Saturday, October 31, 2009


As Kenneth plunged deeper into his roll and the drug took over his entire body, he because the person he swore he'd never be again; he was that person lying on the floor with his eyes towards the ceiling completely unaware that his body was violently twitching and his hand was extended up towards a metal bar that he clutched with all his might in a futile attempt to pull himself up, he was unconsciously grinding his teeth away and then his eyes rolled back into his head. Kenneth lay limp on the ground at the peak of his roll in the dark corner of an abandoned warehouse, all around him people were devoting their dance to the music and flashes of green light occasionally brightened the room and if you looked close enough, you could see Kenneth's body and there was a smile on his face. Kenneth was in complete and total ecstasy, he felt that he belonged, he finally felt comfortable, finally felt accepted: he was home.

the end.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Kenneth longed to feel that again and while he knew the drug created the false illusion of connecting with people, it was the entire atmosphere and energy that Kenneth pined for. He was tired of being alone and decided it would be worth giving up his sobriety to be able to experience that one more time.

If Kenneth ever once stopped to look around at the new life he was building for himself and stopped trying to relive the past and uncover a feeling that was never there to begin with, he would have seen that everything he wanted was right in front of him with Melanie and George and the honest albeit lowly wages he was earning. But Kenneth never had anything in his life that he could count on because once he started believing that things could change for, he would get a rude awakening and because of this, he missed Melanie's outstretched hand trying so desperately to save him.

Walking into Seventeen's again made Kenneth feel back in his element. All around him he heard familiar voices asking, "Are you rolling? Do you want a light show?" But when he turned to look, it was a face he had never seen before. Yet it only took a second for Kenneth to be surrounded by people that suddenly felt like his closest friends. All around him people were piling onto the floor with him retarding their vision trying to focus on the microlights that left traces of blue lines everywhere it went. Kenneth tried to focus but couldn't keep up with the lines whipping around his head. His whole body started spinning as his eyes tried to look up and follow the light.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Kenneth did not see Melanie for four days, whether it was on purpose because Kenneth felt guilty about his increasing desire to get back into the scene and knew Melanie would disapprove or if it just happened, would be a question that Kenneth's actions would answer as he found himself actively seeking the company of George. He knew it would just take a little prodding to entice George's budding interest and he began feeling a hint of excitement as his nights turn from the red Jetta to sitting in front of his house in George's dark blue SUV talking about raves and music. Had Kenneth known that these innocent conversations with his friend would lead George down a path of destruction, that for George this would be his gateway to a dark life, that his friends would never know the real truth about, and ultimately end with his untimely death, Kenneth may have thought twice about introducing this devious lifestyle to George, but at the time Kenneth was trying to fill a void in his own life and thought he was helping George find his place as well.

Although it was over a year since Kenneth indulged himself, the idea of doing it again tempted him more than anything and constantly consumed his thoughts. To Kenneth, it was the only time in his life when he felt that he matter to other people in a world that usually paid no attention to him. In that world, everyone mattered and Kenneth was welcomed by the open arms of a stranger that he immediately felt close to, a person he could confide in and expose his true self without fear of being judged for not having money or a family. He was able to find common ground with the one person he always thought was better than him and he was humbled. In that world, Kenneth was able to release his inhibitions and for the first time in his life he understood what it felt like to be love, then Kenneth saw that it was easy to fall in love with living and with himself when he had people that really, truly cared for him. It was in this environment that Kenneth saw that there was a flip side to the real, cold, callous world he grew up in and it gave him hope.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


That night Kenneth could not fall asleep. Although this wasn't unusual, but this time it wasn't because he couldn't find a comfortable position on his bed, if you could call a sheet on the ground a bed. Kenneth recently discovered that he could fold his comforter in half and put the sheet over it to make the ground softer and then he could fall asleep, but tonight it didn't work. He tried folding up a towel to use as a pillow. As he lay staring at the ceiling with his neck unnaturally propped up, he considered smoking a cigarette, or maybe a joint, or maybe a joint and then a cig or maybe he should just close his eyes and try to sleep; but he couldn't, something was bothering him. But what? Kenneth decided to put on some music. He made his laptop, a gratuitous gift from his stepfather, and knelt down at the cardboard box that served as his desk. As Kenneth looked through the thousands of songs that he downloaded, he realized that 742 of his songs were filed in a folder labeled 'Seventeen's' and then something clicked and Kenneth knew what was bothering him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The red Jetta was parked in front of Kenneth's house; two silhouettes filled the front seat, the tinted windows were halfway open and thin stream of smoke wafted out.

