Chapter 18: Flowers
Kim and Ben and John and Angela let themselves quietly into Ben's basement. "Boy," said Angela, "what a dumb movie."
"It sure was," said Ben.
Angela grinned. "I don't see how you would know," she teased. "You were kissing Kim the entire time." Ben blushed furiously. Kim smiled and squeezed his hand.
"Come on, Ben," said Kim. "Let's go upstairs and get some juice."
"OK. I like juice." Ben followed Kim willingly up the stairs. He hesitated but didn't balk when she continued past the kitchen and led him up to his room.
"Ben," Kim cooed. "Have you ever made love to a woman before?"
Ben shook his head.
"Are you afraid?" she asked.
Ben shook his head, but his mouth was too dry to speak.
"Would you like to make love to me?" Kim asked.
Ben licked his lips and nodded slightly.
"Would you like me to show you how?"
Ben nodded again.
Kim took Ben's hand and placed it on her breast. "Do you like that?" she asked.
Ben caressed her soft flesh.
Kim made a little noise. "So do I."
Kim leaned forward and began to unbutton Ben's shirt. "I've never made love to a National Merit Scholar before," she murmured. "This will be a first for both of us."
Kim tugged at the hem of Ben's t-shirt until he raised his arms. She pulled his shirt over his head and touched his chest with her fingernails. Ben shivered. Kim pulled her own sweater and camisole over her head. Ben gazed at her and gasped with delight.
"Have you ever seen a naked woman before?" Ben didn't reply. Kim unbuttoned her jeans and stepped out of them. Ben reached out and put his hands on her waist.
"That's good," she said. "Don't I feel nice? Here, let me help you." Kim unbuttoned Ben's jeans, lowered the zipper and slid them down. Kim reached between Ben's legs and grasped him gently. "Doesn't that feel good? I'm so much warmer than a beer bottle."
Ben moaned softly as Kim removed his underwear. "Come on, Ben. Let's lie down."
"Shhhh," Ben said. "My parents are right next door. I don't want my mom to wake up."
"Don't worry about that," said Kim. "I'm your mother now."
"Oh, John, I'd love to go to Prom!"
"Will your parents let you go with me? I know they don't like me much."
"Yes, I think they will. It doesn't matter what they think. This is going to be the most wonderful evening of my life. I'm so glad you asked me. I was starting to think that maybe you'd decided not to go." Angela looked at her lap. "Or maybe you were going to ask someone else."
"Angela," John took hold of her hands, "I never even considered taking anyone but you. I'm really happy that you want to go with me."
"Me, too." They kissed. Angela sighed. "Oh, John. How could things get any better? Your dad's in remission, we're in love.... I'm so happy! ... I wonder what happened to Ben and his juice."
"You know Ben. `I wouldn't want to make any hasty decisions that I might regret later.'" John mimicked Ben's mannered approach to choices.
"He can't decide between the fluorescent green or the glowing blue Ecto-Kooler fruit drinks." Angela made a gagging noise and John laughed.
Angela put her arms around John's neck and buried her face in his leather jacket. The house creaked distantly in the quiet night.
The recording equipment lay silent. Rob, as he always did, had spent the afternoon tidying and organizing. All the cords were wound up and hung from wall hooks. Reel to reel and DAT tapes were stacked neatly on a table. John gazed meditatively at all their gear, thinking his own thoughts and waiting for Angela to loosen her grip.
"Is that Ben?" Angela slipped away and pointed to the wall behind him.
"That picture," she pointed to the handsomely framed black and white photograph above the keyboard. It was partially obscured by the wilted tentacles of a suspended epiphyte.
John brushed aside the hanging branches. A few dead leaves snapped from their pedicles and fluttered to the floor. "No. That's his dad."
"Wow! It looks just like Ben with short hair. I didn't know he played the violin."
"Everyone in their family plays at least one instrument. I think it's a requirement. Guess who the old guy playing the piano is."
"Nope. It's Edward Teller, the Father of the Hydrogen Bomb. Pretty cool, eh?"
"Yeah. Ben's dad used to work with him."
"Speaking of Ben, why don't I sneak upstairs and see where they went?"
"Do you think it's safe?" They laughed.
"Ben? and Kim? Together? Do you think? Go look!"
John stood up. "OK, I'll be right back." John crept up the basement stairs. The kitchen was empty. He glanced around the deserted house.
"Ben?" John walked up another flight of steps to Ben's bedroom.
A dim light shone through a crack in the door. John opened it further, and stopped in amazement. Kim's slim body writhed on top of Ben. Their clothes were strewn about the floor.
