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Nathan West

"I need a scapegoat for what doesn’t work out in my life, and I hurt people doing it."
It was like they had some government support network for ex-girlfriends to spread dirt on you the minute you did something wrong.

Ever slap two thawed pork chops against the hood of a Cadillac on a frosty, February morning? This was the sound Cameron’s feet made every day when he dropped them from the sanctity of sleep to the resounding sobriety of a cold, wooden floor, glimmering in barren purity, stretching impeccably across his entire studio. And so it seemed that with the rise and fall of the sun, every new day was yet one more through which Cameron must suffer the annoyance of not being dead. It seemed that way every day until today.

The telephone, a coiled viper of venomous verbalization, is a brutal way to shake one from slumber. Yet, at the deafening surreal existence of twelve thirty on a Saturday morning, this was precisely what plucked Cameron from his blissful dip from consciousness.
"Hello?" Cameron spoke in an irritated whisper, rattling the phone against his head in the black, cloudy stupor that accompanies the unexpected raping of one’s dreams.
"Hi." It was Steff. She spoke with a vulnerable, nasal tone, like a voice on those 911 phone recordings on TV emergency shows.
"Yeah?" Cameron asked with a yawn, hoping she would get to the point, a practice of futility. "What is it?"
"Oh, well you left your James Thurber thing over here. You need to pick it up today so we can finally get all this over with." All this? That didn’t sound right.
"W-w-wait a minute," Cameron stammered, a reddening wave of dominance cascading like a hormonal avalanche to the ends of his extremities, "what do you mean by all this? Are you insinuating that there is the need for a label to the mild amount of effort involved in transferring my few possessions that I may have accidentally left at your apartment on the few occasions I even stayed overnight?"
"Cameron, does everything have to be so horribly difficult?" An even weaker twinge had taken over Steff’s battered vocal chords. "You are the one who always talks about scapegoats; I can’t believe how you can turn on me!" Her words held so much worth with those who hadn’t dated her.
"As I recall," Cameron began, pull-starting his little gasoline generator of witty argumentative rebuttals, "it was you who was a fucking cunt and cheated on me in your hometown, and don’t try that different area code exemption rule on me; you’re the woman, you are supposed to be the virtuous one."
"Oh now we are playing role games, Cam? Fuck that. I am just going to toss the fucking Thurber w-whatever it is to the curb and—"
"IT’S A PORTRAIT," Cameron shot forth with the angst of a Smashing Pumpkins groupie. "It’s not a thing, its not a w-w-whatever; it’s a fucking portrait, its lines on a page and can be recreated so don’t twist it around on me. Jeezus, what are they teaching you business majors anyway?"
Silence. Not the silence of anger, but the silence of shock, a shock that someone could hurt you so easily.
"Goodbye, Cameron, I hope you feel better about yourself now that you have taken control of the conversation. You just always need to be right." Click.

Cameron, a self-imprisoned holocaust victim, laid still as a corpse in his foldout coffin. He stared at a faded Jamaican flag tacked to the ceiling for eons, (actually, only forty-five minutes) contemplating what he saw to be the end of any contact with Steff indefinitely. His pining had been fairly successful. It was only this morning that everything had become clear; the origin to it all had finally been made visible. Cameron had to put Steff and her insistence on prolonging the inevitable behind him. The past is the foundation and destruction of a revolution; I want evolution.
The evolution of a breakfast: in the beginning there were eggs and milk; a great heat emerged and the two life forces emulsified, only to meet the ultimate boon of melted feta cheese and the almighty mushroom; the birth of an omelet.

This was now the plague of Cameron at a shadowy one thirty in the afternoon, as he stumbled over Nietzsche and Foucault while attempting to clothe himself, his shivering package embracing the newfound warmth of boxer briefs in the frigid chill of his cold, wooden studio. Sitting alone, in his voluntarily dark and malnourished studio, he was happiest. Reading slowly yet astutely, Cameron studied the works of Chekhov and Dostoevsky; crime and punishment; pain and redemption.
Cameron marveled in the reliability of his food co-op. On the outside, his smoke-stained, crème-colored refrigerator looked like some run-down, fifties import out of a David Fincher movie, yet was housing to a sanitary, well kept assortment of fresh foods for cooking a variety of pallet-pleasing, gourmet entrees, even tofu for those eccentric wok occasions. "Eating well, no more TV dinners…" And it was only a seventy-dollar charge per month for nutritional enlightenment.

