>>> The Lady's Shave
By staff writer NG Hatfield
June 25, 2006

If you’ve not been paying attention, I’ve changed things up for this week. Some of you may be happy that I’m concluding this story because you’re interested, some of you may be happy because you’d rather see shit on ass-raping nuns and whatnot. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to that shit next week.

But for now, our brave hero continues….

Saturday, July 8, 2005

The Scene Men, The Scene Women

The week before my speech, I found Andy Warhol on eBay for a little more than fifty dollars. I paid for him with my first credit card…which is currently past its maximum, thanks to high interest rates and my own apathy for a good credit score. The painting was shipped overnight, and rolled up in a small cardboard box with yellowish peels of scotch tape slathered on the corners. It was bought from a seller in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“While I wanted so badly to confess that the Andy Warhol painting was mine, I kept silent. The only thing that mattered to me that night was being inside Amanda.”

The Campbell Soup can stood approximately three feet by two feet and had crisp corners. The red and white contrast shimmered from the canvas like God’s eye. To see something so pure, yet oddly aberrant, stirred something inside of me so I stole a few two-by-fours from my dad’s basement and built a backing for the painting. Then, early that Saturday morning, I set the painting as high as I could on the mantel near the stage.

That night, there were the usual girls who read Bukowski: Leigh, Jane, Ashley, Amanda, Lorrie, Cool Michelle, and Katie. They sat with legs crossed on the broken couches or on the bar stools wearing huge sunglasses and tight pastel t-shirts. It was still bright outside, as we usually got together around 6, so I didn’t give them shit about wearing sunglasses inside. Some of them were pretty hot. All of them were tan and skinny. More than that, they were pretty up to par with everything else. Some could out-smoke most Members, but all of them shied away from the harder shit that the Cokeheads did upstairs. They talked to each other mostly, but the Members they hadn’t met sometimes came over and chatted, pouring alcohol into them, trying (in vain) to get laid.

Once a summer, I was in charge of clean-up, which consisted of beer and bong residue removal and a few odd jobs. This happened to be my night. The last time I was assigned clean-up I had some trouble with broken beer bottles on the cracked concrete area that might have been the foundation for a silo at some point, so I went outside to give the guys the old “I’m not your fucking mother” and point out where I left the empty trash bags. They wouldn’t remember, of course, but I always felt better knowing I did all I could. Of course, I had to feel good about something; nobody had said anything to me about Andy Warhol, yet.

When I reached the silo foundation, I saw that a few Members were sitting on new, blue and white lawn chairs smoking a bubbler. Dave, the oldest of our group preached to a few of the guys: “I’ll tell you what, the bird flu will be big in a few months. Mark my words.”

“More like a few years…it’s unlikely to see something like that just jump across the Pacific Ocean and infect enough birds to get a hold of enough chickens to actually hurt us,” Saul said as he took the weed from Dave. “You’re just a paranoid old man…and where’s the carb on this thing?”

“Seven years, two weeks, four hours,” I said, walking by them to my car to put my sport coat on the back seat. It was too hot for a sport coat and my instructions could wait until I got back. As I walked by them, I heard Dave scream, “There’s no carb on a bubbler, you stupid, stupid cocksucker!!”

The car that sat adjacent to mine was a teal Sunfire. I didn’t recognize it so I inspected the plates. New Maryland tags. Not custom like most of the Members so I went around the side to get a good look at the shit hanging from the rearview. To my surprise, on the hood laid a blonde girl in a white blouse and jean skirt. There were never girls in skirts at The Scene, so I moved around the car to get a good look at her and introduce myself. Behind her long, strawberry blonde hair, I saw tears falling.

“Hey,” I said.

She sat up, looked at me and for a moment, and I was taken aback. She was the best looking girl that I’d ever seen at our place, even perhaps in Cumberland. Her eyes were big and blue, even for crying for some time. Her skin was sun-kissed and clear. I took a few seconds to gain composure and say, “I’m Nick…you’re…,” I paused and waited for a response. I got none. “You’re…new.”

Her voice cracked, “Yes.”

Her name was Amanda, she told me. She was very very green to The Scene and crying because of an argument with her boyfriend. To keep her from worrying about it and to perhaps steal her from her evil boyfriend, I took her by the hand and lead her inside so that I could I introduce her to the group.

A few of the Members already knew her. She had lived on the same street as Rom, had given Saul her number at the fair a year before, and had come with her cousin Faulks, who had joined in the discussion on the bird epidemic and had forgotten all about her. Faulks had a mild case of ADD and either me or Smitty or Tom kept him in line. It turned out that Smitty was busy talking to the Bukowski girls and Tom wouldn’t be there at all that night: he was with his Square girlfriend Michelle (who we generally called Fag Michelle to alleviate any confusion between her and Bukowski Girl, Cool Michelle). They were at some movie and consequently, we had no stereo system. Thus, I pulled my car up close to the building and turned on my music.

When I got out of the car, the Members had gone to the big room to light the candles because dusk was finally setting in. It sounded like they were playing a game of Hearts with Willy yelling, “You fucking dike! I can’t believe you threw the Queen of Spades on me!” to his cackling girlfriend. Still, nobody had comments on Andy Warhol.

Amanda was waiting in the newly-empty lawn chairs, alone again, but not crying when I went to check on the silo. She smiled at me with straight, white teeth and put her red lipstick and compact mirror away.

“So how does one get in The Scene, anyways?” she asked.

“Oh. Well, our process is fairly simple,” I said, “the prospective member is nominated, verbally hazed, then instructed to stay at The Scene for a night, alone.”

“That’s it?”

“Well no. Then he has to present his newfound artistic knowledge to the group after.”

