Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chapter 1: Lawrence Is Seen Through

Fri, October 16, 2074 10:16 pm: Mermaid's Cove Nightclub- Downtown, Pleasantview

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Lawrence Caliente glanced towards the hookah bar squatting on the downtown skyline. Its dingy cement facade was crowned with a neon sign that flashed the words Mermaid's Cove letter by letter. The electric hum of the lights kept time with Laurie's heartbeat and for a moment, he imagined that the sign was mocking him. M is for the moments of his life he will never get back. E is for Enoch who dragged him out to this shit hole. R is for all the many reasons that Laurie should not be in a hookah bar...

It occurred to Laurie that he had never before set foot in this section of town. He didn't have his friends' taste for adventure. Out of the corner of his eye, Laurie saw something dart near his foot. He prayed that it wasn't a rat but he dared not look down to verify. Behind him, Laurie heard the car door slam.


Turning around to suggest that Ian raise the convertible roof, Laurie found himself face to face with Enoch, who was sporting his widest, stupidest grin. Enoch slapped Laurie heartily on the back.

"Dude, this is going to be so great. I swear, you've never seen girls like the ones that come to these kinds of places," Enoch said almost confidentially. And slipping his arm across Laurie's shoulder, he added, "You know what? I am going to make it my personal mission to find you one tonight. I think you could do with something tall and slim with long red hair and killer tits. What do you think? If she costs, it's totally on me."

"Er..." Laurie hardly had time to think of an appropriate response before Enoch noticed Ian beckoning them from the doorway. Enoch slapped Laurie on the arm as if to say, "let's go" and made his way the bar entrance. Laurie took a deep breath. Perhaps if he simply went in and didn't touch anything-- or anyone-- he could manage to emerge from this expedition unscathed.


Inside, the air was dense with the scents of alcohol and marijuana. The lighting, which Laurie supposed was meant to be atmospheric, was so dim that he could barely make-out Enoch's rather prominent features. There was no music, no laughter, no sign of people enjoying themselves whatsoever. The place was dead. That at least, Laurie thought, would bode well for him. The hostess was an older woman with hair as short as a man's. She had the sort of sunken look that can only come from starvation or a prolonged disinterest in life. Laurie suspected the latter.

"Lothario, party of three," Ian announced as he stepped towards the podium. Laurie thought that it had been an act of supreme idiocy for Ian to use his real name. The hostess read down the list of reservations but judging by the emptiness of the bar, she could not have possibly needed to study it as she did. Maybe her vision was starting to go from working in the dark. "I've got a couple of under-aged knuckleheads with me. I assume that won't be a problem."

"Not at all." The woman breathed the words more than she spoke them. She closed the book of reservations pointedly. "Have a seat wherever you like, Mr. Lothario."


Ian looked back at Laurie and Enoch, smiling brightly. Laurie little knew how his friends managed to become so giddy at the mere chance of mischief. Technically, they hadn't done anything yet beyond sneaking out of their respective homes and walking into some Townie dive. None of it really merited excitement. And while Laurie was usually up for whatever the other two concocted, tonight was not the night for them to be out smoking weed and picking up prostitutes. Ian's father-in-law's funeral was in the morning. He should have been home with his family. Surely his wife knew by now that he was gone. What would she say when he got in? What would Ian say? It was absurd that Adelaide should have to have that conversation with Ian at all.


But Laurie was forgetting that Ian had lost Don too. Maybe this was just his way of coping. It was hard to tell. Laurie, Ian and Enoch never discussed their emotions with one another. Laurie didn't regret it but he did sometimes wish he had a friend that he could be open with. Someone mild-mannered and pensive. Someone who didn't think that dick jokes were funny. Maybe Laurie should have taken Enoch up on that offer to find him a girl. But imagining the sort of girl that Enoch would choose, Laurie forever banished the thought.


"I call the pillow facing the entrance," Enoch shouted. He pushed past Laurie in a poorly contained sprint and pounced on the aforementioned pillow. Ian sat down beside him and lit the hookah, chuckling to himself.

"What does it matter, anyway," Ian asked, inspecting the unusual shape of the mouthpiece at the end of the hose.

"This way, when I stand up I can see who's coming in." Enoch winked at Laurie conspiratorially but Laurie did not feel as though he were in on the conspiracy. "Come on Laur, take a seat."


The room was so silent that Laurie could hear the water boiling in the hookah. He knew that soon this would no longer be the case since Ian and Enoch were louder stoned than they were sober. Laurie glanced at the deserted bar. It seemed to be just the place for him to sit quietly like a good boy.