The evolution of an upright citizen: in the waters of a hot shower a man can wash his sin away, covering up the funk of impurity with the sharp, angelic scent of Irish Spring soap; a shave to show an honest face; a comb to straighten what roams free; roll-on, antiperspirant godliness. I wonder how many times a day the Pope brushes his teeth. Cameron emerged from the shower, slender, sinewy limbs dripping in the glistening humidity clinging also to the walls and mirror in his cramped bathroom. At least it is a private bathroom; no more TP seat covers… Staring at himself naked, he was not ashamed of his thin, barren physique, but marveled in its nihilistic refusal to die. Fuck the gym; that is so artificial. Embracing your healthiness in a cement compound that destroyed wildlife areas and farmland... Everyone is so in tune with their Chi. He chuckled to himself in his cynicism.
Despite his rampant trashing of the mainstream, Cameron knew it was a good sign. At least I feel something. With the speed of time-lapse photography, his mental conversation had ended and he was now completely dressed and ready to venture out into the labyrinth of drum shops, lattes and video games that a large city had to offer. Like many other days, Cameron had assembled the apparel of a sophisticated stoner: polished leather shoes, soft jeans or corduroy pants, multiple, non-matching shirts and of course, dark sunglasses. His brown hair fell just over his glasses and dangled loosely by his temples, but thanks to the lard-heap of gel Cameron insisted upon using, it wouldn’t be free to move for long. In his red pleather jacket rested a stash tin, a bic lighter and a pinchie—the bare minimum. Into his CD player went Sweep the Leg Johnny’s new release, and out the studio Cameron strolled, leaving a slouchy kitten dubbed William the Conqueror yawning in his wicker basket.

Cheeks had been up since ten thirty, when he revived his girlfriend, Elena to the taste of "serene" chamomile tea and toast. Elena adored that nurturing aspect in Cheeks, and they loved to vegetate within the warmth of Cheek’s plush, cozy apartment for hours on end. A good many weekend nights had been ended with a four-hour movie marathon from within Cheek’s abode, frequenting such films as Fight Club, Run Lola Run, and anything directed by Kevin Smith.
Cheeks was the type of trusting, romantic dolt that could devote himself on end and not think twice about it. This made him a very good friend, but an easy tool to manipulate. Cameron had looked out for Cheeks, warding off the party whores who would latch onto Cheeks for some various, selfish agenda, like prick teasing him to death to make themselves feel prettier. Elena made Cameron’s job a lot easier.

Elena was a girl that Cheeks had met in one of his classes. Elena, for a long time, didn’t know Cameron. Cameron used to have contempt for the girl; she had stolen his friend, but upon actually meeting her and becoming aware of her sharp wit and hilarious ability to prod the honesty out of most situations, Cameron gave Cheeks an official "toke of approval on the girl situation." Elena, she was a good woman too, she looked out for Cheeks the same way he did for her. She valued him like a lock of Fabio’s hair, and in that resided the respect in which their relationship was founded--a mutual concern for and reliance upon each other.

Three o’ clock in the afternoon; three knocks at the door, spaced out like that of a detective on a drug bust. In response, Cheeks fumbled a pipe out of his shaking hand and into his lap, spilling ash everywhere. Meanwhile, Elena wailed without sympathy from the bed in response, laughter echoing expansively through the thin walls of the apartment. She rolled off the flip-n-fuck giggling, and swayed in slow, heavy steps across the dark blue carpet (which somehow was supposed to match the tan wallpaper) and finally to the door. A peephole is a marvelous evolution, an instantaneous, Louis and Clark-style exploration into the outside world. Residing outside, chai in hand, was Cameron.