“Only, he?” she asked, implying that females should get in The Scene, as well.

“Yes, only he. Women make things too complex. They change the dynamics of everything.”

“Hah. Well then, how was your night? I mean, you had to learn something…right?” She began circling the rim of her Dixie cup with her index finger.

“My night was…pretty uneventful. I hid a flask of grain whiskey in my coat and fell asleep early. When Saul, Vinny, your cousin, and the lot came to see what epiphany I had, I lied and gave them some speech like the one I gave last night. Were you here for that? I don’t remember seeing you.”

“No. I was busy.”

“Ah…busy with?”

She cleared her throat, “My dad’s a State Police Officer and he found out that my brother smoked weed…so we had a family meeting.”

“Only weed? Jesus.”

“I don’t smoke…weed.”

Drawing a pack from my shirt pocket I asked, “Well, how about cigarettes?”

“Yeah, I smoke them when I drink.”

Then we drank and drank and drank and drank and while I wanted so badly to confess that the Andy Warhol painting was mine, I kept silent. Ya see, in the process of things, I had gotten her and the only thing that mattered to me that night was being inside her. So, as The Scene was closed down for the night, Amanda and I stumbled to my car to fuck on my sport coat. I never did end up removing the beer bottles.

Saturday, July 15, 2005

After The Blowup

So here it was. Our last night. We were to clean it all up and never come back, as the owner of the property would then have it burned to the ground.

I spoke without a microphone, and every Member but Timmy, a newly inducted boy from Bowling Green, was there.

“I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe in Black Magic or Fate or even God at times. I don’t stay away from mirrors or ladders or even indoor umbrellas; but, a few days before this mess, I bought that three-by-two foot replica of the soup from eBay and stuck it beside Nighthawks above the stage. Some say that that is the reason for this all.”

The guys had all circled around Dan’s truck.

“Well, let me dispel those beliefs. You see…this…this…Blowup had nothing to do with that. You see, Faulks’ cousin had left town on a Wednesday, told her Square, pansy-ass boyfriend about us on Thursday, who told Faulks’ parents about us yesterday…it’s that simple. And, it is…my fault.”

And this story was true. Faulks told me about it the night before. I was able to get him to convince his parents to give us one more day to clean it up, before the owner of the property, a local housing development lord, would happily destroy it.

The guys were supportive and shook my hand when I got off the bed of the truck. Nobody blamed me at all. In fact, Faulks’ cousin was the piñata for most of the fault.

Luckily, the last night was more than taking or giving blame. We talked for awhile, reminiscing and maybe even fighting back tears while we made a few short-term plans for the summer. With three years of our work ruined, it was hard not to silently load the coffee tables and copies of priceless art into the black plastic bed, but we did. Then, most of the Members got into their cars and left for a house party in Frostburg.

Only Saul and I were left when everything was done. He didn’t speak as he left; he only picked up some liquor bottles and a bag of weed he kept below a loose floorboard. After giving me an encouraging pat on my shoulder, he hopped on his bike and left me with the twilight.

As I wandered through the empty building, I saw Andy Warhol’s can of soup. I looked at it for a few minutes and searched The Scene for something to stand on to get it down. The ladders, tables and chairs were all gone, so I only slung my jacket over my shoulder and gave the painting a two-finger salute as I walked out. As I got in my car and looked through the broken glass windows for the last time, I wondered…Can this place really burn?

Present.

The Last Things You Need to Know

It could and did indeed burn. The owner of the property is now in the process of clearing the surrounding land for a housing development named Willow Estates. The parts that couldn’t be burned, such as the concrete slab, were demolished. A small field now has lurched its way into the property. I’ve seen the sun set there, twice.

While a few members have begun plans for a new Scene just on the outskirts of this development, most have gone off to their college towns and disappeared in their respective liberal arts programs.

As for some of the more prominent Members who I mentioned multiple times in this story…

Saul sealed a quart of The Scene’s ashes in a vase and put them on his mantel in Louisville, or so Vinny has told me. I never got around to asking him about that; Saul’s been busy writing lyrics and working with his band. I’ve heard only good things about his current life, as he is also the father of a beautiful baby boy…named aptly by his mother, Nicholas.

Vinny got nearly a full ride to UMBC and is currently dating the buxom Cool Michelle. I’ve visited their black and white deco apartment twice. They still smoke lots and lots of weed and make their money as partially well-established neopainters in the harbor area. The last time I heard from them, they were working on a piece in which they covered themselves in paint and fucked like rabbits on the canvas. I’ve only seen edited pictures of it in development, but from what I can tell it’s quite astonishing.

Faulks and his cousin Amanda are now happily married with five kids and another on the way… I’m only kidding. Faulks owes me twenty dollars. He must have forgotten to repay me.

Amanda is in fact married, though, and since I’ve last seen her, has gained a considerable amount of thigh fat. Her husband—the Square who weaseled us out—works at Lowe’s.

Dave, I hear, is still arguing about the bird flu epidemic. He currently works at a plastics factory in an industrial park and runs a fantasy football ring every fall. He has yet to win any money.

Shawn and I rarely talk nowadays, but his sister and I have been familiar on occasion. This is possibly why we’re no longer talking. He goes to Frostburg State and is majoring in Elementary Education. His old major: Creative Writing.

Tom, The Scenes’ A/V guy and one of my best friends of ten years, shot himself on December 11th , after Fag Michelle broke up with him for a WVU Business major named Jake. His mother, father and sister call me occasionally to hear stories about their son. They’re wonderful people and this story is, in large part, for them.

As for Andy Warhol…well, to this day, I still can’t find a fucking painting by him in Cumberland, Maryland. Though to be honest, I simply…haven’t looked.

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