"I think I'm just going to go get a drink," Laurie said. Enoch scowled.


"Hey, I haven't dismissed you yet! I thought this was supposed to be a party?" Enoch kicked a pillow towards Laurie's feet. Laurie rolled his eyes and walked away. Over the years, Laurie had often wondered whether he and Enoch would have still been friends if their age and caste had allowed them more options. Laurie was just coming to the conclusion that if he had to ask himself that question, the answer must have been no.


At the bar, Laurie canvassed the room for possible escape routes. If he crawled along the wall that separated the bar from the hookahs, he could almost reach the back door without being seen. Once outside, he could make a break for it. Home was maybe five or six miles away.


"Nice night." Laurie was pulled out of his musings by the soft voice of the bartender. His first instinct had been to look over his shoulder for the person she was addressing but she was staring him dead in the eyes. Laurie surveyed her with mild curiosity. Her expression was solemn. He didn't think that she was trying to be impudent.

"I guess so," He said dismissively.

"So what brings you out here tonight?" She busied herself with cleaning a glass but never turned away from Laurie. Was she honestly attempting to engage him in conversation? His cheeks flushed from a feeling that was between shame and outrage. Something in his personal code of ethics told him that it would not be right to put her in her place. His breeding, on the other hand, wanted her fired. Laurie squirmed uneasily, reminding himself that the bartender could not possibly have known who he was.

"My friends," he replied. "We're celebrating, I guess. One of them is getting married- To the other one's sister, actually." Why did he tell her that? He should have just gone on staring at her like she was stupid. The bartender placed the clean glass on the countertop.

"Well, congratulations to your friends." She smiled at him hesitantly.

"Thanks." Laurie wasn't sure why he was thanking her.


"Can I get you anything," she asked, landing comfortably on a subject that they could discuss. At fifteen, Laurie was old enough to drink but he never did. What did his dad usually order?

"I'll have a vodka martini," he said. The bartender nodded and set about her work.


Laurie noticed people slowly filing into the club but no unaccompanied women that he could tell. It was not too late. He could still get away out the backdoor and home before his father noticed that he was gone. The club's speakers came on with a click, playing some jazz band that Laurie was not familiar with. Even as the din grew louder, he could hear Enoch's voice clearly from across the room.


"Dude, dude, dude, remember that time you, me and Laurie were eating dinner over at your place and Laurie pulled out that bottle of window cleaner that he'd filled with blue fruit punch and just started drinking?" This reminiscence of Enoch's brought forth exuberant laughter and fits of coughing from both young men. Laurie thought that Enoch's laugh sounded like the braying of a tortured mule.


"Oh my God, Dina nearly flipped her shit. 'What are you doing, that's poisonous!'" Ian's impersonation of his mother-in-law was spot on. Laurie smirked to himself. "Don laughed so hard I thought he was going to tip over in his chair." And there it was. They both fell eerily silent.


A chill ran down Laurie's spine. Don was dead. The bartender came by and took away Laurie's empty glass without him noticing. Laurie thought he would go join his friends. Maybe he would even smoke a little. Anything to change the subject. Laurie swiveled his stool around in preparation to stand when he caught sight of something that he did not expect.


It was Enoch's elder brother Horace. Laurie's first urge was to duck and run but he couldn't seem to look away. Horace was there with someone and it certainly wasn't his wife.


Despite his mental refrain that this was not necessarily what it looked like, Laurie teemed with anger. He silently goaded Horace to touch the woman, to kiss her, to look at her fondly. So help him, if Horace gave even the slightest indication of cheating on Laurie's sister... And with what sort of woman? Laurie wished the woman would just turn around. He had to know whom Horace would bring into a downtown hookah bar at 10:45 on a Friday.


When the woman did turn, Laurie saw that she was no one he had ever met. He would have remembered a face like that. She was beautiful. Laurie studied her for a time, knowing that he may have to give a description of her later. But that few seconds' hesitation cost him.


He was caught.


He had to think fast. Horace had probably hadn't seen Ian's car in the parking lot or he wouldn't have come in. Horace would know that Laurie couldn't have gotten to the bar on his own but probably wouldn't suspect Ian since Ian should be home with his grieving wife. Horace would suspect Enoch but that was okay so long as he didn't actually see Enoch. There was only one thing for it. He would have to lead the other two out of the back door that he had been planning to bolt through earlier. He could discuss this with Horace later. Or not.