"Open the door you fuckin’ dyke," Cameron demanded with a smirk from the street, shaking the moisture of a misty day off his jacket. Elena, a golem in response to Cameron’s "joke," unlatched the chain and invited inside the vampirish terror that was one Cameron Renfield.
"That’s the thanks I get for feeding your cat last week?" Elena asked as she quickly cut off the crisp, winter wind’s intrusion into the apartment, slamming the door and chaining it shut. "You need to take better care of William, Cam," Elena cautioned with the know-how that accompanies a veterinary degree, "or he won’t attach to you." Cameron bowed in monk-like attrition from behind the chai and sealed the lie with a warm hug; a hug that had gotten him out of many a shit storm before; girls loved that hug.

"CHEEKY!" Cameron called across the room, causing Cheeks to again fumble the bowl out of his fingers, this time while cleaning it. Cheeks could clean a piece better than anyone; once this steamroller saw so much action, it was completely clogged with resin. Twenty minutes later, Cheeks had the thing cleaner than the china in cabinets that your grandparents never use.
Cheeks and Cameron had both picked cotton at the same plantation of a high school, and upon finding similar interests in music, humor and recreational tendencies, became far better friends upon escaping to the same college. They shared rides home and smoked the whole way.
Upon locating Cheeks, scrubbing away from the sanitation of the kitchen at some glassware in a yellowed, porcelain sink, Cameron began with the dramatics of a General Hospital rerun, like he usually did.

"What up compadre, yo I got some shit to tell you man," Cameron declared, forewarning of the rant to come. "So guess who calls me at like nine in the fucking morning?" Cameron began, asking rhetorically. He didn’t have time to answer his own question.
"Actually," Elena cut in, "it was more like twelve thirty." She had the inside story. Shit. Cameron was amazed how fast word traveled. It was like they had some government support network for ex-girlfriends to spread dirt on you the minute you did something wrong. "I talked to Steff this morning right before she called you. She wanted me to pick up your stuff for you, but I insisted you would pay her at least that much respect." That was the assumption of a foolish carpenter.
"Heh, think again ‘E’; I stuck it to her cheatin’ heart like any self-respecting person should’ve done." Cameron felt guilty about the way things had turned out, preferring to savor the drunkenness and not the vomit of his relationship gone awry. The pair had long been unhinging, however; like most things, if you weren’t growing, you were dying. The evolution of a failed relationship…
In the beginning there was courtship. Not the hokey, flowerful sense of courtship, but the realistic, considerate and expressive sense of courtship; the type of courtship that exists when you care about someone so much (or at least you tell yourself that you do), you just can’t fuck around. Sure, there was romantic sentiment; it was the icing on the cake, sweet with the taste of Cameron’s cooking and exploration of the arts. The humanities, it seemed, possessed a similar passion for indulgence that one can find in an interesting, attractive woman. Cameron’s quick wit and Steff’s infatuation with beauty mixed like vermooth and gin, and things grew.

Things grew into comfort. This comfort grew into laziness, a laziness of rented videos and repeated sexual indulgences. This was the basement life—the hybrid of life that kills most young relationships; it’s so much easier to sit alone in your basement and piece it up all night than it is to go out on the town and eventually make it home, like back when you were trying to win her over. This was the beginning of the end.
"So you gave her shit," Elena scolded, brow wrenched at a torqued, obtuse angle. "You are the most egotistical—"
"We can make false accusations all day," Cameron interrupted, taking the bull of reason by the horns, "or we can cut the fat off this big ball of lard to find the one, ultimate chunk of truthitude at the core of this bundle of illogical nonsense." He was on a roll; their attention was his. "May I continue," Cameron asked with an emerging smirk.

