Joined: December 31st, 2008, 7:54 am

May 27th, 2011, 5:40 am #1

((Jeremy Franco continued from A Slight Change of Plans))

This is one for the history books. This is the story of a rat and a freak who probably never even loved each other in the first place.

It was lunchtime it was November it was senior year when he first met her. Not when he first noticed her, of course, it was sometimes difficult not to notice her. Weirdo. Dressed all in black. Scowly face. Drug dealer? Devil worshipper? Who knew. But yes. Easy to notice.

So was he, of course. Weirdo. Dressed in his suits. Rat face. Drug dealer? Well, definitely a coke dealer – get it? Get it?

It was lunchtime it was November it was senior year and he finally met her. Finally gave her a second thought (first thought, of course, had been You know what they say about chicks like that in bed, right?), finally gave her a good look. Well. Quick scan around the lunchroom, freshman friends nowhere to be found, smile spread across his face as he made a decision. Fuck it, even if freshman friends were right in front of him plain as day, it wouldn't have changed shit. She was there, she was alone, she was new, she was a possibility (she was hot).

And Jeremy Franco was a man of action.

"Hi there. Jeremy Franco, J. Franco & Associates." Sat down across from her, held out his hand. Considered handing her a business card but that's just a little too forward don't you think? "Pleased to meet you."

And she looked at him for a second, and she pulled his hand in, and she gave it a kiss. "Pleased to meet you too." A smile. That's just a little too forward don't you think? No of course not, for fuck's sake this is Jeremy Franco we're talking about here.

Okay let's be realistic. When he tells the story (mostly to himself, on repeat), he will say he was just as flirty right back. But there he was, awkward laughter and all, cheeks maaaaybe a bit red but probably not red, no definitely not.

Okay. Fall back on what you know.

"Hey, you wanna buy a coke or something? I got like a 24-pack in my locker, plus some coke zero. And one of those big things of chip bags, I could throw in one of those too if you want. Make me and offer." Little pause. Maybe she's not into that kind of thing. "Or we could just play some poker and shoot the shit, whatever's cool."

"I can play poker. I count cards, though." And her grin got a little sneakier, like she was onto something, like she was the only person at this table who counted cards. Difference between them was that Jeremy wasn't gonna say it out loud. Never reveal all your secrets, always keep your cards (no pun intended hahahaha) close to your chest. "And I love coke."

And so he laughed, of course he laughed. It was funny, after all. "Alright, tell you what. The first hit's free, and if you beat me- fair and square or otherwise- I'll hook you up with as many free carbonated beverages as you like, for the next week." Remember: mumble those last four words, say them a bit quicker than the others. Subterfuge. "If I win? You gimme your phone number."

"Fine." Grin got wider. "I'll take it."

And that's how it started.

She won, of course. It was probably closer than she'd expected- because you didn't even know Jeremy was counting cards too! Ha ha what a mastermind!- but it happened. Maybe she had a better head for numbers. Maybe she had better luck. Maybe both. Oh well.

When he tells the story (mostly to himself), he will say he said "oh well" at that moment. But there he was, throwing his final hand (a two and a seven, off-suit) at the table in disgust, shouting about how this was bullshit, fucking bullshit. In his defense, it was. It completely was. And the card slid a little and knocked over a stack of chips, with a pretty little clinking sound and a bunch of fucking bullshit. Oh well.

"Hey, well... fuck. Sorry. You win. The, uh, combination to my locker is 16-34-28. Take what you want, I change the lock every two weeks anyway."

And he started picking up the cards and the chips and the little bit of pride that had fallen onto the table at some point. Still looking a little mad. Trying not to. Trying not to look at her as she helped out, not seeing that she had a little hint of a smile on. Maybe that would've made him angrier to see. Maybe not.

He was fiddling with his cards later that night. Practicing. Trick shuffles and deals, nice flashy things to make sure everyone knew he was hot shit (he was). And they go back and forth between his hands and they fan out and they arrange themselves into neat little piles and the whole thing is just so very pretty and hey hey hey what's this over here?

A name. A phone number. On the Queen of Spades.

That sure was something, wasn't it.

He called her, of course. Waited a few days. He was not desperate. He introduced himself as Jeremy Franco of J. Franco and Associates. He paused for a laugh.

"Listen, uh, I got me two tickets for an MMA show this weekend, I was gonna go with a buddy of mine but he had to cancel so now I'm up a ticket. You wanna come along, maybe? No, uh, no hidden charges here. The spare's yours if you want it, it's free. Or, I mean, if you can't make it, that's cool too. That's, uh, yeah."

And what did she say?

Joined: August 9th, 2010, 3:28 am

May 27th, 2011, 5:41 am #2

He had shouted a lot, at the table, when he had lost at cards. He had
been trying to count too, but he did it badly; he lost track when he
got excited. He had given her his locker combination and he'd been
honest; it was full of soda and chips. She'd scrounged it for dinners
for a week, this and the unripe pears she brought home from the
cafeteria. Her mom had been worse, the past month or so; Liz had had
to feed her. She wouldn't go to the grocery store, wouldn't cook.

