really profound and sad and stuff." Clyde explained.
Tweek looked at the record in his hand.
"Oh." He said in response.
Tweek made a mental note to listen to this song first. It sounded very interesting, even if it was a bit of an odd concept.
"I have something for you too." Craig said, addressing Tweek.
Before he could ask, Craig walked over to Clyde's car, and opened the trunk. Tweek put the milk crate down on his front step, the weight of the thing was finally getting to him. Craig walked back to them, carrying an acoustic guitar with a leather strap in his arms.
"Here." Craig said flatly, shoving the guitar into Tweek's arms.
"Gee, Craig, you couldn't be more awkward if you tried." Clyde snickered.
"Shut up." Craig responded irritably.
Tweek put the leather strap around him and began playing with the guitar. He'd never had one before, knew nothing about it, but it was still one of the coolest things he had ever possessed. The picked at some strings, and smiled when they made noise.
"Thank you Craig. I love it."
Tweek smiled at his best friend, and Craig gave him an especially awkward grin in return.
"I couldn't decide what to get you, and when Clyde told me what he planned on getting you, I decided to follow suit but in a different way. I remembered way back when we were kids, you were always going on about wanting to learn an instrument but never getting around to it. Well...no you've got no excuses."
Tweek let out a happy laugh at Craig's words. Clyde took the milk crate inside Tweek's house while his two friends talked.
"I'll learn how to play," Tweek told Craig, "I'll listen to Clyde's records, every single one, and I'll learn how to play every song on this guitar."
"I believe you. Hey, maybe when we get back, you could play for us?" Craig asked.
When they get back. Tweek didn't want to be reminded of how this was one of the last times he'd ever get to see Craig, or Clyde, and he didn't know if he'd ever see either of them ever again. I made his insides hurt with an overbearing sadness that gripped him and wouldn't let go.
Tweek struggled to get his voice under control before responding. He inhaled deeply and cleared his throat.
"Sure," He smiles, a real one, but his eyes are full of hurt, "Yeah, I promise, when you both get back, I'll play every song for you."
When Clyde steps back outside to the front yard after saying hello to Tweek's parents, he sees his two friends standing across from each other, Tweek is holding the guitar like some precious thing, and Craig has his arms to his sides, fists clenched. Neither one is saying anything. They're both looking at each other like they're about to cry. Clyde knows why. God, does Clyde know. He's cried a lot himself the past few weeks, every night before he goes to sleep, and every time he has a moment alone. They've tried to make this whole thing as easy as possible, but they know it's all just bravado. Clyde isn't sure how they've managed to stay so strong throughout this.
Craig and Tweek snapped out of the state they were in to look at Clyde.
"I was thinking, since uh, you know, this is one of the last times we'll have together before Craig and I have to leave. Why don't we get some dinner? Some Mexican food, I heard there's a place in town that serves awesome tacos. Can we go? Please?"
"Sure Clyde." Craig says.
"Let me put this up and we'll go." Tweek says.
After Tweek puts his new guitar inside and after telling his parents where he'll be, Tweek goes with his friends to Clyde's car, and Clyde drives them to a dive with surprisingly good food. During dinner Clyde is talkative, keeping the energy between them up. Tweek knows what Clyde is doing. He's trying to make the last few moments they have together be happy ones, despite what's going to happen soon enough.
Tweek is snapped out of his daydreaming by Chairman Meow, who has come into the room, scratching at his pants leg. Tweek puts the strap of the guitar around his shoulder so he can have free use of his hands to pet his cat.
"Was the food good?" Tweek asks her, gently scratching the spot behind her ears that makes her purr.
"It's been a while since I played with this," Tweek tells her, indicating the guitar. "It was a present, from a dear friend. I was stupid, and I let my other presents get burned in a fire. It wasn't just those records, though. It was all the ones that I bought after his gift, the ones I was inspired to go out and collect. I learned how to play every song, just like I said I would. But those records, and that player, they're all gone now. I'm going to take better care of this guitar though. I won't let anything happen to the last thing I have to remember them by."
Chairman Meow simply continued to purr and occasionally meow, rubbing her head against Tweek's leg. Tweek thought she was the best cat in the world.
"What do you think? Think the people out there would be interested in hearing me play?"
"Yeah, I think you're right. But let's go out there anyway."
Chairman Meow went ahead of him, leading the way. She went back to the kitchen to finish her food. Tweek walked out into the living room where his friends were. Kyle and Stan were busying themselves cleaning the garbage that had piled onto Tweek's couch. Cartman and Wendy had found a box of old stickers, and were taking them out and sticking them everywhere, on the windows, on the walls, the tv, even the tables. Butters was where he was before, standing awkwardly off to the side, just watching everyone. When Tweek walked back into the living room eventually all his friends turned to look at him.
"What's that?" Butters asked, pointing at Tweek's guitar.
"It's a guitar, stupid." Cartman told him.
"Cartman, can you go one minute without being a douche?" Kyle asked.