Cheeks was starting to get nervous about the overly sarcastic argument. He didn’t understand the terms of Cameron and Elena’s friendship; it was forged on sincere respect for the other, and thus all bullshit was eliminated. Sometimes toes got stepped on, but it was never either of their intentions; calling each other off-sides showed a hell of a lot more consideration than just standing by like every other idiot that was too lacking in confidence to stand up for what was right. The evolution of dignity.
"Cameron, lets just smoke a bowl and relax in the kitchen," Cheeks pleaded, trying to break things up like the chubby little barkeep he was deep down. His efforts were timed like a NSA assassination, as Cameron’s eyes lit up like fireflies behind his shades for all to see. Thankfully for Cameron, he didn’t have time to escalate the argument to something more damaging.
"Uhh… now you’re speaking my language, Cheekster," Cameron reported, marking his change in attitude with his distinguishing grin, "pack it up; I’ll hit you back later." Later being never.
One nugget of marijuana quickly shuffled loose its mortal coil, and two nineteen-year-old guys now fell victim to the paralysis of the munchies. Elena hadn’t smoked yet; she was considering it, if by "considering" you mean tempted at every turn to join in the love parade exclusive to only those who burned the root.
"Elena, my dear," Cameron trumpeted, addressing her grandly with a Turkish Gold trumpeting from the corner of his mouth, "take me to a party tonight and introduce me to women." Such a quick counter from being a parasite under the microscope only moments ago. Cameron: 1; Elena: 0.
"Why? Why should I Cam," she reasoned almost too logically, "what’s to say you aren’t going to shit on this one because she is… how would it go? ‘Too nice?’" That was a good question. Cameron, surprisingly enough, had found the answer just this morning.
"Well after my conversation with the queen of monogamy this morning, that is after she woke me up at the ass crack of dawn to bitch about my meager belongings…" Cameron again was cut off.
"It was twelve thirty!!" Elena steamed, amazed at Cameron’s ability to bend the truth like a wad of play-doh to fit his argument.
"No matter the specifics," Cameron countered, again dodging the bullet of logic by millimeters, "I came to the revelation that being angry is easy. I can’t just lie on my ass and expect things to come my way. I have to act, not react. So, take me to a party tonight and I will demonstrate my newfound admiration for the natural habits of some fine, young ‘lay-days’".
"Natural habits??" Elena was dumbfounded by Cameron’s soliloquy; it was so distant from his usual attitude, like he was reading his opinions out of a book of cliff notes.
"Yeah," Cameron quickly replied, losing himself in a wave of virtuosity, rising like driftwood on its crest, "I had a TA last semester that has been coaching me along in my writing, but solely by definition what he says seems to go beyond school." Such admiration, I hope this doesn’t sound sexual. "He seems to know the answers to questions I cant even begin to form with language." Breathe in.
"What he told me," Cameron stated as softly as a secret, "was that the frustration I have been experiencing comes with intellect." This made good enough sense to Cameron; he was a clever guy. "So when I enter a public setting and my little social sex antenna clicks on, I compare everyone in the room by my own standards for cleverness. Yet, in doing this, I ignore the possibility for a completely different type of intellect." Breathe in. Cheeks had a look on his face like a calculus book just hit him in the forehead at mach three. Cameron continued on.
"None of it really hit home until this morning," Cameron explained, taking note of the glare on Elena’s face saying, "Just bitch about Steff again." "Steff and I got in an argument, she and I both were very brutal to each other." Cameron felt the guilt brewing inside of him, a churning vat of whispers for only him to know. "And after it was all over," Cameron continued, his own voice now bending in its harsh tone, "I saw that nothing had been accomplished." Cameron turned his back to his friends under the shame of his own tears, like condensation on a teakettle ready to scream. "And this anger," Cameron stammered in a shudder of release to an empty corner, "all of this that I carry with me, it doesn’t solve anything." Pant; wheeze. "I need a scapegoat for what doesn’t work out in my life, and I hurt people doing it." A rip in the wallpaper now occupied Cameron’s attention, his fingers nervously inspecting its edges.
"I can’t do this anymore," he reassured himself, the wallpaper and his friends, "because as my TA says, ‘everyone is clever in their own fucked up way,’ and the key to finding happiness in others is not to get stuck on finding someone to blame when your intellects don’t match, it’s in accepting the mismatches as part of the relationship pseudo-lottery and holding out for your quasi-‘jackpot.’" Cameron wheezed in emotional exhaustion. Cheeks had a smirk on his face and nodded in agreement with Cameron’s words, but had the hint of his "just a little too fucking abstract for me" face peeking out from his raised eyebrows.