Laurie watched as the sullen hostess blessedly lead Horace and the mystery woman in the opposite direction of where his friends were seated. He paid the bartender and crawled along the short walls as he had planned.


"Oh look who's here," Enoch snorted. "The prodigal has returned." It was worse than Laurie had thought. Ian was spread out on the floor, clutching the hose to his face like an oxygen mask. Enoch hadn't quite reached that point but his eyes were so bloodshot that he couldn't have been far behind. They were seriously, seriously wasted. Getting them home was not going to be an easy task. "Come to take a hit?" Enoch dangled his hose in front of Laurie with two dainty fingers. Laurie grimaced.


"No, I have not come to take a hit. We have to leave. Now. Horace is right over there," Laurie said with a flailing wave of his left arm. "And I think he saw me."


"Wha--" Ian sat upright, turning his head from side to side and blinking against the light like a newborn. He dazedly took another hit. Enoch's skinny frame shook with laughter.

"Horace is here," Enoch cackled. Laurie exhaled deeply. He would need a Zen-like sense of patience if he was going to get anywhere with those two. In their current state, the gravity of the situation was all but lost on them. Laurie clenched his teeth.

"Stop smoking, keep your voices down and follow me," Laurie snapped. Ian and Enoch stared at Laurie blankly. What went on in their pea-sized minds was beyond Laurie. He sprang to his feet and gestured for the other two to do the same. Enoch and Ian stood slowly, perhaps independently of their wills. It would seem that Laurie had somehow taken command of the group.


Maneuvering Ian and Enoch out of the club did not prove to be an obstacle. Most all of the club's patrons were on the dance floor, away from the hookahs. Ian's lumbering gait was a little slow and Enoch's balance was precarious but otherwise, they were managing to escape without incident.


As they passed by the bar, Laurie prayed that the bartender did not see Enoch. His pear-shaped head, long nose, jet-black hair and full lips made plain the fact that he was a Goth. If the bartender went blabbing to a friend then by Monday, the Goth family's maid would be spreading the news to Enoch's mother. Such was the nature of Townie social networks. If the news reached Laurie's mother, he would really catch hell. But of course, plenty of people had seen Enoch by now.


Outside, the cool October air washed over Laurie, soaking into his skin. There was a light fog, carried on the back of a passing rain. Laurie shivered. An ambulance siren howled in the distance. Enoch threw his hands outwards in a gesture that Laurie supposed was meant to be a dramatic representation of pontification. It gave him the look of an opera singer on the verge of bellowing.

"Let us go then, you and I when the evening is spread out against the sky like... Like..." Laurie snickered. Enoch had almost quoted a line of poetry.

"A patient, etherized on a table," Ian provided.

"Upon a table, " Laurie corrected. Ian did not respond but released a belch that Laurie characterized as bordering on the menacing. Enoch laughed his mule-laugh and Laurie couldn't help but laugh with him. His friends were morons and he loved them for it.


"Well, I guess we had better head back," Ian said. "Hope the rain didn't soak the seats too much." Ian shoved his right hand into his pocket in search of his car keys. That tinkling sound of metal on metal startled Laurie into remembering that they were far from being in the clear.


"What are you doing?" Laurie tried not to sound too pissy but failed.

"I'm getting my keys so we can leave, genius." Ian's tight pants were prohibiting the speedy removal of his keys from his pocket. Laurie felt a surge of annoyance so powerful that he thought he might hit Ian.


"Ah, here they are." Ian produced his keys with a triumphant flourish. Laurie's patience finally reached its breaking point.

"Put those away. What the hell is wrong with you? You can barely walk, let alone drive! Do you want to get us all killed?" Even though Laurie never blushed very deeply, he thought that his cheeks were probably red enough to be seen through the dark and the mist.

"Well how else are we supposed to get home? The cabs aren't running anymore." Ian almost sounded as though he were pleading.

"We walk! That's how we get home! We walk! I lead, you follow. You can have someone drive you back here tomorrow to pick up your car. And if I have any trouble out of you- either of you- I'm done with you both for good. May you both rot without me! From my lips to God's ears!" Stalking away, Laurie cast shadows that would have better fit some terrible colossus than a peevish little boy.


Ian stood gaping like a beached trout. He had not been Laurie's friend nearly as long as Enoch had and was not yet accustomed to Laurie's fits. He slipped his car keys back into his pocket. Enoch took it upon himself to break the silence.


