The International Writers Magazine
:Chapter Six of this Serialised novel

Summer in Cadillac - Last of the summer nights
Mike Blake

Maxwell’s was crowded even though it was a weekday. It didn’t matter, as most of these people were on vacation anyway. It was a lively atmosphere just about reaching its peak here at ten o’clock. The drinkers hadn’t become sloppy yet. The band, four university guys who Doyle knew, and reminding me of R.E.M., hadn’t started their second set yet, which was all right by me, as someone had played Magic Carpet Ride on the jukebox.

The whole day of drinking had caught up to me by then (some rum and cokes at Doyle’s earlier had put me over the edge) and all I did was stagger around the bar, smiling at people, laughing. Occasionally, Doyle came into my sights, grinned at me, slapped me on the back and was off into the crowd again. I saw David flirting with a cute brunette by one of the bars (a smaller station in the rear of the place, next to a few tables).
            I had seen Donna and Leanne flirting with some of their boyfriends who came here regularly, I guessed. The band members were out on the floor mingling too (there was a small stage in one corner of the place).
            With a replenished mug of dark beer in hand, I made my careful way between and around people, moving to the music, which was now an old Aerosmith hit. I almost bumped into Hailey, who looked up at me (she was all of five-three), paused for a second or two, and then smiled as she recognized me. Again, it was the big brown eyes that I noticed; they pulled me in despite the big honker and the Jagger lips.
            “You want a drink?” I said, offering the mug, and not knowing what else to say. To my surprise she didn’t hesitate and took a good gulp.
            “Thanks, I needed that,” she said, handing the mug back.
            “Do you like these guys?” I asked.
            “They’re okay.” She shrugged.
            “Yeah, that’s how I feel. They remind me of some other bands.”
            “I like reggae,” she said.
            This surprised me a little, I don’t know why. But it also shut me up, for I knew very little about reggae music, other than a few Marley tunes. I didn’t particularly care for it that much; I found it monotonous after a while. Yet, of course, I didn’t say that, just nodded my head. The Aerosmith song made me think of dancing, and I started moving again to the hard, fast sound. Hailey moved her head and stared at me, as if to say that this was all right, she could get into it for the moment. For a moment, I had the fantasy of putting her up against the wall in one of those dark corners and giving her what for.
            “You want to smoke a joint?” she asked.
            “Sure.” I laughed.
            “Let’s go out back,” she said.
            Before we left the bar we finished my beer. Hailey then led me out a side door. We had our hands stamped by the doorman so we could return without paying the cover.
            We passed through a small parking lot, and then stepped into an alley along the same block. After looking both ways, she fired the joint up.  
            “I was feeling a little tense in there,” she said. “Too many bodies this time of night.”
            “I don’t care for it myself,” I said, and took a big hit. I had smoked more pot on this one day than I had in the previous couple of months. It reminded me of my high school days, doing bongs, listening to music and Cheech and Chong albums. “But I guess it’s where it’s happening around here.”
            “Do you ever go to John’s Pub in the afternoons?” she asked. “They have music.”
            I told her the only music I heard these days was on the store radio, if you could call some of it music.
            “That sucks,” she said. “Your whole summer spent in that place.”
            “What do you do for bucks?”
            “I work in a snack shop near the park. Bagels, pretzels, cake, candy, cookies, you name it. But I make sure I get at least two days off a week. I told them I only wanted so many hours.”
            “I wish it was that way at the store,” I said. “As it is, they probably wouldn’t mind if I slept upstairs.” I smiled at her, for already I felt the effects from the first hit.
            “It’s good pot, isn’t it?” She took another toke.
            “It’s just what I needed after all those rum and cokes.”
            “Rum and cokes? I thought you were a beer drinker?”
            “That too. I’m trying to keep up with my buddy, Frank.”
            “Frank,” she said, and laughed, shaking her head. “Mr. Party himself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that man without a drink or a joint in his hand. Even at school. I don’t know how he passes his classes.”
            I thought of Frank paying another student to write his papers for him, and that didn’t seem all that improbable. I wondered if Doyle even attended half his classes.
            I asked Hailey what her major was and she told me she had an open program for the upcoming year.
            “Next year I have to decide on something,” she said. “Maybe communications. Journalism. Something like that. Definitely not science or math.”
            “I was the same way,” I told her. “I was a business major who took too many literature and philosophy courses. At least that’s what my counselor told me. I was supposed to be studying economic principles, but I walked around with poetry books. Needless to say, my scholastic career didn’t last long.”
            “You flunked out?”
            “I quit. I wanted money, so I went to work.”
            “And you didn’t go back?”
            “Not yet.”
            “You’re not that old.”
            “No, my parents keep telling me I’m young enough to go back to school.”
            “Are you going back?”
            “Not this year anyway. I’m getting thirsty again. But I have an idea. You want to go for a swim?”
            “A swim? Where?”
            “In my pool.”
            I have to say that Hailey Mills was a good sport about it. I took her away from the Maxwell’s party, where her friends were anyway, and led her to Thriftway, briefly, where I picked up a twelve-pack of beer. I introduced Hailey to Kevin, who only had time to say hello as he handled a rush.
            “You are coming in tomorrow, right?” he asked, before I got out the door.
            I smiled and winked at him, and I saw him laughing when the door closed. Then I led Hailey toward my sanctuary in the woods.  
            I had found one of the nearby motel’s old signs in the woods near my campsite, and had propped it up against some trees so that it could be seen from the road. I had borrowed a flashlight from the store so that I was able to guide my new friend up the path to my site. She must have thought this was a little strange, especially having just met me, but I joked about it to put her at ease.
            “See, I told you I had one of the best rooms in the place,” I said, when we stepped into the small clearing at the top of the hill, where my large tarp could be seen stretched between the trees. Hailey laughed.
            “This is where you sleep?”
            “The very place. I just happened to find it one of my first days in town. It’s quiet at night, and you won’t find a cheaper room in town.” I handed her a beer and popped open mine. “Now I’m going to show you the lounge.” I hoped that at this time of night the pool would be empty. It usually was.
            My luck held out, and we didn’t see any swimmers, though we could hear what sounded like a party in one of the rooms down below. The pool was located at the top of the hill behind the motel buildings, and some cement stairs and a walk led down to the rooms. There was a fence around the pool itself, of course, but I had never found the gate locked. The fence only went as high as my chest anyway.
            I left the beer stashed in the bushes, and then we stepped inside the fence. I sat down in one of the plastic chairs, as Hailey kicked off her sandals and then stuck her foot in the water. She laughed and looked back at me, still stoned, spilling a little beer down her arm.
            “You do this every night?” she asked.
            “Not quite. I don’t like to push my luck.”
            I had told her that we would have to be a little quiet, but with the party going on, it didn’t seem to matter this night. I took my sneakers off and sat at the edge of the pool with her. The water was as warm as usual.
            “I’ve been in here at three in the morning some nights,” I said. “No one ever comes out to check. I’ve sat here reading a book for a couple hours.” I laughed.
            “I like it,” she said. “And not a bad view either.”

