STORY

Soaked in the trenches of adolescence, four teenagers embark into a world of self-discovery in Seattle during the mid-90s. A time when drugs, music, film, books, politics, religion, sex, fashion and pop-culture zealously intoxicated society. Its gritty appeal lure Heather, James, Scott and Kristin deep within the underbelly of the zeitgeist where their innocence is left to combat the propaganda machine.

CIGARETTES  

Friday, September 23, 1994. 4 pm

  

The red ’92 Pontiac Sunbird convertible barreled down I-90 like there was no tomorrow.  

"Ah fuck me," Kristin shouted.  

Heather lowered her white sunglasses varnished in red lenses. "What you forget now?"  

"Fucking cigarettes man!"  

"Maybe you outta stop going through them so damn quickly."  

Kristin pitched the empty box into the cool afternoon. "So now you're gonna give me shit for the one thing no one should give me shit about."  

"Just get off the next exit."  

The idea didn’t faze her as she turned off the radio. "Why we listening to that shit."  

"You turned it on."  

"Did not."  

"Did too."  

"Hurry and put something on before I run off the road."  

Heather unbuckled herself so she could reach for a shoebox in the backseat. It was adorned with stickers by bands Kristin manically collected.  

She popped the lid and ran her finger past the row of cassettes. "I’m down for Dink?"  

"You mean Dave Ogilvie and Dink."  

"So you want Skinny Puppy, instead?"  

"Depends."  

"On what?"  

"On the album."  

"You don't even know what's in here!"  

Kristen gazed forward in a pair of yellow sunglasses with blue lenses. "Quit your shit."  

"Too Dark Park in is here."  

“Tough call.”  

“Why?”  

"Cuz both bands make my pussy wet."  

"Then how wet you wanna get."  

“Not too wet.”  

“Go with Dink, then.”  

"You got it."  

Heather shoved the cassette in the console without knowing Green Mind would slither from the speakers like magnetic static. They twirled their hair, singing at the top of their lungs as passersby’s looked over with concern.  

They should've been paying attention to the road, but the lack of focus the girls practiced was the perfect way to start the weekend.  

When the nearest gas station came into view, so did Mt. Rainer's pink and orange ice caps radiating in the sunset.  

Kristin strolled into the store while Heather lied on the hood of the car. The clouds changed color as birds chirped inside Douglas Fir and Maple trees around them.  

Kristin came out spanking a fresh pack of Camel’s against her palm. Her short-sleeve pink oxford was tucked neatly into a green argyle skirt like a doll. Her demeanor was already ridged, but her black ten-eye Doc Martens bar-laced in yellow intensified it.  

She sensually bent over to take the 12V lighter from the console so that she could take a drag. As she exhaled, she took a moment to notice the birds Heather was listening to.  

"Want one?"  

"Sure."  

Kristin coolly pressed another death-stick against the cherry before sitting next to her friend.  

It didn't take long to notice Joe Camel on the billboard above them. The image looked appealing as he presumably sat naked in a hot tub with an ice cold beer and a jovial grin.  

"What you suppose he's thinking?" Kristin asked.  

"Hard to say. He’s wearing sunglasses."  

"And the city behind him?"  

"Has to be LA."  

"So why do you need to see his eyes to know what he's thinking?"  

"I dunno."  

"He's in a hot tub at a party in the Hills. He wants pussy and to get his cock sucked."  

Heather tapped the cig lightly with her finger. "With a tan and body like that. Oh yeah, I’d probably be that chick blowing him underwater."  

Kristin watched as a woman rolled into the parking lot. She threw some papers into the garage and walked into the gas station. "Total slut. Course you would."  

"And you wouldn't?"  

"Um-hum. Bet it’s big."  

“The guy's famous, why should it matter if it’s smaller than 7 inches."  

A stream of smoke escaped Kristin's lips. "He's a camel Heather. There something you're not telling me?"  

"Bitch."  

When the woman in white pants and yellow shirt came out with a paper bag, she waved, but only Heather waved back.  

"So is that warehouse thing still going down?"  

"I don't know," Heather said, "thought Scott told you something about it after school."  

"He didn’t mention anything about it besides last week.”  

"Oh."  

"What time is it?"  

"Around six o'clock."  

"Perfect."  

Kristin tossed the cigarette on the stained concrete and fumbled in the cup holder for a quarter. She walked into a dingy phone booth at the edge of the building and inserted the coin.  

The line didn’t take long to answer.  

"Hi Mrs. Pruitt. How are you?"  

"I'm fine, thank you for asking. And you, how was your week?"  

