by Chris Tharp
"I'm telling you they're fucking cow people -- I'm talking whole families of them."
This made Becca laugh so hard that beer came out of her nostrils. James kept his eyes on the road.
"You have no idea of how many plates and cups one of these fuckers goes through. It's way outta hand."
Becca, still in hysterics, attempted to wipe the snotty froth from her face.
"So whatever you do, don't drop out. High school may suck, but it sure as hell beats working at Sizzler."
James was a dishwasher. He was a nineteen year old dropout with few prospects, except for the girl sitting next to him. Summer, though in its death throes, was very much alive, and he was determined to squeeze it for all it was worth. The night was his to have. He finished the last swallow of his beer and chucked the can out of the half-open window of his truck. The outside air slapped the side of his face and messed up his green hair.
"Want another?" Becca asked, having gained control of her laugh attack. James nodded yes and she turned and began to rummage behind the seat where the half-rack was stashed.
James' blue pickup barreled down the steep hill. As it rounded a tight corner, the tires squealed from the force. The truck's unmuffled engine popped like a machine gun.
James eyed Becca as she dug for the beer, catching a glimpse of her red panties through a worn spot in the ass of her Levi's. She produced a beer and opened it with a snap. James could hear it bubble and sigh, as Becca placed the can between his legs and withdrew her hand, letting it linger for a moment on his crotch. He became aroused and shot her a glance to let her know it, but Becca needed no such confirmation. She could feel all. She planted a quick kiss on the side of his mouth and sat back in her seat, biting on her lower lip, which sported a shiny new stud piercing.
"So where exactly is it we're going?" She asked, pulling her knees towards her and putting her feet up on the dash.
"Just hold on. We're getting there."
"Couldn't we just go to Benji's?"
"Nah... I'm just crashing on his couch -- and besides -- he's always in the living room fucking around on the internet, looking at monkey porn and Japanese girls puking on each other and sick shit like that."
The blue pickup shot off the hill and onto the farmland of the valley. James looked at Becca and then looked away.
"I never thought you liked me before," he confessed with a grin.
"I was a little intimidated..."
She shrugged and tapped her finger on her beer can.
"You were a couple of years older -- and you smile like the devil."
They met in school. They shared some same friends -- skaters, punks, freaks... After James dropped out he'd see her around at parties, sometimes on the street, and one night he made out with her in the alley outside of an all ages show. They'd been going out since then - some three weeks time -- but they still hadn't done it, that is, they hadn't had sex. It wasn't a matter of one of them not being ready or any sort of purposeful waiting -- they simply had nowhere to go, at least anywhere that could offer a modicum of privacy. James was couch surfing and he was forbidden from Becca's house, where she lived with her parents. All that they wanted was to finally fuck, and do it with no interruptions. S
o James drove the truck through the valley's pasture land and past the bush-lined fields of Lowell's berry farm. He floored it down the half-mile stretch in front of the massive trailer park and headed out towards the river.
"We're almost there." James sipped from his beer and slowed down as they approached the old bridge spanning the river. The river tumbled down from a glacier on Mt. Rainier and carved its way out toward the butt-end of Puget Sound. The water was brown and ran swift and deep--ice cold water. Every year it took at least one life -- drunken inner-tubers, trestle jumpers, naive steelheaders -- people who underestimated its strength and power. The tranquil surface did not speak for the channels below. Hidden underneath were unseen currents, log jams, and sudden rocks.
"See those places down there?"
He gestured to the lights of some mobile homes near the river bank.
"Those fuckers get flooded every year -- every year -- and each time one of them shows up on the news, moaning about what a tragedy it is and how they can't believe what has happened. Fucking waaaa... You live on a river. Get used to it."
Becca smiled and shook her head.
"You're not going to throw me in, are you?" she asked, as they crossed over the bridge.
"Not if you're good."
James took another pull off the can and placed it back between his legs. He slowed the truck to a near stop and turned off onto a narrow dirt road. The trees and brush enveloped the truck in thick darkness. Branches and sticks scraped against the truck's side as they rolled on, following the path of the river.
"How do you know about this spot?"
"My big brother and his friends used to have keggers down here. They let me tag along once. I also used to go fishing around here."
"I hope there's no one down here tonight."
"Not a chance. Not on a Tuesday, at least... besides, I don't think they party down here anymore. Kept on getting busted."
The dirt track ended in a crude cul-de-sac surrounded by thick underbrush. James stopped the truck and turned off the engine, leaving the headlights on.
"Here we are..."
James and Becca hopped out of the truck. James retrieved a rolled-up sleeping bag from the back and Becca took the spot in. A rock ring marked the remnants of an old fire pit. A couple of tires were stacked on top of each other, and an abandoned refrigerator lay nearby. Becca looked at the rusty appliance.