"Kenneth, do you really want to get back into all know stuff," Melanie asked, "I mean from what you've told me, it seems like that was a time of your life that you wanted to put behind you. It was nothing but trouble if you ask me, and you're doing really well right now." Melanie put her hand comfortingly on Kenneth's arm.

Kenneth felt his insides melt as Melanie's hand gently stroked his arm. He immediately felt guilty about the surge of emotion he felt towards Melanie in that moment and tried to bury the attraction he was starting to feel towards her. Had Kenneth correctly identified Melanie's intent with that touch he would have understood that she was letting him know that he could finally put the past behind him because she was someone who accept who he was, unconditionally. But Kenneth, would never know that because he said,

"I appreciate your concern kiddo, and I wouldn't be going back there to slang, I'm done dealing, but sometimes I miss the scene and the people, the mutual respect and trust, the love everyone has for each other, even sometimes from a complete stranger, it's nice to have that, and that's the only reason why I would even consider going back."

Melanie moved her hand from Kenneth's arm and placed it back in her lap. She shifted her body so she was looking out the window. It seemed to her that after all this time Kenneth still didn't get it. Here she was offering her friendship, a real connection with a person who actually cared and still Kenneth wanted to seek out a bond and the illusion of trust and love from people in a drug induced state. Melanie took a long drag of her cigarette and blew out the smoke in the shape of O's wondering how to get through to Kenneth before he did something he would regret.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Melanie was suddenly alert when the topic of Seventeen's came up. She released her embrace from George and stared at Kenneth concerned, "Are you sure you want to go back there?"

Kenneth knew what Melanie was referring to and immediately regretted bringing up the topic. He steered clear of discussing his past with his new friends, but somehow, Melanie was able to coax it out of him, he felt comfortable sharing this part of himself with her because he had grown to trust her, but more than that, he knew she genuinely cared.

Seventeen's was an abandoned warehouse that was turned into an underground party space. Kenneth now thought back to how things got incredibly out of control, how something that started with his love and passion for music turned into an opportunity to make easy money then ultimately resulted in a confrontation with rival dealers, a bullet through Kenneth's shoulder, and a wound to his pride.

As Kenneth pondered on the friends he had and the pressures he succumbed to and his desire to feel important in whatever way he could, he never quite got around to the root of the cause which was to say that he needed to be a part of something, he needed to belong, he needed what he became more than his "friends" needed their fix. Kenneth and his crew were known for "owning" the club about a year ago when it went by the name of Pyramids. They were the dealers that pushed pills in this space and did their part to distort and corrupt the rave scene so when Kenneth went back for the first time in two years, he saw children who had grown up too fast trying desperately to recapture their youth and he finally understood the falsity he had veiled his eyes with just so he could belong and be accepted.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Hey dude," Kenneth said, snapping his fingers in front of George's face. "Still with us?"

"Oh, yeah, I'm just really stoned," George replied still daydreaming.

"Where were you just now George? Thinking about being at a rave? The way you're dressed tonight, looks like you'd fit right in?" Melanie joked sarcastically laughing at George's bright orange pants and pastel green baby tee shirt.

"Oh, nails girlfriend, I know you didn't just dis on the threads," George snapped putting a hand on his hip and throwing his head back with attitude. " Don't be hating just because I'm a man that knows how to dress, mmkay. And what about him?" George shifted his weight and turned towards Kenneth. " What snooty comment does little miss-thinks-she's-Joan-Rivers have to say about this stylish man over here? Always wearing the same khaki cargo pants and white t-shirt, look like the brother stepped out of a J Crew catalog, and you know anyone who shops there has taste."

"Hey, hey, hey, have you ever tried cargo pants?" Kenneth asked defensively. "They're hella comfortable and that's why I buy them all the time; ain't got nothing to do with taste, comforts the way to go." That was the standard line Kenneth gave when people commented on his khaki cargo pants and white t-shirt uniform, but in reality Kenneth didn't have a lot of clothes and although he really did find the cargo's comfortable, maybe they were comfortable because they weren't two sizes to small and actually fit.