Elena sat there for a moment wrapped in a bedspread and silently considered the stunning, humble honesty to Cameron’s revelation. She also wondered if pseudo and quasi were muppet babies, but her mind couldn’t wander for long.
"So here I stand," Cameron declared, quickly emancipating himself from the threat of being identified as sensitive, "knowing how to deal with what lies ahead of me; all I have to do is be real and meet people. You, Elena, must make it happen."
"Well," Elena bided, while thinking over her evening’s plans, "I am going to a house party with some girls from my floor tonight. You two could come with." Elena lived in a dorm. Cameron had his own thoughts on the life support of disconnected dorm life, but it was not like he was complaining about the situation; it was a good deal that Cheeks and Elena had worked out—she spent the night at Cheeks’ on certain occasions and her residency in a dorm meant possible inlets for Cameron to explore within her circle of friends. By accomplishing this, Cheeks and Cameron could once again hang out at their previous, obnoxiously inseparable rate, now while simultaneously juggling the girlfriend factor.

Ask Cheeks about this strategy and he would deny it. Cameron, as usual, had a contrary belief about their tactics and saw no shame in chasing girls Elena knew; it was a good window through which Cameron could escape his first impressions, which were usually his falling point with women because holding his tongue was a habit seldom practiced, not to mention his tendencies to spew projectile bullshit as if it were vomit and he Linda Blair.

There were many advantages to rummaging through girls of Elena’s acquaintance, but the best aspect in Cameron’s eyes was the simple fact that the friends with whom women surround themselves often share similar ethics and ideals, and Elena was a pretty cool chick.
Nine thirty rolled around quickly, if by quickly you mean, "after a large amount of weed cached in various pipes and washed down with a pizza." Cheeks threw on a sweater and some cologne. Cameron was dressed to depress, thwarting any attempt at a tradition or pattern to his dressing habits; he wore what pleased his fingers as they browsed through the closet. The evolution of a fashion-oriented culture.

In the beginning, there were the conformists. Sociologically, it is human nature to conform, and rebellion is the result of extended intellectual development and the sense of criticism by which it is accompanied. When everyone conformed, there was much joy; the trendsetters felt important and influential, and the weak lackeys thereafter found confidence in their ability to follow suit.
Then, a great revolution befouled this harmony with a demand for ethics and intellectual representation in opposition to materialist indulgences. With this came the emergence of an angry subculture, swearing off the materialist ties of the social conformists plaguing society with their blissful ignorance. Instead, they turned to an alternative fashion and music scene, constructing a bitter rivalry within the socially elite to see who can win the race to enlightenment. Apparently, via dyeing one’s hair black and wearing second or even third-hand clothing, this quintessential subversion will lead ultimately to nirvana. Literally.

Obvious enough to Cameron in the wake of his recent mental remapping, this "reverse-structuralism" would lead inevitably to failure in its demand for an institution to replace the one prior; the evolution of a failed revolution; certainty and assumption the tragic flaw. It’s all straight from the mouth of Paulo Freire.

Cameron’s own course of action seemed obvious—don’t be certain. By building up expectations and reliance upon assumption you segregate yourself from your ultimate range of potential. The night ahead was a blank chalkboard.
Cameron, despite the seriousness of his past relationships, was virgin to a lot of things.
"I know a few girls who are single, Cam," Elena mouthed to the hollow chasm of Cameron’s consciousness as she threw on her jacket, bringing him screaming from his vacuous explorations and back into the blaring illumination of reality.
"Great," Cameron replied in an uplifting manner that fit him like a Doberman in a tutu. "I am up for meeting anyone you deem cool shit." Such trust Cameron displayed in Elena’s judgment. Yes, that’s right, I said YOU could pick out girls for me! So it was decided, and was done.