            From that height, we could look down at the part of town we had just left and see the lights along one of the main streets. We heard some car horns off in the distance, and some yelling. Then it was just the music and loud voices from the party.
            I mentioned that I had a towel back at the camp, but Hailey told me to forget it. It was a warm summer night and the water was like a bath.
            We slipped in up to our necks, moving around at the shallow end of the pool. Hailey had another joint that we put in one of my sneakers, for later. I thought that someone might smell the stuff and come up to the pool if we smoked it. Some of those party people might become curious.
            “I remember my grandparents had a pool,” I told her. “One of those small, above ground jobs. But it seemed big to us kids at the time. We loved going to their house in the summer. We’d stay in that thing for hours.”
            “My parents had a pool put in when I was about twelve,” she said. “After that, I was pretty popular with my friends.” She laughed. 
            “Yeah, when I got older I can remember going to pool parties. Someone’s parents would go on vacation, and they’d throw a bash. Something always got wrecked.” 
            “Tell me about it,” she said. “I had a couple of those parties myself in high school. And I had to explain things to my parents both times. Why this was broken, and where such and such a thing disappeared to. People didn’t give a shit if it was your house.”
            I told her one of my favorite high school party stories about a “crazy” friend of mine who, loaded on acid and booze, got up on the roof of someone’s house and, with a little help, tore the TV antenna off. The antenna and guide wires ended up in the backyard and the TV reception was suddenly shitty, causing some loud protest in the TV room. The house was out in the woods and the antenna was needed for basic reception.
            “Those were the days before cable TV,” I said. “When they asked him why he did it, he said: This is a party goddamit! Fuck the TV!” And he went and turned the stereo up full. And he was a big enough guy, and loaded enough, that no one wanted to mess with him that night. He was always remembered for that night. That was one of his glory moments.”
            “You ever see him anymore?”
            “Not since high school. I don’t see any of those people anymore.”
            “I know what you mean. I see a couple of my old friends still. We go out drinking once in a while, but that’s about it. I’ve made new friends at school.”
            “Sure. I did the same. And then once I started working, I hung out with the people I worked with. Like now, with Kevin. We see each other every day, work the same shift, so we’ve gotten to know each other a little.”
            “Where’s he from?”
            “Some small town in Texas.”
            “Damn, he’s a long way from home. I wonder what brought him out here?”
            “The same thing that brought me up here. Roaming around and seeing the sights. He got tired of Texas, and I got tired of my hometown. And now that I’m here, I have to say I’m glad I came, even with all the work hours. The island really does have some memorable places.”
            “Yeah, I’ve come here at other times of the year,” she said. “That’s when it’s nice. A few tourists, but nothing like this. This time of year, I make money, like everybody else.”
            I went and got two more beers.
            “Well, here’s to meeting you today, Hailey,” I said, raising a can. “And here’s to motel hospitality, cold beer, pot and making money.”
            “I’ll drink to that, and to getting away from Maxwell’s for a change. I’m getting bored with that. The bars, period.”
            “I’d feel the same way if I was in them every night,” I said. “A few years ago, when I worked in a factory, I drank in bars every night of the week. That was my social life at the time. Every night, belly up to the bar. It was the same bars, the same people. After a year and a half of that, I was burned out on the job and the barfly life. It was the healthiest thing I ever did quitting that job and hitting the road.”

