Underneath florescent light
Blew smoke past our lips
And watched it, carried by the wind
You picked up your monsters
And held them to the light
Your fingertips stained
We knew we were damned
When we peeled back our skin
And shared the secret tattoos
That brand our bones
The Truth is, Time is Route 66. There is a main road that stretches across miles and miles, but there are many different forks in that road, which either can become a highway itself or a dead end. On a Tuesday at approximately 3:42 PM, Time is split once again, forming another branch, another reality.
The story that we know begins like this: On a Tuesday afternoon at approximately 3:42 PM in New Jersey, one Shelia Broflovski, aged thirty-three and pregnant with her three month old son, is walking home from the grocery store. In one hand she juggles two bags filled to the brim with groceries and in the other she holds her large purse.
Across the street, a man named Gregory Anderson is close to making a difficult decision. Out of vain hope he pats his pockets for a few coins, just enough to buy himself a can of Spaghetti-O's. The attempt is out desperation; he knows he will find only two nickels found earlier on the subway and 3 pennies left in a take-a-penny-leave-a-penny bowl at the gas station. The hunger trying knots in his stomach spurs him on as he continues to scan the sidewalk for pinpricks of reflected sunlight. Unable to find any, he raises his eyes to the other side of the street. A splash of red catches his attention and he immediately focuses on the woman carrying two bulging bags with a familiar grocery store logo imprinted on their sides. In a moment of complete desperation, Gregory Anderson makes his choice.
The events of the story we know are affected by the aftermath of Gregory's decision, in which Gregory crosses the street, unimpeded, and steals Sheila Broflovski's grocery bags and purse at knifepoint. However, the following events occur due to a sudden fork in the road.
This fork is caused by a bird. A Chestnut Sparrow, which is uncommon to the region of central Mexico, seemingly unintentionally flies through the open doors of the Pineda Covalín factory. It is unknown whether or not this bird made a conscious decision to do so. Rosá Jaramillo, a factory worker, is busily running a piece of cloth through a sewing machine when she is distracted by the bird. She looks away only for a moment, but while she is preoccupied with the bird she accidentally jerks the cloth from the sewing machine and the seam becomes crooked. Rosá turns back to her work, contemplating the psychology of birds. The crooked little seam is hidden under a fold of cloth, and Rosá does not notice.
Approximately five months later the crooked little seam is noticed by Amelia LeBlanc, who had recently purchased the piece of cloth, now a blouse, at a faux French shoppe. Amelia, not one to let any business cheat her out of a perfectly sewn $204.95 blouse, immediately drives back to the shoppe. Once she arrives, Amelia demands audience with the manager, a man named David Sullivan. David Sullivan is very tired. He did not get a full night's sleep, having been occupied with an episode of Cheaters, which went late into the evening. David was almost late for work that morning, and so didn't have to time to purchase his daily Caramel Mocha Cappuccino. His mood was not improved by Ms. LeBlanc's tactic of alternating insults and demands for a full refund. David attempts to calm her while also explaining that all purchases are final. In the end, Amelia LeBlanc walks out in a huff, threatening to alert the Better Business Bureau.
In the world that we know the bird never flew into the factory and so Rosá Jarimillo was not distracted and was, instead, focused on her work. The blouse's seam was not damaged and so Ms. Amelia LeBlanc took home a perfectly sewn $204.95 blouse. David Sullivan, un-harried by Ms. LeBlanc, finished his work tired but satisfied and so drove home at a steady pace of 45 miles per hour.
But if we follow this particular fork in the road, caused by the bird (or perhaps whatever caused the bird to change direction in the first place), we see that David Sullivan drives home in a very bad mood. David forces his Hummer (an unfortunate decision made in 2005 because his girlfriend, now ex-girlfriend, told him that it would be "sexy") into a speedy pace of 65 miles per hour. As a consequence, David speeds past the grocery store ten minutes earlier than he would have otherwise.
Just as Gregory Anderson was about to cross the street, the Hummer barrels through the stop sign and Shelia Broflovski disappears around the corner, unmolested. Gregory looks after the Hummer curiously and turns back to see an empty sidewalk.
As a result, Shelia Broflovski was never scared into moving away to a safe, small town, and so went home to her husband Gerald.
Three years later Gerald manages to land a job in Los Angeles as an entertainment lawyer and Lindsay Lohan's personal attorney. The Broflovski's and their young son, aged twenty-three months, move to Los Angeles and stay there for twelve years until Shelia discovers her Chevy Malibu stolen outside the local "organic" grocery store.
And so the Broflovski family, urged on by Shelia, move to the friendly, small town of South Park, Colorado.
My name is Kyle and my life is ending.
As soon as I got home after school she told me. It's over. My life is over.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Being a tinsey bit overdramatic, aren't you, Kyle? No. I swear to God, or Moses, or whatever, the answer is no.
We're moving to Colorado.
Growing up in L.A. wasn't easy. My full name is Kyle Abraham Broflovski, and that's the just the beginning. As you can imagine, I wasn't too popular with that name.
Unsurprisingly, there aren't many Jewish kids at my high school. But I have some friends. Okay, I have two friends; Cassie and Andrew.
Cassie is literally the craziest person I have ever known. She once shaved her whole mass of curly brown hair down to her skull because she wanted to scare her parents into thinking she was a skinhead. She actually printed out sections of Mein Kampf and taped them to her bedroom door. There was another time, in eighth grade, when she dressed up as Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a whole two weeks. The leather jacket and blonde wig and everything. For no other reason than that she felt like it. She even sharpened her own stakes and brought them to school (she got suspended for that).
My friend Andrew, though he's black, doesn't really fit in with the other kids in his neighborhood. He likes classical jazz and plays the saxophone. He's obsessed with the 20's, even wears his grandpa's old tweed suits and fedora hats to school.
And me. I don't fit in either. I'm not really sure what it is about me that repels eye contact. Is it because I'm Jewish? Ginger? Kind of bookish? Could it be that I wear glasses, or have freckles? Or is it that I'm gay? Or that my dad makes half a million every year, more money than most of my classmates or their families has ever seen? Yeah, probably all of that.
After all, I'm a walking Jewish stereotype, as Andrew tells me.
As much as I would like to attend private school, my dad insists that supporting the California public school system is important, or some shit.
I couldn't leave my friends anyway. But I guess that doesn't matter now.
My dad lost a lawsuit, a big one. And he lost his job. And as if Fate, or Destiny, or whatever took a huge, steaming shit on my face, my dad lands this job in the middle of fucking nowhere. Small town. Snowy. Christ, can you imagine anything worse than that?
No. The answer is no.
Because of that fucking lawsuit I am going to be ripped away from my friends, my city, and pretty much everything I ever knew.
Yeah, it fucking sucks.
As we pass the South Park city limits sign the feeling of impending doom is immediately doubled. Noâ€“tripled. No, waitâ€“quadrupled. The burrito I had regrettably eaten for lunch is writhing around in my stomach like a coiled python. We continue on the road, passing nothing but snow. And more snow.
Almost immediately the town of South Park appears out of nowhere like a pop-up book. I peer out of the foggy window, eager to get my first look at the town that I would spend the rest of my high school career in. We slowly roll into what passes for a Main Street.
The road is empty of cars. The place is nearly deserted, except for a few people on the sidewalk. They walk quickly, almost at a run, as if expecting something to jump out at them. The only buildings that are open are Tom's Rhinoplasty (what the fuck is a rhinoplasty?), a restaurant called City Wok, and an abandoned looking movie theater. All of the other shops or buildings are condemned. The place must have been hit hard by the economy... A weird mixture of disappointment and bemusement replace my previous feelings of doom.
After a few blocks we finally arrive at our street. What the fuck? My mouth hangs open in astonishment. Every house, every single house on the fucking block is the same size, shape, and has the same amount of windows. Same fucking floorplan.
"Ma? What the hell? All these houses look exactly the same."
"What's that, bubbala?" says Mom, her eyes focused past the windshield. "Here we are, Gerald, number 1002."
We pull into the driveway of one of the box-shaped houses. It's differentiated from the other houses only by its color, which is the ugliest color of green that I have ever had to the misfortune to lay eyes upon. I can shit a better shade of green than that!
We park, and I slide out of the backseat. I immediately wish I hadn't. The cold air hits me full in the face and I can feel my ears getting more numb by the second. Jesus Christ, five minutes out in this hellhole and they would probably fall off from frostbite.
"Ma, its freezing," I whine through chattering teeth.
Mom spares a glance at me before continuing to sift through her purse. "Well, what do you expect, bubbala, you're barely wearing any clothing!"
"Yeah, that's why L.A. is awesome and this place sucks," I mutter, sending her a spiteful look. Too busy looking for the keys, she doesn't notice.
I huff and turn away, hugging myself for warmth. I stare at the houses. I swear to Christ, whoever painted these houses should be charged with vandalism. And probably public intoxication.
The house across from us is particularly hideous, being painted the same shade of pink as Pepto Bismol. I look at our new house, and back to the one across from it. It looks like all the bedroom windows face the street. Great, now I will have a wonderful view of the ugliest house on the block...
As I continue to glare at the Pepto Bismol house, movement in one of the windows catches my eye. The curtains shift, and a face peeks cautiously from behind them. Whoever they are seems to notice my staring at them and they give up the ghost, pushing the curtains aside and examining us openly. It's a boy. He look to be around my age, tall with dark hair. I can't tell much from here, but even from this non-vantage point I can tell he is hot. My Boy Next Door gives me a small wave and vanishes behind the curtain again. I smile to myself, thinking, There goes my tall, dark and handsome.
Hello. My name is Stan Marsh. Let me tell you about myself.
I'm seventeen years old, white, lower-middle class. I have a mom, a dad, an older sister, and a dog. My best friend is a sex-crazed junkie. I've had an off-and-on girlfriend for the past five years. I drive my mom's old sedan sometimes, when I can. My friends and I play video games, smoke weed, and spray paint our school. Sometimes we see a movie at the town's theatre, when our parents give us the money.
In other words, I am completely average.
But that's the thing. My town isn't. My life isn't. Even my friends and family are weird.
Let me explain.
My mom and dad? Stupid. Really fucking stupid. I'm not kidding; they once kicked me out of the house at 11 years old because they were afraid they would abduct me. In fact, all the parents in the whole town did that to their kids.
And my sister. Oh, she's pretty normal. Boy crazy, constantly glued to her iphone, hates my guts. Only she is completely obsessed with opera music and has a talent for taxidermy.
And my dog? He's gay. No, really; he's gay.
And my ex-girlfriend, Wendy. She's borderline OCD and really moral. But she knows that if she wears low-cut tops, she'll get straight A's.
Also, my friends. Meet Kenny; a chain-smoking sex-addict who successfully commits suicide every Friday. And my sometimes-friend Cartman, who I only keep around because he can score me weed; a racist sociopath whose hobbies include establishing religious cults and attempting to exterminate all people of the Jewish persuasion.
Anyway. As I was saying, everyone in this insane, freakish town is abnormal in almost every conceivable way. Expect for me. Which kinda makes me the freak, doesn't it?
As soon as I shove all of the boxes labeled "Kyle's Stuff" into my new bedroom (painted purple, of course), I immediately unpack my computer and log on to Facebook. As I had hoped, both Cassie and Andrew are online, thank god. I quickly send them both a group message.
you guys will not believe what a shithole this town is.
eeew andy i told you not to say that your not black enough
shut up kyle!
i'm not talking i cant shut up
so anyway, how is colorado?
terrible. and cold. and terrible. i miss you guys, and california and the SUN
ha you could barely go out in the sun anyways you burn like herpes
herpes doesn't burn dumbass
yah it does. how would you know lololol i guess you're date with jasmine went well after all
uuugh kyle which one is it then???
...anyway kyle we miss you dude
cass do you ever go to english class? yeah thanks andrew
well I hope youre okay up there. If youre not we are just going to have to kidnap you
thanks guys i gotta go my moms knocking on my door
"Come in!" I shout, closing my laptop.
"Dinner's ready, bubbala," says my mom, peering around the door. "Oh and I bought you something at the grocery store! They had a small clothing section and I know you need warmer clothes..."
In the process of putting away my laptop, I stop cold. "Ma, what the hell is that?" Ignoring my language, she hands me what looks like a wad of fabric. The thing appears to be a hat, something like the hats I've seen TV anchors in snowstorms wear. And it is green. A bright, garish color, same shade as puke. Did I say our house was the worst shade of green I had ever seen? Not anymore.
"Ma, I'm not wearing that." I say, trying in vain to hand it back to her. Instead she folds her arms, giving me a gimlet eye.
"Oh, you will, Kyle. You will."
As it turned out, Mom was right.
Monday morning I had gotten up early to get ready for my first day at South Park High. For new kids in high school, the first day is crucial. I knew this from experience and from observing the many new kids who came to my old school. Some would succeed and some would fail miserably and drift into obscurity. I knew this for a fact, because on my first day at my old school, I had failed miserably.
But here was a new place, a new school, and new people. Here no one knew about the incident when I was duct taped to the flagpole and my not-so-tidy whiteys were hung up as a makeshift flag (I know, classic, right?). Here no one knew about the time in the locker room when my clothes were taken by the jocks while I was showering and replaced with a diaper. (What is it about super heterosexual guys picking on super homosexual guys and forcing them to be naked?) ...And best of all, no one knew how truly dorky and un-cool I was. Oh, yeah, or that I'm gay. That didn't work out too well at my old school. My parents had decided to move me out to the Middle of Nowhere and I hadn't quite come to terms with it but I was determined to make the best of it. And that meant making friends. Which meant making a good first impression. Which meant looking good.