"God has ears?" Enoch snickered, trying lighten the mood. Ian said nothing but jogged after Laurie in the least troublesome way that he could manage.


  1. These boys have a lot of potential to be among my favourites. Enoch and Laurie, most of all. (:

  2. I love the dynamics between these three. Enoch and Laurie have known one another their entire lives. Ian is a recent addition to the trio. Ian met the others at his wedding almost two years prior and they hit it off immediately. Since then, the trio has been getting into scrapes similar to the one in this chapter.

  3. Poor Laurie... it can't be fun trying to deal with a couple of idiots like that. I wonder about Horace though... is he cheating on his wife? It will be interesting to see if Laurie brings it up with him.

  4. I'm not 100% sure when the Horace thing will be revealed. Eventually, it will become obvious who the woman is but what they were doing there together might be a mystery revealed quite a ways down the road.

  5. ok I'm just starting, hope this is the right place after the prologue, but I really love this. You play with time and space; and the dialogue and the characters are wonderful.

    love your shots! great use of lighting!

  6. Oh yeah, you're in the right place! I can see where that might be confusing since this chapter introduces characters that failed to appear in the prologue. But all of this takes place the same night of the prologue.

    Thanks, Beth! Looking back at the pictures in the old chapters is odd for me because even though they were done just a few months ago, they look a little primitive compared to what I'm doing now.

  7. That was a good way to get introduced to these three boys, I have many questions but I expect future chapters to answer them :-)

  8. Oh they probably will. I'm sure that they'll raise a lot of questions too. But if a question occurs to you, don't hesitate to ask. It may well be that you've thought of something that I haven't. ;)

  9. You have so inspired me to write my best again. I get so lazy that I cut a lot of corners with shots but I am going to try typing in word first without shots, the quality of writing can't be beaten here! The shots are great but I love the tiny details in your writing.

    And these boys are a lot of fun to watch, love that Lawrence is sort of thrown in the middle of them. And wow, he can drink at 15 but he can't drive! :D
    Or was he too drunk to drive, maybe? LOL.

  10. Aw, thanks Emily!

    hehe Laurie could theoretically drive at 15 but he doesn't know how. His father is VERY precious about his cars and would never teach Laurie in one. But I imagine that his mother will soon be enrolling him in a driver's ed course. Enoch has his license but was also too stoned to drive.

  11. Ooh, so the Townies are the lowest caste, and the sims that are descended from the Maxis families are the highest?

    Anyway, this chapter cleared some things up. And also confused me a little bit. How old are they when they get married? O.O

    P.S.: I like these three!

  12. hehe Oh boy! The caste system will untangle its self pretty soon. The Townies are the lowest but even amongst the Townies there is a certain hierarchy (however, to families as high up as the Goths, a Townie is a Townie is a Townie). Amongst the Residents, the dividing lines are clearer. Laurie and Enoch are full caste which is as high as you can go. Ian is high caste, which is just below full. But not all Maxis families are as high up on the ladder. The Brokes for example are low caste, which is right above Townie. There will be no shortage of notes in the comments sections on the rules and also, I think there's an article on Behind Blue Lake somewhere. :)

    They tend to get married really young. 18 or so, particularly the women. Enoch is in for a long engagement though- That is, if his fiance can stand to be around him long enough to marry him.

  13. I just found and read the article, actually! Now I don't find it so hard to understand, haha.

    So the women can choose wether or not to get married? It's interesting that they marry so young, though. Does this happen among all castes, or just in the higher ones?

  14. Early marriages happen all across the board but the occasional arranged marriage only really happens at the mid-caste level and upwards. Arranged marriages are a little out of vogue right now but the Burb family has been doing them. But yeah, absolutely! If one of the parties can tell that it isn't going to work out then the parents will shut it down. There's a lot of long term political and financial planning that goes into these marriages and if the marriage doesn't last then that doesn't help anyone.

    And I'm kind of counting the seconds, wondering how long Laurie's sister Lydia and Enoch's brother Horace will last.

  15. I know exactly how Laurie feels. I have friends like that as well. I swear everything I say is interpreted sexually by my friends. Bloody annoying sometimes.

    I love the name Oona. I've never really heard it before. Do you use a random name generator? If so could you link me to it?

    Great chapter.

  16. Ach, that is just the unfortunate bi-product of being a teenager. ;)

    And no, I actually don't use a name generator! My characters names come from all sorts of different places. Oona's name I lifted from Oona O'Neill, who was an actress and wife of Charlie Chaplin.

    Thanks Joseph!