"Australia 1999" story # 9


Lismore, New South Wales
March 26, 1999

With Shana having embarked on her Outdoor Ed. camping trip for the week, Wednesday would've been the perfect time for me to unleash the "While-Shana's-Out-Of-Town Maneuver" and ask Elkie on a date. But, I wussed out.
     Instead, I decided to get donuts with Jeremy and Cath, a cheery Australian. Don't ask me why that seemed like a better idea than dating Elkie.
     Nevertheless, Jeremy and I did run into a stimulating female at the grocery store. Sam was her name. She was a cute blonde driving a big, four-wheel-drive jeep. When we got home, we learned a friend of ours knew Sam well.
     "Hook us up with her," Jeremy and I said.
     Jodie, our friend, said, "Sorry, guys. Sam's got a boyfriend."
     Jeremy and I ignored her. "C'mon, Jodie. Put in a good word for us!"
     "Us?" I said, eyeing Jeremy competatively. "Why, I'll pay Jodie five bucks to say good things about me and bad things about you."
     Jeremy said, "I'll pay her ten."
     I prepared to pull out $15 but thought the better of it. "She's probably just going to tell Sam the truth no matter how much we pay her - that we're both dorks."
     "She'll probably just tell Sam we're gay."
     When Jeremy said this, I laughed. The donuts and water I'd been eating took advantage of my opened windpipe to shoot down inside my lungs. I started hacking like I had a syndrome, and my face turned red. For five minutes, lungs battled donuts in a furious struggle, sending water spewing from my nose and causing my chest to convulse with every breath.
     As I writhed on the floor, I voiced my dying wishes. "Jodie, (cough) tell Sam (cough) I'm the best!" It was the closest I'd come to dying in yea- ... well, a week.

I had an assignment due on Friday, so I had to stay in on Thursday evening. But, I'd made plans with two girls for a big night of ice cream and studying. No drinking and no going out - we'd agreed to a quiet day at home.
     All the international kids gathered in Kristi's suite before going to Lismore's only club, the Powerhouse. For the second straight night, Jeremy was showing his rare feisty side. "I'm going to hook up with a girl tonight." His stubby hair and innocent face seemed confident. "I'm on the prowl."
     I can't do work on an empty stomach, so I'd planned a huge fiest. I'd just finished a 19-fajita dinner, when Talya, a tall, thin, hillarious Iowan with short, curly hair, and Brandy, a supersweet, little blonde with a squeaky voice, came over for ice cream.
     The girls tried to keep me from seeing they'd violated our "No Drinking" pact, but it was difficult because Talya couldn't stop laughing and even had mud all over her face. The girls had made brownies to go with my ice cream. It was a sweet gesture, but the brownies slopped around like blobs and tasted like one or more ingredients had been left out. When Talya explained how she'd gotten mud on her face and fell to the floor in hysterics, I began to wonder if she was even sober enough to read the brownie directions. (In Talya's defense, the mud story WAS very funny. Atleast, I think it was. I didn't actually hear any words, but she kept laughing wildly as she told it, so it must've been good.)
     We pigged out on sundaes. Being a big food-enthusiast, I loved those girls! They're very thin, but they'd never say something like "How many calories in that?" or "None for me, thanks. I'm watching my weight." On this night, they said, "Talya, will you be having a third sundae? Yes? Mmm, sounds good. Me too." Also, Brandy said exactly what she said every time she ate ice cream with me: "Mmm, Justin. This is the best sundae yet!"
     I walked to the computers, absolutely stuffed and ready to do work. I still couldn't believe those girls had broken our pact! You gotta stick to a pact. No drinking, no going out...
     Just as I was about to start my assignment, I overhead the bird-like sound of a chatting Elkie. A small break from my work couldn't hurt, so I went to visit her.
     Elkie begged me to come out with her. Her voice squeaked whenever her words trailed off, with a hint of tingled passion that sounded to me like euphoria. I almost turned her down, but that would've been asinine. Pact, shmact.
     I put on my best clothes and rendezvoused at Elkie's. Another suitemate of Elkie's, named Kelly, was going out with us. She revealed that Elkie liked me, and she suggested Elkie was the prettiest girl in the school. I agreed and counted my lucky stars that I could attract a prettiest girl.
     I put my arm around Elkie in the car. She wore dark black, which matched her hair like a black hole that just sucked you in with its curves. Her pale face lit up - a haven from the darkness. Her cat-like eyelids narrowed coolly to check me out, while, dancing on her lips, was the sweet, round, oh-to-be-kissed smile of a finicky princess. Her eyes, colored like Eden on a sunny day, drew me to her lips. When we kissed, stars explode. As she held my head in her hands, I just wanted to climb inside.
     She asked, "What about Shana?" I just laughed. She said she'd been whispering, "I want you" to me the night I was with Shana at the Powerhouse, but, ofcourse, I wasn't smooth enough to pick up on that. I wanted to dance with her in a meadow. I wanted to go with her to Eden; to start everything over.
     Inside the club, we danced a few songs together - her thick hair flying from side to side. Then, suddenly, Elkie disappeared. Our night was over, and I didn't see her again.
     I made the most of the night by dancing it up with my buddies: Canadian Matt, the other Matt, my "Roomie."
     Later on, I ran into Kelly. She said Elkie didn't like me any more. How could I take a girl who liked me so much and turn her off from me so quick!? My dancing and my kissing were the leading culprits.
     The next day, I saw Kelly again, and her story had changed. Apparently, when she said Elkie didn't like me, it was because, as she said, "That's just how I get when I'm drunk." Perhaps she'd been trying to pick me up, too, throwing a third of Elkie's suitemates into the mix!? But, the new story of Elkie was that she'd been so drunk she'd passed out in the bathroom and gotten kicked out of the club.
     I made sure Elkie was alright and put my arm around her. She apologized for her night, but I got no kisses this visit. Thus, the only thing I knew about the Elkie situation at this point was that I actually knew nothing. It was baffling, and now a few other suitemates were added into the crazy, screwed-up mix with Elkie and I.
     It's difficult to gauge the success of my evasive "While-Shana's-Out-Of-Town Manuever." Was the roommate swap a huge success, a non-success, or had I actually misdirected my attack and swapped for a third roommate, Kelly? I might have had to attempt another strategy, possibly as drastic as the "Lock-Kelly-and-Shana-In-Their-Rooms Tactic," this time with a more precise accuracy for Elkie.
     But, I'd leave you with some good news! A rumor (though still unproven) had been going around, claiming that the prowling Jeremy was able to hook up with a girl on the same night I did. What a night! According to my source, though, Jeremy's girl wasn't Sam - or much of a looker, for that matter. But, what could you expect from Jeremy - the kid wears his slippers everywhere!

- Justin

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