"Boy, shoot, you might as well roll up in here with sweats if you wanna be comfortable and go for that I-just-got-out-of-bed-and-I'm-way-too-cool-to-look-decent look."

"Now boys, be nice," Melanie interjected reaching up to put her arm around her six foot six friend. "George you know I love you and your adore your style. And yours too Kenneth." Melanie wrapped the other arm around easily around Kenneth, resting her hand on his shoulder.

Kenneth, needing to change the subject offered, "Well, George, if you ever wanna check it out, I know this place called Seventeen's that used to throw a lot of parties. I haven't been there in awhile, but I'm sure it's still bumbin."

Kenneth started going to parties because he loved the music and he needed an outlet to forget about the hardships of his life. There was something about walking into a dark, smoky room with loud music that struck a chord in Kenneth down to the depths of his soul. He felt the bass reverberating throughout his entire body to the point where the beat consumed him and he was finally able to let go and when he did something so liberating happened to Kenneth that he was hooked. He let the music in and started moving effortlessly, the mixing of beats and rhythms made his feet criss and then cross and then pop, faster and faster and faster until he was moving with the crowd to form one liquid motion. Hebobbed his head down and bounced his head up towards the ceiling and he felt a connection that he had only dreamed of so he kept going back for more. But soon, the scene changed and the Kenneth changed with it because the music wasn't enough anymore, it became about those little pills, it was unreal, the thrills they yield, until they kill a million brain cells.

Monday, October 19, 2009


George Christian was the restless type, it was in his blood; his mother was the same way. After five years of being a mother, she got bored and left George in the care of his grandmother while she went on a vacation; just to relax and take a break. Twelve years later, his mother was still on vacation. Now at the age of 17, George's only reminder of his mother comes in the form of a card on his birthday and Christmas. George never knew his father, but figured that his father got restless with his mother and went on a vacation to relax and never came back. George tried to ignore the subtle cruelty his grandmother displaced towards him because she was bitter and resentful at having to raise another child; but he couldn't. George tried to love himself, accept himself, and acknowledge who he was; but he never felt love or acceptance from anyone in his life, so how could he be expected to do that for himself?

It wasn't just that, physically there was a lot of George to love. He ad a hard time looking at himself in a mirror, his height literally surpassed the rectangular glass that hung in his room. With so much of himself, his presence announced himself before he would even walk into a room. He hated that the steady, heavy, thumps of his feet approaching was often mistaken for the the low rumbling of a bus coming miles away, or so he was told by his classmates. Later George would carry his six foot six inch frame with a pride so forceful he would initially come across as intimidating until he got closer and his kind eyes smiled at you in a way that only someone who always stuck out like a sore thumb and came to turns with himself could. But as a teenager, George still felt awkward and clumsy as he positioned himself in two door sports cars and said he was comfortable when he really wished he was behind the wheel of his Ford SUV. Yet for all of his qualms about his height and his built, he convoluted the mix by discovering his true self in a gay chat room at the age of 14 under the guise of the screen name, Dark Chocolate. At first he thought a gay chat room was funny because here was a place where he could laugh at other people for being different, but when SexyRexy started chatting with him and probing him with questions, George took a real hard look at himself and wondered if it wasn't his size that made people look twice at him, but something that George had yet to notice.

He took the plunge figuring he had nothing to lose, but what he didn't know was the curiosity that he finally indulged was his last link to his youthful innocence that was lost when after two months of chatting, he met SexyRexy in the back corner of a deserted parking lot where Dark Chocolate last his virginity in the bed of a beat up Ford pick up truck that George felt immediately comfortable in.

From that moment on, George embraced his sexual, but he also abused it and used it to define himself. He made gay being a fashion statement, a personality trait, a way of thinking, an excuse for being sexually promiscuous, a scapegoat for having unsafe group sex. George embraced being gay and basked in all his homosexual glory, he wanted to shout it from the roof tops, "I'm Black and I'm Proud. I'm Gay and I'm Proud." But it never crossed George's mind to stop being gay and just be George.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Later that night the red Jetta pulled into an abandoned parking lot and when the doors opened, Kenneth, Melanie and George emerged followed by a thick cloud of smoke; and the doors closed the sound of upbeat electronic rhythms mixed with a deep bass that vibrated through the open windows from Melanie's newly installed car speakers.