"I got A's on my Geography and English exams."  

Mrs. Pruitt looked out the window and saw her husband's black Audi-100 pull into the driveway. "That's lovely dear, can I ask what the English exam was on?"  

"Mrs. Keenan gave us a list of books to read, so I chose a Philip K. Dick book."  

"How nice. Are you familiar with his work?"  

"No, but I'm guessing you are."  

"I am. And if I had to choose a favorite it would be The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch."  

"Does Scott know that Mrs. Pruitt?"  

"Once second, dearie—" Kristin heard her kiss her husband before telling him Scott had a phone call. "I'm sorry about that, David just went up to deliver the message that I'm taking up all your time."  

"Not at all, I like talking with you."  

"That's very sweet of you."  

"Sure thing, but you were saying something about that book."  

"Oh yes, I almost forgot. I was going to say it has everything science-fiction stories need. But this one especially has a terrifying portrayal of a working-class society trapped in circumstances beyond their control. Situations no one ever wants to be in.”  

“What kind of situations?”  

“Philip has an empathic voice for shedding light on taboo topics like poverty and how it can lead people to do strange things. So in the story, a community is forced to resort to a certain drug for survival.”  

Kristin was glad she told Mrs. Pruitt she enjoyed her company because it was genuine. Out of all her friends' parents, she was capable of offering advice without ever sounding overbearing. If anything, it just exhibited where Scott got his moody and artistic personality from.  

They both heard when Scott picked up the phone.  

"Hey."  

"Hi, darling, I would've fetched you sooner but we got into a little exchange of our own."  

"Yup," Kristin replied happily, "your mother has great taste in books."  

"Who would've guessed that?"  

"That's because it's my job to find good material.”  

“So wish I had your job.”  

Mrs. Pruitt chucked. “Do you all have plans tonight?"  

"I'm guessing that's why Kristin called."  

"Yes, I’m sure of it. Alrighty then, I’ll talk with you two later."  

"Have a restful weekend Mrs. Pruitt."  

"Same to you. Goodbye for now."  

Scott released a long sigh after the line cut-out. "What the fuck was that about?"  

"Nothing. We honestly were talking about books and not you for a change."  

"Yah-yah. Anyway, we goin' to that thing or what?"  

"Yeah. Heather and I just need to change."  

"Just go in your uniforms."  

"Gross, Scott. Tell me you're joking."  

"No I'm serious. Fuck man, why you so dense sometimes?"  

"Maybe if you weren’t such a prick, I wouldn't be bitchy."  

Scott was barefoot and the only piece of clothing he had on was a tight pair of black jeans. A green lava lamp swam over his desk at the edge of the room. The tinted light created shadows on a Crass poster as if it were melting into the wall. If anything, he thought it was something the band would’ve expected if that were possible.  

"What time you headed over?"  

"I was sorta thinking you could meet us at Heather's in an hour since we're still out."  

"Still?"  

"Yeah, we got lost inside Bop Street Records, again."  

"Find anything?"  

"As always."  

"Like?"  

"Buzzcocks on vinyl for thirty bucks. Mint condition."  

"Dang. I gotta see that."  

"So where's this thing happening anyway?"  

"South side."  

"Cool. Heather and I are going to grab some grub from Pagliacci’s. Think James is up for that?  

"I'll call him after this, but get enough just in case."  

"Be sure he tells his dad we're crashing at Heather's after Pulp Fiction."  

"Got it. See ya’ later."  

It was six thirty when she lit another cigarette and walked back to the car.  

"You awake."  

"Yeah. Just thinking."  

"About?"  

"Nothing really."  

"It happens," as Kristin looked around suspiciously, "anyway, how does crashing at your place sound after snagging some pizza?"  

"Fuck you."  

"It's really not that big a deal."  

"Were supposed to be at your pad tonight."  

"I know, but I really need a break from my mother—"  

"And I don't."  

"I know, baby. I can promise that next time."  

"Bullshit."  

Kristin fastened her palms in the hopes of looking vulnerable. "I didn't do it last time, so what if I pinky-promise this time."  

"Kristin come on man, you know I didn’t wanna be at my place tonight."  

"Just this once. Please, pretty please."  

She took a moment to pout until the frustration subsided.  

"Fine. But if you're lying, I'm going to kill you."  

"Deal."  

The moon rose in the distance as the two companions got into the car. They really enjoyed the cryptic look it gave people whenever sunglasses were worn at night.  

The Damned blared from the stereo as Kristin merged onto the freeway. The wind weaved through their hair like an invisible hand carrying them forward.


is the risk worth it?