I had showered and used a shitload of mousse. It was paying off big time because for once in my life my hair had agreed to cooperate and wasn't going off in every direction. After some deliberation, I had carefully chosen a dark blue polo shirt and one of my best pairs of jeans. A dark grey wash, which I thought would go well with the shirt. I topped off my outfit with my best leather boots. I knew that I had to dress for the weather, though, so I was forced to wear my brand new pea-coat and some nice suede gloves I had borrowed from my dad.
I looked in the mirror, pleased with my reflection. My glasses put me at a bit of a disadvantage, but they were stylish enough. Excellent.
I was almost out the door when my mom called out, "Bubbala, don't forget your hat!"
"Sure, Ma," I shouted back, grabbing the hat and stuffing it into my bag. There was no fucking way I was gonna wear that thing.
Right, I reflect gloomily. I am halfway down the block when my ears start going numb with cold. Irritated, I unzip my bag, pull out the horrible hat and shove it onto my head. I just know it will clash with my hair and my carefully-chosen outfit. Goddammit.
Ten minutes later, South Park High School comes into view as I round the corner. The brick building is blocky and rectangular, with barely any windows. It looks just like a prison. I wonder if I can Shawshank my way outta this one...
I trudge reluctantly through the snow covered sidewalk, avoiding eye contact with the students that rush past me. I know I'll be late for my first class, but I'm not in any hurry to bring on the inevitable jokes and whispers and various pranks involving spit in my homemade kosher sandwiches. Let them punish me, give me detention, I don't care. I'm already going to prison...
I pass through the ominous front double doors, wincing as they thump closed behind me. The locker-lined hallway is empty, and my steps echo loudly on the concrete floor. I was told to go to my first class, English, located in classroom 44 just down hallway D. What the fuck does that mean?
"Hey, kid," I hear, the voice echoing through the hall. I nearly piss my pants with surprise and look around wildly for the source of the sound. "Over here," calls the voice, and sure enough I can see a slight form leaning against a distant locker. I walk toward him, wondering if this is beginning of the wedgie-pulling and swirlie-receiving portion of today's episode of Kyle's Life for Your Entertainment.
"Yeah?" I say, cautiously approaching the figure. The blonde-haired guy looks to be about sixteen, maybe seventeen. He wears an orange hoodie, covered with inked drawings and cigarette burns. His jeans are tattered and look a few sizes too small and I can see his big toe poking out of his left shoe, a purple Converse. He is obviously not wealthy, but a subtle confidence emanates from him. As I draw closer I am swallowed in a cloud of cigarette smoke.
"You new?" he says. His piercing blue eyes regard me curiously and I shift uncomfortably. It feels like he's looking into my fucking soul, or something.
I nod, attempting to hold back a cough. Did I mention that I also have asthma? Yeah.
I nod again, trying, and failing, to hold back the cough while also not trying to breathe through my nose.
"What class are you supposed to be in?"
Unable to nod my way out of this one I open my mouth to suck in a breath, only to dissolve into a couching fit. The boy drops his cigarette and puts it out with a shoe. He slaps my back helpfully. I gasp for air.
"English with Mr. Garrison," I manage to choke out, eyes streaming.
"It's Ms. Garrison again," says the boy nonchalantly. "Come on, I'll show you where. I'm in that class, too."
"I'm Kenny, by the way," he says, taking off down the hall.
"Kyle," I say. I trail behind Kenny miserably, feeling as if the prison guard was leading me down the green mile.
Mr. (or was is Ms.?) Garrison looks up from his (her?) Nora Roberts book as we enter the classroom.
"Kenny," Garrison drawls. "How nice of you to show up." Garrison's eyes land on me when I peek around Kenny. "Oh, and you must be the new kid."
"Kyle," I say, meekly. "Um, hi." The eyes of every student in the room are locked on me. My cheeks burn with embarrassment. Perfect, Kyle, now you'll be the coolest guy in school.
"Well," says Garrison, returning to the paperback, "I'm Ms. Garrison, welcome to South Park, blah, blah, blah. Just find a seat and shut the hell up."
There is only one empty seat in the classroom. Kenny walks up to it, sits down, pushes a large student out of the chair next to him, and gestures to me to come sit next to him.
"Ay!" says the large boy. "Fuck you, Kenny." The large boy in turn pushes a small blonde boy out of the next seat. The small boy is surprised at first, falling to the ground with a cry of "Oh, hamburgers!" but seems to take this in stride and goes to sit on the floor in the corner of the room.
I sit next to Kenny, still feeling eyes on me. "So, what do we do in here?"
"This is English class, we're supposed to read, or write, or something," says Kenny. "Nice hat, by the way."
"Shit!" I say, tearing the hat off my head. I had meant to remove it before anyone could see it. "Uh, I mean, thanks," I add meekly.
"Ginger!" cries the large boy, pointing at my head accusingly.
Kenny, clearly amused, is now staring at my hair. I reach up and feel it. Of course, it's all fucked up and going off in every direction as if to escape from my head.
"Your hair's nice, too," says Kenny, smiling, and I quickly put the hat back on. "Oh, this is Stan." He waves vaguely to the boy behind him and I turn slightly in my chair to see. It's my Boy Next Door, in all of his glory, sitting there and staring at my hat. I sink low into my chair, hoping to melt into a puddle on the floor. I take off my hat.
"Hi, um, I'm Kyle."
"You're my new neighbor, right? I saw you last week when you were moving in."
"Yeah," I say, my mouth suddenly very dry. My glasses begin to slide down my nose and I push them up hastily.
He smiles slightly at me and then returns to whatever he was writing in his notebook. "I'm Stan. Welcome to South Park."
Eight years earlier:
Sitting in the nurse's office, holding an icepack to a whimpering Butters' face (whose face I had damaged, by the way), it suddenly occurs to me that Fate has once again made me her bitch. Butters groans again, and I quickly glance over his injuries, once again making a mental inventory of cuts and bruises. One black eye, one bloody nose, two scrapes on forehead, one split lip...not to mention all the other various bruises he has under his jacket. I also dully make note of one missing shoe and one broken Hello Kitty wristwatch. And God only knows where his backpack is by now.
Still, I think, he had deserved it. Or, at least, he had deserved it about thirty-five minutes ago.
Thirty-five minutes ago:
"Hey, Kenny, you walking home with us?" Stan, Clyde, and Token are waiting expectantly by the school entrance.
"Naw, I got some things to take care of," I say.
"Okay, later, dude."
"Yeah, see you, Kenny."
I'm not generally a very busy guy. But today is a very special day. See, today is the first Monday since I've been away. And when I say away, I mean dead for a pretty long time. Yeah, it took me a while to get back this time. And Hell wasn't anything to shout about either. But I'm putting all that behind me. All of it, except, for a very exceptional IOU. That IOU being one fist up one very special boy's tight little ass.
I'm going to mess up Butters Stotch.
Which, in retrospect, wasn't probably the best choice, but still, I felt like I owed it to myself. I mean, the guy had replaced me. Replaced! As if I were just some prop or toy, and he just goes and takes my place.
Butters sniffs and wipes his bloody nose on his sleeve. The thing is leaking like a fucking vagina, and the boy's face looks dangerously white. "Butters, here," I say, pulling his hand away. "Don't worry about that, why don't you just lie down?"
He glances at the bed across the room and stands, but sways precariously. I grab his arms and pull him back down. "Here, just put your head in my lap."
The blonde looks doubtful, but obeys. I grab a couple tissues and take the opportunity to wipe his tearstained cheeks and dab at his nose. Christ, where is that fucking nurse?
"Hey, Kenny," says Butters thickly. "Danks."
I stop and stare down at him. "What?"
I chuckle nervously. "Butters, it's my fault you're in here..."
He cracks a smile. "You broud mbe here."
"Dat's bore dan bost peoble would do."
Oh. Yeah. "Look, Butters, I'm really sorry about that. It's just that...you stole my friends, you know?"
Butters squints up at me through his swollen eye. "I'mb sorry."
"Yeah, I know." Butters closes his eyes. We sit in silence for a while, me dabbing uselessly at Butters' nose. Now that I think about it, it really wasn't his fault. I mean, my friends did the replacing, didn't they? And from what I've heard, Butters was cast aside just as easily as I was. In a way, didn't that make us sort of even?
Yeah. It's like one big cosmic joke, really. "Hey, Butters-" I start, but stop when I notice the expression on his face. The ever-present worry line between his eyebrows is smooth and his jaw is lax. Butters has fallen asleep in the lap of his assailant.
I crack a smile at the irony. Pretty funny. Have I ever seen Butters this peaceful?
I think back. No, the only expression I've ever witnessed on the poor boy was some form of excitement or terror. Though what could you expect in a town like South Park?
I notice with a small pang that his bottom lip is covered in sores. He chews his lips that often? This is too much for such a guiltless little melvin. Gently, I follow the line of his lips with my finger. Butters winces and hisses in pain. I trace soothing circles on his forehead until the line leaves his face.
"Its okay, Butters," I whisper. "I won't let anything hurt you."
Kenny is way too excited about this new kid. Once he found out that we were taking all of our classes with the new kid, he practically shit himself with joy. It wasn't that unlikely, though, since we only have two electives; Art and Civil War Reenactment class (though not technically a reenactment, since the Confederates always punch the Union into submission). But all the same, I don't understand why Kenny is so attached to this kid. He was just going to leave like the all others did once his family discovers the fucked-upedness of this town.
Once the bell rings for lunch Kenny eagerly pulls the new kid (Kyle...was that his name?) out of his seat by his sleeve and drags him to the lunchroom. I sigh and follow.
There Kenny sits Kyle down next to him at our usual table by the trash cans. "So, this is our table," Kenny tells Kyle proudly. "Hardly anyone ever sits here because they know I would kick their asses."
I frown at him. "No, it's because we sit next to the trash."
Kenny looks at me, affronted. "Are you questioning my Kung Fu skills? Why don't you test them?"
Annoyed, I unzip my backpack and pull out my turkey sandwich. He's just doing this to show off for Kyle. It's working; Kyle is staring at Kenny with an expression of admiration. Or possibly just bewilderment.
"Come at me, brah, and test your skills against mine. I will destroy you with my signature move, the Egg Foo Young!" As he says this Kenny waves his arms menacingly in front of his face and kicks at the table, upending my uncapped soda.
"That's a type of food, asshole!" I say, catching my soda before it could completely empty. "Jesus."
"Having fun, boys?" I jump with surprise as Wendy sits down next to me, frowning at the spilled soda. Wonderful.
"This is not merely fun," says Kenny, eyes widening. "There's a serious showdown about to go down in this bitch!"
Wendy's frown grows even frownier as she looks at Kenny, but instead of berating him she turns to smile at Kyle. "Well, anyway. My name is Wendy Testaburger and as Student Body President I would like to welcome you to our school, Kyle Broflovski."
"You can be my Student Body President," says Kenny eagerly. "Minus the President part." Wendy ignores Kenny but I glare at him.
"Uh, thanks," says Kyle, looking extremely overwhelmed by the events of the day.
"It is also my duty to make sure that you are settled and to answer any questions you may have."
"Uh, no thanks, I'm good..."
"Alright then," says Wendy. "You can come to me if you have any problems. Especially if you have any problems with him." She glowers briefly at Kenny before sitting up and walking smartly away. From across the room someone shouts "SLUT!".
"Ooh, I love it when she walks away," says Kenny, staring at Wendy's ass.
"Dude, shut up about my ex-girlfriend," I say.
Kenny waves a hand nonchalantly. "That was two years ago, you gotta get over her. Kyle, is she, or is she not, the hottest thing to ever grace your eyes?"
"Uh," says Kyle, turning bright red. "Yeah, I guess..."
"What do you think her best feature is, her boobs, or her ass?"
Kyle looks helplessly at me, but before he can say anything I interject. "Kenny, stop being an asshole."
"I'm never the asshole!" he says, pretending to be offended. "Well, okay. Maybe sometimes. I do play for both teams, after all." He winks at Kyle, who sinks a few inches lower in his chair.
"Jesus. Sorry for Kenny's dumbassery, Kyle. He's teasing you, but he actually does want to get into your pants."
Kyle failing to look heartened by this, pulls his hat lower over his red face.
"So, where are you from, Kyle?" says Kenny, ignoring Kyle's discomfort.
"California." He seems to brighten up at this, so I continue the conversation.
"Where in California?"
"Oh," says Kenny. He squints an eye ay Kyle and looks him over. "That explains the outfit."
Kyle's face, now the color of a baboon's ass, turns even darker.
"There's not really a lot of fashion sense, or whatever, here," I try to explain. "We mostly just wear whatever's warmest."
"You must think this place is a shithole," says Kenny, nonchalantly picking fries off my plate. "What's L.A. like?"
"Oh, you know. Sunny."
"Sounds great," sighs Kenny, turning his face upwards and closing his eyes to an imaginary sun.
Sounds great to me, too. I can barely remember what the sun looks like, let alone feels like.
"But it's kinda dirty too. There's a lot of pollution and stuff in the air. It's so clean here..." Kyle looks around the cafeteria, as if admiring its pristine condition.
"Yeah, it must really be dirty there if you think this place is clean," says Kenny. "So what's there to do in L.A.? Huge parties? Piles of cocaine? Random sexual encounters with movie stars?"
Kyle laughs. "No, just hanging out with friends, I guess. What's there to do here?"
"Uh..." says Kenny, looking at me.
"Well," I begin. "There's...Denver."
The bell rings, signaling the end of lunch period, thank god. We get up and head to class, Kenny promising Kyle that we'll show him around town.