"Awww, yeah, this music's dope," George said as he bobbed his head and started moving effortlessly.

"Yeeeah, George," Melanie applauded his amazing dancing abilities.

"This beat is so awesome. Ken what group is this?" George asked while pausing from his grove to light a cigarette.

"It's a mix I grabbed from the internet. It's an hour long live set from this one DJ, John Digweed who spins at a lot of parties in the UK," Kenneth said.

"Very cool," George said while popping his arms and shoulders to the music. "You know I've always wanted to go to a rave after seeing the bloodbath in Blade, you guys ever see it?"

"Ewwww, was that where everyone was dancing and blood was shooting out from the ceiling?" Melanie asked. "All that blood was disgusting."

"Ah, kiddo, you know that was all fake," Kenneth said putting his arm around Melanie reassuringly. Then to George, "It was that song that got to you, huh?"

"Yes! You know exactly what I'm talking about; the bass is throbbing through everyone and when the blood shoots down, they all dance as if they're praising the pure rapture of the music," George said in a trance like state.

"Whoa, dude, you sure you've never partied before," Kenneth asked.

"What like gone to a rave or rolled?"

"Well both, the way you talk about it," Kenneth said as he leaned towards George, "it seems like you know; like you know what you're talking about, as if you've been on that level before."

"Neither, but it sounds like a scene I'd totally be into, all those candy kids dressed in bright colors and crazy costumes, dancing all night long," George trailed off.

Kenneth nodded in agreement and turned to look at George seeing through him in a way that showed Kenneth that this was exactly the type of person that would be perfect for the scene. Sure George loved to dance and party, but more than that, he was lost, restless soul that needed a reason to keep going. Kenneth was about to give George that reason and offer him a place to call home.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Kenneth walked up his driveway smiling to himself as he thought about Melanie's enthusiasm of seeing her entire family. Melanie always talked very highly of her family, with such respect and trust; love. It was in such a way that Kenneth appreciated and so naturally assumed was something he desired for himself, yet there was something innate in Kenneth that unconsciously rejected the open arms of a loving family, perhaps it was because he didn't understand want it meant to be a family and only had a vague sense of unconditional love and support because although it seemed that these emotions should be automatic, when Kenneth unlocked his front door the reality that he stepped into was one he fully understood: his family, his house, his life didn't resemble Melanie's because Kenneth didn't belong in the suburbs; he was meant for the streets.

He quickly made his way through the living room that didn't have the warmth of a space you could relax and gather in, rather had the feeling of a storage room for random furniture and unwanted boxes. Although Kenneth's stepfather bought this house for his new wife over a year ago, anyone who stepped foot in the door would think they just moved in. The only part of the house that was unpacked and set up was their own bedroom. Kenneth often wondered what his mother's room looked like; he was strictly forbidden to enter her room, not that he really cared to go in there, but even if he did, he couldn't because at the request of his stepfather, the master bedroom was to be locked at all times. Kenneth sometimes believed that his mother's room wasn't locked because his stepfather had a lot of valuables and expensive electronics, because of course Kenneth could be trusted, it simply was locked because their room looked like the rest of the house: a bunch of unopened boxes, because they didn't want Kenneth to to see their room yet because they didn't have time to set it up, because she was never home.

Kenneth's mother now had a new career as a secretary at his stepfather's law firm and they worked a lot of late nights, maybe finishing up a case? If that wasn't it, maybe they were drinking tea on the green of some country club or going out to fancy dinner, or so Kenneth thought. He actually had no idea what kept his mother out so late, but now at the age of 17, he knew better than to wait up for her. The only difference Kenneth could see from living in the suburbs versus the housing projects, was the home he always knew to be a dilapidated apartment was now an extravagant mansion that he still couldn't feel comfortable in. Only the outer appearance of his residence had change, but inside everything was the same: Kenneth was alone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


"It's so nice to finally be able to sit down, Kenneth sighed while sinking into the plush seat of Melanie's car.

