The International Writers Magazine
: Serialised Novel

  Summer On Cadillac - Chapter Five
Mike Blake

 We went back to the frat house and knocked on Donna and Leanne’s door upstairs. The ladies were in, with company, and the smell of pot was strong in the air.
“Well, girls, it seems like we came at the right time,” Frank said, grinning in that sly, knowing way of his. “Something smells very good indeed.”

“You always have a nose for that, don’t you, Frankie?” Donna said, smiling and stoned. She had opened the door, a chunky brunette with short hair and freckles. She wore a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and jean cut-offs.
Doyle introduced me to everybody. There was Leanne, of course, a pretty blond with long hair and a good body, who knelt in front of the stereo system, choosing a tape. There was Chuck, who sat red-eyed in a chair, his short hair sticking up in all directions like the bristles on a well used toothbrush. Paul was the other guy there, tall, lanky, hair down over his neck, with some acne. And finally, there was Hailey, a skinny young woman with a big nose and lips and a warm look in her brown eyes. I found a seat on an old couch, next to Paul.
Frank and I had a six-pack of beers, but we left the rum downstairs for later. We had gone in on a big cheap jug of it, and each of us had a shot before coming upstairs.
“He works over at Thriftway,” Doyle said.
“That’s where I’ve seen you,” Chuck said, laughing. “It would have come to me. I’m not used to seeing you without your uniform.”
“Mr. Thriftway,” Paul said, smiling, as he broke up a weed bud on a coffee table.
“That’s right,” Donna said. “You work at night with that black guy.”
“He finally got a day off,” Frank said. “You didn’t come out here to work every day, did you?”
“No, I came out here to spend some days getting drunk and stoned,” I said, and a couple of them laughed at that.
“I’m sure Frankie’s helped you with that,” Paul said.
“Frank’s been good company today,” I said.
“He’s gonna see if he can get me on at the store,” Frank said.
“Money, Frank?” Donna said. “That’s good.” She looked at him without her cheerful smile for a moment, and Doyle lost his grin.

Poor Frank, I thought. In debt, it seems, and with something of a reputation around here as a mooch? Apparently, he wasn’t the popular, hip daddy I thought he was, or rather, he thought he was.
“Where you from?” Paul asked.
I told them a little about myself, as an R.E.M. tape played. They seemed a little surprised that I didn’t go to school somewhere. I told them that I had spent a year in college after high school, but then had gotten restless. The guys in particular showed some interest when I told them of my two-year trip.
“This is my first trip into Maine, though,” I said. “Actually, I planned on going into New Hampshire, but I was broke. Someone told me about this place.”  

I had gotten high a few times with Kevin Hemming, but never as high as I was that day. Never as drunk either. I never spent as much money as I did that day either, yet no one ever said a good time was cheap in this town in the summertime.

We sat around in the upstairs apartment for the next two hours, listening to music and shooting the shit, drinking beer and smoking. This apartment was a little bigger than Doyle’s, with a small, separate bedroom off of the big room, where one of the women slept. They too had a portable fridge and a small kitchen counter and sink. The one major difference between this apartment and the one down below, besides a brighter overall atmosphere (a light gray paint on the walls, plenty of sunlight entering), was that the ladies utilized their limited space and obviously cleaned the apartment.

Without some neatness in a place of this size, you had a depressing mess like Frank had.                 Donna and Leanne planned on going out somewhere later that night (after they had taken showers), and Paul and Chuck had plans, but everybody was just killing time for a while. I went and bought more beer at the supermarket, not wanting to go anywhere near the workplace.

After leaving Donna and Leanne’s place (they would see us later at Maxwell’s), Frank and I knocked on one of the doors downstairs and said hello to a guy named David. He was another student from Orono here to make some bucks for the summer. He had just pulled a shift waiting on tables at a nearby restaurant and was happy that he had done well on tips. He drank a couple beers with us and said he would go out with us for a few later.
“I’m in the mood to let loose a little,” he said, with a little smirk on a thin face with the skin stretched tightly over the cheekbones and hawkish nose. The dark eyes had a hollow, tired look to them, as if he’d had trouble sleeping lately, and he could have used a few pounds on his thin frame too, it looked like.
David seemed on the restless side, his eyes kept darting around the room, at us, out the window, at the walls, as he steadily puffed cigarettes. I wondered if he was a coke fiend, but I didn’t see any evidence of it on the coffee table next to us.
I did notice that David was a reader. He had several milk crates full of paperbacks, and some of the titles – novels and philosophy – caught my eye. I commented on a couple of them and he smiled and nodded.
“I made sure I brought plenty to read,” he said. “I’m a night person. You can ask him.” He nodded at Doyle.
“Yeah, David and I have been a late night team quite a few nights,” Frank said, grinning.
“I don’t sleep good, and you can’t count on the TV,” David said. “I read two or three books a week on average.”
That was a lot of reading, I thought. I was good for maybe one a week, depending on how many hours I worked. Of course, I did spend quite a bit of my free time scribbling in my notebook (the project then was a long, narrative poem I’d started at the beginning of the summer). I asked David if he did any writing.
“Not lately,” he said. “I used to write all the time. Journals, stories, poems. I haven’t had the time for it in the last year. Between school and jobs, forget it.”

