Coagulation – Ly Villmann
March 28, 2023
The boy had been lying in the pool with his puffy blue winter coat on so it kind of looked as though the sickly chlorinated water had coagulated around his body. Lisa, in her dirty pink tank top and torn pajama shorts, stood at the edge of the pool flicking her cigarette ash at him, seeing if she could get it to land on his face. A tiny ember sparked at the bloated fabric over his chest and then sizzled out. The boy didn’t flinch, just stared at her out of the corner of his eyes, unblinking. Lisa sighed and threw the butt into the water. Walter wasn’t back yet. The motel sign flickered overhead as she climbed the concrete steps to her second floor room, still warm from the day.
“He still out there?” Janice asked Lisa from the bed where she was lying on her back, looking at a Playboy magazine and stroking the cockroach that was sitting on her chest.
“Yeah, but I think his parents have stopped fighting,” Lisa set her pack of cigarettes on the small table next to the door. “He dead?” She pointed to the bug on Janice’s chest.
“No, Frank is just sleeping,” She got up and put him in his tank with the other cockroaches and he skittered off towards a rock. “Do you think my pussy looks like this? I think my pussy looks like this,” Janice hung the magazine open from its side to show Lisa and Lisa shrugged. Janice looked down and inspected under her underwear–dirty white Hanes she had shoplifted from the Walmart just outside of town last summer. A big security guard whose only purpose in life, it seemed, was to be big, had chased her all the way out of the store as she ran like hell with her overflowing cart. She had jimmied the lock on the cart so it wouldn’t take once she was out of bounds. Her father had taught her how to do that. When she had gotten to the motel later that day, it was a real party with all of the wine coolers and beers she had lifted. Walter had even smiled once or twice.
“I’m bored! I’m going to go to the market,” Lisa said from the bathroom as she took a piss.
Janice stood up, “I’ll come with.”
The market, a gangrenous cinder block of a store at the center of the town, was the only social hub they had. The town was one square block surrounded by farms, a seemingly random smattering of squat houses, the post office, and the one nearly-defunct motel where they lived. At the market, the boys sat around in the parking lot blowing out the bass in their shitty car speakers as they smoked blunts and drank bright blue Mad Dog. When the girls got there, it was still early in the evening, but Skeeter and 96 were already there, snorting lines off a tiny mirror, Immortal Technique distorting out of their Honda Civic speakers. Lisa tapped on the back window as they approached, “what’s that?”
Skeeter turned his head and wiped his nose, “Oxys. I’ve got a couple more. Ten bucks a pop.”
Lisa reached into her bra and pulled out a twenty. Lisa and Janice crushed and snorted their pills on Skeeter’s little mirror and walked inside for Twisted Teas. The boy at the counter, a new clerk they had never seen before, was reading a paperback with the front cover torn off and drinking whiskey and black coffee from the smell of it. When they came back outside and sat on the curb, Skeeter and 96 were in the middle of the parking lot fistfighting. Skeeter’s nose was already bloody. Everybody knew that fighting 96 was fucking stupid. No one even knew his real name. Skeeter continued, though, a stupid grin on his face, two front teeth missing. Janice laid her head on Lisa’s shoulder as they drank their teas and watched the boys fight. Two more cars pulled up. In one car was Tacky Tammy and her on again, off again boyfriend Scotty and their quiet friend Mouse and in the other car were the redneck brothers, Jared and Jim. Once everyone got out of their cars, Skeeter and 96 stopped fighting and started wiping their mouths on their shirts. Everyone was blasting music and the bass lines melded into a kind of continuous hum. Tammy sat next to the girls while the guys congregated in a sort of huddle in the parking lot around Skeeter and 96, passing around a brown paper bag. Tammy was smacking gum loudly and drinking wine out of the silvery bag, sans box, holding it over her head like a faucet. “Scotty likes it when I drink wine,” she said. “Classy. Even if it gives me headaches like a motherfucker.”
“Yeah, that’s real classy,” Janice said, exhaling cigarette smoke, as Tammy poured more wine into her mouth from overhead.
Tammy ignored the remark. “Where’s Walter?” She asked.
Both the girls replied, “working,” with a long sigh. The boys had started up again, but this time it was Jim and 96. “Everyone is fucking stupid tonight,” Lisa scoffed, as Jim began spitting blood instantly. All the other boys were in a loose circle around the two fighting, clapping and cheering them on and huffing from the bag. Skeeter was laughing the loudest, dried blood crusted around his nose and down his chin, bottom lip split and swollen in the middle. Lisa thought he looked the most handsome like this–all fucked up. But she would never tell anyone that, Walter would kill them all. Eventually Jim tapped out and reached for the paper bag, took a big inhale, and sighed dreamily.
“You got blood on the bag!” Mouse groaned.
“Don’t be a fuckin’ sissy,” Skeeter wiped the blood off with his finger and swiped his hand at Mouse, who jerked away. “You afraid of some germs?” He laughed and took another huff.
The clerk came out and took one look around the lot, everyone stared back at him silently. He was eating a giant hotdog covered in ketchup. “Alright–” he began, at the boys in a huddle around the brown paper bag. Everyone stepped back, 96 tightened his grip around the bag. As he was about to speak, a bald eagle swooped down and plucked the hotdog right out of his bun and Skeeter busted up laughing, a slight trail of ketchup falling from the eagle’s talons and landing just in front of him. “Motherfucker,” the clerk said dejectedly before dropping the soggy red bun on the ground and walking back inside.
Tammy stood up in the middle of the parking lot, crooning, “boys!” and began waggling her hips, her flip flops smacking underneath her as she attempted to sashay and shimmy around sexily. Even the girls couldn’t help but laugh. The boys threw coins at her until Scotty threw one so hard it pelted her in the forehead and left a small welt. Tammy threw the bag of wine at him and it exploded all over his white Hurley t-shirt, leaving a deep-bruised purple all down his torso. He stormed off to his car and refused to leave until Tammy agreed to leave with him.
It was only midnight and Skeeter offered to drive everyone to the bar in the neighboring town but the last time Lisa and Janice had taken him up on it, they had to walk 8 miles back into town after he abandoned them there for some girl he met. They decided to steal a 12-pack while the boy at the counter was on a smoke break out back, away from all of them, and head back to the motel.
Back at the motel, the boy in the puffy jacket was gone but his jacket was still in the water, zipped up, half-floating, half-sinking.