"Well ask a stupid question..." Cartman trailed off.
"Cool guitar Tweek, how long have you had it?" Wendy asks.
"Since 1969." He tells her.
"Whoa, wait up. You've had that thing for that long? And you never told us?" Stan asks.
"What can I say? We tend to go out a lot, and I never wanted to take it anywhere because I was afraid of losing it or breaking it." Tweek explains.
"Yeah but you could have told us you had a sweet guitar, dude." Cartman said.
"I guess I just wanted to keep it to myself for a bit." Tweek said.
"Can you actually play it?" Kyle asks, leaning forward from his spot on the couch.
"Sure. You know all those records and the player that burned in the warehouse fire? Well, I taught myself how to play those songs on this guitar." Tweek explains, "Before the fire, obviously."
"Could you show us?" Stan asks.
"Yeah!" Wendy cries enthusiastically. She walks over to the record player and turns off the Velvet Underground. Even Butters is showing some interest, having walked over to where the group is standing.
"Do you guys really want to hear me play?"
Tweek is taken aback slightly by their enthusiasm. But who is he to refuse his friends?
"I'm warning you right now, I'm out of practice. It probably won't sound very good."
"Come on, Tweek, just play the damn thing!" Cartman says.
"Cartman!" Stan and Kyle yell at him at the same time.
Tweek can't help but smile to himself. He stands there with his friends in the middle of his living room, paint peeling on the walls, two lamps illuminate the room. He adjusts the strings on his guitar, experiments with a few strings, until the thing is in tune.
Tweek plays Space Oddity first since it's the first thing he ever learned how to play. He doesn't sing though. Tweek knows he can't carry a tune to save his life. But it's alright, his guitar playing is enough. His friends listen to him play with genuine interest, and for the first time in a long time, they're not running their mouths.
Tweek loves Space Oddity, it's everything Clyde said it was, and so much more. For Tweek, the song represents isolation and loneliness, and an overwhelming feeling of ennui.
When he finishes the song, Tweek effortlessly goes into The Man Who Sold The World, a song Tweek had to listen to on repeat just to get the sound right when he was learning it on guitar. This is the longest his friends have gone without speaking, they're just watching him respectfully. Listening as he continues to play on.
When he gets to Star Man, for some reason it's that song that his friends decide to sing the lyrics. Not all of them though. Just Wendy and Kyle, who are the only ones with decent singing voices. It's Wendy who starts the song off, with Kyle joining her when they get to the refrain. As they sing and Tweek continues to play, Wendy decides to place golden stickers all over Tweek's face. He lets her do it, it doesn't disrupt his playing. His friends have him encircled, they're entranced by this, an impromptu concert they've never done before.
Even Chairman Meow has come back out to watch them. Tweek's face is almost completely covered in stickers, but its alright. He's with his friends, and they seem to like his guitar playing. He's been playing song after song, and Kyle and Wendy have taken to singing every song in a duet format. His other friends have been watching them this entire time.
When Tweek stops and Kyle and Wendy stop singing, there's a pause, before they speak again.
"Damn, Tweek. That was good." Cartman says.
"Really?" Tweek asks.
"Yeah, dude. You could like, be in a band if you wanted." Stan said.
"Or just go solo." Kyle added.
"That was great, Tweek." Butters tells him.
During the night, everyone goes back to doing their own things. Tweek takes his guitar back to his bedroom, and places it on a stand he bought years ago in the corner. When he turns around, Wendy is standing in his doorway.
"Jesus!" Tweek exclaims, "You scared me."
"Sorry." Wendy tells him.
She walks around in his room. She looks at the guitar, then at Tweek.
"That's it, isn't it? The other gift? That guitar, it's what Craig gave you before he left, right?"
Tweek had told Wendy that Craig and Clyde had gotten him gifts before they left, but he never told her what, because he wanted that to be a private thing, but now, now he and his friends had no secrets. He didn't see the point in hiding anything anymore.
"Yeah, it is. I told him, I promised him, that I'd play all the songs I learned for him and Clyde when they got back." Tweek explains.
Wendy smiles, her eyes drop to look at the carpeted floor, Tweek can sense her sadness even from three feet away. They both know the odds of them coming back are slim. For Tweek, this guitar is the last reminder of his friend, and it is both comforting and painful all at once.
"I'm sure they'll be as impressed as we were tonight." Wendy tells him.
Tweek smiles at her, and she catches his eye. Tweek isn't sure what she's thinking, or how he looks to her, face covered in stars she put there.
"I miss them." He tells her.
"I know. Stan and Kyle, even Cartman, they won't admit it, but I know they miss Kenny. All our friends, the ones that went, I know some are dead, and some may come home. But until then, we have to remember them, in any way we can."
Tweek looks back at his guitar before returning to Wendy.
"Yeah...yeah, you're right. Let's go back out there, see if the guys are in the mood to go across the street and get something to eat."
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!