David was an English major, which didn’t surprise me. He said that one day he’d like to try his hand at a novel, but that he’d probably end up teaching school somewhere.
I told him that I had done some writing – nothing published - but that I hadn’t attempted anything longer than a short story. I mentioned my poem, which was getting longer by the day, and he laughed at that.
“One of those epics, huh?”
“Yes, my island epic.”
“Am I gonna be in it?” Frank asked.
“Of course.”
He laughed at that.
“I want to read it before you take off,” he said.
“Yeah, you’ll have to bring it around some day,” David added.
I was already thinking that I’d stop at David’s to borrow a book some day. It wasn’t everyday that I met a man who enjoyed reading (especially literary classics).
“I hate going back to my room,” Frank said, looking almost wasted. “It’s such a fucking mess and it stinks.”
“You still haven’t cleaned that place up?” David said, shaking his head. “What the hell have you been doing with your time?”
Doyle held up his beer can and laughed.
“Jesus, that’s pathetic,” David said, looking at me with a smile.
“I’m a drunken bum, what can I say?” Frank said.
“Another Jordan Harbor waste case,” David said.
“That’s me. I can’t help it if I like to drink and get stoned.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” I said.
“There isn’t, is there?” Frank said. “I mean it’s not like I’m some asshole criminal or something. I don’t go around hurting people or stealing. I consider myself a friendly guy.” He laughed.
I had gotten the impression that some of the other tenants thought him to be a little too friendly, but I could have been wrong.
“Did your old man run out of jobs for you?” David asked.
“My old man’s drunk today,” Frank said. “No surprise there. I don’t mind working for him when he’s not around. Half the time I just tell him I did something and he pays me. If he ever got caught out there in bad weather, he probably wouldn’t make it back in.”
“He ought to hire someone to drive the boat,” David said.
“He does when he has his parties. People wouldn’t go out with him if he didn’t.”
A man adrift in his personal sea of scotch, I thought, telling myself that it could be used in a story.
“I smell reefer,” David said. “You got any more?”
“Yeah, pot we do have,” Frank said. “Although I’m starting to think I need a little something else.” He looked at me and pinched a nostril.
I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. This guy had all the cool gestures down.
“That’s one way of getting your room cleaned,” David remarked. “Do a couple of honkers and have at it. Wouldn’t take you more than an hour.” He smiled at me.
“If I do a couple of honkers, I won’t be doing any housecleaning,” Frankie said, getting his baggy of pot out.
“I haven’t touched that stuff once this summer,” David said.
“It’s about time you did, isn’t it?” Frank said, and he smiled at me.
“It might just be,” David said. “I’m due for a night of debauchery.”
“I told you that you came to the right place,” Frank said to me. “B--’s  looking to have a good time tonight.”
“The wage slave throws off his uniform for the night,” I said, grinning and popping the top on another beer. When I told David where I worked he shook his head.
“I tried that once,” he said. “But once I found out how I could do with tips, that was it. I’ve stayed with the restaurants ever since. If I’d met you two weeks ago I could have gotten you on where I’m at. But right now they’re all set.”
“Well, I’ll stick with this for the summer,” I said. “Rita was nice enough to give me a job immediately.”
“She was desperate, that’s why,” Frank said, preparing to roll another number. “I bet she started you the same day you asked for the job.”
“That she did,” I said. “She told me to have a coffee on the house, and then she took me upstairs and fitted me for a jacket.”
Frank laughed.
“I knew it,” he said. “That’s why I don’t understand why she won’t hire me. She’s known me for a few summers now.”
“She knows your druggie reputation,” David said, laughing.
“Please,” Frank said. “This guy smokes pot.” He nodded at me. “Kevin Hemming smokes pot. They drink. Sherry parties. Rita parties. I’ve heard stories about her.”
So had I. From Kevin, and from Rick on the third shift. And from some of the younger regulars in the coffee shop. Well, Rita was only in her mid forties at the most – nowhere near retirement age.
“Frank, you need a new image,” David joked. “You can’t go around looking like the frat boy with a six pack under his belt.”
I laughed at this, and even Doyle smiled. He gave Dave the finger.
“You need some decent duds,” David said. “Borrow some from your old man.” He laughed. “Some of those sports shirts with the little animals sewn on them, some tennis shorts and some clean white sneakers.”
“All right, all right,” Frank said. “I’ll get one of his suit jackets and a tie. Do you think that’ll be good enough for Thriftway?” He looked at me.
“They say the right look can open doors,” I replied, still laughing.
“I didn’t know Rita was so fashion conscious,” he said.
“They might have an opening for a dishwasher where I’m at,” David said, still grinning and enjoying this, it seemed. Perhaps he too was tired of Frank Doyle’s unemployment woes.
Doyle stopped rolling the joint.
“I don’t think so, David. That’s one thing I’m not gonna do.”
I didn’t blame him there, having washed my share of dishes in different parts of the country. A shitty job for too little pay.
We listened to a Fleetwood Mac song on the radio as Frank put the finishing touches on the joint.
© M. Blake Sept 2005 

Summer in Cadillac - Chapter One
Mike Blake - a novella in progress
I had no intention of spending more than a summer on the island
Summer in Cadillac - Chapter Two

Shiftwork 11.05.05
Summer in Cadillac - Chapter Three
Taking a Break in a pig's sty

Summer ion Cadillac - Chapter Four
Need a job?

Summer in Cadillac - Chapter Five
Getting Stoned

Summer in Cadillac - Chapter Six
The secret pool

More First Chapters


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