He could become a good source of resources, Jeremy Franco. She knew
about Jeremy Franco; he was richer than God and universally despised.
And, apparently, clumsily interested in her.

She'd flirted. The lines she'd used on him felt unreal, poached from
movies, books. There was something wrong with them, but she couldn't
figure out what. But Franco seemed delighted in them. So she had left
her number on the Queen of Spades (she had always liked the Queen of
Spades) and now he was calling her.

So of course she said yes. There was something wrong in the world when
Liz Polanski said no to a date. Someone who would want to talk
to her for any length of time. Sex. And chivalry at its finest meant
the guy might even pay for her.

Liz was always low on money. It sucked.

MMA. Like wrestling, except some people used different styles. It was
loud there, and full of crowds and sweat, but no one seemed to want to
pay attention to her, in her goth gear, which was a relief. They had
good seats--Jeremy actually had a lot of money--and as soon as they
got there, Jeremy started talking about betting. Betting. Liz didn't
know how to bet. Jeremy had poached an odds sheet from somewhere, but
told her not to trust it. He talked about instinct. He talked about
fighters being "hungry", "wanting it". He could tell, he said, when a
fighter came into the ring, if he "wanted it" enough. He was more
successful in betting than her; she surreptitiously relied on the odds
sheet, the numbers she could trust, but she began to suspect, partway
through, that the sheet was drawn up by morons. Or trolls trawling for
the likes of her. She scowled. But Jeremy let her place small bets
with his money, so she lost nothing at the end of the night.

He talked nonstop. She knew, somewhere in the back of her mind, that
this was supposed to be annoying, but it was more of a relief than
anything. She hated conversations, trying to "keep the ball rolling"
with people who expected more than she could possibly give. With
Jeremy she could relax, nod occasionally, half-listen to him drone on
about hunger and instinct and let the words wash over her like a
pleasant buzz. He bought them two beers in the middle of the match;
she held her liquor better than he.

That night, in his blue volvo station wagon, with crumbs between the
seats and newspaper on the floor, they had sex. He was finally silent

It was sordid, unlovely, but not quite so lonely.

Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?

Joined: December 31st, 2008, 7:54 am

May 27th, 2011, 5:41 am #3

She was not his girlfriend. She was not even Liz most of the time. When he was talking to her, yes, she was Liz. And when he was mentioning her to his parents (to his parents? Whoa whoa this was getting serious) she was also usually Liz. She was Lizzie, one time, when he thought it might be a good thing to give her a pet name. She told him it wasn't her name, and she looked at him. It wasn't quite a glare, but it worked.

She was not even Liz most of the time. More often than not, she was that chick I'm nailing. You know that chick I'm nailing? Yeah, lemme tell you, it's true what they say about crazy chicks in the sack. Here, I will clarify: she is crazy in the sack! Lemme tell you.

So she never called him out on that. She had to have heard, right? Jeremy was nothing if not indiscreet. She had to have picked it up from someone or maybe she'd been standing right behind him when he said it once. But she never called him out on it. So she didn't mind?

Not necessarily. He took her to see movies, right? Because he was a nice guy, or a reasonable approximation thereof. And it was usually, like, horror movies, because she sorta had a goth deal going on and goth chicks like that shit, right? And that was pretty cool, for a while.

But then she started making her own suggestions, her own requests. Never demands, because Jeremy was never gonna say no in the first place. But it started out with... oh God, what the fuck was it even called? It was something European. So probably some pretty crazy shit, because they don't really have morals over there and you can show tits to preschoolers on TV. And then the movie started.

And it was a boring piece of shit. It was... artistic? It was mostly just people having weird conversations for two hours and these long boring shots where nothing happened. She- she made a mistake, right? She didn't like this shit, did she?

She did.

And the months passed and she asked him to take her to more of those arthouse shitshows. And he sat there and bore it. And he called her that chick I'm nailing more and more, because she didn't seem to mind. And these events were not connected to each other at all.

And he even took her home a few times. To watch UFC shows in his basement. To fool around. To show off to his folks that he had a girlfriend (she was not his girlfriend). To have someone there who didn't mind so much that he never shut up.

How did that go?


That girl that Jeremy was bringing home nowadays. She was something, wasn't she. What was her name? Liz. No, no, not Liz. Elizabeth?

Yes, Elizabeth.

She looked odd. But that was not a bad thing. Maybe she listened to that heavy metal music? But she was not loud, or mean. She didn't seem like she worshipped the devil. She was a shy and quiet girl. Very polite, very sweet. She always said “Thank you, Ms. Franco.” She had manners.

And she liked Jeremy. That was a blessing. Not that Jeremy was... oh dear, it's not that Jeremy was a bad sort of boy, it was just that... he could rub people the wrong way? He always spoke his mind. And there was always the worry that when he finally brought a girl home, she would be some loud, loose sort of girl that could only be talked about through gritted teeth.

But instead he was courting this shy girl, this sweet girl, this pretty girl, like a complete gentleman. He took her out to dinner, he took her to see movies. French movies. Intelligent movies. That had to be her idea, right? Jeremy didn't like those kinds of things. But maybe Elizabeth was teaching him how to appreciate them.

