Chapter 1: Welcome to town

A nondescript town in Northern New Jersey, much like the towns surrounding it. Rows of middle class to the bottom rung of upper class homes sat on tree lined streets, with Hondas, Fords, and the occasional Bronco or custom van in the driveway. In 1987, the SUV and minivan craze had a few more years before exploding, MTV was king, and Ďdot comí didnít even exist.

I sat on the porch, cigarette dangling from my fingers, watching the smoke drift upwards in thin tendrils, undisturbed in the still air. The stale air of a town that had, with cookie cutter precision, shaped the lives of its residents like every other soft suburban town, filled my lungs alongside the nicotine-laced smoke. I heard the rumble of Peteís engine down the street and stood to walk to the curb.

I had long ago decided that it was an inevitable trapping; destiny in a small suburban town. Maybe it was a Hollywood induced effect on me, that teen angst angle that movies always took with the lead James Dean wannabe talking about how he was going to blow his pop stand of a town. He was going to get out. It was always seen as getting out, the romantic idea of escape and success.

But this wasnít Hollywood, and I wasnít anywhere near being a rebel with or without a cause. I was headed on the main stream fast track, off to college the next year to major in business or some other socially acceptable career, and end up a corporate whore. Then maybe Iíd buy a nice little suburban house, get married and have a maladjusted family of my very own.

Hanging out with Pete was my consolation that I wasnít being trapped, I was bucking the system. Opening the door to the í74 Mustang, I immediately caught the tangy smell of ganja and slid into the passenger seat. By the time I was sitting, a hand with a lit roach was in front of my face. I accepted the pass and took a slow hit as tires spun, sending loose gravel shooting across the sidewalk. Soon we were on the way to nowhere.

I sifted through his tapes in the car trying to find something decent to play. Echo and the Bunnymen werenít my exact mood. I found a newer Distorted tape and plugged it in.

"Hey, Iím hungry. Wanna go to White Castle before we do anything?" I said after a few minutes.

Pete sat for a few minutes without saying anything. The landscape went by, blurring as it caught the corner of my eye. I was used to this. He took his time. He was in his own place and would get to things when he was ready. We flew by White Castle doing about 50 in a 35 zone. About two miles later, Pete slowed the car, and put a blinker on to make the next right.

"Yeah," he said, grinning widely at me, eyes already red. "Thatís sounds like a good idea." He made the turn, obviously going to take the back roads to return to the Castle.

Yep, that was Pete. But, I still felt like slapping him across the head.

{prelude} | (Chpt 2)