"Eleven fucking years, Butters," I mutter darkly. I look around the lunchroom, glaring at each and every fucktard, every phony, sitting and happily eating their federally subsidized school lunches without a care in the world. As if the universe wasn't coming to an end.
"W-what's that, Eric?" The little bitch is eating his stupid fucking grilled cheese sandwich as nonchalantly as the rest of them. Can't he see what is happening?
I slam my hand down on the table, making him jump. "Eleven fucking years I've had to deal with this shit, Butters! I've had to spend my time with fucking busywork and math problems and that stupid fucking cunt Jane Austen, when there are much more important things to attend to!"
"Uh," says Butters, mouth hanging open like a goddamned retard. "What do you mean?"
"What do I mean?" I say incredulously. "What do I mean? I mean the whole fucking worlds' going to shit again, and I have to do something about it! Again!"
His expression remains blank. I sigh. I should not blame those that lack the intelligence that I am so fortunately blessed with. Of course the little melvin can't understand. None of them understand, none of them remember.
Countless times I've had to save this sorry town. And for what? Nothing. No thank you's, no gift baskets. Instead I am given blank stares and muttered insults. No one ever remembers.
No one believed me about the subliminal messages put out by Fox News meant to force us to accept the leadership of a president obviously affiliated with terrorist organizations. No one believed me about the human growth hormone specifically put in our nation's hamburgers, meant to create a larger and stronger breed of White Trash Americans. And when the squirrel population got out of control, who was there to stop it? Me.
But no one remembers or believes me or understands. And so I'm expected to deal with this bullshit when something much worse is happening.
There is a new ginger in town. And that can only mean trouble.
"There's something about that new kid," I say to Butters. "Do you remember his name?"
"Kyle, I think," he says, poking at his grilled cheese.
"Hmm." I spot the new kid sitting across the room with those clowns, Stan and Kenny. There's something about him, something...familiar. Something evil. I feel as if I know this kid, know what he's capable of. Maybe a reincarnation of Scott Tenorman?
I'm about to order Butters to find out more about this new kid when I see Wendy Testaburger walking straight for his table. Unconsciously, I grip the table as if needing support. That woman has some sort of power over me, but I have yet to discover its source...
Wendy speaks with the new kid for a minute and then walks back to her table. She glances at me as she passes us and I can feel her gloating. She knows she had me under her spell, just for a moment. Too long.
"SLUT!" I inform her. I'll show her...
"Eric, why don't you ask her out already?" asks Butters.
"Shut the fuck up, you inbred hick!"
He shrugs, returning to his food.
Over the next few weeks Stan and Kenny showed me the many amenities of the town of South Park, including a dirty-looking Chinese restaurant, Stark's Pond, and the train tracks. Well, it was actually more like Kenny showed me around. Stan just sort of hung back a bit, tagging along. At first I kind of wanted to ask him what his deal was, but over time it seemed like he was just a bit shy. At least, that's what I told myself. What I really thought was that he fucking hated my guts.
Anyway, as I was told by Kenny, the main thing to do in South Park (if you don't have a car, of course) is to walk aimlessly through the town until you eventually hit the abandoned railroad bridge behind the community center, or the large wooden play-park. Both are prime spots for smoking what the parents call "Devil's Hair", but what the local kids have gleefully renamed "Satan's Pubes". If you're done smoking your drug of choice you can either throw rocks at cats or abandoned cars, depending on your location. And if you start to feel the urge to eat horrible chow mein and shitty chicken you can head over to City Wok and spend five minutes trying to get the guy at the counter to understand what you're ordering.
Fortunately, Stan was allowed to borrow his mom's van every other weekend (if his sister Shelly wasn't using it). It being Saturday, the guys wanted to show me a good time, and since we had the van, we could go practically anywhere we wanted within a ten mile radius. So naturally we went to the old 24-hour diner that sits at the edge of town.
We pass under the cracked sign reading Hal's 24 Hour Family Restaurant. The place is one of those greasy diners with fake ivy vines lining the ceiling and an obscene amount of cows featured in the décor. I slide across the vinyl booth next to Kenny, who is still talking animatedly about That One Time when Barbra Streisand turned into a giant dinosaur robot called Mecha-Streisand and destroyed the town. I swear to god I have no idea what this kid has been smoking. Stan sits opposite us and immediately picks up a menu, avoiding the conversation. Can't say that I blame him, as Kenny has moved on to talking about the time when Ozzy Osbourne bit his head off. Eventually, Kenny runs out stories to tell me and we patiently wait for Edna the waitress to stop ignoring us.
Soon enough our patience wins over her good side and she ambles our way with a pot of old coffee, wearing a scowl.
"You kids again," Edna says, her nose wrinkling.
"Couldn't stay away, babe," says Kenny sweetly.
"Save your flattery for the girls, Bub," she monotones, scribbling on her pad. "The usual, I suspect?"
Kenny grins and Stan nods curtly. Once Endna walks away, muttering, Kenny says "Isn't she a doll? Well, I'm going to take a piss."
He gets up to leave. Which leaves me alone with Stan. We sit in silence for a while, me opening the sugar and salt packets and mixing them together in a snowy pile, Stan looking like he'd rather drink his own piss than sit here one more moment.
Finally, Stan breaks the silence. "So...how have you been, Kyle?" he asks.
"Oh! Fine," I say, a bit too loudly. I feel the urge to hide my face in my hands. "Uh, how about you?"
"Been better," he says. "That project that Ms. Garrison gave us, you know, the one about Brave New World and 1984? It's killing me."
"Oh, yeah, I can't believe heâ€”I mean, sheâ€”made us read both of those books in a week! That guy's a total dick. I mean, bitch. Thank god for study notes."
"Yeah," says Stan, smiling slightly. When he smiles, my heart shoots up my throat and out my mouth. His teeth are white and give off an almost heavenly glow, and I want to fall on my knees and beg for salvation, as if he were God himself. Oh, Jesus Christ, I'm blushing.
After another healthy helping of awkward silence, I start to get angry. What's this guy's deal anyway? I haven't done anything to him, why is he acting like he wants me painfully raped over and over again? A few minutes of silent fuming, and I figure, What the hell? I'll ask him.
"So...why do you hate me?"
"What?" Stan's eyes snap to my face. His expression is puzzled, but I know he's faking it out of so-called politeness, or some shit.
"I said, why do you hate my guts?" For once, my face isn't red from embarrassment, but from anger.
"I don't hate you," he says blankly.
"Then why do you act like I don't exist, like you wish I wasn't here?"
"Because you won't be here in a few weeks."
I stop mid-thought, about to sound a rebuttal for whatever bullshit poured out of his mouth. But at this I can only say, "What? Are you, like, gonna kill me, or something?"
Stan looks taken aback. "No! I mean, you're probably going to leave in a few weeks. All the other kids who didn't grow up here did."
Stan lets out a long suffering sigh closes his eyes, and pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Look, in case you haven't noticed yet, this town is fucked up. All those stories Kenny is telling you are true."
"You're shitting me. The aliens? The Underpants Gnomes? Scientology?"
I look him in the eyes, searching for something, anything to tell me he's lying. But, as I'm not a professional interrogator or Batman, I can't tell shit. "You're telling me that Kenny has died at least a hundred times?"
Stan nods solemnly. "They killed Kenny."
"Those bastards." What the fuck? I cover my mouth in dismay. Why did I just say that? As if I need any more proof of my budding schizophrenia.
Stan regards me curiously and I rush to cover up what I had just blurted out. "Um, so that kid, Cartman, did you say? Cartman actually killed that kid's parents and fed them to him. In chili?"
"Yeah, you should really avoid that guy. He once started a movement against gingers. And then switched to the ginger side and took over the town because we had dyed his hair red." Stan grinned at the memory. "Oh, and for god's sake, don't tell him you're Jewish."
"Hey," says Kenny, sliding back onto the booth. When he sees Stan's smile slowly disappear, and my face, which I know is probably as red as Satan's ass, his eyes narrow. "What's up?"
"Nothing," I say, quickly.
Edna returns with three greasy "usuals", along three sides of limp fries. We dig in, the awkward silence enveloping us like a heavy blanket.
Stan's face hovers just above mine. His storm-cloud eyes, half-lidded and rimmed by thick, black lashes, stare into my eyes as if examining my soul. Wisps of raven hair tickle my cheek as he leans in closer. I can feel warmth radiating from the bare skin of his chest, even though we are not quite touching. I reach out and stroke his back. Soft pink lips open like a blooming rosebud as Stan emits a low moan.
"Stan," I gasp, reaching up to clutch a handful of black hair.
"I think I loâ€”"
THUMP. I immediately wake up and bolt out of bed, heart hammering.
What the holy mother of god is that?
THUMP. "Jesus!" I yelp, tripping over a pile of fallen blankets and landing on my ass.
Okay, Kyle. Just breathe. Just fucking breathe. One...two...three...I let out one long breath. My heart begins to cease its attempt to punch a hole through my ribcage.
THUMP. Fairly calm now, I get up and search for the source of the noise.
THUMP. My eyes are drawn to the window as a ball of white slush hits the glass. I open it, about to tell the mystery snowballer to knock it the fuck off or I would sic my imaginary Unicorn of Death on their poor soul, so help me god. A blast of cold air hits my face and an even colder snowball hits me square in the crotch.
I glance down, horrorstruck as I belatedly realize I'm wearing nothing but a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants briefs my mom had bought for me.
"Hey, Kyle! Nice panties!" I drop to the carpet, peeking my head cautiously over the window sill. Kenny and Stan are standing in my front yard, Kenny wearing an expression used exclusively by those destined for Hell.
"What do you want?" I shout, dodging a well-aimed snowball from Stan.
"We're going to the pond, there's gonna be a wicked snowball fight!"
"Uh, that's okay, I'd rather watch the Saturday morning cartoons and eat corn flakes."
Stan and Kenny look at each other as if to say "What the fuck lodged itself in this guy's brain?".
"Come on, Kyle," whines Kenny. "It'll be AWESOME! We're all organized and shit; we've got teams and everything! You, me, and Stan are Team Eat Pussy; Token, Craig, and Clyde are Team Red-Eye-of-the-Crouching-Tiger; Butters, Tweek, and Pip are Team Jacob; and Wendy, Bebe, and Red are Team Badass Mother Fuckers."
"Don't be a pussy, dude," says Stan, grinning up at me.
"Okay," I say, before I can stop myself.
We arrive at Stark's Pond, covertly hidden behind a group of trees.
"Okay," Kenny whispers, peering around a tree trunk. "The rules are as follows: there are no mother fucking rules. Head shots and crotch shots are encouraged. Try to get some mud in your snowballs so we know who to rip on the most."
"Oh, and watch out for Bebe. She's partial to crotch shots."
And with that, Kenny gathers a pile of snow into his gloved hands and takes off running. Stan does the same, but runs in the complete opposite direction. With a sense of growing panic, I chose a random direction and sprint toward the biggest rock I can find. I hurl myself behind it and quickly grab a handful of snow and pack it into a ball. My gloves are soaked through instantly.
Heart beating a tattoo against my breastbone, I slowly look around for potential attackers. Along the battlefield I see figures darting back and forth, but they are too far away for me to see if any of them are Stan or Kenny.
Suddenly, snowballs are arching over my head and I duck. A ball of slush hits me full in the face, covering my glasses with a blanket of white and effectively blinding me. I rip them off and fling my one snowball toward the voice gleefully laughing to my right. The snowball lands three feet in front of me, a pathetic ball of melting mush.
Unthinking, I lunge for it like a fat kid would lunge for the last slice of meat-lover's pizza. Once again, failing miserably, I land in a puddle of muddy snow, hand outstretched toward my nonexistent weapon. Seemingly from every direction, balls of ice slam into my back. Frantic, I scurry to my feet and run pell-mell back toward the small forest grove.
"Watch out!" I hear the voice, but ignore it, concentrating on my escape. Almost there... But before I make it I am abruptly tackled to the ground, breath squeezed from my lungs. My attacker and I roll downhill, a flurry of body parts and snow and mud.
When we finally stop at the foot of the steep hill, I manage not to vomit. I breathe shallowly, the attacker's body still on top of mine and blocking my air passage. Everything hurts. I open my eyes. The world is still spinning, a blur of white and green and black. And black? I focus on the attacker and realize that it's Stan's body on mine. Suddenly, I don't mind not being able to breathe.
His eyes are closed, eyebrows furrowed in pain. A groan escapes his lips. I feel his hot breath on my face and shiver, but not from the cold.
"Stan?" I say, reaching up and shaking him slightly. "You okay?"
"Yeah..." he mumbles, eyes still shut tight. "I think I broke something."
"What did you break?"
"Everything..." Stan opens his eyes and I am strongly reminded of my dream. His eyes are half-lidded and his expression is dazed, but it almost matches the loving expression of my dream Stan. My clothes and hair are slowly being soaked with ice water, but the space between us is warm. I am suddenly aware of how close we are, how close our lips are. If I only moved a few inches farther...
I tilt my head upwards, just a few inches, and gauge his reaction. He still looks slightly stunned from the tumble, but not alarmed. Our lips are four inches apart. His eyes focus on me and I draw in breath sharply. My heart begins to hammer again, and I'm sure he can feel it, god, can't he feel it? He bends forwards slightly, parting his lip, eyes searching mine. I lick my own chapped lips nervously, aware of every single vein in my body as my heart pumps hot blood. He's so close and I tremble like a newborn, fresh from mother's womb and thrust violently into a bright new world.
Rapid puffs of hot breath on my face.
Oh god, I can almost taste him, oh god, so close, please, god...