            Hailey had heard me talk about my trip earlier that day, but still she had some questions about it. She wanted to know what my favorite part of the country was, but I couldn’t tell her that it was any one place.
            “Donna and I are talking about taking a trip,” she said. “A long road trip. Maybe next summer. I don’t want to come here again next year. I want to get out of Maine.”     
            Hailey came from Portland, and coming to this part of Maine had been exciting, at first, but school had a lot to do with that. Now, going into her second year, the novelty had worn off.
            “Do it,” I said. “I wish I could have talked a friend into going with me a few years ago. I wanted to travel right after high school, but most of my friends were either going to college or starting careers.”
            “If I go with anybody, it’ll be Donna. She’s the only one I know who will really do it. She’ll quit whatever job she’s got and go, if I go with her.”
            “Don’t wait. Do it while you’re young and don’t have any commitments. You’ll have a hell of a time and it’ll be something you’ll never forget.”
            “I’m going to. Just talking to you tonight has convinced me.” She grinned at me and raised her beer can again.
            “Good. Because I wouldn’t steer you wrong. When you and Donna get out to those Rockies next summer, you’ll think of me. In fact, I’ll give you my parents’ address and you can write me there. I’d like to hear from you.”
            It was then that we noticed we had company: a couple of young men with beers in hand, who had strolled over from the party. Smiling, they greeted us and stepped over beside the pool.
            “We thought it was closed this time of night,” one of them said.
            “Officially, it probably is,” I answered.
            “But what the hell, right?” the other said, grinning.
            They looked to be college students themselves, on the clean cut and jockish side. It was probably a group of them on a toot to the coast. They were dressed in loose t-shirts and baggy shorts.
            “The water’s just right,” Hailey told them.
            The two men looked at each other. One went back to the room for more beer, and the other guy kicked his sneakers off and sat on the edge of the pool, with his legs in the water.
            “Oo, that is nice,” he said. “Once I get in there I might not come out for the rest of the night.”
            “I’m in no hurry to go anywhere,” Hailey said, laughing, and splashing me a little. Half of her long brown hair was wet now, looking darker because of it. She looked genuinely delighted with things as they were, and suddenly I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else at the moment. I don’t know if it was a rush from the weed or the beer, or just a good feeling at the end of a long, relaxing day, and sitting with this friendly young woman. Probably, it was a combination.
            The other man returned with not only more beer, but another drinking buddy as well. Another well-fed kid with short hair and a big grin, wearing white summer clothes and carrying a green bottle of beer. It wasn’t long before all three were in the water with us, and introductions were made. They seemed friendly enough and not too drunk, though I wondered if our voices carried to an office, wherever that was.
            I think, finally, it was the room party that brought complaints to the office (neighbors annoyed by the music and high spirits); but the employee from the front desk also stopped at the pool to let everyone know that it was closed - everyone being the seven bathers in the water now. Laughing, we all slowly complied, taking our time about it so that the deskman disappeared again.
            “He’ll be back later,” one of the college guys said.
            “Somebody probably woke him up from his nap,” another said, and we all laughed.
I threw our empty cans in a trashcan, but I noticed a half dozen or so of the green bottles around. I hoped that this little party scene wouldn’t prompt the night man to make nightly rounds from now on. I had gotten used to taking my regular baths.
            I remembered what was in my sneaker, and after saying goodnight to the party boys, I took the joint out and handed it to Hailey, along with her lighter.
            “I guess we better get out of here before the head of security comes back,” I said.
            “Yeah, he looked really serious and official, didn’t he?” she said, with a laugh.
            “I’m surprised he didn’t flash us a tin badge.”