"That's dangerous, you know. What if little kids play around here?"
"No more dangerous than that." James pointed towards the river. "I've known three people who've drowned in there..."
He killed the headlights, and in a moment, the sleeping bag was rolled out. Becca sat down Indian style and loaded a wooden weed pipe. James said nothing as she lit it up and took a hit. She held in the smoke for a mini-eternity, then leaned over and kissed him, exhaling the remaining smoke from her lungs into his. He took the pipe, hit it, and shared his smoke with her. They did this until the bowl was finished.
"It's cashed," Becca said, knocking the ash out on her knee and stuffing the pipe back into her jeans.
The two sat in the darkness, listening to the continuous roar of the river. The trees smelled fresh and sweet and the woods were still full of life, thriving in the midst of the Indian summer. The surroundings felt safe and insular -- they neither saw nor heard a trace of anyone else. James attempted to make out the stars through the canopy of trees, and in an instant, Becca was on him.
She straddled him, pushing his shoulders to the ground as she put her lips to his. James offered no resistance. He surrendered to the will of this girl. Weeks of hormornal urges had finally boiled over. Tongues, teeth, body heat, growling, rolling, rubbing, switching positions and switching back. Becca tore off her T-shirt and undid James' belt. He was transfixed by the firm breasts encased in her black bra.
"Mmmmmm..." Becca smiled as she popped open the first button on his jeans and went for the next. James slid his hand over her stomach as he felt the next button release. On the third he moved his hands to her hips. He felt them for a moment then lay back and sighed.
"I gotta piss," he confessed. "Too many beers..."
Becca looked down at him. Her eyes narrowed and her forehead wrinkled up. She looked like a snotty little girl. "Okay -- but hurry up!"
She gave him a little slap as she rolled over, letting him up. As he moved away, she could hear him thrashing through the underbrush. Suddenly, she craved a cigarette.
"You got any smokes left?" she shouted into the dark.
"Yeah -- in the truck -- on the dash." Becca got up and went toward the truck, but was stopped as James cried out. "Fuck!"
"What's up, baby?"
"Something fucking stinks back here -- Jesus Christ!"
"Yeah, it fucking stinks. Grab the flashlight. It's behind my seat."
Becca found the flashlight and joined James in the underbrush.
"Fuck, you're right," she said, holding her nose. James grabbed the flashlight and scanned it over the thick cover of salal. He took a few steps forward, following his nose, and stopped.
Sticking out from under a blue tarp was a shriveled, white, human foot.
"Get a stick."
"Yeah -- bring me a stick!"
Becca snapped a dead branch off of a tree and brought it over to James, who snatched it from her and lifted up the tarp. He only got a glimpse of the body underneath before he was overcome by a tsunami of nausea. He doubled over and puked, and the sound of his wretching echoed among the trees. The smell also slammed into Becca, but unlike James, she was able to hold her lunch. Curiosity pushed her forward, and she picked up the flashlight and stick he had dropped and approached the corpse. With a quick move, Becca slid the tarp off the body and had a look.
What she saw was nearly beyond recognition -- time, insects, and their larvae had taken a visible toll. It appeared to by the body of a young woman, completely nude. The eye sockets were black pits and balls of maggots slithered within the remnants of the viscera and legs. Becca looked on with a pronounced detachment. She had always wondered what nature did to a dead body, and here it was, laid out in front of her. It was almost beautiful in its decay. It was perfectly natural.
- - -
"We should probably call the cops." James had gathered himself and took a final drag from a cigarette.
"Yeah," Becca said, taking in his profile.
They were sitting back on the sleeping bag, fully clothed. James shook his head and sipped another beer, trying to get the taste of vomit out of his mouth.
"You okay?" he asked, turning to her.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
She touched his hair. Green hair.
"Well we gotta call the cops," he reiterated.
"Sure... but there's no hurry."
"What do you mean?"
"It's not like she's... going anywhere." Becca nodded in the direction of their discovery.
"But the cops should know."
"They will. They will."
Becca looked at James straight on. There was something reassuring about her dark eyes locked on his. He went to speak, but was cut off by Becca's expression. She arched an eyebrow and tongued her piercing. Her hand on his knee. A slight smile. She then moved in, the sound of her breath blending with that of the river. Before James could protest, she was on him, pushing his shoulders to the ground. Her shirt came back off, with his following suit. Buttons, belts, then skin on skin. He was hers, and she would have him, this time with no interruptions.
About the author:
Chris Tharp is a writer, actor, and comic, currently living in Seattle. He is the co-founder of the critically acclaimed performance group, Piece of Meat Theatre, whose original shows have been performed throughout the Northwest and Los Angeles. This is his first story published online (or anywhere, for that matter).