"Opps." He shut the door and fled downstairs. Reaching the basement he burst out laughing.
"Ha Ha! You won't believe it! I don't and I was there!"
"What? What happened? What did you see?" pleaded Angela.
"They're up there! Up in Ben's bedroom."
"Yes? And ...?"
"You can't tell anyone about this. Most of all Bill. He would just shit if he found out."
"You have to swear you'll NEVER tell ANYONE."
"Yes, yes, of course, I swear!"
"They're up there! In Ben's bedroom! Right next door to his parents! They're totally having sex! I walked right in on them. I don't think they saw me. God, I hope not."
Angela began to giggle uncontrollably.
"Let's get out of here before things get ugly."
"Good idea. I don't think they'll be down soon, anyway."
"It's kinda cold outside. Why don't you wear my jacket?"
"Oh, John! It's your dad's flight jacket! Do you mean it?"
"Yes, hurry up and let's get out of here!"
Angela put on the jacket and they tiptoed out of the house into the damp night.
"Enter the raisin man!" laughed Rob. Bill walked down the wooden steps to the basement.
"Hi everybody! Who wants to fuck me up the ass?"
Ben shuffled recording equipment.
"I heard you guys really rocked out at The Edge!"
"We sure did. Ben put on quite a show, too!"
John continued, "Kim really missed you, Bill. Too bad you couldn't make it."
"Did she ask about me?"
"No, Bill. I lied. She never mentioned your name. Give it up, Bill. You should have gone to the show. You can't avoid her forever."
"I had stuff to do," Bill muttered thru clenched teeth.
Rob handed Bill a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. "Here, Bill. We're giving all our guest performers one of these wonderful treats. I'm going to kill you."
"Angela told me you guys talked to a record company."
"Huh? I don't know what you're talking about. Ear! You're the Raisin Man, Bill!" Rob threw his hands up in the air. "I'm going to make a foodball and die."
From the recording table, John turned to Bill. "Are you ready to rock and roll, Crazy Bill?"
"Yes! Let's get this musical extravaganza on the road!!!"
Handing Bill headphones, Ben said, "Talk into this thing here. It's called a microphone. Can you say that word, Bill?" He pointed.
Ben and Bill repeated the word slowly together, "Mike-rah-fone..."
"Very good! Now, when I give you the signal, laugh."
John picked up a handful of darts. One by one he threw the darts over Rob's head.
"Hey, watch it!"
Bill began to laugh insanely. He cackled and wailed, guffawed and hooted. Rob and John smothered grins. Bill tittered and howled till he was out of breath and gasping. Ben stopped the tape.
"Oh! Oh, my god! That was wonderful! You're fantastic!" blurted Rob as the recording lights winked off.
"Congratulations, you've been immortalized, Billy boy," said John.
The telephone rang. "Hey, Ben. Why don't you answer your phone and see if it's some big important record company that wants to produce our tape and make us famous," John said.
Ben strolled to the phone. John continued his dart practice. Rob moved to safer ground at the equipment table.
"Hello?" said Ben. "Yes, this is Rikki Rockett."
Rob put on headphones and adjusted dials on the mixing board, blending in Bill's recorded laughter. He began to laugh, too. "This is great! This song is going to make us famous. Gorgon 5 is going to cover the world with shit!!!"
"What? Are you the person we talked to yesterday?" asked Ben. "Oh, really. That's cool. Hold on a second and I'll ask him if it's OK." Ben turned to John and Rob. "The president of C/Z Records is on the phone. He wants to know if Rikki Rockett will sleep with him. Or his wife. What do you say, men?"
John threw a dart, "Whatever."
Rob, who hadn't heard a word, sniggered and turned more dials.
Ben brought the phone back to his ear. "Sure ... yes ... yes ... anytime ... sure, what was that? Oh, yes, of course. Um, I don't know. Let me ask them." He held his palm over the receiver. "Hey, assholes. Are you busy this April?"
"Yeah, we'll play. ... All right, we'll be there. Rock on, dude!"
Ben hung up the phone and returned to his seat. Rob removed his headphones, "Who was it, Ben?"
"It was C/Z Records. They're going to make a limited compact disk release of our latest album, whatever we decide to call it. What an ass."
"Oh my God!" Rob began to laugh. "Oh my God! Are you serious? Ha ha haha!!!"
"When are they going to do it?" asked John as he fired three darts in the general direction of the dartboard.
"He's sending one of his minions out tomorrow morning. They want our digital master."