"Hey! Quit fucking around you two!" Kenny's head appears peeks over the slope of the hill, looking at us curiously.
Stan's eyes pop wide open. "Oh! God, yeah, sorry." He hurriedly scrambles off of me and breathe a sigh partly from relief and partly from frustration. So close...but at least I can breathe again...
"Yeah," continues Stan, panting slightly from his hasty escape. "Sorry about that. Must've hit my head or something."
"Or something," I agree.
He shoots a glance at me before taking off up the hill at Kenny's insistence.
I am left in the snow, heat radiating off my body.
"Hey, sweetie," I call out to Butters, catching the smaller blonde's attention just as he shuts his locker door.
"Oh, hey, Kenny," Butters answers with a weak smile, eyes drifting toward the door of his next class.
"Can I walk you to class?" I ask quickly, sensing Butters' desire to escape. I'm used to this by now. Whenever I try to talk to Butters, he always manages to make some sort of excuse and run off. Sure, I know I'm coming on to the guy pretty strong, but I've really been toning it down lately. I just can't help it, I guess.
"Y-yeah, well, sure..." Butters stammers, cheeks flushing to a delicate pink. The color of his strawberry chapstick...
We walk the ten feet to his classroom together in silence, me daydreaming about strawberries. The awkwardness is tangible, but I don't give a damn. I just enjoy being with the boy. We stop at the door. Butters shuffles his feet and I catch his sleeve before he can run.
"Leo," I implore, searching his face. Baby blue eyes avoid my gaze and he bites his bottom lip.
"Gotta go, Kenny, can't be late," says Butters loudly as he pulls out of my slight grip and scampers off in a blur of blue and blonde. I sigh and breathe in one last whiff of strawberries. Damn. Next time...
Ever the optimist, I turn and saunter down the hall as students scramble to class. The bell rings. I'm late for Algebra again.
Christ. That day at the pond...I don't know what came over me.
There's something about Kyle. At first I thought it was just me projecting my feelings onto him. It's not that I disliked the guy, but I'd thought he'd be gone in a couple weeks anyway. Even so, I could tell there was something weird about him.
Something familiar. When I was on top of the guy I felt like I could kiss him. And it would be completely natural, the right thing to do. I don't know what I was thinking; probably hit my head on a rock or something from the fall.
But ever since then, I haven't seen Kyle exactly the same way. After all, I was pretty sure he was going to kiss me back.
Am I insane? I'm not, definitely not, gay. I mean, I've been slightly attracted to guys before. When they look like girls. And Kyle does sort of remind of a girl. He's pretty, with his red curls and his big green eyes.
But I'm not gay.
So why is it that I have this huge boner right now?
We're in the locker room after PE. Of course, it had to be the locker room. A row of shower heads line the tiled walls of the locker room. No walls, no curtains, no privacy. It's humiliating, as if they want us to rag on each there for our less than average-sized dicks or our sparse pubic hair. Not that I suffer from any of those things, but still, who wants to get naked with a bunch of dudes?
I do, apparently.
I'm sitting on a bench in front of my locker, which is unfortunately in front of the showers, one towel draped across my junk and fumbling with the combination lock. Oh, god, what is the fucking combination? 18-32-14? 34-14-38? I need my fucking pants.
My problem isn't my memory. It's Kyle. He's in the shower directly in my line of sight and-god, why couldn't he just wear a swim suit?
He's standing directly under the water, letting the stream run over face and hair. Tiny rivulets of water trickle over smooth, pale skin and draw my eyes lower. He's not exactly ripped, but he's thin so his muscles are defined. In a very unfeminine way.
Soap suds slide over chest and stomach and before I can follow their trail I turn away. Goddammit.
Why is this happening to me?
Algebra class. It is 9:54 am and much too early for algebra class.
I sit in the back, thankfully, and I only have to pretend to pay attention. Right now Mrs. Whatsit is muttering something about complex numbers and extraneous solutions. I am not interested. I have no use for extraneous solutions, thank you very Goddamn much; I'm fine with simple ones.
"Now, the problems I am doing may be on the test," she says, scribbling furiously on the whiteboard. Some students stare blankly, eyes glazed over, dreaming of break. Most try to sleep. Mrs. Whatshernameagain repeats an irritating rhyme that is supposed to help us remember to change signs in some equation. I tone her out. I don't like algebra.
"Jesse," calls out Mrs. Something in a high-pitched sing-song voice, "Please join us."
A boy with pink hair that looks like it hasn't been washed lately lifts his head sleepily from his desk. Mrs. Something nods and turns back to the board. Jesse puts his pink head back down.
Yawning, I look behind me at the clock. Forty-seven minutes of torture left. Fantastic. I gaze out the window. It's windy outside. The trees are swaying back and forth, as if dancing. Planting my feet firmly on the ground, I sit, back straight in my chair. I am a tree. A tree, sucking nutrients from the tiled floor. I can almost feel the hard ground through my thin sneakers. It's not windy here. I am not a dancing tree. I am a still tree. A very bored tree.
"If the bases are the same," continues Mrs. Whatsit, "set the exponents equal." Her voice is like a high-pitched buzzing in my ear. I wish I had a fly swat.
I kick off my shoes and press my socks against the tiles. They are warm. Why are they warm? I'm fucking freezing.
Thirty-five minutes left.
Log. L-O-G. Log, log, log. If log equals log, then log, log, log, log. Am I a log or a tree?
I tap a beat with my feet for the trees to sway to. Mrs. Something tells me to stop. I tap lightly with my fingers instead. Twenty-three more minutes. My table squeaks.
I stare out the window a bit more until I can feel my eyelids getting heavier and heavier and I just lay my head down on my desk. When I close my eyes, I picture Butters, no-Leo, only he's not walking away from me. He's staring up at me (he being quite a bit shorter than I), and we're linking hands. Time stops. I examine his golden hair; it's catching the sunlight as he moves closer to me. His wide eyes are bluer than the sky, and rimmed by long lashes that brush his cheek when he looks shyly downwards. My gaze travels down his cheeks to his red lips, so full and lovely. I want so much to taste them, to taste the strawberries, to taste him.
My phone vibrates against my hip, breaking me out of my reverie. I flip my phone open under the desk, silently cursing the person who has interrupted my daydreaming. Of course; Cartman.
Cartman: fag I need to tlk 2 you @ break
Cartman: i'll tell u @ break u poor shit
Cartman: fuck u
Me: u wish
I close my cell and sigh. My next attempt with Butters will have to wait until lunch.
"What is it, Cartman?"
I jump from surprise, but try to play it off like I knew he was there. I turn around.
Kenny stares at me, a bored look on his face as he takes a drag on his cigarette.
"Ay!" I cry, snatching the cancer stick from his hand and throwing it to the ground. "Even if you can't die from these shit sticks doesn't mean you have to force me to breathe your cancer-infested smoke!"
Kenny rolls his eyes languorously. "Whatever, dude, the smoke won't kill you."
"Second-hand smoke kills, you white piece of trash!"
"Oh, sorry, didn't know we were members of DARE America," grumbles Kenny, pulling out another cigarette. "Is our PETA meeting tomorrow or on Wednesday?"
"Shut up, you whiny asshole," I say, grabbing the second cigarette. "Now, I asked you here today because I believe you are withholding important information from me."
Kenny raises one eyebrow, pushing his blond hair away from his face. "What information?"
I sigh, tapping my shoe against the worn concrete. Kenny was always the hardest to break. It never took much to blackmail Butters into doing my bidding, or to play Stan right into my hands. But I knew that in this case I could not approach either of them. It has to be Kenny. "Okay, Kenny, we can make a deal. I give you what you want, if you give me what I want. I know you know something that I want to know."
Kenny shook his head. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Okay, look you observant asshole," I snarl. "You know something about Kyle and I need to know what it is! I can see that retarded look on your face like you know everything, and I know you've been to Hell and back thousands of times, so you must know something about Kyle that I don't, right?"
"That's totally retarded, dude."
"Keenneeeeyyy..." I whine.
He wrinkles his nose in disgust. "Weird, Cartman, you're way too old for that to be cute." Kenny turns to leave.
Okay, new approach. "Look, Kenny," I say calmly, grabbing his shoulder and turning him around. "I know there's something you want that I can give you. I can get you anything you want; cigarettes, money, food stamps..." I trail off enticingly.
Kenny looks at me with his piercing blue eyes, considering. Damn, it's hard to keep eye contact with this kid. It's like he's peering into your soul, or some shit. I shudder, tempted to rip my eyes away.
"Butters," Kenny says suddenly.
"Kenny," I say slowly. "I'm Cartman, my name is Cartman. You know me from, like, only your entire life."
"No," says Kenny seriously. "Butters. I want Butters."
"What? Really?" Kenny has a thing for Butters? I wasn't expecting that...
"Can you convince Butters to go out with me?" asks Kenny, suddenly shy. He stares at the ground.
I consider, tapping my chin. "Well, I suppose I can convince Butters to be your fucktoy, yes."
Kenny looks up at me, eyes full of rage. Oops, wrong answer. "What is that supposed to mean, Eric?" Oh, shit.
"No, wait," I say, raising my hands to block any attempt Kenny might make to hurt me. "Look, okay, I didn't mean it like that..."
Kenny stares. Despite what I may say about his size, that skinny motherfucker can fight. He has to, anyway, so he can eat a meal without it being ripped out of his hands by his hyena-like family.
"Okay, I can do it. I can convince Butters to go out on a date with you. That's what you want, right?"
Kenny nods, silent.
"Right. So what can you tell me about Kyle."
Kenny sprints through the cafeteria, practically hopping and leaping through the obstacle course of tables and chairs.
"GUYS!" I drop my sandwich in surprise, I realizing too late that Kenny is headed straight for us, and that if he continues at the same speed he will probably rip a hole in the space time continuum.
Kenny, however, defying the laws of physics, slows down immediately and neatly slides into the seat next to mine. "Guys! Party at Clyde's! On Saturday!"
"Cool," I say. I try to match Kenny's grin, though coming to the conclusion that if he's getting this excited over a house party than there really is nothing to do in South Park.
After Kenny informed us of the date and time, we learned that he had economically planned out our whole weekend for us. On Friday night Kenny generously invited us to sleep over at Stan's (whose parents were out of town) and play video games and drink beer. We would then sleep until approximately 4 PM the next day, leaving us enough time to play more video games and get ready for the party. Next we would head to the Clyde's house and "party like it's our birthday" for "it is our right, as decreed by the great Beastie Boys". After doing so we would stumble back to Stan's at about 3 AM and again sleep until 4 PM and nurse our hangovers until it was time to go to school.
Stan agreed readily enough but I was not so sure. For one thing, I doubted my mom would even let me spend one night, let alone two nights, at a stranger's house. And two, we had that Biology exam on Monday.
Kenny, however, foreseeing my reluctance, whipped out a copy of the answer sheet to Monday's test and a permission form for "Space Kamp: a Weekend of Edukational Fun in the Starz!". I wondered briefly if he had found an advertisement for this "Space Kamp" and copied their whimsical misuse of the English alphabet, or if he actually didn't know how to spell.
So that is the reason why I am standing in front of my mother, handing her a permission slip and a brochure for "Space Kamp" that Kenny had procured from an unknown source. According to the pamphlet, activities include star gazing, "moon walking" (pictured: two kids bouncing on a trampoline), and singing David Bowie songs around a campfire. Fortunately, my mom did not reach that part of the pamphlet, having been won over by the words "Kounts as 3 kollege kreditz!!".
Party plans are a go.
Friday; 30 Hours Until the Party
"So, Kyle, you coming over to my place tonight?" Stan asks, working his glob of clay into what looks to be an even bigger glob of clay. Kenny sits next to him, all his attention focused on creating his masterpiece; a huge penis.
"Mr. McCormick!" Our art teacher, Ms. Pritchett, swoops over our table like an overgrown bat. "What in Athena's name is this?" She gingerly picks up Kenny's clay dick, holding it at arms' length.
"It's a dick," says Kenny matter-of-factly. I hastily look down at my own piece of artwork (a robot dinosaur complete with laser gun), hiding my smile.
"Yes, I can see that," sniffs Ms. P, pinching the head of the dick between two ringed fingers and setting it down. "Why don't you put your energies into creating something beautiful? This is not sex education class."
"But dicks are beautiful!" protests Kenny loudly. The class erupts in a chorus of giggles, but Ms. P's sweeping hawk eye cuts the tittering short.
"I expect a true work of art from you, Mr. McCormick," she says, sitting back at her desk with a flourish of layered skirts.
"Lesbian," mutters Kenny darkly, taking apart his clay penis.
I clear my throat loudly, seeing Ms. P's glare aimed at our table. "Uh, anyway. Yeah, I'll be there."
"Cool," says Stan, smiling at me. I look down at my clay dinosaur, this time hiding the blush that was most certainly coloring my face the same shade as my hair.
"God, get a room, you two," says Kenny, forming his clay penis into a deformed vagina.
Stan abruptly stops smiling. "Shut up, dude," he says, glaring at Kenny.
Kenny raises an eyebrow at him. "God, it was a just a joke. Methinks thou dost protest too much..."
Stan huffs and slams a fist into his ball of clay.
"Alrighty then, I'm going for a smoke," says Kenny, sensing danger. "Ms. Pritchett, I have to take a piss!"
Ms. P waves him away, used to his frequent "bathroom breaks".
"Anyway," says Stan, glaring after Kenny. "Meet me after class and we'll walk to my house. We're taking the train tracks so we can go through the back door. Your mom won't see you."
"And, Kyle...I'm glad you're coming," I hear Stan say. I look up to see him smiling again. The smile actually reaches his grey eyes, and I can't help but smile back.
