My first kiss, my first love, and the first of many whom -- fuck-all -- I’ve had to shoot.
The whole situation started because teenagers are not chemically castrated and corralled by means of electrical prods. The boys are allowed to wander around as if they aren’t legally insane, and the girls, while more physically mature, are not much better off. Both sexes are in a constant state of hormonal psychosis and extreme neurosis. This causes the wild paradoxical behavior wherein most teens attempt to be individuals by fitting in with a group. As such, any connection with another human being, no matter how angel hair thin, convinces a person this is the love of my life. Ergo: every teenager falls in love with the simultaneously right and wrong person.
I met Jennifer after she ran away from home. Her father had fallen off the wagon and consequently returned to various habits which made home life a nightmare. His beating her regularly initially inspired her escape, while his ardent return to Satanism solidified her resolve. Mainly, the resumption of acid fueled rituals in the basement with a host of Dungeon & Dragons literalists compelled her to flee. Her mother -- a British eccentric who believed she’d been married by a fairy king-- had not been of much help during these trying times.
Jennifer, however, had more determination than most teens. While my friends and I laid out grand plans for the future, we never got farther than a bottle of whiskey could take us. We drank the nights away in Sid Telmer’s garage plotting our paths to glory. And to be honest, for the most part, we knew exactly what we needed to do in order to start down those roads to riches: get a cheap guitar from the local pawn shop, submit to magazines, learn how to use a camera, etc. Yet, none of us ever really took step one. Jennifer, on the other hand, had studied life at the school of Do As I Say or I‘ll Break Your Fucking Jaw. (Good ol’ D.A.I.S… It boasts many graduates, but not many success stories, probably because the wrong people always get enrolled there.) This education taught her that life is what you make it. So, with no real plan, she packed a bag and just headed for the horizon.
We met at a kegger. The first time I saw her she was coming out of a bathroom, her nose still white with coke. She looked like Cristina Scabbia. I remember her floating past me the way angels drift between clouds, and me thinking, “I have to kiss her.” It was my first visceral reaction to a woman, and I‘ve been chasing that feeling ever since.
Now, my exploits with women up to that point (and to this day) are often referred to as Operation Keep Single Forever. So I was leery about just going after her. I didn't want to set another woman on fire by accident. I needed a careful approach, something slick yet casual, confident but not arrogant, powerful though hardly aggressive, intelligent without being pretentious, romantically subtle while remaining obvious… in short, I needed to say hello.
How exactly to get that done perplexed me until I discussed the matter with Sid. He considered my dilemma, shotgunning a beer as he did so. He then pointed across the room at Jennifer Winters and shouted, “Hey you, this guy wants to talk with ya.”
I thought about killing him till I saw her detach from the group she’d been with and head over. Sid patted me on the shoulder, “You’re welcome,” and left me on my own.
“I know you?”Jennifer asked, gripping a beer bottle like she might need a club.
“Then what do you want to talk about?”
“I have no idea.”
She gestured to my t-shirt, “You like The Start of All Cunts.”
“Yeah, it‘s a good band.”
“I like ‘em too.”
And snap! we ended up talking all night. Our similarities just kept stacking up. We not only liked the same horror movies, we even loved the same scenes. It’s hard to find a woman who likes to drink whiskey and laugh at dumb blondes being eviscerated. We were a match made in heaven.
We kissed later that night. It wasn't technically my first. However, stumbling drunk at 14 and falling lips first into Melissa Finch didn't seem to count. This was the first time someone kissed me back.
She didn't have a cell phone, so I gave her my phone number because she was still couch surfing, relying on landlines for calls. About three days later she settled in at a friend’s and called. We started dating. I’d say probably two weeks in I fell in love. This girl, Jennifer Winters, was my future. I believed that my if a person striped off all my meat the bones underneath would already have her name carved into them. My DNA demanded I be with her. Our love was a fact as immutable as the laws of gravity… until I had to shoot her.
For the record, I did not kill her. I simply shot her in the leg to keep her from stabbing me. Why was she about to stick a six inch steak knife into my neck? Acid. Possibly with a little PCP or meth on the side. Fortunately for me, she kept a gun on the nightstand in case someone broke into the motel room to rape and kill her, or just one of the two. See, by this point the romance of couch nomad had worn off considerably. She'd gotten a job as a barista that afforded her a motel room, though the freedom of her own place came with certain apprehensions. There's something about having to walk past a room everyday where the window looks like the folds of a fat man pressed against it, as if said fat man has somehow filled the entire room, that makes a person nervous about just what kind of people are around them. Hence, the gun.
In any event, after I’d bandaged her leg (Clean wound. Bullet went right through the thigh… her soft, sexy, porcelain thigh; and getting shot tends to rapidly refocus a person‘s attention), she explained everything. When I entered the room she believed I was Nyarlethotep, a messenger of ancient evil gods sent by her father to bring back her skin. This fact is critical insofar as it indicates she hadn’t been trying to kill me, but the demonic herald of her father. I would be lying if I said I immediately departed from that insanity. I actually recall saying, “Hey, I get it. We’re cool.”
See, when it comes to women, even the drug addicted variety -- I got blinded by my dick. It can be so nice to connect with another person their faults tend to fall out of view, especially if you can have sex with them. The frequent refreshing of her pinpoint pupils; her night terrors that would erupt on the street at random during micronaps brought on by being awake through week long meth benders; her willingness to turn parties into riots. All these things seem like such obvious indicators now -- fuck-all, run boy RUN! -- but at the time I only cared about the stuff like: a girl who wants to laugh at horror movies with me; someone content to sit in a basement getting ripped on cheap booze and listening to my kind of music; the ability to tell someone my darker thoughts without fear they’ll flinch then none too subtly make for the exit.
Jennifer showed me I don’t have to change who I am to be with someone. That’s why not a Valentine’s goes by I don’t think about her. She showed me the right way and the wrong way to fall in love. And I’m grateful for that… though not as grateful as I am to no longer be dating her.
See, once her boyfriend got out of prison…