It seemed like an instant and they were in the dorms. Ahh, the familiar smell of social isolation in the evening. Herein lie row upon row of students who lean on the crutch of drug abuse and beer binging to combat their lack of social ties. Foreign and exempt from the culture of the city (and yes, there is one) surrounding their university, these students have no ties to their surroundings and will seldom reach out to take in what exists beyond the streets of the college and surrounding housing.
Faster than stereotypically imaginable, the girls on the floor had been rounded up and crammed into the only working, stuffy, ghetto-fabulous elevator that smelled like three days’ worth of malt liquor and vomit had been somehow implanted into the hard, plastic interior of the dimly lit deathtrap. Fourteen bodies each weighing on average one hundred forty pounds. Maximum weight… Where do they post that anyway???

Cameron had previously engaged in the usual "beer and circus" antics of college life, clinging to the coattails of his former dorm mates a couple of times his freshman year. He found the party scene to be one ephemeral, draining cycle. In terms of intellect, the women he met seldom had more to offer than a night of Cartoon Network at home, and none of the innocence. He could see their own selfish agendas wofting about them like the sorrowful stench of a djambe drum circle, dread-locked, deodorant-opposing hippies banging away. Why else would they need alcohol to get them laid, that is if men in fact are as horny as all the man-hating lesbians want us to think? To Cameron, it seemed like feminism had somehow changed ideologies from "up with women" in the sixties to its current motto, "down with men." Cameron, oppositely, was amused with the puppet show people enjoyed forcing upon one another, oblivious to the significance of their own actions.
Cameron, Elena and Cheeks brought up the rear of the caravan, the group walking briskly to avoid the chill of the February air, quickly wrapping itself around the frail frames of the scantily clad women leading the pack. The party bumped on only a few blocks from the dormitory, and soon enough the cavalry had reached the fort, each shaking off the breath of a deathly winter wind as they entered the sanctity of a house sweating from the inside, coughing forth bellows of hot, sticky warmth. The evolution of a fire code violation.

In the beginning there was a house. Not your typical, occupied, cluttered house, but the shell of a house; a house stripped down to its barest minimums, anything of value locked safely away from where "guests" could interfere.
Then, the word was spread, indigenous peoples leaking out word of the gathering. And then, once the slightest hint of a party slithered its way down the streets of private housing and into the nearby dorms, the students came like masses to worship, idolaters to metallic kegs stacked higher than God himself. Statistically, more than half of these masses were women.
"The mix is warm," Cheeks warned as he dipped his five-dollar plastic cup into the cooler full of whop. Elena was off in search of mixed drinks. Cameron didn’t mind the temperature, as long as the mix called for an ass load of liquor. He was a camel at an oasis, sucking in as much as he could before venturing out into the desolation of the dance floor. The fruit juices masked the liquor almost completely, but Cam could still feel it, burning below. Nine drinks and now I’m good. Thirteen? Ehh, even better.

Yet, instead of dancing, Cameron had found his way into the sweaty, back corner of the crowded basement to toke a pinchie-full of mid-grade Buddha, adding a calm, relaxed attitude to his drunk that was so vividly consuming him. Yet, despite his best-laid plans, Cameron remained in the shadows, not interacting with many of the girls to whom Elena had already introduced him. This isn’t where I need to look. Why can’t I follow through with my intentions? I talk so much and do so little.
"Excuse me," a red-haired girl said to Cameron, grabbing him by the arm. She had that "snotty ‘till I give you head" aura to her, and one of those fancy, petticoat jackets in her arm. Something I can do? Let me rephrase that… What can I do to get you to be perfect? "Are you taking coats," she asked. Wait a minute…
"Heh… What?" Cameron was astounded by the fire-crotch’s ignorance; he stood there, jaw agape.
"I asked you if you were taking coats," the fire crotch repeated, "you are standing in front of the coat racks. Don’t you live here?" Cameron whirled around to find the eyes of forty or so silhouettes, stacked neatly in rows, staring him down from the shadows. I am such a moron. Of course she would assume… No matter, just get out of this.
"Uhh, no but for you I can make an exception," Cameron said, managing to stamp "HORNY DRUNK RETARD" square on his forehead.
"Actually," the fox said, shaking her fluffy tail in rejection, "my friends and I have to leave now. Sorry." Why can’t she just be honest? There is so much more respect in honesty. Cameron slid away from in front of the coat racks and to an even darker corner near the stairs.