It's halfway through lunchtime and I've already finished my measly ham sandwich and chips.
Today is an oddly calm day, I muse. I gaze around the lunch room, noticing that everyone is eating peacefully; no fights or public break-ups are happening, no one is breaking out in song, no giant reptilian birds are smashing through the ceiling. And most importantly, no one is trying to kill me. Not that these things happen every day in South Park...well, more like they happen every other day. There's usually at least some drama going on between the students. South Park is not this peaceful. Not for long.
But maybe, I think hopefully, stealthily munching on Stan's fries. Maybe today South Park has finally earned a break.
Okay, maybe not.
"You fucking ASSHOLE!"
Everyone in the lunchroom turns in alarm to see Wendy Testaburger burst through the doors, looking as mad as a bull. You can practically see the steam emanating from her nostrils. She stomps over to Cartman's table, waving around a newspaper. Cartman doesn't even look up, but I can see him smirk. Have to admit, the guy's got balls of steel. If I was on the receiving end of Wendy's Wrath I know I wouldn't be so confident...
"Cartman!" repeats Wendy, slapping the newspaper on the table.
"Yes, slut?" says Cartman calmly, still not looking at Wendy or the newspaper. Instead, he dips a fry in ketchup and pops it in his mouth. Wendy turns almost as red as Kyle's hair. I suppress a grin.
"Did you put an ad in the Personals? Supposedly about me?" Wendy grips the table as if for support, knuckles turning white.
"Why, whatever do you mean, my dear?"
"Look at this!" growls Wendy, picking up the newspaper and shoving it in Cartman's face. "I've been getting calls all day!"
"Oh, that," says Cartman, casually waving the paper away. "Yes, I may have put together a little revenge for last week."
"Last week?" Wendy scoffs. "What the fuck did I do last week to deserve this?"
"It's just a little payback for your Fetal Alcohol Syndrome quip."
"That's called banter, Cartman! We were bantering!"
"Oh, Wendy. You must not take joy in other people's misfortunes. How insensitive are you? Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is not a joke. Many people suffer from it and it has ruined many a life."
Wendy grits her teeth, practically shaking out of anger. It seems she is unable to speak.
Stan immediately stands up and walks purposefully to the table, Kyle trailing behind him. Eager to see the result of the fatass' prank, I follow and grab the newspaper from Wendy. Scanning the page quickly, I find the aforementioned ad and burst out laughing.
Naughty underage dirty slut seeks older male to pummel said naughty female's tight ass. Prefer older male to be big and hairy. Beer belly is a must. Ask for Wendy Testaburger. 555-770-2854
Still chuckling, I hand the paper to Stan, Kyle peering curiously over his shoulder. Predictably, Stan does not laugh. He doesn't even smile. He must really still have a thing for Wendy...
"This is really fucked-up, fatass," says Stan, figuratively burning holes in Cartman's skull.
Kyle stares at Cartman, disbelieving. "This is the guy you were talking about," he whispers to Stan.
"Jesus Christ, you guys," says Cartman, rolling his eyes. Wendy and Stan are both glaring at him. "It was just a fucking prank. Get over it, you fuckers. Why don't you two go fist each other and then cry about it."
Wendy bristles. I notice that she's doing her best not to make eye contact with Stan. "Well, you know what, you fucking lardass piece of shit? I'm not gonna take this lying down! You need to learn that you can't just jerk people around for your own amusement! This. Means. War."
And with that, Wendy swipes the newspaper from Stan's hands and marches out of the lunchroom. The room is silent. I realize just now that everybody in the room has been watching this during the whole incident. Clyde is still holding his fork in midair, apparently too distracted to take a bite.
"One thing I don't understand, Cartman," I say, still gazing after Wendy and her lovely rear-end. "Why didn't you just create a craigslist post in the personals? That would have been a lot easier and you could have even posted a photo or something. And, it would have been free."
"Goddammit!" yells Cartman, slapping his forehead. "Fuck, why didn't I think of that?"
I manage to steal a few fries from Cartman's plate while he distractedly mumbles obscenities under his breath.
I pace around my room in circles, fuming. I pick up my cell, debating whether or not to call Bebe, or Red, just someone who will listen to my complaints and insults about Cartman. Would that even help me? It might help me cool off a bit...But, deciding that my friends probably don't want to hear me whine, I toss the phone back on my bed. I need to take my mind off of this, that's all...just need something to distract me...I nearly run to my computer and hop on to my chair. If anything can take my mind off of Cartman, it's browsing aimlessly on the internet...
I glance through my email and Facebook almost feverishly, wishing for something, anything to catch my eye. When that doesn't work I continue to browse all of my favorite websites, but still nothing distracts me, even for a moment.
Shit. Fuck Eric Cartman for making me obsess over this! What I would give to make that stupid piece of shit feel as humiliated and embarrassed as I feel now!
And then it hits me. What I need to do is get revenge. Then maybe that stupid fat fuck will finally learn his lesson and we can get on with our lives.
I solemnly pull open my closet and examine the contents critically. Tapping my chin in thought, I finally settle on a few outfits and toss them on my bed.
This is gonna be sweet.
I'm walking to the bathroom to have a smoke when I'm ambushed by the fatass.
"Hey, Kenny," he says, in that annoying way of his. I cross my arms and frown at him, waiting for him to tell me what he wants.
"I just wanted to let you know that I've convinced Butters to come with you to the party..."
"Really?" I say eagerly before I can stop myself. "I've been trying to get him to go out with me since...well, how did you convince him?"
"Oh," says Cartman, nonchalantly. "Just told him I would eat his parents' souls if he didn't go with you. Kidding, kidding," he adds when I uncross my arms step toward him threateningly. "I just told him you want to be friends or some shit. Really, the kid is desperate for some butt-fucking. Kidding!"
I lower my raised fist, considering. "So, he thinks we're going as friends?"
"Yeah. But you can slip a roofie in his drink and get it out of your system. Wanna buy some?"
I ignore this. Well, at least the fatass got Butters to agree to go at all...
"So, did you find out anything about Kyle?"
"What?" I say, distracted. "Oh, well, not really. Still working on it. I mean, he's a cool dude, I don't know what your problem is with him anyway..."
"You know," says Cartman, examining his fingernails. "I could tell Butters that you are the spawn of Satan and that your semen would burn holes through his intestines..."
"Okay, okay," I sigh. "I don't know what you would possibly do with this information, but he's totally in love with Stan."
The fatass' face goes blank. "Really?" he says blandly. "What else?"
"Well, I think Stan kinda likes him, too."
"Yeah, but that's all I know so far."
"Hmm. Well, let me know if you have more information. Remember, you still owe me." Cartman turns and waddles away, looking over his shoulder at me sinisterly. I can feel my stomach clench anxiously as his glance turns into a wide grin.
I'm probably going to regret this.
Oh, god, I am definitely regretting this.
"I thought we were just gonna, you know, drink beer..."
"And what goes great with beer?" says Kenny, waving the joint in front of my face.
Kenny passes it Stan, who raises it to his lips and inhales deep, causing the joint to crackle slightly. A cloud of smoke escapes his pouting lips and I stare, entranced.
"It's not so bad," says Stan, passing it to me. "You'll like it, I swear."
I take the thing between my index finger and thumb, examining it warily. "Won't this, like, get me addicted to crack, or something?"
Kenny laughs, snatching the joint from me and taking a hit. "Naw, that's just what the adults say cause they want the stuff all for themselves."
"I don't think that's the reason," I say, imagining my mom hoarding a collection of bongs. "Not at all..."
Stan takes the joint from Kenny and scoots closer to me, putting it between my lips. "Now breathe," he says, eyes staring into mine.
Kenny's gone out on a beer run (his parent's house) and I'm alone with Kyle. Which wouldn't normally be a bad thing. Expect for the whole totally-not-gay crush I have on him.
Kyle glances down at his hands. "You know, I've never held hands with someone."
I scoff at this, nearly spilling my drink. Kyle glares. Oh. He's serious. "So?"
"So," he continues, rocking back and forth on his chair. "I dunno. It's just that, the act of holding hands is so sensual."
At this I nearly choke on my beer. "Wha?" I gasp, managing to swallow.
"It's because," says Kyle defensively. "Our hands are kind of like windows...to who we are, you know? We use our hands for almost everything."
"Like jacking it?"
Kyle punches my arm playfully. "No, dumbass, like writing and eating and doing stuff."
"So when you hold hands you let that person in on who you are."
"I guess that makes sense." I really don't know what to say to him. What does he want me to do, hold his hand? I take another swig of beer. Not that I really would mind holding Kyle's hand. Actually, I think it would be kind of nice. Like, warm and comforting.
"I'm sorry, Stan," whispers Kyle suddenly. There's something in his voice that makes me look up quickly. His eyes are on me.
"Sorry? Sorry for what?"
His eyes. His sad eyes burn with such an...an intensity. It's like a green fire. I need to look away but I can't. It hurts but I don't want to.
"For...for this." Kyle stands up from his chair, swaying slightly. His eyes never leave mine. He's still holding his beer. He takes a few steps towards my chair, hesitates, and then lunges towards me and clumsily straddles me. Surprised, I lean backwards in my chair. Kyle grabs my right hand. We thread fingers slowly, and I relish the feeling of his firm palm against mine. It is nice. Really nice. Kyle's face is moving closer, oh God, what do I do? Should I push him off? I should push him off. But God he's closing his eyes and his lips are wet and his breath is so warm and it smells like the Captain Morgan we were drinking earlier...
And then he kisses me. Or I kiss him. Or we both kiss. Oh God, it's so good and warm and sticky and I never want to wake up from this dream.
And then it's over. And Kyle scurries off of my lap and into his own chair. I'm touching my lips. I can still feel him. Kyle puts his face in his hands. His ears are red. Hell, I think my whole body is red.
Kyle speaks first. "I'm so sorry." He's looking down at his feet, long eyelashes brushing his cheek. When he looks up again I can see the tears in his eyes. I lower myself onto the carpet and crawl towards him until I'm on my knees in front of him. Then, slowly, as if proffering a loaded gun, I offer him my hand. Kyle hesitates visibly.
I start to lower my hand, but Kyle seizes it and lowers himself onto the floor and sits across from me. I sit down. We stay like that for a while; two teenage boys leaning away from each other, but not so far as to break our awkward handshake.
After what seems like hours I yank Kyle by the arm, forcing him towards me. I press his hand against my chest. "Feel my heart beating," I say. "Do you feel it beat faster? You know how I feel, you can feel it...but...I..."
I trail off, trying to put my racing thoughts into words. Kyle gazes at me shyly.
I swallow, determined to make him understand. "All I know is what I feel. And even though you only came to South Park a few months ago, I feel like I care for you more than any other person. I mean, I feel like I know you so well. And I'm different with you. And I really like who I am when I'm with you."
"I know what you mean," says Kyle. "I feel like I know you, too. I feel like we've been best frie-"
"Heeeeeerrrrreeeee's Kenny!" cries Kenny, slamming open the front door. Kyle and I leap apart guiltily. Kenny looks at us suspiciously. "Did I...interrupt something?" He gives me a shit-eating grin. "Room for one more?"
"Shut the fuck up, dude," I say, but I can't keep a stupid smile off my face.
"Whatever," he says, arching a brow at us. "Wanna play Mario Kart?"
A few hours later I'm staring at the ceiling and pointing out constellations to Stan. We're lying on our backs on the carpet, legs almost touching, and I couldn't be happier. Kenny is busy playing Mario Kart by himself, trying to use two controllers at the same time.
"And that's Andromeda," I continue, giggling slightly. "And there's the big dipper, and..."
"Leo," says Kenny suddenly. "Where's that?"
"Over there," I say, pointing wildly over to my left.
"I'm learning a lot from Space Kamp," says Stan, and I dissolve into laughter. I shift my hips so that part of me is touching Stan, too. The world is spinning and I picture the stars swirling overhead.
Another hour of pointing and giggling and Kenny is fast asleep on the couch, controller in hand.
"My face is numb," I inform Stan solemnly. Stan sits up and pokes my face.
"Can you feel that?"
Stan leans closer and pokes my face again. "How about that?"
Stan puts my head in his lap and bends over me. "How about this..." He blows on my face.
"No..." I say, breathless.
"Then, how about this..." He touches his lips to mine.
"Yes," I say, reaching up and pulling his head to me.
God. I hate parties. Stupid sons of bitches have no idea what they're doing.
I march down the sidewalk, keeping vague tabs on the patches of ice that litter my path.
Everyone is so fucking retarded. Parties aren't even that fun. They always end in tears and shit. Or lamentable sexcapades.
I keep my eyes on the snow as I walk towards the loudest house on the street. There are multicolored lights flashing obnoxiously through the windows and it's painfully obvious the place crawling with sexed up minors in possession of cheap beer. Clyde's house. Fucking Clyde. What a fucking dipshit. Where the fuck are the cops?
I swear to God I will never understand why anyone would throw a party. Everyone is there touching your shit or puking on your carpet and you gotta clean up after them...fuck, Clyde's not even going to do that, the lazy son of a bitch. That dumbass is just going to get busted by his parents.
Son of a bitch. I hate parties.
I stomp up the steps and let myself in. The first thing to hit me is the noise of shitty music, which was pretty fucking loud outside to begin with. The next is the smell.
Goddammit. I hate parties.
There are people. People everywhere. There are people grinding to the music in the family room. People on the couch smoking. People in the kitchen drinking. People passed on the floor. And there's probably an orgy going on in the bedroom. Hell, there's even a guy on top of the pool table dancing like a fucking asshole.