"Oh! Ha ha ha! Why? Did he say why?"
"I don't know. I wasn't really paying attention. He babbled alot. He said we could showcase for They Might Be Giants. We're opening for them at the Riviera in Chicago."
"REALLY!!! HA HA HA!! and they're going to let us play?" Rob fell off his chair.
"Yes. It's not surprising if you consider how awesome we've become. We're a rock and roll, number-one-hit-producing, money making machine."
"Rock!" said John as he retrieved his darts from Ben's ping-pong table.
"I can't believe it. This is unreal," Bill murmured. "Unreal! What the hell is going on?"
"We won't have to bring our own gear. He said we could borrow some backup instruments from They Might Be Giants. He said they would provide everything. What a fool."
"Wouldn't it be funny if something happened and we couldn't make it? Oh my god, that would be hilarious! Probably our only chance to ever play with a real band and we blow it. That would be great! I mean that would be awful! Ha haha"
John's dart landed beside Janet's foot as she stepped onto the basement stairs. "Hey! Careful with those!"
"So what are you going to do now?" she asked after hearing the news.
"I don't know. The only thing we have left to do on this album is mix in Bill's laughter on `Gorgon 5'. That'll take about 5 minutes."
"We still have to pick a name for the tape," John reminded them.
"Oh yeah! Here is our list of possible names. Why don't you pick one and we'll use it." Rob fumbled through a pile of papers and pulled one out. "Here they are: Big Poo Release, Three Crazy Guys, Gonad Crushing Contest Tonight at 8 O'clock, Killer Tunez, oh god... Skoolboyz, The Pathetic Slob Trio, Various Artists, Please Kill Us, Uganda Faggot Fiend, Turtle Killers, and uh... Attack of the Killer Turtles. That's our list. We have more, but those are the best. Maybe we should pick from the other list."
"I think that's a bad idea," stated Ben.
"I like Turtle Killers," Janet offered.
"OK! That's it, Turtle Killers!!!" shouted Rob.
"I think that's a bad idea," repeated Ben.
"They all suck," sulked Bill.
John threw another dart into the pingpong table, "Opps. Sorry, dude. Why don't we write all the names on pieces of paper and we can throw darts at them. The last one left without a hole in it will be the name of our new tape."
Rob and Ben agreed. Ben ripped up a sheet of paper and wrote all the names out as Rob and John got in some last minute dart practice.
"So. How have you been, Bill?" asked Janet to fill the busy silence.
"Fine. I'm going to kill myself as soon as I leave. I'll take my car and crash into my room. I won't wear my seat belt. How are you?"
"Fantastic! This is so exciting!" Janet obviously wasn't listening.
"Oh, God..." moaned Bill.
Ben stood up, "All right! Stop throwing darts for a second so I can tape these up."
Rob and John ceased fire.
"Did you have a working title for the tape?" asked Janet as Ben laboriously taped up each name.
"All of `em. I guess," said Rob.
"Until I throw this dart!" John held up a red dart.
"Could you find a way to incorporate every name? Are you really limited to using just one? You seem to like all the names. By choosing one all the others will be lost. That's such a pity. I know you've spent a lot of time compiling that list."
John looked at Janet with a very serious expression, "There can be only one. Nothing is certain until it happens. The tension between probabilities and possibilities ends with the crashing of my wave function. A new dynamic reality shall arise from the ashes. Born from the seed of fear! The tip of my dart shall pierce the darkness of uncertainty."
Rob twirled his dart nervously.
John ranted on, "Soon, the objective past will fluctuate with only your subjective insights! And surely lead us into a swirling madness known to us as the future, as unforetellable and uncontrolled as the past..."
"OK, let's get this over with," said Ben.
Rob and John bickered about who should throw the first dart. They finally flipped a coin. Rob won. He missed the board completely. John hit a piece of paper on his first try. Rob ran to the dart board to see which name had been eliminated.
Peeking at the name, Rob proclaimed, "It's not going to be... Killer Tunez!!! What a relief!" A cheer rocked the basement. "It was a great name, though. It was unquestionably stupid."
"Yeah," said John.
"Indeed," said Ben.
"It was really dumb!" Rob threw the next dart.
It took a further ten minutes to reduce the list of possible names to two. It was either `Please Kill Us' or `Big Poo Release'. John threw the last dart. A final cheer went up. Perfect silence fell.
Ben approached the dart board. He pulled off the impaled paper. With a smile he announced, "It isn't..."
"What is it?" pleaded Rob.
"Heh heh, The name of our album IS... `Please Kill Us.'"