            We both laughed as we went back down the trail. We still had some beer left, plus the joint, and I wondered what we would do then. I figured the bars were almost closed by then, and there was only one all night coffee shop that I knew of, and I didn’t want to show up there until the next afternoon. I didn’t have the nerve to ask her to spend the night at my camp; I thought that was pushing it.
            “Let’s go back to the house,” Hailey said, solving the “problem” right there. “Everybody should be back by now. And I know someone will be up.”
            First, I offered her a dry shirt from my pack – a clean one, I assured her. I changed into some dry clothes myself, figuring I wouldn’t make it back there that night. Before we headed for the road, we smoked half the joint and finished a couple more beers. We were ready for the short hike into town then. 
            Hailey lived, of course, at the frat house, in one of the smaller rooms on the second floor. When we arrived at the big old house, there were indeed some lights burning.
            I knew Frank Doyle would be up, and David the waiter, most likely, and sure enough they were, the two of them in David’s room, both of them sniffling from the white candy in their noses. Hailey had continued on up to her room to change her wet shorts, saying she would stop down.
            “Where the hell did you disappear to?” Frank asked.
            “I went swimming with a friend,” I said.
            “Swimming?” He was intrigued.
            “Hailey and I took a dip up at my favorite motel.” I offered up the box of beer and popped the top on one myself. They were into the rum again.
            “Hailey?” Frank said, pressing one nostril with a finger and sniffing back hard, getting every bit of that line he could. “Where is that woman?”
            “She just went to the room. She’ll be down.”
            “You dog, you,” Frank said.
            I just smiled and let him think what he wanted.
            “You don’t waste time, do you?” Frank said, turning to David and laughing. “I like this dude, man. Mr. Thriftway. To see him at work you’d think he was the quietest guy around. A bookworm, that’s what you’d think. And he is something of a bookworm.” He laughed, and David did too.
            “Hell, no more of a bookworm than I am,” David said. All of the earlier tightness from work had left his face; he was sweaty, flushed, and smiling now. I called it right on that one when I said that the man looked ready to cut loose on this night; I had seen it in his eyes after the first couple of beers.
            “You said you went swimming?” Frank asked.
            David was busy chopping up some more lines on the coffee table.
            “Yeah, well, it was a little hot and stuffy at the bar,” I said. “So we went and cooled off some. Probably still be there if we weren’t asked to leave.”
            “A motel, huh?” Frank said.
            “Nice pool, nice night.” I grinned at him. “We even had a party going on next door.”
            “Sounds wonderful. You interested?” He touched his nose again.
            On most nights I would have said no, but this one had been going so well that I decided to go all the way. Why not make it an all nighter? I looked at David, who looked at Frank, who shrugged.
            “What the hell?” Frank said. “He could probably use a little lift.” He smiled at me.
            I could. David shrugged and handed me the short straw. Looking down at the two short lines on the table, I couldn’t remember the last time I had inhaled powder, and that is the truth. Nothing came to me in the way of a memory. I did one line, sniffing hard with my head back, and there was a knock at the door.
            Hailey, in dry jean shorts and my smiley face shirt, grinning and giving us all a little wave. She stepped through the door with a beer in hand.
            “Here she is now,” Frank remarked. “We’ve just heard something about a swim at a motel. And Mr. Thriftway here just hoovered a fat one. How ‘bout you, dearie?”
            Hailey looked at the coffee table, and then at me. I shrugged and sniffed.
            “All right,” she said. “I don’t have to do anything early tomorrow.”
            She was game, I had to give her that. In my cocaine rush, I saw her as my steady girlfriend. I was to have quite a few pleasant thoughts, or fantasies, in the coming few hours.