Fuck. Where the hell is Kenny? I fucking hate parties.
It's dark. I grab some kid's glowstick, trying to pick my way through the crowd, looking for Kenny or Stan. Fuck it, even Butters. Where are you assholes?
A shock of pink catches my eye. It's a girl; she's wearing a tight pink dress. She's hot, the fucking ho. The girl dances to the rhythm. Her back is facing me and, consequently, so is her ass. I stare, following her movements. The girl is fucking shit-faced. I grin. She turns around. My mouth drops open.
It's Wendy. Fucking Wendy Testaburger.
I immediately turn around, feeling dirty. Goddamn. That girl has no right...absolutely no right to such a hot ass.
I cringe as my name is called. Oh God, I know it's Wendy. Should I ignore her? Yes. But what if she knows I'm ignoring her and calls me a pussy or something? Shit, that doesn't matter. I'm just going to pretend she just didn't call my name...
But as I conclude my mental debate I feel a hand on my shoulder. Shit. I turn around. Surprise, surprise. It's Wendy.
Wendy pouts as I remove her hand from my shoulder. Her eyeliner is heavy and her lipgloss is shiny. Still, I like her freckles. And her nose. And her eyes. Damn her.
"Cartman," she whines. "You never come to parties..."
"Why should I? You dickheads are just a bunch of slutty drunks with low self-esteem."
Wendy frowns. "Cause its fun." She slurs a little. "Dance with me."
My eyes widen. "Wha-no."
"Come on," she says, pulling on my hand. I pull back. She grabs again.
"Stop it," I say, snatching back my hand.
Wendy flicks her black hair irritably. "Goddamn, stop being such a baby! It's just a fucking dance."
I break eye contact and look down at my shoes. Wendy's boobs are in the way. I look up. She's close, oh God, almost touching...so close I could count her eyelashes, or something gay like that.
"No, I don't dance." I take a step back.
"Yes. You do." With surprising force Wendy grabs my hand and pulls me in front of her, shoving me toward the mass of writhing bodies.
I protest weakly but I really do want to dance with her...but it'd be so much better if she'd just let me watch. I really don't dance.
When we manage to squeeze our way into the throng Wendy drops my hand and starts to dance. Oh, God, she's beautiful...I can't move. I'm frozen. This is a dream. Or a nightmare.
She notices I'm not dancing. "Cartman," she says, all huffy. "Do something."
I put my arms around her, hands on her waist. Goddammit, I feel like such a pussy. She wriggles around in my arms and I gyrate my hips awkwardly. I try to ignore the fact that my hands are mere inches away from making contact with Wendy's ass, focusing my thoughts on vanilla. Which Wendy happens to smell like. I mean, besides the booze. Damn, I can smell that shit on her breath. How much has she had? Will she remember this tomorrow?
I avoid eye contact, trying to look at anything but her. It's hard. My eyes are automatically drawn to her chest like a Jew to money. Her dress is low cut, but I see that some of the buttons are unbuttoned so that the top of her lacy bra shows. She's barely decent. This bothers me, and I stop her for a second, reaching up to clumsily re-button her dress. I even have to force my hands to stop shaking. What a fucking pussy.
She's looking at me now, trying to catch my eye. I focus on my hands and continue on. Three buttons down, four buttons down...why do they have to make these fucking buttons so small?
Soon I run out of buttons and my hands hover over her breasts for a second too long and I pull back. Too quickly. I can feel the blood rush to my face and I just know it's as red as Satan's ass, Goddammit.
I think Wendy sees this because she smiles like a madwoman and grabs my hands, placing them squarely on her boobs. My hands burn. Oh, no, oh God, no, anything but this...
Wendy is a fucking ho.
Small white teeth bite cherry red lips.
She's a no-good whore.
Brown eyes stare at mine.
She's a hippie-loving skank who doesn't do anything but bitch.
Lashes lower coyly in what I know to be false bashfulness.
Stupid, fucking, dirty, feminist harpy...
Her hands wrap around my neck. My hands travel down her body, finally reaching her ass.
Her warm body presses gently against mine.
Her lips open.
Then suddenly my mind is blank. And my lips are on hers. I can taste the alcohol on her lips but I don't mind. It tastes good and I want more. I feel high.
I love parties.
My spine is gone and I can't move my neck without it flopping around and I think its being held by a string like a balloon about to float away and my heavy breaths are loud screamo bands duking it out. Or maybe those are just the voices in my head and my organs are clean except for my nose my nose is heavy but my eyes are a two way mirror I can see you but you can't see me and my muscles are made out cotton they make it hard to move and in my hands I can feel another hand holding mine, hand that's not there-
The room is spinning. Kyle's laughter echoes in my mind. It's my favorite sound. The room is spinning but I'm listening to my favorite sound. I think I'm okay.
Kyle's face is a blur of red and tan, and I can't have that, so I focus on his lips. Pink and rosy. It doesn't matter if I can't see anything else; I just want Kyle's face. And his lips.
Laughing mouth and teeth and tongue. He's licking his lips now. Why haven't I ever noticed the way Kyle licks his lips? He starts from the left corner of his mouth and slides his tongue over his bottom lip, and then when he gets to the right corner he pauses, and moves back to the left. Over and over. Left right left. And again.
It's like this hypnotizing pendulum. I can't stop staring and Kyle punches me in the shoulder and yells something in my ear. I can't hear it, all I hear is laughter. But I smile anyway, because now Kyle is smiling and when he smiles I do too.
"Staaaan?" The word leaves his mouth in a breath of sticky alcohol. I can feel it on my cheek. "Stan?"
I bob my head in agreement. The world spins faster.
Yes. I am great. I grin at Kyle as he pulls away. Never been better.
"I love you, Kyle." The words spill out on their own accord. But I don't mind.
"Dude, you are so wasted!" He doubles up in a fit of inhebriated laughter. I laugh too. Suddenly Kyle sits up and looks me in the face. His eyes soften. "Love you, too."
I'm kissing Eric Cartman. The thought floats through my mind insignificantly, like a summer-drunk fly buzzing lazily through the air.
I'm kissing Eric Cartman. Slowly, the thought takes on meaning, though I'm not really sure what the meaning is yet. All I know is; I'm kissing Eric Cartman. And, Goddamn, does he taste good!
His tongue is currently somewhere in my throat, and his hand is clutching my ass, and his lips, oh, God, his lips taste like chocolate.
But then, too soon, he tears away from me. In my slightly dizzy state I recognize this as a fairly bad thing. Where'd he go? I want more...
I look up at him as he pushes me away, something like fear in his coffee-brown eyes. And then the full enormity of the situation hits me like an anvil. I just kissed Eric Cartman.
I back away quickly.
I just kissed Eric Cartman...Eric Cartman! The same bastard who made fun of breast cancer! Who killed Scott Tenorman's parents! Who gave Kenny AIDS!
Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
I think he can see what I'm thinking because his face is suddenly blank, eyes unfeeling, face a mask. I'm being shoved around by the dancing crowd, and I can see that Cartman is being pushed farther away from me. I'm entirely happy with this development, but before he can be dragged completely out of reach Cartman snatches my forearm.
"Bitch," His voice is dangerously low, though I hear his growl easily through the noise. "Come on."
He pulls me through the throng and I give. If he tries anything else I'll just kick him in the balls, but his iron grip on my arm seems to imply that he's not quite in the mood...
Once we reach the edge of the mass Cartman drops my arm like a hot potato. He has this weird look on his face, and I have the strangest feeling I'm about to be lectured.
Cartman clears his throat. "Bitch, what the fuck was that?"
I glare, defensive. "We were dancing."
"The fuck? Dancing? That was not dancing!"
"Yes," I say. "It was."
"Bitch, believe me, you were not dancing, you were practically stripping!"
I scoff. "That is a total overstatement! I was not stripping, I-"
"Then how do you explain..." he pauses for a second, gesticulating wildly in my direction, "...this."
"The...well, you know! The kiss."
"Oh, that." Yeah, that. "Well I didn't do that, I was only dancing."
Cartman sputters. "What? Ho, I want to make something perfectly clear: you and you alone are wholly responsible for that entire...incident."
"Me?! You kissed me!"
"Bitch, that is a blatant lie, and you know it."
"Please, Cartman," I say, fuming. "Like I would ever kiss you of all people. Seems like someone just got a little hot and bothered. I was only dancing." I wriggle my hips in demonstration. "Like this. Was it this that bothered you, Cartman?" I push my chest against his, grinding my crotch against his leg. I can see Cartman's cheeks burn, much to my satisfaction. "Is this it? Oh, no...is Cartman feeling a little funny in his special area?"
He pushes me away roughly. "Fuck you."
"You wish you could," I laugh. I feel high. "The best you're ever going to get will probably be from your own mother!"
"Don't be so sure," sneers Cartman. "Everyone knows what a slut you really are; no one will touch you because we all know you're diseased."
"That is not true!"
"Yeah, you know, we all get a pretty good laugh from you, Wendy. Thinking you're such hot shit...it's sad, really."
"Bullshit!" I know he's lying, but I can't help the tears that spring suddenly in my eyes. What is it about Cartman? How is it that he can make me so angry at nothing? Why is it that he can hurt me so badly?
"No, it's not. Really, it's not. All the guys say so; they all think you're a contagious whore."
I want to hurt him. I want to rip his throat out, his spleen, his kidney, I don't care, anything. I just want to see his blood on my fingers.
"I can get any guy I want!"
"Oh, really!" Cartman's lips curl into a disgusting smirk. "That is so incredibly adorable, so cute."
"N-no..." I will not cry I will not cry I will. Not. Cry.
"My God, you are so pathetic."
Snap. I turn, face blank, mind empty of everything except the very strong desire to prove Cartman wrong. I search the crowd until I find one familiar, unoccupied face. Stan. Stan's laughing face laughing with Kyle drinking beer laughing pretty happy laughs. There is nothing I want more than Stan's lips on mine and his arm around me and Cartman left in the dust. He is wrong, he is so wrong.
I stride toward Stan purposefully and sit on his lap.
I silence him with my mouth on his. Rejection is not an option. I place one hand on his chest; the other is tangled in his hair. Bite his lips, suck his tongue, bite, pull, bite, pull, reel that sucker in. Soon that sucker is mine and he gives into the kiss, tentatively sliding his hands down my back.
And just behind Stan's head I can see Cartman's horrified face.
Bite, suck, pull. Revenge is sweeter than chocolate.
That. Fucking. Slut.
How dare she? How dare she?
I can see her looking at me with those big blue eyes, sucking face with that dumbass right in front of me! Fuck. That. Bitch.
But I can't look away.
And why is it that all I really want to do is mutilate Stan? I mean, she practically jumped the guy...but, look at him! Look, he is kissing her back, Goddammit! And where are those hands going? Oh, Holy Fucking Christ...
I am going to kill Stan. I swear to God, I will rip those tiny balls off. I will circumcise that motherfucker!
He is so gonna die.
I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and stomped on.
This can't be happening.
I stare at Stan in horror as he sucks face with the class president.
This really can't be happening.
His hand is moving slowly downwards, stroking the small of her back lovingly.
Oh, god, I think I'm gonna...
I get up and push past the crowd, making it to the front step before I vomit in the snow.
I remember that night with a painful clarity despite the massive amount of alcohol I had consumed earlier that evening.
I remember my plan had been to have a couple of drinks at the party and tell Butters how I felt. That was all. But one bottle of cheap beer led to another, and soon I was pounding shots.
"Hey, Butters," I exclaim as he trips though the door. "You came!" I wrap my arm loosely around his shoulders and he grins.
"Yeah, well, you invited me, Kenny," Butters reminds me, smiling up at me before gazing around the room. "Also, Eric told me that he would eat my parents if I didn't come...Well, now, it sure is crowded in here."
Yeah, it is. The living room is overflowing with sweaty teenagers grinding to the blasting music, while the people in the kitchen are currently engaged in a drunken game of "How Many Lunchmeat Slices Can You Stick to the Ceiling?" God only know what's going on in the basement.
"Hey, come on," I say loudly over the music, "let's go somewhere more quiet."
I grab Butters' hand and he follows as I pull him down the hall.
The first bedroom is occupied, and I quickly shut the door before Butters can learn any details about the complexities of Kama Sutra. The second bedroom is, thankfully, empty, and I lead Butters in before locking the door behind me.
Butters collapses on the bed with an exaggerated sigh. I smile and sit next to him.
"Gee, Kenny," says Butters, staring up at the ceiling, "Sure is a zoo out there."
At this point I am barely listening, just nodding and staring. Butters lays spread eagle on the bed, dark eyelashes framing large blue eyes. So long and pretty, like a cow's. I scoot closer to Butters and admire the way he wrinkles his button nose, rosebud lips gently curved in a natural pout. The effect reminds me of a portrait of I once saw of a baby. Butters is a cherubim. Short blonde hair curls just so under his earlobes and enhance the image. God, he is so beautiful.
Slowly, my gaze travels farther along Butters' body. Butters' shirt is pulled up just so, revealing a patch of soft, glowing skin and a fine sprinkling of blonde hair, leaving a tantalizing trail leading under his pants. I want to see more.
Without thinking I slip my hand under his shirt and rub his chest. He flinches in surprise-my hands are pretty cold after all- but he soon relaxes. He's so perfect...
Butters giggles. "Stop it, Ken, that tickles." I realize suddenly that I am fingering his nipple. I withdraw and stand up, pulling Butters with me. But the world is spinning...I grasp his arm for support, not surprised that the arm I'm holding is lean, but muscular and strong. He steadies me with his hands on my shoulders and I use the opportunity to slide my arms around his waist.