So she was an artist, maybe? That made sense. That explained why she looked so odd. Artists are funny sorts, but they are often smart people and they are often good people. And Elizabeth was smart, she was definitely smart. She didn't talk too much, she didn't like to boast. But Jeremy mentioned her doing calculus once or twice- an artist doing calculus? What a smart girl.

She told Elizabeth, once. When Jeremy was off in the basement for a minute, she pulled Elizabeth aside and told her she'd been worried about what kind of girl Jeremy would bring home. Jeremy was a nice boy, but... he made some unfortunate decisions sometimes? Elizabeth knew what she was talking about.

She told Elizabeth how glad she was that Jeremy had brought her home instead.

Elizabeth stuttered. She reddened, a bit. She said a thank you. And she scurried away back to Jeremy.

Modest girl. Smart girl. Polite girl. Sweet girl.

Don't let that one go, Jeremy Franco. Please don't.

Joined: August 9th, 2010, 3:28 am

May 27th, 2011, 5:42 am #4

And then there was prom.

Liz had never wanted to go to prom. Prom was everything she was scared of; pressed-bodies sweat, body odor and the smell of lip gloss. And trying to talk to people, make conversation, to stutter and redden and try to fit in a dress, a dress to cover up her hideous shriveled little-girl's body--it was everything she didn't want to do.

So when Jeremy asked her to prom, she said no.

He thought, of course, that she was asking him for money. She was always asking him for money. She did it too much. She was always out of money. So he said, he said that he would pay for whatever dress she wanted to buy. A little curtly.

She said no. She really truly didn't want to go to prom. They were by a roadside, then, the curve of the interstate by school, where weeds grew and people threw their McDonald's wrappers. She picked a pair of Queen Anne's Lace and gave it to him, and told him, gently, to invite a nice girl.

He got angry then. He said if he wanted to ask a nice girl, he would have asked a nice girl. He'd gone to all her stupid faggy movies with her; couldn't she come to one damn prom?

She said no.

He got more angry, then, the sort of angry that was a little bit frightening. He called her a bitch, and a stupid whore. He called her a lot of names, and she kept saying no, but he wouldn't take no for an answer.

Finally, she put down the Queen Anne's Lace.

"Don't call me 'that chick you're nailing' ever again."

He looked at her, confused.

She left him, then. He may have tried yelling something after him, but she didn't hear.

Don't take me for granted, she thought.

She didn't get back together with him again. She avoided him at school. And she was a little poorer, then, and a little more lonely, but that was how things had always been.

Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?

Joined: December 31st, 2008, 7:54 am

May 27th, 2011, 5:43 am #5

Do you know what the saddest part was?

The words in Jeremy's head, as she walked away. Trying to retrace the steps, plot it out, figure out just exactly where he fucked it up.

Like if I'd only called her a bitch and not a whore, would she still be letting me fuck her? Like a million different ways to see this story end. Maybe he yells a little less this time, maybe a little more. Maybe she ends up crying. Maybe he does.

Maybe, he'd like to think to himself, one of these stories ends with her staying. But he can't tell you which one. He can't tell you how he does it. So it seems a little less than likely.

Kids, don't ever learn your lessons.

Kids, turn to those you've wronged and say you're sorry in the first way that comes to mind. Doesn't matter if it's the right way (it's not), we'll sort that out later. Say you're sorry because that's gotta count for something, right? That's gotta make things better.

Not really.

Hear scraps of the boy telling the girl, on a bright sunny day, how sorry he is, what a fuckup he is, how he knows this right make it better but he promises he won't do it again and aww fuck it's like she's not even listening, is she?

Nah. She's listening to every word.

And that makes it worse.

See the boy awkwardly handing the girl a note. Oh ho, what's this brave new romanticism, this touching handwritten apology? Except it's not, just his locker combination for the next two weeks. She doesn't say anything back, but she doesn't take a swing at him for coming near her either.

She keeps taking just as much from his locker as she used to.

Does that make it worse?

Hear the boy, on the phone, pleading with the girl to just hear him out. Says he knows she won't go to prom with him, but nobody else will either, and he doesn't want his parents to... Okay. Would she- could she just, maybe, show up at his place, in a dress he'll pay for, and take a picture or two, and then they don't even have to go to prom? He can just take her back to her place, and... and...

She says to tell his parents she said yes, but then on the day of, say she got sick.


That makes it worse.

So here's Jeremy. On prom night. Told his parents he'd just roll with it and go stag, but it's two in the morning and he's done nothing for hours but drive around in the direction of nowhere.

Better mess up your hair a little, loosen your tie, make it seem like you had a fun night. You're just exhausted right now is tall.

Better start thinking of ways you can make it up to her. She's never gonna get back with you, you know that. But you can still do something for her that makes it a little better, makes her a little happier, makes her forgive you just a tiny little bit.

You can write a better ending, goddammit, because all's well that ends well.

But you already know how this ends.

((Jeremy Franco continued in A Slight Change of Plans))