            We all ended up in Donna and Leanne’s place, after Frankie and I went down the street and bought some more coke (on yours truly, who had forgotten how good and powerful the drug could be). There was plenty to drink and smoke with it, and when five a.m. rolled around, I began to think that I might have to take a second day off from work.
            “Fuck that job,” Frank said to me, clearly wired out of his mind, and without the usual cocky grin. “That’s all you’ve done since you’ve been here. Take a weekend off. Fuck Rita.”
            “That’s easy for you to say, Frankie,” Donna said. “You got family to help you out.”
            “Yeah, I know, my old man’s got a boat down in the harbor,” Frank said. “I hear that all the time. But he doesn’t just hand me cash every time I need it. I gotta do something for it. I’m the only one who does any work on that boat or up at his house.”
            He may have had a point, but he hadn’t gained any sympathy from us. Doing odd jobs on your old man’s yacht (no doubt with a buzz on) wasn’t the same in our eyes as the jobs we did to get by. And I think Doyle sensed that, for he shut up, and then turned the volume up on a particular song on the radio.
            “I still say you should take a weekend off,” he said to me a few minutes later. Hell, we’ll do it again tomorrow.”
            It was hard not to like that grin, which was back; the kid had an irrepressible spirit that was infectious. I wouldn’t have minded working with him at all (as long as he actually did some work).
            “Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time I stayed up all night and went to work,” I said, grinning at everybody. “I used to have a bad habit of that.”
            Yet, I knew that the factory job I’d had at that time didn’t demand the almost constant attention that this job did. I didn’t work with the public then, and my duties were routine enough that I could have done them half asleep. This certainly wasn’t the case now. Of course, I certainly had plenty of coffee at hand. As it was, I averaged about eight cups a shift.

            The time had come in the early morning when I wasn’t the only one thinking ahead to the next day; the others had pulled into their own thoughts too, allowing the radio to carry what was left of the party spirit. Everyone knew that the comedown from the coke wouldn’t be easy; it never was. Doyle seemed to be fighting it the hardest, yet he would soon succumb to weariness and crawl into his littered, bad-smelling den to sleep it off. Perhaps he’d end up polishing brass railings later that day, I thought. Sailor Frank.
            As I looked at Hailey, I thought that perhaps something might develop with her before the summer was over, on a quieter night. Even better would be a hike on some other part of the island (she had the car to drive us there). I would have to find out what days she usually had off.
            All of these people I would stay in touch with; the day had been worth it for that alone. I had made connections with people and a place outside the workplace.

© Mike Blake Jan 2006

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

More First Chapters


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