The dagger of drunken depression plunged into Cameron’s side, sweeping the strength from his legs and sending him crumpling back against the wall and then onto his ass. No one had yet to notice, Cameron was already hidden in the shadows of the stairwell. He clenched his fists and squinted his eyes to hold back the tears of an internal collapse in his chest. So this is vertigo. It felt as if all strength, both physical and emotional, had been suspended from him, and now only Cameron and his thoughts lay in symposium. The veil of confusion was pulled away, and from deep inside of himself, Cameron discovered an answer: himself. With all this circular bullshit he kept reintroducing to himself, he was only drifting further away from the warm shores of contentment. There were no reasons, only questions. You can only dredge through the same possibilities for so long. Fresh blood was needed.

At that moment, Cameron emerged from his shivering fetus of intoxication and arose to the tall, slender sophistication that originated in his very marrow. He swallowed back one more splash of lukewarm whop from his crumpled, semi-transparent cup, pitched it into the darkness and looked out among the masses. The shepherd and his flock.
Then, just as he had come to terms with the indecipherable complexity of the circumstances containing him at present, a beautiful girl emerged from the crowd like a savior in the Nile. Yet, instead of beginning with verbal communication, she proceeded to immediately rub her ass against Cameron’s genitals to the beat of Sir Mix-a-Lot. And your name is?
Cameron, gelatinous as a rotting squid on a spike, continued to lean motionlessly against a support beam until the girl lost interest and retreated in confusion. A smile meandered its way across Cameron’s face, dripping in subversive stubbornness, as every other guy in the room shook their head in confusion. At least she won’t remember it tomorrow; now everyone probably thinks I’m a flamer. These clothes aren’t helping me out in that department either. No matter, this is all just acting anyway…

Soon enough the man of the hour had his homophobia under control and he again remained at rest, his back to the pillar; potential energy. So this is what it feels like to have a backbone. His amazement with the plethora of beauty surrounding him had changed more quickly than the seasons in a calendar, to a horrid aftertaste of dissatisfaction. Cameron saw Cheeks and Elena nestled away by the keg, so content and so at home. From this sight Cameron could feel only envy. He wanted so much to find what they had discovered long ago, but compromise himself? Nonsense. What did Elena say to me? Lose all hope…

Cameron buttoned up his jacket and lit a cigarette he had bummed off a B-string football player earlier that evening, his own full pack resting snugly in his jacket pocket. Cheeks noticed the preparations across the room, but Cameron faked a smile and waved, soothing Cheek’s sense of obligation for the time being. A smile is the easiest thing to fake. Cheeks would call tomorrow to catch up on what he missed, a whole lot of nothing. As Cameron ascended the stairwell, fleeing the dungeon, he felt only remorse, a remorse that he had fooled himself into thinking he could be strung along by his cock like every other guy in the basement he had just bid adieu. Perfume drenched his nasal passages in the imagery of French whores smoking long, stuffy cigarettes as he scooted through a circle of girls crowding the entry way. A few of them gave him cock-eyed glances that Cameron couldn’t differentiate between wanting his body and solemn disapproval of his perceived independence. He took his chances with the latter.

Deep down, Cameron cared more about the imaginary pimples on his ass than he did about going home with some tramp that, with a little help from her trashy friends, could assemble the colors of a bag of Easter M&M’s with their collective tank tops. He exhaled one big lungful of smoke in the face of the haughtiest-looking girl of all, her breasts as characteristically overplayed as her condescending brow. As her eyes winced and she coughed amidst the opaque, twisting decay that he had summoned forth, Cameron could only grin in the defiance of a puppy shitting on an oriental rug instead of on a nearby newspaper.

And with that, a whirl of red pleather marked the Sexual Avenger’s exit from the party as he stumbled out the busted screen door and into the night alone. For once, Cameron thought, being alone is okay. He didn’t know whom or what he would encounter tomorrow, but he found a little peace in that. Finally, Cameron had done some evolving of his own.

© Nathan West 2002

Previously by Nathan West
The Bone Whittler

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