"You know what's even better," Melanie asked as she climbed into the drivers seat, "being done with work and having the next three days off!"

"What?! How did you swing that kiddo," Kenneth asked, "it's almost unheard of to get that many days off in a row." Kenneth's voice ached with a misplaced longing for whatever plans Melanie had, not so much because he didn't want to to work, on the contrary, he needed all the extra hours he could get, rather, he pined for any example that showed him life could be more than the bleak and dismal horizon he looked out onto every day and Melanie was the one person who showered rays of sunshine down on him.

"Well, in case you didn't know, I'm only like the best CEC employee ever," Melanie laughed while lightly tapping her steering wheel. "Seriously, though, my grandparents are flying in tomorrow morning so I requested time off while they're here."

"Ah, right, family time," Kenneth said in a slightly mocking tone that just barely hid his bitterness. Although he always joked about Melanie still having to be home for dinner at the age of 17, he secretly envied Melanie for having a family to go home to, and then as if to add insult to his already wounded heart, she had to add grandparents to the mix, a relation that Kenneth never knew.

"You know it, gots to have that family time; speaking of, I'm having an early dinner tonight with the fam, so I'm gonna have to just drop you off today, Melanie said.

"Oh Mel," Kenneth exclaimed holding his hand against his heart. "How can you do this to me? You're actually going to make me go home when evil stepfather may be lurking around? Melanie, I thought we were friends, but alas, you are showing me your true colors." Kenneth hemmed and hawed as he pleaded with his friend who gave him a knowing smile.

"Ken! Don't make me feel bad! You know I love you, it's just that my older brother Charlie came back home last night, so we're all going out to dinner. Besides, it'll only be for a couple of should call George, he's always down to hang and then when I'm done I'll meet up with you guys."

"So, now that your real brother is back, I'm not going to be your 'big bro' anymore?" Kenneth asked giving Melanie a pathetic look.

"Well as long as you still call me kiddo, you'll always be my big bro, you know that," Melanie answered reassuring that their affectionate nicknames were still solid.

"That's nice to hear, you're the closet thing to a family I got," Kenneth said as Melanie pulled up in front of his house. "Well thanks for the ride kiddo."

"Anytime, big bro."

Monday, October 5, 2009


Kenneth waved back towards George before continuing on his way to the front door of Chuck E cheese, he couldn't help but replay Melanie's rant about parents in his head. He tried to remember if there ever was a time when he was seven and his mother tucked him into bed, but the longer he reached into the crevasses of his mind, he murkier his memories became and made him want to crawl into a corner and hide because all he could see was himself, all alone, wandering the streets well past 11 PM with the other kids from his housing project whose parents were working the graveyard shift or more often than not, simply didn't care. Kenneth wondered where his mother was at night, especially when he woke up in the morning after sleeping on the couch waiting for her to come home, only to find that she still wasn't there. It wasn't until later that Kenneth learned his mother was actually spending most of her nights with a man that would soon become his step-dad; some rich, obnoxious lawyer that would scream to late night viewers that if you were driving without insurance and caused an accident which you subsequently got injured in then he was the one you should call, he was the man that could get you off. His arrogance and smooth talk promised Kenneth's mother, his special "waitress" at the strip club he most frequented that he would rescue her from a degrading life where you sell a cheap image to a life where you could buy the most expensive image you want. It was a true Cinderella fairy tale for an 18 year old girl who fell in love too fast, got married even faster, and was divorced by the time she was 20. Somewhere in those tow years Kenneth was conceived, but became a constant reminder to his mother that love can sometimes turn into extreme hate.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


In the Chuck E Cheese parking lot, other employee cars were already scattered about as Melanie maneuvered into a space. The conversation in the red Jetta turned from carefree chitchat to complaints about work.

"Man," Kenneth lamented, while getting out of the car, "these closing, opening shifts suck ass."

"Tell me about it, I'm starting to feel like this is my second home, " Melanie joined in as she protected her Jetta with the press of a button; tow honks and a flash of red light confirmed that her car was safe. "I should just start camping out here."

"Ha! Why not?! This place has everything we need; food, bathroom, an endless supply of fountain drinks and best of all, the comfy ball crawl we can sleep in," Kennethjoked while pulling out another cigarette.