"Let's dance," I slur, wriggling my hips in demonstration.
He laughs. "Okay."
We step two and fro clumsily, due mostly to the fact that I keep smacking into Butters and stepping on his feet. But I don't mind. My hands are pretty much on his ass, and I couldn't be happier. Only...
"Butters," I say, stopping in the middle of my frantic jig.
"I need to tell you something."
"Okay." He grins up at me, so innocent...
I take a deep breath. Here goes nothing. "Butters- Leo..." I pause, trying to sift through my foggy mind for the words I had planned to say. "I..." I can't remember, what were those awesome metaphors I stole from Kyle? Goddammit, what am I supposed to say?
Butters watches me expectantly, patiently waiting for my response. But I don't have one. And, lacking all the words I had planned, and, frankly, any words at all, I decide to show him.
I bend down to capture his lips in my own and promptly melt.
His lips...oh God they are so soft and perfect and wet and oh Christ oh Jesus oh Mary-
Butters jerks away. "K-Ken..."
I take a shaky breath. "Butters, I-"
"No, Kenny, I c-can't..." His face is beet red, apologetic. "I'm sorry."
And for the second time I find myself lost for words. And then with another stuttered apology Butters is gone.
I can still taste him on my lips. I close my eyes and savor the feeling. He was mine for a moment.
But never again.
I lie face down on the bed, allowing my sobs to flow between muffled gasps for air.
I'm standing underneath the bleachers in my regular spot, nursing a cigarette. Vague memories of the party bounce back and forth through my head.
The image of Butters' face especially, is stuck in my head and plays over and over again in my mind like a broken record.
God, I'm so stupid.
But, fuck! The taste of his lips on mine almost makes the pain of rejection worth it...
My fingers automatically touch my lips and for a beautiful second I relive the contact.
I drop my cigarette at the sound, guiltily stuffing my hand in my pocket. But when I see Craig I breathe a mental sigh of relief.
The idiot is smirking at my expense. "Oh, fancy seeing you here, Tucker," I say, trying to regain my composure.
"Don't be stupid," he replies, leaning against the brick wall. I say nothing, waiting for him to continue. "I need to...I need..."
I pass him cigarette while helping myself to another. I flick on my lighter, watching with slight fascination as the flame pops out of nowhere. I offer Craig the flame and he nods.
We smoke our cigarettes in silence, until I interrupt.
"So, Tucker," I begin, "Need to blow off a little steam?"
He shivers and nods, looking past me.
"So, what was it this time, did our dear little spaz drop his coffee and bend over in front of you or something?"
"Shut up, Kenny. I'm not in the mood."
"Well, I don't blame you, Tucker, I wouldn't mind pounding that sweet ass myself."
"Shut the fuck up, Kenny," Craig hisses, presenting me with his middle finger.
Slowly I grin; taking Craig's proffered finger and putting it in my mouth. Craig's brown eyes widen comically, but he doesn't pull back. I suck his finger, leisurely pulling it in and out, in and out, my tongue and lips working, caressing, kissing, licking...
In. Craig swallows noticeably and his eyes flutter close.
Out. "Clean your nails, next time, Craig," I say, pulling him closer.
In. Craig moans. I nibble his finger gently. He drops his cigarette.
Out. "You know the deal."
Craig nods. I slither my arm around his neck and swoop in for a kiss. But with sudden force, Craig pushes me roughly against the wall and I laugh. My head hurts like fuck, though. He pins my wrists above my head and bites my neck, rhythmically thrusting his hips against my crotch. I feel myself rise to him easily.
"You beast," I tease, squirming under him.
"No talking," he mutters breathily in my ear and covers my mouth with his own. I oblige.
With every thrust he takes I feel something pierce my soul. And not just his dick.
The pain is palpable. I can feel it tighten in my throat, harden my heart, freeze my mind. And it's not just my pain, either.
Craig pushes against me desperately, trying to get closer, get deeper. I try to enjoy the feeling but a cloud of melancholy fogs my mind. The sound of him pushing and straining is all I can hear, and I concentrate on the rhythm of Craig's lust. But the words keep coming, playing along with the beat.
He. Is. Not. Yours.
I missed the bus today.
When I caught sight of the tail end of the yellow bus rolling away in the snow, I wasn't surprised. I wasn't mad. I didn't cry. I was just resigned.
This kind of thing tends to happen to me rather often. I'm used to it. I just have bad luck, I guess.
Though, I suppose when your Literature Studies teacher asks to talk to you after class, you can't just tell him to fuck off. I've got a B- in that class, I've got to do some major ass-kissing before I manage to get my grade up to an A...
Speaking of ass-kissing...I glance down at my thin, low-cut top. It's not that I need to flirt with teachers in order to get good grades; I don't. It just helps. It's easier. A year ago I would've flown off the handle if I knew Bebe was doing that sort of thing...which she did and still does. But now...
I don't know.
I stare out at the heavy rainfall from under the shade structure. I let Bebe borrow my jacket this morning. At least I have rain boots.
I have very bad luck.
The rain falls in large droplets that soak me in seconds. I sneeze. My jeans are spattered with mud.
A surge of anger fills my chest and deflates just as quickly. I don't have the energy to be angry; I'm too tired.
A gust of wind rises suddenly and assails me with icy pinpricks that stab my face and neck. I hug myself tighter, trying to trap what little warmth my body heat has to offer. It isn't much.
I seek shelter inside my mind, but memories of the party circle my brain like vultures. I can't stop thinking about it, and once again I review the situation. The situation being Stan.
Stan. Why did I kiss you?
I remember being rejected by Cartman...that memory is sticks out painfully clear in mind. But I honestly don't blame him. I was hammered and horny. And he was just...there. And nothing between us could spark any kind of healthy relationship. We hate each other. He knew that. It was better for both of us.
I also recall sobering up a bit at the realization that I was kissing Eric Cartman. I remember disgust, and then the argument...
And then Stan. And now Stan.
It's not that I regret kissing Stan. It's just that...well, now we're together again, and I don't really know what to do about that. Because I hadn't meant it that way. I'm fond of Stan, but to be his girlfriend again?
I've known Stan all my life, and even spent most of it obsessing over him. And I know that he and I make a perfect couple. We have the same values and morals, the same tastes, the same temperament. Hell, we even look alike. We could be related. And therein lies the problem: we are too perfect together.
I mean, sure, we broke up a lot, but that's because we got bored. In fact, I don't remember a single one of our break-ups resulting from a fight. Because we both agreed, the feeling was mutual. We were bored. We wanted more.
And now? It's a bit like beating a dead horse.
But Stan wants to. And I need to be loved by someone.
My thoughts are interrupted as I hear the crunch of car tires approaching. Great, now I'm going to be splattered again. I brace myself for the inevitable, but the splash of ice does not come. I glance behind me. The car is following me!
I speed up my pace and my heartbeat does the same. I can't help but recall all those warnings about strangers in cars. Oh, God, what if he's a kidnapper, or a rapist, or a murderer? If I die now, my life will amount to nothing! I'll only be remembered as the stupid teenage girl who decided to walk home alone in the rain without even a measly can of Mace! How pathetic.
My would-be aggressor continues to follow me at a slow pace, and after a few minutes of anxious fast-walking, the rational side of my brain suggests that the vehicle might belong to my parents. And besides, what are the chances of being raped in South Park?
...I consider this. Pretty high, actually. Oh, well, if I'm raped, then so be it. Might as well get it over with...
I chance another glimpse over my shoulder and squint my eyes at the driver. To my immense relief I discover a familiar face. However, relief is short-lived as I recognize the face of Eric Cartman. I speed up considerably.
Compared to this, a rapist would have been a welcome surprise.
Oh, Jesus Christ, he's almost level with me now...and he's rolling down the window.
I stare in front of me, trying to ignore the rush of blood heating my face.
"I said, ay, ho!"
Don't you dare respond, Wendy Testaburger. It's what he wants-
"Hey, make me a sandwich, you good for nothing vagina!"
"What did you say?" I yelp, turning sharply to meet his gaze.
Cartman smirks. "Finally got your attention, ho."
Goddammit. I turn to ignore him again.
"Hey, no, stop that!"
No. Go away.
"Testaburger? I was just kidding."
Leave me alone.
"...Wendy? Hey, just listen to me for a second."
"Look, I just wanted to offer you a ride."
A...ride? I stop and stare at him with frank surprise. Cartman, offering me a ride? "In your car?" I ask disbelievingly.
Cartman blushes slightly. "Yes, in my car, where else, you stupid slut? Just get in."
I pause, uncertain. This is Cartman. What if this is some kind of trap? Oh, but his car looks so warm and dry...
"Hello, Earth to whore. Get. In."
And against my better judgment, I swallow my pride and obey.
The inside of the car is just as warm and toasty as I had imagined. I lean back and enjoy the heat. I can feel the ice melt off my face.
Cartman clears his throat. I don't care. I defrost in bliss.
An unexpected black blur is tossed into my lap. It's a jacket.
"Here," Cartman says gruffly. "You're practically naked."
I blanch at the comment and look down. Oh, yeah.
Gratefully, I cover myself with the jacket.
"So, you're kind of a dumb bitch."
I raise an eyebrow at Cartman. "You really need to come up with some new material, Cartman, it's getting very dry."
"No, you stupid ho," he spits. "I mean, what were you doing out in the fucking snow, wandering around without a fucking jacket? And barely a shirt."
"I missed the bus," I cry defensively. "And it's not my fault Bebe borrowed my jacket beforehand!"
"God," Cartman mutters, tightening his grip on the steering wheel. "You're going to get yourself killed. What if you got kidnapped or some shit like that?"
I shrug absentmindedly. "I was asking myself the same thing when I heard you trailing me."
Cartman purses his lips girlishly for a few seconds before tearing into me again. "Well, you're lucky, bitch, that I was here to save your ass. You owe me big-time, sister."
I scoff. Leave it to Cartman to turn one small favor into an entire rescue mission.
"So...you and Stan, huh?"
"What? Oh, that..."
"Yes, that," he says through gritted teeth, tightening his grip on the steering wheel.
"Well..." I say, tapping my chin thoughtfully. "It just happened, really. I mean, we were bound to get together again sometime."
"What do you mean?" asks Cartman, shooting a glance at me.
"Keep your eyes on the road! Jesus...well, I don't know why I'm telling you this, of all people, but Stan and I are meant to be together."
Cartman snorts. "Keep telling yourself that, bitch."
"We are!" I say defensively. "I just know it."
"Wendy, just because you guys want to fuck each other it doesn't mean that you belong together."
I stare at Cartman, shocked. So maybe there is some intelligence in that twisted brain after all?
"Here's your place," he says, pulling into my driveway.
I open the door to get out but before I do, I turn to him. "Cartman, uh...thanks for, you know, the ride."
"Get the fuck out, cunt," he says, but I can see that he's smiling.
You'd think when you commit suicide there'd be more fanfare. Like, a crowd of people cheering you on or something. Instead you get a dark, dirty bedroom and the neighbor's cat watching you from the window.
And a shotgun.
I know, really white trash, right? But kinda badass, too, I you think about it. And it's not like I haven't used the shotgun on myself before.
Thirty-five times, in fact. But most of time, when I commit suicide, it's to get out of an assignment or too scare the shit out of my parents. This time, though, it feels...different.
The only other time when I really meant it was last year. The clearest memory I have of that night after I'd taken those pills was of Stan bursting through the door of my bedroom and grabbing me by the shoulders. He shook me, hard. It made me resurface slightly from the enveloping fog. He'd had tears in his eyes and they glittered like tiny diamonds as they fell. I remember reaching for them, wanting to capture their beauty. Cartman soon entered my frame of vision, his face red with...anger, perhaps? His chapped lips stretched across his teeth in a grimace. Butters hovered in the background; I could barely see him over the top of Stan and Cartman's heads. He stood still, face white and shocked. My vision slid in and out of focus, my friend's faces becoming fuzzy and then sharp almost dizzyingly. I didn't feel fear. I felt relief.
Now I feel guilt.
I know it was my fault. It was my fault we fell apart. We used to be friends, but I scared the shit out of Butters and Cartman. Stan was the only one who stood by me, even though I didn't deserve it. But he has Kyle now.
And I'll always be alone.
I place the shotgun between my legs, holding it between my knees. My chin hovers over the barrel, cold metal brushing my skin.
I reach down and-
Everything's white. The color of bleach. I sigh with relief, even though I have no corporeal form to sigh with. Even still, I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I always feel like this after I die. It's refreshing.
I'm in what is essentially a waiting room. It even smells like the waiting room in a dentist's office. When we die, we end up here for a while The Powers That Be decide where to dump our souls. Heaven or Hell? Or Narnia? I don't know, I'm usually sent to Hell. Been to Heaven a few times, but Hell is way more fun.
Anyway, the waiting room is the place to reflect on our sins and/or righteousness. Usually I just watch old reruns of Terrence and Phillip from my memories.
But this time, something else niggles at my non-existent brain. I'm struck with a memory:
I'm stretched out on the well-worn couch in Stan's basement. Stan and Kyle are currently hacking and slashing their way through Halo, while Cartman sits on the arm of the couch, watching them critically and making pointed observations when necessary, such as "Now, Kahl, don't go blowing up Stanley into smithereens just yet. Don't you want him to stick his tongue in your ass before he unloads a pound of white gold into it?"
"Shut it, fatass!" Kyle replies angrily, too busy aiming grenades at Stan to really think up creative come-backs.
"Oh, yeah? Come at me, you dumb Jew!"
The memory fades, replaced by a new one:
I'm looking into the bowl of a toilet. A familiar sight. Kyle is behind me, rubbing my back soothingly. But I can also hear his voice, reprimanding me.