"Well, if you comfy you mean I'll end up waking up with a stiff neck because I'll have plastic balls as my mattress, then sure why not. Hey mind if i bum one?" Melanie asked.

"Sure kiddo," Kenneth replied, extending his pack towards Melanie while giving her a knowing look. He noticed Melanie was bumming more and more cigarettes from him lately and while feeling hypocritical, he silently objected to the habit that Melanie was picking up from him. "This summer rush is crazy' I never new that kids could be so out of control."

"It's more like the parents that are out of control," Melanie retorted between drags, "I mean what normal parent would let their seven year old child stay out until we close at 11pm, and then keep them here for another half an hour because they can't make up their minds about what toy they want? It's absurd if you ask me."

"Yeah, uh-huh," Kenneth responded while looking down as he dragged his feet on the gravel. "Well at least their parents are with them that late at night." He heard Melanie say something, but he wasn't listening anymore, his mind was occupied with the lyrical rhythm that calmed the bubbles that were on the verge of boiling over.

and I am going home... where? The land of the lost souls
Feeling the loneliness that really only exists in abandoned foster homes
How many images of missing kids can be fit onto a milk carton?
Framed, they're starting to look the same
Starting to say his name, and claim privileges
As if they found HIM!
The strangest little kids surrounding the circle of false friendship
Rings of fire are connected at the elbow
Cause they're tired, moms unexpectedly let go

"...once in awhile, on special occasions I could stay up past my bedtime, but that was only until 10," Melanie continued. "Hey Ken, you there?" Melanie waved her hands in front of Kenneth's face.

"Oh, hey, I'm here," Kenneth answered unconvincingly, then paused before cocking his head and turning on his heels, "Hey kiddo, you hear that singing?" Although Kenneth was purposely changing the subject, he was curious to know if Melanie heard the throaty rendition of what sounded like a 70's disco song.

Melanie paused to listen, "Actually, now that you mention it, I do." They scanned the somewhat deserted parking lot until their eyes spied their coworker George marching to the beat that blared into his ears from huge head phones, singing and smiling.

Friday, October 2, 2009


As Kenneth eased himself into Melanie's car, he had to carefully position his gray scuffed shoes, that were supposed to polished white everyday, to avoid stepping on the random assortment of tubes and compacts, brushes and hair gels, granola bars and empty water bottles that littered Melanie's car; not to mention a lone left shoe.

"Sorry about the mess Ken, but you should know me by now."

Kenneth nodded, remembering when he first met Melanie he was overwhelmed at the sheer amount of stuff in her car. Melanie had everything from clothes to shoes to belts to the perfect bag to compliment the outfit that was circled in red in the Cosmopolitan that Kenneth mistakenly grabbed while trying to find his seat belt. Kenneth secretly thought to himself that living in Melanie's care would be more luxurious then his own sparsely furnished bedroom.

"Yeah, yeah, kiddo, I'm used to it, but one question - why the one left shoe?" Kenneth asked, "Where's the right?"

"I wear the right side only when I drive," Melanie said accelerating the car to third gear with one swift move of her arm. "I can feel thee clutch better without like three inches of shoe between my foot and the pedal. I always wanted a standard car and i begged my parents to get me one, but they thought I wouldn't be able to drive it, ha!" Then as if to prove her point, she popped the stick into fourth gear.

"Did you feel that transition? Betcha didn't," Melanie said beaming with pride at her driving abilities. The Jetta sailed pat the seemingly endless rows of trees that were interrupted once in awhile to remind drivers that the speed limit was 25 mph. Kenneth noticed that Melanie's digital speedometer read 47, sometimes 48, 49. He chucked under his breath at the irony of the situation: a car in the suburbs blatantly exceeding the speed limit and not a cop in sight. Figures, Kenneth thought to himself. Cops never patrol "Plesantville" it's already safe, protected from the crime and violence, drugs and addicts, runaways and throwaways secured with a wrought iron fence. And if that wasn't enough, Bob, the friendly security guard monitored the gate, waving the familiar cars in and hassling those who didn't belong. Little did Bob know, as he smiled a good morning while opening the barrier for the red Jetta, he was releasing Melanie into the unknowns of the outside world and returning Kenneth back where he belonged.