"I can't believe you did this to yourself again! Do you want to die of alcohol poisoning? Yes? Well, fuck you, what the fuck am I doing here then? Sorry? Don't apologize to me, apologize your future self..."
Again, the memory fades only to be replaced by another:
I'm in class throwing crumpled up pieces of paper at the back of Cartman's head. He glares at me evilly over his shoulder, knowing he can't do anything about it when he's sitting in the front row, but silently telling me I'm gonna pay for it later...
Kyle and Stan sit directly in front of me, hands linked between their desks.
Stan and Kyle share a quick kiss on the couch-
Kyle is flushing my weed down the toilet-
My eyes open. I'm in my bedroom. The light streaming in from the window tells me its morning.
I have to tell Cartman.
"Cartman!" I hear my name called through my bedroom window. I open it and look down. It's Kenny, looking like he's seen The Sixth Sense for the very first time. I shut my window.
"Cartman! Come down here, fatass!" I studiously ignore him, returning to my daily brood. Now, how to punish Wendy and Stan for their slight against me?
I sigh, going to the window and opening it once again. "Whatever drug you are on, you white trash piece of shit, I don't care. I'm not buying, selling, or taking care of your poor ass."
"It's not that, it's important!"
Well, better to deal with him now so I can get back to business...
I come down and meet him out in my front yard. "Alright, I'll bite. What the fuck is it?"
"It's Kyle!" he gasps. I wait for explanation.
After an insufferable amount of panting on white trash boy's part, I add "...And?"
"Kyle, I-I saw him, when I died, I had, like, memories of him. Of us!"
"And what exactly were you smoking at the time?"
"Nothing, I swear to god."
"God means nothing to me," I say, turning back toward the house.
"Wait! Okay, I had a beer and I had a smoke, but only because I was about to kill myself."
I pause. "On purpose?"
"You fuck!" I scream, whirling back around to face him. "That night was one of the most inconvenient nights of my entire life! Do you know I had to comfort Butters. Butters!"
"I'm sorry," he says, face drained of all blood. "I just, couldn't handle it anymore...my dad, school, everything was-"
"You were selfish," I hiss. "You tried to kill yourself for real because you were too stoned to care about anything but yourself. And you had only you. And you hated it; you know why? Because you're a fucking poor piece of shit!"
"I know, I-"
"Butters cared about you. And you abandoned him."
Kenny's eyes begin to well with tears and his mouth opens and closes like a fish drowning in oxygen. Good. He deserves it.
I turn away from him and head back to my house. Hand on the doorknob, I say, "Are you coming in or what? I want your fucking information."
After a good deal of explanation on Kenny's part and a good deal of deliberation on my part, I have come to the conclusion that Kenny was probably drunk and/or stoned out of his mind. I've tried to kick him out repeatedly (some of my tactics include bear mace and holy water), but the dirty hippie has camped out on my couch. I should have known never to let in the poor. All they do is take advantage of your hospitality until they've sucked you dry of all your Cheesy Poofs and PBR.
"Filthy welfare trash," I mutter, sitting next to him on the couch.
"We've got to see Dr. Mephesto," he says, for about the thousandth time. "He's the only one we can talk to."
"And why is that?" I ask for about the ten thousandth time.
"Because he's, like, a scientist, or something."
"That man is a fucking crackhead. Plus, he's a geneticist. He doesn't deal in stoner dreams."
"Well, maybe we should talk to Stan's dad? He's a geologist."
I sigh, closing my eyes and pinching the bridge of my nose. "Are you actually this retarded?'
"Well, alright, fine. We'll go see Dr. Strangelove and then I can finally prove to you what a poor piece of stoner, hippie shit you are."
As we reach the mansion, located on a sinister-looking hill, I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise with static electricity. Storm clouds are gathering around the mansion and lightning strikes every few seconds, illuminating our surroundings. The hill and its driveway are littered with discarded test tubes and other creepy, scientific objects. I figure Dr. Mephesto hasn't left his home in a long time.
We ring the ass-shaped doorbell, and after some shuffling sounds and muffled curses, the doctor cracks open the door.
"Is that the delivery boy with my pizza? I said on the phone I won't tip if there aren't extra anchovies and pineapple."
"Dr. Alphonse Mephesto?" I ask tentatively.
"Yes? What do you want?" One pale blue eye, visible through the crack, focuses on me. I shiver involuntarily.
"We want information, doctor," says Cartman. "You see, my friend here won't leave me alone unless I bring him to you so that you can interpret his dreams."
"Dreams?" repeats the doctor anxiously. "I don't do that anymore. It doesn't pay well."
"That's not what we want," I interject, shooting Cartman a shit-the-fuck-up look. "I'm Kenny. And I die a lot. This time, when I died, my life flashed before my eyes, only it wasn't my life. The memories is had were mine, but I don't remember-"
"Ah! Visions of an alternate timeline!" cries Dr. Mephesto, opening the door wide. "Come in, come in."
We step cautiously inside. The room, or I should say, Mad Scientist Obsessed with Ass Laboratory, is not how I remember it. The previously pristine lab is now dirty, floor littered in broken glass and mysterious liquids. I hear animals skittering across the floor, but in the dingy room I can only make out an ass-covered ball of fur here and there.
I take in the doctor's appearance for the first time. He looks much older and more tired, with a rumpled aloha shirt and dark circles around his eyes. He seems to be relying on his cane much more heavily than I remember.
The doctor leads us into what seems to be the main part of the lab, with a gigantic monitor on the wall and a well-worn couch sitting in front of it.
"This," says the doctor. "Is my window to other worlds."
"Most of us call it TV," mumbles Cartman, looking bored.
"But not quite," says the doctor, raising a finger. "This little beauty can actually show us alternate dimensions, worlds you could never imagine."
"Okay," says Cartman, pulling on my hoodie. "That's our queue to get the fuck out of here."
Ignoring this, the doctor digs between the cushions of his couch, pulling out what looks like a very large remote control. With a flourish, he raises the remote and pushes a button. The monitor buzzes on and an image of Stan's house appears. At least, I think it is Stan's house. It's the same color of Barbie's Whore House.
"You got cameras watching Stan?" I say. "Sick, dude."
"No cameras," says the doctor. "This is science."
"Okay." I turn to Cartman. "Let's go."
I'm about to head to the door when I something catches my eye in the monitor. The door of Stan's house opens and shuts, and out steps Stan and Kyle...and Cartman...and me.
"What the fuck?" Cartman frowns at the screen. "That's impossible."
"In fact, it is not," says the doctor, changing the channel. It's Stan's house again, only it's bright yellow. The door opens and Butters steps out, dressed from head to toe in black. He's wearing Goth makeup and a spiked collar. I only have the time to think that's hot, when the doctor changes the channel once again. This time, there is no house, just what looks like miles and miles of open desert.
"You see!" exclaims the doctor. "There are literally millions of alternate realities that exist in this universe. There are an infinite amount of different lines, roads, let's say, running simultaneously. One road may begin one way, but then change in some way, let's say fork to produce a different outcome than you would expect from the original road. This means that there are multiple timelines existing simultaneously in any instant controlled by choice, circumstance, and just plain coincidence."
I look at Cartman disbelievingly. "I've literally seen and heard crazier," he says, shrugging.
"So my memories," I say. "They were mine, only they were my alternate me's memories?"
"One of the alternate Kenny's, as you say, yes," nods the doctor. "You probably died at the same time as your alternate self and as a result shared some of your memories. How magnificent! What are the odds?"
"Higher than you'd think," I mutter.
"Okay," says Cartman. "That literally did not make any sense what-so-fucking-ever."
"And so," I continue. "Kyle was our friend in that alternate timeline?"
The doctor changes the channel again. "Oh, yes! One of my favorite channels. In fact, you grew up with young Kyle Broflovski. In that timeline, he moved from New Jersey quite early."
"Kyle is from New Jersey?!" splutters Cartman.
"And he's Jewish," I add, waving him away. The fatass gasps, looking like he's about to have an apoplexy.
The monitor shows the four of us walking in the snow. Judging from the pale light, I guess that we're heading to school.
"...and you're mom's such a fat bitch she walked in front my TV and I missed the entire season one of Lost!" says Cartman to Kyle.
"Shut the fuck up, fatass!" screams Kyle, looking like he's about to explode.
"Yeah, fatass, I saw that Yo Mama's joke online," I say, voice muffled by the hood of an orange jacket.
"And, Kahl, you're so gay that even Justin Bieber would feel straight standing next to you."
"Dude, I'm awesome," says the Cartman standing next to me, looking impressed by his alternate self.
Kyle growls incoherently, diving for the alternate Cartman. The alternate Stan, seemingly used to this type of reaction, neatly catches Kyle mid-jump and hugs him to his chest.
"Don't let the lardass get to you," says Stan, kissing the back of Kyle's neck.
Kyle twists around so that they're standing chest-to-chest and wraps his arms around Stan's neck, kissing Stan full on the mouth.
The present Cartman gasps with horror. The alternate Cartman waves a hand at the couple dismissively and walks to the bus stop.
Much to my surprise, the alternate Cartman walks up to an alternate Wendy, grabbing her ass.
Wendy gasps and turns around. When she sees Cartman, though, she doesn't slap him. She giggles.
I stare at the present Cartman, who is watching his alternate self looking completely confused.
"Eric," says Wendy, blushing. "You don't always have to greet me that way. I like this way much, much better." She grabs the collar of Cartman's sweater, pulling him toward her. Cartman wraps his arms around her, and, picking her up, pins her against a tree and begins to kiss her deeply. Wendy's legs are wrapped around his middle and her hands are clutching hair. Cartman lifts one arm to give the finger to Stan and Kyle, who wear matching expressions of disgust and bemusement.
"Oh my god," I say, turning to a blushing Cartman. "We have to show this to everyone."
The week after the party was beyond awkward. Wendy started sitting with us at lunch and I just knew Stan was holding her hand under the table. But she sure didn't look happy about it. Stan, on the other hand, was positively glowing. Like pregnant-with-your-baby-daddy's-child glowing. It made me want to fucking vomit all over them and then lick my vomit off of their faces with my vomity tongue and vomit all over them again. That bad.
So it's no surprise that I've officially cracked.
"Hey, Kyle, would you pass me the salt," asks Stan in his fucking love-dovey voice while staring lovey-dovily at Wendy.
"FUCK YOU!" I scream, and stomp out of the lunchroom.
I'm staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, gripping the edge of the sink for support and trying not to cry.
My reflected face is pinched and red, ugly from crying. Oh, Christ, Kyle, you are the most pathetic human being to ever-
The bathroom door creaks open. I wipe my eyes on my sleeve, hoping that whoever just came in will take a piss and be on their way.
"Kyle?" It's Stan. Shit.
I whirl around to face him.
"Kyle?" His face is white but he looks angry. "Dude, what the fuck is your problem?"
"What's my problem? My problem?" I repeat, my voice rising to the point of hysteria. I laugh, crazily, bitterly, and my eyes are streaming with tears. I can see it scares the shit out of Stan. Good.
"Kyle!" Stan barks. The laughter dies in my throat. I turn back to the mirror, examining my tearstained reflection and Stan's pale face, floating ghostly over my shoulder.
"What is your problem with me?" repeats Stan, slowly this time, as if I were a child.
"My problem is her," I say. "You and her."
Stan sighs, a long-suffering sigh that makes me want to punch him in the balls. "Look I meant to tell you...I'm not gay. I'm not into guys."
I snort. "Like hell you aren't."
"No, I'm not, really. And Wendy makes me happy, Kyle. You should just be happy for us."
I stare into his reflected eyes disbelievingly. "Wow. You are so totally lying to yourself right now."
His mouth tightens but he doesn't respond.
I turn around and take a step toward him, staring him down fiercely. Noticeably disconcerted, he takes a step back.
"You," I say, poking a finger at his chest. "May not be gay, or into guys, or whatever. But you are. Definitely. Into. Me." I've backed Stan into a wall but I continue forward, pushing my body against his. Stan looks away from me, Adam's apple bobbing up and down. He doesn't seem to know where to put his hands so I take each by the wrist and place them firmly on my ass.
"There now," I purr. "That's better, isn't it." I rub my knee between his thighs.
Stan growls, suddenly grabbing me by the arms and spinning us around, so that I'm the one against the wall. "Not gay," hisses Stan, pushing urgently against me.
"Whatever," I say breathlessly. I rip off his shirt and run my fingers through his chest hair and down his firm stomach and dip my hand down his pants.
Stan moans, lifting me so that I can wrap my legs around his body, thrusting against me.
"Take off your pants," I gasp, but before he gets the chance the bathroom door slams open.
Wendy stands in the doorway, looking furious. Stan puts me down and reaches out to her, but she walks away, heels tip-tapping on the tiled floor.
Stan looks at me with a grimace, running a hand through his raven hair and making it stick up like a porcupine's. "I think we've just broken up."
"GUYS!" Kenny rushes through the doorway, followed by Cartman. He pauses, noting our disheveled state. "You and Wendy off again? That's good, Cartman's got dibs."
"What?" Stan and I sputter simultaneously.
Kenny waves a hand dismissively. "Never mind that; I've got something awesome to show you guys. You won't believe it, it's completely insane! Come on!" And with that, he rushes back out the door.
I look at Stan and he shrugs in response to my silent question.
There are forks in the road that are caused by something unexpected. Insignificant. And yet these events can split a road in two.
But despite these tiny, not-so insignificant events, there are those whose destinies stretch across time and space. Those who overcome time, circumstances, coincidences. They find each other despite the